Seen on the street in Kyiv.

Words of Advice:

"If Something Seems To Be Too Good To Be True, It's Best To Shoot It, Just In Case." -- Fiona Glenanne

“The Mob takes the Fifth. If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?” -- The TOFF *

"Foreign Relations Boil Down to Two Things: Talking With People or Killing Them." -- Unknown

“Speed is a poor substitute for accuracy.” -- Real, no-shit, fortune from a fortune cookie

"If you believe that you are talking to G-d, you can justify anything.” — my Dad

"Colt .45s; putting bad guys in the ground since 1873." -- Unknown

"Stay Strapped or Get Clapped." -- probably not Mr. Rogers

"The Dildo of Karma rarely comes lubed." -- Unknown

"Eck!" -- George the Cat

* "TOFF" = Treasonous Orange Fat Fuck,
"FOFF" = Felonious Old Fat Fuck,
"COFF" = Convicted Old Felonious Fool,
A/K/A Commandante (or Cadet) Bone Spurs,
A/K/A El Caudillo de Mar-a-Lago, A/K/A the Asset,
A/K/A P01135809, A/K/A Dementia Donnie, A/K/A Felon^34,
A/K/A Dolt-45, A/K/A Don Snoreleone

Friday, December 31, 2010

Here's Hoping for a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous 2011!

But two outta three might be as good as it gets.

I'm just hoping for a break in the cycle of "this year is worse than last year and next year promises to be even worse than this year."

But I'm finding it hard to summon the optimism.

Still, I hope it's a good year for the regular readers here at Misfit Central.

Patent Trolls, pt. 2

When I posted my first entry on the FlightPrep story, I wasn't sure who was in the right or who was in the wrong.

One thing that is sort of telling is that FlightPrep doesn't allow comments for its "we wuz wronged, I tells ya" post on its blog.

And now it seems that some lunatic associated with FlightPrep is e-mailing people who have contacted FlightPrep directly (or who have written about the story) and has been threatening them.

That tends to make it clearer. When someone associated with a party starts threatening reporters over coverage, it makes it a bit more apparent who is in the wrong.

The "Copter Doctor"

Dr. David Nichols has died at age 62 of cancer. For 31 years, he traveled to Tangier Island to work a once-weekly medical clinic. He was flying in by airplane before, but in recent years, he had switched to a helicopter.

There are some good people in this world. There is now one fewer.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Kodachrome, 1935-2010, RIP

The last photo lab in the world which processed Kodachrome film shut down its processing machine today.

Until digital came about, if you were a professional photographer (or a serious amateur) and you wanted to shoot color photos, you probably used Kodachrome.

I got less serious about photography in the early `80s and shifted from Kodachrome to Kodacolor, as it was convenient not to have to dig out the slide projector to show photos.

Everything I learned about photography, I learned by shooting Kodachrome. It was expensive stuff for a teenager and I quickly learned to make sure that all of the conditions were right before I pressed the shutter release. (When I had an SX-70, that was also expensive and I took care with each exposure.) Motor drives and shooting a shit-ton of film was left to either very rich people or pros who had someone else paying for the film and the processing.

I understand why Kodachrome died. I haven't pushed the shutter button on a film camera in six years. But still, the death of Kodachrome for me is like hearing of the death of a friend from long ago.

Parole in Exchange for a Body Part

That is the ghoulish deal that is taking shape in the state of Mississippi, which will let a woman out of prison if she agrees to donate a kidney.

I see no merciful act here on the part of Gov. Barbour. If the sentences for the crime were excessive, then the two sisters should have their sentences commuted. Requiring one sister to give a kidney to the other so that the state of Mississippi can avoid the cost of long-term dialysis is barbaric at best.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

True Grit

I saw True Grit this afternoon. All the buzz about the job done by Hailee Steinfeld as Mattie Ross is the truth.

I think it is better than the first go-around with John Wayne. Those who have read the book say that the Coen brothers' movie is a lot closer to the book's story.

I think it is well worth seeing. Having said that, I don't think you'll lose much by waiting for it to make the jump to the premium cable movie services in a few months (or Netflix).

Do Conservatives Tend to Be Fearful Cowards?

Interesting study about that.

I don't know if it's true, but it would offer an explanation why people like George W. Bush and Richard Cheney were so eager to dodge serving in wartime when they were young and yet were so willing to throw away the lives of many thousands of people once they personally had no skin in the game.

Still, correlation is not causation, in either direction (the brains are so because they are or they are so because their brains are). Saying that there is a correlation between x and Y does not mean that there is any relationship between the two sets. Supposedly decades ago there was a near perfect correlation between the increase in telephone poles and the cancer rate in Iowa.


When an Insurance Company Sues a Bankster, Who Am I Supposed to Root For?

Tough call.
Allstate Corp. sued Bank of America Corp. and its Countrywide mortgage unit over $700 million in residential mortgage-backed securities the insurer purchased, claiming Countrywide misrepresented the investments.

“The defendants knew the loans offloaded onto Allstate were a toxic mix of loans given to borrowers that could not afford the properties, and thus were highly likely to default,” Allstate said in a complaint filed in federal court in Manhattan yesterday.
Allstate has a rep of being one of the worst major insurance companies in the business when it comes to paying out to its policyholders.* So, in a way, I can only hope that both sides lose.

* USAA is probably the best. But you have to have had some connection to the military or a USAA member in order to get vehicle insurance from them.

You Thought the Blizzard Was Bad?

That while splotch is a storm on Saturn. As the Bad Astronomer notes, the storm itself is 6,000 miles across. The tail of the storm stretches for 36,000 miles.

Brave, Brave, Brave Governor Christie

When a blizzard was on the way,
Governor Christie bravely ran away.
Snow was mounding over his head,
Governor Christie turned and fled.
He boarded a plane,
He left his house,
He's down in Orlando,
With Mickey Mouse.
Brave, brave, brave Governor Christie.
I don't understand why New Jersey has a lieutenant governor if both the governor and lieutenant governor are both absent from the state at the same time. It certainly allowed the president of the state senate, a democrat, to look pretty good in comparison.

Across the river in New York City, it's no shock that the streets where powerful politicians and the rich folk live were plowed first.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Patent Trolls?

In this case, a company known as "FlightPrep," which now is allegedly using a recently awarded patent to allegedly push everyone else out of business by the tactic of threatening them with litigation, or even defending against a baseless lawsuit can cost enough to push a small operation into failure.

FlightPrep denies that that is what they are doing.

Some are closing.

Others are fighting back.

Patents were developed so that legitimate inventors could profit from their ideas. They were not meant for patenting ideas that were already in use and then threatening plagues of attorneys to stifle competition. Whether FlightPrep is doing that, or whether they are the victim here is a matter that I will leave to you.

