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, A/K/A Dolt-45,
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

Monday, September 30, 2013

Nikon = Piece of Shit

After about six cycles, the battery in my Nikon DSLR has died. It won't take a charge. (The battery is an EN-EL14 LiON OEM battery, not a knock-off.)

Which has made the camera itself little more than a delicate paperweight.

Hooray for my Canon A1000. It is irritating to use with a flash, for it'll think about it for a few seconds before firing, but at least it takes two AA cells and it always fucking works.

Unlike a more expensive Nikon DSLR. Piece of shit.

Shorter Connecticut Ruling: "Now, We'll Come For Your Horses."

The Connecticut State Supreme Court is deciding a case as to whether or not horses are a "naturally vicious species".

I don't know anything about the judges on the CT appellate court that said that horses are "naturally vicious", but I suspect that they know as much about human history and the history of the domestication of animals as they do about the composition of Pluto's atmosphere.

The consequences of the state supremes upholding that ruling are fairly easy to guess at. With such a determination allowed to stand, it would be far easier for people to sue horse owners and win. As a result of that, horse owners, riding academies and boarding stables would find it next to impossible to purchase insurance. As for the horses themselves, they'd likely be euthanized.

"Nutmeg State", it should be renamed the "Nutter State".

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Shorter Veterans Administration Medical Protocol: Dope Them to the Gills and Hope That They Die Soon

After reading this story about how the Veterans Administration grossly over-prescribes pain medications, it's hard for me to reach any other conclusion.

Or you can listen to the story:

If you subscribe to the maxim "never blame on cupidity that which can be blamed on stupidity", then one might conclude that the VA's medical system is overtaxed and that the doctors are prescribing pain meds because that is all they can do to help right now. The doctors hope that they can eventually get to everyone's real problems, but they can't, so they hand out the pain pills and hope that the vets can maintain until its their turn.

But many don't. They die. And the VA is, in part, complicit in their deaths.

Cheaper to just wave the flag and say "thank you" to a uniformed soldier than it is to spend money to try to help them. One might have to raise taxes on the plutocrats to do that.

Tab Clearing and Bangity

Say a man walks into your business and applies for a job.  He's a white guy.  He has a couple of visible tattoos and hazel eyes.  Your state has its legal cases online, so you run his name through it.  He has a few traffic tickets, nothing more.

No red flags, right?  Au contraire, Pierre!  You had just interviewed a potential member of the Future Felons of America. Which, as the article noted, means that we're edging into precrime territory.

On the other side of the coin, now we're going to have white guys yapping about how unfair it is to be profiled.

New rule: The little doors on digital cameras may stay open only so long as the camera is on one's hand. Following this rule may save you a bit over a hundred bucks.

Metadata may not work for shit for finding terrorists, but it works pisser for finding government officials who are blowing the whistle on government fuckery. (H/T) If you work for DasGov and you want to blow the whistle, you had better study up on tradecraft.

I had a little bit of trouble with my S&W 696. It wasn't hitting the primers hard enough to touch them off. A local S&W guru suggested checking the mainspring strain screw to see if it was loose and if it was, snugging it down. Loose, hell, it took two full turns to snug it up.

Much better:

There was a good stiff breeze from the right. As you can see, I've really cheaped out on my targets. I use a "bingo marker" from a dollar store and a sheet of typing paper, the cost of the target is about a penny a sheet.

Anyway, the guru advised me not to use threadlocker on the screw. There is a shoulder that's supposed to keep it from backing out if the screw is snugged up. There was a noticeable increase in the trigger pull; I'll look for that and if it starts feeling light, I'll know what to check.

Your Sunday Morning Jet Noise

Beware of Jet Blast!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

NSA Oversight: To Difi, It Means "Sitting In a Higher Chair Than the Witness."

Senator Feinstein has felt the heat and now she has seen the light. Whereas previously, she was unwilling to consider any sort of legislation that would annoy even the littlest finger of the Stasi NSA, now she is willing to consider it.

Color me "unimpressed".

Feinstein, for all her fealty to the NSA, might as well be drawing a paycheck that was personally signed by Emperor Alexander. Her "reforms" were either written by the Emperor's staff or approved by him.

I can think of at least three things that are needed to begin to reform this mess. First, the "black budgets" must end. The American people have the right to know where our money is going.

Second, an independent inspector general must have the authority to investigate abuses at Department of Defense intelligence agencies. The IG must not be under the command of the Secretary of Defense, but someone appointed by the President, confirmed by the Senate and answerable only to them.

Third, a public/Constitutional advocate must be appointed to represent us in all FISA court proceedings. The public advocate (and, for that matter, the IG) should serve only for a set period of time to prevent "regulatory capture", the bureaucratic analogue to the Stockholm Syndrome.

Alexander and his "boss", Jimmie the Perjurer, have been lying for years about the scope and quality of the NSA's surveillance of the American people. As Sen. Wyden put it:
"You talk about the damage that has been done by disclosures, but any government official who thought this would never be disclosed was ignoring history. The truth always manages to come out.... The NSA leadership built an intelligence data collection system that repeatedly deceived the American people. Time and time again the American people were told one thing in a public forum, while intelligence agencies did something else in private."
The intelligence community is also ignoring history by their repeated assurances that they can be trusted not to abuse their powers. History teaches us that power corrupts, period. Power, both large and small, can be counted on to be abused by the person holding the power. The only way to stop such corruption is to have watchdogs, both inside and outside the government.

The "outside the government" watchdogs are supposed to be our free press. They have fallen down woefully on the job. The NY Times has continued in the Judith Miller tradition of acting as a stenographer to the powerful. The revelations throughout the NSA Affair have been made public by foreign news organizations, with the Times and the WaPo coming in behind them in "oh, this is out there, so we can print it now" mode.

Caturday, NSA Edition

NSA cat is not impressed with your sarcastic t-shirt.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Because It's Friday

A Shay locomotive, another logging locomotive.

I do have a gripe about this video: It has too many shots that look towards the left side of the locomotive. The interesting side of a Shay is the right side, so you can see the running gear working on this three-truck Shay.

NSA Wants to Collect Every Phone Call

So sayeth Emperor Alexander. They want it all. And this crap about a "searchable lockbox" is just that.

The NSA has a track record of doing whatever the fuck it wants to do. And, like all of the rest of the Federal law enforcement agencies, not to mention state and local cops, they have a very hard time distinguishing between dissent and treason.

The distinction between the NSA/CIA/FBI and the KGB/MVD/Stasi seems to be mostly a matter of quibbling.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Shorter NSA: Only Al-Qaeda Sympathizers Oppose What We Do.

