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, February 28, 2014

Why Russia Has the US by the Shorties Over Ukraine

One word: Afghanistan.

The "Northern Distribution Network" runs through Russia. The Pakistan route has been unreliable.

The Administration has said that it would be "grave mistake" for Russia to move on Ukraine. But our interest in keeping the northern supply lies to Afghanistan open will probably surpass any annoyance that we may have over whatever Russia does to Ukraine.

Ukraine isn't bound to us by any treaty that I am aware of. With Yanukovych claiming that he is still the rightful president of Ukraine, if he invites the Russians to act, they may have all the cover that they feel that they need.

UPDATE: In a comment, Snowdog posted a link to a Daily Mail story which claims that the Budapest Memorandum of 1994 obligates the UK and US to go to war over Ukraine. The problem for the Daily Mail is one of reading comprehension. The text of the Budapest Memorandum does no such thing. All it pledges us to do is not use an economic lever against the Ukrainians, to not nuke them, to respect Ukraine's territorial integrity and, in the event of aggression against Ukraine, to trot immediately to the UN Security Council and seek a resolution to do something.

Which, as everyone who signed the Memorandum knew in 1994, and which the Daily Mail could apparently not comprehend now, would mean nothing if the Russians moved into Ukraine. Because the Russians have a permanent seat on the Security Council and have the power to veto anything that is being considered by that august body.

Go read it if you like, and judge for yourself. It's not a long document.

Because It's Friday

Finnish steam:

Our Comfortable Black Hole

Are we living inside of a black hole?

As I gather, this is the concept: At the center of a black hole is a singularity. Singularities are thought to be extremely dense and extremely tiny.

But a singularity can explode. One did, nearly 14 billion years ago, and we live in the universe that was created by that event.

So suppose that the singularity at the center of a black hole did explode. Since nothing that moves slower than the speed of light can (in theory) escape a black hole, would the resultant universe be contained inside of the event horizon of the black hole?

If somehow we could slip past the event horizon of a black hole and then return, would we discover that what we thought to be a black hole was instead, another universe? And if we could travel faster than the speed of light and go beyond the edge of our own universe, would we then find ourselves in a much vaster universe?

Or would crossing the event horizon of a black hole, or of our own universe, be a dimensional shift and the size of the new universes that we found ourselves in would seem to be about the same as our own? Is the "final frontier" truly that final?

Would the heat death of the universe, from another viewpoint, be the same as the evaporation of a black hole?*
_____________________________________
* Not that I understand any of the math.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Take Away Barney Fife's Bullets, Please

Because they're now shooting senior citizens for the heinous crime of being disabled:
A police officer in South Carolina shot a 70-year-old motorist who was reaching for a cane during a traffic stop because he thought the man was grabbing a rifle from the bed of his pickup truck, investigators said. The man was expected to survive.
I suppose this could be good for a rant of how this shooting is Yet Another Example of How the Police Regard Themselves as an Occupying Army.

But let's take another tack and call ol' Barney into a classroom.


OK, Barney, let's do a bit of visual recognition training, shall we? Ready? There will be a test at the end.

Happy Mahashivaratri

(What it's about)

I wonder if in India, whether or not they have a cable news network that is shrieking about the "War on Mahashivaratri". I would not be a bit surprised if they do.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A Real CLM (and Always Will Be), and Other DoD News

NAPLES, Italy — The Navy relieved the commander of the USS Taylor on Tuesday, about two weeks after the Florida-based frigate ran aground in the Black Sea.
Not much to say about that one.

On another note, there's probably lots coming out about the planned postwar defense cutbacks. Anyone who didn't see this coming must have been smoking a lot of crack, for that's just the way it is.

No big surprise that the Army is going to take it in the shorts. They always do.

 What's also not a surprise is that the Air Force is going to try, yet again, to kill off the A-10, the best ground attack airplane in the world. Because the Air Force has always hated that airplane. It's not supersonic, it doesn't have swept wings and its not designed for air-to-air combat. So rather than having an airplane designed for close-air support, and one that is built to take the punishment such a role can mete out, the AF will probably want to use the F-35 for CAS.

Right. Use a $300 million dollar airplane for CAS, my ass. They're not ever going to fly it close enough to the ground to get shot at by a MANPAD, let alone a Dushka or some flavor of ZSU. The only utility for CAS that the F-35 will have will be the same as another drone: Dropping smart bombs from very high up and far away.

Better that they take the A-10 and give it to the Army.

The stupid zoomies also want to scrap the U-2s, even though the drone that those fools planned to replace them with turned out to be more expensive to fly than a U-2.

(And let's disestablish the Air Force, while they're at it.)

In Lieu of Whatever


Minus fifty couth points if you thought of this while listening to the Liberty Bell.

Monday, February 24, 2014

"Fuck You For Your Service"-- Stay Classy, Wisconsin Los Angeles

UPDATED: Title changes as El Putzo worked out of Randstad's Los Angeles office.

So there's this putz by the name of Sergio Ortiz, a recruiter at Randstad, which was contracted to run the hiring for some company in Stevens Point, WI. A young Army veteran named Gabriella Barrett applied for a customer service job at the company.

