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

Friday, January 31, 2014

Because It's Friday

Japanese steam:

The Punxsutawney Phil Bowl

Regardless of whether he (or any of the other groundhogs) sees his shadow on Sunday, one thing is clear:

We're not going to have six more weeks of football.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

"Cutting Edge Ammo"-- No, Thank You

There's been some reports recently about new developments in ammunition, Liberty Civil Defense, R.I.P. and "multiple impact" bullets.

I'm staying away from all of them.

At least, not until some serious testing is done on them beyond what has been done. Especially testing that drapes clothing (heavy denim, leather jackets) over the ballistic media. Because most people don't run around nekkid when they are looking to harm folks, not unless they're rock-solid-batshit crazy.

I'm not sure if these new bullets are Bede-grade snake-oil or not.

But what I do know is this: I'm not going to be one of the ones trying them out. My opinion is that in a weapon where you need it to go "bang" to stop someone from doing harm to you or your loved ones, this is what I do:

In guns that have modern police-grade ammo available (9mm, .40, .357 SIg, .45 ACP), use what the cops use, if you can get it. Speer Gold Dot, Federal HST, Federal Hydrashok, Remington Golden Saber. Buffalo Bore makes some good stuff for both revolvers and automatics. For .38s, the FBI's last revolver load (158gr LSWCHP +P) is good. .357 magnum, 125grn JHPs are a proven fight-stopper. Other calibers with some power, .41/.44 magnum, you can find stuff that is both effective and doesn't have punishing recoil.

Smaller, I don't know. There is lots of discussion as to whether a .380 hollowpoint will function (ie, open up) or whether you're better off with FMJs. There are probably some good .32/.327 magnum loadings, but down to .32 ACP and weaker, you're probably better off with FMJs.

Most all of those (probably all) are proven. There is plenty of independent testing and a significant amount of evidence from actual use. There is none of that for these new rounds.

Look, there are lots of areas in the gunnie world where it can be fun to experiment with new stuff. That's especially true in the target and competition realms. The new tech fails and you lose a match, meh.

But when we're talking about uses where you need to stop the threat, that's not the place for most of us to experiment. I sure as hell don't want to be on the cutting edge, not when there is a lot of history about the latest whiz-bangs not working the way that they were hyped promised.

I suspect that you don't, either.

Come and Get Me, Clapper! I Ain't Afraid of Ya, See!

In testimony before congress General James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, labeled the journalists whom Edward Snowden worked with to blow the whistle on the NSA as “accomplices.” A term that makes those journalists legitimate targets for surveillance, if not worse.

Now the war on whistleblowers has expanded to include the press.
So what does Jimmy the Perjurer think of bloggers who have been writing about the Snowden Revelations? Is he saying that he is going to go after Firedog Lake, or Emptywheel or Bruce Schneier or Matthew Green or Borepatch?

Or me? Or you, if you've been blogging about the NSA's Stasi-like* activities?

Is he threatening all of us?

(Nice NSA parody, by the way.)
___________________________________
* When I say "Stasi-like", please keep in mind that the East German Stasi would have only wished to have had a thousandth of the capability of the NSA to spy on its citizens.

Winchester M*22 .22lr Ammo RECALL NOTICE

Olin Corporation, through its Winchester Division, is recalling two (2) lots of M*22™ 22 Long Rifle 40 Grain Black Copper Plated Round Nose rimfire ammunition.

Seriously bad shit, folks.
Winchester has determined the above lots of 22 Long Rifle rimfire ammunition may contain double powder charges.
In other words: "Gun go 'boom' like grenade."

If you have any of this stuff, do not shoot it. Don't event think about it.

(But if you blog about guns, if even a little, please repost this.)

(H/T)

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

What a Politician Means When He Asks for "Professionalism and Respect" From the Press

It means this: "Act like stenographers. Take down what I say and don't you dare ask me no inconvenient questions."

That was on full display last night when a thuggish congressman from Staten Island threatened to throw a reporter from a balcony for asking questions that the congressman didn't want to answer. Questions about such things as criminal investigations of the congressman, his campaign and his girlfriend for violating the law on campaign donations.

Reporters are supposed to ask questions that discomfit politicians. If a Republican thug like Rep. Grimm wants to talk to reporters that will not upset him, he should confine his interviews to the "news outlets" serving the Murdoch Empire.

Big Boy 4014

She's been moved to the Colton Yards for some maintenance and to wait for better weather for the trip to UP's steam shop in Wyoming.

If you want to know what all of the knobs and levers do on a Big Boy, this is an interactive photo of the backhead of 4014. Just mouse-over each thing and it'll tell you what it does.

Winter Storm William Tecumseh Sherman

Atlanta (CNN) -- When snow only three fingers deep triggers an epic traffic jam, stranding motorists and school kids on interstates for hours, there's something very wrong with this picture.

Two inches of snow isn't supposed to turn highways into campsites. Backups aren't supposed to last all day, through the night, and into the following morning.

And yet, here they were -- hundreds of motorists across Alabama and Georgia -- still hunched over in their cars Wednesday morning, feeling the aftereffects of a snow shower that hit the states a day earlier.
This morning, one of the Weather Channel dudes said that he walked 4.5 miles into work because the roads were impassable. They were covered in ice.

There's this modern technology called "weather forecasting" and, compared to decades ago, the short-term forecasts are usually pretty good. In places where they have weather like this, school administrators will cancel school and not have the kids come in so that they don't get stranded at school.

How many salt/brine/sand trucks do they have in the metro Atlanta area? And if they do have any, do they have enough stuff to treat the roads? I'm betting they don't. The usual method for dealing with snowstorms that far south is "wait for it to melt." Hell, even as far north as St Louis, they do that and they have for many decades (only now that the "snowflake millenials" are of voting age is that city considering changing that policy).