The problem for FlightPrep is that the aviation world is a small one and the subset of pilots who have a use for such a service is smaller still. The average VFR pilot has little need of a flight-planning service. Even if FlightPrep is correct in asserting its position, its victory may be a Pyrrhic one if enough pilots become persuaded that they are bullies and scumbags.

More Than Fifteen Million

That's how many people are "officially" unemployed. Worse is that people are concluding that this is no ordinary recession and that the American Dream is gone for them.

This all ties into the expansion of income inequality, which started to take off thirty years ago and which is approaching that of a 3rd World nation. Severe income inequality means that people who are not born into money, who are not winners of Lucky Sperm Lotto, stand no real chance of moving up in the world. When people believe that hard work will not pay off, when they believe that the game is rigged against them, that's when they are ripe for the message that they are being kept down by some nefarious cabal.

We know how that tends to work out.

And I cannot conclude anything other than such an outcome is what many of the strategists of the republican party have in mind.

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Award for "Sore Loser of the Year for 2010" Goes To....

Joe Miller, the Teabaggers' senatorial candidate in Alaska in last month's election.

This has to be the weirdest legal strategy of all: He's not contesting the swearing-in of Lisa Murkowski as a senator in the 112th Congress, but he's continuing to argue about how the votes were counted.

Which is kind of like continuing to argue with the umpires about how a play was called after you've lost the game and the crowd has gone home.

Was he drunk when he came up with that legal strategy?

UPDATE: Miller's federal lawsuit has been thrown out.

LockMart Continues to Feed at the Government Trough

Lockheed-Martin's modernization of the FAA's air traffic control system is running six years late (at least) and is over half a billion dollars over budget.

Don Brown noted that the FAA released this bit of news in timing that virtually guaranteed that the story would be buried.

Bet you won't hear a peep out of Sen. Coburn and the Teabaggers over this. Big government contractors swilling from the Treasury's feed trough never seems to inspire any outrage from them. But try to help veterans, the 9-11 first responders or other people who are down on their luck and, oh my gawd, listen to the cries of the Teabaggers who all of a sudden care about government spending.

UPDATE: Read this post about how because a private contractor is screwing the pooch, the ideological wreckers of government think that the answer is to turn government over to the private contractors.

The Zadroga (9-11 First Responders) Act

You probably know that the bill was passed. And it seems to be pretty widely recognized that the reason the bill passed was because Jon Steward shone a bright light on the Republicans who were obstructing it (and on the TV news shows that were ignoring it).

Remember, boys and girls, if you step up and volunteer in time of peril to this nation and if you are injured or disabled during your service, the chances are that you will be on your own. For there is one political party which has the tendency to tell you that "a grateful nation thanks you for your service, now go fuck yourself."

Unless their feet are held to the fire of public outrage, that is. Then they follow the Dirksen Rule of "when I feel the heat, I see the light".

Sunday, December 26, 2010

And So, It Begins

This is the start of what is supposed to be between 12 and 20 inches of snow by tomorrow night.

This is going to do a number on the after-Christmas sales.

The Political-Military Fuckery of the Teabaggers

Republicans/Teabaggers (there is little difference between them) are trying to refight the Civil War with regard to whether state governments or the federal government have the ultimate power. The Republicans might not be able to reinstitute slavery or the form of serfdom known as sharecropping, at least not right away, but they'll settle now for the fighting for what the segregationists called "state's rights".

They obviously have not thought this one through very well. Not if the same people have dreams of "American exceptionalism" or an "American empire".

I make no claims to being a historian. But I cannot think of a single serious power or empire throughout human history that was composed of a collection of autonomous or even semi-autonomous states. When it comes to being a serious player on the world stage or even on a regional stage, it is the strong nation-state that prevails.

The German Confederation, which arose from the ashes of the Holy Roman Empire,[1] were both, to my recollection, assemblages comprised of a number of sovereign states, much in the same way that the Teabaggers dream of the U.S. becoming. Both were rather weak and ineffectual. Germany did not become a serious economic and military power until the various German states and principalities were united under a strong national government.[2]

One of the bigger surprises for me from reading histories of the Second World War was that, among the major combatants, it was Germany that did the poorest job of mobilizing its industrial base.[3] The U.S., in effect if not in law, instituted a command economy. The government was happy to let companies make a profit, true enough. Control was exercised by controlling raw materials. If you wanted to keep the doors of your factory opened, you made what the government wanted you to make, which was war materiel, not consumer goods.

Being a world power requires, whether one likes it or not, a national military establishment capable of projecting power abroad. The Soviet Union never had much of a strong economy, but its ability to project power made it a player on the world stage up until the country collapsed in 1991.

Conversely, although Japan had a very strong economy in the 1970s and 1980s,[4] its sole lever of power was the power of its purse. If another nation refused to be swayed by bribes offers of economic assistance, Japan had no way to bend the other nation to its will, unless it could persuade the US or the UK to do a bit of saber-rattling.

The lesson that the ability of a nation to act on the world stage has its foundation on that nation's ability to project military force has not been lost on China. It apparently has been lost on the UK.[5]

The United States will not be able to continue to be a world power if the decisions of the Congress and of the Executive are subject to a repeal by the states, in the same way that no state could function if its county legislatures could repeal state laws. That is, to my mind, so blindingly self-obvious as to be beyond debate. For nobody would be certain as to the state of the law, given that any time, a bunch of thoroughly corruptible clowns[6] could repeal any law they felt like repealing.

But that's probably the unstated goal of the Teabaggers: To destroy the United States from within. In that, they are little different from their traitorous ancestors of 150 years ago.

[1] The original "three lies in one," a feat not equaled until the creation of "Meals, Ready to Eat."
[2] Chancellor Bismarck repeatedly and emphatically warned of the foolishness of going to war over anything to do with the Balkans and the dangers of fighting a two-front war. Kaiser Wilhelm II didn't pay any attention and tens of millions of men died as a result.
[3] Whether it was because Hitler believed that he could knock the Soviet Union out of the war quickly and then the Brits would sue for peace and then was not able to mentally shift gears fast enough or because Hitler owed a huge debt to the industrialists which backed him, I'll leave for your conjecture.
[4] It is not weak, now, but the Japanese economy has not recovered from its nearly two-decade long stagnation.
[5] So has the lesson that intervention abroad requires air power.
[6] The Texas State Legislature comes to mind.

For Those of You Who Maintain That a Snowstorm Disproves Climate Change

Guess what?

You're wrong.
The not-so-obvious short answer is that the overall warming of the atmosphere is actually creating cold-weather extremes. Last winter, too, was exceptionally snowy and cold across the Eastern United States and Eurasia, as were seven of the previous nine winters.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Annual Shaking of the Idiot Tree

From the introduction of the PS/2 line of PCs through the 1990s, this was the time of the year when many families set up their first home computers. Those computers came with free trial memberships to AOL, CompuServe and Prodigy.