Sergio Ortiz, in an email exchange, told her that he didn't understand why she had listed her Army service time, as that was meaningless to him. When she got into a discussion about it with Ortiz, he wrote her in an e-mail: “I believe you choose to go into the Army for a paycheck not my freedom. So you will not be getting a thank you from me. I would have freedom regardless of your voluntary service.”

Nice going, Ortiz. The draft ended in 1973. Everyone serving since 1975 has done so voluntarily, as well as those serving since 1946 in the Navy and Air Force. All of the men and women who came home from Iraq and Afghanistan in transit cases volunteered to go. The men and women in the military and VA hospitals all volunteered to go over there. The men and women who will deal with injuries for the rest of their lives, including closed-head brain injuries, all volunteered to go. Besides the casualties of the two most recent wars, the Marines killed in the Beirut bombing, the airmen killed in Khobar Towers bombing, the men and women who were killed or maimed in actions large and small, the aircrew of Ranger 12, the crews of the USS Thresher and Scorpion and those killed or injured in training accidents of one kind or another all volunteered.

No doubt it goes deeper. If a firefighter were to save Ortiz from a burning building, ol' Sergio would probably just harrumph and say "yer only doing yer job."

And I'll bet that he's a shitty tipper, as well.

Anyway, as soon as this story hit, the folks at Randstand burned skid-marks in the carpet as they rushed to shove Ortiz out the door. Might have something to do with the fact that Randstand is a Dutch company, and if it hadn't been for the U.S. Army, the language spoken today in their headquarters town of Diemen would be German (or Russian).

Here's the thing, kids: You can be an asshole. But if you're an asshole and you go on record in a company email as being an asshole, you might end up being fired. And as JayG points out, that sort of digital stupidity will follow you forever.

Ukraine: Russians Laying the Groundwork?

Ukraine's new acting government is not legitimate, Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev has said. "If people crossing Kiev in black masks and Kalashnikov rifles are considered a government, it will be difficult for us to work with such a government," the prime minister said. ... "There is a real threat to our interests and to the lives of our citizens," he said. "There are big doubts about the legitimacy of a whole series of organs of power that are now functioning there."
In other words:
"They've got to be protected, all their rights respected, `till somebody we like can be elected."
Medvedev doesn't say a word without Putin's approval. The drums are beginning to beat in Moscow. There will be some incident in Sevastopol or elsewhere in eastern Ukraine which will serve as the justification for a Russian intervention.

Sherlock

If you watched the third show of third season of "Sherlock" on PBS, you might have noticed something.

The episode was based on the original story "The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton". Milverton was a blackmailer and that is how he made his living.

In the episode, Milverton was a foreign-born newspaper and media mogul who used the information he had to apply pressure to influential people in order to promote his business interests. Which is to say, he was a high-class blackmailer.

But given the similarities, at least on the surface, between the modern version of Milverton and a certain foreign-born newspaper and media magnate, one might expect that the conservative's war against PBS is going to be ramped up a tad.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony Was Today, and So...

With the Winter Olympics over, it's anybody's guess as to when the Russians move to "restore stability" in Ukraine.

The Russians were going to give Ukraine a bailout of $15 billion, but that's not going to happen, now. The Russians re not going to pay to help a government that is tilting towards the EU (and, to the Russians, Germany). The Russians may not want to be in charge of Ukraine, for they know full well that having an empire is nothing but trouble, but they want Ukraine as a buffer to Europe and NATO.

But if Ukraine is going to tilt hard towards the EU and NATO, don't be surprised if the Russians do something about it.

Your Sunday Morning Jet Noise

MiG-25. This is the trainer version, note the second cockpit.


Seems as though they're having a bit of a problem getting the left engine to run its afterburner.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Caturday; A Cat's Life is Hard Edition

Yes, Jake has a tough life, indeed.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Ukraine: Is the EU Behind It?

One of the things that tends to get lost in the reportage about the current mess in Ukraine is this: President Yanukovych is the duly-elected president of the nation. He is from the side of the Ukrainian political spectrum that leans towards Russia, not towards the European Union.

So it was not any big surprise that Yanukovych scrapped a deal to join the EU.

Not that joining the EU was any great deal, what with the current financial mess in the Eurozone. But I digress.

The protests started when the supporters of the deal, who were not the same people who supported Yanukovych, opted to take their displeasure to the street and to try and force Yanukovych, the duly-elected president, to step down. Yanukovych wasn't having any of that shit. So the protests got ramped up, and the police response got ramped up and they got to the point of shooting at each other.

But now they've reached a deal, maybe.

I'm kind of surprised, actually. I half-believed that things would get a lot worse and then Yanukovych would ask the Russians for the loan of a couple of motorized rifle divisions to help "restore stability".

And I kind of doubt that the EU will offer much in the way of financial aid to the Ukrainians. Because at the end of the day, financial aid from the Eu means that the Germans will have to cough it up, and they're probably getting sick and tired of the EU demanding more money from Germany.

Because It's Friday

Working steam on the Norfolk and Western, back when they burned coal to haul coal.

A Child Can Change the World


Credit also has to be given to those two police officers who asked the librarian: "Why don't you give the kid the books?"

