Seen on the street in Kyiv.

Words of Advice:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Eck!" -- George the Cat

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

Friday, May 31, 2013

Crappy Gun Match

I wonder how much fun it would be to have a match where everybody has to use crappy guns.

Say, for instance, a Bullseye match. The rimfire portion would be shot with .22 kitgun revolvers with a maximum barrel length of four inches. The centerfire part would be shot with automatics that have NYPD-legal 14lb triggers. No optical sights, of course.

A long time ago, I read "The Making of a Surgeon", by William A. Nolan, M.D. One of the comments of one of his surgical teachers was along the lines of: "If you can't take out an appendix with a rock and the top of a tin can, stand aside for someone who can."

It would be interesting to see what people could do with less-than-match-grade guns.

Or maybe I'm just a bit sadistic.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Diary of a Mournful Cat

(It's been up three weeks and has almost five million hits. I think the Internet would dry up of disuse without cat stuff. Consider this post as me doing my part.)

FAA Administrator: "We Need You to Crash More Airplanes"??

Of course, that's not what he meant when he put out a safety letter to general aviation last week. But it did contain this sentence:
The number of fatal accidents has remained stubbornly flat.
I had never heard it put that way, at least with regards to reducing things. A lamentation that "sales are flat" or "revenues are flat" or "donations are flat" precedes exhortations to raise those numbers. "Flat-lining" is also not good.

I could say that my snarkometer is set to a pretty low scale and attribute that to nearly six years of blogging. But I don't think so, I've been pretty much known to go for sarcastic comments for a very long time.

Still, one wonders if somebody at 800 Independence Ave (SW) should have read over the draft and said: "Boss, I don't think that people will take this line to mean what you want it to mean."

Memorial Day

At least this once was. The Feds removed Veterans Day from the list of "all y'all hit the road holidays" in 1978, they should do the same for Memorial Day.

One of the things that has bothered me over the years is the sanitized version we get of war. Part of that is due to the squeamishness of the military itself, who fears that if we were to know the true cost of the butcher's bill, we might be less inclined to support wars. That's not just our military, most of them have been that way. The military was blindsided by photography in the Civil War and by television in the Vietnam War, and they are determined that the proles at home not know the truth.

Here is the truth: War is a bloody, messy business. Men don't just take a convenient shot to the head or heart and die. Shot, shells and splinters do a horrific amount of damage to the human body.

Here is an account of what it was like to stand at the guns of a warship in the War of 1812. The writer was serving aboard the HMS Macedonian during her battle with the USS United States. (H/T)

Myself, I was fortunate. My war was a cold one. The injuries I saw were akin to industrial accidents: Burns, broken bones and the like. Knew one sailor who was suffering from what is now called PTSD: He had been sent ashore in Lebanon to provide technical assistance to the Marines with some problem, he was in the Marine barracks that was blown up. I knew another sailor who had been on the USS Belknap when she collided with the USS John F. Kennedy: He subsequently had to be sedated whenever the ship he was on operated close to (or UNREPed from) an aircraft carrier. Before my time, but sixteen soldiers were killed and over two dozen wounded when an Army artillery shell was accidentally fired into an Army bivouac area in 1960.

Men and women have served this county, in both wartime and peacetime, and have been killed in both.

Today is the day that they should be remembered.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The ACLU "Bust Card"

Don't leave home without it.

Seriously, if you fly private planes, you need to have a copy of this with you.

The beauty of this situation, of course, is that this is giving a group of relatively affluent older white dudes a slight taste of what it is like to be driving/walking while Black/Hispanic/Muslim.

Give to the American Red Cross, So They Can Bank the Money?

Apparently, that's what the ARC did with most of the money that it raised from Superstorm Sandy:
NEW YORK (AP) -- Seven months after Superstorm Sandy, the Red Cross still hasn't spent more than a third of the $303 million it raised to assist victims of the storm, a strategy the organization says will help address needs that weren't immediately apparent in the disaster's wake.
Here I thought that the ARC's mission was to go in and help the survivors with immediate needs. At least, if you watch their ads and their publicity, that's all they talk about. If they're transitioning into mainly helping with long-term rebuilding/relief, that's fune. But they ought to be more honest about what it is that they're doing.

