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

Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Moocher Class; Corporate Edition and a Serious Right-Wing Flip-Flop

There are some large corporations which do not pay any income tax, including Boeing, American Electric Power, Duke Energy, Tenet Healthcare, General Electric, Consolidated Edison, Wisconsin Energy, Verizon, Ryder, and others.

No telling whether or not Stench is going to get them to take any responsibility for their existence.

On another note, you can find no shortage of Wingnuts (including Stench) who are decrying that the Obama Administration isn't funneling arms to the Syrian rebels. Some of those Chickenhawks want American troops on the ground there. Some of them are the same clowns who advocated for the same thing during the Libyan rebellion.

And yet, it's now easy to find Wingnuts who are decrying the Arab Spring revolts for deposing tyrants who were sort of friendly to American interests. So within weeks of Bashir Assad eventual fleeing Syria (or being quickly executed like Ceausescu), expect to hear from Right-Wing "serious thinkers" who will argue that we should have supported Assad.

All of them have also conveniently forgotten the "freedom agenda" of George W. Bush, where he tried to push Arab governments to transform themselves into democracies.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Stench, I told You So: Your Family Is Not Helping You

Not when your wife goes on the radio and basically states that as First Lady, it would be a full-time job for her to keep you from going bughouse-grade crazy.
Asked what her primary worry would be should her husband succeed in defeating President Obama on Nov. 6, Mrs. Romney replied, "You know, I think my biggest concern, obviously, would just be for his mental well-being."
Crimus, can't you see the headlines from that one?

Ann Romney Fears for Mitt's Mental Health if He Wins

Romney's Wife Afraid He Will Go Crazy as President

Between that and the news that the Romneybot is uploading "zingers" to use in the debate, one has to wonder if there is anyone left in the Romney camp, other than the `bot, who thinks that they still have a shot at this thing.


There are a lot of soft places where Jake can sleep, places where there is room for him to stretch out, if he wishes.

But he was sleeping here:

Friday, September 28, 2012

Sweet Jesus, How Does AT&T Manage to Be Consistently Customer-Unfriendly?

AT&T initially signed me up for "paperless billing". Well, I'm not going to sign up for automatic bill pay or any of that shit, so I had to print out the statement for the coupon to mail off my payment.

This is what I discovered: AT&T set the print requirement for that to 14" paper. Hardly anyone, other than New York lawyers, still use legal-sized paper. I couldn't get Acrobat to accept printing it out on 11" paper. AT&T cleverly put the mail-in coupon at the bottom of the page. So when I tried to print it out, no go.

I ended up taping two pieces of paper together to make a jury-rigged sheet long enough to get that stinking coupon.

And I set my preferences to paper billing.

You incompetent bunch of morons.

Or do you deliberately sit around a conference table and dream up ways to make your customers' lives difficult? What drunken genius thought this one would be funny? I bet they imagined that someone would accidentally put the tape on the wrong side of the paper and have it fuse to their laser printer's drum. Those bastards probably laughed themselves silly over that one.

Your Family Is Not Helping You, Stench

This guy explains why:



Stench and his butt-monkeys water-carriers at Fox are whining about the polls.

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It is a sign of desperation or blind ignorance to go out, do sampling, and throw out the results because one doesn't like them. Polling isn't exactly rocket science anymore.

The thing is, if the Republicans had their own private polling data that showed that Romney was on a path of victory, they would be releasing them. But they aren't, which implies that their own polling data is as dismal as the public polling data.

Thanks, in part, to Romney's "47% of the people in this country are moochers" crack, Stench is now more unpopular than Dubya. Romney potentially has billions in Super-PAC money that might come to his aid (between the Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson, who is allegedly trying to avoid an investigation that could financially gut him), but even those guys may not be crazy enough to gamble that kind of money with the current odds facing Romney. Not when they can try to flood some Senate races to try and flip that back or maybe fund enough commercials to keep the House in GOP hands.

Still, a lot can happen in 39 days. But when someone is far down in the hole and tries to save the day on one final gamble, usually they're going back home by Greyhound.


One of them is flying again!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Hey, Stench, How's Your Campaign Going?

I might have to see about changing my label for Rmoney from "Flip-flop Mitt" to "the Stench."

Yes, I know it was satire, but it's the kind of satire that could stick to Stench like, well, a stench. And a lot of people fell for it.


Insufficient Head

Every so often, my toilet doesn't flush properly. Rather than plunge it, now I wait for the water level to tricke down to normal and then, using a bucket, I pour water into it from about two feet up. And it flushes.

That sort of suggests to me that the toilet tank isn't generating enough head pressure when it flushes.


I think Republicans are watching their political lives flash before their eyes.

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On another note, now that the deadline has passed for Todd "Legitimate Rape" Akin to withdraw from the Missouri Senate race, care to bet how long it will be before the GOP moneybags, who swore that they wouldn't fund his campaign, change their minds?


Herbert Lom, the actor who played Chief Inspector Dreyfus, has died. He was 95.

In his memory:

Your Morning Magic

I can sort of see how the first trick might work, but not the other two.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Give the Philly Cops Rubber Guns, Please

By now, you've heard that a flight attendant for Republic had her revolver in her purse when she went to work. The TSA found it and a Philadelphia cop tried to unload it.

Then all sorts of hilarity ensued:
Transportation Security Administration screeners saw the gun, described as a .38 caliber Smith and Wesson Airweight revolver, and notified a Philadelphia police officer. ... The gun discharged when the officer tried to put the safety on, according to

Christ on Roller Skates, how brain-damaged do you have to be to do that? A S&W Airweight has two frigging controls: The catch that you slide in order to open up the cylinder and the trigger. The trigger pull on an Airweight has never been described as being light. It's not supposed to be. The only way that a modern double-action revolver goes off is if somebody pulls the trigger.