If the weather is going to be beyond the local ability to cope with it, stay the fuck home, people. You wouldn't be out going to work or school in a hurricane, would you? A bad winter storm isn't a hell of a lot different (other than the strong winds and flooding).

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The National Weather Forecast


I'm not sure where it came from.

Or what's the deal with Florida. But then, I never know what the deal is with Florida. When John Quincy Adams denounced Florida as "a derelict open to the occupancy of every enemy, civilized or savage, of the United States, and serving no other earthly purpose than as a post of annoyance to them", he pretty much nailed it. Whatever we paid Spain for the state, we got taken. They should have paid us to take that miserable hellhole off their hands.

Fair Winds and Following Seas, Mr. Seeger.

Legendary folk singer and activist Pete Seeger has died at age 94.

Seeger’s record label, Appleseed Recordings, released a statement to ABC News confirming his death.

Born in 1919, Seeger was active as a musician from the 1930s to the present, with his music becoming a part of our culture. Seeger wrote hundreds of songs, performed by many of the greats in American Folk Music.

Seeger — with his a lanky frame, banjo and full white beard — performed with the great minstrel Woody Guthrie in his younger days and marched with Occupy Wall Street protesters in his 90s, leaning on two canes. He wrote or co-wrote "If I Had a Hammer," ''Turn, Turn, Turn," ''Where Have All the Flowers Gone" and "Kisses Sweeter Than Wine." He lent his voice against Hitler and nuclear power. A cheerful warrior, he typically delivered his broadsides with an affable air and his banjo strapped on.

Here he's singing a song written by his sister:


Sunday, January 26, 2014

Dr. Strangelove & the Subtlety of Stanley Kubrick

I never knew this part: Look at the shadow being cast by the B-52:




Look familiar?

Your Sunday (Mostly) Jet Noise

An airshow in Norway:

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Caturday-- Adopt Meeee Edition

A shelter cat gazes out a window and dreams of a forever home.


Maybe yours?

Friday, January 24, 2014

"KIller Women" Guns & Continuity

I've been watching the "Killer Women" series on ABC. Because mostly I like Tricia Helfer. It's already been axed by ABC; they'll run three more episodes and then the show is over.

Anyway, in the third episode, Ranger Molly Parker (Helfer) pulled her .45 and went into a house (because, you know, fuck the 4th Amendment).

First she drew her gun:


As you can see, the hammer of her 1911 was down, which, as we all should know, meant the gun is less useful than a brick. When I watched it, I groaned.

Then she reached for the doorknob with her left hand. The camera angle jumped to the doorknob and then back to her hand, where, without any magical clicks from the Foley guys:


The hammer was at full-cock on the 1911.

I didn't notice the second bit until I went online to grab the first screenshot.

Anyway, this is how it goes: The networks should pay me big bucks to watch proposed shows for them. If I like a show (like "Killer Women" or "Prime Suspect"), it's probably going to flop. If I'm ambivalent about a show ("The Blacklist") or if I don't care for it ("Once Upon a Time"), well, buy more of that show because it's going to be a hit.

Postal Rates

First class stamps go up from 46 cents to 49 cents on Sunday.

That's a skosh over a 6% price hike. Which may make it worthwhile to stock up a little. You'll, in effect, be getting a discount for every letter you mail after that. And since the interest rates are almost zero at the bank, it's a better return on your money.

Short Summary of Report on Privacy and Telephone Metadata:
"It Has Never Worked. Shut it Down."

Just shut it down, R2:
The US government’s privacy board has sharply rebuked President Barack Obama over the National Security Agency’s mass collection of American phone data, saying the program defended by Obama last week was illegal and ought to be shut down.

A divided Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, an independent and long-troubled liberties advocate in the executive branch, issued a report on Thursday that concludes the NSA’s collection of every US phone record on a daily basis violates the legal restrictions of the statute cited to authorize it, section 215 of the Patriot Act.
...
Not only did the board conclude that the bulk surveillance was a threat to constitutional liberties, it could not find “a single instance” in which the program “made a concrete difference in the outcome of a terrorism investigation”.
...
The board tacitly rejected the NSA’s public claim that the bulk phone records collection may have made the difference in stopping a terrorist plot connected to cab drivers in San Diego – a rare case in which a government review body has specifically refuted the NSA’s aggressive post-Snowden PR campaign.

“We believe that in only one instance over the past seven years has the program arguably contributed to the identification of an unknown terrorism suspect. Even in that case, the suspect was not involved in planning a terrorist attack and there is reason to believe that the FBI may have discovered him without the contribution of the NSA’s program,” it found.
The PCLOB's entire report. The dissent is interesting, for it is a tissue of either willful blindness or lies. The NSA is, contrary to the dissent's claim, tracking cell phone locations.

We have only the NSA's assurances that they are limiting their collection of cell phone data to foreigners.*

And we well know by now, from the NSA's statements since the beginning of the Snowden Releases months ago, that everything that is uttered by any NSA spokesman, official or one of their pet politicians is a lie, including the words "and", "the" and all punctuation.
_______________________________
* The DEA does, something which the PCLOB seems to have ignored.

Because It's Friday

Indian steam:

Thursday, January 23, 2014

A Bit More Political Corruption

Could I please have a little extra butter on my popcorn?
The conservative commentator and best-selling author Dinesh D'Souza has been indicted by a federal grand jury, for arranging excessive campaign contributions to a candidate for the US Senate.

According to an indictment made public on Thursday in federal court in Manhattan, around August 2012 D'Souza reimbursed people he had directed to contribute $20,000 to the candidate's campaign. The candidate was not named in the indictment. ... D'Souza was charged in the indictment with one count of making illegal contributions in the names of others, and one count of causing false statements to be made. In 2012, federal law limited primary and general election campaign contributions to $2,500 each, for a total of $5,000, from any individual to any one candidate.

Bieber is Doing a "Full Lohan"

None of this comes as a surprise:
Justin Bieber was charged with drunken driving, resisting arrest and driving without a valid license after police saw the pop star street racing early Thursday morning, Miami Beach police said.


