Words of Advice:

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

"
Flying the Airplane is More Important than Radioing Your Plight to a Person on the Ground Who is Incapable of Understanding or Doing Anything About It." -- Unknown

"There seems to be almost no problem that Congress cannot, by diligent efforts and careful legislative drafting, make ten times worse." -- Me

"What the hell is an `Aluminum Falcon'?" -- Emperor Palpatine

"Eck!" -- George the Cat

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Spoofing the Readers

Via Phil comes word that it's possible to put together a wearable piece of kit that will negate facial recognition. It can possibly make the facial recognition gizmos think you're someone else. The attack on facial recognition is invisible to the naked eye and, if tuned right, can spoof the machines into thinking you're someone else.

Imagine the possibilities. A robber could knock over a joint and the security cameras would think that it was Donald Trump.

What I want to know is if the same thing would work to spoof license plate readers. Because screwing that shit up would be righteous work.

San Bernardino Terrorist Case: The Lies of the FBI

You might recall the case of the San Bernardino terrorist, where the FBI was going to court to try and make apple design and install an iPhone update on everyone's phones so the FBI could crack them at will. The FBI was telling teh court that there was no was on Earth, truly, to get into an iPhone otherwise.

Except there was, and the FBI's case to force Apple in install FBI-sanctioned spyware fell apart.

Now, it seems, that there was a group of goons in the FBI who knew all that and deliberately lied to both the FBI's leadership and to the courts. Because they didn't want to have to go to the trouble of cracking an iPhone each time.

Will the clowns in the Cryptologic and Electronic Analysis Unit who lied to both their bosses and to the courts be disciplined for that?

Don't hold yer breath.

No, That's Not What They Meant, Miss Borden


Home Depot may want to rethink putting that slogan on some of their tools.

Caturday

Max:


This was sent to me by Max's Chief of Staff.

Trump Doesn't Care About Amazon

President* Donald Trump is again attacking online retailer Amazon.com, calling its business deal with the U.S. Postal Service to deliver packages a money-losing agreement that hurts U.S. taxpayers. Federal regulators, however, have found the contract with Amazon to be profitable
.No, Spanky doesn't give a fuck about Amazon. Not in the least.

But what Spanky does care about is the daily non-consensual beating that he is taking in the Washington Post. Which is owned by Lord Bezos. Who also owns a fair chunk of Amazon. Bezos is probably worth between 20 and 2,000 times what Trump is worth (since nobody really knows what Trump is truly worth).

So Spanky is doing what he does best: Telling lies in an attempt to discredit his critics.

Dear California: Fuck You

Some pack of raving busybodies convinced a low-wattage judge in California that coffee can cause cancer.

Nobody else, other than those loons, is apparently concerned.

I tend to wonder how much those clowns are going to make from bringing their litigation.

Because it'll be too expensive to make California-specific shit, we ar all going to be inundated with labels warning us that not only is hot coffee is hot, but there is some risk of it causing cancer. even though there is, apparently, no studies that show that the chemical the mouth-breathing pants-wetters are complaining about is of any risk.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Shut off Your Fingerprint Scanner

It allows the cops to open your mobile phone without your consent.

It's not a big stretch to suggest that they're doing this to the living and then using the doctrine of parallel construction to get around those tacky issues of illegal searching and the fruit of the poisonous tree.

Optics over Competence

There is a lot of concern about President Spanky's selection of Navy Read Admiral Jackson to run the Veterans Administration.

The VA is a huge operation. It has over 360,000 employees, 170 medical centers and over a thousand separate clinics.

Jackson's management experience seems to be limited to supervision of a "trauma platoon". Granted, I have no idea what a trauma platoon does on a day to day basis. They seem to be a self-contained mobile ER. But a platoon is pretty fucking small unit. A rifle platoon has about 40 soldiers and it is led by a butter bar (2nd lieutenant). It's probably not a far stretch to suggest that a trauma platoon doesn't differ greatly in size.