That's pretty much the takeaway from the NSA's critique of those who oppose unrestricted drone warfare. The NY Times continued its stenography beat by publishing anonymous smears on drone opponents by NSA functionaries.

This matters today because the Brits are using anti-terrorism laws to harass those who criticize the drone program.

George Steinbrenner's Body Lies A'spinning in the Grave

I don't follow sports. But I looked at the baseball listings because I saw a headline that the top teams in the National League Central division have so dominated their league that all three of them have clinched a playoff berth. Not sure if that's ever happened before, not that I care much.

Then I looked at the American League stats. The Yankees are in 4th place and 13 games out of first? If George Steinbrenner was still alive, he'd be taking heads.

And when the hell did Miami get a baseball team? What idiot thought it would be a good idea to play baseball in the heat/humidity of a Florida summer? Maybe that's why they've lost 100 games. They must suck so badly that the Cubs ought to sue them for trademark infringement.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Week

Things have been such this week that I've found it difficult to do any posting. I have some old friends in for a visit and we've been doing lots of stuff.

So I haven't been paying attention to the GOP's desperate moves to appease their lunatic fringe of batshit-crazy constituents. A senator who compares trying to repeal Obamacare to fighting Hitler has clearly lost his mind. But maybe not, for Cruz has always been a coldly-calculating man who would throw his grandmother into a hamburger machine if he saw a benefit to doing so.
A Harvard Law School roommate of Cruz’s told Zengerle that Cruz refused to study with anyone who hadn’t been an undergraduate at Harvard, Princeton or Yale. But when the tea party became a political force and Cruz saw a route to power, he shed his elitism and posed as a rebellious outsider.

But enough of that shit for now.

Talk amongst yourselves.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Your Sunday Morning Jet Noise

Russian Tu-22M "Backfire" bomber:

The Tu-22M doesn't look much like the Tu-22 Blinder. The Blinder was a medium-range bomber, the Backfire is a long-range bomber. The better explanation for why Tupolev designated the Backfire as a Tu-22M, rather than something like a Tu-157 is that Tupolev may have thought they would have better luck winning approval for an "improved" Tu-22 over a new project.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Long Island Express- 75 Years Ago

AKA the Great Hurricane of 1938.

It was a monster of a storm. The eye was 50 miles across. The storm was moving at the speed of a fast passenger train, estimated at 70mph, when it made landfall on Long Island and New England. When that was added to the winds of the storm itself, the winds on the eastern side of the hurricane reached over 180mph.

The storm hit during the high tides caused by a full moon. The land was saturated from earlier rains, which added to the flooding.

The damage was almost unimaginable. A few coastal towns were obliterated. Eastern Long Island, Connecticut and Rhode Island were devastated. Rescue efforts were hampered by track damage to the New Haven railroad. Hundreds died.

Few people had any warning that the storm was coming. The weather forecasters thought that the storm was tracking out to sea. And even if they had thought that it would make landfall the storm was moving about four times faster than hurricanes had been seen to move.

While a 1938 storm could happen again, it wouldn't sneak ashore, not with weather satellites and hurricane hunters keeping an eye on it.

However, the Federal government has been, over the last decade or more, extremely short-sighted in planning to replace the constellation of weather satellites.* Which is stupid based on both public-safety and military perspectives.

Expecting the politicians these days to focus on what needs to be done, rather than engaging in stupid and pointless political theater, is akin to hoping for sparkling unicorns.

* Probably because they can't drop bombs from them.

NSA Forms Its Own "Boo-Hoo Brigade"

Emperor Alexander and his Chief Lackey send out a propaganda-laced letter to all of the families of NSA employees to reassure them that they are doing good work as they shred whatever is left of Americans' civil liberties.

Of course, that's not the way that he phrased it, exactly. He did whine about the NSA spooks who had been killed in various plane crashes (and shoot-downs) during the Cold War. And he claimed that the NSA has good oversight, even though the record is clear that he and his boss have lied to Congress and the NSA has repeatedly lied to the FISA court, all without any repercussions whatsoever.

Somehow, though, I can't imagine Yuri Andropov sending out such a letter to reassure the KGB families after he got done crushing the Prague Spring. Maybe Soviet spooks were made of sterner stuff.

The Most Interesting Cat in the World

Al Gore invented the Internet so that his picture could more easily be displayed around the world.

Small rodents present themselves to him so that he may eat them.

People with severe allergies consider themselves honored to have sneezing fits caused by his dander

He is--- The Most Interesting Cat in the World.

(H/T  to CP88 for the idea)

Friday, September 20, 2013

Chill Out on Starbucks

There is a lot of commentary in the gun-blog world about Starbucks supposedly caving to the gun-control crowd.

I think you should first read the letter from their CEO.

This isn't all on them. There have been open-carry advocates who have been toting long guns into their stores. To my mind, open carry is inappropriate. In large settled areas, most people do not cotton to the sight of other folks openly carrying rifles and shotguns. The Black Panthers used to openly carry rifles and shotgun in California. Ronald Reagan fixed that right up.

Starbucks used not to care about guns. Starbucks is a business. They exist to sell (burnt and overpriced) coffee and to make money doing that. No rational businessman wants to see his company dragged into the middle of the culture wars. They want to keep their customers happy and go on about their business. Starbucks was asked by the hoplophobes to ban firearms. They refused and said that they'd just follow state and local laws. But that wasn't enough for the whackaloons, no, they had to openly carry rifles and shotguns into Starbucks to show how they appreciated Starbucks's' corporate policy.

I will say this, again: There is no decent reason for you or anyone else to be walking into a grocery store or a coffee shop with a rifle or a shotgun slung over your shoulder, not unless you're living in downtown Fallujah (or maybe Detroit). Taking a long gun into a gunshop with the action open for the gunsmith to look it over, to see if accessories fit, that's one thing. Going into Walgreens or Food Lion, that's quite another.

According to the FAA, I can hop into a 400hp turbocharged airplane and fly it back and forth over the center of my town at full throttle, 1,000' above ground, at four in the morning. But why the hell would I want to do that? Why would I want to annoy everyone?

Just because the law in your state doesn't say that you can't does not mean that you should. It's part of being a grown-up and living in a civilized society. If you need further explanation of that, I suggest that you go read this post.

Because It's Friday

A century-old Heisler locomotive:

Heislers were designed for use on logging railroads, which usually had pretty light rails and rough roadbeds. They, and their cousins, were geared down so that they produced load-hauling torque at slower speeds. The gearing also smoothed out the power pules from the pistons, which reduced wear on the tracks.