And while I'm on the subject of fundraisers, can someone tell me why the hell there is still crap underway about giving money to Newtown? The median household income in that town is $142,000. It's a well-off town in one of the richest counties in the United States. Do they really need people across the country sending in donations?

I sure as shit don't think so.

Monday, May 27, 2013

This Should Not Be Memorial Day

Which is a rant that I've gone on about a few times.

I don't know what asshole was responsible for the Uniform Monday Holiday Act of 1968. I don't know what jerkwad first thought it would be a good idea to take holidays that commemorated certain things and turn them into three-day weekends. Oh, it was probably popular with the merchants and the travel industry. When Memorial Day or Washington's birthday was in the middle of the week, nobody traveled for it. A sale was a little harder to arrange, for it would be a one-day event and, back then, most reputable stores closed for Memorial Day, anyway.

Because Memorial Day was about honoring dead soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen and the veterans who had passed on. It wasn't about going to the lake or buying cheap crap at a sale.

We might as well be honest and change the name of this holiday to "Hit the Road and Buy Shit Holiday #3".

Update: You should read this and this and these two articles.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Star Trek into Darkness.

My rating: A solid "Meh."

What story there was seemed to be lost in all of the explosions, other special effects, and a score whose volume was set to "liquefy".

If the current Star Trek movies are a "reboot" of the original, then this movie is a reboot of "The Wrath of Khan". And it's nowhere near as good. Benedict Cumberbatch plays a decent enough villain, but he cannot touch neither the depths of villainy or the eruditeliness of the Khan played by Ricardo Montalbán. The Khan of both the original series and the second movie read Milton and Melville. This Khan is little more than a remorseless killer, bent on extracting vengeance from Star Fleet (for being awoken) and trying to save his fellow genetically-enhanced super-warriors.

At the end of the movie, it attempts to kind of touch base with the current War on Terror; in arguing that Star Fleet lost its way by focusing on vengeance, it hints that so have we. But it seems to be almost an afterthought, not a central point to the film.

Star Trek, at its best, was about a vision for the future that, unlike most fiction, both written and filmed, wasn't dystopian. The original series veered from that at times, but it always seemed to come back the the hope that maybe we can be better. Forget the fact that William Shatner could over-act with the best of them, that TOS continues to resonate nearly fifty years after it first aired is due to that message of hope.

This movie uses characters with the same names, but that's about as close as it comes to the original.

Your Sunday Morning Jet Noise


I heard one of them depart from JFK back in the day. I was on the Belt Parkway and it was unbelievably loud.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Bangity, Bangity (Yes, Equipment Matters)

My local club had a Bullseye 1800 match today. In case you're not familiar with it (I sure as hell wasn't), it starts out with shooting 10 rounds, slow fire (10 minutes to shoot that) at a 50 yard target. This is classic pistol-shooting, one-handed style. There are three rounds of slow fire. Then there are three rounds of timed fire- five shots in twenty seconds, which is repeated and scored, and that is done three times. Then the same thing with rapid fire- five shots in ten seconds, reload, five more shots, score, and do all that three times.

So each match is 90 rounds with a possible score of 900.

I took my little Taurus out to shoot.

It isn't a target gun, by any stretch of the imagination. I shot 516-2X. Not the worst of the match scores, but damn close. Everyone else was shooting semi-autos and all but one had some sort of optical sight.

I wasn't going to shoot the second leg of the match, the centerfire portion. But one of the other shooters offered to let me shoot his Browning Buck Mark .22, with a red dot gizmo.

This isn't it, but it kinda sorta looked like this:

The one I shot had a slightly smaller red-dot sight and custom grips. It seemed to feel all right in my hand.

I accepted. It took me a while to get used to it and some times I had a hard time acquiring the dot. The trigger was a dream; my first shot went way wide as I thought it had more takeup than that. But as the match wore on, I got more familiar and ended up shooting the last rapid fire string at 92-4X for a total score of 728-7X. Which doesn't seem to be too shabby a score for the first time out.

I thanked him for the loan of the gun and muttered how that might end up costing me $500 or better. He just laughed. But still, I'd not seriously consider buying a .22 target pistol until after the ammo drought ends. Some of those can be a little fnicky as to what ammo works them the best and, if the stuff isn't available to try out, what's the point?