Which is what that cop had to have done.

Romney's Real Problem

Charles Pierce has a damned good point:
The biggest problem with Romney's campaign is its utter incoherence, which stems from the fact that he had to romance a Republican primary electorate that is clearly demented. The root of the campaign's fundamental dishonesty, which is what has led to its incoherence in the first place, is the fact that the Republican primary electorate forced Romney to renounce the only real achievement he has as an elected politician — the Massachusetts health-care reform. Once you find you have to lie about all the good you did, what does the rest of it really matter?
This is not an accident, though Pierce has the timeframe wrong. The GOP began to pivot to the "book-larnin' is bad" crowd in 1968, when Nixon realized that he could take the southern vote by dog-whistling to the segregation-forever crowd.

Still, Nixon and Reagan could get away with saying one thing to their crazies and then saying another thing to the general population, in that pre-Internet, pre-cable era. Reagan could kick off his campaign in a town best remembered for murdering civil rights workers and be largely ignored, if not forgotten.

Not any more. Generally, there are a lot more news outlets now. Stupid crap uttered by a candidate anywhere will be recorded by some spectator with a cell phone and then uploaded to YouTube or elsewhere, where it will be picked up and spread faster than an airborne disease. The age-old tactic of running to the base for the primary campaign and then pivoting to the center for the general campaign is harder to do when it is so easy to make a "he said that then, now he says this" clip.

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For the GOP, that is compounded by the fact that their base will not tolerate pivoting to the center. They demand adherence to their orthodoxy and, if a candidate doesn't do that, lava comes pouring down on him from the Right, a Right that has become crazier at a stunning rate. The GOP has gone from touting Romneycare as being a good idea to being a form of socialist tyranny. Their base will change their mind as to whether or not something is a good idea based solely on whose idea it is.

Not that Romney isn't absolved of being the author of his problem. He wants desperately to be President. Hell, like anyone with that particular fire in their belly, he wants to win any election. That's why he tried to run to the left of Teddy Kennedy in the early `90s in his Senate bid. That's why he touted himself as a pro-choice moderate in 2002 when he won election as the governor of Massachusetts. That's why he has repudiated everything he stood for in Massachusetts, moving more and more to the right over the last seven years as the GOP base has demanded of him. Romney's slogan might as well be: "Tell me which way my people are going, for I am their leader."

As a result, Romney is forced to run a vacuous campaign. And that is why, at least for now, he is sliding down in the tracking polls.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Mittens: GOP Magic Fairy-Dust and NASA

Romney and Ryan are still selling those good old GOP magic beans: That the government can do all manner of fantastic things with just a little bit of reorganization.
The GOP ticket says it would refocus NASA, providing it with "practical and sustainable missions" rather than increasing funding. The agency said it spent over $18.4 billion dollars in fiscal year 2011, though its 2013 funding request was slightly lower - about $17.8 billion.
So we should keep trying to expand space exploration, but not pay anything more to do it, because Mittens will do what-- close down the research centers and send NASA's jobs offshore?

Republicans have been babbling for the last 32 years about how they can save money by reorganizing the Federal government. For 20 of those years, they have held the presidency. And what have they done? How many Federal agencies have they reformed to make them smaller?

George W. Bush created the most recent Cabinet-grade monstrosity: The Orwellian-named Department of Homeland Security, which is now the government entity charged with making sure that the 1st, 4th, 5th and 6th Amendments mean nothing. Republicans have been in the forefront of ensuring that continues. They have shown no appetite for cutting off some of the hydra-heads of our national security state.

No, the only Federal agencies that the GOP has ever had a taste for blood about have been those that have tried to prevent banksters from robbing us blind or have tried to prevent corporations from fouling the air and water supplies of the nation.

Which should come as no shock to anyone.


Monday, September 24, 2012

Romney: Bring Back the Hindenberg!

Mitt Romney thinks that the windows on airliners should be able to be opened in flight. No, I am not kidding, he really said that:
"When you have a fire in an aircraft, there’s no place to go, exactly, there’s no — and you can’t find any oxygen from outside the aircraft to get in the aircraft, because the windows don’t open. I don’t know why they don’t do that. It’s a real problem."
Riight. Because it makes so much sense to be able to open all of the windows on an airliner that has a pressure differential of over 8 psi and is cruising at about 550 MPH.  What ever could go wrong with that?

As far as I know, the only aircraft in passenger service that had openable windows for the passengers were the dirigibles.

Romney ought to confine his remarks to the things he knows best: Having offshore bank accounts, hiding his tax returns, closing American factories and raping companies.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Strongly Stupid

I don't know what the hell he expected to be able to see down the barrel of that shotgun. Other than what he almost saw: The Grim Reaper, who probably would have given his soul a good dope slap.

Hangfires do happen. They are rare in factory-loaded ammunition. But if someone is in the habit of liberally lubricating their firearm with WD-40. loading it and storing it, that'll do it. WD-40 is a penetrating oil and it will contaminate primers to the point of either killing them or causing hangfires.

And if those were reloads, all bets are off. Oil and primers don't mix.

Thanks, But No.

A tropical vacation on the Moon.

I don't know how big that dome is, but I'd guess easily a couple of miles across. The lunar horizon (on a flat surface) is, as best I can figure it, 1.6 miles. I somehow doubt that the artist took that into account.

So figure that the dome is 40% of a sphere that is about two miles across. If the dome is pressurized with a Earth-normal atmosphere, I come up with something like 25,225 tons of pressure on that dome.