I imagine that, given the details in the police report, that most other drivers would have been shot for reaching into their pants when told not to.

The cops arrested the driver of the other car (also for DUI), but apparently didn't arrest the drivers of the SUVs that blocked traffic so those two little turdlets could do some street racing.

This punk-ass kid is traveling down the Lohan-Houston Highway. He's going to be in and out of a courtroom and rehab and jail until, five or ten years from now, his career will be all over. Then his name won't be in the papers again (other than arrest reports) until they find him dead in an alley or a cheap motel room from a drug overdose.

TSA: Hiring More Practitioners of Witchcraft?

The TSA's "Behavioral Observation" program. Which has a success rate that is the same as flipping a coin.

Also, why is the TSA now acting like cops? Why do they give a shit about enforcing the laws? if somebody is carrying cash, who gives a shit? That's got nothing to do with "transportation security".

More and more, it seems that it's better to just drive to where you need to go. It was one thing back when it was private contractors that the airlines hired, but now that it's DasGov wannabee Federal agents, who needs this shit?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Laser Sights

I have Crimson-Trace laser grips on the two revolvers that I tend to carry most often (or have reachable at night). I sighted them in by making sure that the laser and the open sights were aligned to the same spot. But I hadn't really used them. The range I use most of the time is open-air and red-dot lasers don't show up very well during bright daylight.

A few days ago, I had an occasion to shoot at an indoor range. I tried out a Model 10 with the laser grips. At 25 feet, well, damn, that thing is accurate! One flyer, but five shots were into the area of an old silver dollar. I was shooting with my elbows locked against my side, holding the gun down at waist level and only using the laser to sight it. Or "direct fire", whichever is more accurate.

The neat effect was that the laser would partially reflect from the smoke downrange, so it looked a bit like the lasers you always see in SF movies. Because in the real world, you don't normally see the beam of a laser.

Anyway, as long as one could hold it steady, hits with a laser-directed snubbie could be done far outside of normal belly-gun ranges.

Pass the Popcorn; Political Corruption Edition.

Ex-Virginia governor Bob McDonnell charged with corruption:

Republican and wife allegedly accepted Rolex, designer clothes and loan of Ferrari, jet and cash from tobacco company. ... Bob McDonnell and his wife insist they gave no political favours to Jonnie Williams, who paid for their daughter's wedding, a Rolex watch, a Louis Vuitton handbag, Oscar de la Renta dresses and loaned them a jet, Ferrari, beach home and $120,000 in cash.

But less than two weeks after leaving the governor's mansion in Richmond, the couple face one of the biggest corruption trials in recent political history after federal prosecutors alleged they promoted Williams' business, Star Scientific, in direct return for the gifts.
The fun fact in all this is that McDonnell's cook was prosecuted for stealing food from the governor's mansion and then ratted him out.

Oh, this could be interesting.

Pass the popcorn.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Death Knell for the Littoral Combat Ship?

If so, it's about fucking time.

I'm more of a general-purpose blogger, I don't stick to a certain topic. But I've been critical for years about the LCS. A decade of wearing the blue suit, followed by decades of watching the Ft. Fumble Follies has led me to be very skeptical of the entire concept.

The LCS was sold as being kind of a lego-ship, where combat-mission-specific modules could be swapped in and out. Not that there was any serious funding for those modules, mind you. The LCSs have had serious construction problems (though to be fair, so have bigger ships, such as the LPD-17 class).

The whole idea of the LCS was to basically be a brown-water ship to beat up on people who don't have the capability to engage in naval warfare. The LCS can't take a punch, they don't have the crew size to fight a fire or to maintain the ships to the standards expected of a destroyer sailor. My feeling is that the LCS is a great ship if your idea is to drive everyone out of the Navy after their first tour (and to ensure that CPOs, XOs and COs of those ships all have divorces).

The LCS cannot play well with the rest of the Fleet. But neither could the PCs or the PCHs, which is why none of them lasted very long.

The Navy made a major mistake by neutering the FFG-7s and then getting rid of them, thinking that the LCS could do some of their tasks. (The Navy also made a mistake by getting rid of the 1052s without replacing them.)

I predict that however many LCSs the Navy builds, they are going to spend almost as much time in port as did a Soviet Navy DD. They'll be sold off rather quickly in about ten or fifteen years, if any other nation is foolish enough to want one. Most will be scrapped or sunk in SINKEXes.

The better choice would be to pull the plug on the program right the fuck now and stop the wastage sooner rather than later. But that's not going to happen.

(H/T)

Monday, January 20, 2014

Taurus Revolver-- Fail?

The Taurus View, a .38 revolver with a Lexan sideplate.

The odds of me ever shooting one are very long, indeed. So you can take my reaction to this gun with the appropriate amount of NaCl.

First off, Taurus shortened the barrel to 1", which is cutting it in half over normal snubbies. .38 Special rounds aren't speed demons to start with, especially from short barrels. From a 1" barrel, you'd be lucky to break 600fps and 100ft-lbs of muzzle energy. This is pure speculation, but I'd be somewhat astonished if most hollowpoints would open up at that low velocity/energy. For the amount of "oomph" you'll get out of this thing, you might as well get a little .32 ACP.

Second, by shortening the barrel to 1", Taurus had to shorten the extractor rod. A 2" snubbie won't pop the cases out all the way, a 1" snubbie might barely move the cases. Remember, the barrel length on a revolver is measured from the face of the cylinder. The cylinder rotates around a hollow axle on the crane that swings the cylinder out. The extractor rod moves through the hollow center of the crane and pushes on a star that lifts the cases from the chambers of the cylinder.


In a revolver with a 3" barrel or longer, the extractor rod has enough travel to do its job properly- You hold the revolver barrel-up, bang the extractor rod and the cases come out. If you smack the rod on a 2" snubbie, you usually can get the cases out if your chambers aren't too dirty.