High Times in East St. Louis

A county judge died of an overdose of cocaine, another county judge has been arrested for drug and gun charges, and a probation officer has been charged with supplying them.

The ironic twist is that the judge who was arrested, Michael Cook, is a judge in the St. Clair (IL) County drug court.

The gun charge against the judge appears to be classic prosecutorial piling-on. I'm not saying that the charge doesn't have merit, but it smells bad. They arrested the judge and because he has shotguns in his safe back home, they're hitting him with a possession charge?

Yeah, it smells. But that's what federal prosecutors are known for.


Jake takes a break from watching for birds and squirrels.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Baby Jet

An Eclipse-500:

That thing is sitting in a shade-hangar that is, at best, sized for medium twins. I haven't seen one before, it doesn't look to be any bigger than an Aztec. Of course, you could probably buy a dozen Aztecs for the price of a used Eclipse.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Channelling the Church Lady; FBI Edition

So, Ibragim Todashev, a pal of one of the Boston Asswipes, confesses to an FBI agent, two Massachusetts staties and several other cops that he assisted the older of the two asswipes in killing three people in 2011 and then he is inexplicably and immediately shot dead just after he confesses?

How convenient.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Electronic Shooting Headsets?

I've looked into some of them and, frankly, I'm underwhelmed.

These things are not active-noise cancelling headsets, mind you. They are passive noise headsets with a microphone setup so that quiet noises are not muffled. Once a sound passes the auditory threshold for those things, then they act like regular passive headset hearing protection.

What is underwhelming is the noise reduction ratings, which tells you how much they quiet the sounds. First, let me digress a bit. Sound pressure is measured in decibels (dB). Decibels are measured on a logarithmic scale- a 3dB difference is doubling (or halving) the noise level, and 10dB is an order of magnitude. So if one product has a NRR of 23dB and another has an NRR of 26dB, the 26 db one lowers the amount of noise you hear twice as much.

The NRR on the electronic headsets that I see in the store is 23db. The classic yellow E*A*R brand earplugs have a NRR of 33dB. So if you pop those babies into your ears, you are going to hear sound at a tenth of the level of the $25-$30 electronic ear muffs. You can find passive protection ear muffs that have a NRR of 30 dB without too much research. But some of the electronic ones have an NRR of 19 dB, which, frankly, is piss-poor.

Your ears, of course. But if I were you, I'd go for the higher NRR ratings. And, on an indoor range, I wear both earplugs and ear muffs. For you never know when some nimrod two lanes over is going to unleash some full-power .44 magnum rounds from a 3" snubbie.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Tea; Earl Grey; Hot.

NASA is working on a 3-D printer to print food.

We're edging closer and closer to the replicators of ST:TNG. And when we get there, won't that crush most of the manufacturing around the world? What you need to make shit would be a replicator, energy (probably lots of it) and raw materials.

Hell, wouldn't it wipe out most of the service jobs? ST:TOS had people eating in a chow hall (though they got their food from a replicator of some kind [tribbles notwithstanding]). TNG didn't, when they showed people eating, they were usually eating in small groups in one person's quarters. The only group setting I remember seeing on TNG was the bar, which mostly served fake booze, anyway. So the service jobs go away when people don't need to go to Mickie-Ds for a burger and fries.

What will most people do when there is no need to make any kind of shit, from steel beams to pancakes? Steel Beach had a lot of people doing ceremonial jobs, so they at least had a place to go and money in their pockets. What good is money if energy is relatively cheap and it costs almost nothing to make anything from a cup of tea to a 1911 in a home-sized replicator?

Жизнь в Советской Америки, или
Life in Soviet America

Twenty cops, two KGB DHS airplanes and a drug dog did show up to interrogate a pilot whose sole "crime" was to fly from California to Oklahoma under Visual Flight Rules. With, mind you, the aircraft's transponder on the entire length of the trip. The Stasi goons Border Patrol cops asked if he would allow them to search his airplane. He declined, telling the cop:
"My Dad fought a war so this can never happen in America. I will not dishonor my father's memory by giving up what he fought for. No, sir. With all due respect, I will not consent to a search without a proper warrant."
This is what it has come to in this country: The DBP cops, all of them, are acting as though this country is a police state: They get to go where they want, search whatever they want and to hell with the Fourth Amendment, because they assume that when twenty of them show up in full SWAT gear, everyone will capitulate.