Those three were more than ISPs. They were the largest computer bulletin board services before the rise of the Internest and the Web. All were dial-up services. (AOL, in particular, sent out hundreds of millions of 3.5" floppies (and then CDs) as junk mail, attracting so many users who were clueless that they became collectively known as "Assholes On Line".)

CompuServe charged based on the speed of the connection; 300 baud was $6 per hour, 1200 and 2400 baud was $12/hr and it went up to nearly $60/hr for 9600 baud. There were several programs that allowed one to download the various forums and e-mail, work offline and then send outgoing traffic. Some of the programs cost nearly $100 and they would pay for themselves in a month. You could send e-mail to other systems, but there was an extra charge.

On CompuServe, if you set up a special interest group (a "sig", hence "AvSig"), they gave you 10% of the online fees. To say it was lucrative would be an understatement. Some of the sig owners made over seven figures.

So what would happen each year is that a flock of new users came around the various interest groups. The Shaking of the Idiot Tree began when someone signed into CompuServe and joined one of the Christian groups. The old hands would welcome them and then say something along the lines of "you know, there are a bunch of queers and such over at the XYZ Forum, why doncha go over and tell them the error of their ways?"

Of course, the gay men, lesbians and transgender folk were ready for that. Many had files with their standard answers, so when some newbie came in and began spouting about Leviticus, they got asked if they killed their disobedient children and stuff like that. Some ran off with their computer-tails between their legs, but a few stayed and became friends.

Now, of course, the proprietary networks are mainly defunct and most families already have computers.


They are flying the first "conforming" aircraft; one that was built to certification standards and not just a R&D vehicle.

Honda has over 100 orders for the aircraft, at $4.5 million apiece.

Caturday- Leave Me Alone!

All three cats here are exhibiting a degree of their inner Garbo:


Gracie, who was hiding as I packed to prepare to leave for the holiday. She knows that means an extended ride in the carrier, and she is not amused at the prospect.


Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas During the Zombie Apocalypse

Lots of helpful hints.


Merry Christmas

Hopefully you have the presents wrapped, the toys assembled and you're working on your second glass of heavily-brandied eggnog.

Merry Christmas to you and yours from the staff here at Misfit Central!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Why Aren't These Banksters Doing Hard Time?

Fraud, double-dealing, you name it, they were doing it.

You can bet that if they stole fifty bucks from the till, they'd be doing time, all right. But no, they defrauded their own bank and it investors and for that, they walked away with huge bonuses. No shock, the SEC under Chimpy did nothing. Not that they would, now.

Who says crime doesn't pay?

Governments: Fucking Over Wounded Soldiers Since Forever

Our government won't help brain-damaged soldiers adapt to being brain-damaged. Costs too much, so better they fail out of life, become homeless and die soon.

One billionaire doesn't think that's right and he's putting his money up to change that.

I've said before that I believed that "homeless Iraq/Afghan War vet" would become as much a cliche as "homeless Vietnam War vet" was in the 1980s. I don;t see a hell of a lot from our government to make me change that opinion, since ungrateful slugs like Sen. Coburn are opposed to doing anything to help our wounded vets it it costs anything.

What Kind of Bug is This?

Anyone know?

The shot was taken indoors in CT.

Happy Festivus

Put up the Festivus Pole and try to endure the ritual Airing of the Grievances and Feats of Strength.

HP-- Engineered By Imbeciles

These are the ends of power adapters for HP laptops:

The one on the right is a fairly standard plug with negative DC current on the outside and the positive on the inside.

The one of the left is not like that. The shiny barrel that you see, outside and inside, is the negative current side. Positive current is supplied by a very thin copper wire on the inside, which looks like the inside of a cable TV coax line, only thinner.

Here is what is stupid about it: The little wire tends to break when it is plugged in a lot. That's not a problem with CATV coax, for users tend to set them up once and leave them plugged in. But for a freaking laptop, that adapter might be plugged in and unplugged a few times a day. Which means that, sooner or later, the stupid little wire in there is going to get bent. And then it breaks.

Which is probably why the nearest Best Buy store had about two dozen replacement adapters in stock.

Nice going, HP. Here's a fucking clue for you: My next laptop is going to be a Lenovo, you asswipes.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

One Crazy Cat

George is 14.

He seems a bit old for this crap, no?

One Dissatisfied Customer for Martin Guitars

It's never a good idea to piss off a man who has a sign on the main commercial road for a town.

New Start Treaty

There were thirteen Republican senators who put the good of the country ahead of the partisan objectives of their party leadership.

All honor to them:

Alexander (R-TN), Bennett (R-UT), Brown (R-MA), Cochran (R-MS), Collins (R-ME), Corker (R-TN), Gregg (R-NH), Isakson (R-GA), Johanns (R-NE), Lugar (R-IN), Murkowski (R-AK), Snowe (R-ME) and Voinovich (R-OH).

I note, though, that only one Republican senator from a state that was formerly a member of the Confederacy voted to ratify the treaty. I doubt that they objected because of concerns about the treaty; they objected because ratifying the treaty would be construed as a win for the President.

Sedition runs ever deep in their veins.

If the Zadroga (9-11 First Responders) Bill Passes, Guess Who Fox News Credits?

At least, according to Shepard Smith: Jon Stewart.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Civil War Re-Enactments

I'll happily participate if I can be the one who gets to set fire to Atlanta.

Or Columbia.

Sherman's army didn't burn Charleston in 1865, but we can rectify that oversight.

I wish I had thought of this back in the day: Every Right-wing Southerner who ever said "America- love it or leave it" should have been asked "how did Plan B work out for you?"

Have a Merry Little Christmas

I am taking off in a little bit, blogging will probably be light for several days.

Ella Fitzgerald is singing the wartime lyrics here:

They seem more appropriate in this time of economic uncertainly and sputtering wars.

Turn off the news, ignore the blogs and spend time with your family, your friends and/or your pets. Try to think about what is good in your life, at least for a few days.

Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Aerial Merry Christmas

Here's how he did it. (Scroll down to read the description)

Ho. Ho. Ho.

Republicans Love Their Party More Than They Love Their Country

Nothing has put that on display more than the debate in the Senate over the New Start Treaty:
The Senate floor debate on New Start turned increasingly harsh as supporters of the treaty prepared for a procedural vote on Tuesday to close off further discussion. The treaty’s fate appeared to be entangled by unrelated factors, including an acrimonious deadlock over a spending bill, anger among some Republicans over passage of legislation ending the ban on gay men and lesbians serving openly in the military, and the widespread view that approval of the treaty would help rejuvenate a weakened president.
So Republicans are more than willing to scuttle a major strategic arms control treaty because they've lost on other issues and because they don't want to do anything that might cast the President in a more favorable light.