(From here)

Apparently he was put on the SWAT team because writing traffic tickets was too much of an intellectual challenge.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Bug-Man Goes Free

A Texas appeals court tossed out the criminal conviction of former US House majority leader Tom DeLay on Thursday, saying there was insufficient evidence for a jury in 2010 to have found him guilty of illegally funneling money to Republican candidates. ... The Texas third court of appeals said the evidence was "legally insufficient," and in a two to one ruling decided to "reverse the judgments of the trial court and render judgments of acquittal."
These sorts of appellate decisions rarely sit right with me, and not because it was a noted political goon that got off.

I don't like it when the appellate courts sit as a "super-jury". Whether it is a bench trial (the judge finds the facts) or a jury trial, the finder-of-fact sees the witnesses testifying. They see which witnesses appear to be evasive, which ones break out into a cold sweat. They see the demeanor of the witnesses. They see which witness says one thing when their face says something else.

Appellate judges see none of that. They see a bound series of exhibits, they read the transcripts. The only live interactions that they see are the attorneys making oral arguments. They don't get any of the flavor.

If you want an example of the difference between hearing someone and reading a transcript, you can watch/listen to Dr. King's "I've Been to the Mountaintop" speech or read the transcript.

Which one sings? Which one conveys the spirituality and intensity of Dr. King?

I say that it isn't the written transcript. The transcript is a damn fine speech. Hearing Dr. King give it makes it a great speech for oration is not just a matter of words. Words are the foundation and the framework for oration, but it is the delivery that puts on the siding and paints the structure.

There are indeed times when a jury goes off the rails. That's what the trial judge is for, for the trial judge also heard the evidence and can overturn a conviction if necessary. But the trial judge didn't.

Yes, there are times when it is proper for an appeals court to step in. But I believe that appellate court do that far, far more times than they should.

So when I read of an appellate court overturning a jury's verdict, it doesn't sit right with me.

Reformin' th' NSA?

I be not sure that it gunna be possible to fix th' NSA wit' any 'o th' people who be in charge. Thar does nah seem t' be anyone thar who does nah understand that "Nineteen Eighty-Four" was nah intended t' be an operations manual. They 'ave the opinion that they be above the code o' conduct. The NSA be a Constitution-free zone.

If our country be t' survive as a free nation, we 'ave t' replace the NSA. Or we can admit t' being a nation where the government has the power t' search our shit when it pleases 'em.

Arrr, wha' do ye say, me hearties? 'tis up t' ye.

Be ye free scallywags or be ye sheep?

(And be ye forgettin' th' day?)

There We Are, All of Us

In this shot from the Cassini space probe, that arrow points to Earth.

You probably are familiar with Carl Sagan's "Pale Blue Dot" speech, or you've seen one of the videos. Sagan was right in one of his predictions: It took decades to take another photo of the Earth from that distance. (It's actually not easy to do, the Sun has to be shielded from the camera's lens to avoid burning out the sensor.)

A long time ago, I took a night flight to LaGuardia Airport. The little airliner flew south, along the Hudson River, then turned over lower Manhattan and flew to the airport. It was as though they made a pylon turn on the Empire State Building. Manhattan glimmered like a million jewels, most of them the monochromatic glow of fluorescent lights, but there were other colors. It was very pretty.

I've flown at night over other towns. I could see the whitish glow of house lights, the orangey glow of highway lights. Traffic signals winked on and off. If there was heavy traffic on a highway, depending on which way I was looking, it was a river of either white or red lights. At lower altitudes, the different color of illuminated building signs are distinguishable.

What's not distinguishable, normally, is how people are treating one another. One can't tell if in one house, the adults are having a rip-roaring fight or in another house, if the kids are doing their homework. There, a single resident is watching TV and scratching their cat. There a single resident is drinking heavily and kicking their dog. All that is imagined, of course, for a pilot or passenger flying by overhead only sees the lights. Down lower, you might see the flashing lights of emergency vehicles. Up higher, not so much.

From Earth orbit, one can see the overall glow of cities. One can see major weather, smoke from forest fires or ash clouds from volcanoes.

Move out as far as the lunar surface, and one can see continents, oceans and clouds. From the surface of the Moon, one can't see, with the unaided eye, any sign of life on Earth.

Move out to the orbit of Saturn and all you see is a blue dot.

Move out to the vicinity of our closest stellar neighbors and all you'll see is a single point of light, indistinguishable and unremarkable when compared to any of the other points of light in the sky.

The Apollo astronauts took the first photos of the Earth as a blue marble.

There was talk at the time that it would change society worldwide, that people would see that we really are the residents of just one place in the sky, that we are all in it together, that maybe we would just start to figure out how to get along with one another. Certainly Carl Sagan had that reaction hit home when he saw the first pale blue dot image.

But it hasn't happened for the rest of us.

In this country, we are far more polarized than before. We are reaching the point where each side refuses to recognize that the other folks might have a valid point of view, or that they are even human. That sort of "hooray for me and fuck you" view is a bit more understandable among nations, but it's still a little distressing to see that the Chinese are provoking an arms race in South Asia over a bunch of uninhabitable rocks sticking out of the ocean. There are places that people have been killing over for as long as there has been recorded history.

We all can look at the blue marble and the pale blue dot photos and remark on how we're in this all together. But that seems to change nothing with regard to the daily attitudes of the hamburger-eating armed monkeys who are busily shitting all over the only home they have.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Quislings at Ma Bell (and All Other Telcos)

Now it comes to light that they all had standing to go to the FISA Court and challenge the NSA's and the FBI's vacuuming up all of our shit.

None of them did.
In its declassified opinion, the Fisa court revealed that no telecoms company has ever challenged the court's order for the bulk collection of phone records. The opinion, written by Judge Claire V Eagan, implied that by failing to challenge the legality of the programme, the phone companies were passively accepting it its constitutional status.
So even though those weasels all bleat about how they "value our customers' privacy", clearly they do no such thing.

If you pick up the phone, you can assume that the FBI and the NSA are listening in. Even if they are't right then, they can go back and do it. Which is different from Nineteen Eighty-Four, where the government minders had to be listening in to catch anything.

Grandson of Tweet?

Cessna seems to have made a direct descendant of the Tweet: the Cessna Scorpion.

I wish them well, but color me "unimpressed". The jet is not going to worth a popcorn fart in any sort of air-combat regime. So it is for surveillance and bombing targets that don't have any capability to shoot back in a meaningful way.

It is competing with, right off the top of my head: The Beech AT-6B, the Embraer Super Tucamo, the Pilaus PC-7, the Air Tractor AT-802 and the Boeing OV-10X. All of them, other than the OV-10X, are production aircraft that'll probably do everything the Scorpion can do, other than a tad bit slower (they're turboprops) and a lot cheaper (they're turboprops).*

The Air Force itself is not in love with attack-specific airplanes, given how hard they've worked over the years to kill the A-10s. The sad reality that an American military aircraft that is not adopted by the American military stands a very slim chance in the international military market, as anyone who has a passing familiarity with the F-20 can attest.
*And they're all competing with armed drones, which don't require expensively-trained pilots.