What does differ is the leadership. The platoon commander in an infantry unit is, essentially, a training job. The trauma platoon CO is a physician who is experienced at working in an ER and who is qualified to supervise one.

But that job is not one that lends itself to administering a hospital, let alone hundreds of hospitals and clinics. There is nothing that is coming to light about Admiral Jackson's background that suggests to any degree, that he has the skill set to manage an extremely large and convoluted organization. If the goal was to fix the VA, there are people out there who have experience in managing large hospital corporations.

Jackson, to his credit, is pretty much following the orders of his CinC. But the reality is that he's basically been told to start walking around a minefield and see if anything blows him up. His only qualification is that Spanky likes him. As far as that goes, it'd be about the same as if he promoted the White House Gardener to run the Department of Agriculture.

The nomination of Admiral Jackson as the Secretary of the Veterans Administration should be rejected by the Senate, for both the good of the country and for the good of Admiral Jackson.

Because It's Friday

Cold-weather English steam:

Thursday, March 29, 2018

The Rancid Stench of Obstruction of Justice

A lawyer for President* Trump broached the idea of Mr. Trump’s pardoning two of his former top advisers, Michael T. Flynn and Paul Manafort, with their lawyers last year, according to three people with knowledge of the discussions.

The discussions came as the special counsel was building cases against both men, and they raise questions about whether the lawyer, John Dowd, who resigned last week, was offering pardons to influence their decisions about whether to plead guilty and cooperate in the investigation.
Dowd might want to accelerate the process of hiring his own attorney who is good at white-collar criminal defense.

Meanwhile, if Abraham Lincoln had a "Team of Rivals", then, by comparison, Spanky is building a Team of Toadies. We'll be lucky if he doesn't order Swedish to be our national language.

Also, Putin's investment isn't paying off very well. His ambassador is, essentially, persona non grata without having to suffer the indignity of being expelled.

Rule Books Are Made of Paper. They Will Not Cushion a Sudden Meeting of Stone and Metal

So sayeth Ernest K. Gann in his classic work, Fate is the Hunter.

It is equally true of restraining orders. All they do is, if your assailant lives, he can be faced with additional charges.

(H/T)

Any type of defensive weapon is not a magic talisman. Unless you can carry around a 105mm howitzer or a 5" naval rifle in your pocket, there is nothing that you can use that will guarantee stopping a determined attacker. But not having any ability to fight off an attacker pretty much guarantees that he's going to have a wide-open road to do you harm.

This, to my mind, is my major objection to the gun-banners. To make this personal, I am well into AARP range. I had a really good health scare recently, of the "you will take a dirt nap soon if this isn't fixed" kind.[1] I also do the kind of work that, from time to time, has the capacity to generate enemies.[2]

So you tell me: How am I to defend myself against a critter[3] who is stronger and much younger than I? Please also keep in mind that I have lived in places where a reasonable response time for a full-out distress 911 call was a minimum of fifteen minutes or longer. Even in a town or city with its own police force, a response time of over five minutes is not unreasonable. Five minutes when somebody is trying to do you harm is an eternity. Those response times, by the way, assume that nothing else is going on.[4]

Less likely is a whole-scale breakdown of civil order, but we have seen that happen at least twice in the last few decades, where the police in major American cities ceded the field to the forces of chaos (and in one instance, were instrumental in spreading chaos). Only an utter fool would believe that will never happen again.

But to return to the issue of personal defense: One doesn't have to dig too deeply into reports to find incidents in which two or three critters broke into homes occupied by elderly or infirm residents.[5] Oh, sure, there are people who believe this:


But they are delusional. That pretty young girl is likely not going to fend off a 6'4", 250lb man who is motivated to do her harm. An elderly or infirm individual isn't, either. I, for sure, am not able to do that. I would need a weapon. My weapon of choice throws heavy enough chunks of copper and lead at velocities that have the probability of giving a critter cause to regret his course of action. I see no reason why I should be required to give that up in order to appease the injured sensibilities of a bunch of people who have neither experienced the joys of being personally assaulted, nor have had anyone attempt to break into their homes. Nor have they engaged in a serious thought-exercise to contemplate what their response would be if they are assaulted.