Republicans, particularly those in the Senate, are not patriots.

Back Door Gun Registration

(My earlier posts.)

Here is the rule in the Federal Register in PDF format.

It's still odd that the rule has disappeared from, though.

The American Stasi

All it takes is one vicious neighbor to "inform" on you and you're in the database of the American Stasi. No surprise, it is the FBI who is taking the lead:
The FBI is building a vast repository controlled by people who work in a top-secret vault on the fourth floor of the J. Edgar Hoover FBI Building in Washington. This one stores the profiles of tens of thousands of Americans and legal residents who are not accused of any crime. What they have done is appear to be acting suspiciously to a town sheriff, a traffic cop or even a neighbor.
It is probably safe to say that if you have attended a political protest in the last nine years or if you are politically active in the areas of environmental awareness or antiwar issues or if you are an active blogger who criticizes the American security organs, you're in the FBI's database. If you have taken a photo of a ferry boat or a police car or a train, you might be in the database. If you have ever walked into a mosque, you're very likely in the database. If you have had a traffic ticket in the last several years, you're in the database. Hell, apparently if you live in Colorado and you play World of Warcraft online, you could be in the database.

Southern Revisionist Horseshit: "The Civil War Wasn't About Slavery"

If you buy the crap that is being handed out by the apologists for the Confederacy, then you should at least stir yourself to read some of the declarations of secession.

South Carolina's for example, in which the only named grievance was that the northern states had become hostile to the institution of slavery.

Texas's declaration briefly mentioned two other grievances, but the man thrust of it was that they had to secede to preserve the right to own other human beings as slaves.

Georgia declared secession because the northern states opposed the ownership of slaves.

Mississippi: "Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery-- the greatest material interest of the world."

Saying that the southern states attempted to secede for reasons other than slavery is like trying to explain daylight without mentioning the Sun.

A Holiday Carol

You can blame Tam and Roberta X for this one, since they started on it.

I finished it:
The city's burning in a raging fire,
Zombies chewing at your throats.
AC-130s laying down suppressive fire,
And civilians running like frightened goats.

Swine flu virus floats about like snow,
You'd better load your weapons right.
Tiny 'bots with their eyes all aglow
Will be turned loose to kill tonight.

You know that Santa's gonna slay,
Naughty boys and girls had better pray.
And every mother's child is gonna cry,
As reindeer drop napalm from the sky.

And so I’m offering this simple plea,
To readers from here to Timbuktu.
Clean your guns and be ready to flee,
Happy Christmas, to you!

Update: This is the base song. Not this. Clear, now?

The GOP's War on the Middle Class

They have a plan to crush those who work for state and local governments.

I do not believe that what I am about to write constitutes hyperbole:

If you work for the government, any government entity, and you are not (a) wearing BDUs of some kind; and (b) 100% healthy, then the GOP hates you. They want you to be crushed. They want you to work at a shit-for-wages job with no benefits. If you work for any government entity as a civilian employee and if you voted for a Republican last month, you might as well have sat down in a nice warm bubble bath and slashed open your femoral artery.

Hell, if you work for a living and if you make less than $300,000 a year, then voting for Republicans is as foolish as it would have been to allow a child to attend a party at John Gacy's house.

(H/T via here)

Weapons Down, Please

Shooting into the air tonight will not frighten the dragon that is eating the Moon.

Trust me on this one.

(Take a bath afterwards while fully clothed, if you wish.)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Zadroga (9-11 First Responders) Bill- the Feigned Outrage of Fox News

Nowhere in the outrage expressed by Shepard Smith and Chris Wallace of Fox News was the point made that it is Republican senators who are blocking the bill.

But we all know who is to blame.

The next Republican politician who mentions "9-11" should be flayed with a barbed-wire whip.

Saturday, December 18, 2010


I thought of lots of things. The glare of the red neon sign spread farther and farther across the ceiling. I sat up on the bed and put my feet on the floor and rubbed the back of my neck.

I got up on my feet and went over to the bowl in the corner and threw cold water on my face. After a little while I felt a little better, but only a little. I needed a drink, I needed a lot of life insurance, I needed a vacation, I needed a home in the country. What I had was a coat, a hat and a gun. I put them on and went out of the room.
Raymond Chandler, Farewell My Lovely, Chapter 34.

The Needle on the Irony Meter Just Snapped Off.

May Our Dear and Fluffy Lord save us all:
U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, vying for a leadership position in the new Republican-controlled Congress, was given a new spot on the House Intelligence Committee on Friday.
Sometimes you just can't out-snark the truth.


Naval Air Museum

Well over 100 photos from the museum.

Joe Lieberman Did Good

As much as I've bashed Joe Lieberman over the years, he took the lead in getting the don't ask, don't tell repeal bill through the Senate.

Today, he delivered.

Good job, Joe.

A Short Romance Story

(From here)
He grasped me firmly but gently just above my elbow and guided me into a room, his room. Then he quietly shut the door and we were alone.

He approached me soundlessly, from behind, and spoke in a low, reassuring voice close to my ear.

"Just relax."

Without warning, he reached down and I felt his strong, calloused hands start at my ankles, gently probing, and moving upward along my calves slowly but steadily. My breath caught in my throat. I knew I should be afraid, but somehow I didn't care. His touch was so experienced, so sure.

When his hands moved up onto my thighs, I gave a slight shudder, and partly closed my eyes. My pulse was pounding. I felt his knowing fingers caress my abdomen, my ribcage. And then, as he cupped my firm, full breasts in his hands, I inhaled sharply. Probing, searching, knowing what he wanted, he brought his hands to my shoulders, slid them down my tingling spine and into my panties.

Although I knew nothing about this man, I felt oddly trusting and expectant. This is a man, I thought. A man used to taking charge. A man not used to taking `no' for an answer. A man who would tell me what he wanted. A man who would look into my soul and say ...

"Okay, ma'am," said a voice. "All done."

My eyes snapped open and he was standing in front of me, smiling, holding out my purse. "You can board your flight now."

69 Years Ago

69 years ago today, the first of five German U-Boats sailed to begin commerce-raiding operations off the east coast of the United States. It was the start of the Second Happy Time.

Back Door Gun Registration

This is the text of the BATF rule which requires sellers to report the sale of two or more centerfire rifles with detachable magazines within a five day period.

Unlike the lies in the press and, presumably, by BATF's public affairs weasels, the rule does not only apply to gun stores in the Southwest. The rule applies nationwide.