The Lies They Spread

Buried inside a story about rising violence in Iraq was this nugget of misinformation:
"The U.S. decision to withdraw its forces from Iraq by the end of 2011 was clearly one factor in al-Qaeda in Iraq's rebound, since it removed a devastatingly effective arrangement of intelligence assets, Special Forces and aerial strike teams," says Michael Knights, a fellow for The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
Really. That's a big steaming pile of revisionist right-wing bullshit.

The U.S. withdrawal from Iraq was negotiated with the Iraqi government by the Bush Administration. You might remember that, for when Bush flew to Iraq to sign the agreement, some guy threw his shoes at him. The status of forces agreement stated that all U.S. forces would be withdrawn from Iraq by the end of 2011.

The agreement was negotiated between two sovereign states. Only a complete imbecile (or a right-wing ideologue) could airily conclude that the U.S. government could airily choose to keep forces there longer.

The fact of the matter was that staying longer would have required another agreement. There were talks about such an agreement, but they broke down because the Iraqi government insisted that the activities of American forces be subject to Iraqi law and Iraqi courts, which have proved to be about as independent from the government as Russian courts. That was a deal-breaker for both sides.

As the 2008 agreement required that all American forces leave Iraq by the end of 2011 and as there was no other agreement to supersede that provision, the troops came home.

To maintain that it was a unilateral decision that could have been reversed by the Obama Administration is a pernicious revision of history.

Only Idiots Watch CNN

And if that's you, you should stop. In the first two acts of the show, Jon Stewart and his team gives plenty of evidence as to why you should not watch CNN.

Here is my humble suggestion: When there is breaking news that does not directly affect you, as in hurricanes, floods, thunderstorms, turn off the TV and go about your day. Wait for the real pros, not those talking-head morons, to bring you the story. Those clowns on cable news got so much wrong during the Navy Yard shooting story that they might as well have been working for Pravda before the fall of the Soviet-Russian Empire.

Come to think of it, most of the stories that likely would directly affect you would be weather-related and for those, you probably should tune into local stations. Or maybe the Weather Channel, where most of those folks have degrees in the subject matter.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

What Is It With Those Fucknuts At the DoJ?

Seriously. Those fuckers cannot abide by the rules and still get convictions? They have to engage in all sorts of unethical shenanigans?
A federal judge on Tuesday overturned the convictions of five New Orleans police officers tied to the shooting of unarmed civilians during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, finding that prosecutors in the case had engaged in “grotesque” misconduct.

In a blistering and meticulously detailed 129-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt found that federal prosecutors in New Orleans had anonymously posted damning online critiques of the accused officers and the New Orleans Police Department before and during the 2011 trial, a breach of professional ethics that had the effect of depriving the officers of their rights to a fair trial.
I'm guessing that the judge's ruling is going to be furnished to the state bar that licensed those prosecutors. This is the same sort of bullshit that went on under the last two AGs. Are these clowns left over from the pack of morons that were hired because they were "good little Bushies"? Or are these fresh, new morons?

Some serious housecleaning is in order.

Costa Concordia Timelapse

The rotation rate really picked up in the last part.

Now they have to hope that the underwater platforms will hold her until the salvagers can attach the sponsons to the starboard side of the ship.

Meanwhile, her captain is trying to lie low.

Monday, September 16, 2013

CC-Salvage Update

Screenshot from the live feed a few minutes before 7PM EDT:

2-1/2 hours later:

Remember, the ship is still sunk. They've gotten her off the rocks she was on (you can see the damage to her starboard side), but she's still a sunken wreck. Only now, her hull is resting on a very large platform to keep her from sliding down the slope of the sea bottom into deep water. They'll attach sponsons to her starboard side, then they'll pump out the sponsons on both sides to float her.

Once they do that, the ship will be off to be broken up for scrap. The salvage divers will then remove the platform and everything else.

NYPD Does It Again

They shot a crazy man who was armed only with a Metro card. And so, in a crowded area, the cops opened fire, hitting only bystanders.

Apparently he pointed his finger at the cops. And since the cops couldn't tell a finger from a Glock, they went into bangity mode.

There are a few things at play. First off, as BadTux has noted before,* there is a cult of "officer safety" that holds that cops are to do anything and everything to avoid putting their bodies at risk.** Second, the NYPD requires very heavy trigger pulls on their sidearms. It's damn near self-evident that very heavy triggers will yield crappy shooting guns.

Not that things are going to change anytime soon. It'd take NYPD brass who actually understood something about firearms and who were willing to shout down the City's lawyers to fix this.***
* You'll have to find it on your own. I'm feeling lazy and I'm not getting paid for this.
** They leave being heroes to the firefighters.
*** So the white-shirts will stick to pepper-spraying corralled women.

Salvaging the Costa Concordia (Update)

You can see the flotation boxes in this shot.

They seem to have moved her about ten degrees.

From some of the shots on the video feed, you can see the ship moving. Look for the closeups of the hull where all of the cables are attached, you can see the padeyes move relative to the background landscape.

Salvaging the Costa Concordia

They are attempting to right the ship in a process called "parbuckling". You can see the line of muck on the superstructure as they begin the process:

From what I've read, they've welded flotation boxes to the side of the ship. They'll pull her upright, float her up and tow her away for scrapping. Lots can go wrong, she could break in two or roll over the other way down the slope of the sea floor. The area is part of a marine sanctuary, so leaving her there to rot, scrapping her in place or pushing the hulk into deeper water are all out of the question.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

More NSA Fuckery: This Isn't the Google You're Looking For

The NSA has been impersonating Google and, quite possibly, with Google's knowledge. So it's possible that while you thought that you were using any number of Goggle's services, you were really feeding all of your online shit through the NSA.
The NSA codeword for this is "Flying Pig". It's called a "man-in-the-middle" attack and it works like this:
NSA employees log into an internet router—most likely one used by an internet service provider or a backbone network. (It's not clear whether this was done with the permission or knowledge of the router's owner.) Once logged in, the NSA redirects the "target traffic" to an "MITM," a site that acts as a stealthy intermediary, harvesting communications before forwarding them to their intended destination.
Browsers are supposed to detect MITM attacks by looking for a "certificate of authority", but the NSA makes their own copies (or gets them from Google) and your browser is fooled.

