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, December 31, 2014

The Gambler; a review.

It's a new release starring Mark Walberg, John Goodman, Michael Williams and more.

Mark Wahlberg plays Jim Bennett, a college professor who is the dumbest character in the movie. The three loan sharks in the movie are far more intelligent that he was. Even the non-speaking thugs are smarter than Bennett.

It's probably one of the worst movies I've seen in a long time. From a non-filmista view, the story was fucking pointless. Apparently, it's a remake of a 1974 original that was equally stupid. This movie is one that the stars might look at and ask them sevleves: "Am I getting the money up front?"

This is a movie that you should wait to see until it either plays on cable or you can rent it for a buck.

Monday, December 29, 2014

You Can't Judge a Book by its Cover

Especially when the designers are morons.

This is the cover of the latest Sara Paretsky book:


As you might gather from the title, the book has something to do with nuclear physics. But the symbol for radiation hazard is this:


This is the symbol that is on the cover, which is the symbol for a biological hazard, not a radiological one:


I'd guess that this is what happens when everyone involved majored in English or art design; they likely took a basic science survey class in college and since most science classes are held in the morning, they likely slept through most of the lectures.

A Good Tip to Determine When the Government (or Any Other Big Entity) is `Fessing Up to Fuckery.

They'll release a document dump either late on a Friday or on the evening before a major holiday.
The National Security Agency used the holiday lull to “minimise the impact” of a tranche of documents by releasing them on Christmas Eve, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said on Friday.
I'm holding up releasing this blog post until Monday morning, so that those who read it whist having their morning coffee at work will see it.

Because fuck you, NSA.

Stay Classy, Ferguson

A Ferguson Police Department public relations officer has been put on administrative leave over his response to the destruction of a memorial to Michael Brown, the teenager who was fatally shot by a police officer.

The memorial included signs in the middle of a street near the Canfield Green apartment complex where Brown was shot. Photos on social media showed the mementos scattered, and they appeared to have been run over by a vehicle.

“I don’t know that a crime has occurred,” Officer Timothy Zoll said Friday in an interview with The Washington Post. “But a pile of trash in the middle of the street? The Washington Post is making a call over this?”
Running his mouth wasn't what got him in trouble, though:
The department said in a statement Saturday that Zoll misled his superiors about the contents of the interview, that he had been placed on unpaid leave, effective immediately, and that there would be disciplinary proceedings.
No surprise here: The Ferguson Po-Po immediately backed Zoll, at least before they did an investigation and found out that he had lied to his bosses.

"Pile of trash"... here's a test: Go and tear down a makeshift memorial to a dead cop and see what happens to you. They'll at least charge you with littering, after you fall up a flight of stairs at the cop shop.

Here We Go Again; Aviation Edition

Hopes were fading on Sunday night for the safe return of 162 people aboard the missing AirAsia flight QZ8501 after the first day of the search was called off in Indonesia owing to failing light. The government in Jakarta said it did not “dare to presume what [had] happened” to the aircraft.

In what appeared to be the third mysterious air tragedy to beset south-east Asian air travel this year, the Airbus 320-200 passenger jet took off from the Indonesian city of Surabaya for Singapore at 5.35am on Sunday, but lost all contact with air control at 6.17am.
I hope that they can find the wreckage and the data and voice recorders in short order, before the conspiracy theorist whackaloons come up to full speed.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Jon Swift Memorial Roundup

For 2014.

The Deep Disdain that Wall Street Has For Almost Everyone, and How Jet Blue Caved

It is no secret to anyone who travels that airline flying has gotten progressively more miserable as time goes on. The seats have gotten narrower, the distance between seat rows keeps shrinking, the flight attendants have morphed from people whose job was to make your flight more enjoyable to more like prison jailers, baggage charges, no food, and so on and so forth.

Jet Blue was one of the few airlines to treat passengers nicely. But that is going away, because Wall Street has been hammering Jet Blue for not extracting every last possible dollar from their passengers. And Jet Blue gave in, those lily-livered cowards.

Fuck you, Jet Blue.

I like to check my luggage. I don't like to play schlepperman through three airports (hub & spoke system).

So I fly Southwest whenever I can. No luggage fees and, for that matter, none of those dinky regional jets.

Fuck you, too, Wall Street. May all you analysts die in crotch fires.

Your Sunday Morning Jet Noise

The retirement of a VC-9, which served the VIP airlift wing for over 20 years.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Caturday

Jake was disgruntled.


He hadn't had a bowel movement for a few days or so. So he went to the vet for an enema and hydration. Fresh indignities for an old cat.

He's also been losing some weight. Nothing obvious was found, so after the holidays, he'll go back for some blood work.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Because It's Friday

The weekly re-enactment at the Golden Spike Historic Site at Promontory, Utah.


The working rail line was little-used after a trestle bridge was built across the Great Salt Lake 110 years ago and the main line bypassed Promontory. The rail line through Promontory was pulled up for scrap during the Second World War.

Enough track was later put back down for the locomotives to operate at the historic site.

"The Interview" Shit Goes On

YouTube, which had The Interview up yesterday for pay-per-view, seems to be either not loading or slowly loading videos this morning, at least when I try to see one.

There has been ddos attacks against the Xbox and Playstation networks by hackers who apparently are either pirates seeking ransom for ending their attacks or puppets of North Korea. Or both.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas

David Letterman has the right of it:



Merry Christmas. If you have friends and family, shut off your Majick Elf Box and go visit with them.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Dear Zulily:
FOXTROT OSCAR ALFA DELTA!
Out

A friend's tale:
I ordered two girls' dresses for the daughters of a friend as a Christmas present. The dresses was ordered in early November.

One came, although it took a month. The dress for the younger child, though, was "delayed".

One email after another came from Zulily, revising the shipping/delivery dates. This afternoon (Christmas Eve), an email came from Zulily saying "so sorry, we can't ship it in time".
What the fuck, guys? You had to have known that a few days ago, you couldn't send out a notice? But no, you had to wait until well into the afternoon of Christmas Eve to send out an email of regrets. What the fuck do you expect to be done? It's not like it's possible to rush out and buy a nice dress for the kid tonight. And then it has to be delivered to the family in another frakking state.

Smooth move, guys. One girl has a nice dress for Christmas, her sister has not.

Merry fucking Christmas, assholes.

AP Stylebook Needs an Update

This is an example:
The dozens of men and woman [living in Cuba and] wanted by the U.S. range from quotidian Medicaid fraud suspects to black militants and Puerto Rican nationalists with major bounties on their heads.
Really, guys? "Quotidian"? I'll bet that a majority of people who read that story didn't know that word and just skipped over it. Which is a fail.

(Quotidian:
1: occurring every day
2 a : belonging to each day : everyday
   b : commonplace, ordinary

Monday, December 22, 2014

The TSA Doesn't Like It When You Bring Honey to Your Honey on an Airplane

Packing this:


Will get you this:


I had two jars of the stuff in ziplock bags (in case of breakage), wrapped up in bubble warp and packed away inside my suitcase. They're gifts for friends who have tried the maker's stuff before and pronounced it as excellent.