There are times I wonder if the Obama Administration enjoys suffering from self-inflicted injuries. This is one of those times.

UPDATE: The text of the rule seems to have been yanked from No rule by the rule number of 2010-31761 is now there, but it was on Friday (12/17). The WaPo's PF document from the ATF still is available, at least as of today (12/19).

You Say PoTAYto, I say PoTAHto; Congressional Edition

As everyone should know by now, the word "earmark" has become a dirty word to the ears of Teabaggers, among others.

A source has told me that the politicians have come up with a new term: A "Demonstration of Good Policy", or "DGP". A DGP is an individual project that is supposedly an experiment to help determine what new policy ideas work and what does not.

But make no mistake about it, Gentle Reader, a DGP is nothing more than an earmark in new clothing.


George has to check out every new box that arrives, even if all he can do is just sit on it.

Jake strikes a pose.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Mexican Border Security

Interesting paragraph from a WikiLeaks cable:
The final border crossing only served to re-inforce the concerns that emerged from the first two sites the group visited. One of the most memorable images of the day was the steady flow of rafts transporting people and goods across the river illegally within sight of the legal border crossing.
Not our border, but the one between Mexico and Guatemala.

Guns, drugs and illegal migrants are flowing across that border. And if you think that those weapons were first bought in Texas, I have a bridge to sell you, assuming that an intrepid editor from the Washington Post doesn't buy it before you.

Overheard at a Gun Shop

Clerk: "Look what we got in! It's a Rock Island Arsenal compact .45."

(Clerk hands gun to customer, who racks the slide and verifies that it is unloaded.)

Customer: "This is pretty neat."

Clerk: "And it's made in the USA!"

Customer: "How much you want for it?"

Clerk: "$600"

Customer: "No, it's not made in the USA."

Clerk: "Rock Island Armory--- this says they're in Pahrump, Nevada."

Customer: "Wherever the hell that is. The original Rock Island Armory was in Illinois. This thing is an import."

(Clerk reads through the literature in the box)

Clerk: "Hey, you're right! How'd you know that?"

Customer. "Dude. Nobody's going to make and sell a 1911 in this country for six bills. I'll bet that most of the parts are cast or injection-molded or something like that."
I'm kind of curious how that piece will be. If it were me, I'd probably look at putting in an aftermarket (forged) slide stop and extractor.

But I did get in some range time today, first in too long, with my 1911:

You can sort of see the yellow where the holes were made.

Air Force-- Pretty Frakking Pathetic

Senior Air Force generals rejected the finding of an Air Force crash team which investigated the crash-landing of a V-22 osprey in Afghanistan.

Probably because it makes their shiny new toy look bad, so the generals preferred to shuffle the blame onto the dead pilot.


"zOMG!!!1! 9-11 First Responders Want to Meet With Meeee!!1!!1"

That was the attitude of brave, brave, brave Senator Susan Collins of Maine, one of the Republicans who has been holding the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act hostage to extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy.

Fearless Sen. Collins heard that 9-11 first responders were coming to her office, so she called the Capitol police. Because she was so concerned that they might make some kind of scene over her dedicated obstructionism in her unflagging service to the wealthy.

To steal from Jon Stewart, one can only hope that the Capitol police held a meeting and voted by a supermajority to respond to Collins's call for help. One can only hope that everywhere that a Republican senator lives, that the cops, firefighters and paramedics will hold similar meetings to make certain that 60% of the force agrees to answer their calls.

(H/T to Nangleator from here)

Gunnies- Call Your Congressmen and Senators

And get this new "emergency rule" killed.

At a large gun shop, this rule would pretty much mean that ATF would be camping out at the store. It is not "two `assault rifles' in five days to one person", it is "two such guns in five days" to anyone. Which, at a good-sized gun shop, is every frakking business week. (I've been in a large gun shop where I've seen sales of two such gun to two different people going on at the same time.)

The Washington Post article, of course, is filled with lies. "Semiautomatic" rifles are not the "preferred weapons" of the Mexican cartels' gunmen. True assault rifles, the fully-automatic kind, are. The kind that they buy from gun runners, from corrupt members of the Mexican Army, or the kind they get from the Mexican police.

But hey, the WaPo is on a crusade about guns, they always have been. Expecting a fair article about firearms from the WaPo is like expecting no "war on Christmas" stories from Fox News.

Beyond that, I am perpetually astonished about the stance that liberals take on guns. Most liberals believe, as do most libertarians, that the government, from the local level up to the federal level, is in service to the corporations and the powerful. This last election showed that, with massive flooding of corporate campaign cash from both American and foreign companies, which were used to flood the airwaves in support of candidates who would do the bidding of the rich, the banksters and the corporations.

A lot of liberals, as well as libertarians, believe that the judiciary serves the interests of the powerful, not the people.

A lot of liberals, as well as libertarians, believe that the police often serve the interests of the rich and the powerful. Liberals and allied organizations have decried the tactics of the police, where they have acted like occupiers. Liberals, libertarians and yes, even some conservatives, are alarmed at the wholesale trampling of the 4th, 5th and 6th Amendments to the Constitution by law enforcement, as aided and abetted by "conservative" judges and several administrations.

But unlike libertarians, most liberals, while decrying authoritarian state power, would willingly deny themselves the one last tool available to resist totalitarianism or, for that matter, an attack by anyone seeking to do them harm. Especially as a Jew, I just find that unfathomable.

Second, I find it inexplicable that, given the third-rail nature of gun control, that the Obama Administration has even thought about doing this. But there seem to be no shortage of chowderheads over in the West Wing. Pro-2nd Amendment people have good memories; if the Obamazoids think that this will be forgotten in 22 months, they are stupidly, sorely and sadly mistaken. The pro-gun lobby groups will dine out on this, for fundraising purposes, for many, many months.

Viva Villa!

A Mexican UAV has crashed in El Paso.

That's possibly the first "incursion" by something from an armed Mexican force since 1916.[1]

[1] Like George W. Bush, Pancho Villa invaded another country on the basis of shoddy intelligence. Unlike Bush, Villa was part of the fight.

9-11 First Responders: The Fuckery of Broadcast News (and the Republicans)

Jon Stewart uses his last show of the year to go after the fuckers who did nothing to help the 9-11 first responders and the asshats in television news who have ignored the story.

Sure, one expects as much from the RNC Propaganda Channel, aka Fox News, but there was only one cable news channel which paid real attention to the story. You might be surprised to learn which one.

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He had four 9-11 first responders, including a man who has stage 4 cancer. They have had to fight for health insurance. The men and women who ran down to help during and after the attacks weren't thinking of themselves.