So the NSA doesn't need to break SSL encryption to read your shit. By impersonating Google (or Lord knows how many others), you send your shit to them, they copy it and pass it on to the real Google. In old terms, they're steaming open your mail, copying it, and re-mailing it.

And if the NSA can do this, who else is doing it? When you're buying shit from Amazon or booking flights on Expedia/Kayak, who else is seeing what you do?

What that means is when you are on a secure web page and you see the little lock symbol, that means nothing anymore.

Congratulations, NSA. You fuckers just broke the Internet as an engine of retail commerce. If people stop trusting the Internet, down goes Amazon, Zappos, Priceline and so on and so forth.

But that's what can happen when you put someone in charge who is apparently a little bit crazy.

Your Sunday Morning Jet Noise

The Cessna Dragonfly, aka the Tweet.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Up in the Air

It looks like a CAVOK day where I am, but if you were to climb to 4,000 feet or so above ground, you'd see the haze lawyer that is enveloping the ground:

You are breathing that shit.

This is a rotating beacon at a small airport. The beacon tower itself may be a survivor from the days of the lighted airways.

I find it hard to regard Maule airplanes with tricycle gear as being anything other than an abomination in the eyes of the Gods of Aviation.

Putting tricycle gear on a Maule is like putting tires with a M speed rating on a Porsche.

A rather pretty Cessna 150:

Sen. Feinstein Says That You Suck and She Hates You

First, let's get this out: The discussion is not about limiting the First Amendment. It's about enacting a Federal shield law to (mostly) prevent DasGov from forcing reporters to divulge their sources.[1] Feinstein wanted the definition of "journalist" to be limited to those who get paid by dead-tree, radio or television news outlets. Bloggers who promulgate news, even if they break stories, aren't journalists to the Mighty DiFi. So the bozos distinguished members of the Senate discussed the matter.

My gut feeling is to just go with this response:

(Disclamer:  She is far younger and prettier than me.)

Without looking at it, I'll bet that this proposed Federal shield law is rife with exceptions and other holes that any decent Federal prosecutor could drive a bus through. But the notion that the imbeciles who crayon out our laws lawmakers are now going to write into law a definition of what is a "journalist" troubles me.

Are we going to have a "First Amendment Enhanced" for Federally-approved reporters and a "First Amendment Lite" for the rest of us?

What happens if a number of people in a town were to get together and create an Internet news blog about their town? Contributors would go to different government hearings, attend trials and write about them. Wouldn't that be "journalism"?

My fear, though, is that this new shield law is going to be used to chip away at the First Amendment rights of everyone else. Which is probably what DiFi had in mind from the start.

Look I make no bones about considering myself to be a liberal. The description at the top of this blog is largely unchanged from when I started.

However, I am now at the point that whenever Dianne Feinstein is taking a position on anything, I have to wonder whether the other side of the argument has merit and I consider it.

[1] Assuming that the reporter practices strict digital security.


Two shelter kittens at an adoption event.

There were three of them, one found a forever home.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Because It's Friday

A PRR K-4 in the 1980s.

The Pennsy built hundreds of them. Two survive. The K-4 is the Official State Locomotive of Pennsylvania.

There's always one asshole ruining the shot. Foamers used to call them "lens lice".

Thursday, September 12, 2013

This Trailer Would Have Saved Me Five Bucks

Five Eyes Plus One

The "plus one" being Israel.
The National Security Agency routinely shares raw intelligence data with Israel without first sifting it to remove information about US citizens, a top-secret document provided to the Guardian by whistleblower Edward Snowden reveals.
The NSA says that they trust the Israelis to delete any sensitive information about American citizens and not even read it. Because the Israelis said that they would.

Ya, sure, you betcha.

Only an idiot would trust a spy agency to adhere to its word. There is no honor among spies.

Say, for discussion, that the Israelis look through the data and find out that a straight-laced American politician, one who is not a reliable vote for them, has a boyfriend on the side. Say that the politician is married to a woman. Which do you think will happen: (a) The Israelis say "oh, we can't do anything with this, we promised the NSA"; or (b) The Israelis use that information as leverage.

Another possibility is that the NSA is deliberately giving the Israelis raw data on Americans so that the Israelis can do the sort of analysis that the NSA is not supposed to do. There have been persistent allegations that the NSA already has a similar arrangement with the other members of the Five Eyes cabal.

The articles on this story all note that Israel has, of all nations who spy on us, one of the more aggressive collection efforts going, right up there with China and Russia and only exceeded by the NSA itself. So isn't handing intelligence data to the Israelis like a 7-11 owner standing at the door to the store and giving out cash to known thieves?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

An Appropriate Song for Today

Guess What Day It Is?

Oh, and it's also the anniversary of the acceleration of this nation's slide into becoming a police state.

To my mind, what all of the commemorations of 9-11 are showing is that this nation has a glass jaw.

(More of my stuff here. I'll keep beating this drum regarding the increasing encroachment of the national surveillance/police state on the liberties we once held dear. Even if it's kind of depressing that I've been writing about this for six fucking years, now.)

And no, it's not Patriots Day. This is. Stop calling it that.

It's Not Who Answers Opinion Polls, It's Who Shows Up at the Polls

The gun control crowd likes to proclaim that a majority of Americans are on their side, but when there is an election that turns on the question, well, how come they lose?
In an unprecedented backlash, two state lawmakers who helped stiffen Colorado's gun laws were ousted Tuesday in a recall that turned into a nationally watched referendum on gun control.

Colorado Senate President John Morse, who shepherded the legislation to passage, was defeated on a 51%-49% vote. Sen. Angela Giron of Pueblo, a fellow Democrat who voted in favor of the measures, lost 56% to 44%. They were replaced by Republicans who opposed the new restrictions.
What really bugged me about this was the constant series of emails that I got from different Democratic political groups as to how the Colorado recall election was "an assault on democracy" or crap to that effect. Yet a couple of years ago, when recall elections were being held in Wisconsin, the same groups were raising money for the challengers.

On the East Coast, even NYC voters can get to the point where they can't tolerate shenanigans. Anthony Weiner was crushed in the primary for mayor. He was the front-runner until it came to light that he was too stupid/arrogant to learn from being caught in one sexting scandal, no he had to do it again. Weiner was shelled in the primary.

Eliot Spitzer tossed in a huge amount of money to try to become the next City Comptroller (normally a pretty obscure job), he still lost the primary

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

How Can You Tell That a NSA Offical (or Johns Hopkins University Dean) Is Lying?

Because he (or she) is breathing.
The National Security Agency on Tuesday declassified a sheaf of documents that show repeated violations of its own privacy instructions for its bulk databases of Americans' phone records. ... They also indicate that US government officials, including NSA director Keith Alexander, gave misleading statements to the court about how they carried out that surveillance.
Now if you were to lie to a Federal court about something, the judge would regard that as "perjury" and you'd be off to prison for about five years.