Marko Kloos wrote, eleven years ago:
The gun is the only personal weapon that puts a 100-pound woman on equal footing with a 220-pound mugger, a 75-year old retiree on equal footing with a 19-year old gangbanger, and a single gay guy on equal footing with a carload of drunk guys with baseball bats. The gun removes the disparity in physical strength, size, or numbers between a potential attacker and a defender.
A 19th Century poem about the Colt revolver said:
Be not afraid of any man,
No matter what his size.
If danger threatens, call on me,
And I will equalize.
That remains true to this day.
____________________________________________
[1] It was fixed, but with some ramifications. More on that to come.
[2] Thanks to The Dear and Fluffy Lord of Your Choice, they have, so far, been all hat and no cattle. But there is always a first time. My preference is that I will be around to see if there is a second time.
[3] Lawdog uses the term "critter" as a general description of criminals and miscreants. It's a useful term.
[4] There are cases, up to the level of the Supremes, which hold that the fuzz have no duty to defend you. They might be fired for cowardice, but you cannot sue if two cops are across the street, munching on crullers while watching you being tuned up.
[5] Deb's blog covers that fairly diligently.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Spain is Making a Down Payment on a Civil War, Maybe.

The Spanish government is seeking to try the leaders of the Catalan separatist movement for rebellion.

I think this is foolishness. The Catalan separatist movement is a political movement. They seek to persuade the Catalans to separate from Spain, to form their own nation. The only proper way to counter a political movement is by persuasion. There are a lot of Catalans who oppose independence. Such a drastic change in governance should require clear support from a super-majority of the people. The independence-seekers aren't there.

But they are going to get there if the Spanish government continues down a road that betrays its fascist roots. Using the criminal justice system to crack down on a peaceful political movement is an act of state, of judicial violence. If Madrid closes off all avenues of peaceful change, as it evidently is intent on doing, that leaves only one avenue left to seek change.

Not terribly long ago, you could wander the streets of Barcelona and see bullet scars on the buildings from the Spanish Civil War. That war ended nearly eighty years ago. There is almost nobody left to tell, firsthand, the horrors of that war. Those who fought in it are almost all gone. Now, like a bunch of foolish chickenhawks, Madrid is playing around with the ingredients of commencing a war. I would hope that they would see the folly of their current course of action.

History may not repeat itself, but it does have a rhythm. The song that is now being played by Madrid has a chorus of blood, wreckage and death.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Hey, Donnie! Why Not Get the Department of Agriculture to Pay For Your Stupid Wall?

His latest brainfart is to get the military to pay for the wall.

Which, of course, has the support of very few people over at Ft. Fumble.

ISO Lawyer, DC Area

Somebody is helping Trump out with a Craigslist ad for a lawyer.

In case it disappears:

The Hypersonic Missile Gap

Russia and China are outpacing the United States in the development of super-fast missile technology, Pentagon officials and key lawmakers are warning.
First off, we've been here before.

Second, "turns immediately around" is a bit of hyperbole. A Mach 5 aircraft is going to have a humongous turning radius because they can't turn very quickly. At that speed, maneuverability is nearly negligible. If you can get a radar lock on the damned thing, it's a fire-control problem to get a anti-aircraft missile to hit it. You have to lead it enough.

Bust Their Chops

If you've watched The Late Show recently, you've noticed that Colbert has come down heavily for gun control.

But what he doesn't seem to believe in is the law, at least when it pertains to his buddies. Sean Penn was on the show, last night, and he lit up a cigarette. That's a violation of NYS's "Smoke Free" law.

But hey, you can go here and file a complaint.

Because, as both sides of the elites believe, the laws don't apply to them.

The Treasury Secretary is a Fucking Moron (and So is His Boss)

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin asserted Sunday Congress could give President Donald Trump "line-item veto" power -- something the Supreme Court has ruled unconstitutional. Fox News host Chris Wallace was forced to explain to him that Congress could not overrule the Supreme Court without amending the Constitution.
Mnuchin is either too stupid to understand the rule or law or he is merely parroting the words if his boss, who famously does not believe that the laws have ever applied to Him, Trump.