When I opened my suitcase, I found the TSA card. They slit the wrappings, probably so they could swab the jars for residue or something like that. As far as I can tell, they didn't sample the contents. A little bit of googling revealed comments by other people that packing jars of honey in one's checked baggage will result in a luggage search by the TSA.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Your Sunday Morning Jet (Rotor) Noise

A Sikorsky Sky Crane fills up its water tank for a firefighting drop

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Caturday

Lady of All She Surveys:

Friday, December 19, 2014

Space History I Didn't Know.

The capsule escape rockets for the Mercury and Apollo capsules worked in one unmanned test in each program when the booster rocket failed.

Here's silent footage from the Mercury-Atlas 3 test.

For Apollo, the booster was a Little Joe. The flight was one of a series to test the escape rocket system, but the booster itself came apart, resulting in a "no shit" firing of the escape system.

Because It's Friday

Steamship's engine room:

Hays Office; Pyonyang Branch Now Open

(In case you didn't get the reference.)

Thursday, December 18, 2014

A Corporation Would Have Claimed "Infringement of Religious Liberty".

A Kansas mom stabbed and beat her son to death because she thought he'd be better off in heaven, police said.

Lindsey Blansett was charged with first-degree murder after allegedly killing her 10-year-old son, Caleb, on Sunday, KAKE reported.

The 33-year-old mom took a rock and a knife to her son's bedroom after he went to sleep Sunday, Sumner County Attorney Kerwin Spencer said in a court complaint.

Earlier that evening, Blansett "decided his life would be full of suffering and pain and that it would be better for him to go to heaven" than to "face the world's problems," the complaint said.

Ho-Ho-Ho!

In case you've never seen people play music on cash registers....


Caving in to Terrorism/Blackmail

I don't know what else one would call it.
Sony has confirmed it has no plans to release the satirical film The Interview internationally, in any form, following threats from hackers.
They aren't alone.
The chilling effect of the Sony Pictures hack and terrorist threats against The Interview are reverberating. New Regency has scrapped another project that was to be set in North Korea. The untitled thriller, set up in October, was being developed by director Gore Verbinski as a star vehicle for Foxcatcher star Steve Carell. The paranoid thriller written by Steve Conrad was going to start production in March. Insiders tell me that under the current circumstances, it just makes no sense to move forward. The location won’t be transplanted. Fox declined to distribute it, per a spokesman.
I guess "publish and be damned" is a quaint sentiment.

I tend to agree that there is also a share of blame to be ladled out to the "journalists" who published the material obtained by the hackers. They can be damned, as well.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Sen. Rubio is Arguably Clinically Insane

If a definition of insanity is "doing the same thing repeatedly whilehoping for a different outcome", then Rubio is as nutty as a jar of cashews:
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said the new U.S. policy would do nothing to address the issues of Cuba's political system and human rights record.

"But it potentially goes a long way in providing the economic lift that the Castro regime needs to become permanent fixtures in Cuba for generations to come," Rubio said.
Riiight. Economic sanctions against Cuba were first imposed in 1960 by President Eisenhower, tightened in 1962 by President Kennedy and tinkered with ever since. Sanctions were first imposed over a decade before Rubio was born.

As a tool/weapon to persuade Cuba towards regime change, they have been an utter failure. But folks like Rubio keep hoping that maybe the 55th year of sanctions might change things.

They're just insane. Time to recognize that and move on, as the President is trying to do.

Oil & Russia

The price of crude oil has dropped by half since six months ago.

There has been speculation that the Saudis are going after the shale producers the frackers, Russia Venezuela or Iran. And others, who say that is all humbug.

Oil exploration sometimes tends to run as a sort of in-house pyramid scheme, with the revenue from drilled wells partially funding the drilling of more wells. But if the last set of wells doesn't pay off, then the driller's entire enterprise can come crashing down. It's happened before. I drove through Texas in the late `80s, when crude oil prices had fallen by two-thirds from the late `70s. There were hand-lettered signs on telephone poles which advertised homes for sale. If this goes on for a lot longer, the North Dakota Oil Patch may soon resemble a ghost town.

I don't know about Venezuela. I suspect that those whispering in the Saudis' ears to punish Iran and Russia are smoking crack. The Iranian clergy has a firm grip on the police and the military and as long as the money is there to pay them, they have an iron hand controlling the population. The Shah may have had some reluctance to machine-gun crowds, the mullahs' probably don't.

As for Russia goes, dream on. The KGB FSB effectively runs the country and Vladimir Putin runs the FSB. The Russian people will be told, with some justification, that their hardship is a result of economic warfare against the Rodina, that what is happening is an economic variant of an invasion. The Russian government will be able to play that card because of moves such as this one.

People in most countries coalesce behind their national leaders when their country is being attacked. The Russians are no different. Stalin killed millions of his own people, through both engineered famines, mass arrests, brutal slave-labor camps and executions, but when the Germans invaded, the Russian people worked miracles.

Against a disciplined populace, sanctions are meaningless. You need only to look to Cuba to see that. But Russia isn't Cuba. Cuba is a mouse-belch on the economic stage. Russia is the world's eighth largest economy; waging economic war on Russia is risking damaging everyone else. And if the world slips back into a recession over this, nobody's going to be blaming the Russians for it.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Happy Hannukah!

Read all about it.

Here are some tunes:

The Dredel Song.

Adam Sandler's Hannukah song (the original appearance) and in concert. Too bad he couldn't work in the Marx brothers.

Candlelight.

Light One Candle.

What do the Roman Catholic Church and the United States of America Have in Common?

Both thought that they were moral and a force for good.

Both willingly surrendered the moral high ground.

Both for the same thing: Torturing people. Though for the Church, it was mostly children, but not always.

Seventy Years Ago

13 German divisions attacked the Allied lines in the Ardennes in Belgium, commencing the Battle of the Bulge.

The German offensive was a desperate roll of the dice by Adolph Hitler, who was, in effect, aided by Allied intelligence, which missed several clues and hints. The American generals regarded the Ardennes as a quiet sector, suitable for unblooded or rebuilding units. The American line was lightly held. And the Allied armies had, at the time, pretty much outrun the limits of their supply chain.

The Germans made full use of bad weather, which grounded the Allied Jabos, as the German soldiers termed Allied fighter-bombers. The Germans achieved complete surprise. But far stiffer than expected resistance in places such as Lanzerath, Elsenborn Ridge, St. Vith and, of course, Bastogne, threw off the German timetable. Allied engineers blew up many bridges that the Germans planned to capture.

When the weather cleared almost a week after the attack began, Bastogne and other areas held by the Allies were resupplied by air. P-47s began shooting up German troops and slicing the crap out of the Germans' supply routes. The Luftwaffe made a major attack on Allied airfiedls, only to be shot to pieces by AA guns firing VT-fuzed shells. The Luftwaffe destroyed almost double of what they lost, but the Allies could well afford to lose those planes. The Germans couldn't. The Germans also used up tanks, vehicles and fuel that they couldn't replace. They had no reserve troops left. And the Red Army kicked off its January offensive a week early,

By the time the battle officially ended in late January, 1945, it turned out to be the bloodiest American fight of the entire war.