Steel Beach had a rather descriptive chapter of what happened when a few segments of a large Lunar dome blew out. I would suspect that the reality would be worse.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Nice Going, NYPD

This is the way they deal with protestors who are lawfully walking down the sidewalk: A big cop grabs each one by the arm, drags the protestor into the street, and then arrests them into the street, and then arrests them for obstructing traffic.

When the NYPD talking about "serve and protect", they are serving and protecting the top 0.1% of the economic pyramid. They are serving and protecting the class of people that would have had dinner with Mayor Bloomberg.

As for everyone else, the NYPD is as much interested in protecting you as the U.S. Army was in protecting the average Iraqi.

Caturday; A Sign of Cold Weather Edition

Jake is lying, for the first time in many months, on a heated cat bed.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

GOP Senators Say "Fuck You " to Veterans

The GOP managed to kill a proposal to set up a job corps for veterans.

Because veterans who are unable to find a job are part of the 47% of Americans that Romney hates. As Romney might put it: Thank you for your service. Now go get a job, you sponges!

On second thought, he wouldn't even say "thanks".

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Dear Google: With All the Love in My Heart, Go Fuck Yourselves.

As threatened, Google just imposed their new whizbang, sucky blogging interface.

It blows big chunks.

I see nothing that it does that the old interface didn't do. If anything, it is harder to navigate between blogs (if you have more than one).

Thanks for nothing, kids.

UPDATE:  And it doesn't like Opera's browser.

Nineteen Days In....

... and AT&T has finally, finally, gotten long-distance working on my Fax/POTS line.

It took a helpful suggestion to contact some obscure person at AT&T who deals with people bitching online about that company of fucktards.

Without directly saying so, the last person I talked to at AT&T implied that the sales people screwed the pooch.

Not that I give a frak. It works.

For now.

Why Is "Romney the Experienced Manager" Running Such an Inept Campaign?

Romney has spent a lot of time touting his experience at managing businesses and making them work. What he doesn't spend as much time bragging about is the fact that he has been running for the Presidency for the last seven years.

So why is he now stumbling so badly? Why does he say the stupid things that he has been saying? Why does he tolerate having a senior staffer who is laboring under the delusion that the Soviet Union still exists?

And when he screws up, why the frak doesn't he just say so and then move on? His doubling-down on his gloating over the slaying of four American diplomats in Benghazi was unseemly and it may have hurt him badly.

This campaign is by no means over. But if Mittens loses, I'll bet that the pundits will mark mid-September as the beginning of his failure.

Avast, Me Hearties! Feast Yer Eyes On Me New Flintlock!

Arrr, ain't she a beauty?

It is a police trade-in Model 10 from Bud's Gun Shop. Some of them that I've seen or read about are a bit more worn than others, but this one's pretty sweet. It is a Model 10-11 that just shows some holster wear. The cop who had carried this one apparent cared for it. The -11 was the model where Smith & Wesson went from a fixed firing pin on the hammer to a frame-mounted firing pin.

From what I've read on the Intertubes, the gun came from Australia. The 10-11s were first made in `97; why the Ozzie cops were buying new revolvers in the late `90s is a bit of a puzzle, but hell, I'll take it.

(Why I opened talking like a pirate.)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Self-Inflicted Wounds; Romney Edition

One might recall that, over four years ago, Barack Obama was at a fundraiser and he spoke of bitter voters clinging to guns and religion. (The Right is still bitterly clinging to that soundbite.)

One might think that candidates would have taken home the message that every time they open their yaps, somebody is there with a smartphone or some other kind of recorder.

Mitt seems to be a slow learner.
"There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what…These are people who pay no income tax. ... my job is is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."
The point that Obama was not writing off the voters who were not for him, while Romney is emphatically declaring that he will write off voters who oppose him is one that others are discussing.

By now, you all should know of Romney's little bit of smirking when he talked about the diplomats who were killed in Libya. I don' think that is just an odd tic that Romney was exhibiting. I think that he was showing his internal reaction, which was close to glee over having something with which to attack Obama. Yes, he was happy that the diplomats had been brutally murdered, despite his words to the contrary.

If you don't want to watch this entire clip, go to 14:45:

Romney is nothing more than a better-speaking version of George W. Bush. Both men came from privileged families and have carried the delusion that they got to where they are today solely on their own merits. Both have zero empathy for anyone not of their class. Both show a form of sociopathic glee at the deaths of other people.

As for the newly arising point that Romney built Bain Capital with second-hand Federal money, money that had been skimmed from aid to El Salvador, well, I'll let you mull over that one.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Your Sunday Morning Jet Noise

F-100 "zero-length launch":

The program was played with by the Air Force, the Soviets and the Germans, but all abandoned the concept. The obvious reasons were that it would not be feasible to have a lot of pilots and fighters assigned to it without affecting the numbers available for regular tasks and, of course, they still needed a functioning runway to land at.

Saturday, September 15, 2012


I played at the local bowling pin match.

Those pins are set for .38/.357.

It was my first time at a match. With my Model 19, I was able to clear the table all three times without having to shoot twice at a pin. My time wasn't too hot, a skosh over nine seconds each run.

I did slightly worse with a Ruger Blackhawk. There, the rules are that you have to just knock the pin over and you shoot at four pins per run for three runs. I missed one pin, but I did get it with a followup shot.

With a .38 snubbie, I shot at three pins and, again, I had to just knock them over. One run took three shots, one four, and one all five in the cylinder.

For 9mm, you shoot at seven pins and you have to clear them from the table. My first run took eight shots. Second run, then and I timed out on the third run. That was frustrating.

I was shooting for accuracy, not speed. Which is good, because I wear progressive lenses, and finding the sweet spot to pick up the front sight seemed to take a second or two.

It was a lot of fun. If you have an opportunity to shoot in a match, you should.


