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

Monday, December 30, 2013

100 Years Ago and Today

A skosh under a century ago, Europe tore itself apart following the assassination of some pissant Austrian royal. From this temporal distance, it seems insane that over that killing, the Europeans got themselves into a war which resulted in the destruction of four empires* and greased the skids for the eventual collapse of a few more.

I say that because it's by no means implausible that China and Japan will end up going to war over a bunch of insignificant rocks in the East China Sea. Both sides seem to be eagerly backing themselves into corners from which they won't be able to extract themselves without bloodshed.

All of the combatants in the First World War began the fight assuming that they'd settle the contest in a few weeks or months. It didn't work out that way for them. I doubt if a war between China and Japan will end up going th way either nation's strategic thinkers assume that it will go.
* Russian, German, Ottoman and Autro-Hungarian.

American Hustle

Christian Bale delivers one hell of a performance in the movie.

But slow-moving? Somewhere between a glacier and a pitch-drop experiment. It's a two hour movie that feels almost twice as long.

Volgograd Bombing

The first one.

There has been a second one.

The hard truth about antiterrorism measures is that there are far more soft targets then there are the means to protect them, even in a police state.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Did You Order a Computer or Router? Was Delivery Late?

Then the chances are that the NSA diverted it and installed spyware.
Take, for example, when they intercept shipping deliveries. If a target person, agency or company orders a new computer or related accessories, for example, TAO can divert the shipping delivery to its own secret workshops. The NSA calls this method interdiction. At these so-called "load stations," agents carefully open the package in order to load malware onto the electronics, or even install hardware components that can provide backdoor access for the intelligence agencies. All subsequent steps can then be conducted from the comfort of a remote computer.

These minor disruptions in the parcel shipping business rank among the "most productive operations" conducted by the NSA hackers, one top secret document relates in enthusiastic terms. This method, the presentation continues, allows TAO to obtain access to networks "around the world."
Also, don't send error reports to Microsoft. The NSA is watching them in order to get clues on what people are doing.

If you want a new computer, your better choice is to go to a big store and buy one off the shelf. Or go to a parts store and get the parts you need to build your own. If you buy one over the Internet, you'll never know if the NSA has decided to fuck with you, just because they can. (And don't order from the NSA's catalog.)

And if you're a foreign national and you order computer equipment of any kind from an American supplier, well, you're just asking for the NSA to spy on you.

Scumbag Malware Pushers

Their latest trick is sending out emails titled "Notice to Appear" in some court. They attach a zip file hat you just know is loaded with viruses. And, to lull to unwary, the bottom of the emails have a logo from Avast AV.

Can't these clowns be hunted down and skinned? Crimus, let's see the NSA and the CIA do something that's useful for the common good, for a change.

Canadien Usurper News

The Canadian Usurper is starting the process to renounce his Canadian citizenship. This is, of course, months after the news broke of his being a Canadian citizen by birthright.

No word on whether or not he's also renouncing his Cuban citizenship.

Your Sunday Morning Jet Noise


This one is used as a simulator for missile tracking, hence the underwing stuff. The Falcon-20 was FedEx's first aircraft.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

What-Iffing the Court

"Jeez, Yer Honor! Iffn' we implanted transponders under the skin of every furriner, we coulda prevented 9-11, so that's why you should let us do it!"

Sounds like crap, right? But that's basically the rationalization the Obama Administration ladled out to a Federal judge in New York to justify the NSA's "we collect everything on everyone" program. The judge just ate that shit up.
“There is no way for the government to know which particle of telephony metadata will lead to useful counterterrorism information ... Armed with all the metadata, NSA can draw connections it might otherwise never be able to find. The collection is broad, but the scope of counterterrorism investigations is unprecedented.”
Hey, why not install alcohol breathalyzer interlocks on everyone's car? After all, there is no way for the government to know who will drive drunk. That may seem like a massive invasion of privacy and an illegal search of everyone, but it's the same bullshit argument that judge bought.

"But it keeps us safe" will be the outcry of the pro-NSA crowd. And I bet that a majority of Americans will also buy the argument.

We truly are a nation of bullies with glass jaws. We're very good at dishing it out, but let one disgruntled idiot come up with a crackpot plot and get his dumb ass arrested and you'll just see the enemies of liberty lining up to validate how spying on everyone keeps us safe.

Caturday; Ghost of Christmas Past

George and Buddy at Christmas, 1996.

George was a kitten at the time and Buddy sort of regarded George as his. Buddy died in November of 1998, George in April of 2012

Friday, December 27, 2013

The Wolf of Wall Street- the Movie

Another good performance by Leonardo DiCaprio. Based on a true story, yet, of a piece of human garbage who is now a "motivational speaker", which is another term for "con man".

The view of the daughter of one of those scumbag stock-swindlers, who says that nobody should see this film.

The flick is three hours long, which to my mind, is easily an hour too long.

Unless you are a big DiCaprio/Sorcese fan, catch this one on Netflix or cable.

The Cessna Bonanza?

Textron, the parent company of Cessna and Bell Helicopter, has confirmed it will purchase Beechcraft Corp. for approximately $1.4 billion in cash, in a press release issued late on Thursday.
I wonder if the DoJ will have a problem with that for monopolistic reasons. On the other hand, Cessna doesn't make a retractable single, a piston twin or a twin turboprop, all of which Beech does.

Guess we'll see. Hopefully it won't be like Boeing, which couldn't shut down the DC-9/MD-80/MD-90/MD-95/B-717 production line fast enough.

Because It's Friday

Stephenson's Rocket.

Apparently it could cope with some pretty rough track. Buster Keaton, who was a foamer, had this replica built 90 years ago.

It was in at least two movies and then disappeared.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Because Fuck You, NSA

I was going through the public domain ebooks (free) on Amazon. I downloaded a copy of "Two Years Before the Mast", which I've had on my "read someday" list for a long time. It's one of those books that you don't often see in libraries and I've never gotten around to inter-library loan for one.

Well, one of the books that they have for free is The Communist Manifesto.

So I downloaded a copy. Because fuck you, NSA. Fuck you if you want to draw any conclusions about me based on what I read.

We ought to get everyone downloading their own copies. For the same reason.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

TSA, Cell Phones and Modern Air Travel

As much as I've bashed the TSA, and as creepy as they are getting, the one thing that seems to be reasonably sensical is their pre-check program. Now, paying $85, giving them a set of your fingerprints and then agreeing to let those fuckers root through your background is a bit much. But here is the thing: Your airline submits your name for advance screening, anyway. So your boarding pass may be coded for precheck.

When you get to the airport, if it has precheck lanes, you don't have to take your laptop out of its bag, you can leave your liquids in your luggage and you don't have to take off your shoes and your belt. Just put your shit on the belt and walk through the metal detector. It's like pre-9-11 screening and about as hassle-free.

If an airline decides to install picocells in their airplanes so that cell phones can be used in-flight, the CEO should be beaten with a sock stuffed with rocks. It's bad enough to sit on the ground on a crowded peopleflugzugtube with six clowns in an eight foot radius yakking loudly on cell phones, but to be belted into a seat on one for four hours in flight while the do would be sheer agony. At least Amtrak has quiet cars, but you can get up and move around on Amtrak. Hard to do on an overstuffed RJ or 737.