The best American movie of the battle, if not the war, probably is Battleground.

Update: Coverage of the commemoration in Bastogne, headed by King Phillipe and Queen Mathilde.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Police as Agent Provocateurs: Same Shit, Different Decade

Apparently, that undercover Chippie who drew a gun on protesters in Oakland was confronted by protestors because he and his partner were trying to incite violence by banging on store windows.

Undercover cops inciting violence and then the uniformed cops busting heads because of the violence is an old trick. But oldies can be goodies, I guess.

Dick Cheney is a Monster

There is nothing more, really, to say about that. For he pretty much admits to being one.

Your Sunday Morning Jet Noise

These days are now long gone.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Old Rule "First, Do No Harm" Does Not Apply to Psychologists; Torture Nation Edition

Two former Air Force psychologists raked in over $80 million from the CIA for instructing the CIA how to torture people.
The contract was for more than $180 million, but the contractors had only received $81 million when their contract was terminated in 2009.

Although the committee identified the contractors via pseudonyms, NBC News has previously identified them as Mitchell, Jessen & Associates, a Spokane, Washington, company run by two psychologists, Dr. John "Bruce" Jessen and Dr. James Mitchell, who had both previously worked with the U.S. Air Force.
The odd thing is that Mitchell donates to Amnesty International. One would assume that they're going to begin returning his checks. Jessen was appointed a bishop in the Mormon church, then quit once reporters began asking how Mormonism squared with being one of the architects of the American inquisition.

These are the Masters of American Torture:

Jessen

Mitchell

Don't think about filing ethics complaints, for allegedly the American Psychological Association has been just fine with the use of torture (if Americans do it)
.

Caturday

Jake wanted the waitress to bring him something else to eat.


Toughi shitski, I'm not running a cafeteria.

Friday, December 12, 2014

One Thing to Remember About Cops

It at least one department, it is (or was) official policy not to hire the best and the brightest candidates for the job.

Whether that's true elsewhere, well, one would hope not.

Talking to AT&T's Customer Service-- An Exercise in Frustration

I have nothing good to say about them. I've had more productive conversations with my cat. For at least when I talk to my cat, I'm not expecting him to do anything other than either purr or answer with a "Mrowrrr".

A simple billing issue has required two trips to the local AT&T store and then 30 agonizing minutes on the phone with the customer dissatisfaction reps, some particularly obnoxious marmosets who were apparently capable of stringing together English words, but who were utterly incapable of understanding anything spoken to them.

I have no doubt that the problem won't be fixed. Because they're AT&T.

Because It's Friday

Iowa Interstate RR's QJs in freight service.

Warm Up the War Crimes Trials

Dick Cheney, The Man Who Lied Us Into War, undercut one of the efforts of the Senate Torture Report. The report's authors tried very had to shield the Bushies from prosecution for war crimes, by trying to prove that the senior members of the Bush Administration didn't know what the CIA was doing.

Dick the Torturer disposed of that.

BadTux brings another point: These clowns were not dictators who took power at gunpoint. They were elected. Which means that we own them and their crimes are the nation's crimes.

We are Americans. We tortured people.

And the ugly truth is that we, as a nation, are basically OK with that. We need to change the last line of the Star Spangled Banner, for "home of the brave" is no longer anywhere near close to the truth.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Dear Japanese Nationalists: Go Fuck Yourselves

The Japanese nationalists are suffering a severe case of butthurt over Angelina Jolie's movie "Unbroken".
Japanese nationalists have branded Angelina Jolie a 'demon' and called for her to be banned from travelling to the country over her so-called 'immoral' depiction of Japanese Second World War prison guards in her directorial debut 'Unbroken'.

The Hollywood star's new movie, released on Boxing Day in the UK, is based on Laura Hillenbrand's book telling the heroic true life story of U.S. solider turned Olympian Louis Zamperini.

The 2010 biography left Japanese patriots furious at depictions of American prisoners of war being 'beaten, burned, stabbed or clubbed to death, shot, beheaded, killed during medical experiments or eaten alive in ritual acts of cannibalism'.

Now the same groups are turning their attention to protesting Jolie's big screen adaptation, branding it a work of 'pure fabrication', insisting it has 'no credibility', and accusing the star of racism.
"Racism", in this case, is "telling the truth about the conditions in Japanese POW camps".

Actually, the movie likely goes light on that point. From the survivors' accounts that I've read, conditions were horrific and about on the level of a German concentration camp. The Bataan Death March. The Rape of Nanking. The use of prisoners for experiments to test chemical and biological weapons. All of those are factual and well documented by the historical record, regardless of how much the Japanese nationalists may desire to pretend that they never happened.

But I can't go too hard on the Japanese, here, for denying reality. The past few days have shown that America has no shortage of people who want to pretend that bad things never were done, or rationalize them away.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Keep In Mind That Dubya and Willard Both Went to Harvard Business School

So it won't surprise you to learn that one of the professors of that school set a new mark for dickishness when he thought he was overcharged $4 for an order of Chinese takeout.

Seriously. The guy actually threatened legal action and filing consumer complaints.

Note that the prof also graduated from Harvard Law School. So he's got a double-barreled certificate in being a dick.

Said dick regards himself as the "sheriff of the Internet".

And, after being shamed all around the Internet, said dick now says he's sorry for threatening to sue the pants off the restaurant's owners.

Yeah, I just bet that he is.

UPDATE: The Dick did it before.

"Thug" as a Code Word

Steven over at the Booman Tribune has a lengthy piece about how the Right Wing Noise Machine is using the word "thug" as a code word for "scary black guy", or, if you prefer the old word, "nigger".

It is worth reading.

Airline Tip

Never unscrew a cartridge-fed fountain pen in an airliner at altitude. The pressure difference is enough that the ink comes out at a rather aggressive rate. So what you're writing will suffer blotches and such.

Torture Nation; Throwing the CIA Under the Bus Edition (and Abu Ghraib)

"Why are we talking about this in the White House? History will not judge this kindly." -- Attorney General John Ashcroft, in one of many meetings about using torture.

The Bush Administration knew about it. The Cheney Cabal pushed for using more brutal methods.

As horrific as the report is turning out to be, it is also a profile in cowardice. There was no acknowledgement of the Bush Administration's demands that people be tortured. And the Obama Administration, aka MTAHNS, refused to turn over nearly ten thousand documents to the investigators. Obama opposed the CIA turning anything whatsoever over to the Senate inquiry, which makes Obama, for trying to cover up the commission of war crimes, as culpable as Bush.

The CIA and the Department of Defense committed war crimes. They committed the sort of crimes that, nearly seventy years ago, we executed enemy prisoners for doing similar things.

But they were not rogue agencies. The CIA and the military did what their bosses demanded of them. Which is not an excuse, but an explanation.

The release of the Senate report is a laudable step. But it is also a stark example of the shitty tendency of bureaucracy to blame the underlings for following the orders of the bosses.