Sen. Kyle was irritated at the prospect that the Senate might have to cut its Christmas break short. See what the firefighter and the cop had to say to that:

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Jon Stewart pushed Mike Huckabee into a corner on this and Huckabee finally admitted that the GOP was seriously fucking up on this issue. Huckabee also seems to think that the "news part" of Fox News is separate from the opinion part, which Stewart didn't buy for a second.

UPDATE: That cabal of evil known as the "U.S. Chamber of Commerce" has its fingerprints all over the attempts to kill the Zadroga Bill.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

When Meat Thermometers Are Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Have Meat Thermometers

A man accused of stabbing a moviegoer in the neck with a meat thermometer during a screening of the film "Shutter Island" at a Southern California theater has been convicted of attempted murder.

Bobby Jindal's 200 Million Dollar Mistake

Building those "oil berms" along the Louisiana coastline.

They didn't do a damned thing, other than waste a shit load of money.

And A Special Holiday Greeting To the Banksters on Wall Street, Who Are Once Again Raking in Huge Bonuses:

We have not forgotten that you clowns deliberately trashed the economy and put tens of millions of people out of work so that you could line your own pockets.

We'll remember this. Trust me.

A Message of Holiday Cheer to Every Corporate Officer Who Sought to "Maximize Corporate Profits" (and Get a Larger Bonus) By Sending American Jobs Offshore

Ref A applies to you, as well.

And may rats gnaw at your livers in the process.

May there be an eternal line of former employees, whose jobs you offshored, at your grave, waiting their turn to urinate upon your rotting corpse.

Happy holidays, you scum-sucking weasels (with my apologies to both weasels and pond scum).

News for the Stupid: Fox News Slants Its Reporting

Is there anyone surprised by the fact that Fox News is a conservative propaganda channel?


A Message of Holiday Cheer to Every Politician Who Ever Voted to Provide Tax Breaks or Incentives or Assistance to American Companies To Help Them Move Jobs to Other Nations:

May you die soon, painfully, and often.

Enjoy your holidays, asswipes.

Fifty Years Ago

A United Airlines DC-8, Flight 826 collided with a Trans World Airlines Constellation, Flight 266 over Staten Island, New York. The Connie crashed onto an army airbase on Staten Island. The DC-8 crashed in Brooklyn. Everyone on both airliners was killed, six people on the ground were killed in Brooklyn.

The DC-8's crew was blamed for the collision, as the aircraft was far off course in instrument conditions.

Among pilots, the crash was regarded as "United's turn", after the mid-air collision ov a UA DC-7 and a TWA Connie over the Grand Canyon in 1956.

The Grand Canyon crash, in part, resulted in the air traffic control system we have today. Prior to that crash, airliners en-route were in radio contact with their airline dispatchers, who then relayed information to and from Air Traffic Control. ATC did not have radar, they worked from position reports made by pilots. ATC had no idea that there was a problem until both aircraft failed to make their next position reports.

Airliners also flew pretty much the way light airplanes still do, with flight by visual flight rules or VFR-on-top, if the captain opted to. Following the Grand Canyon crash, there was a push to create a national radar-based ATC system, which accelerated after another collision in 1958, this time between a UA DC-7 and an Air Force F-100. The Civil Aviation Authority was abolished, the Federal Aviation Administration was created, airliners were required to fly under instrument flight rules, military aircraft flew under the FAA's rules and all aircraft flying IFR were in direct contact with ATC.

Following the 1960 mid-air collision, all aircraft operating below 10,000' were restricted to a maximum airspeed of 250 knots (or their minimum airspeed, if higher). The UA DC-8 had, at times, flown over 400 knots just before the crash.

Since, then, the changes have been more evolutionary. Terminal Control Areas and Terminal Radar Service Areas were added around the busier airports. Radar transponders were installed on airplanes; now, virtually every airplane with an electrical system has one. Altitude encoders were added to the transponders, allowing ATC to see the altitude of their radar targets. GPS has been slowly replacing VOR navigation and NDB-based approaches, LORAN is being dismantled partly due to cost issues, though many argue that is a bad idea to move entirely to a satellite-based navigation system.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The True Message From the Rich: "Most of You People Should Die Soon."

I think Nangleator's comment here is accurate: The rich want most of us to just die off.

Have you ever lived in (or been inside of) a house from the late Victorian/Edwardian era? I don't mean a mansion, but a house that might of been the home of a professional such as a physician, businessman, lawyer, engineer or accountant. If you have, then the house probably had two sets of staircases. There was a wide staircase that went from the second floor bedrooms to the ground floor living area: Library, music room, living room and dining room. From the living or dining room, there was a staircase that went to a finished room in the basement, where there was likely a billiard table and lounging area for the gentlemen.

On the other side of a wall from the main staircase was a narrower staircase. It went from the attic/third floor, where there were bedrooms for the staff, to the second floor, where there was a sewing room, to the kitchen and pantry on the first floor, and then into the unfinished part of the basement, where there was the laundry room (with its well hand pump) and the boiler room with its furnace and coal bin. Both areas of the house had separate entrances.

Think about that for a few minutes. Those houses were built to house a family with several children (three or four bedrooms on the second floor) and they had live-in space for servants: At least a maid, a cook, a laundress, and a chauffeur or groom. Keep in mind that those houses were the homes of professionals, not the wealthy. The wealthy lived far better.

Also keep in mind that the population of the United States back then was less than a third of what it is today and the global population was nearly a fourth of what it is today.

The rich lived very well, indeed, back as the 19th Century drew to a close and before the Great War broke out.

To put it bluntly, the rich do not need most of us. They have the same attitude as the President of Tajikistan: They'd rather have a large piece of a small pie, so nobody else gets any, than have a larger-sized, yet proportionately smaller piece of a much larger pie. They would be more than happy to see most of the middle class pushed down into poverty. They would be pleased as punch to go back to an era where only those with money could have decent medical care and those who didn't just got on with the business of dying fast. For a lot of them would still be rich, only now, there would be plenty of people looking for jobs as cooks, maids, butlers, chauffeurs and the like. Oh, there would be some doctors, lawyers, dentists and so on, but they would exist only to serve the rich, the storekeepers and each other.

Keep that in mind when you read how Republicans want to gut Medicare and eliminate both Social Security and unemployment insurance. Republicans want to push this country back, not forward. They don't see the need for better infrastructure, as that benefits the people more than the rich. They don't seen the need to support education, at least beyond the sixth grade, for the same reason. The rich will still be able to send their offspring to Andover, Choate, Yale and Harvard. They'll be more than happy to gut and then eventually close the state schools and the "land grant" universities.

The rich will be happy if most of the rest of us die off. There will be enough of us left to fill the roles of servants, tradesmen and farmers. There will be enough of us to fill the ranks of the army of the Empire. When the rich need us to go to war, they'll beat the drums of patriotism and away the lower classes will go, while the sons of the rich remain home to manage their businesses and estates.