"Your offerings displease me."

Those are breakfast and dinner for one day, dinner for the previous day (which I forgot to pick up) and standby dry food. And no, I didn't give him something else. Jake went from an abandoned cat who was thrilled to get the cheapest dry food available to a picky eater.

My feeling pretty much is "you don't have to eat it". If he doesn't like the food, it stays there. And surprise, surprise, surprise, some of it seems to magically disappear during the day/night. Must be the Catfood Fairy, stopping by for a snack.

Friday, September 14, 2012

A Week

It has been a tough week, and not just because of the idiots at AT&T. That problem, although it has consumed more of my time and energy than I'd like, is small beer compared to those of some people whom I care about deeply.

And for that reason, this video is somewhat comforting.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The AT&T Saga: Day Thirteen, or Day Six

Thirteen days ago, I placed an order for AT&T service for my office. Uverse internet and one VoIP line, and a POTS line for a fax machine, with nation-wide long distance.

Six days ago, it was all supposed to work.

As of today, I still cannot make long-distance calls on the fax line. In spite of another visit to the AT&T origin store and numerous calls to at least seven different AT&T support numbers that various people at AT&T have told me to call.

It is quite possible that I have spent more time on hold or talking to AT&T "customer service" people than I have spent on any other matter. And that includes a case where I had to go visit a client who is currently in stir.

I thought the whole idea behind the breakup of Ma Bell was to improve customer service and pricing. It certainly did improve the pricing, but as far as customer service goes- meh. I'm old enough to have had phone service provided by Ma Bell and I can tell you for a fact that they were never this fucked up.


I've criticized the overseas call centers, but these clowns have all apparently been U.S. based and they have all been as helpful as having a glass shard in one's foot.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012



Romney: Once a Chickenhawk, Always a Chickenhawk.

Seems that ol' Mittens supported the Vietnam War. But being that he was a true chickenhawk, he was happy to use successive deferments to avoid having to serve in it.

Just like a typical right-wing chickenhawk: Always willing to run his mouth to support a war, but never willing to send either himself or his kids to fight in one.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

In Case You Need a Laugh This Morning

A classic voicemail from the witness to an accident.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Memo to Self About AT&T

The next time I ever think about getting services from AT&T, I will slam a car door on my hand to remind me that it will be frustrating, painful and that I'd be better off using carrier pigeons.

A tech came in to fix the fax line. He quickly figured out that the reason why the voice line didn't work is that it was a VoIP line, the phone had to be plugged into the AT&T modem box, and nobody at AT&T had told me that or that it was going to be VoIP.

So fine, everything works.

Until I needed to send a fax to the state capitol. The line said that I needed to enter a special "long distance code". I plugged in a telephone and dialed a long distance number-- same result.

What the fuck is a "long distance code", other than the number 1? It's not as though I am trying to call Tokyo!

I need a beer.

UPDATE, 9/11: And now the fucking fax line, even with just a telephone plugged into it, doesn't work. They may have it fixed tomorrow, twelve damn days since I first placed an order for the phones. It'll probably all be ironed out no later than 2032.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Soon Not to Be Seen at a Newsstand Near You

Recoil magazine. Which is supposed to be Yet Another New "Tactical" gun magazine, but one that apparently buys into gun control claptrap. That seems to be a level of stupidity bordering on the suicidal, for there would not seem to be a large market of gun enthusiasts who are OK with gun control. Their Facebook page is shedding "likes" at a pretty impressive pace as word spreads around.

I've read about the FN 5.7mm cartridge before and everything I've read about it leaves me severely underwhelmed. LawDog is right, the round is basically a centerfire version of the 22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire. There is a reason why the pistol has a 20 round magazine: Because you're probably going to have to shoot a bad guy about six times or more.

You'd be better off buying a .22 WMR. For one thing , the ammo is cheaper ($9/50 as opposed to over twice that for 5.7x28 mm). Second, you're not going to have to deal with the paintball fanboys who have been falling in love with the cartridge. Third, the word seems to be that the cartridge is unforgiving when it comes to reloading. I don't know anything about that, but it might pay to be cautious in going about it.

Mittens: The Smell of Desperation

He must be close to panicking.

Rmoney made a speech that implied that President Obama is going to remove "in God we trust" from the nation's currency.

This is what he has to do in order to fire up the GOP base-- make batshit crazy attacks? That is about as well-founded a thing to say as it would be to charge that Mittens is going to reduce unemployment by executing everyone who hasn't had a job for 100 weeks.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

AT&T is Damaging My Calm


First off, the voice number that I was told that I would have isn't the number that I am going to have. So I am glad that I was cautious enough not to order business cards.

Second, what pack of imbeciles would send an installation tech to a commercial office building on a Saturday without giving any notice?

If you guessed "AT&T", you were right.

UPDATE, as of 9/9: The phones still don't work. But "Uverse", which apparently is a spiffier form of DSL, does work. AT&T says that there is an "issue with the wiring". So why Uverse works and the phones don't, when they use the same motherfrakking wires, is something that the AT&T guy I talked to couldn't explain.

Into the 9th day, now. Comcast was fucked up, but never this fucked up.


I don't know, exactly, the model name of the first camera that I had. It was fixed-focus, the lens at the bottom, a viewfinder in the middle and a silver flash-bulb pocket above that. It used 127 film. I used that camera for almost six years.

Being a kid at the time, I glued a number of the photos into an album. On some of them, I used way too much glue and the photos were damaged. A few of the others have become loose over the decades. This is one of them, a somewhat blurry photo of my dog Susie.[1]

Then my uncle, who had upgraded to a Rolleiflex twin-lens reflex camera, gave me his old Argus C3.