(Some more details)

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Quite Possibly the Last Post That You'll See Here on Climate Change

Phil Plait at Bad Astronomy has a post up regarding the disappearance of old Arctic Ice. Essentially, the Arctic is on track to be ice-free in 30 years or so. The fabled snows of Mt. Kilimanjaro will likely soon be gone.

So why am I not going to blog about it anymore?

Because I agree with this guy: It's likely far too late to do anything about it.

I think that it was almost inevitable from the get-go. Even if it had been made crystal-clear to the politicians back when the First World was moving away from coal, nobody would have had the will to say "hey, we can prevent this from happening." No, we did what humans have always done, assume that "dilution is the solution for pollution". Which works until the system is overloaded. Which is why waiting for rivers to clean themselves stopped working decades ago. Which is why the air in many Chinese cities is almost unbreathable.

But we still persisted in the illusion that there were systems that were so large that we couldn't fuck them up: The atmosphere, the oceans.

Only now we have. By next year, atmospheric carbon dioxide will probably be over 400ppm year-round. The oceans are acidifying (not to mention all of the crap we've dumped into them).

So congratulations to humanity, for we've well and truly manage to fuck up our world, bringing about an extinction event unseen since the K-T (or K-Pg) Event, which was triggered by the Chicxulub impact 66 million years ago.

Now we have to adapt to it. For if we don't, if civilization goes away, there will be no restarting it. Almost all of the stuff that helped propel our society above the Stone Age is gone. The easily-obtainable copper, iron and tin deposits are played out. The coal that was mineable from the surface is gone. The oil that was bubbling from the surface has been exploited.

A hundred or two hundred million years from now, after plate tectonics has punched up some new mountains, things might be different. There may even be another intelligent species to take advantage of it. They'll probably fuck things up, too.

(Provided that Earth is still in the Goldilocks zone.)

SLAPP Suits and the Streisand Effect: Tactical Rifles, Inc. vs. Sniper's Hide

So this is apparently what happened. Over at Sniper's Hide, one of the gurus there ordered a rifle from Tactical Rifles. The rifle cost north of eight grand. The rifle apparently had the sort of fit and finish problems that would be unacceptable on a $400 Savage, let alone a custom build costing twenty times that much.

The guru wrote about the problems and his efforts to fix them, first with trying to get the company to stand behind their product and then having to pay someone else $1,600 to make it right. Discussing that apparently caused no shortage of butthurt among the people at Tactical Rifles.

Tactical Rifles' response was to file a lawsuit claiming defamation or some shit like that. The folks at Sniper's Hide have raised the cash to fight back.

I don't know how many people had ever heard of that company before. The market for custom sniper rifles that cost that kind of money is probably pretty small.

But I'm pretty sure that the market for rifles that cost over eight AMUs and then take nearly another two AMUs to make right is vanishingly small.

What I do know is that a hell of a lot of people are going to be familiar with Tactical Rifles' repuation, and not in a good way, because of this litigation. That's the Streisand Effect for you.

Can a Devout Muslim Travel in Space?

I'm not trying to be snarky about this.

When I was in the Navy, at various times, a couple of the ships that I was on had young officers who were cross-decked from various Arab navies. When they got together for prayer, one of them would call up to the duty quartermaster and ask for the relative bearing to Mecca, as they had a religious duty to pray facing the Kaaba in Mecca.

In space, the requirement would be to face towards Earth. But that presents it's own problems. In essence, the requirement to determine the Qibla arose in a two-dimensional world. But space is a three-dimensional environment. If one were on a ship in deep space or on another world, the Qibla could be up, down, or at any angle from the vertical.

On a ship traveling for any distances, I think it would be presumable that the ship would have rotating elements to provide a form of artificial gravity. Which would make things rather difficult, unless the the Qibla were along the rotational axis.

Anyway, if I do a science fiction story, I might try to work that into it to see how it'd play out.

Yahrzeit

Gracie passed two years ago.


It took me a long, long time to reach the point where I could look at pictures of her, let alone write about her, without puddling up. She was a happy cat. While she took no guff from the male cats of the household, she was never nothing but kind and loving to me. She didn't like going to the vet, but once she was there, she was a trouper about what had to be done. And I suspect that a little of her kindness rubbed off on me. My life was enriched for her being a part of it.

I wish I had had some more years with her, but I cherish the ones that I had.

The True Haven for Conservatives

Russia, as Jason Jones discovered.

Low taxes, companies permitted to cram religious values down their employees' throats, legal to abuse gays, liberals whipped by Cossacks in the streets-- you have to wonder why Roger Ailes hasn't required everyone at Fox to learn Russian, or if Sean Hannity isn't moving to Moscow.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Dear Maytag: Why I Won't Buy a New Washer and Dryer From You.

I have a stackable Maytag washer and dryer. They're old and they have been giving good service. But the lid latch assembly is acting up.

So I called the local repair guy to make an appointment. He later called me back to ask if I still wanted his guy to come out. Seems that the parts for the latch are not available and if the latch is bad, then there is nothing they can do.

I went out and tried it again and it works. I tried it ten times and it works.

But damn, if a part goes, I have to buy both a new washer and a new dryer? Because Maytag won't make new parts to force people to get rid of their old better-constructed machines and buy their new pieces of shit?