As you can see here, barely a nub of the extractor rod pokes through the crane on the View.


For reloading, the extractor will move the cases about far enough for the shooter to pry them the rest of the way out with their fingernails.

Second, the grip of the revolver is canted in such a way that the gun is only fully usable by right-handed shooters.

Third, a 9oz .38 is not going to be any joy to shoot. And with a 10lb trigger pull, hitting anything at other than stabbing range is going to be an interesting trial of marksmanship.

Fourth, guns are durable objects. I have a few weapons that date back to the Great War, or earlier, and two rifles from WW2. A plastic sideplate doesn't seem durable.

And fifth, $600 MSRP? You can get a Ruger LCR or a J-frame Smith for less than that.

The Taurus View will probably prove that P.T. Barnum was right.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

NSA Blame Game: The Russians Call it "Maskirovka".

Russia may have helped the former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden to reveal details of surveillance programmes and escape US authorities last year, the chairman of the House intelligence committee claimed on Sunday.

Mike Rogers, a Republican representative from Michigan, interviewed by NBC’s Meet the Press, said Snowden was “a thief whom we believe had some help”, and added that there was an “ongoing” investigation into whether Russia had aided Snowden.
Rogers is right up there with DiFi, they're both stalwart defenders of our national police state, as well as all things NSA and CIA. Neither one of them have been for any substantive reforms, at least until a groundswell of public opinion arose for reforms. So they're not exactly what one could call unbiased. If a NSA spook whispered this shit in Rogers's ear, you can bet your bippy that he'd be blabbing it to the press in a femtosecond.

More to the point of this post, you'd have to be naïve as all hell to not entertain the possibility that any so-called evidence that the Russians aided Snowden has been forged by the NSA (or the CIA or DIA). Given that those fuckers have been having wet dreams about whacking Snowden, it's completely plausible that their claims of Snowden getting Russian assistance are false and supported by false documents.

Your Sunday Morning Prop Noise

Red Bull's DC-6:



Saturday, January 18, 2014

What to Buy, What to Buy; Gun Edition

I'd like to do some Bullseye shooting.

What I'd like is a pistol that (a) isn't terribly expensive and (b) can be customized as desired. Which means that it has to have replaceable grips, for starters, and the ability to mount a rail come the day when I want to mount some sort of optic.

Which seems to come down to three choices: The Browning Buckmark, the S&W Model 22a, or the Ruger Mk. III. At the LGS, the Buckmark is the most expensive, the S&W the cheapest, though the range is under 50.

All three feel OK in my hand as is. (The Ruger .22/45 does not.)

I am leaning towards the Mk. III for the sole reason that if I really get into this type of shooting (come availability of .22 ammo), it seems that the Rugers can be modified to hell and gone. On the other hand, I'd not have to go through a FFL to replace the barrel of a Buckmark.

I've shot all three guns and I didn't develop a hard preference.

Opinions wanted.

The Law of the Savannah as Applied to Chris Christie

Once you get a hitch in your git-along, everyone comes looking to feast on you.
Two senior members of Gov. Chris Christie’s administration warned a New Jersey mayor earlier this year that her town would be starved of hurricane relief money unless she approved a lucrative redevelopment plan favored by the governor, according to the mayor and emails and personal notes she shared with msnbc.
As Booman points out, the current mayor of Hoboken became the mayor because a certain U.S. Attorney (Christie) prosecuted the former mayor for shenanigans related to real estate development.

Ol' Flip-Flop may like Christie, but his peeps with cash don't.

Caturday

Jake, asleep on one of the heated cat pads.


He's an old man, now. He does sleep a lot. And, over the last year, he's lost a little weight. I'm keeping an eye on that, for if he loses much more, then it'll be time for a vet visit.

Syphilis

I was in a discussion group the other day OK, it was a book club, which is more of a "wine and food" club, because, well, you get the idea.

We got onto the topic of the American Indians and the conquering of the Western Hemisphere by Europeans. The matter of smallpox was brought up and the question was asked: "We gave them smallpox, what did they give us?"

My answer: "Tobacco and syphilis." Seems I was right, too.

So here's a question to think about: Without the cultivation of tobacco, would there have been a need for importing huge number of slaves?

Friday, January 17, 2014

NSA is Reading All of Your Text Messages, Of Course

Thinking about going out tonight? Communicating by text message?



The NSA knows if you're planning to go out or not.
The National Security Agency has collected almost 200 million text messages a day from across the globe, using them to extract data including location, contact networks and credit card details, according to top-secret documents.

The untargeted collection and storage of SMS messages – including their contacts – is revealed in a joint investigation between the Guardian and the UK’s Channel 4 News based on material provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The documents also reveal the UK spy agency GCHQ has made use of the NSA database to search the metadata of “untargeted and unwarranted” communications belonging to people in the UK.

The NSA program, codenamed Dishfire, collects “pretty much everything it can”, according to GCHQ documents, rather than merely storing the communications of existing surveillance targets.

The NSA has made extensive use of its vast text message database to extract information on people’s travel plans, contact books, financial transactions and more – including of individuals under no suspicion of illegal activity.
Great, so the NSA knows where I went for lunch and who I ate with, since that was all the subject of text messages this morning.

This is the text that I'd like to send those putzim:
Dear NSA, you pack of illegitimate bastards:

I could probably go into a lengthy discourse about freedom and liberty and the Constitution and your acting as the American Stasi, but let's cut to the chase, shall we: May you all die in painful crotch fires.

Happy New Year.

Because It's Friday

This one is a little unusual: A Swedish steam-turbine locomotive.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Engineers Who Should Be Horsewhipped; New Tech Edition

Carnegie-Mellon's "CyLab" needs to be melted down.
We have developed a long-range 6-12m iris stand-off capture system that can capture subjects anywhere in a 6-12m capture volume with enrollment quality images.
Oh, nobody there can conceive of the evil fuckery that sort of technology will permit? It's not that they just can ID you from a retinal scan taken at a distance (think of the billboards in the movie Minority Report), they can take a photo of your fucking eyeballs from 40 feet away and then put that into their biometric database.