The Argus took decent photos, but it was a hard camera to use well. One of those windows is a split-lens rangefinder. So you had to dial in the rangefinder and then shift to the viewfinder. There was no light-meter. If you were concerned about such things, you had to first use a light-meter to determine the proper exposure time and aperture setting.

Once you had determined the settings, you'd then set the exposure time with the dial on the right and then twisted the front of the lens to set the aperture. Which is about as cumbersome a process as it sounds.

I was shooting black & white film at the time and I had a cheap-ass third-hand enlarger. At the time, my family was living in an old Edwardian house. The house had some sketchy rooms on the third floor that, in the pre-Great War era, would have been occupied by servants. There was a windowless bathroom on that floor that I used as a darkroom.

What that meant was if I was a little off on the exposure for the film, I could correct it in making the prints. So a lot of the time, I just went with the exposure charts that came with the film and that was good enough. Sometimes I opted for store-bought processing, which always seemed to turn out better than my hand-rolled prints.

(This photo is stuck in an old album, it did not scan very well.)

But taking photos of objects outdoors was difficult, especially if they were dark, which steam engines often were.[2]. A spot-metering light meter was not cheap. So I saved up and was able to buy a Canon FT.[3]

A few black and white photos from that time have survived.

That locomotive was scrapped by the Chicago Transit Authority in an act of historical vandalism in the 1980s.

I shifted to Kodachrome around 1969. I still have about 30 or so boxes of slides, maybe half or so of what I shot. In the latter part of the `70s, I shifted to Kodacolor. Somewhere around `72, I bought a 135mm telephoto for the Canon. I was cooking with gas, or so I thought.

The shutter of that FT broke in 1985. A camera repairman told me that it was not worth fixing. I was told that the lenses for the FT were not compatible with newer models, so I bought a Nikon FM2. I was kind of skeptical about that then newfangled technology of automatic exposure. On the recommendation of a relative, I bought a Tokina 28-200mm lens. He told me that I'd end up rarely using the 50mm lens and he was right.

When my father died in the late `90s, I got his Olympus pocket 35mm, which had a telephoto lens and autoexposure. It turned out to be a right handy little camera for times when carrying around a full-sized 35mm SLR was a pain in the ass. I used both that Olympus and the FM2 until 2005, when I was given a Canon A95 digital camera.

I still have the FM2 (yes, I removed the batteries). Thing was, the film processors began offering to return both a CD with jpegs of the pictures along with the prints. The jpegs were far more useful, as I could send them in emails and not bother having to have prints made and mailed out. I gave the Olympus to a friend who was resistant to digital.

A few years after I got the A95, I replaced it with a Canon A1000. The thing that I liked about both cameras is that they used AA batteries, so I didn't have to screw around with chargers. The A1000 didn't have a lot of the functionality of the A95, it didn't have the swing-out viewscreen, but it was thinner (it used 2 AA batteries, the A95 used 4) and it shot in much dimmer light.

But the thing that bugged me about both cameras was the shutter lag. I'd press the button and the damn things would think it over before firing the shutter. I also hated using the viewscreen, for it felt unsteady and unnatural to hold the camera away from my body. The viewfinders on both was not through-the lens, so I had to be mindful of parallax error, especially for indoor shots.

A few weeks ago, I got to play briefly with a Nikon D40. I could not believe how satisfying it was to use a good SLR again.[4] And so, I swallowed hard, unlimbered my credit card, and bought a Nikon D3100 with the issue 18-55mm lens.[5]

So now I'm learning a new camera. It's nice to have a decent camera again. I find that I end up using manual focus (it'd be nice if the damn lens had range marking on the barrel). Made mostly of plastic, it's nowhere near as heavy as that FT, let alone the FM2. A decent padded camera bag is going to be a must, I suspect, as well as a better strap than the issue one. So will a backup battery and SD card, but those two can wait a bit.
[1] I'll write about her some other time.
[2] The 1960s was possibly the Golden Age of railfanning. Steam engines had been retired in the late 1950s by most railroads. There were a lot of locomotives out there that were still in good condition. Some railroads kept a few to run for excursions, others were bought for scrap prices by individuals and non-profit groups. They ran them until the locomotives required major inspection and overhaul, at which time most of those engines were retired to museums or scrapped. By the early 1970s, steam excursions were rare, indeed.
[3] My father told me that he had a contact who would get the camera for me for half-price. That was a hell of a deal, or so I thought. I saved up and gave my father the money so he could buy the camera for me. A few years ago, in some of Dad's old papers, I found the receipt for the camera. He had paid full price for it. He never told me.
[4] Think of going from shooting a Hi-Point to shooting a HK.
[5] They were running a deal where a 55-200mm lens could be had for $100 off with the purchase, but that seemed like too much of a hit at one time.

The Army is Trying to Help Soldiers Adjust to Civilian Life

By classroom training.
The Soldier To Civilian Work Program (SCWP) is designed to help soldiers assess their skills and help them get a head-start into the civilian world.

Lieutenant General Thomas Bostick believes this is an important step to help military members transition from the battlefield into the office.

“Many soldiers leave the Army with no idea of how to fill out a résumé, or even how to behave in a job interview. Our goal with the SCWP is to teach these soldiers that on your list of previous experiences, it’s not okay to put ‘Hadji Killing 08-10.’”
Needless to say, some of the soldiers are a bit baffled:
“I went to a mock interview in my best t-shirt that says something like ‘Ranger the Fuck Up.’ The civilians that were hired to do this mock interview told me that I should consider something more classy, like maybe a button up shirt at the least. My shirt collection includes a ‘Beards Save Lives‘ shirt, but I don’t even own a button up. Who knew that was important?”
Some are, as you might expect, resistant to the Army's efforts to help them:
When asked if he’d even tried the program, Smith said, “Yeah I tried that shit, but they said that for job experience on my résumé I can’t put ‘Major League Infidel,’ or even ‘I shot lots of machineguns.’ It’s ridiculous man, I DID shoot lots of machineguns!”
The general in charge was showing a little frustration at that kind of attitude:“If these retards can’t get it through their thick skulls that McDonald’s doesn’t care how many weapon systems you’re qualified on, then I don’t know what else to try.”