Maybe Mnuchin ought to stick with bilking the taxpayers for luxury jet travel for himself and Lady Louise. There's a total eclipse next year in Chile; maybe he can scare up a C-20 to be there for talks related to foreign trade, or some bullshit such as that.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Knock Off the Holocaust Imagery (and Tabbie)

You can see, on some of the gun websites and blogs, allusions that compare gun owners in 2018 America to Jews in Germany in 1933.

Look, guys, just knock that shit off. To those of us whose family trees were pruned during the Holocaust, it's offensive as all fuck. It's in poor taste, as well.

Nobody is talking about denying our citizenship or making us live in ghettos or any of that. We have a frigging constitutional amendment, not to mention about 300-500 million guns. So please, stop.

------------------------------------

In Pennsylvania, a dental practice is threatening to report parents who miss appointments for their children to Child Protective Services (or whatever thy call it in PA).


Here's hoping that the dental practice makes a speedy trip to Chapter 7.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Your Sunday Morning Jet Noise

An airplane that truly needs no introduction:

Friday, March 23, 2018

Citibank is Still Full of Weasels

Citibank, one of the banksters whose corrupt and unethical practices brought about the Great Recession and the Crash of 2008, is deciding that they are , oh, so ethical that they have to stick their noses into the gun debate.

I believe that I should be able to use any credit card to buy any lawful product. If the banksters of Citibank are having the vapors from making money over the firearms trade, I just wonder why they didn't have the vapors over tanking the economy and driving millions of people out of their homes.

YES, YES, A THOUSAND TIMES YES!

Commander Salamander excoriates the stupid-ass budgeteers of the Navy for seeking to axe one of the hospital ships.

But hey, it's the same stupid cheap-ass mindset that led to the scrapping of the destroyer tenders.

The Russians Did Have the Emails That Trump Wanted

The hacker Guccifer 2.0, who claimed responsibility for providing WikiLeaks with the stolen Democratic National Committee emails, has been identified as an officer of Russia’s main intelligence directorate, or GRU, according to a new report.
Which makes Roger Stone an asset of the Russian GRU:
Trump’s longtime political adviser Roger Stone admitted being in touch with Guccifer over Twitter’s direct messaging service. And in August 2016, Stone published an article on the pro-Trump-friendly Breitbart News calling on his political opponents to “Stop Blaming Russia” for the hack. “I have some news for Hillary and Democrats—I think I’ve got the real culprit,” he wrote. “It doesn’t seem to be the Russians that hacked the DNC, but instead a hacker who goes by the name of Guccifer 2.0.”

Because It's Friday

UP steam update, posted a few weeks ago. It's a long presentation.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

The Invention That Destroyed American Politics

The jet airliner. Before the development of jets, most of the United States was too distant in travel time for politicians to easily get back home. So they ended up living in Washington, they became friends, and they had to work with one another. Back in the day, many congressmen lived in rooming houses that were established to provide cheaper housing to federal employees. It's hard to be an asshole to the person that you're going to see at school meetings and at Scouting events.

Now, they pretty much all go home for the weekend. They suck up with their donors, and they never have to get along with each other. This is why, for example, we have intelligent imbeciles like Rafael T. Cruz masquerading as members of "the worlds most deliberative body".

Monday, March 19, 2018

Small Government Stupidity

An Alabama lawmaker says he's against arming teachers because most are women and "are scared of guns."

That's one guy who should have an appointment with Dr. Ruth, who once was a Haganah scout-sniper.

Back on the other side of the country, it seems that a certain anacephalic by the name of Trayon White Sr., who was elected to the D.C. Cidiot Council, blamed Jews for snowstorms.

These clowns aren't running hot-dog carts. They write laws, people. That should scare any rational person.