Bravo to that pilot for respectfully telling them to go fuck themselves.

Alternate Dispute Resolution and the Consistency of Assholes

I am of the opinion that, as a form of alternative dispute resolution, we ought to seriously consider bringing back dueling. For maybe people would get over some of their butthurt if they had to back it up with pistols at dawn.

Sen. Coburn (Grinch-OK) wants to make sure that there are offsetting cuts in the Federal budget before voting to aid his own constituents. Fine, let's take it from other money earmarked for the state, then. Find a program that Coburn supports and then slash that. Or maybe raise the top marginal tax bracket by half-a-percent.

It's to be expected. He's a clown from the Party of Perpetual Warfare, but he's not in favor of paying the piper for those wars by doing things such as helping veterans.

Or the other thing the Congress can do is tell Coburn: "You don't want emergency disaster aid for your state? OK, we're happy to oblige you." And then the good folks in Oklahoma can take up the matter with their senator.

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Republicans Who Cried "Wolf".

Whether or not the AP phone records searches by the Feebies or the IRS's treatment of Tea party lobbying groups are genuine scandals or not, you don't have to go very far to find conservatives who are voicing frustration that, so far, none of this is sticking to President Obama.

There is a reason for that: The GOP and the Right Wing Noise Machine.

The GOP and the RWNM have spent the last 4+ years screaming about everything that Obama has done, didn't do, including every possible misstep. If he were to step on a crack in the sidewalk, the RWNM would spend a week baying that he was deliberately trying to break his mother's back. If the Beast were to cross a double-yellow line, they'd scream about violations of traffic laws. You don't have to go far to find as much outrage over two Marines holding umbrellas[1] as you'll find about the AP phone records.[2]

To the RWNM, everything is a scandal, to be screamed out at the same level of rage and volume. Everything is a scandal of the level of Watergate to the RWNM.

Which is to say that nothing is a scandal. The American people know this, they've seen and heard the RWNM screaming lo, these many years. They know it's all bullshit. They know that the GOP cares nothing about governing, but only about destroying this president, even if it means doing irreparable harm to the country.So, until proven otherwise, they're not going to pay any attention to the noise.

So if you're a conservative and you want to know why nobody is paying attention, the blame is in your house.
[1] From Terminal Lance: We’re Marines, if President of the fucking United States asks you to hold a fucking umbrella, you hold a fucking umbrella. As well, the day I give a shit about a boot Corporal holding an umbrella is the day I’ve forgotten what the Marine Corps is. Honestly, holding an umbrella for the President is probably the least demeaning thing I could imagine doing as a Marine, as opposed to the other bullshit I had to do every day. No one would think twice about asking a boot to police call cigarette butts across the entire base at 5am, but the minute this boot has to hold an umbrella for the Commander in Chief, people get upset.

He’s the President, he rates an umbrella.

Get over it.

[2] Let's be clear on this: If the Bush Administration had done the same thing, only the truly principled conservatives would have objected, which is to say, about 0.03% of the RWNM.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Have You Seen "Star Trek into Darkness" Yet?

I haven't. But what I'm reading would seem to indicate that the movie is a redo of "Space Seed/The Wrath of Khan", complete with a cryogenically-frozen scenery-chewing villain.

Not that this is unknown, of course. The very first Star Trek movie was a shitty redo of "the Changeling".

If anyone has seen it, is it worth seeing?

Update: Saw it.


The kittens are growing.

There are two left. The black-and-white one died a couple of days after I first saw them.

Friday, May 17, 2013

GOP Forgeries

The Republicans altered the quotes on Benghazi emails.

I ought to write something about how stupid they had to be to imagine that nobody would notice that they had, in essence, forged their quotes. But maybe they weren't stupid, they may have figured that nobody would have the stones to point it out.