But when Emperor Alexander lies to a judge, not so much. That's a "misleading statement" and nothing's going to happen to him.

Because obeying the law is for little people, nor for rarefied folks such as Emperor Alexander, Jimmy the Liar Clapper, and, of course, the banksters.

As for John Hopkins University, they got their tits in a wringer because a Dean ordered a blogger associated with the University to take down a blog post.

Like most inept administrators who have been caught doing something similarly stupid, their stories kept changing. First it was that the blogger was "linking to classified materials", when what he was doing was linking to news stories. Once that bit of fuckery was dragged out into the sunlight, the story changed to "we told him to take it down because he was using the NSA logos in his story." Which is where the administrators inadvertently revealed their inability to comprehend basic English:
Sec. 15. (a) No person may, except with the written permission
of the Director of the National Security Agency, knowingly use the
words 'National Security Agency', the initials 'NSA', the seal of
the National Security Agency, or any colorable imitation of such
words, initials, or seal in connection with any merchandise,
impersonation, solicitation, or commercial activity in a manner
reasonably calculated to convey the impression that such use is
approved, endorsed, or authorized by the National Security Agency.
(Emphasis mine)
That's pretty clear, right? Commentary about the NSA doesn't fit. Neither does satire. So this would be legal:

But Zazzle didn't see it that way. Because neither does the NSA. They skip over the part about reasonably calculated to convey the impression that such use is approved, endorsed, or authorized by the National Security Agency.


(But you can buy them from Cafe Press)

Monday, September 9, 2013

What We Have Here Is: Failure to Communicate; Caturday Edition

Jake was going into and out of the litterbox this morning. He was yowling when he was there. That's what he does when he is constipated, so I gave him a stool softener.*

A bit later, I went into the laundry/utility room where I keep his litterbox. He had torn apart my stack of recyclables and scattered the collection of plastic bags.**

At that point, it was clear that he was protesting the condition of the litterbox, in that the level was too low for his sensibilities. I added litter. Jake stopped complaining.

George (peace be upon him) would have just shit next to the litterbox to signal his displeasure.
* Understand that "giving" in this context means "grab the cat and shove a capsule down his throat."

** I take those back to the store for recycling.

NSA, FBI, Hell, Might As Well Merge Them

This is somewhat old news, but the FBI wants the authority to listen in to your communications without getting a warrant. In essence, they want to "Clipper Chip" your use of VoIP, Skype, and every other form of communications.

Oh, of course, they'll only use it for going after bad guys and not political dissidents or people who would like to keep some shred of privacy.

What's 70 Million Smackers Here or There?

At least that jarhead Marine got a nice photo of himself to commemorate the crash.

The Swedish Stalkers (and More NSA Stuff).

Among the many thoughts in this blog post is one that basically lays out the case why Microsoft is evil. The argument is that because MS does everything closed-source, there are all sorts of vulnerabilities and, as the NSA revelations are showing, some of them are deliberate.

The MTAHNS wanted to let the NSA search domestic emails, so the FISA court obligingly reversed an earlier ruling. Which probably is illustrative to the so-called independent judiciary that is the FISA Court.

Over the weekend, one of the blogs in one of my blogrolls* featured a number of Abba songs, including this one:

Maybe it was a nice song 35 or so years ago, but nowadays, with lyrics such as this verse:
'Cause you know I've got so much that I wanna do
When I dream I'm alone with you it's magic
You want me to leave it there afraid of a love affair
But I think you know that I can't let go
It seems kind of like a stalker's anthem. If someone sends you a link to that song as a token of their affection for you, you may want to think about locking your doors and loading your guns.

"Lock and load"-- heh.
* I know, I have a shitload of blogs there.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

More NSA Fuckery: You Might Want to Go Back to an Old-Fashioned Address Book

Whatever you have on your smartphone: Documents, lists of contacts, semi-porno selfies, the NSA has access to it. For they have cracked into all of them: iPhones, Androids, Blackberries, pretty much everything. (H/T)

It may be that the Brits persuaded Blackberry, Ltd., a Canadian company, to engineer in a back-door. Blackberry denies it.

So as far as keeping your data safe, forget any company located within the "Five Eyes".

Oh by the way, the Obama Administration apparently has a plan to salt the Federal judiciary with new judges who love the National Surveillance State, based on the nomination of Valerie Caproni to be a Federal judge. She was a top FBI lawyer who loved the idea of illegal surveillance and who allegedly lied about the scope of it.

To the NSA, Using Encryption is like "Furtive Movements" to the NYPD

The NSA apparently takes the position that using encryption to protect the privacy of your communications is a sign that you're doing something wrong. Their police-state view is that you shouldn't have anything to hide from them if you're not breaking the law.

It goes beyond that, for even talking about privacy and encryption and the NSA's reading your shit is enough to get you promoted to the list of "possible terrorist adversary".

In essence, if you take steps to preserve your freedom to be left alone, the NSA may turn its attention to you. Because only people who are criminals would lock their electronic doors.

Think about that for a second. Suppose the local cops told everyone that locking the doors to their houses was an indication of criminal activity, because only crooks would object to John Law strolling in through the door to rummage through their shit?

How do you think that would sit with most people? Not well, I hazard.

So why do we let the NSA get away with copping a similar attitude?

Have we truly changes from "the land of the free" to "a field of sheeple"?

Your Sunday Morning Jet Noise

Sukhoi Su-27, NATO code name: Flanker.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Because Fuck You, NSA

Because fuck you in making the Internet a government spying tool.

Because fuck you for destroying any premise of a private e-mail.

Because fuck you for creating an internal spying regime that would have been the envy of the Stasi and the KGB.

Because fuck you for creating an internal spying regime that made the tinfoil-hat crazies seem downright pedestrian.

Because fuck you for not recognizing that Americans have a Constitutional right to not be spied on by their own government without a specific search warrant.

Because fuck you for your rubber-stamp Federal court that approves blanket search warrants.

Because fuck you for regarding the American citizens as adversaries.

NSA: Fuck all y'all

(My PGP Public key is after the break)

Gaining a Rep?

Like a lot of gunnies, I seem to be engaged in a perpetually useless do-loop known as "The Hunt for .22 Rimfire". I don't do it a lot, but if I'm going by a LGS and I have the time to stop, I sometimes stop in.

I went into one this week. The owner and I know each other by sight only. I've never seen him at the range I use or at any of the matches that I've shot in.

He greeted me when I walked in the door thusly: "Hi. Hey, I hear that you shot a Mosin at a 3-gun match."