People with roller bags, do try to see if the way is clear before you push the bag in any direction. For when you crash you forty-pound bag into someone else's foot, you might be subjected to language not in the spirit of the season.

Hub and spoke travel sucks. Fuck you, Delta, for inventing that concept.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas

That is all.

Kitteh- Yikes

Never pays to lose situational awareness:


Back in the day, when American corporations made shit, probably several thousand people worked there.

Now, whatever factory was there has been bulldozed flat. The jobs, which were undoubtedly union jobs that paid decent wages, are gone forever.

Mikhail Kalashnikov, R.I.P.

Mikhail Kalashnikov has died. He was 94.

It's probably difficult to overstate the impact of the AK-47 and its descendants. The Red Army adopted the AK-47, a true assault rifle, at a time when the obstructionist clowns in the U.S. Army Ordnance Corps were digging in their heels and insisting that our army stay with a full-power "battle rifle".* Yes, the Germans had developed the first true assault rifle, but the Russians made it durable, cheap, and practicable.

The Duffel Blog's article.

* They have a record of fucking up rifle designs that is two centuries long.

Monday, December 23, 2013

FAA Backs Off Sleep-Apnea Witch-Hunt (for now)

The FAA told aviation groups Thursday it will delay implementation of the new sleep apnea testing policy that was to begin in January 2014. The FAA said it will gather additional input from the aviation and medical communities.
That was the Dirksen Rule* in operation. The FAA normally doesn't make changes to the details of medical standards by formal rulemaking and they weren't going to here. But the pilot groups and the aviation grassroots were gearing up to jam that one back down the FAA's throat with legislation, if they didn't back off. The FAA probably was afraid that they'd be saddled with having to go through the rulemaking process for any future tweaking of medical standards and so they changed their minds.

Word I heard was that the FAA's chief doctor is retiring anyway; there is a chance that some clown on his staff snuck this one in and then he got stuck with having to defend an ill-considered policy. The top brass at the FAA was likely more than happy to throw him under the bus.
* "I see the light when I feel the heat."

I've Got a Lot of Problems with You People, and Now You're Going to Hear About It!

Happy Festivus!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Your Sunday Morning Jet Noise

RAF Nimrod.

PhD-level studies will probably be written for decades about how fucked up the RAF's procurement process was for the Nimrod MRA4. As a result, the British, a seagoing nation if there ever was one, have no maritime patrol aircraft in service.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Shorter Obama on NSA: "OK, Dammit, We'll Fix It."

President Obama, who has been defending the NSA's bulk collection of everything has signaled that he's backing off.
President Barack Obama has conceded that mass collection of private data by the US government may be unnecessary and said there were different ways of “skinning the cat”, which could allow intelligence agencies to keep the country safe without compromising privacy.

In an apparent endorsement of a recommendation by a review panel to shift responsibility for the bulk collection of telephone records away from the National Security Agency and on to the phone companies, the president said change was necessary to restore public confidence.

“In light of the disclosures, it is clear that whatever benefits the configuration of this particular programme may have, may be outweighed by the concerns that people have on its potential abuse,” Obama told an end-of-year White House press conference. “If it that’s the case, there may be a better way of skinning the cat.”
"May be outweighed"? Kind of being light on the touch, there.

Don't start cheering, yet. We have to be vigilant, for DiFi and her pro-NSA buddies in the House and Senate can be counted on doing everything possible behind the scenes to guy any legislation aimed at reining in America's spooks. Surveillance is cheap. The NSA could probably record all of our calls for about nine pennies a person per year. Which, given their annual budget of $11 billion (possibly much more), is chump change.

Make no mistake about it, legislation is what is needed. Not executive orders that can be nullified at the stroke of a pen. And then we need real oversight of the spies, not just the one-sided FISA Court. Because the NSA has a long record of doing whatever the fuck it wants to, regardless of what the laws or the rules or a court may say.

Another thing that is necessary is to cut the NSA's budget with a meat axe. One of the problems seems to be that they have the money to do almost anything that comes into their minds. Maybe if they had to do a serious cost-benefit analysis every time one of their Stasi-inspired clowns comes up with a bright idea, they might think twice about doing shit. For now, it seems that the question of "should we do this" is one that never gets asked at Ft. Meade. Taking away a lot of their funding might force them to ask that question from time to time.

Here is another question that the NSA, CIA, DoD and everyone else should start asking themselves: "How will this program look when we read about it in the papers?" Hundreds of thousands of people work for those agencies in intelligence jobs. It's a far stretch to assume that Edward Snowden was the only one with a set of functioning morals who has ever worked there.


Jake confronts the horror of a closed door!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Dear "Foley Artists":

Can you guys at least try to strive for a tad bit of realism when you add the sounds for firearms?

Not every fucking gun in the world has an external hammer that a shooter has to cock before firing.

Not every goddamned gun is going to make four clicks, like a motherfucking Colt Peacemaker. In Mob City, it was a M-1 carbine that clicked like a Colt single-action revolver. In other movies and TV shows, you hear Glocks and 1911s clicking like a cowboy's sidearm. It's stupid and it's annoying as all shit to anyone who has ever handled a firearm. Which is about several tens of millions of Americans.

But no! To you guys, they all sound like 1873 Colts.

Jesus! It's as dumb as if they had the sound of radial engines accompanying the starting of a 747's engines.

(Followup to this post)

Update: In the second third of Mob City, they had killers firing silenced revolvers. So it's not just Foley artists who are idiots, it's the prop masters. And the writers, for Kodak introduced 35mm Tri-X film after the Korean War. Oh, and I doubt if "dropping a dime" was a common phrase in 1947, when local phone calls cost a nickel (ie, "it's your nickel" for "you started this discussion".)

Mob City

I finished up watching the miniseries "Mob City" last night. I liked it, but as those who know me will attest, I'm kind of a sucker for that sort of hard-boiled forties noir stuff.

Of course, there were some variations from what happened back then. Bugsy Siegel did kill Harry Greenburg, but the killing was in 1939, there was a trial (not just a hearing) and Siegel got off after two witnesses suffered various fatal ailments (mostly sudden cases of bullet wounds).

Spoiler below the break

Because It's Friday

A replica of "Puffing Billy". Unlike most of its contemporaries, Puffing Billy survives. Many of the other replicas of early locomotives were built based on contemporary drawings or paintings.

The pistons drive gear wheels. The resultant gear train drives the locomotive. It would be at least another decade before pistons directly drove the driving wheels.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Chuck Schumer and his Fellow Democrats Are Truly Retarded

Our government is engaged in the first set of serious negotiations with Iran in over 30 years. There is a chance that a deal on Iran's nuclear program might be reached. The new government in Iran has abandoned bombast and seems to be serious on reaching a deal so that sactions might be lifted.

So what to the Senate Democrats do? They come up with a bill which is designed to scuttle the negotiations.

Whatever form this bill is in, whatever it is "Christmas-treed" to, it should be vetoed.