Which leads me to this: We should either open a prosecution of the senior members of the Bush Administration for what they did, or pardon everyone who was convicted for torturing prisoners at Abu Graib. Either we follow through on being a nation of laws or embrace that we are a nation of war criminals. There really isn't any middle ground.

As for the Wingnut Weasels who are, to this day, defending the use of torture and decrying the release of the report about things the entire world knows that we did anyway, those folks are showing themselves to be beneath contempt. Their waving the bloody flag of patriotism as a justification for torturing people is simply despicable.

All honor to John McCain, for breaking ranks with the Pro-Torture/Republican Party on this issue.

When the Only Tool You Have is a Hammer, All Problems Resemble Nails; Police Edition

The St. Louis Po-Po have a new idea: If they pick up a teenager for doing something wrong, they're going to charge the parents with child neglect or failure to supervise or someother stupid shit charge.

The parents would be charged through the exact same municipal court system which, in Missouri, is now the subject of investigations and calls for reform because they routinely tack on fees, charges, and hold people in jail for weeks at a time for missing a court date for a traffic ticket. It's a problem that has been festering for decades (and is by no means unique to Missouri).

By the time that a kid, especially a male, is sixteen or seventeen, there is really fuck-all that a parent or guardian, especially a woman, is going to be able to force the kid to do. What do the cops expect them to do, lock the kids in a room? And then the kid has to be let out to go to school. The mothers may be working one or more minimum wage jobs to feed their families, and now, to add to the stress of that, the cops are going to show up and hand them tickets if their kids misbehave.

Tickets that are going to require separate court appearances. Court appearances that will have the mother losing a day or more of work over, and maybe their jobs, as well.

Yeah, that's going to solve the problem. [/eyeroll]

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Something I Don't See Every Day; Bangity Edition

A partial box of Flobert 9mm rimfire cartridges.


I had no idea that they were still in production.

See Dick Lie. Lie, Dick, Lie.

Dick Cheney was lying about the efficacy of torture.

But then again, he has had a long track record of winking at, approving and covering up war crimes.

The question now is this: Do we have the national integrity to deal with the fact that our government ordered the commission of war crimes?

I am betting heavily on "No".

(H/T)

Torture Nation

The report has been released.

You might want to download your own copy. For it's very likely that the Senate in the next (114th) Congress will try to jam this entire issue down the memory hole.

For the "small gummint" GOP is, at its core, very much an authoritarian and pro-police state party, and that includes approval of torturing people.

Monday, December 8, 2014

"Releasing This Report on Klan Atrocities Will Cause People to Lose Respect for the KKK!"

Which is pretty much the line being barfed out by the Defenders of the Torture State.

Not only did officials of the United State commit war crimes with the approval of the President, now we're going to try and sweep it under the rug?

It should also be noted that the Coverup Crowd includes people who are culpable.

So, what are we going to do? Are we going to hide this report away for fifty or seventy-five years, until 99% of everyone reading this post today is dead, and then release it and say "we're sorry that our ancestors were terrible people"?

There is a word for that: Cowardice.

This nation committed crimes. One of the first steps in getting past doing wrong is admitting to the crime and accepting that what was done was wrong.

One doesn't have to have a law degree to know that torture is illegal. The assurances of the pro-torture crowd (Bush, Cheney, Rice, Addington, Bybee, Yoo, Hayden and others) to the torturers that what they were doing was legal should not have passed the smell test. Even the FBI, an organization known for holding itself above the law, wouldn't partake of torture at Guantanamo (though they have no problem with torture by proxy).

We did this. As some of the commenters have noted, everybody knows already. Let's sack up and deal with it.

UPDATE: And we may not have a choice.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Ah, They'll Probably Beat Them Half to Death for "Resisting Arrest".

Headline in the paper today: Police Pursue Reforms.

Right. We shall see. The city of Cleveland has entered into a consent decree with the Dept. of Justice after the DOJ found that the Cleveland cops were little more than brutal thugs with badges.

I don't think the worm has yet turned on this. As long as the cops can limit their brutality to mostly poor people, I doubt if there will be any sustained movement for reform. And yes, the po-po seem to be using race as a proxy for economic class, which is why the NYPD has gotten away with repeatedly frisking nearly every Black and Latino male in the city.

By now it's occurred to nearly every person with a carry permit that they are held to far higher standards on the use of force than the supposedly professional gun-toters. The cops (and I include the Feebies in this) can and do shoot damn near anyone or anything at anytime without the repercussions that would come down on a civilian who did the exact same thing.

Don't be fooled: The current "push for reform" is more the authorities trying to outlast the news cycle than anything else. Oh, sure, a few of the outliers on the brutality scale will be sacrificed. But real change in the use of force by police won't come until the Boyos in Blue lose their sense of perspective and begin wholesale abuse and killing of white folk.

Your Sunday Morning Jet Noise

USAF VC-137 62-6000, call sign SAM 26000, unless the President was aboard.


Then, of course, she was called Air Force One.

She was used for backup service after 72-7000 entered service and continued on for a time after the two VC-25As entered service. The VC-25s were probably too hefty for some missions; both of the VC-137s kept flying until some VC-32s became operational. Only then were the VC-137s retired. 62-6000 was retired in 1998, 72-7000 in 2001.

62-6000 is at the Air Force Museum in Ohio, 72-7000 is at the Reagan Library in California.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Holiday Humor, Trekkie Style



What is somewhat astonishing is that the show concluded its run 20 years ago. I can't really think of any series that had the ability to reach down and grab one's heart the way that TNG sometimes did. The Inner Light had me in tears at the end; I suspect that I was, by far, not alone in that reaction. Which is probably why it won a Hugo.

25 Years Ago, in a Boston Suburb,

Susan Simoni was murdered.

The case is still open. Whether or not the case was fixed, or handled incompetently, or wasn't really provable is a matter of some debate.

Caturday

Jake is as snug as a bug in a rug.


And probably warmer, to boot!

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Butthurt of the Derp Gun

Guns & Ammo got their feelings hurt when they were called out for writing a puff piece about the Taurus Curve. Their first reaction was to threaten to call in the lawyers.

But apparently, somebody senior there has heard of the Streisand Effect, and they backed down.

Truth Can Be Found in Comedy; Foreign Policy Edition


Dear Barn'

Please pay attention. This will be on the test.

This is a pill bottle:


This is a gun:


Any questions?

Upon passing the exam, Sheriff Taylor will give you back your bullet.

(This is why.)

Oh, and Barn'? Refresh yourself on how to turn on your flashlight.

Because It's Friday

Prepping for the first run on the Essex Valley RR.

Back to the Future; Son of Apollo Launch

First test launch of the Orion space capsule:


It should have been clear to all by 1986 that the Shuttle was a technological dead end. The Shuttle did give us Hubble and, thanks to the five servicing flights, Hubble has been doing stellar work for two decades. The International Space Station would probably have been a lot harder to build without the Shuttle.