Thanks for nothing, Maytag.*
__________________
* Yeah, I know: This is the sort of shit that happens when Bain Capital raids gets involved with companies, like they did with Maytag. So I guess I can add this to the reasons why Rmoney should only die in a in a crotch fire.

Frank James Update

Tam spoke to him: He had a stroke.

Aim your good wishes for northwest Indiana, if you'd be so kind.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Another Step Towards the Panopticon

DHS apparently wants to link all of the license plate readers out there into one ginormous tracking system.

Because nobody in the government would ever think to abuse that sort of database for personal or political reasons.....

Remember the mantra of the DiFis of the world: "If you've nothing to hide, you've nothing to fear."

(H/T)

Monday, February 17, 2014

Bad News For Anyone Aspiring to Become an Airline Pilot

In short, if you are not in a position where you can take the ATP Written Exam by July 31, 2014, you should consider finding another line of work.

Go read the article and then ask yourself if you can stand to pay $20,000 in training just to qualify to take the written exam. Right now, the cost of taking a preparatory course for the ATP written exam is on the order of $100-300. You then would have two years to accumulate the flight time and instruction necessary to take the flight test.

This is all Congress's doing, of course. Because they have not yet seen a "problem" that, though diligent efforts, those fuckbags cannot make a hundred-fold worse.

Is the Army Training to Attack Americans?

It sure looks like it. For it is indeed curious that the Army has built a mock-city that resembles a generic American city. Right down to a church (look at the photo here) and a subway station with DC Metro cars. The cost was $96 million, or about one-quarter the cost of a F-35.

The Army built a fake Iraqi village for training at Ft. Bragg. The Army built a fake Aghani village to train in and the Air Force built one to bomb. Fake Vietnam villages were built at Ft. Lee and Ft. Dix.

Before you go on an anti-Obama rant, this site took six years to plan and build, which implies that the original funds request dates back at least a year or more before that. You might recall who was the president in 2006 through 2008.

Why is the Army training to conduct combat operation in an American city?

(H/T)

Any Landing You Can Walk Away From

At Birmingham International in the UK:

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Past Bangity

I sat down and went through all of the accumulated baggies of fired brass and sorted them out.


Guess that you can say that I've shot a buttload of .38 rounds over the years. Yes, some of this goes back quite a ways. There was a sandwich baggie that I filled up with cases that I felt were too corroded to mess with.

I know I've shot more 9mm and .45 ACP than I have cases for. Back in the day, they just went flying around an indoor range and I didn't go chasing after them. And when shooting out in informal ranges, most of the cases weren't recoverable. Probably why I don't have any .223s in the bags.

Is Remington Leaving New York?

They say no. Other sources say that they are going to move a lot of jobs from their Ilion, New York plant to an expansion in Huntsville, Alabama.

I imagine that the answer is kind of close to "maybe". There is probably equipment in the Ilion plant that can neither be economically duplicated or moved. Smith & Wesson, for instance, might want to move from Massachusetts, but their factory has a massive hammer-forge that is reportedly very large and has been in use for a century. They likely don't need that sort of old equipment to churn out "modern sporting rifles", which Remington now makes in Ilion, so look to that line to move.

Laws and political posturing have consequences. Which is why Beretta is opening a new plant in Tennessee (instead of Maryland), PTR is moving from Connecticut to South Carolina, Colt is opening a plant in Florida, Magpul is pulling out of Colorado and Kahr chose to open a New factory in Pennsylvania instead of New York.

(H/T1 and 2)

Your Sunday Morning Jet Noise

Mig-23:


There aren't too many airplanes that I'd avoid flying, but this would be one.

(H/T)

Reason 56 Pasta-Gazillion Why I'll Never Be a Judge

Five Michael Jackson fans have been awarded one euro each by a French court for the "emotional damage" they suffered after the pop star's death.

The case saw 34 fans sue Jackson's doctor, who was jailed in 2011 for the involuntary manslaughter of the singer.

The court in Orleans ruled five fans had proven emotional suffering.
On the other hand, I'd have had the plaintiffs sent off for a psych hold and had the bailiffs take their lawyers out back and flogged.

Why is why I'd not make a good judge.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

But Does It Come With Its Own Reloading Plant?

Colt M1877 Bulldog Gatling gun, in .45-70.


J&G Sales has one for the budget price of $47,995.

Yep, imagine stoking that thing with black-powder cartridges and then cranking it up. At 800 rounds/min, the brass'll pile up pretty fast.

At $1.50 to $2/round or better, cranking that gun'll get pretty pricey pretty fast. Unless you happen to be Tom Perkins, in which case, you might want to buy a bunch of those guns and mount them strategically around your houses.

Auto-Immune Disease and the Black Death

There may be some link between the two.

The Black Death apparently had an evolutionary impact on Europeans, in that survivors tended to have a more active immune system, one that more aggressively combated invading bugs.

I don't know how they're going to tease out whether or not the descendants of the survivors of the Black Death are more susceptible to some autoimmune diseases than descendants of populations where the Black Death didn't run rampant. There are a heck of a lot of possible causes for those diseases, all of which will have to be accounted for.

It'll be an interesting line of research, though.