This is one of the biggest beefs that I have with engineers and scientists: They always are asking "can we do this", but they only rarely bother to as "should we be doing this". No, they just release their new technology into the wild and then they leave it up to the rest of us to deal with the effects of it.

Once this system is ready for use, I don't know what we can do to stop it from being adopted by law enforcement and corporations far and wide. Do you really want to be biometrically IDd when you walk down the street or enter a building? It is no stretch of the imagination to suggest that a database of who you are and where you were at any given time would be accessible to the cops up to the Federal level and damn near everyone else. For sure this technology will be adopted widely in the UK, since they already are pretty much a surveillance state and they don't have any niceties such as a written constitution to get in the way.

They'll have to outlaw mirrored sunglasses. And colored contacts. Colored contacts in your own eye color would probably fuck things up a bit.

I kinda sorta wish that this guy could go visit the C-M CyLab.

Quote of the Day; Congressional Edition

"The effect of the red light on a television camera going on has the same effect on members of Congress as a full moon does on werewolves." -- Robert Gates on the Daily Show.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Bye-Bye, Netflix

They're probably feeling the cold breath of Death as you read this:
A federal appeals court has struck down Federal Communications Commission rules that prohibit Internet service providers (ISPs) from restricting access to legal Web content.
I know a number of people who have kept their broadband service but have dumped their cable TV service. If it is now legal for ISPs to restrict traffic, I bet that the very first thing they will do is crack down on Netflix, and then, Hulu Plus.

Between Netflix and Hulu, you'd pay about $16 per month to have access to damn near everything that's on TV. That's opposed to the $70-$100+ you'd pay your cable provider for access to the same channels.

So while Comcast, Verizon, Charter, Time-Warner, AT&T and all of the rest might promise that they won't restrict what you can download, you can bet your next paycheck that within 30 minutes of the ruling coming down, they were working on (or dusting off) their plans to do just that.

Yes, I'm a Wheelgunner at Heart

But I have to admit that when I saw the coverage of the new Remington-51, I came down with a case of the "wants".


It just looks cool.

Newtown Scammers

One of the charitable groups that was set up to help the folks in Newtown* is being investigated for scamming its donors. And apparently, there is more than one such group:
An FBI spokesman said the agency does not comment on specific investigations but confirmed that there are ongoing fraud investigations related to Newtown.
I'm in favor of using some alternative forms of punishment on these fraudsters. I'm thinking along the lines of mounting their heads on pikes and letting the crows peck at them.
_______________________________________
* A town that is comparatively wealthy.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Fakawi Airlines

There has been a lot of "wrong airport" landings. Sometimes in the wrong country.

I can't say that I've ever landed at the wrong airport. But at least once, decades ago, at night, I got lost.* I saw an airport below me and I landed there. I told the guy at the desk that I landed to use the bathroom.

But I really landed there so that I could see the airport's name over the door of the FBO.
____________________
* If my memory is right, that airplane had a single nav/com, if a Narco Omnigator could ever be called a "nav/comm". It could find the direction to a VOR station, but only if you were within about two miles of the station. The comm side had a range of about seven miles. I was both young and foolish to do a night x/c in that airplane.

More Tales of a Spoiled-Ass Whiny Little Fuck

Los Angeles (CNN) -- Justin Bieber got some unexpected visitors Tuesday morning: sheriff's deputies with a warrant to search his home.

Investigators with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department were looking for video from Bieber's security cameras that might show what happened Thursday night when eggs were thrown at a neighbor's home, according to a sheriff's statement.

A judge gave deputies a felony search warrant, which they carried out Tuesday morning, the sheriff's statement said. ... One of Bieber's house guests was arrested when deputies allegedly found cocaine during their search. ... "The purpose of the search warrant is to seek video surveillance or other possible evidence in the vandalism that occurred on January 9, 2014," the sheriff's statement said.

The vandalism damage to the house of Bieber's neighbor was about $20,000, [Los Angeles County Sheriff's Lt. Dave] Thompson said. The cost of repairing the damage to the house is a key factor in determining the severity of the charge. Any damage of more than $950 would qualify the charge as a felony.
Egging a house caused $20K in damages? How the hell can that be? $20K to wash the eggs off the siding? Or did some of the eggs go in through a window and damage stuff inside? I dunno.

Still, Bieber might face felony charges for egging a neighbor's house?

Heh. Heh. Heh.

Pass the popcorn.

Monday, January 13, 2014

SWA out of KPLK

SWA flew out their 737 from KPLK, probably at minimum fuel.


No surprise there, that 737 wasn't making them any money sitting on the ground.

NSA's Giuliani Justification: Noun, Verb, 9-11

Borepatch links to both a blog and a letter from NSA insiders. You should read all of them.

I mentioned several months ago that the NSA's list of "number of terrorist plots we've prevented" had shrunk from the mid-fifties to maybe one. The NSA's current justification is "so what if we can't show it's been helpful to spy on all y'all? We still want to."

Like almost everyone except Emperor Alexander, his lackeys, and toadies such as DiFi and Rep. Rodgers, I am truly sick of the "non, verb, 9-11" justification.

Because of this: It is all bullshit. And it's as wasteful and as effective as the Maginot Line.

If you will think back to the investigations and committees that looked into the events leading up to 9-11, you might remember this: The NSA had all of the information that they needed to crack the plot in advance. So did the FBI. The problem wasn't that they didn't have the data, the problem was that they failed to make use of it.

In the parlance of the time, both the NSA and the FBI failed to "connect the dots".