And Chuckie Schumer should be flogged with a rusted-out chain.

Did You Use a Debit Card at Target Recently?

If so, change your PIN Right the Fuck Now.

Target's been hacked. Any debit card used there in the last six months is vulnerable.

Credit cards are at risk, too, but you can contest fraudulent charges. If someone uses your debit card to hack into your account and loots it, you're pretty much fucked.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Mr. President, What Does it Take to Get You Pissed-Off???-- Banksters Edition

How about this: The Bank of America has been actively sabotaging the Home Affordable Modification Program, the program that was set up by the government to help homeowners stay in their homes.
Instead of helping homeowners as promised under agreements with the U.S. Treasury Department, Bank of America stalled them with repeated requests for paperwork and incorrect income calculations, according to nine former Urban Lending employees. Some borrowers were sent into foreclosure or pricier loan modifications padded with fees resulting from the delays, according to the people, all but two of whom asked to remain anonymous because they signed confidentiality agreements. ...

Tens of thousands of HAMP modifications were improperly denied by Bank of America and Urban Lending since April 2009, according to a July complaint filed by homeowners against the two companies in federal court in Colorado.

“Everyone knew that we weren’t helping people,” said Erik Schnackenberg, a customer-service manager who left Urban Lending in 2011 and now runs a yoga studio in Longmont, Colorado. “They were giving us all the pressure and none of the power to change anything. It was this absurd, self-contained ecosystem of worthlessness.”
BofA absorbed one of the largest scumbags in the mortgage industry (Countrywide) and then put many of those same quasi-criminals to work to fuck up the home loan modification program.

Forging signatures. Throwing away documents. Purging complaints. They were handling the HAMP program files the same way that they handled the original mortgage files. It has all been a massive fraud since day one.

"Why has it been left to the victims to seek justice on their own", you might ask.

Good question. The reason is simple, really: Those cases are hard. And the Department of Justice is apparently burdened with chickenshits who would rather go after ginned-up terroristic plots than do the hard to to bring down the criminals who looted our economy.

If you rob a bank, you're going to go away for at least ten years, possibly a hell of a lot longer.* But let the banks rob us, and not only to their managers and executives not go to jail, they get bailed out by the Treasury and they pay themselves whopping bonuses. "Justice for all" is sure turning out to be an unmitigated crock of shit.

When is this president and his Justice Department going to stop buddying up to those fuckers and do something?

I imagine that the response to that question would be: "Never and fuck you for asking."
* 70 years for stealing Xmas lights in Texas.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Caturday, Guest Cat Memorial Edition

Boo. 1993(?)-2013.

Boo was the house emperor for my dear friend and co-blogger, Eck! Boo had been in decline for the last couple of months. Which I hadn't seen, as I live half-the-country away, now. Time was that I lived a few towns over, I got to see a lot of Boo back in the day.

Boo was a seriously big cat. I don't mean fat, he was huge. The house had a cat tree that was at least six feet tall; Boo would crouch at the bottom to cock his hips and then spring up, grabbing with his front and back paws on an intermediate level and thus vaulting himself onto the top level. To watch him do it, it looked as though he was running up the side of the cat tree.

Eck!'s description of Boo as a "gentle giant" is apt. He was a very friendly cat. I assume that he had his tolerance limits, but I never reached them. When I stayed the night, the large "guest couch" was also his bed, which he shared without complaint.

In Boo's old domain, there are some people with some raw holes in their hearts tonight. The many peole who got to know Boo will, hopefully, have a drink of their libation of choice tonight in memory of his time with us.

All Hail the Cat, Aye!

Fox News Will Have a Cow Over This One

The "Three Wise Guys" sketch on SNL.

(Yes, that's going to do it for content right now. I know about the Federal judge slamming the shit outta the NSA and about CBS's trashing the tatters of their journalistic reputation with their NSA blowjob piece. And I'm aware of the pettiness of Secaucus Fats, aka "Bridgegate". But I'm not feeling up for either deep thinking or outrage.)

Monday, December 16, 2013

Western Union; Poop, Poop, Poop, Poop

I went into the office for several hours before I ran out of gas and had to knock off. I knew the litter box needed a real cleaning, not just a scooping and so I picked up another jug of it. But I was beat, so when I got home, I just crawled into bed for a nap.

Two hours later, I woke up and went into the kitchen for some juice. Right in the middle of the kitchen floor was a cat turd. Jake placed it so precisely that one might thought he used a tape measure to mark the spot

I got the message.

The litter box was cleaned and refilled.

(Title reference)

Eeeeeeeeeeeeeee (and a few other famous defenses)

I have a bit of a bug. A pretty nasty one. I'm contemplating getting off the couch to make a cup of coffee. Or clean the litterbox. Or reading the paper. Or going to work. None of them sound appealing. A nap sounds better. I'm glad I have a separate keyboard for this laptop, as even it feels heavy.

I remember reading about some other famous legal defenses. You now know about "affluenza" and the "twinkie" defense is also (in)famous. There is the "Sumdood" defense, of which, the most common variant is the "SumBlackDood". That variant was used in the murder of Carol DiMaiti by her husband. There is the "Toyota Justification" defense ("he asked for it, he got it [Toyota]"). And the old classic, the "Six-Point" defense ("My. Client. Did. Not. Do. It.")

Back to bed, I think.

Sunday, December 15, 2013


You've probably heard about the rich kid in Texas who essentially skated on stealing beer, getting overly intoxicated and killing four people with his dad's truck (and completely paralyzing his friend). There has been outrage in the press and elsewhere.

First off, the juvenile court system is supposed to focus not just on retribution, but also on saving kids, to try and straighten them out. Depending on the state, when a minor commits a serious felony, there is a hearing, commonly called a bind-over hearing, to determine whether or not to try the kid as an adult or a juvenile. That, as was in this case, is often a matter for plea bargaining. Which brings me to...

Second, nobody working in the system's machinery rooms wants trials. Trials are costly and they are public crapshoots. And third....

Does anyone not doubt that a defendant who can afford a pricey legal team* and psychologists to invent new syndromes will fare better than one who is represented by either an overworked public defender or appointed counsel, who is getting paid pretty much peanuts?

Other than the term "affluenza", why the shock? Does anyone doubt that a poor or working class person who pulled the stunts of a certain actress would have been sent off to prison? How many banksters were sent to prison for looting the economy?

Frankly, I'm pretty much shocked that there is astonishment over this case.
* To quote Justice Scalia: "I don't want a lawyer who's competent. I want a lawyer who will get me off."

Your Sunday Morning Jet Noise

DeHavilland Comet:

The DH-106 was the first jet airliner in service, flying revenue flights in 1952. Within a year or so, they began crashing from metal fatigue. Much has been made of the square windows and that fatigue cracks originated at the corners, but there wee also allegations that the installation methods as designed would not have had the same weakness.*

DeHavilland essentially redesigned it into the Comet-4 and sold a number of them, but the 707 and the DC-8 entered service about the same time. Both of those airplanes had larger passenger capacities, longer range and podded engines. Podded engines are easier to work on and easier to change out. The difference in maintenance costs alone would have driven the Comets out of service. I would also guess that their engines would be rather hard to "hush-kit".