(H/T)

Caturday

George and Buddy, late in 1996.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Being Ladylike

I can so relate to this:


Except I sort of get purses, but I do tend to carry too much crap in mine. Not a microwave, though. And I don't go for the hard stuff if I'm driving (and no way am I buying whiskey that comes in a plastic bottle).

No Doubt that "Shotgun Joe" Biden is Crying Today; Packing Heat Edition

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has pretty much held that people have a right to carry a gun. States can regulate that, somewhat, but they can't ban it.

Since the Ninth Circuit has a reputation for being the most liberal of the Federal appellate courts, this is rather stunning. And it does not bode well for states such as Rhode Island, Hawaii, Maryland, New Jersey and localities such as New York City, Nassau and Westchester counties, as well as Boston and other places that apply the "you gots to show us who wants to kill you" test before issuing a license.

Of course, the Chronicle has shit its pants over the ruling. The LA Times is a lot more matter-of-fact about it.

(H/T)

Because It's Friday

Russian steam:

Thursday, February 13, 2014

OOOO-RAH! Censorship, USMC Style

The Commandant of the Marine Corps doesn't like the Marine Corps Times, because they've been critical of his rather high-handed actions.. So he's ordered that it be moved off the display racks in commissaries and base exchanges.

What replaces that? Books that he likes. And shit that his wife likes.

Or they did, until the shit hit the fan. And Congress became interested.

(Guess the USMC book-burning is on hold....)

Coming Soon to Your Cable Network: Lousy Service, Fewer Choices and Higher Bills; Comcast Edition

US cable TV giant Comcast has agreed to buy rival Time Warner Cable in a $45.2bn (£25.5bn) deal that unites the country's two biggest cable TV operators and will control more than a third of the market.

Comcast, which owns the NBC broadcast network and the Universal film studio, offered $158.82-a-share to take over Time Warner Cable (TWC), which owns movie channel HBO and Time Magazine.

Brian Roberts, chairman and CEO of Comcast, said consumers would benefit from the "really special transaction", adding that he was "optimistic" that regulators would allow it.

Speaking to CNBC, Roberts added: "The deal is pro-competitive, it's pro-consumer. We going to be able to bring better products, faster internet, more channels, on demand TV everywhere, on a national local platform that's really special," he claimed.
BULLSHIT!

Very large companies, companies that dominate the market or are outright monopolistic, are never, ever "pro-consumer". They are anything but. They are pro-themselves and to those guys, the consumer is nothing more than a sheep to be sheared.

They almost can't help themselves. They know that their victims customer base has no meaningful choice. That attitude percolates throughout the company. Not for nothing that Ma Bell was once satirized as having this motto: "AT&T. We don't care. We don't have to." Microsoft, well, if there ever was a tech company that cared less about consumers, I'd like to know who they were. Microsoft used to force computer makers to pay Microsoft a fee for every computer they made, even if Windows wasn't installed on it-- an abuse of monopoly power unseen since the days of Standard Oil. Back when railroads were the only game in town, if you had only one railroad serving your town, the freight and passenger rates were at the level of extortion.

Which is a long-winded way of saying that if you have Comcast or Time-Warner, you're probably going to get screwed even worse than you are now. Place a service call and you'll be asked "a service tech can be there between the hours of 6AM and 10PM in July, will someone be home, then?"

Large companies are never pro-consumer. That's just the way it is. There is nothing good in this merger for anyone at the output end of the coax cable.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Cops Shooting Civilians;
Bangity and Skiing

Professor Turley has a longish blog post that boils down to one trenchant point: In the main, police officers are free to kill innocent serfs civilians with no repercussions. As long as they're not too blatant about it.

Of course, if the cops break into your house in the middle of the night and you think that you're being subjected to a home invasion and you raise a gun, you're going to spend a lot of time in prison.

(Except maybe in Texas.)

-------------------------
Biathalon training.


It's a shame that it isn't a bigger sport here.

Oh, and in order to appease the Communist Chinese government, Microsoft's Bing is allegedly censoring searches done in Chinese. Even if the person using the computer is nowhere near China.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Shit. Fucking Links.

This is the link to The Hidden Witness, the hard-boiled mystery* that I referred to, and which I screwed up the linkage in the last post.

Derp.

*which I wrote, and which really frosts me that I fucked that link up.

Frank James Update & Tab Clearing

Frank James apparently had a stroke. I'm presuming that if you leave good wishes on his blog, they'll get to him somehow. Or maybe not. As far as I know, Tam's blog is probably the place to check for updates.

When I read the words "rail gun", it calls to mind an electromagnetic rifle. Not one of these things.

I just bought Marko's and Peter's first books for my Kindle ("Terms of Enlistment" and "Take the Star Road"). I've never been much into military SF as a genre. I'm more of a hardboiled mystery type* The SF works in my home when I was a kid tended to Asimov and Clarke, not Heinlein.

I never much got into RAH. I did take a date to see "Starship Troopers",** but that was more payback because she had taken me to a movie that was so bloody sappy that it almost gave me type II diabetes. And "Kull the Conqueror"*** had already gone out of the theaters.

But I digress.