They didn't need more dots. They couldn't draw the lines between the ones that they had.
But is it really the case that the U.S. intelligence community didn't have the dots in the lead up to 9/11? Hardly.
In fact, the intelligence community provided repeated strategic warning in the summer of 9/11 that al Qaeda was planning a large-scale attacks on American interests.
Here is a representative sampling of the CIA threat reporting that was distributed to Bush administration officials during the spring and summer of 2001:
-- CIA, "Bin Ladin Planning Multiple Operations," April 20
-- CIA, "Bin Ladin Attacks May Be Imminent," June 23
-- CIA, "Planning for Bin Ladin Attacks Continues, Despite Delays," July 2
-- CIA, "Threat of Impending al Qaeda Attack to Continue Indefinitely," August 3
The NSA's justification for the massive spying on Americans is now "well, we might need to read your personal shit someday". It's all bullshit. And fortunately, some legislators are coming to realize that. Sen Heinrich, for one, was formerly in the House of Representatives, and he is calling "bullshit" on the pro-NSA's statists who have been claiming that everyone was fully briefed on what the NSA has been doing.

It is past time to rein in the NSA, the FBI, the DEA and, for that matter, the local po-po. And if they won't come to heel, it's time to start using the power of the Federal (and state) purse on them.

When It Rains, It Pours; Christie Edition

The news just keeps getting worse for him.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is facing questions over the use of Superstorm Sandy relief funds.

CNN has learned that federal officials are investigating whether Christie improperly used those relief funds to produce tourism ads that starred him and his family. ... The winning $4.7 million bid featured Christie and his family in the advertisements while the losing $2.5 million proposal did not feature the Christies.
When you take Federal money for things like that, there are rules about using the lowest bidder (a point famously made by Alan Shepard after his flight in Freedom 7). Selecting the bidder who bid nearly twice as much without a damned good reason is a major no-no in the Federal contracting world.

SWA: Ooopsie!

A Southwest Airlines flight from Chicago's Midway Airport was scheduled to land at Branson Airport in southwest Missouri on Sunday night. Instead, the Boeing 737-700 touched down at Taney County airport -- about 7 miles away, and with a runway significantly shorter.
Back when I was getting my license, there was a general-aviation airport that was ten miles from a SAC base. The runways were aligned the same way. The main runway at the SAC base was about a mile longer and twice as wide and the ramp had B-52s and KC-135s on it, but that didn't stop a couple of pilots a year from landing at it (and being greeted by Air Police with leveled M-16s).

So yes, it happens. If you expect to see an airport and there is one where you expect to see it, it'll take some good mental cross-checking to avoid screwing up like that.

But with two professional pilots and the glass cockpits of airliners these days, well, you'd kind of think that wrong airport landings might be a bit rare than they seem to be.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Disclaimer

I've added a few things, in case you're crazy enough to read it.

Your Sunday Morning Jet Noise

NASA's SOFIA observatory:


SOFIA is a heavily-modified 747SP. As airliners go, the 747SPs were pretty rare. I don't believe I've ever seen one.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Caturday; Brrrr Edition

Jake peers out between the "emergency drapes".


I have miniblinds on my windows. It was below -10edgF here earlier this week. They didn't do squat to push back the cold. I hung two old bath sheets (cat towels) on the front windows. The back windows are single units; I had a plastic window sheeting kit left over from when I lived in the Northeast, I used that on the rear windows. (Which means I can't adjust the blinds on those windows until Spring, but I'll suffer.)

Jake doesn't seem to have a problem looking through the plastic.

Friday, January 10, 2014

The American Stasi Likes Things Just the Way They Are, Thank You Very Much

FBI Director James Comey on Thursday pushed back against proposed changes in a controversial investigative tool he called key to fighting terrorists. ... In Fiscal 2012, the FBI issued 21,000 national security letters. They are a form of administrative subpoena, issued without court order. ... "I don't see anything that is broken," Comey said.
First off, it's ludicrous to even submit that the FBI submitted 21,000 NSLs in one year alone solely for "fighting terrorists". That's just bullshit. The FBI submits NSLs for every kind of investigation they do. They submit NSLs on a whim and the FBI has had its dick slapped more than once for abusing NSLs.

In case you're not familiar, an NSL is a sooper-seekrit administrative letter that the FBI sends to banks, ISPs, libraries and anyone else that they damn well feel like. An NSL requires the recipients to d\turn over all sorts of information and the recipients are barred forever from ever talking about it to anyone. No judge issues an NSL, just some functionary in an FBI field office. As far as NSLs and the FBI are concerned, the Fourth Amendment doesn't exist.

NSLs need to go away, right now, and permanently. The FBI should be required to apply for a search warrant when they want to go snoop through people's records. Just like the Framers of the Constitution intended.

Because It's Friday

A change of pace: A silent movie about the building of a steam locomotive.


First off, 3101 survives. There was some rumblings a few years back, before the Great Recession, that the Canadian Pacific was considering restoring 3101 to operating condition.

The other thing of note is to look at the men in the construction shops. No hard hats, hardly any other safety equipment, and you can bet that there wasn't a steel-toed or safety shoe to be found in the place.

It was not unusual for larger railroads to build their own steam locomotives. But it wasn't terribly common. Norfolk & Western was building them into the early `50s, because they had made the investments in their shops and because their major source of revenue was hauling coal. The Pennsy also made many of their own locomotives with one-piece cast frames. Pennsy shop workers used to brag that the only part of the locomotive that they couldn't integrally cast was the engineer.

Christie's Presser

The Daily Show's take on the Christie Presser yesterday,* which, as Jon Stewart points out, wasn't his usual behavior.

The investigations are just gathering steam. But it should be pretty clear to even the most casual observer of Christie's time as governor that what happened at Fort Lee was clearly within the tone that he set. Christie has a well-deserved reputation for being a thin-skinned bully who will go after anyone for even the tiniest of political offenses.