And it's not as though the fact that the GOP engaged in crude forgery would ever be aired on Fox News.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Mr. Map Is Your Fren'

You do remember how to use a map, right?
The super-active sunspot responsible for unleashing the three most powerful solar flares of 2013 within a 24-hour stretch this week is slowly rotating toward Earth and will likely be facing our planet by the weekend, experts say. ... Scientists give AR1748 a 40 to 50 percent chance of firing off another X-class flare, he added, though this probability is a rough estimate that could change as further information becomes available.

X-class flares aimed at Earth can have consequences on a planet-wide scale, triggering widespread radio blackouts and long-lasting radiation storms.

Earth-directed CMEs have even more destructive potential. When a CME's charged particles interact with Earth's magnetic field, they can spawn geomagnetic storms powerful enough to disrupt GPS signals, radio communications and power grids.
While this just doesn't apply to aviation (lots of drivers couldn't find their asses anymore with both hands if they didn't have a GPS), it's worth noting that the eventually-to-be-decommissioned VOR network doesn't have anywhere near that degree of susceptibility to solar flares.

My recollection was that LORAN-C signals could be affected, but not the stations themselves. How strong (and what polarity) a CME must be in order to fry a GPS satellite is not something that I know. But I suspect that is not at all improbable and at a CME-strength that is far less than a Carrington Event.

Something to Keep in Mind When Reading About the GOP's Outrage Over the AP Phone Records Search

It has been Republicans who have blocked the passage of a federal law to shield reporters. They filibustered it to death in 2008. Chimpy threatened to veto it if it had passed.

A similar bill was re-introduced in the following session, but it died in the Senate. Two of the larger GOP goons in the Senate, Jon Kyl and Jeff Sessions, had their fingerprints all over the death of the shield bill in 2010.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Blame Obama For Everything) voted against the 2007-08 shield law. Which doesn't stop him from expressing his outrage now, of course, as politicians like him are routinely immunized against any feelings of hypocrisy.

The only real good that might come out of the current brouhaha over the AP's phone records is that Republicans are going to look even dumber than normal if they block a shield law this time around.

Wait, What?

The guys who created the ARPANET must be rolling in their graves. If they're still alive, this will probably kill them.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Born in War, Raised in Chaos

And they're a nation with a vibrant tech industry. Happy birthday, Israel. Not too many nations start off their existence by being invaded by five armies, at east not for very long.

I know that there are a lot of people around the world, including on the left in this country, who think that Israel should be more touchy-feely. I wrote my response to that four years ago, you can read it here.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Take a Dump on the TSA!

You can now read the TSA's justification for the Rapi(st)-scanners and tell them what you think of them.

It's possible to stop some of DasGov's* bad ideas through the rulemaking commentary process. But if they really want to do it, then it's like going on a job interview when the other candidate is the owner's kid.
* Term swiped from her.

The Recovery for Rich People

I've written before about the fact that the published unemployment rate is a statistical fiction.* McClatchy ran a story recently that drives this point home. While the Dow Jones has soared over $15,000 and the U-3 unemployment rate is down to 7.5%, the plain fact of the matter is that the unemployment rate is low because millions of people have given up looking for a job.

One in five families has not a single family member who works. 102 million adult Americans are completely out of the workforce. 155 million are in the workforce. So let's play with numbers a little.

257 million people available to work. If 102 million are not even in the workforce, that's 39.7%. The U-6 unemployment rate is 13.9%. Altering that to figure in every one who could work (13.9% *0.603) and that's 8.4%. So the real unemployment rate would be a staggering 48.1%.

The article figures it differently** and they come up with an unemployment rate of 41.4% among adult-aged Americans. The statistics, though, don't exclude college kids (close to 15 million full time) or in jail (2,667,000).

Now a lot of people might read this and start blaming the social safety net. Consider, though, that the social safety net is doing exactly what it was designed to do by FDR: Keeping the lid on the societal pot. Without the social safety net, with 100 million or so Americans out of work, the Occupy Wall Street protests would have looked like a kiddie tea party compared to what we might really see in the streets.

And we might see that regardless. The Wall Street boom and the re-inflating of the real estate market is based on extremely cheap money. The Federal Reserve has sent the clear message that saving money is for chumps, in that the yield from savings is so low that you might as well just have your savings in cash in a safe-deposit box. That can't last forever.