Then one has to wonder about the mentality of the Teabaggers, for most of them are working to cut their own throats, economically-speaking, in the service of the rich.

I think that the explanation from "Mississippi Burning" is the reason: They'll be happy to live in poverty as long as they have someone else to look down on. They see their lives crumbling, the factories shuttered, the good jobs gone, and they don't see the fingerprints of the rich people who run the GOP on those events. They're more than happy to believe the crap shoveled out by people like Willard "Mitt" Romney, a man who made a fortune from the export of American jobs, that everything will be better if we only remove any impediments to the rich amassing an even larger share of the wealth.

But do you want to know what the final irony will be for the Teabaggers? It is this: Most of them will lose their guns. Firearm ownership will revert to the rich, for the last thing they want is to have a heavily armed underclass.

Old Steam!

Engine 1533, circa 1969-1970, on the New Hope & Ivyland Railroad, back in the day when the railroad was the last operating all-steam railroad:

Engine 1533 went out of service 35 years ago and is now pretty much derelict at the NHIR.

A Flying Car

Unlike the others, it doesn't have a fixed wing. It's a flying parachute.

The Terrafugia Transition is a more traditional attempt at a flying car (in that it has fixed wings), but as for how useful it will be, that's debatable. Take a look at the performance numbers, and keep in mind that real-world numbers are always worse. The useful load is 460lbs. That is a zero-fuel number; when you fill the tanks, you're down to about 310lbs. Which means for most people, you either have to fly with less fuel to carry a passenger and your luggage (or you can fill the tanks and carry a very skinny passenger). At roughly $250,000, that's a shitload of money for a LSA. Most other LSAs are about half that, so you can buy a car to get to the airport, afford hangar rent for a lot of years and still have money left over to rent a car when you get to where you want to go.

And if you want an airplane that will honestly carry two people and their stuff, maybe three people, you can buy a new Cessna 172 for a bit more than a Terrafuga and have an airplane that is capable of flying IFR.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

In the Air Force, You Can Only Get News From "Approved" Sites

The Air Force has blocked not only WikiLeaks, but those news sites which are reporting on the cables which have been released by WikiLeaks.

It probably won't be long until the only permitted news sites for the Air Force are those controlled by Rupert Murdoch.


Coast Guard Leads the Way

The Coast Guard has appointed the first woman to command a service academy: Rear Admiral Sandra L. Stosz.

The Coast Guard has, at times, been decades ahead of the Navy when it came to integration of women.

Could Willard "Mitt" Romney Be Even More Detestible If He Worked Harder At It?

This is a nutshell version of ol' Willard's plan to boost the economy: More tax breaks for the rich, fuck over the unemployed.

What Willard the Fudge-Packer wants to do is to eliminate unemployment insurance entirely and make the tax cuts for the rich permanent. So if you get laid off, fine, lose your home, starve to death, see if Willard cares.

Just so long as Willard and his buddies don't have to pay taxes, everything will be fine.

So, if you voted for Republicans and you've been laid off from your job, remember this: The people you voted for hate you and want you to die soon.

Have a nice day.

Telephone Proximity Switch?

Is there a proximity switch that is wired into the telephone system that is activated whenever one is either taking a shower or is on the toilet, a switch that notifies the telephone system that Now Is a Good Time to Call?

GOP Logic- The Cops Exist to Serve the Interests of the Criminals

That would seem to be the mindset of Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Citibank), who said this:
"In Washington, the view is that the banks are to be regulated, and my view is that Washington and the regulators are there to serve the banks."
Yeah, that worked really well over the last decade, didn't it, Spense? The banks ran flawlessly, the economy grew and the Bush tax cuts guaranteed prosperity for all!

The "regulators exist to serve the regulated", otherwise known as the "bureaucratic Stockholm syndrome" is why the Minerals Management Service ignored the shoddy practices of oil drillers such as BP, which is why, in part, the Gulf of Mexico got an unscheduled crude oil bath last summer. That mindset allowed the banksters to set up mass gambling dens (otherwise known as "derivatives markets") and to engage in shoddy lending practices. The federal regulators, from the willful blindness of the Federal Reserve to the sheer ineptness of the Comptroller of the Currency, bypassed state regulators and allowed the banksters to do whatever they felt like.

Which is one of the reasons why we have 10% unemployment and an economy that, other than on Wall Street, is sputtering along.

Spenser doesn't get it and he never will. Republicans particularly seem to be driven by ideology, not by reality. The banksters will steal again and again. There will be food companies that willfully produce salmonella-tainted eggs or contaminated meats, because engaging in best practices for cleanliness and sanitation are expensive and because the regulators, which get cut off at the knees by congressman like Spenser Bachus, can't do their jobs.

Because, as ol' Spense sees it, the problem is with the regulators and every company and every bank can be trusted to do the right thing at all times. Which is what his ideology tells him to believe.


TCM- Now Chinese

Teledyne Continental Motors, which makes a significant percentage of the aircraft piston engines used in light aircraft, has been sold to a Chinese entity.

Unlike the rosy outlook in the article reporting it as "good news," Chinese practice has been to buy a company and move its manufacturing arm to China.

Continental has earned a pretty horrid reputation over the last couple of decades. I once knew the maintenance supervisor at a very large FBO, he was one of those consulted by Cessna when Cessna was preparing to re-enter the light aircraft market. His advice to them was to use Lycoming engines.

Still, this is horrible news. More and more of our manufacturing base keeps migrating overseas and the government, whether Republican or Democratic, does nothing.

Republicans-- Fucking Over the 9-11 Responders, Unless They Can Get Their Tax Cuts for the Rich

Jon Stewart brings a heavy smackdown on the GOP: Republicans are more than willing to use 9-11 as a club against the Democrats, but they'll fuck over the 9-11 responders if that'll work for getting tax cuts for the rich.

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I would ask how the 42 Republican senators can sleep at night, but they're Republicans: Serving the interests of the wealth over all other concerns is what they have done for many, many decades. It's why, when this country slid into the Great Depression, the Hoover Administration and Congress stood around with their thumbs up their asses, only bestirring themselves to send the Army against starving veterans.

The Sniper

An interesting article about one sniper's war.


Monday, December 13, 2010

Sometimes, We Build Them Better Than We Could Ever Have Known

Voyager 1 has reached the heliosheath, which is the border area between the space of our solar system and interstellar space. It is the first space probe to do this, to directly measure what the astronomers had theorized. In a few more years, it will be the first man-made object to have flown into interstellar space.

By that time, Voyager 1 will be nearly 40 years old. It is projected to continue doing science for ten more years before it runs out of attitude control propellant and/or the radioisotope generator's output drops too low to be useful.