Kill One, Educate Ten Thousand

I wonder if the real reason that Trump had McCabe fired in such a public and humiliating fashion was to send a message to other senior career federal employees: Toe the Trumpian line or lose everything you've worked for.

Trump clearly has had designs to turn the Department of Justice into his private legal team and to turn the FBI into his strong-arm force. Beyond that, with his personal attacks on McCabe and Mueller, he's behaving more like a New York mob boss who knows that he's guilty as sin, so his only recourse is to get the people trying to prosecute him.

If Trump were as innocent as he proclaims to be, about all you'd hear from him would be, well, nothing. Maybe a few initial comments about "full cooperation" and such, for that's what the innocent do.

Doctors used to do initial examinations by touching suspected areas: "Does it hurt when I press here?" If the patient winced, then that was something that needed to be looked into.

Mueller's been probing Trump and Trump has been squealing like a stuck pig. That should indicate, to a casual observer, that Trump is hiding something. Something that might cost him the presidency. Something that, more likely, will end with indictments of his family members and associates.

Meanwhile, this:
Sen. Lindsey Graham gave a stern warning Sunday to President Donald Trump against firing special counsel Robert Mueller.

"As I said before, if he tried to do that, that would be the beginning of the end of his presidency," the South Carolina Republican said on CNN's "State of the Union."
I'll bet that Trump believes none of it. When has Lindsey Graham actually done anything? He is the Cowardly Lion of the Senate: All roar and no tooth.

And then there is this: Jared Kushner's company filed false documents so they could push out long-standing tenants. What they did was lie about what tenants were in their buildings, so that they could make life miserable for them and encourage them to leave. It's a well-known tactic of scumbag landlords like Kushner and, yes, his father-in-law.

Kushner's probably going to end up like his father: A multi-year "guest" of the Bureau of Prisons.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

The Crisis Behind Your Power Outlets

The demand for electricity is falling. That hasn't happened since electrification began spreading outside of the cities.

The linked article has a lot of details.

What I wonder about is whether we're going to see a death spiral start forming. Death spirals are when businesses that see a drop in revenue begin raising rates (or prices) to make up for the shortfall. Customers start going elsewhere and that rate accelerates.

For electricity, if the utilities are not selling enough of it, look for them to be coming back to regulators, again and again, seeking rate increases. Businesses that use a lot of power may start rethinking the idea of self-generation of one form or another. Residential customers will look for ways to save electricity. A sign that this is going on will be when the other sources of heat start heavily advertising the lower costs of conversion to another heating method (oil, propane, natural gas). Rate increases will continue to spur conservation and searches for alternative sources. There will be massive consolidation of electrical utilities as they search for efficiencies and close unneeded plants. The death spiral will force them to do it.

Trump's desire to have a renaissance in coal is dead if the utilities don't have the increased demand to justify building new power plants. Even if they do, natural gas is cheap enough and a natural gas-fired plant doesn't need to deal with bottom ash or fly ash or come up with ways to store thousands of tons of ash. Between the need to handle the combustion by-products of coal, the need to maintain a coal yard and to have the machinery and people to move the coal to the inlet conveyors, coal has to be significantly cheaper than anything else in order to make it economical to burn the stuff. Right now, it isn't. The less-efficient power plants that will be the first to close will be the coal-fired ones.

(H/T)

Testilying

It seems to be widespread within the NYPD. They basically lie like politicians: Often, withour tremorse and without any consequences (most of the time).

One has to wonder whether or not it is widespread everywhere else. My bet is that it is.

Russian Election: "Vote or Else!"

Voters in Russia’s Perm region say they are coming under pressure from their employers to vote in Sunday’s presidential election — and to prove it.

The Associated Press viewed messages sent Friday to multiple regional employees, urging them to fulfill their civic duty and report on when and where they voted. One message said employers would keep a running tally of the information and submit it to management.
No doubt that Trump is taking notes.

Your Sunday Morning Silent Prop Noise

Airline service from London to Paris in 1923.