Inflation, at least a moderate amount, isn't a tragedy. But with interest rates so low, we're flirting with deflation. Going into a period of deflation is like crossing the event horizon of a black hole, for things just get worse and worse. There is no incentive to spend money on any sort of durable goods in a time of deflation, for the goods will be cheaper later. You can run the mental scenario from there.

I fear we are on the cusp of things getting a lot worse. And if government is to be blamed, I blame the GOP, who has taken the position for the last five years that it is better to wreck the country than to pass any legislation that can be signed (and championed) by President Obama. And I blame the President, who has vacillated between doing nothing, doing too little, and then getting distracted by shiny legislative things.***

We are really pretty screwed.
* Put "U-3" or "U-6" in the search box.
** They're not showing their arithmetic.
*** Gun control, for one,

Yeah, Government Believes in Freedom

Federal prosecutors secretly obtained telephone records from more than 20 lines belonging to The Associated Press and its journalists in an attempt to learn who leaked information on how the CIA thwarted an apparent terrorist plot hatched in Yemen.
You just have to know, don't you, that if secret search warrants and National Security Letters had existed in 1972, Nixon's goons would have been all over that like cash on a lobbyist. But here we have our current president, Richard Milhouse Obama, doing everything he possibly can to make sure that all we learn about government operations is what his Administration wants us to know. And nothing more.

So much for that "First Amendment" and "Fourth Estate" crap. Reporters had better start taking tradecraft lessons from KGB FSB instructors if they want to keep their sources safe from the thugs in the DOJ. It is clear that the press's role as a watchdog of government fuckery is under heavy attack by the Obama Administration. Sure, they deny that they have anything to do with it, and they ladle out the fiction that the DOJ is "independent". Which is horseshit.* The Attorney General is a cabinet member and he serves at the pleasure of the President. As does just about every other fucking attorney in the Department of "Justice".

We need to know what the government does, not just what they want us to know. If our democracy is to function, we need reporters out there, kicking over the rocks to expose the wrongdoings of government. What is the point of having a free press if the only role of the press is to act as stenographers for the government?**
* Remember Monica Goodling and her use of a political litmus test for DOJ hiring??
** I'm looking at you, NY Times.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Space Oddity; ISS Edition

Astronaut Chris Hatfield's departure from the ISS.

Full screen is advised.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Viruses and Shit

There is a new virus attack out. You get an email message that looks as though it came from someone you know. It asks you to open a document on Google Docs.

And if you do so, you are hosed.

What you should before opening any document sent to you (which you did not specifically ask for) do is write a second email (do not hit "reply") to your friend, or, better yet, call them up and ask if they sent that.

Your Sunday Morning Jet Noise, Skynet Edition

The X-47B launch:

And trap:

Most of the jet noise on the second clip sounds as though it is coming from an unseen chase plane.

Saturday, May 11, 2013


Jake was sleeping in one of his favorite spots: Under the top covers of my bed. Only one paw was showing.

Then he heard me screwing around and taking pictures, so he woke up and came out for some attention.

National Train Day

Sure, it's a "Hallmark Holiday" for Amtrak. But it's still a good excuse to go surfing for some train videos.

Two C35s working to pull a freight in New South Wales:

Holland, an excursion run. The lead engine is the largest tank engine I've ever seen. It can't have much of a range.

Back in the States. Watch to the end, for it is amazing how much smoke was in that tunnel. The foamers in the open window cars had to be dying.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Damn Right They Should

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. on Friday called for the White House to conduct a "transparent, government-wide review" after the IRS admitted that they scrutinized conservative groups during the 2012 election. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, the Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus and others quickly followed.

“Today’s acknowledgement by the Obama administration that the IRS did in fact target conservative groups in the heat of last year’s national election is not enough," McConnell said. "Today, I call on the White House to conduct a transparent, government-wide review aimed at assuring the American people that these thuggish practices are not underway at the IRS or elsewhere in the administration against anyone, regardless of their political views."
This is close to Richard Nixon-grade horseshit. I'm sure that we'll hear about how this was done by a bunch of low-level functionaries in that part of the IRS, but I kind of doubt that anyone will buy that line of bilge.

The GOP will needle the Obama Administration with hearings over this and they should.