This particular story has been building for months. Last month, Christie made jokes that he personally was moving the traffic cones in Fort Lee. It's not at all credible that Christie waited until two days ago to start asking people if any of them had been involved.
______________________________
* Richard Nixon's birthday.

n.b.: I've stopped embedding the Daily Show's videos. They either self-launch, which is annoying as fuck, or they don't work at all. So you'll have to click on the link.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Banksters (and Other Criminals) Can Breathe Easier, Because the FBI Isn't On the Case

The FBI now longer claims to be a law enforcement agency. Their job is now to spy on Americans.
Instead of declaring "law enforcement" as its "primary function," as it has for years, the FBI fact sheet now lists "national security" as its chief mission.
The biggest hit to what the FBI used to do has been in prosecuting white collar crime. This has been going on for some time:
- Overall, the number of criminal cases investigated by the FBI nationally has steadily declined. In 2005, the bureau brought slightly more than 20,000 cases to federal prosecutors, compared with about 31,000 in 2000 - a 34 percent drop.

- FBI investigations of white-collar crime have also plummeted. In 2005, the FBI sent prosecutors 3,500 cases - a fraction of the more than 10,000 cases assigned to agents in 2000.

- Had the FBI continued investigating financial crimes at the same rate as it had before the terror attacks, about 2,000 more white-collar criminals would be behind bars, according to the P-I analysis, which was based on Justice Department data from 1996 through June 2006.
The banksters and the other "white collar" criminals did far more damage to this country than Al Qaeda could ever have hoped to do. Those assholes stole trillions of dollars and they are still at it.

The DoJ and FBI prosecuted the hell out of the S&L scandal. They went after Enron. But now, they're going after loudmouth braggarts who couldn't have set off a cherry bomb without blowing off their fingers. And they're monitoring political dissidents.

The FBI is morphing back into what it was in the latter days of Hoover's reign as Director: An American Stasi.

We don't need another group of domestic spies. What we need is a Federal agency that enforces the sort of complex criminal laws that most states cannot. Cleaning up the crooks in the financial industry is a federal-level job.

But the FBI is asleep at the switch.

So if you're running some sort of really intricate swindle, like those allegedly run by Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase and the Bank of America, don't worry about going to jail. The worst that'll happen is that if the SEC catches you, you'll have to pay a bit of a fine and you'll be back at work the next day, scamming and stealing.

Because the Feebies are no longer on the case.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Progress of the European Theater in WW2

WW2 in Europe, day by day, in seven minutes.


If you're one of those who think that D-Day was the big deal of the war, then watch how much territory exchanged hands in the East. You can see the pincers movement of the Soviet Armies in late 1942 that chocked off Stalingrad. And you can see how much winter fighting the Russians did. The Germans may have wanted to go into winter quarters each year, but the Russians weren't letting them do that.

Secaucus Fats is One Petty-Ass Fucker

The "Bridgegate" scandal is climbing ever closer to His Royal Fatness.
Private messages between Governor’s Christie’s deputy chief of staff and two of his top executives at the Port Authority reveal a vindictive effort to create “traffic problems in Fort Lee” by shutting lanes to the George Washington Bridge and apparent pleasure at the resulting gridlock.

The messages are replete with references and insults to Fort Lee’s mayor, who had failed to endorse Christie for re-election and they chronicle how local officials tried to reach the Port Authority in a vain effort to eliminate the paralyzing gridlock that overwhelmed his town of 35,000 which sits in the shadow of the bridge, the world’s busiest. ... “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” Bridget Anne Kelly, one of three deputies on Christie’s senior staff, wrote to David Wildstein, a top Christie executive at the Port Authority, on Aug. 13, about three weeks before the closures.
There is no shortage of stories from New Jersey that have chronicled that Christie has a skin thinner than the cell wall of a red blood corpuscle. He's got a reputation of being quick to take offense at the most trivial of slights and eager to have revenge for any perceived slights.

Christie is a modern version of Richard Nixon, both men who should instead have had careers as the stunners in a slaughterhouse.

CCW = Safer Streets?

That seems to be the conclusion of a new study, according to the abstract:
Using data for the period 1980 to 2009 and controlling for state and year fixed effects, the results of the present study suggest that states with restrictions on the carrying of concealed weapons had higher gun-related murder rates than other states.
It costs $40 to download a full copy, which is a little too rich for my blood. (Update: Thanks to a reader, I've seen a copy. I can't stress this enough: Save Your Money!)

My instinct is that CCW doesn't as much deter crime as redirect it. Crimes against people would be less attractive to criminals if there is a risk of coming down with a sudden case of bullet wounds.* Your average criminal is pretty much a lazy (and stupid) sociopath who can't or won't hold down a job. They'll turn to shoplifting and boosting parked cars, where there is a lessened chance of getting shot for their efforts.
_________________________________________
* It's probably why there have been reports that home invasions and burglaries of occupied homes are far more common in the UK than they are in the US.

(H/T)

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Tab Clearing; Guns & Satan Edition

A group of Satanists wants to put up a statue on the grounds of the Oklahoma Capitol.
A New York-based satanic group has made a hell of a request.

The Satanic Temple unveiled designs Monday for a 7-foot-tall statue of Satan it wants to put at the Oklahoma state Capitol, where a Ten Commandments monument was placed in 2012. The group formally submitted its application to a panel that oversees the Capitol grounds, including an artist’s rendering that depicts Satan as Baphomet, a goat-headed figure with horns, wings and a long beard that’s often used as a symbol of the occult. In the rendering, Satan is sitting in a pentagram-adorned throne with smiling children next to him.
I suspect that Oklahoma will end up removing the Ten Commanderments monument. They likely can't deny the request without running afoul of the First Amendment.

Second up, Smith & Wesson is offering an L-frame .44 Magnum, the Model 69. It's $100 cheaper and a quarter-pound lighter than a similarly sized Model 629.

You may have noted that both the Model 69 and the Model 66 have a barrel length of 4.25". Word is that is to comply with Canadian law, which prohibits handguns with barrels shorter than 105mm, or 4.134".