I replied: "Yeah, and a Krag."

"Not exactly your 'high-speed, low-drag' match rifle."

"Yeah, well, I didn't come in last."

So now, I'm the local eccentric match shooter. There are probably worse reputations to have.

Yay!! It's Caturday!!

Jake was ready for his portrait.

When he burrows in for a nap, sometimes he just doesn't go a little ways under the covers, no sir, he goes deep!

Could Obama be Impeached for Attacking Syria?

If the vote fails in the Congress, it's possible.

In 1973, the Congress enacted the War Powers Resolution. Nixon vetoed it, but his veto was overridden and the bill became law. There are three permitted reasons for a president to order forces into combat: Congress declares war, Congress passes specific authorization, or a national emergency is created by an attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces.

That's it. There is no statutory authorization for this president (or any other) to open hostilities with another nation because they are alleged to have committed atrocities against their own people. I submit to you, Gentle Reader, that the President has no more authority to do that than the commander of an infantry battalion.

President Obama could have just started the bombing, like President Clinton did in Kosovo, and basically say to Congress "yeah, so what". But he didn't, he chose to ask Congress for authorization to attack Syria.

If he doesn't get congressional authorization to attack and then does so anyway, Congress should vote to impeach him.* Otherwise, we might as well march on the National Archives and burn their original copy of the Constitution.
* Not that President "Warning Shot" Biden will be any great improvement.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Because It's Friday

PRR T-1s. This is old film, back before amateurs did much with sound film.

T-1s had some advantages. Their running gear was much lighter than that of a simplex eight-wheeled locomotive, reducing both vibration to the engine and track wear. The T-1s were reported to be ungodly fast. They also were harder to maintain and they were so powerful it was possible to slip the drivers at 100mph.

Baldwin made 52 T-1 locomotives for the PRR. None survive.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

zOMG! FBI Says Only Terrorists Pay with Cash at a Coffee Shop

Yes, indeedy, our Fearless Fosdicks at the FBI think that buying a cup of joe with cash is a sign of terroristic intent.  My local coffee shop, which likes most others, has WiFi, won't take plastic for under $5.  So everyone's a terrorist.

And so, by the way, is getting the same tattoo as your friends (read the one for tattoo parlors). So all those grunts or jarheads who get unit tattoos, they're watching yer asses. Same for you foamers ("general public" one) or people who don't want others to see the screens of their laptops (Internet cafes).

I think that we need more budget cuts, gang.


Did You Buy an Off-the Shelf Encryption System?
If You Did, Guess Who Is Reading Your Shit.

The NSA and their British butt-monkeys, the GCHQ. the NSA has managed to gain control of the U.S. encryption standards process to ensure that they have the ability to read your shit.

So all the stuff that the banks tell you that your online banking is secure is a lie. The NSA can go and fuck with your shit any time they want.

All the assurances that your medical records are secure are lies, lies, and more lies. DasGov can go surfing around them any time they feel the urge.

On another note, the MTAHNS is now saying that they are open to the idea of new legislation to try to curb the NSA.

First off, I have zero confidence that the NSA would pay attention. Telling spies that they can listen to X but not Y is like telling a cat that she can claw up your chair, but not your sofa.

Second, it is worth repeating everywhere that none of this discussion, absolutely none of it, would be happening without Ed Snowden having blown his whistle. Much of it has been known for years, but not all of what he has revealed.

You can bet your last paycheck that our spooks would very much like to dump his carcass into an abandoned mineshaft. For he has pulled back the curtain on their rotten edifice of lies and backdoors into systems once thought secure.

GOP Sells Out Property Owners

You know, the same GOP that likes to brag about how it's for small government and capitalism and respecting the rights of property owners?

Ayup. Except when the oil and gas industry wants in, that is. For in North Carolina, the GOP controlled legislature wants to force property owners to sell their mineral rights to gas companies.

Isn't that a form of corporate socialism? And note that the communist-controlled states of Arkansas and Virginia already do it.

Is Washington an Iranian Vassal?

For it seems that almost everything that we try to do in the Middle East/Western Asia ends up benefiting the Iranians in some way.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

More Bullshit from the Secretary of Bullshit

Secretary of State John Kerry discussed President Obama's plan for a military strike on Syria, testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday afternoon. ... "President Obama is not asking America to go to war," Kerry said.And this:
“We don’t want to go to war. We don’t believe we are going to go war in the classic sense of taking American troops and America to war,” Kerry said [to Rand Paul].
Let's try a little thought experiment, shall we? Take a cricket bat, walk up to Mr. Kerry and smack him full on the nose. Then tell him: "I don't want to start a fight with you, we're not fighting in the classic sense of the word." Attacking another nation is an act of war, period. Full stop. If our military committed some wrong and the Chinese retaliated by firing a bunch of cruise missiles into Los Angeles, would we respond: "Oops, you were right. Our bad." or would we respond: "Game's on, motherfucker."?

No matter how it gets dressed up by Mr. Kerry, attacking another nation who has not harmed us (or a nation who we are bound to by treaty) is an act of war.

We are not the world's grown-ups or cops. We don't get to hand out beatings to other nations who transgress on international law. That is the job of the United Nations. And if the UN can't get its shit together, whether because of Russian intransigence or any other reason, too fucking bad. There is not another nation that is privileged in this matter to ask us to take their side. Presuming that a chemical attack took place, if any nation wants to indict Bashir Assad for a war crime, they are free to try and arrest him and to bring him before their own courts or before the War Crimes Tribunal.

The only national interest we have, so far as I can see, is because ol' Barry ran his mouth a year ago about "red lines" and now we may have to make good on that. But if you note, he's been proclaiming that it's not his red line, but the world's. So fine. That's the UN's job.

Another response would be to point out the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, except that the Japanese damn well intended to go to war and, in point of fact, delivered a declaration of war just after the attack.

In a World Filled With War and Strife.....

... there are the usual inanities to fret about.

First, the species known as "Assholus Parkerii". This particular specimen took up four spaces for his duallie:

I wonder when he'll realize that not having fenders over the outboard wheels will mean that he's going to spray the side of his shiny truck with mud and shit every time he goes for a drive when the road isn't bone-dry. My guess is that it's an after-market mod. And of course, no mud flaps, because if he doesn't care about spewing mud all over his truck, he's not going to give a shit about spraying it all over yours.

Second up, a new movie: Riddick, a sequel to The Chronicles of Riddick, a movie that did so well that it took them nine years to try again (and was itself a sequel to Pitch Black, which might have been marginally profitable.) One reason for the nine-year gap was that Chronicles barely avoided being a flop, just making back its production budget.