There was a Comet-4 that was derelict at O'Hare airport in the late `70s. I've read that it was still there as late as 1992.
* The rivet holes were punched out. The design was for drilled holes and the rivets backed up by adhesives. Supposedly the hole-punching induced stress points.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Fighting Fire with Fuel?

In a training exercise, firefighters tried to put out a fire by spraying it with kerosene.

Didn't work so well.....

Why Computerized Job Searching Services Should Be Beaten With Large Hammers

It's no secret to most longtime readers that I was employed when I started this blog. Then I wasn't.

At the time, I signed up for a number of job-matching services. One of them was a service that used to advertise a lot. So I filled out the form and told them that I was looking for jobs in which the key word was "attorney".

Now some of those services are about as hard to get out of as the Mafia or the IRA. They keep sending me job alerts, which I can't seen to sign off of, so I just delete them.

This is an excerpt from one of them.

Remember, I told them I was an attorney and I was seeking jobs in the legal field.

Does anyone have any idea how I would be even remotely qualified for a job as a "field nurse" or a "periop nurse"?

TSA: Even Sock Monkeys Can't Have Toy Guns

So said a TSA goon at St. Louis.
A sock monkey dressed as a cowboy made his flight to Seattle from St. Louis last week, but his tiny sidearm had to stay behind.

Phyllis McDill May, who sews the dolls for gifts and for sale, said Friday that it seemed extreme for a Transportation Security Administration agent here to confiscate a miniature toy revolver that was so obviously not a real firearm.
It was a tiny toy, obviously not real, but that didn't keep the TSA idiot from having a pants-shitting moment and threatening to call the cops.

This, folks, is why TSA screeners should never be upgraded to law enforcement officers. They have the education of dropouts and the common sense of school administrators, which is a pretty toxic combination.

The TSA, in justification, claims that there is a very tiny revolver. Which costs about $8,000, if you could even find one. Ammo is over $11/round. While the ATF has its own episode of pants-shitting and bans the gun from import, in Canada, they classify it as a popgun, not a firearm.


If Jake could take a selfie--

Friday, December 13, 2013

Because It's Friday

GKB 671. Built for the Austrian Southern Railway in 1860, it has never been retired. It is the oldest working steam locomotive in the world.

40 Years Ago at Ft. Apache (41st Precinct, South Bronx)

I haven't had the time to watch this through, but it looks interesting and I thought I'd share it.

Back in the day, there was another NYPD precinct that allegedly had a nickname from another movie: "The Planet of the Apes." But nobody made a movie about that and the name was slowly forgotten.

Thursday, December 12, 2013


In case you didn't quite catch it...

Conservatives: Forever on the Wrong Side of History

Seems to be pretty much the history of this nation that the Right has almost always been wrong.
WASHINGTON — The outpouring of acclaim for Nelson Mandela from across the American ideological spectrum contrasts with the history of an earlier era, when many politicians and others derided the late South African anti-apartheid crusader as a communist and a terrorist. ... The Reagan administration invited senior South African security officials to the United States, violating a U.N. arms embargo, and the United States vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution that would have imposed economic sanctions on Pretoria.

Reagan also had Mandela placed on the U.S. international terrorist list, where the anti-apartheid leader remained until 2008.
Think about it. 240 years ago, the Right were the loyalists, the defenders of British rule in the American colonies. Then you can step up through every major social change and foreign crisis since 1783 and you will see that the conservatives have a horrible track record of being on the wrong side of history. Over and over, when their past opposition to things is brought up, they either are forced to apologize outright (ie, slavery) or they just try to muddle things to cover up their historical fuckups (segregation, civil rights, suffrage).

It's not an unblemished record of historical failure, but it's hard to conclude otherwise than that the Right is essentially the Chicago Cubs of politics.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Expecting the FAA to Make Any Sense is Like Expecting Congress to Do Its Job

The FAA is mulling over whether or not to let some angle-of-attack indicators be installed in small airplanes without a Supplemental Type Certificate.

Mostly, the FAA is not in favor of it. They want the AOA manufacturers to get STCs.

This makes no sense. It's pretty hard to find anyone who is familiar with AOA indicators who doesn't think that they're the best safety addition to aircraft since shoulder harnesses. The mantra of carrier pilots is "meatball (glideslope), lineup, angle-of-attack". If you fly with the AOA in the green, you won't stall out. Which means that in a landing pattern, you won't get into the "stall-spin-crash-burn-die" cycle.

But hey, the FAA says that the files must be papered. Doesn't matter how many people die. The AOA makers aren't going to get STCs for airplanes that don't have thousands of candidates.

This is reminsicent of the FAA's former insistence that one had to have an STC or field approval to install retrofit shoulder harnesses. Eventually, it got through the FAA's extremely dense collective skull that a hell of a lot of people were getting killed or horribly disfigured because older airplane didn't have shoulder harnesses and the reason the owners didn't install them was because the FAA was making it almost impossible to do so. Because when you ask for a "field approval", that goes to the local Flight Standards District Office. The responsible guy in the Fairbanks FSDO might say: "Hey, this is a good idea, do it" while the throwback in the Jackson office might have taken the position that "if they were meant to be installed, Bill Piper would have installed them". (Names of FSDOs pulled at random, so STFU.)

If AOA indicators are a good idea, let's let owners fucking install them.

Gun Makers Should Tell Jersey City to "Go Shit In Yer Hat"

And we gunnies should keep an eye on this so that we can lambaste any vendor who complies.
New Jersey's second-largest city is adopting a novel approach to gun control by requiring weapons-makers bidding on municipal contracts to answer questions about their positions on gun safety issues.

Jersey City, a city of 250,000 across the Hudson River from Manhattan, is believed to be the first U.S. municipality to incorporate social responsibility questions into public contract bids. Mayor Steven Fulop says he wants municipalities to use their purchasing power to influence America's gun-safety conversation.

The bid specification going out Wednesday — for roughly $200,000 worth of guns and $150,000 in ammunition — includes six questions measuring vendors' gun safety record. One asks whether the manufacturer would commit to preventing its weapons from appearing in violent video games. Another asks what the company does to combat illegal gun trafficking.
Except for Hi-Point, that is. They should feel free to answer; let the Jersey City cops be armed with Hi-Point C-9s. The city can buy them retail for about $150 apiece, maybe even cheaper for a volume buy.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Weather Wimps of Southern California

Pussies. All of them.

NSA- Spying on the Gamers

Oh, NSA, is there not any low to which you will not sink? For now comes news that the NSA has been infiltrating and spying on gamers in World of Warcraft and Second Life:
To the National Security Agency analyst writing a briefing to his superiors, the situation was clear: their current surveillance efforts were lacking something. The agency's impressive arsenal of cable taps and sophisticated hacking attacks was not enough. What it really needed was a horde of undercover Orcs.
The NSA and the GCHQ had so many spies in those games that that they had to set up protocols to ensure that the spies weren't spying on each other.