But the Shuttle was taking us nowhere other than Earth orbit. It's been over 40 years since an astronaut was outside of Earth orbit. It's long past time that we're back in the manned deep space game.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Worst Military Rifle of the 20th Century

If, as the of-stated line goes: "The Mosin rifle fought itself in every major war and lost each time," then the absolute worst rifle of the century had to be this:


The Mauser M98 and its younger brother, the K98:


The 1898 was the principal rifle of Germany through two world wars, both of which were started by Germany and both of which she lost. When the Red Army fought its way into Berlin, the soldiers were carrying Mosin rifles.


The Quintessential American Cop's Gun
At Least It Was, Before the Rise of the Wondernines

The Smith & Wesson Model 10-5:


The 10-5 was produced from 1962 to 1977, a long production run for a S&W postwar engineering variant. S&W widened the front sight and the notch in the rear sight, which made the sights more visible than the skinny front sights of the earlier models.

When one considers that the Model 10 was originally named the "Hand Ejector" in 1899 (to distinguish it from the break-top automatic ejecting handguns S&W made at the time) and then the "Military & Police" before it became the Model 10, it is likely that the Model 10 has been in production longer than any other firearm, with 6,000,000 being made. The lockwork supposedly hasn't changed much since the Great War. You can still buy a new one, but only with a 4" heavy barrel (and the dreaded "Hillary lock").

Some authorities say that the pre 10s are best not fired often with +P ammunition. Others say that what is now +P ammo is close to what was originally loaded for .38 Specials back in the day. YMMV.

While I'm on the subject of ammunition, several hundred thousand M&Ps were made for the British during World War II; those were chambered in .38/200, also known as ".38 S&W". .38 S&W rounds are not interchangeable with .38 Specials; the .38 S&W's bullet is .004" fatter than that of a .38 Special. The .38 S&W's cartridge case is shorter, as well. A number of .38 S&W revolvers have had their chambers reamed to accept .38 Specials, which are functional, but not rumored to be particularly accurate.

While prices of all Smith & Wesson revolvers have been creeping up (the prices of Model 17s and 19s are getting insane), there are still good Model 10s to be had for reasonable prices. I bought this one recently, the "out the door" price was $300. It has all the hallmarks of a gun that spent quite a bit of time in a holster and hardly any time on a firing range. There is a faint line on both sides of the frame that suggest that the gun once had a set of target grips installed, which a previous owner kept. It wears its original "PC Magna" grips. The grips don't have a little solid diamond around the grip screw holes, which dates this particular revolver after 1967. (What "diamond grips" look like.)

Even to this day, the Model 10 is as close to "everything you need and nothing you don't" as you can get in a handgun.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Better Get Used to the Idea of the Band Playing "Hail to the Chief" for Hillary Cinton

Because if the best that the GOP can come up with is a clown who thinks that conditions in the US are the same as they were in Nazi Germany, it's going to be a rather foregone campaign.

Millions of people had their citizenship stripped away. Most were forced out of their jobs. These who owned businesses saw their businesses trashed by government-sanctioned mobs and they were forced to "sell" them at a severe loss. People were made to wear identifying markers, they were made to move into ghettos, their houses of worship were ransacked and burned and the cops and army could kill them with impunity.

And that was all going on, mind you, before the war began.

Other than, maybe, the cops killing people with impunity, show me the parallels. Show me how signing up for health insurance equates to Kristallnacht.

I can see the commercials now: Footage of Nazi goons burning books, torching buildings and shooting women and children, with a voiceover along the lines of: "This is what Ben Carson thinks America is like. Can you risk voting for a candidate who is so far out of touch with reality?"

Pass the popcorn.

I Have a Dream,
That the Day Will Come,
When Police Are Not Permitted,
To Kill People With Impunity.

But that day is not yet here.

The cop this time used a chokehold, which is prohibited by the NYPD because the improper use of chokeholds tends to either kill people or turn them into vegetables. But as tends to happen with local grand juries, the cop in question was given a pat on the back and told "attaboy".

Toot! Toot!



Having had the experience of listening to my brother try to master the clarinet, I have some faint appreciation for Mr. Pollak's abilities.

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Short and Long of It

A 6mm fisheye lens and a 5,200mm telephoto lens.

You'll need two camera bodies, as the fisheye is a Nikon and the telephoto is a Canon. But what the hell, if you can afford them, the cost of buying two camera bodies is chump change.

Can We Finally Put a Stake Through the Heart of "Cyber Monday"?

There was a reason for it, a long time ago. As Tam explained, that reason is largely gone.

Look Around, Fish

This is probably one of the better thought-out blog posts about racism that I've read recently. Which I commend to your attention.

Also, I love the title of the blog.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

More Thoughts on the Taurus Derp Gun

(Earlier posts)

Another thought came to mind about the Derp Gun:*  It doesn't look that much like a gun. It kinda sorta looks like a pepper spray (or other gas) projector.  And that might get people shot.

One of the good things about a traditional gun is that it looks like a gun.  The bad guy who you've had to draw on knows that you have a gun and it's pointed at him.  A lot of bad guys have a deep-seated aversion to contracting a sudden case of bullet wounds, which is why confrontations often end with the miscreant beating feet.

If, on the other hand, the bad guy doesn't recognize your gun as a gun, you might end up having to shoot him.  Which, for you, isn't exactly a good outcome (though better than what it could be). Better for you if he runs away.**
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* Writing three posts about a gun that is a toolroom prototype might seem a bit much, I suppose. But a term such as "Derp Gun". is too much fun not to use.
** If he shits his pants and screams, even better.

Your Sunday Morning Jet Noise

Boeing Dreamlifter:

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Fix Always Was In; Ferguson Edition

Sure, this is all one big coincidence, right?
The Ferguson police officer who fatally shot Michael Brown has resigned, his attorney said Saturday...


What You Never See in a Vampire Movie (With an Update)

A water-bomber to soak the legions of the undead with holy water.


It'd only take a few minutes to bless the water in the airplane's tank.

And then "bombs away" on the undead.

Based on this, a story about such a fight.

So Much to Be Pissed Off About

There just is. Uber's strong-arm tactics. The VA willingly allowing a terminally-ill vet to die in pain because they were afraid he could become addicted, after it was the VA's piss-poor care that made him terminally-ill. Wingnuts crowing about the fairness of the Ferguson grand jury, when it was obvious that, from the start, the investigation treated the cop as a crime victim. Wingnuts who were noticeable silent when Bush and Cheney planted newspaper stories justifying the Iraq War (both before and after) and who are now upset that Holder has done some of the same to justify the "Fast and Furious" mishegoss.

Thing is, I'm getting tired of being pissed off. Doesn't anyone realize that what it takes, now, for a cop to be held criminally liable for shooting someone is to put them face down on the ground and then shoot them in the back? Doesn't everyone know that the "eggshell plaintiff" rule doesn't apply to cops?

Hasn't anyone realized by now that assuming the presidency is akin to putting on the One Ring? They all become enchanted, if not trapped, by their power and they only seek to expand it.

Meanwhile, store economists have missed have missed the underlying lesson of Black Friday: "The shopper coming out for those deals is very disciplined," according to a guy at Indiana U. named John Talbott, pointing out that shoppers are not making impulse purchases like they once did.