The airplane was probably a Handley Page Type O, which was a converted WW1 bomber. They flew for Handley Page Transport, which later became part of Imperial airways.`

2.5 hours of flying time; the airplane probably cruised at 90 mph. But as there was no security and a rudimentary customs inspection, it probably doesn't take any less time to travel from downtown London to downtown Paris by air now than it did 95 years ago.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

"Petty, Vindictive and Dickish" are All Adjectives That Perfectly Describe Donald Trump

Why Trump might have wanted to fire Andrew McCabe was apparent weeks ago. But waiting until the man was just over a day away from retiring was the mark of a petty, vindictive, small-fingered, dick of a man. It's a move that will only please the microcephalics among the Trumpanzees.

Apparently, once again, the person being fired learned of it from outside sources. Which is another hallmark dickish and cowardly Trump move. Not to mention the overt boot-licking of Jeffrey Beauregard Sessions, who seems to be filling the role of the ultimate toady of the Trump administration.

It's probably a safe bet that McCabe's got some information that the Special Prosecutor's team will soon know. And so will the reporters, unless he decides to save it for the book he'll soon write. For McCabe clearly has no fucks left to give.

Bangity

One of Pat Kelley's "out of the box and to the match" reviews.


he has some interesting videos on his YouTube page.

Caturday

Casper the Friendly Shelter Cat:


Friday, March 16, 2018

Promoting War Criminals

Trump wants Gina Haspel to be the next head of the CIA.

Other than being a woman, Haspel is notable because she oversaw the use of torture and then helped cover it up by overseeing the destruction of evidence.

So this is where the United States is today: People who should be doing time for war crimes are being rewarded and promoted. Chuckie Taylor, Prisoner 76556-004, is probably laughing at the irony.

Because It's Friday

Kiwi steam:

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

SIGNALS: WHISKEY ALFA HOTEL

The mother of a suspected vehicle burglar said she's outraged police are not pursuing charges against the El Cajon homeowner who fatally shot her son.

Early Sunday morning, an El Cajon resident said he shot someone he believed was breaking into his truck. In the midst of a confrontation, the homeowner said he fired off several shots from a .357 revolver style handgun.
Outraged? They ought to give the guy a parade and the ceremonial Key to the City.

Yeah, yeah, same old "my son was this close to turning his life around and why'd they have to go and shoot him" story. He told his momma that he "wanted to get sober so bad", but the dead guy was in and out of eight rehab centers by the time that the critter life found him catching one or more bullets.

(H/T)

Bullshit from the Army; 1943 Edition


Some of this was bullshit. Machine gun ammunition generally has a wider accuracy specification than rifle rounds. This is because a machine gun is not a point weapon, it is an area weapon. The place where the bullets are landing is the "beaten zone". A wider dispersion of fire for a machine gun is not a defect, it's the point. You want to shoot at one guy, use a rifle. You need to shoot at a bunch of guys, get a machine gun.

Which is why the touted accuracy of the American guns in the piece was just bullshit.

Dictators Can't Stand Sarcasm

The Chinese government is having a cow over a reporter's eyeroll at a news conference. They've issued orders banning all mention of it.



Liang Xiangyi, the reporter who launched that epic eyeroll, has undoubtedly been fired and will soon collect the 7.62mm retirement package for people that displease the regime.

It's also a little interesting that there is an American media company that functions as a propaganda outlet for the Chinese state.

Pi Day


Stephen Hawking has died. It'd be superfluous for me to write about him, as I trust that you are familiar with who he was, the briliance of his mind, and the fact that in spite of having a debilitating medical condition, he never gave up an inch to it. We have truly lost one of the great men of our time.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Ya Think?

Highly likely Moscow behind attack, says Theresa May.
But don't worry. Trump and his duty mouthpiece, Huckabee-Sanders, will issue statements saying that it's fake news. As soon as Donnie gets his marching orders from his handler.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

All Hail Chairman Xi Zedong (or, if you're older, Tse-tung), or Else!

China’s rubber-stamp lawmakers have passed a historic constitutional amendment that abolishes term limits and will enable President Xi Jinping to rule indefinitely.