Todd Akin Really Needs to Hire This Woman as a Senior Campaign Staffer

After being convicted by a jury earlier this summer of sexual abuse for groping a woman in a bar, ex-DPS Officer Robb Gary Evans walked out of a Coconino County Superior Courtroom on Wednesday morning having been sentenced to two years of probation.

Evans received credit for the four days of jail time he served in Coconino County jail.

Prosecutors contended that he drank eight beers and then drove himself to the Green Room, where he flashed his badge in an attempt to get into a concert for free. While inside, he walked up behind the victim, who was a friend of a friend, put his hand up her skirt and then ran his fingers across her genitals.
He got off light because, in part, the judge said it was the victim's fault that the victim was in a bar where shit like that can happen.
The judge sentencing Evans, Coconino County Superior Court Judge Jacqueline Hatch, said she hoped both the defendant and the victim would take lessons away from the case.

Bad things can happen in bars, Hatch told the victim, adding that other people might be more intoxicated than she was.

"If you wouldn't have been there that night, none of this would have happened to you," Hatch said.

"I hope you look at what you've been through and try to take something positive out of it," Hatch said to the victim in court. "You learned a lesson about friendship and you learned a lesson about vulnerability."
After a bit of public outrage, the judge tried to walk back her comments with a typical non-apologetic apology:
“I apologize to the victim for any additional anguish my comments may have caused,” the judge wrote in her statement.


Two quasi-feral kittens at a friend's farm. The tuxedo kitten was getting ready to bolt.

Might be the mother there, not sure.

Friday, September 7, 2012

2004 and 2012

To set the stage, recall that in 2000, Bill Clinton was finishing up eight years as President. The Democrats nominated Al Gore, who lost the election.[1]

In 2004, Bill Clinton spoke at the Democrats' convention.

In 2008, George W. Bush was finishing up eight years as President. The GOP's nominee, lost heavily.[2]

In 2012, at the Republican convention, George W. Bush was nowhere to be found.[3] In point of fact, the man who was the last Republican president barely rated a mention. Apparently, only his brother Jeb felt obliged to mention his name, let alone defend his atrocious record.

Hard to see why, for Bush did what Republicans like: Cut taxes for the rich, pour shitloads of money into defense and rack up large deficits.

But to listen to the GOP nowadays, it's as though they haven't held the White House since Reagan left office.

Curious, that they need to run away from the last two Republicans who were elected president.
[1] By a 5-4 vote to George W. Bush.
[2] Well beyond the Republicans' ability to steal.
[3] Presumably, he was too busy inspecting coal mines in Ulan Bator.

Dear Comcast: I Most Sincerely and Humbly Apologize for My Criticisms of Your Abysmal Customer Service.

I apologize because of a failure of imagination. For there is a company out there which is far worse:


I don't want to detail all of hassles that I have been going through to activate two telephone lines and U-verse in my new office. I have, so far, made three trips to the local AT&T office in order to deal with their minions in person.

But here is one: My mail goes to a P.O. box. AT&T sent the U-verse self-install kit (in a box slightly smaller than that used for an upright piano) by UPS and then sent the activation code, by mail, to the same street address. This was in spite of several warnings of "I don't get mail at that address, it goes to a post office box".

I thought that competition was supposed to fix shit like this. But since only AT&T serves that office complex, the phone activation is "between 8 and 8, maybe". And even there they have screwed the pooch.

I never thought I would say this, but man, do I miss Verizon. At least they usually gave the appearance of giving a shit.

Why Gun Control Fails on a Technical Argument

The first thing you need to keep in mind is this: Everything necessary to make a working firearm is based on technology that is a century old or older.[1]

The second thing that you need to keep in mind is that the computers for machining parts, CNC machining, has become cheaper and cheaper. It is at the level of serious hobbyist use. Machining has gone from "slowly cutting off metal, measuring the piece, repeat until done" to "put a chunk of metal into the CNC mill and turn it on." There are people who have developed freeware CNC programs for several firearms.[2]

Third, there is a developing technology for printing parts. One hobbyist has successfully printed a lower receiver for an AR-15 and fired it. True, that receiver is made of plastic, but you could probably make an AR-15 lower receiver out of hardwood.[3] Still, does anyone doubt that 3-D printing of metal parts is not going to trickle down to the hobbyist level? [4]

If the technology to make a working firearm is there, what is to stop a criminal enterprise from going into that business if the demand is there? They refine cocaine from the plant precursor and transport it thousands of miles to the consumers. They make synthetic drugs. They drill tunnels to bypass border checkpoints. They build submarines to transport drugs. Can anyone truly claim that they can't make guns? The reason they don't, now, is because it makes no economic sense to incur the expense to set up hidden fabrication shops when they can buy/smuggle/steal everything that they want.[5]

I've seen the argument made that the better way is to try and control the sale of ammunition. I don't know of anyone who has seriously tried to home-brew all of the components of a cartridge, but given that, again, the technology involved is at a late 19th Century level, a criminal enterprise that can make drugs can likely make smokeless powder and priming compound.[6]

Ammunition control would fail for another reason: For most uses, criminals don't need to shoot many rounds. A successful armed robbery involves shooting nobody. When the robber wants to kill the clerk, that doesn't take many cartridges. A box of 25 rounds would likely be enough for the criminal use of a firearm for possibly as many years.