No fucking shit, Sherlock. People don't have the disposable income that they once did. Even with minimal inflation, wages have been stagnant for a very long period of time. Oh, it might be high cotton if you sell real estate in the East Hamptons or high-end cars, but for many models of cars and trucks, inventories are rather high.

But there is just so much to get outraged over and my tank is getting low. And frankly, I don't know what to do. There is a goodly percentage of people in this country who are just fine with cops gunning down non-whites. The people at the top mostly seem to embody the mindset of the Bezoses and Sandbergs who say, in essence: "I got mine, fuck you." Shame, protests, votes, riots, all seem to do nothing. The Democrats are inept, the Republicans are venal. Most of the people who seem to want to be president in `16 are unfit to run a town of 35. (Quite possibly, the worst thing we've done is to scrap the "smoke-filled room" method of nominating candidates. The primary system seems to generate a candidate based on the "Who's the Biggest Bozo", but that's a subject for another time.)

So I'm probably going to tone it down for awhile. Lots of people are still at it, plenty are in my blogrolls, so if you need to get pissed off, go there.

They Won the Internets for This Headline

Masturbating Passenger Causes Premature Landing For Virgin Flight


The contest is closed.

Caturday

That is the bed of a 110lb dog that has been commandeered by an eight pound cat:


"Cats rule!"

Friday, November 28, 2014

Who Ya Gonna Call? Tankbusters!

An attack aircraft that the Pentagon is trying to get rid of has been deployed to the Middle East to take on the Islamic State.

A squadron-sized element of A-10 Thunderbolts arrived in the region during the week of Nov. 17-21, according to the Air Force. The aircraft were previously being used in Afghanistan.

I can't imagine the Zoomies ever doing this with their precious F-35 Turkeys.

Black Friday

The one day of the year in which it is pretty much legal to trample children and old folks.

Because It's Friday

A Decauville railroad.


Decauvilles were narrow-gauge light rail. The tracks could come pre-fabricated, like giant Lionel-type segments. The tracks could be laid very quickly. The Decauville system was widely used for constructing railroads for moving ammunition, supplies and cannon fodder up to the trench lines during the Great War. Possibly the very first internal combustion locomotives ran on the Decauville trench railroads, as steam engines created too much smoke and thereby attracted the unwanted attention of German artillery spotters.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

A Thanksgiving Tradition

Alice's Restaurant by Arlo Guthrie:


When I lived in the Boston area, WBCN played this song every Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

For those of you traveling today, I hope you had (or are having) a safe journey.

Happy Thanksgiving! Please praise your cook(s), even if the food is borderline toxic. They undoubtedly worked hard to bring the meal to fruition.

(Even if they didn't work all that hard.)

The Web-Enabled Crock Pot..Um, Really?

Yes, you can buy a wifi-enabled crock pot, which was a story on CBS Sunday Morning.

$130 seems like a lot for a crock pot, considering that is several times the price of a regular crock pot.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Taurus Derp Gun, or "Why Be Skeptical?"

One of the "selected gun writers" who got to go on a boondoggle to shoot a pre-prototype version of the Taurus Curve published his review.

"Fawning" isn't the term I'd use. More like "fellating". The reviewer got to shoot a pre-production prototype on a "video range" and he said he had no problem shooting 12" video plates at seven yards.

Right. As opposed to shooting at real targets? Why do I suspect that he could have fired the thing at his foot and Taurus's range would have said the equivalent of "nice shot, me boy"?

The other thing is that the gunwriters seem to have the short-term memories of end-stage Alzheimer's patients. Do they not remember the debacle surrounding the Remington R51; a gun which the gunwriters fell over themselves to praise when they got to coonfinger and shoot the pre-production models in 2013? Don't they remember that the production guns were so fucked up that Remington recalled all of them?

The professional gunwriters also similarly fawned over the Colt All-American 2000, which was yet another gun that didn't make the translation from toolroom prototype to production model. With a bit of searching, I'll bet that you can easily find other examples-- anyone remember the Bren Ten?

I'll stand by what I wrote a week ago.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE



Blogging will be light due to the Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S. of A. Other than the three serial posts, I don't have anything queued up for your reading pleasure.

Surf the blogroll and spend time with friends (and family, if you can stand them).

Your Sunday Morning Jet Noise

No noise, this week, but where else are you going to see a turboprop-powered B-17?


From the titles, that footage was shot in July, 1970. That turboprop B-17 crashed the following month during the pull-up of a drop run, killing both pilots and destroying the airplane.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Fifty One Years

Over half a century since the assassination of President Kennedy, a killing that continues to echo to the present day.

I was in grade school then. A half-a-century in the past, to me, then, might as well been during the Bronze Age. My grandmother was just starting high school back then. Rose Kennedy hadn't had her first child.

"WBCN: We're the station that gives Rose Kennedy a reason to live." -- that was a promo during "The Big Mattress" morning show in the early `90s. Of course, Rose Kennedy is long dead, now, and so is WBCN. There were businesses back then who timed their morning coffee breaks so they could listen to the "Mishegoss" segment during the Big Mattress.

But I digress.

Fucking time does fly.

Benghazi Always Was Bullshit

The House Intelligence Committee spent two years and untold millions of dollars to ultimately reluctantly conclude that there is nothing there. Which is why they released their report late on a Friday, when the traditional news media pays less attention.

No doubt that they reached that conclusion with extreme reluctance. Because any other finding would have been a weapon to use agains the Clinton campaign.

But don't worry, folks. The hard-core Wingnuts will, no doubt, not be deterred from screaming "Benghazi" at every turn. Because they've never been deterred by facts.

Caturday

Jake in "Ops Normal" mode:


In human year equivalents, Jake is in his upper 80s. As I write this, having taken that photo about ten minutes ago, he is asleep and his paws are twitching. I have little footstools by a chair he likes and the couch, so he can more easily get up and down. There is a set of cat stairs at the foot of my bed.

And now I'm trying to type one-handed while I rub his belly. Because my phone beeped and woke him up.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Because It's Friday

A South African Garratt:



Thursday, November 20, 2014

This is Why We Can't Have Nice Things; Drone Edition

U.S. aviation regulators are investigating three reports since Nov. 16 of drones flying close to airliners near New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Pilots on a JetBlue flight told the Federal Aviation Administration they spotted a drone as they approached JFK yesterday at 1:50 p.m. local time, the agency said in a statement.

Crews on two flights nearing JFK, one operated by Delta and the other by Virgin Atlantic, saw an unmanned aircraft shortly after 8 p.m. on Nov. 16, according to the statement.
Drones have been flown by hobbyists for decades, only they were called "radio-controlled model aircraft". R/C planes were, at first, all scratch-built and expensive in either materials or time or both to build. Their owners did not fly them at any great distance from where the planes were launched.

But now there are quad-rotors and other drones that don't look like models of aircraft. They carry cameras and are flown, not for the joy of flying them, but as camera platforms. Most of the drones don't have any readouts back to the operator, other than maybe a video signal. The operators don't know how high they are flying them and a significant majority of them don't seem to care.

Two morons in New York City recently flew a drone into the airspace commonly used by light aircraft following the Hudson River. That they didn't endanger more aircraft than they did was due to them flying their drone at night.