I have enjoyed RobertaX's web series "I Work on a Starship", which isn't exactly milspec SF, though it touches on it. So I thought it might be good to step outside of my normal reading zone and read those books. Besides that, they're good guys.

When you get up to go out in the morning and you put on your gun, helps to check that you've got the right speedloaders. I went through a day a little while back with a J-frame piece and two speedloaders for a K-frame. Didn't need them, but it would have been a Bad Thing if I had.



* yes, I wrote that. Be a mensch and buy a copy.
** very high suckage factor in that movie.
*** ditto my last.

Could the Tea Party Be Funded by the Russians?

It would make sense for the Russians to do that. The Tea Party is a destabilizing element in the American political system. The politicians who are beholden to the Tea Party are obstructionist when it comes to government function and largely isolationist in foreign policy outlook. The turmoil in American governance, especially when it comes to economic issues, has made foreign governments lest trustful of an American hand on the tiller of the global financial system. Almost anything that tends to constrain American power in any form likely benefits Russia.

When the Russians were complaining that the pro-democracy NGOs in Russia were being funded, at least in part, by the CIA, they were probably right. When the Russians complained that American money and other support helped with the Orange revolution in Ukraine and the Rose revolution in Georgia, they were probably right. So it would make sense for the Russians to attempt to counter American influence by funding a destabilizing force in domestic American politics.

It probably wouldn't take that much (as governments see numbers) to swing some elections. The money could be washed through some of the super-PACs. And the beauty of that is that if the Russians were doing it right, the Tea party might not even be aware of the source of the funds.

Rapping About the Cellular Manufacturing of Proteins

Monday, February 10, 2014

Turns Out That "Achmed the Dead Terrorist" Wasn't Comedy

It was a documentary.
BAGHDAD — A group of Sunni militants attending a suicide bombing training class at a camp north of Baghdad were killed on Monday when their commander unwittingly conducted a demonstration with a belt that was packed with explosives, army and police officials said.

The militants belonged to a group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, which is fighting the Shiite-dominated army of the Iraqi government, mostly in Anbar Province. But they are also linked to bomb attacks elsewhere and other fighting that has thrown Iraq deeper into sectarian violence.

Twenty-two ISIS members were killed, and 15 were wounded, in the explosion at the camp, which is in a farming area in the northeastern province of Samara, according to the police and army officials.
Right out of the Achmed routine.

Hey, Timmy Armstrong! You've Got Jail!!

I blogged yesterday about Michel Armstrong, the CEO Asshat at AOL, who was caught screwing his employees over on their 401(k)s. Part of that mentioned that Armstrong was upset that two mothers covered by AOL's health insurance plans had given birth to "distressed babies" that cost AOL over a million per kid.

Well, seems that was a violation of HIPAA. And it could arguably be a criminal violation.

So let's see if the DoJ has the stones to go after him.

I'm betting they don't. For indicting protesters on specious terrorism charges is more of their speed.

(Idea for this post was in an email on the Mooney List.)

The Numerical Captcha

I've been playing around with the numerical captcha that Blogger is now using.

What I see is something like this:


As you can see, one half of the captcha has numbers generated by Google, the other half is a photo.

What I've been finding out is that if I enter the computer-generated numbers correctly, it almost doesn't matter what I put in for the other ones.

My suspicion has been that Google is using this to tune its optical character recognition system. And so I put in wrong numbers. Maybe its orneriness or a little bit of monkey-wrenching. Or it's a bit of fun to see how far off I can get before the system catches it.

In Lieu of the Standard Load of Crap

Do I need to tell you which movie this one came from?


OK, I have steam locomotives on Friday, cats on Saturday, and jet aircraft (mostly) on Sunday. This is getting out of hand. I need to stop this nonsense.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

When a Matching 401(k) Plan Isn't

When they say "we'll match your 401(k) contributions", they mean "we'll match them if you stay until the end of the year". Because if you pay into your 401(k) each pay period, well, they don't match that.

AOL tried to institute that policy and it blew up in their faces.

See, Tim Armstrong, AOL's $12MM/Yr CEO, thought that then AOL could keep the matching money for AOL workers who quit or die. And maybe he might not have to pay for distressed babies.

AOL, by the way, is not the only company to adopt this 'shaft the workers" routine. Those assholes at Lenovo IBM do it. That's apparently where those copycat numbnuts at AOL got the idea.

It's a great way to hose over some of the workers and put a bunch of money back into the company's pocket. So they can pay larger bonuses to asshats like Armstrong.

Your Sunday Morning Jet Noise

The "Eurofighter":

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Spare a Thought for Frank

Frank James has been admitted to a hospital.

That's all I know.

He's one of the good guys.

Corrupt Fucks in Local Government- Arnold, MO Edition

The issue of the automated red light and speed cameras is a pretty hot topic nationwide. There is evidence that the speed cameras are rigged. The red light cameras catch drivers who stopped.

A Missouri appellate court has held that the ordinances passed by towns to authorize red light cameras are unconstitutional. But that hasn't stopped the city of Arnold, MO from issuing tickets.

If the drivers show up in court, the tickets get tossed. If the drivers don't pay or show up, no warrant is issued. But if the driver sends in a check, the city keeps the money.