I know that there are people out there who would like to just ban EBRs, but that horse has long ago left the barn. Twenty years ago, if you wanted a mass-produced AR-15, you kinda sorta ended up with a Colt. Nowadays, it is probably easier to list the firearms companies that don't have an AR-style rifle in their catalog. You can buy a lower receiver, either with the trigger group or bare bones, and make your own. Millions of them have been made and sold.

Microstamping fails for the same reason that CoBis failed. Both registry systems only work to track semiautomatic handguns, as revolver shooters generally don't go around throwing about cartridge casings at crime scenes. A microstamp on a firing pin would be easily replaced in about 99% of all semiautos. As far as the breech face goes, a little bit of work with some fine sandpaper and that'd be gone, as well, or one can simply replace the slide.

The real point is that gun control fails because gun control laws are only effective against law-abiding people. It is already against the law to possess, let alone use, a firearm in the commission of a crime. A lot of states (and the Feds) tack on five years or more to the sentence if the perp had or used a gun.

But criminals still do what they do. Their biggest fear about firearms is not the sentencing enhancement, it is getting shot with one.
[1] Charles Taylor certainly could have made one in 1903 if the Wright Brothers had asked him to do so.
[2] All are autoloaders. The rest of the parts are far easier to procure (or make).
[3] For extended use, there might be a couple of places where a maker would want to install pin bushings.
[4] For hardware, yes, we are talking about an early form of replicators. They won't make the thing, but they'll make the parts.
[5] The Mexican cartels tend to favor fully-automatic weapons, which are not available in the U.S. To the extent that they convert them into machine guns, that proves my point.
[6] Especially if they don't care whether or not the primer residue is corrosive.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Do The Aussies Know How to Build a Proper Guillotine?

They have need of one:
Gina Rinehart, thought to be the world's richest woman, chastised [Australian] miners for being “too expensive,” saying, “Africans want to work. Its workers are willing to work for less than $2 per day.”
Yup. For it's easy to see her experience at working at a dreary, dangerous job for shit wages: None whatsoever.
Rinehart knows what it means to pull yourself up by the bootstraps. She inherited a fortune now estimated to be worth about $18 billion. That's a heavy burden to bear.
It's such a burden to win the Lucky Sperm Lotto and be born into a family of wealth and power. And then to have the delusion that she has done all this by her own hard work, that otherwise, she'd be living in a singlewide trailer in Wyndham, Western Australia and slinging hash in a local diner.

The big question, though, is why Mittens hasn't proposed to her. They would seem to be soulmates.

Ryan: Boastful or Lying?

Or is there a difference?
Mitt Romney's running mate told his hometown newspaper that he had scaled 'close to 40' of Colorado's 54 'fourteeners' mountains, each of which is at least 14,000ft tall.

Although Mr Ryan made this claim three years ago, it is now under scrutiny after he admitted on Saturday that he hasn't run a marathon in under three hours, as he had boasted last month on a radio show broadcast across the U.S.
In case you've forgotten, Paul "Rosie Ruiz" Ryan shaved more than an hour off his best marathon time, claiming to run in the "high twos" when, in fact, he didn't break four hours.

I am sure that certain Republican apologists will weigh in that this is small beer.

I disagree.

First off, every one that I know who has run a marathon knows their finishing time. If they ran more than one. they know their best time. Changing a four-plus hour time into a time under three hours isn't a matter of a foggy memory. It is lying.

And so is the one where Ryan claims to be some kind of whiz of a mountain climber. It speaks to his lack of character. It speaks to his contempt of both the public, who he figures will swallow down any lie he serves up, and to the press, who he thinks will just regurgitate it unchallenged.

Besides being a liar about his own athletic prowess, Ryan is pretty much a liar about being a deficit hawk. He didn't care about the deficit when he voted for Medicare Part D. He didn't care about the deficit when he voted repeatedly to fund the Iraq and Afghan Wars without a single move to pay for those wars.

No, Ryan only became concerned about the deficit when the Tea Party began parading around with their guns. He is the exemplar of a cowardly, soulless politician who waits to see which way the parade is going before rushing to get to the front of it.

Random Musings About Eight Years Ago

One of the things that the Wingnuts were having fun with in 2004 was the fact that John Kerry spoke French. Some of the more unhinged members of that subspecies referred to French as "the language of surrender".

This time around, it's Mittens who speaks French. And you hear not one peep about that from the Right.

(Yeah, they were also poking fun at Kerry for being rich. Kerry released 20 years worth of his tax returns. Not just the two years that Mittens says he'll release, probably because it was only three years ago that he stopped doing the seriously amoral shit that he had to report. I imagine that, up until then, Rmoney had a serious position in a biotech stem-cell startup, along with holding a goodly amount of Blackwater/Xe/Sparkle-Pony-of-Death stock.)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

I Don't Much Care for Obama

I truly don't.

Look, I think it was ballsy for him to approve the raid on bin Ladin's compound. He had to have known that a botched attempt would have probably cost him his job.

What I do not like about him is that he has not only taken no steps to dismantle the national security state we now live in, he has increased it. He could have vetoed the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, the one with the GOP-inserted language that authorized the indefinite detention of American citizens for whatever reason suits the Fed's fancy. He didn't; he only added a vague and non-binding signing statement of "of course we'd never do this".

I find that wholly inexcusable for a man who once taught Constitutional Law. Yes, I know that first year law school Con Law doesn't get into the Bill of Rights, but I'd expect him to have a passing familiarity with it.[1]

I don't like that he has spent over three years trying to work with people who lure him in close and cock-punch him. He then gets up and does it again. I don't know if he is a born optimist, a fool or has a partial brain deficit.[2] Personally, I'd like to see a little more Harry Truman from Obama.