If you play either of those games, the NSA was watching you, just in case in your six or more hours of game-playing each day, you found the time to hatch a terrorist plot or two.

For Second Life players, the real stab-in-the-back is that the fucking then-CEO of the company fucking invited the NSA in to spy on the players six years ago.

For all of the spooks' infiltrations into the gaming universe, they seem to have accomplished nothing that even remotely justified the efforts that those freedom and liberty-hating trools put into their gaming.

However, it also could be that some of the geeks at the NSA and GCHQ did this just so they could justify untold hours of gaming while getting paid for it. In which case, the NSA/GCHQ's gaming efforts were more like a form of economic sabotage of those agencies.

Shooting Times' New Editor

The Dec/Jan issue of Shooting Times has a new "Contributing Editor for "Shooting": Frank W. James. Many of you may also be readers of his blog, so feel free to go over there and congratulate him.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Stupid Human Tricks; Dealing With the Po-Po Edition

Look, in parts of this country, you simply do not dare the cops to shoot you.

For they will.
SAN ANTONIO — Just before University of the Incarnate Word senior Robert Cameron Redus was fatally shot in a struggle with a UIW police officer Friday morning, a neighbor overheard what may have been his last words.

“I heard (a man) say, 'Oh, you're gonna shoot me?' like sarcastic almost,” said Mohammad Haidarasl, 22, who was on his couch in his ground-floor unit at the Treehouse Apartments in Alamo Heights at about 2 a.m.

Less than a minute later, Haidarasl heard four to six gunshots.
Which, of course, is not to say that the dead kid didn't do something worth his getting bulletized.

But frankly, this one smells. If you read down in the story, you'll find that the cop who shot the kid has been a cop for eight years and he's worked for eight different cop shops. That kind of implies that he has a bit of trouble playing nice with others, at the least.

Maybe We Can Add Those Clowns To The No Fly List

Once they get over there, of course.
In a series of deliberately-provocative Twitter posts, the [Westboro Baptist Church] says it is buying plane tickets to South Africa and is hoping to coordinate with South African police while they stage a protest at the funeral, citing Mandela’s divorce and remarriage as evidence of damnation.
I'm not convinced those asswipes are into going to Mandela's funeral. It's probably just a publicity stunt on their part, because those douchebags haven't had their names in the papers for some time.

To be honest about it, the only time that I want to ever see those assholes' names in the papers is when the story is either their obituaries or about their untimely deaths as a result of a series of heart attack (brought on by sudden cases of bullet wounds).

Which, if they fly to South Africa and actually carry out this protest, will probably happen sooner than they think.

Your Sunday Morning Jet Noise

The Sud Aviation Caravelle, the first mid-range jet airliner.

The Caravelle stood out because of its rounded triangular windows. Untied flew a number of them. UAL retired them the same year that they retired their last DC-6.

As far as I can tell, none of them are still flying.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Federal Vampire Octopus

The National Reconnaissance Office. RobertaX has up a killer post about it.

Which you should go read.

But in case you're a lazy-ass who can't be bothered to click on a link to another blog, the money quote is below the break.


Jake's lying on his heated bed. Comfort is important to an old man like him.

I didn't go in to work yesterday, as my town was kind of buried by snow. Jake spent most of the day snoozing. It was almost like not having a cat, unless he wanted something. Then he came and summoned staff to take care of his needs (petting, dinner).

Friday, December 6, 2013

The Wonders of Space

An enormous alien planet — one that is 11 times more massive than Jupiter — was discovered in the most distant orbit yet found around a single parent star.

The newfound exoplanet, dubbed HD 106906 b, dwarfs any planetary body in the solar system, and circles its star at a distance that is 650 times the average distance between the Earth and the sun.
To put that in perspective, that planet is orbiting its star at a distance that is five times further out than the Voyager 1 probe has traveled. Given that Voyager is slowing down as it travels up the side of the Sun's gravity well and it has been 36 years since it was launched, a probe sent to a planet that far out would take about two centuries to make the trip.

Here's a bit of trivia: The length of HD 106906's year is 16,482 of our years. Which would save a lot of money on buying birthday presents.

Because It's Friday

A replica of Richard Trevithick's 1802 Coalbrookedale locomotive

I wish the photographer had shot some footage of the right side. As you can see, with one cylinder, the locomotive has dead spots that require an operator to manually turn the large flywheel.

Still, the cylinder exhausts into a blastpipe in the stack to increase the draft of the firebox. Every steam locomotive made since then, until the Chinese stopped building them in 1999, descended from the Coalbrookdale locomotive.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The World is a Little Diminished Today

Nelson Mandela, who led the emancipation of South Africa from white minority rule and served as his country’s first black president, becoming an international emblem of dignity and forbearance, died Thursday. He was 95.

And a Little More on That Fascist Fool

After posting last night's screed, it occurred to me that Col Tarleton Bateman comes across as a pretty typical staff puke. He brags about being able to bring violence to others, but think about how a colonel would do it. He'd be sitting in a battalion command post, ordering around companies of soldiers and coordinating the use of artillery and Air Force assets.

All the while drinking coffee.

How he would be in an alley by his lonesome with only a M-9 or a S&W Model 10 is another question entirely. A guess would be that the average street cop would stomp a mudhole into Bateman's ass and walk it dry. One of the old-school cops, the ones who carried Model 10 revolvers (and kept their shoes polished) wouldn't even have broken a sweat doing it.

(Also worth reading.)

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Dear Col. Bateman:

Go fuck yourself.

Anyone wearing the uniform of this country who nakedly threatens to make war on its citizens, such as you, you statist bastard, has no right to even think that he believes in freedom and liberty.

This country was founded on the principle that people in the employ of the government work for the American people. We are not your subjects. You swore an oath to uphold the Constitution, but I guess you've forgotten about that.

Go hug an IED, you fascist prick.

School Administrators-- Always Looking for More Pearls to Clutch

Even "Hump Day" brings on a bout of pearl-clutching:

Sometimes, reality cannot be out-snarked.

Attention, Tinfoil Hat Wearers

They don't really work. Worse, at some frequencies (reserved for government use), they amplify the signal.

Some folks at MIT actually studied this and published a short paper.

AvGas; 100LL Replacement Edition

Shell Oil has developed a replacement fuel for 100LL.

I think this is good news. Swift Fuels and GAMI have been working on this for a long time. Now so, apparently, also has Shell. The replacement of 100LL wasn't going to go anywhere, to my mind, until one of the major oil companies got involved.

Another issue is how they'll approve it. The Europeans have developed 91/96UL, but they pretty much have required that it be approved by the engine manufacturers. Which doesn't help the orphaned engines (like Franklin) very much. The hope is that the FAA will issue a blanket approval to use 100UL in all engines that now use 100LL.

Shell is also saying, though, that 100UL will cost more, based on the replacement of leaded motor fuels. That sounds like bullshit to me. The explanation for why 100LL cost so much has been that because it is the only leaded fuel remaining*, moving it around required transport by dedicated tanker trucks and other special handling. Apparently, 100UL won't require that.