I've tried to pay a little bit of attention to the GOP Outrage Machine over the Benghazi incident and frankly, I can't.

Oh, sure, Little Lindsey Graham is so mad, but I keep asking myself this question: Where was his outrage when it came to light that the intelligence to support the Iraq War was cooked up? Where was his anger when it was apparent that the claim, made by Colin Powell at the UN, that Iraq had bought aluminum tubes to make centrifuges was a lie? Where was his umbrage over the fact that the claim that Iraq was buying uranium powder, known as "yellowcake", was based on forged documents? Has Graham ever been upset that one of the main fabricators of the cause for the Iraq War, Achmed Chalabi, was allegedly an Iranian agent?

The number of Americans who have died as a result of the Bush Administration's fabrications to gin up a war with Iraq approaches 5,000. Between undiagnosed closed-head injuries, regular old "bleeding" battle wounds and PTS, the number of American soldiers damaged in the war is likely well over 100,000. (And I'm not even mentioning the staggering numbers of civilians killed, wounded or made into refugees by the war.)

No GOP outrage over any of that. But oh, they're spending months and months trying to stir up outrage over the deaths of four American diplomats in Benghazi.

It's all a political game. And the fact that, other than the GOP Noise Machine, Fox News, and GOP partisans, nobody else is paying attention shows that everyone else knows it.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Educational TV for Banksters

After the next crash, maybe we'll get serious about dealing with those guys.

Be Interesting to See How the Gun Banning Crowd Spins This

Gun violence dropped dramatically nationwide over the past two decades, but nearly three-quarters of all homicides are still committed with a firearm, the Justice Department said in a report released Tuesday.

The report, by the department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, painted an encouraging picture of long-term trends at a time of divisive political debate over guns and legislation to regulate them. Firearms-related homicides declined 39 percent between 1993 and 2011, the report said, while nonfatal firearms crimes fell 69 percent during that period.
Actually, you can sort of see how they'll do it in the article: "zOMG, people are still killed with guns!"

But the numbers have dropped drastically. That's despite the lapsing of the AR/large cap magazine ban nine years ago. That's despite a lot more states' liberalizing their concealed-carry laws.

Note also that if you add the "crooks got guns by stealing" and "from friends and family", that's damn near 80% of their pipeline. Buying guns at gun shows.. less than 1%. So the gun control bill ballyhooed by the President and most of the senators in his party would have added burdens to those who follow the law and would have inconvenienced criminals not at all.

Yeah, it'll be interesting to see how they'll spin this one.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

When 3-D Printers Are Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Have 3-D Printers

That's probably the only thing that the gun-banners will be able to think of: Banning 3-D printers. As for banning the printing of anything, good luck with that. Information is had to suppress. Actually, in these days, it is almost impossible to stop. So while Chuckie Schumer may be having a cow, it is hard to see how he is going to do anything about it. If criminals want to make 3-D printed guns, does anyone seriously think that the law will be a hindrance? And while, if the cops recover a gun now, they can at least try to trace it forward from the place it was made, good luck doing that with a 3-D printed weapon.

Funny how ol' Chuckie worries so much about plastic guns, when one can get a plastic shiv pretty easily. But I digress.

Sure, the first 3-D gun is pretty crude, at least now.

But they won't always be. And, as the technology advances, 3-D printers which can make things out of more durable materials than thermoplastics will trickle down. Sure, they're expensive, now. So were laser printers 20 years ago.

Good thing that the ISS is in neutral space, for NASA wants 3-D printing up there. You'll eventually find those things on every remote location, ship and submarine. You'll find them in the machine shops of industrial plants. And in home hobbyists shops. The idea that you won't have to stock bins of repair parts and hardware, all you'll need are stocks of substrate and software to make the parts you need is just too appealing.

Unless they try to ban the printers, but the commercial applications are too enticing for that to happen. and even if they control them, then what? Eventually, of course, they'll have to outlaw making a 3-D printer with a 3-D printer. For this might be the first non-biological self-replicating system.

Update: As Frank James points out, if the goal is to make a single-shot gun, there are far easier ways to do it.