The five space probes that we have sent out on solar-escape trajectories may be humanity's most enduring legacies. All but one were launched in the 1970s.


Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch...

Power was out for quite a while last night. The nice thing about a laptop is that the LCD illuminates the room enough to find the flashlights and lanterns.

That is George sleeping on the ottoman. The light is coming from a kerosene lamp; you can see the glass bulb containing the red-dyed fuel underneath the glow from the lamp. Even at ASA 1600, that was a half-second exposure.

I read for awhile and then went to bed. Power came on after I went to bed. My mistake was not remembering to switch off the lights.

And yes, the two-wire POTS worked the entire time. Rotary dial and all.

Ah, the Joys of Being Jewish

You don't have to worry about this stuff:

On the other hand, you do get to worry about a cat setting its fur on fire from investigating the menorah a little too closely.

Meanwhile, in Upstate New York..

A state senator is on his way to Federal prison for accepting kickbacks, among other things.

Other senators are babbling about reforming ethics laws for the state legislature, like that'll ever happen.

Teabaggers in Action

The new Nassau County Executive, Edward P. Mangano, a certified Teabagger, is busily running the county into the ground. The county government had a big budget shortfall and the very first thing the new Teabagger did was cut taxes. Which made the county's budget problems even worse.

As far as a government is concerned, that is like trying to deal with one's high credit card bills by both continuing to spend and by quitting one's job. Teabagging Eddie's hatred of government spending didn't stop him from going to Albany to ask for more money from the state government, which is itself confronting a huge budget hole.

Note also that Eddie the Teabagger is dealing with the crisis in the same way that ol' John Boehner does: He headed out for a golfing vacation.


Good Snarky Cartoon

When you look at this one from Jeff Danziger, you may need to use a hand mirror to read the writing on the pub's windows. You should. Trust me.

You Can't Take Pictures of the Cops

They'll arrest you if you do so, alleging a variety of trumped-up charges.

I sincerely hope that UC Berkeley get whacked really hard in this lawsuit.

Heh. Heh Heh.

Snookie Snowflake goes deer hunting.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Banksters: Rigging the Derivatives Market

The banksters have rigged the derivatives market. They have stifled any competition in derivatives and they have made their theft compensation system completely opaque to the buyers and sellers of derivatives.

The banksters are nothing but bespoke suit-wearing thieves. And they bought the politicians necessary to keep it that way.

Hazy Air

This was the view yesterday from about 2,400' AGL.

The snow patches are mostly bodies of water that froze over the previous several days. There was a dusting of snow the night before. It was about 40degF when I flew (no preheating required), warm enough to melt the snow on the ground, but not the snow on the ice.

The slant-range visibility was almost summer-haze sucky. Note the brown layer right at the horizon. If I had flown higher, that layer would have been below me and it would have looked nearly black on the horizon. I've seen crap like this when I lived in a state that had coal-fired power plants and large steel mills, but air this filthy is not as common where I live now.

I suspect that what is happening is that more and more people are heating with wood, wood pellets and even coal than they were before the second half of the `00s. Natural gas had a high-cost winter a few years ago and then, in the `08-`09 winter, heating oil climbed to over $4 per gallon. Wood and coal are dirty fuels and that shows up in the air quality.

Ten Years Ago Today

George W. Bush "won" the presidential election by the first judicial coup d'état in our nation's history.

(For the "re-election", they resorted to outright theft.)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

If I Had a Lot of Money

I would rent a prominent billboard in Topeka, KS and put up a simple message: "God Hates the Westboro Baptist Church."

This is why. And this. And this.

Anyone who wants to run with the concept, please do so.

Them Terrorist Gophers!

Satire: What if gophers were treated like terrorists?

Kill the gophers. License to kill.

Navigation and Climate Change

One of the plain facts about navigation, both in the air and on the open sea, is that a slight course correction, when applied early on, will get you to where you need to be with hardly any extra time or fuel. But the longer you go before recognizing that you need to alter course will take you further from your desired track and will take you more time to get to where you need to be.

The longer you wait to change course, the more costly it becomes.

Which is were we are, now, when it comes to atmospheric CO2 levels. We, as in "humans" have added enough CO2 to the atmosphere to push CO2 levels into unknown territory, at least over the last million years or so:

The change is more apparent when you look at the data over the last millenium:

And the last fifty years:

Humans, as in "we", are conducting a global climate experiment of "what happens if we inject several millions of tons of carbon into the atmosphere every year for several decades?"

The world is getting hotter. What happens is that the global ice caps melt. Glaciers are receding around the world. The ice sheet over Greenland is melting faster than the mathematical models predicted it would. The sea level rise projections made a few years ago, that the seas may rise a meter or so, are going to be very optimistic. Sea levels may rise on the order of meters, from both the addition of ice melt and thermal expansion.

Additionally, as the globe warms, other not-so-fun things happen. The American wheat belt will likely become unsuitable for that crop. Those areas experiencing hot days (100 degrees or higher) in the summer, which through the 1980s were largely limited to the desert southwest, will spread further and further north. Tropical diseases will follow the heat.

Plants and animals will migrate with their comfort zones, but only to a limited amount. The temperature rise is shaping up to be drastic enough that it is unlikely that evolution can occur in time for species to adapt. To be blunt about it, we are looking at a version of the K-T event. Additional atmospheric CO2 means that the pH of the seas change, which will mean bad things for coal, shellfish and who knows what else, making the seas a component of humanity's global experiment.

As far as local effects go, a warming globe means that winter precipitation may come more as rain than as snow. That may sound good to you, since rain doesn't need to be plowed, but that also means a smaller snowpack (or none at all) in the mountains. For locations that obtain a lot of their fresh water from the melting of the winter snowpack, such as Los Angeles, that spells disaster. In regions of the world where several nations draw their fresh water from rivers that have their origins in mountain that are now capped by glaciers and snowpacks, the argument over who gets what water may lead to war. (I suspect that the modernization of the Chinese military is, in part, driven by this.)

What can be done about it? At this point, probably not a damned thing. We have passed the point where minor alterations of the economy would have staved off what is happening and what will happen. Inertia, greed, ignorance, whatever, all of them and more meant that we did nothing when we could have. Even if humanity was able to dial back its carbon output to 1960, there are over twice as many humans now as there were then.

What will happen is that the world will change, probably more drastically than we can imagine. Our descendants will forget that we fought off fascism and that communism collapsed. They will forget that terrorism was a threat. They will not remember the International Space Station or the Moon landings. But they will remember that there was a period when humanity's use of carbon as fuel could have been addressed in time to stave off climate change and that humanity chose to do nothing.

They will curse our memory, probably for as long as civilization survives.

Enjoy your weekend.

(H/T for the carbon graphs)