It'll be great to say goodbye to the persistent problem of leading up spark plugs when one burns 100LL in engines designed for 80/87. There are additives that help (TCP and Decalin), as well as being smart with the mixture knob, though. Most owner-operators know about all that (or they should).
* Yes, I know that 100/130 is around in a few places and they make 115/145 for Reno. STFU.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

GOP: Oozing a Trail of Slime Wherever They Go

I received an email about how the GOP in California has put up a phony Obamacare web site to dissuade Californians from signing up for health insurance coverage. I thought, at first, that nah, even they could not be so sleazy as to resort to the tricks of Internet con artists and pirates.

Well, I was wrong. They are that sleazy.
Opponents of the Affordable Care Act never stop producing new tricks to undermine the reform's effectiveness. But leave it to California Republicans to reach for the bottom. Their goal appears to be to discredit the act by highlighting its costs and penalties rather than its potential benefits.

The device chosen by the Assembly's GOP caucus is a website at the address If that sounds suspiciously like, which is the real website for the California insurance exchange, it may not be a coincidence. Bogus insurance websites have sprung up all over, aiming to steer consumers away from legitimate enrollment services. Just a couple of weeks ago California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris shut down 10 bogus insurance sites, some of them with names very similar to the real thing. She must have overlooked the GOP's entry.
But once they got found out, first they tried to say "we're only educating consumers" and when that bald-faced lie fell flat, they ended up adding in links to the real California health insurance exchange website.

Here's a tip, GOP: When you have to resort to false-flag web sites, utter fabrications and bald-faced lies, then it is becoming clear is that what you are really doing is losing the argument. And you fucking know it.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Maybe They'll Start Selling Small-Scale Anti-Aicraft Guns, Now

And tinfoil. Lots of tinfoil. is testing delivering packages using drones, CEO Jeff Bezos said on the CBS TV news show 60 Minutes Sunday.

The idea would be to deliver packages as quickly as possible using the small, unmanned aircraft, through a service the company is calling Prime Air, the CEO said.
Net-shooting guns might work. And if you use compressed air to fire the net, it won't even be technically a "gun".

Who will follow to post the delivery notices?

Sen. Feinstein: Still Mongering the Fear

Because playing the "zOMG!! Because Terrorism!!" card never gets old for her.
The terrorism threat against the United States is increasing and Americans are not as safe as they were a year or two ago, the leaders of the House and Senate intelligence committees said on Sunday.

Senator Dianne Feinstein and Representative Mike Rogers appeared together on CNN's State of the Union, on the day that al-Qaida's US spokesperson called for attacks on US interests around the world. Rogers said al-Qaida groups had changed their means of communication as a result of leaks about US surveillance programs, making it harder to detect potential plots in the early planning stages.

"We're fighting amongst ourselves here in this country about the role of our intelligence community that it is having an impact on our ability to stop what is a growing number of threats," he said. "And so we've got to shake ourselves out of this pretty soon and understand that our intelligence services are not the bad guys."

Rogers and Feinstein are both putting out a very simplistic view: "They bad. Spooks good." And I'll bet that if you were to surf the major American news outlets, you'd find that they are just lapping that shit up, without a jot of critical thought.

I don't deny that there are people and groups around the world who wish to do us harm. But some perspective needs to be kept in mind, namely that terrorism is a tool of the weak. And it most often fails in its objective. When terrorists shot the shit out of a hotel in Mumbai a few years ago, what did they accomplish? Did they change Indian foreign policy to be more receptive of the terrorists' political goals?

No, we give the terrorists what they want when we over-react. We give the terrorists what they seek by spending hundreds of billions of dollars on bullshit security theater, but our government regarding all 300 million Americans as potential terrorists, all of whom must be watched. We give the terrorists what they want when broad surveillance and monitoring serves to drive a wedge deeper between the government and the governed.

We give the terrorists what they seek when we toss away our hard-won freedoms and liberties "because terrorism!"

So yes, those who seek to engage in acts of terror are bad guys. But so are those who have been stripping us of our Constitutional freedoms and protections in the name of keeping us safe.

Can we get rid of the "we need to wiretap everyone to prevent another 9-11" rationale? The reports after the fact made it pretty damned clear that the Feds had all the information that they needed to detect and prevent the attacks. They just didn't put the pieces of the puzzle together. Saying that "we need to do more surveillance to keep you safe" is bullshit. They couldn't even analyze what they had before 9-11 and they sure as shit can't do it now. In point of fact, this broad surveillance is making us less safe.

Oh, and can we also stop calling the "FISA Court" a "court"? Maybe call it a "star chamber" or something else? Courts are were things are decided by the means of an adversary process. Both sides get to put on their case and a judge or jury decides. The FISA Star Chamber is nothing of the sort, for only the spies get to argue before it and then the judges pretty much haul out their rubber stamp of approval.

It'd be as though somebody showed up to move into your house because they bought it at a sheriff's sale that was held in secret, based on a court proceeding of which you were given no notice or afforded an opportunity to appear and you had no right to even reopen the matter. Nobody (other than a bankster) would think that was fair. But that's just how the FISA Star Chamber has been operating for over three decades.


And you don't have to imagine it as the future.

I saw Catching Fire over the weekend. If you have seen The Hunger Games or read the books, then it is worth seeing. The film-makers assumed that you have, for they don't give any of the backstory. If you haven't seen the first one or read the books, the movie will make no sense to you.

If you have, however, then Catching Fire is excellent and probably even a better adaptation than The Hunger Games. If you've read the series, you'll catch little nuances here and there. It may be the best adaptation of a book since The Day of the Jackal.

I find it interesting, though, that almost all SF filmed is dystopian. Even when a decent future for mankind is imagined, they have to go out into the galaxy to find war, conflict and other horrors. Because while a planet where everyone is free from disease and want may be a worthy goal, realizing it apparently will be as boring as listening to a collection of speeches by John Kerry.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Your Sunday Morning Jet Noise

A DC-10:

Actually, that was the first DC-10 off the production line (not counting pre-production airframes).

Saturday, November 30, 2013


George (may peace be upon him), lying in a nearly empty laundry basket.

Empty, or nearly-empty, laundry baskets were a favorite place of his. When he was in them, I'd pick them up and give him a ride all throughout the apartment. He seemed to get a kick out of seeing things from a few feet up.

This photo was taken over nine years ago and probably closer to ten years ago. They were taken with a 35mm and, when I had them developed, the camera store offered the option of also putting them on a CD.

I liked that camera store. Besides the owner being friendly and knowledgeable, the store had a cat-in-residence, which liked to lie on top of the display cases. Because that ensured lots of attention was garnered.

A few months later, the camera store went out of business, leaving only drug stores and Walmart as photofinishers in that area. I've had bad luck with both in the past. It seemed to be the right time to start moving to digital and I did.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Because It's Friday

Old school snow clearing in Alaska.

Thursday, November 28, 2013


A Thanksgiving tradition on a few of the radio stations in the Boston area was to play this song in its entirety.

They made a rather forgettable movie of this song a couple of years after the song came out.

(Reminded of this by VC.)

Moving 4014

They are using "panel track", which are full-scale track pieces. The workers pull 4014 along, unbolt the panel behind it and then leap-frog that panel ahead. They'll do this until they make it to the nearest rail line.