One of these idiots is, sooner or later, going to fly a drone into a collision with an airplane. And then, all of the foot-dragging and caution of the FAA in hesitating to allow drone flights will be seen as being justified.

Can Microsoft Become Even More Evil?

They're working on it. They've deployed the first generation Dalek:
Microsoft has become one of the first companies to deploy autonomous robot security guards.
I respectfully submit that anyone who doesn't believe that these things won't eventually be outfitted with weapons is seriously delusional.

I would not at all be surprised to learn that the wifi network that these things connect to is named SkyNet. Because Microsoft is that frigging tone-deaf.

(H/T)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Look! Up in The Sky! See the Spy Up in the Sky!

The Justice Department of the United States is acquiring data from mobile phones by using devices known as "dirtboxes," which are deployed on airplanes.

The high-tech operations, reported by the Wall Street Journal, targets criminals and suspects. However, a huge number of innocent people are also being affected, according to sources that are familiar with the matter.

The U.S. Marshals Service program, which gained full functionality around 2007, controls Cessna airplanes from no less than five airports in metropolitan areas, with a range of flight that covers most of the population of the United States.
The ACLU is not amused. And neither should you be.

I would ask how long are we going to tolerate indiscriminate government snooping on Americans, but it seems to be that the answer is "forever". Once party X or candidate why gets into power, they drink the NSA/FBI/Stasi Kool-Aid and nothing ever changes.

Yep, Watch Those Republicans Stand Up for the Constitution

But only when they can see a way to score political points. When it comes to principle and the rights of everyone else, not so much:
The Senate on Tuesday blocked a bill to end bulk collection of American phone records by the National Security Agency, dealing a blow to President Barack Obama's primary proposal to rein in domestic surveillance.

The 58-42 vote was two short of the 60 needed to proceed with debate. Voting was largely along party lines, with most Democrats supporting the bill and most Republicans voting against it.
There is a possibility of a longer game here, in that the NSA's legal authority to collect phone data ends in June.* Maybe those opposed to the NSA spying on all of us plan to just stop it then, but frankly, I don't think that's the case. The GOP is loaded with people who have no objections to a police state, as long as the fuzz don't get in the way of the top 0.01%'s ability to amass even more money.

On this vote, all but one Democrat voted to stop the NSA's bulk collection of Americans' telephone calls. All but four Republicans thought that the NSA's bulk collections is just peachy.
_____________________________________
* Rand Paul says that's why he voted to let the NSA keep on spying on all Americans, for now.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Taurus Plumbs the Depths of Derp

Their idea is a curved pistol to better fit the bodies of right-handed shooters. In the "professional gun press", expect to read the usual laudatory reviews (given to most advertisers).

The gun has no sights. The end of the barrel is apparently cut at an angle, which usually plays hob with accuracy, but what the hell, the damn gun has no sights. Taurus painted a crosshair on the back of the gun so you can do what, I don't know. The G&A article claims that accuracy is OK, because they can keep it on minute of thug at five yards. A S&W Airweight can do much better at longer range and it's probably a dollars-to-doughnuts bet that a professional gunwriter can shoot better than me.

This gun must be intended for those who felt that a LCP was too bulky. Which is who, exactly?

Taurus also curved the handle of their View, a gun that seems to be unpopular as hell, given that the gun that my LGS got in last summer is still on the shelf in one of the display cases. Meanwhile, S&W Airweights and Ruger LCRs come into the store on the Brown Truck of Goodies and go out the door in the hands of their customers.

Damn, there has to be a middle ground between the gimmickry of Taurus and the ossification of Colt.

Hammers are Useful Tools, and So is Prof. Turley

After two Washington law firms backed out of earlier commitments to represent House Republicans in their legal challenge, House Speaker John Boehner hired Jonathan Turley on Tuesday. Turley is a George Washington professor who is an expert on constitutional law and well known to cable TV viewers as a legal analyst.
Oh, Turley thinks that he is standing up for the Constitution, but make no mistake about it: The Republicans in the House don't give a flying fuck about the Constitution. They surely didn't care when George W. Bush's Administration was trampling all over the Constitution. There wasn't one peep from them when Bush's administration arrogated powers to itself or issuing lots of Executive Orders.

Not a single damn word.

And as far as the claims of the Wingnuts that Obama is a tyrant governing by Executive Orders, that's just bullshit. Ronald Reagan issued far more Executive Orders, but you'd have to look pretty damn hard to find a conservative who is lambasting Reagan for that (or for tripling the national debt).

No, this litigation is more akin to the Menendez brothers begging for mercy because they're orphans.

You'll Be Wanting Some Brain Bleach


Can't say you weren't warned.

Monday, November 17, 2014

You Don't Need a Weatherman to Know Which Way the Wind is Blowing; Ferguson Edition

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency Monday ahead of an expected grand jury decision in the case of Michael Brown.
While, meanwhile, the cops in St. Louis County continue to obfuscate and lie:
[Chief Jon Belmar of St Louis County] the police chief leading the response to protests over the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, has been accused of dishonesty by demonstrators after denying that officers shot at them with rubber bullets and claiming that only criminals were teargassed.
Reporters were teargassed. Clergy were teargassed. People standing in their yards were teargassed. All of that is a matter of record.

And the cops were shooting at people, including those who where only exercising their First Amendment rights, with rubber munitions. That Chief Belmar is hanging his hat on the distinction between "rubber balls" and "rubber bullets" is pettifoggery to an unseemly degree.

Springfield Armory: The Derp is Strong With You

From here

Really, guys? Labeling the grip as the "grip zone"? Did they label the sights as the "eyeball zone"?

And what is with the picatinny rails on the holster and the magazine carriers? There is another photo in the gun review which shows the magazine loader clipped to that holster in such a way that the magazine would fall out, a bit of derp only exceeded by HK's memorable catalog cover.

As for the review itself, well, "fawning" would be an understatement. The writer calls the XD-mod 2 his favorite subcompact 9mm by far and then, a paragraph later, says that he doesn't own one. Which is kind of like me saying that my favorite prop-driven fighter is the Spitfire Mk.IX.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Your Sunday Morning Jet Noise

I was trying to find a video of a Hansa HB 320, but the only ones I can find are of a derelict being moved by truck.

So here's a A380 departing in winter.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

War and Peace

You probably know that one has to serve on active duty in the American military for twenty years in order to retire with a pension.

But do you know the last year that you could have joined the armed forces and had a career wholly in peacetime?

1921.

Using VA eligibility dates, there was less than four years between World War II and the Korean War, less than nine years between the Korean War and the Vietnam War and then fifteen years before the Gulf War.

Going by the VA, the Gulf War has been going on for the last twenty-four years. Which means that 1990 was the first year that one could have joined up and then spent one's entire career during a time of war.

At the current pace, the Gulf War period won't end anytime soon. Which means that soon, it will have gone on longer than it did for us to mobilize, beat Germany once, demobilize, reduce the Army to almost a token force, then rearm, mobilize again and beat the Germans a second time.