Part of the problem is that Obama, when it comes to dealing with Congress, is acting like the only responsible adult in the room. The Republicans have been behaving like spoiled children who, if they don't get everything they want, will quit the game and go home. Or, more sinisterly, they've been acting like terrorists, who have been more than willing to throw this country into default and depression if they don't get their way. So maybe he is doing the best he can, but I would still have rather seen more fight out of him.

I don't like that Obama has been playing more from the old DLC playbook than anything else. Yes, he ended "don't ask, don't tell".[3] He got the Ledbetter Pay Act passed. While the Affordable Health Care Act is pretty damn sucky and is more a gift to those rapacious bastards in the health insurance industry than anything else, he still got something through.

But the stimulus was too little and was effectively hamstrung by Republicans who didn't want to be seen as being totally obstructionist on boosting the economy, but they didn't want to do anything that might lead to a solid recovery. That's because the Republicans, in full-blown "Party First" mode, would rather see many more millions of workers out of jobs if that would win them an election.

I want to see him fight for us. I want to see him make the Republicans pay a dear price for being economic kidnappers.

I'm not holding my breath.

But may G-d help us if he loses to that team of the Corporate Robot and the Wisconsin Fibber which the GOP put on their ticket.
[1] As for Republicans, they talk a great game about freedom, but you'll note that they are really vigorous at slashing freedom and liberty in almost all areas (excepting the 2nd Amendment). All you have to do is mutter phrases like "terrorism" and "homeland security" and those weak-brained fools, along with Democrats like "Traitor Joe" Lieberman would let the NSA put cameras in their homes.
[2] I'd say "retarded", but the last time I did that, I got all sorts of nasty emails.
[3] Contrary to conservative predictions, the armed forces have not crumbled.

It Took Four Marines to Beat Up One Gay Guy.

They're a real credit to the Corps, no doubt.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Might Not Want to Mess With Those Old Guys

A couple of burglars this year have learned the hard way not to mess around with really old men. For those men might have served in the Second World War and know something about guns.

In Los Angeles, the thug lived. The one in Kentucky wasn't so lucky.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Your Sunday Afternoon Jet Noise

The F-4, the coolest jet fighter ever made.

Sunday, September 2, 2012


A storm from the remnants of Hurricane Issac moves across the countryside.

It'd be a better picture, visually, if the telephone pole and wires were not there.  But they were there and so they are in this picture.

There are people who could do that, maybe change the colors a bit to enhance things.  They're artists.

I started taking color photos with a Canon FT SLR, shooting Kodachrome 25 and 64.  I had control over framing (with the old "two-legged zoom" lens) and focus, and I could set the shutter speed and lens aperture.  When I pressed the shutter, I got what I got (and you get really good at panning if you want to shoot moving objects with slow-speed film).

Given the expense of shooting Kodachrome, especially for a teenager, my approach for taking photos was kind of like going hunting with a single-shot rifle.   Depending on how many shots I was taking of different things, it could take a couple of weeks or more to shoot off a 36-exposure roll.  Then I'd have to wait for processing.

When I got older and went into the service, I shifted to Kodacolor print film, because I didn't have to carry a slide projector around.  I used the Kodak pre-paid mailers which meant that, depending if I was on a ship and where that ship was, it might take over a month to get the photos back.

So there was nothing like the instant feedback you get with a digital camera.  You had to know what you were doing and watch for things such as light poles coming out of the heads of people.  Because, unless you were taking photos of stationary objects, you weren't going to get a second chance.

Which is a long-winded way of saying that I'm not an artist.  I'm an amateur photographer and the picture that I take is the picture that I get.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Richard Bach

He crashed his airplane today.

One thing that I am hugely paranoid about around grass strips is power lines. If they are not marked, they are invisible under most circumstances to pilots.

I sure hope he recovers fully.

"We Forgot to Apologize. But We Didn't Mean to Cripple All of You."

That's the thrust of the so-called apology from the Grünenthal Group, the manufacturer of Thalidomide.

More than fifty years after deformed babies began being born to mothers who had taken Thalidomide, the manufacturer unveiled some bullshit bronze memorial and issued its non-apologetic Rumsfeldian apology.*

No small wonder that the families of the victims and the surviving victims are not the least bit amused.
* From Donald Rumsfeld's famous reaction to the widespread looting in Baghdad.

So, Will George Clooney Talk to an Empty Suit at the Democrats' Convention?

It would be pretty funny if he did.

And it would be accurate.

While I'm on the subject of the Empty Suit, here is Mittens' bio as done by the Daily Show:

The Daily Show with Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
RNC 2012 - The Road to Jeb Bush 2016 - Mitt Romney: A Human Being Who Built That
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook

And the Borowitz Report, on Rmoney's speech:
TAMPA (The Borowitz Report)—Coining a phrase that seems destined to become his new campaign slogan, Mitt Romney needed only three words tonight to accept the Republican Presidential nomination: “I bought it.”

Those words had a special meaning for Mr. Romney, who had to spend seventy million dollars in the G.O.P. primaries to defeat a serial adulterer, a former pizza executive, and a crackpot in a sweater-vest.

It has been an up-and-down convention for Mr. Romney, who was largely ignored at Tea Party rallies early in the week but later picked up a key endorsement from his wife.


It's been a long time since I posted a photo of Jake.

The other day, I was cooking up a chicken breast in a knock-off of a George Foreman grill. George used to get up on his hind legs, reach up to the counter with his front legs and scrabble his claws on the edge to let me know that he wanted some. He could be a character.