Israeli Defense Establishment Signals the Chickenhawks: "STFU, Already."

You can find no shortage of chickenhawks[1] who oppose the interim deal with Iran. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu[2] proclaims the deal "a historic mistake.

So I was a little surprised to read this in the free Stratfor analysis of the agreement:
For all its rhetoric opposing the deal, Israel has very little to worry about in the immediate term. It will have to adjust to operating in an environment where Iran is no longer limited by its pariah status, but Iran remains unable to threaten Israel for the foreseeable future. Iran, constrained by its need to be a mainstream actor, will seek to rebuild its economy and will steer clear of any hawkish moves against Israel. Furthermore, Iran is more interested in gaining ground against the Arab states -- something that Israel can use to its advantage. The report about the Israeli security establishment seeing the deal as a positive development (in contradiction to the position of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government) speaks volumes about the true extent of Israeli apprehension. (Emphasis mine)
It seems that is the truth.
After the Geneva agreement was signed on Sunday, retired Gen. Amos Yadlin, former head of Military Intelligence, deputy commander of the Air Force and now director of the country’s leading strategic think tank, told reporters, “If this were the final agreement – then it would really be a bad agreement, but that’s not the situation.” The situation, he said, is that this is an interim, six-month agreement, and that it’s the final pact to be negotiated later that will be decisive. He said the final agreement must not only freeze Iran’s progress toward a bomb, like the current, interim one does, but reverse it. He also gave Netanyahu credit for getting the world powers to extract additional concessions from Iran. But Yadlin said Sunday’s agreement, which Netanyahu condemns for having “made the world more dangerous,” did just the opposite: "It is possible that had there been no agreement, [Iran] would have decided to make the breakthrough to a bomb, because the sanctions are hurting it badly.”
That's not the only signal that the Israeli security establishment is sending. Their spooks are also supporting the deal.

I am not a major fan of the ability of air power alone to accomplish things. Unlike a couple of other countries, the Iranians have not been short-sighted enough to build their nuclear facilities right out in the open.[3] I also think it highly probably that any airstrikes will serve to cement the grip of the Iranian radicals.[4] I have little doubt that the intelligence analysts have reached a different conclusion.

Time will tell whether or not this deal is a first step or a failure. But the oer-the-top reaction of the neo-cons and their ilk suggest to me that the deal is a good thing.
[1] Like Miss Lindsey.
[2] A man who has been eager to see Americans die for his country.
[3] Though you don't have to smash the facility to make it unusable. You bomb the doors to make it inaccessible.
[4] "Remember the Maine, to Hell with Spain" ring any bells? Those opposed to a war with Spain lost the argument when the USS Maine blew up.

Happy Thanksgiving

Shooting a turkey carcass with an elephant gun:

As noted by Sebastian, the gun control crowd went into full-on pearl-clutching over this one.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Traitor Joe, Now Whoring for the Libyans

He said that he wasn't going to become a lobbyist, but now he is one.

This has been in the works for the last few months, it seems.

The folks at Balloon Juice are probably accurate when they say that calling former politicians such as Lieberman "whores" and "pimps" is pretty defamatory to hard-working people in the sex trade. But I'm at a loss for better adjectives. Feel free to make your suggestions in the comments section.

Anyway, the D.C. revolving door spins ever on.


Happy Hanukkha!

And two songs. First, the traditional one:

And the modern one:

NSA, FBI: Same Difference

The FBI is probably doing more spying on Americans than the NSA is.

If that's even possible.


NSA and the "Obamaphone"?

You've probably seen periodic outrage* from the Wingnuttosphere about a program that they refer to as "Obamaphones"**.

Now think of how the NSA has been working to turn all cell phones into bugging devices, even when they are supposedly powered off.***

(The previous two sentences are enough fodder for about six shows from Glenn Beck. Fuck-all of a chance that he'd ever pay me for it...)
* When they're not screaming about Benghazi or any of the other kajillion made-up scandals that Darryl Issa is "investigating".
** A program that dates back to the Reagan Administration.
*** What, you thought it was a coincidence that you can't take the battery out of an iPhone or its ilk?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

NSA Spying Costs Billions in Exports (And Maybe This is What Their Game Is)

About $35 billion in exports over the next three years.

Which is going to cost some thousands of people their jobs.

Way to go, you fuckers.

Another reason why they may have an interest in establishing the National Security State is that they think this guy is right that everything will come crashing down in the next seven years or so and they want to be ready to toss the rebels into FEMA-camps.*

Of course, getting ready to impose pervasive surveillance of all Americans is easier than trying to fix the base problem of income inequality. Or blowing up half of the law schools (and all of the MBA mills business schools) in the country. **
*Just kidding about the camps.
** Not kidding. We should really do this.

Ah, the Faint Whiff of Corruption; FAA Edition

So it seems that the FAA's witch-hunt against fat pilots by requiring them to have sleep studies has its roots with a doctor whose company-

Wait for it--

-Does sleep studies! So no shit that they are advocating for more sleep studies.

Pretty sweet gig: Serve as a special medical advisor to the FAA and, if the FAA acts on your advice, your company makes a lot more money.

"Self-dealing" is probably the kindest term that comes to mind.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Afghanistan: Time to Go

Not only is President Thiệu Karzai refusing to sign off on a Status of Forces Agreement, Afghanistan is on the verge of reinstituting stoning as a method of capital punishment.

One thing Karzai is right about: Lack of trust is a problem. From this end, it's because Karzai is operating a massive kleptocracy, not in the least by having provided cover for his late brother, who was allegedly one of the world's major drug kingpins.

Even Fox News thinks its time to go. Ordinarily, having the same view as the Murdoch Empire would give me cause to question my conclusions, but not this time.

Two presidents across four terms have tried to tame that country. They've both failed, though arguably, one (Cheney Bush) failed because he spent years ignoring the mess that he had brought about. But I digress.

Stop spending our soldier's blood and our treasure on that shithole.

End this fiasco.

NSA: A Clear Threat to Freedom, Liberty and Democracy

I think it's fair to say that Peter the Bayou Renaissance Man and I probably don't politically agree on very much.

Having said that, I am 110% in agreement with his latest post on the NSA.

Our government's position on online privacy is pretty much this: Fuck you. They say that they are against "illegal surveillance", but then they take the Nixonian position that "if we do it, it's legal".

And it's not just the NSA. The FBI has been carrying much of the NSA's water when it come to wiretapping and bugging everyone.* Private companies have also gotten into the mass surveillance act.**

And of course, up on Capitol Hill, Sen. Feinstein is working her utmost to legalize everything that the NSA is already doing and to give all cops unfettered access to the NSA's database, a stance that even gives the NSA some qualms.

* You do know that they are able to turn any cellphone they want into an active bug?
** When compared to corporations, serial killers are mere amateur pscyhopaths.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Coming Soon, to a Paramilitary Police Department Near You

A MRAP. The DoD is giving them away to civilian police paramilitaries.