Which, when put that way, sounds somewhere between pathetic and depressing.

Colt is Dying?

Colt is going to default on its bonds.

I have mixed feelings about this. I've owned at least one Colt for almost all of my adult life (currently have a Government Model, a Gold Cup, a Detective Special and a AR-15). The 1911s are Series 80s and I can't say anything bad about them. The firing pin block might not have been the best solution to the "drop...boom" problem, but it works.

But here is the sad truth about Colt: They've been riding on their past glories for far too long. They pretty much make three guns for the civilian market: The 1911, the AR-15 and the Single Action Army. For every one of them, there are lots of competitors that make the same damned gun and, in some cases, both better and less expensive.

Colt has done a lot of stupid shit over the last few decades. RUMINT is that the reason Colt discontinued all of its double-action revolvers was that they ran the tooling and machinery into the ground. Colt signed onto the Clinton "smart gun" initiative, sparking a consumer boycott. They tried to jump into the Wonder-Nine era with the All-American 2000, which was a major piece of shit. Colt hasn't really done anything innovative (other than the aforementioned A-A 2000) since they bought Eugene Stoner's AR-15 design from Armalite 55 years ago. They've had labor unrest. The recurring incompetence of Colt's management has been enough to earn several Ph.D.s for business scholars.

Colt also hitched its wagon to military/LEO sales for its rifles. The military is largely immune to the siren call of new-model consumerism.[1] Once a war winds down and the Army finds itself with enough rifles in its armories to more than equip everyone, they're not going to place large orders.[2] The last great convulsion in military small arms took place over fifty years ago, everything since then has been a matter of evolutionary tweaks. Armies don't buy on that basis until what they have in their racks wears out.

Most every other gun maker sells some guns that you can't get anywhere else, maybe somewhat similar, but not exactly. You want a classic DA revolver in .41 Magnum, you're buying a Smith & Wesson. You want a heavy-caliber Single-Action, you're buying a Ruger.[3] The other gun-makers also innovate, which is why you can see modern cartridges coming out from time to time labelled ".XX Ruger", ".XX Remington" or ".XX S&W". The last new cartridge that came out expressly designed for a Colt product, to my recollection, was the .38 Super.[4]

Colt has been riding on its past glories for longer than most of my Dear Readers have been shooting firearms. Maybe it's indeed time to put the old pony down.
__________________________________
[1] Special forces operators notwithstanding.
[2] Not that Congress would let them if they wanted to.
[3] You want a revolver that might not work, buy a Taurus.
[4] It has been over a century since the introduction of the last cartridge that had the word "Colt" in its designation.

Caturday

The boss of a B&B takes a refreshing water break:


There was a water dish with nice clean water, but she preferred to lap up rainwater from a trough in a set of log steps.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Because It's Friday

Brazilian steam.


The bit with the station gates was pretty odd.

It's Harder to Buy You a Federal Judge, Don

Donald Blankenship, a former chief executive of Massey Energy Co, was indicted on Thursday on charges he violated federal mine safety laws prior to the April 2010 explosion that killed 29 miners at the company's Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia.
Blankenship spent a frigging fortune buying contributing to state judges' campaign funds, including $3 million on one state supreme court judge that got the attention of the Supremes.* As much as it was possible to do, Blankenship owned the politicians in West Virginia.

But it's a little harder to get to a federal judge.
____________________________
* Back before they ruled that money = speech.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

C'mon People, You Know How Hard It Is to Re-Mark Those Expiration Dates??*

Wal-Mart is trying to crack down on boosting grocery sales.

The underlying issue is that Wal-Mart apparently would need to hire nearly a quarter of a million more workers in order to have enough people on the floor to do what needs to be done.

Or they could pay them more. I keep hearing stories that whenever a new big-box store opens in a town, one can almost count on the first people showing up at the hiring fair to be current employees of Wal-Mart.
__________________________________________________________
* There was a sitcom back in the `80s that was set, in part, in an office. A vendor would come by periodically, selling snacks from a small pushcart. At one point, the vendor tells people that they need to buy the wares "because I'll have to re-stamp those sell-by dates."

I don't remember the series, but somebody will. I have faith in you, Gentle Readers.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Terminology is Puzzling

Saw this ad in a buy/sell section of the Book of Ugly Faces:

For sale: ZBT cymbals. 5 cymbals, good condition. just stick marks and light scratches from normal use.

14" Hats
16" Crash
18" Crash
20" Ride
I thought that all cymbals went "crash". I had no idea that some were wearable, or that some could be used for transportation.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Book Pricing?

It doesn't make any sense to me.

Take a look, for example, at Why We Lost. List price is $28. Amazon sells the hardcover ("dead tree") for $20.97 and its Kindle price is $14.99. Barnes and Noble* offers it for $21.47 and for the Nook, it's $15.49.

Are the printing and distribution costs for each hard copy book really only about six bucks? That's what the difference between the E-book and the real hardcover price would have one believe.
____________________________
* Barnes and Noble's motto: "You Can Always Get It For Less From Amazon."

Armistice Day

The guns fell silent right now in 1918.

Every establishment that is having a "Veteran's Day Sale" should be picketed. For reasons that I've written about in other years.

We seem, as a nation, to be on a rough cycle to have a really stupid and pointless war every fifty years or so. It would be nice if our leaders over the centuries were capable of some modest understanding of the long-term costs of war. The shattered families. The poisoned soil. The devastated economies. The echoes of all that reverberates for a very long time, long past the point that people read about the causes of a war, scratch their heads and wonder what were they thinking.*

Maybe the Great War would have happened anyway. The Slavs wanted to be free of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. There would have been some other incident, sooner or later, that would have caused much butthurt to the Hapsburgers, who would have then attacked Serbia, thus drawing in everyone else into a continent-wide charnel house.**

It was still a stupid war and, based on the number of casualties and wrecked nations, it might have been the high-water mark for stupid wars.***
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* As far as I know, the VA is still paying one Civil War pension, almost 150 years after that war ended.
** Too bad alliances weren't written on the terms of "if you're attacked, we'll come to your aid, but if you start a war, it's on you."
*** So far.


Monday, November 10, 2014

Imagine a Starless Night Sky

Other then possibly a moon or two, or other planets, a completely dark sky, with no stars to shine down. Only a few faint smudges of distant galaxies might be visible to the eye.

Would they even dream of life elsewhere if there were no stars to see?

There may be worlds like that.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Great War

A series of BBC documentaries on the First World War.


It may only have been British propaganda about the war and winning that kept the British Empire from crumbling and falling apart immediately after the war's end. It would have been completely understandable if there had been a revolution in England following the war, once it became apparent to even the causal observer that so many British lives had been so callously wasted by the generals. That so many men had died and more had been maimed for the rest of their lives because of a war that had been fought for reasons bordering on sheer insanity and which had itself been waged with criminal stupidity.

But lessons fade over time. If they hadn't, then maybe our own nation would have been more skeptical when our own government began pounding the drums of war over a dozen years ago. Maybe the British themselves would have been more skeptical when their government, at times, took the lead in fabricating the rationale for war.

(H/T)