I gather that Riddick is popular with SciFi gamers, but I kind of doubt that there are enough of them to obsessively see this movie enough times for it to make any real money. Vin Diesel, as an actor, seems to pretty much play one character in every movie I've seen. Nothing wrong with that, if you can pull it off, John Wayne did, but Diesel ain't the Duke.

(As for Syria, well, I suspect that cake is baked.)

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Those Who Love Our Freedoms and Liberties, Stand Ready!

Stand ready, for the Constitution may need you to speak out to preserve it.

Assuming that the Obama Administration gets the concurrence of the Congress and then attacks Syria to show that "we had to do something, dammit", I think it is a reasonable bet that there will be an answer from the Syrian regime.

That "answer" may take the form of a terrorist attack or two.

Which means we have to be ready to push back, hard, against the "give up more of your liberties and we'll keep you safe, ya sure, you betcha" crowd of people like Rep. Peter King (R, IRE) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-Fainting Couch).

And we should be grateful that former Sen. Joe Lieberman is now off clubbing baby seals, or whatever he's doing to keep himself amused.

Regime Change and Wing-Walking

One of the first rules of wing-walking is to never let go of one wing strut until you have a firm grasp on the next one.

That rule ought to apply to regime change. Some of our more hawkish politicians (Miss Lindsey and Mr. McCain, for two) are frothing at the mouth for regime change in Syria, but they have nothing much to say about what any new regime should look like.

I submit to you, Gentle Reader, that there are two poster children for why we should avoid the temptation to push for regime change: Libya and Iraq. Both nations were ruled by dictators who ruled their nations with a strong and brutal hand. We effected regime change.

Libya is now a failed state, though, to be fair, the same could have also been said of the American Confederation. The Libyans may be able to get their act together. The weight of history in such situations, would indicate otherwise.

Iraq was a strategic buffer against Iran. After we effected regime change (and then left, per the terms of our agreement with the new government), Iraq became a nation that is somewhere between an ally of Iran and a vassal of Iran. The government there is becoming less democratic as time passes, the internal security (which was tenuous) is deteriorating, and it is only a matter of time before the government becomes a dictatorship.

Using force to effect regime change is like taking a hammer to a glass table-top and then expecting the shards to reassemble themselves.

But the pro-war neo-cons and their sympathizers in the Obama Administration (I'm looking at you, Susan Rice and John Kerry) seem to think that this time will somehow be different. I submit to you that the classic rule: "the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and hoping for a different result" applies.

Once again, this fifty year old song seems to be appropriate:

Monday, September 2, 2013

Bank of America: Can We Start With the Guillotines, Already?

I know someone who is trying to do a short sale. Bank of America (the "Banksters") holds the mortgage. They are being wholly uncooperative.

The Seller cannot send papers to the Banksters by email or regular mail. Everything has to go to a central fax machine. When the file gets transferred from one desk to another, the Banksters take the contents of the file, shake it over a trash can, and then demand that the Seller send everything again.

This has happened, for some of the documents, six times. Documents that have been sent several times previously all of a sudden are not readable. Information that is clearly present on the papers that were fed into the fax machine are deemed to be missing by the Banksters.

The Banksters' objective is clear: Say that they are cooperating with the government's plan on short sales while making it impossible for those sales to be conducted. Because what they want to do is foreclose on people, sell the properties for a pittance, and then go after the borrowers for the difference.

In a just world, the entire upper management of the Bank of America would already have their heads mounted on pikes.

And maybe, just maybe, we'll get around to doing just that.

New AT&T Slogan: "Reach Out and Wiretap Someone."

AT&T has been giving phone records, going back to 1987, to the DEA and other cops. All the cops have to do is give Ma Bell a glorified letter and AT&T just coughs it right up.*

Hell, AT&T even has their people sitting next to the DEA in offices around the country to make it easier for the narco-feds to get the information they want. And the DEA pays AT&T for loaning them people.

Don't bother switching to another phone carrier, for Narcing-Bell is giving them everything that goes across the U.S. phone system.

Because the information is collected by a corporation (rather than the NSA) and then sold to the government, that's supposed to be OK? For that is the quibble that the DoJ's spokes-troll ladled out to the reporters.

No such thing as "private communications" anymore. Not unless you're having it face-to-face and you've left your cell phones behind (and you're where they can't get a mike trained at you).

Oh, and as to the revelation that the NSA is spying on foreign leaders, well no fucking shit. That's their goddamned job.
* They call it an "adminstrative subpoena", which is bullshit, for no judge signs off on them.

They're Always Ready To See Us Shed Our Blood and Treasure; Middle Easten Edition

Israel and Saudi Arabia have little love for each other but both are pressing their mutual friend in the White House to hit President Bashar al-Assad hard.
At an Arab League meeting in Cairo on Sunday evening, foreign ministers passed a resolution pressing the United Nations and the global community to “take the deterrent and necessary measures against the culprits of this crime that the Syrian regime bears responsibility for,” according to Reuters.
Here's a suggestion to the Arab League: You guys all have various flavors of fighter jets.

So you do it.

Let's see you send your own people into harms way for a change. Let's see you guys spend your own money to fix a problem in your own part of the fucking world. Sure, well be happy to supply intel and shit like that.

But let's see you guys do the trigger-pulling this time.

Oh, I know why you won't. Your armies are really glorified police forces. Their jobs are to suppress dissent and control your own populations, not to go make war. And you don't want the blood of your neighbors on your hands.

Tough shit. Step up to the plate.

DoD: Progress, Hah!

Following some comments on yesterday's jet noise post, notably the point that the Colombians and others are flying Boeing 767 aerial tankers while our own Air Force is still using mostly KC-135s, I started looking into procurement times.

KC-135: Three years from the time that the AF said "we want a jet tanker" to the first one in service.

KC-10: Nine years from the AF first doing trials with jumbo jets to initial service, though the RFP for the program came out three years after the flight tests, so maybe six years is fair.

KC-45A: If Boeing makes them on time, it will be at least seventeen years.

In all cases, no new airframes were developed, though the KC-135 was based on the "Dash 80", of which one was flying at the time and which hadn't gone into production.

Based on that, given that the AF won't/can't buy enough KC-45As to replace their KC-135/-10s, they're going to have to buy another tanker. And given that the AF has planned retirement dates for the KC-135s and KC-10s of 2040 and 2043, respectively, they need to issue the RFP for the next tanker right the fuck now. Because it's going to take them thirty years to go from handing out the RFP to accepting the first one and they're already late.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Hornaday's Running Hard!


Your Sunday Morning Jet Noise

Columbian Air Force Kfirs

You'll also see a Boeing 767 that the Israelis converted into an air tanker for the Columbians.