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Can the Model 19 Be Far Behind?

Smith & Wesson is bringing back the Model 66 Combat Magnum.

I guess they've noticed that the prices on used ones are climbing quite a bit.

Update: Here's the listing. They're saying that it's an N-frame? WTF,O?

If the Airliner Isn't a Blue-and-Orange 737, I'm Not Going.

I traveled over the holidays, coming back home the afternoon after Winter Storm Hercules cleared out. My return flight was a two-legger, starting at a medium-sized airport in New England.

That airport is served by Southwest and a couple of the legacy carriers. That afternoon, the legacy carriers weren't flying at all. But SWA was, doing their best to move people. Oh, they were struggling, for they had to cobble together pick-up crews from incoming flights to get flights out. At the hub, SWA held my connecting flight for my incoming flight and another one. Upshot was I got home less than two hours late, which, given the near chaos that was going on, was close enough to "on-time" to suit me.

Now, with Winter Storm Ion pounding the Midwest and heading east, it's probably a reasonable guess that if I had flown on the legacy carriers, I'd still be back in New England and likely stuck there until the middle of the week.

The other thing is that in the midst of the zoo-like conditions, everyone working for SWA kept their good humor. And as a likely result, so did almost all of the passengers.* There was none of the "slaughterhouse squeeze chute" atmosphere that I've experienced on other carriers.**

Years ago, I was skeptical of SWA, I thought they were too good to be true. But with no baggage fees, no ticket-change fees, no second-rate feeder airlines and good customer service, if it's not SWA, I'm not going unless I'm getting paid for the trip.***
_______________________________
* There was one little self-important loudmouth with a Southie accent, who seemed to take it all personally. Fuck him.
** UAL and Delta in the last few years. Haven't flown AA/USAir recently, but I've been told they're worse.
*** Jet Blue doesn't fly where I need to go.

RSA Took 30 Pieces of Silver From the NSA (and Other Bits of NSA Fuckery)

There is a story out that RSA, a leader in encryption software, took $10 million from the NSA in return for designing in a back-door into its products for the NSA. RSA denies it, but their denial is not exactly ironclad. What's telling is that RSA continued to use the Dual EC DRBG random number generator as the BSAFE default RNG for six years after concerns were first raised that Dual EC DRBG had a backdoor.

The General Counsel for the Director of National Intelligence has issued a statement that the Director of National Intelligence, Mr. James Clapper, Jr. (known in this blog as "Jimmie the Perjurer") really didn't lie to Congress when he denied that the NSA was collecting data on millions (ie, 90% or so) of Americans. The denial essentially concedes, instead, that Clapper is a bit of an imbecile, in that he cannot be trusted to answer questions if he hasn't been provided with a written copy of the questions in advance.

Which makes him a little different from, oh, every other witness in any sort of court proceeding or congressional hearing, who is expected to be able to answer questions to the best of their ability without being pre-briefed. Not answering a question truthfully is a bit of a crime.

The FISA Court wielded their rubber-stamp again, approving the collection of everyone's use of every type of electronic communication for another 90 days.


The NSA has neither confirmed nor denied that it is spying on members of Congress. My feeling is that a "we can neither confirm nor deny" is pretty much a tacit confirmation.

Oh, and for one bit of non-NSA-related news, noted security expert Willard M. Romney has opined that the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia will be safe.


Your Sunday Morning Jet Noise

Il-76:

\

It's not terribly unusual to see these trashhaulers at larger airports around the country. Capable of carrying outsized cargo (and 55 tons of it), the Il-76 doesn't need handling equipment to load or unload cargo, unlike the commercial Western jet freighters.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Friday, January 3, 2014

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Prince Varmint

In lieu of content.


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Diàoyòng míngzhīgùwèn

Or, 調用明知故問, which, according to Google Translate, is Chinese for "Calling Captain Obvious".

This is why:
Almost one year after air pollution in Beijing literally went off the charts, the country’s top research agency, the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), has released a study clearly identifying fossil fuel combustion as the biggest contributor to the deadly smog.
China has over 2,300 coal-fired power plants. We have 600 and it's a reasonable bet that ours have better scrubbers.

If You Want to Live in a Place Like Mordor...

....all you have to do is move to West Texas.

Proving that Gen. Sheridan was right.

New Year's Day Morons

We can start with the idiots who went to Times Square:
The annual New York celebration, which this year featured performances from artists such as Miley Cyrus, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and Blondie, has become part endurance sport because post-9/11 security measures force spectators into pens at least 12 hours in advance, with no food, warmth or bathrooms.
Crimus people, stay the fuck home or go to a private party. Being locked into an open-air prison for half-a-day, with no facilities? Idiots.

On one of the morning shows today was some kind of famous cook wearing orange crocks. The only people who can get away with wearing orange crocks in public are those who are also wearing an orange jumpsuit, leg-irons, handcuffs secured by a chain around their waist, and ar being escorted by a deputy sheriff to a court appearance.

Taylor Swift is putting up a $2-million seawall around her home at Watch Hill, RI. She didn't get any permits. The state said she didn't need one from them and her contractor didn't get one from the town. Most building departments in the northeast are staffed by zealous and officious people who get their noses severely out of joint if everything isn't just so, so it's kind of hard to imagine that Swift can build that big a seawall with no permits from anyone. A columnist from the New London Day has been running three days of columns about this and its kind of blown up. Because beaches in Rhode Island (and many other states) are not private land, so Swift can't block people from using it. Even if her rent-a-goons think otherwise.

Happy New Year

My sense of 2013 was that unless a body was already at the top of the economic pyramid, that 2013 was a pretty sucky year. I went to a presentation a few months back where a woman representing the local banksters said that the Great Recession ended in 2009. Everybody in the audience looked at each other, because they weren't seeing any signs of things getting better for them.

Gentle Reader, I hope that 2014 is a better year for you and yours.