If you run a business and you send out invoices for services that were never rendered or goods that were never delivered, you'd stand a good chance of eventually getting charged with fraud. That is, in essence, what the city of Arnold is doing.

They are thieves.

Go Watch That Movie in Lieu of Pay, Boys.

I don't know how I missed this historic date: Yesterday was the 40th anniversary of the release of Blazing Saddles.






(H/T)

Caturday

Jake is giving me his "come rub my belly" look.

Friday, February 7, 2014

If You Get Drunk in Texas: What Will Get You Prison Time and What Will Not-- a Quiz

A. Getting hammered and urinating on the side of the Alamo.

B. Getting hammered and killing four people in a motor vehicle crash.

If you guessed "A", award yourself a gold star.

If you guessed "B", not so much.

"Sorry About the Water, Officer!" (and Other Police Fuckery)

If you are a Chippie, you might not want to get within squirting range of a firehose for awhile:
Details are still emerging on an arrest that took place Tuesday night involving an officer of the California Highway Patrol and a Chula Vista firefighter. There was an alleged dispute over the location of a parked firetruck. A meeting is supposed to take place today between fire and police officials to determine what happened.

The unnamed firefighter was allegedly asked to move the firetruck which was presumably blocking traffic. Preliminary reports are that he did not refuse but responded by saying that he had to follow the chain of command and could not make that decision. The officer apparently told him that he would move the truck immediately or be arrested. When the firefighter refused he was cuffed and detained for about 30 minutes.


Now, let's go to this:
Eight Los Angeles police officers who mistakenly riddled a pickup truck with bullets during a manhunt for cop-turned-killer Christopher Dorner last year will be allowed to return to the field after they get additional training, Police Chief Charlie Beck said.
Two women were delivering newspapers. They threw a plastic-wrapped paper out of their truck onto a driveway. Nervous and trigger-happy LAPD cops confused the sound of a newspaper hitting the cement with gunfire and riddled the newsladies' truck with bullets.

They get "additional training".

Let's say, for the sake of argument, that you thought somebody was trying to kill you. Say you're on edge. You hear a "plop" and see a truck pull up.

If you were to pick up your gun and shoot up the truck, I confidently predict that, even in a "stand yer ground" state, you'd be wearing one of those flattering orange DOC jumpsuits for at least several years. Because what you did would not have passed the "reasonableness" test".

But if you're a cop on the LAPD, you apparently don't have to worry about whether or not your actions were reasonable. You can shoot up a couple of civilians, suffer through your slap-on-the-wrist, and go back to work.

Because It's Friday

Bosnian steam:


Hoisted By Our Own Petard; NSA Edition

The State Department is working itself into a froth because the Russians allegedly recorded a phone call between two American diplomats and released it to the world.


Because, after all, we're the only ones who are allowed by the Almighty to intercept calls between foreign diplomats.

Hypocrisy is one of the standard tools of the State Department. So, apparently, is idiocy, assuming that those two clowns were talking over a regular (unsecured) telephone system.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Give the Russians a Break Over the Hotels in Sochi!

After all, they only had seven years to get ready.

Which is equivalent to about one year in a capitalist country. So no wonder they're not ready.

The water looks like piss. And that seems to be among the least of the issues for foreigners in Sochi,

The Russians supposedly spent $50 billion on the Olympics, which probably means about $40 billion or more were stolen. The Soviet Union seems to have been a paragon of efficiency compared to the Russian kleptocracy.*

This is turning into a major embarrassment for the Putin regime. When Tsar Vladimir IV gets embarrassed, some underlings are going to be catching bullets from a Makarov in the back of their necks.
___________________________________
* Bet dollars to pelmeni that if these games were held in Stalin's Russia, they'd be ready to go. or the Soviet Sports Minister would be in a cell deep in the Lubyanka.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Scrap the Air Force

I am so going to read this book.

(Hopefully, through inter-library loan.)

Afghanistan: Let's Declare Victory and Leave

(Reuters) - Afghan President Hamid Karzai has been holding secret talks with Taliban officials in the hope of persuading them to make peace with his government, his spokesman told Reuters on Tuesday, confirming a New York Times report.
And there's more:
Increasingly vexed by Hamid Karzai, Afghanistan’s president, Mr. Obama is trying to figure out what form a residual force might take after the bulk of American troops leave by December and what would happen if no Americans stayed behind at all. The debate has rekindled some of the tensions within the administration that divided it in its early days. ... Dysfunction reigns in Kabul. American aid dollars have disappeared. Terrorism suspects may be released from Afghan prisons. And Mr. Karzai has refused to sign an agreement for a residual force beyond December, and instead has been fruitlessly contacting the Taliban about peace talks that have yet to materialize.

While Washington has long been frustrated by Mr. Karzai, what little patience remains has ebbed in recent weeks as he blamed American forces for terrorist attacks on civilians, threatened to release prisoners deemed dangerous by the international coalition and likened the United States to a “colonial power.”
That the government of Afghanistan is corrupt from the top to the bottom has been documented ad nauseum. Afghanistan is a kleptocracy on a scale so vast that even Tsar Vladimir IV is saying: "Guys. Really?"

That this is the outcome that we are seeing should have not come as a surprise to anyone. Trying to "fix" Afghanistan was a high-risk endeavor from the start.