That is a Warren County, NY cop standing in front of his department's new MRAP.
Because IEDs and shit like that are a real threat in upstate New York.
Warren County has 65,000 residents.
Their big crimes are mostly theft.

Fuck all of that "to protect and to serve" shit. It's more and more "to occupy and suppress". I suppose that the only reason they didn't get M-60 and M-1 tanks is because those tread jobs would tear the hell out of paved roads. Our cops are morphing into Peacekeepers.

Remember when cops looked like this?

Now they look like wannabee Marines, with shaved heads and such. It's almost a rarity to see a cop nowadays who couldn't pass an Army or Marine haircut inspection.

I, for one, would like to see the day come back when our cops didn't look like soldiers or arm themselves like them. But that's probably not going to happen.

Your Sunday Morning Jet Noise


In 1950 and 1951, one of the least-enviable jobs was to be a B-29 crewman over Korea when the MiGs were coming.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

FAA's Latest Witch-Hunt

Against sleep apnea. The FAA is going to start requiring sleep studies be done by all pilots (and air-traffic controllers) who have a body-mass index of 40 or greater.

Eventually, the FAA plans to require sleep studies for everyone who has a BMI of over 25. Which is pretty much a significant minority, if not a majority, of pilots over a certain age.

The FAA Aeromedical people apparently are being close-mouthed on why they deem this to be necessary, other than to say that it's the NTSBs idea.

I've tried to find out what a private sleep study costs. Because this shit would not be medically necessary for me, at least, so I'd have to pay for it. And it seems that two or three grand is not out of line.

Yeah, that'll work out well. I'd be trying to sleep, with a bunch of wires on me, and knowing that I'd be paying a few grand for a stupid test because some asswipe of a doctor in Oklahoma City thinks it's a good idea.

What's going to happen is that a shitload of recreational pilots will balk at that. They'll downgrade to Sport Pilot and flip the bird at the FAA. Or they'll just quit flying.

Seems to me that the worst thing that happened in the Aeromedical Branch of the FAA was when Dr. Audie Davis retired as the FAA's chief medical officer. Dr. Davis, in my experience, was a reasonable person to deal with and one who was willing to help pilots keep (or get back) their medical certification.

The current crop seems to be more interested in finding new and innovative ways to ground people.


Jake uses camouflage in one of his sleeping places.

When I bought that chair 15 years ago, it was immediately appropriated by the cats. I doubt if it's had more than a few hours of use by humans.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Because It's Friday

Western Maryland RR

Has the DoJ Been Compiling a Federal Gun Registry?


The law supposedly forbids that, but if the NSA revelations have taught us anything, it is that the spooks and the cops working for DasGov have little regard for such niceties. And it may have been going on since before C-Minus Augustus turned the keys over to Barry.

Fifty Years On

I wrote this post five years ago. I'll stand on it.

But what I didn't know five years ago is how poisonous the atmosphere would be today from the Right. Despite two elections won by clear majorities of the popular vote and outright shellackings of the GOP in the Electoral College both times, the bitter dead-enders in much of the GOP persist with the birther/seekrit Muslim nonsense. From the reading I've done of JFK's time, it may be even more virulent than it was fifty years ago.

They lost, twice, and they just can't get over it.

Frankly, I'm somewhat astonished that at least one loon hasn't tried for regime change with a rifle by now (I'm writing this six weeks in advance).

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Oh, the Humanity!!- M1911 Edition

Take a look at this auction item to see the horrors perpetrated on a GI Colt.

No wonder the shop auctioning it has prominently proclaimed that they had nothing to do with this desecration.

It's not like there aren't a ton of cheap-jack 1911 guns out there if someone wanted to do something like this: Rock Island (Armscor), Auto-Ordnance, Taurus, Tisas, Girsan, ATI, Citadel. More and more companies are offering them almost weekly. You can get an 80% frame and build your own, if you have the skills.

Hacking on a wartime Colt is, to my mind, blasphemy.

Listening to This Over a Laptop's Tinny Speakers Should Be a Felony

Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart do "Stairway to Heaven" in tribute to the surviving members of Led Zeppelin.

Hard to believe that the song was first released 42 years ago. By contrast, in 1971, there weren't too many people in concert halls listening to the music of 1929.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

NSA: A Thoroughly Rogue Agency

The NSA apparently finds that it is too much trouble to obey the rulings of the FISA Court (such as they are):
Newly declassified court documents indicate that the National Security Agency shared its trove of American bulk email and internet data with other government agencies in violation of specific court-ordered procedures to protect Americans’ privacy.
The ruling, which goes on for 117 heavily redacted pages, begins by finding that the NSA systematically disregarded the limits that the Court placed on its data collection and dissemination for years. The NSA engaged in "systemic overcollection" of information that far exceeded the scope permitted to it by the Court. When previous authorization to collect data expired, the NSA just continued on doing it anyway.

The NSA is clearly a rogue agency. It is time for some serious house-cleaning. And it would seem to me, at least, that an early step should be a criminal investigation of the upper management of the agency and, if warranted, a court-marital of Emperor Alexander.


This one is stuck in my head for the moment.

The things is that I didn't care very much for the song when it came out. But it has a couple lines that capture our use of drones around the world: "Games without fear, war without tears."

(You want deep thoughts this morning, go elsewhere. That's the best that I can do at present.)

Monday, November 18, 2013

MAVEN to Mars

The MAVEN probe is on its way to Mars.

Tab Clearing; Airline Edition

You may have heard that the DoJ recently backed out of suing over the American-US Airways merger. It seems that there was a reason for DoJ's perceived butthurt: It was all about landing slots at Washington National and, to a lesser extent, LaGuardia in NYC.. In essence, as long as the Chattering Class had their choices of airline service to and from KDCA and KLGA, fuck the rest of us.

Speaking of US Airways, one of the many baby-storm troopers who now serve as flight attendants kicked a blind guy and his service dog off a flight. The rest of the passengers then also got off the flight.

Of course, US Airways' spokesweasels then released its side of the story, and some outlets just lapped that shit up.

"Somme. The Whole History of the World Cannot Contain a More Ghastly Word."

On this day in 1916, the last Battle of the Somme ended. Fighting would dribble on into 1917.

On the first day of the Battle of the Somme, the British suffered 60,000 casualties, a single-day loss not equaled in British history before or since. The British promise that friends and neighbors volunteering together would serve together in "pals battalions" ensured that when those units were hit hard, the communities back home would be devastated. One of the critiques of the battle that I've read over the years was that the British Army had their men stroll across No Man's Land into the face of the German Maxim guns because the British didn't bother to train their soldiers to conduct an attack in any other way.

In "All Quiet on the Western Front", Remarque had one of his characters comment that, based on the quality of the newest soldiers, that Germany would be soon empty. The same thing was happening to the British and to the French.

In hindsight, it's pretty clear that the war was soon going to end as all of the combatants were running out of cannon fodder and, in Germany's case, running out of everything else.

We should have let them. One lesson we never seem to learn is to take a hard look at any proposal to go intervene in an ongoing war (or to start one).

Unfortunately, it took less than thirty years for more ghastly words to arise: Holocaust. Genocide. Final Solution.