Monday, May 6, 2013

Even the Duffel Blog Wouldn't Have Dreamed This One Up

Yesterday, police in northern Virginia arrested the Air Force’s chief of sexual-assault prevention — for sexual assault. ... According to the arrest report, [LtCol Jeffrey] Krusinski drunkenly “approached a female victim in a parking lot and grabbed her breasts and buttocks.”
If it happened on base, no worries, the general who convened the court-martial would have wiped out any conviction. But this asshole did it off-base, so he's probably going to remain in a world of hurt.

Don't You Make My Brown Eyes Blue!

Laguna Beach doctor Gregg Homer has developed a new procedure that can actually convert brown-colored eyes to blue in just a matter of weeks.
Right. There are probably people who are vain enough to let some putz shine a laser into their eyes in order to change their eye color. Since the side effects might include some very bad things, this strikes me as being a Very Bad Idea.

But then again, I'm the sort of who sticks with glasses rather than let someone try to reshape my eyeball. Because, who knows, maybe I might want to do some high-altitude work. Although the doctors who push LASIK say that there is no problem with that, it's not their eyeballs. I've only two of them and suitable replacements are not yet available. I fell that I should only muck around with my critical systems for critical reasons.

Don't know what it'd do to a biometric iris scanner, though.


They're Famous Because They've Killed People. Let's Fix That.

I was going to write about terrorism. I was going to write about the ratchet effect, when security measures and reductions in civil rights are "ratcheted up", but there never seems to be a release pawl to lessen them,* or that the security agencies are only truly interested in increasing their own power, while the TSA is as fumbling as ever. I was going to write about the need to treat terrorism as a crime, "lone wolf" attacks are difficult to stop and that terrorists will never completely fade away.

I might have mentioned that, as a cause of death, terrorism is overrated. And the old saw that "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter" is still accurate.

I was going to write about my belief that the idiots who perpetrate such atrocities are losers who are seizing the only way they know to become famous and that one way to demotivate them is to deny them fame. But hell, I was blogging about that four years ago.

Frankly, I don't know how professional opinion people do this. Maybe they get paid lots of cash, for at some point, it goes from beating a drum to bashing your head against the wall, for as you might have noticed if you clicked on any of the links above, they all go to earlier posts on this blog. It gets old and if it feels boring for me to keep plowing up the same crap, Gentle Reader, it must be as boring for you to read it.
* Because nobody wants to be the one who relaxed security and then be lambasted for another crime.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Either This is Just Weird, or Google is Fucking with Gun Blogs

I tried this morning to add Straight Forward in a Crooked World to my list of gun blogs.

It wouldn't take. The "add" button would not function.

But this is what is weird: I could add it to any other blogroll that I tried. I just couldn't add it to the gun blog list. It's not a browser issue, as I tried with two different programs. So it's looking as though it's a Google issue.

For now, I dropped it onto the military/security blog section.

I'm finding it hard to believe that someone in Goggle might have taken the time to write a program that would go around fucking with gun-related stuff on blogs. But on the other side of the coin, would that be so surprising?

Your Sunday Morning Jet Noise

Lear 23, the very first model of the Learjet:

You see very few of these anymore. The cost of overhauling the engines is far more than the value of the airframe, so you're almost more likely to see one in an aviation boneyard these days than you are to see one flying.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Caturday; Sleeping Cat Edition

Jake is rudely awakened from his nap.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

La vie est dure pour le pauvre Henri

(No. 2, 3 and more.)

Google Drive- Bullshit on That!

I had somebody propose that we can share documents on a matter by using Google Drive.

Not me. My feeling is anything that I put on a cloud server, especially one run by Google, I might as well just send a copy to the FBI and the NSA. Because they're going to get it eventually.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

GE Opts for "Creepy"

They cast Agent Smith for their new commercial.

First off, the Matrix isn't exactly cutting edge as far as pop-culture goes. The first movie came out 14 years ago and the two sequels came out ten years ago. They may be old enough to be free movies on the cable "on demand" menu.

Second, well, the ending is just creepy. These days, if some clown wearing sunglasses knelt before a strange kid and offered lollipops, the jerk might end up being pepper-sprayed (or shot).

I don't know what message GE was trying to convey, but casting an evil artificial intelligence with hints of pedophilia as a pitchman just doesn't seem like the wisest move to me.