It is far past time to leave.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Time to Bring Back the S&W Model 10 (or 15) for the LAPD

Clearly, the LAPD cannot be trusted with high-capacity automatics.

When seven of eight officers shot at two Hispanic women who where delivering newspapers, the cops fired over 100 rounds. One of the cops fired 28 rounds.

They hit one of the women twice and the other one once, slightly.

The circumstances of the shooting revealed that the patrol officers were either badly trained or trigger-happy.

It's time to make them turn in their automatics and go back to carrying .38s. At least it will cut down on their "spray and pray" fire discipline.

Ballistic Snake Oil

I kind of suspected as much:


Compared to Federal HST:



That G2-R.I.P. stuff is going for insane prices ($50 for a box of 20) and yet you can get the same effect with a double-tap from a .22. The only reason that I can think to buy this crap is that it might be worth something on the collector's market in 20 years or so.

Though I have to giggle at wondering about the fanboys who are shooting this stuff through their Hi-Points.

(H/T)

Google- "Cheap Gummint Fuel Was a Misunderstanding"--- My Ass

Google had some deal in which they could base their planes at NASA's Ames Research Center, but only if they bought an Alpha Jet for NASA to use. And before you imagine that we're talking a couple of King Airs or the like, Google's corporate fleet includes a Boeing 757, a 767, and at least three G-Vs. So being able to keep those jets nearby at Moffett Field was a pretty sweet deal for Google.

Even sweeter was that Google helped themselves to millions of dollars of jet fuel at government prices. Which they now have to pay full price for, because they were found out. Google says it was all a "misunderstanding".

Yeah, right.

Amazing how the tech start-up, whic had a motto of "don't be evil", has now proven itself to be doing one evil turn after another.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Classics Downloaded

In a post late in December, I mentioned that I was downloading some classic books.

What I didn't mention is why: I had been given a Kindle Paperwhite.

Let me confess this: I was skeptical of ebook readers. I have a fair number of books, moving from time to time tends to keep down the size of my library. And I do love the feel of a book.

But now let me sing the praises of ebooks. First off, I was stuck in an airport for six hours. If I had been carrying a regular book, I'd have finished it and then be faced with having to buy one of the crappy selection at a second-rate airport's bookstore But with the Kindle, I had downloaded a few library books before I set out on the trip. No worries about running out of material to read. Lots of free Kindle books appear here on a daily basis.

And the classics! There are free classics, some on Amazon and a lot on Project Gutenberg. I'm reading "The House of the Dead, or Prison Life in Siberia" by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. I fully intend to tackle "Les Miserables". Herotodus's histories are in my Kindle. I probably couldn't lift a backpack containing the paper copies of what is now on that thing.

I just might have to shoot my television.

Color My Car "Not-Networked", Thank You.

In what top transportation officials are calling a “moon shot” for drivers on American highways, the Obama administration intends to require new cars to include technology that would enable the vehicles to talk to each other and avoid crashes.

The Department of Transportation estimates this new vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) technology could cut down on crashes by as much as 80 percent, with the potential of saving as many as 20,000 American lives each year. ... According to the DOT, the V2V technology wouldn’t compromise personal privacy because the data-gathering process doesn’t involve the exchanging or recording of personal information.
Bullshit. If information is being exchanged, it's being recorded, somewhere. The cars are going to identify themselves to each other, count on that.

Meanwhile, the EU is considering allowing the cops to be able to shut off anyone's car at will.

I have a feeling that non-electronic cars may command a healthy premium on the used car market.

In Lieu of Whatever You Expected to Find Here

The Roxanne Tango from Moulin Rouge:

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Super Bowl Whatever-the-Hell-Roman-Numeral-It-Is.

I watched the first half.

Meh.

The teams were better matched on Puppy Bowl X and Kitten Bowl I.

The Stink of Desperation on Christie

I finally got around to reading the attack email that was sent out by Chris Christie (or his people) and parts of it are breathtaking for hypocrisy and over-reaching.

Christie had to go back to high school to come up with things to smear Wildstein with? Seriously? He had to reach back 35 years for dirt?

And slamming Wildstein for being an anonymous blogger-- here is my prediction: It will come out that Christie not only knew of Wildstein's blogging, but he fed stories to Wildstein.

Sunday, Bloody Sunday

You probably don't want your speakers turned up for this one: The kills of the Rifleman.


It wasn't the kids who grew up watching Lucas McCain gunning down half of the population of the New Mexico Territory who ended up shooting up schools.

UPDATE: The Mad Magazine parody. Click on each image to enlarge.

Your Sunday Morning Jet Noise

A mashup of Russian performances at airshows.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Political Blood in the Water

Chris Christie is bleeding into the water and the sharks news for him keeps getting worse.

A lot of stuff is coming out, now. And there is some irony in that Christie's political fortunes are now being brought down because of campaign dirty tricks pulled in an election that he had no chance of losing.

Caturday; Creating a Monster Edition

You'd have to be eight flavors of mentally deranged to think that training your cat to do this would be a good idea:


It'll be a lot of fun at 0-Dark-30 when that cat starts ringing that bell like the gripman on a San Francisco cable car.