The National People’s Congress’ nearly 3,000 hand-picked delegates endorsed the constitutional amendment Sunday, voting 2,958 in favor with two opposed, three abstaining and one vote invalidated.
I would not be surprised if there hasn't already been six quick executions.

The Chinese Communist Party abolished the job of chairman (Xi is the General Secretary), but don't be too surprised if the title comes back. The Party has been fomenting a cult of personality around Xi (one term for him is "Papa Xi") that has not been seen in China since the days of Mao.

In the long term, this is good news for those nations adverse to China. Autocrats usually stay in office well past the dates that they should retire, for they know that the retirement plan for autocrats tends to consist of something along the lines of a bullet to the back of the head (or a subtle poison). In autocratic regimes, the country stagnates, as bureaucrats and other apparatchicks are loathe to make independent decisions, for fear of being hauled off.

In the near term, things will be more dangerous for nations in the western Pacific Rim. Autocrats have sycophants, not honest advisers. The autocrat is the only one who can run the country, so the autocrat naturally believes that only he knows what path to take.

The next few decades may be a nervous time to live in Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, among other nations.

Your Sunday Morning Jet Noise

F4H cartridge start:


(H/T)

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Friday, March 9, 2018

Arrogance Has Its Cost for Pharma Bro

Seven years in Federal prison. The "JV team", as Shkreli called the prosecutors, put his ass away. Assuming he makes the maximum in good time and allowing credit for his time in jail after his bail was revoked, Shkreli will do 5-1/2 years in prison.

It's probably a near-certainty that Shkreli talked and acted himself into prison. He seemed to treat the charges and the trial as a big joke and that he, Pharma Bro, would never do time. Even dumber criminals know enough to keep their yaps shut and let their lawyers do the talking once charges are preferred. But not Shkreli.

He's got until somewhere between the fall of 2023 and 2024 to reflect on that.

She Can't Bring Herself to Denounce Nazis?

Actress [and Congressional Candidate] Stacey Dash said she’s “not here to judge” neo-Nazis in a bizarre defense of President Trump’s infamous response to the deadly Charlottesville rally last summer.
She apparently believes that some Nazis have "good hearts".

I'm sorry, but I'm pretty certain that this is a bright-line test: Nazis are not good people. A politician who can't bring herself to denounce Nazis is, frankly, clueless at best.

Because It's Friday

Steam tractors:


I don't know if I'd want to stand next to one of those things.

All Honor to Donald J. Trump (maybe)

North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump plan to meet in May for nuclear disarmament talks, a whiplash development that would put two leaders who’ve repeatedly insulted, threatened and dismissed each other in the same room, possibly in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang.
While I think that fully crediting Trump with this is not accurate, at least he is moving on these developments.

I am skeptical that Trump has the discipline for diplomatic negotiations. He's too prone to run his mouth, whether to reporters, an audience or on Twitter. Trump will likely say something or do something to wreck any chance of a deal, for he seems to have a remarkable talent for self-sabotage. Especially if one of his manipulative advisers obsequiously flatters Trump into it.

And I'm somewhat convinced that the North Koreans have studied Trump and they have a grasp on how they can manipulate him into a deal that is very favorable to them. Hell, a few mentions that Trump might get a Nobel Peace Prize out of it and he'd sell Don Jr. to organ harvesters.

But if Trump can keep his shit together long enough to craft a reasonable deal with the NORKs, then that will go a long way into turning his presidency into a "mitigated disaster".

Thursday, March 8, 2018

That Would Only Be Reasonable If It Was a Portal to Other Worlds or Universes

Records show the Interior Department spent nearly $139,000 last year for construction at the agency that was labeled on a work order as “Secretary’s Door.”

A spokeswoman for Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke did not provide answers Thursday to questions about whether changes had been made to a door in the secretary’s office.

NATO Military Spending

First: Trump's handlers approve:
Trump’s remarks on Nato were met more favourably in Moscow, where Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, agreed with the US president-elect that the alliance was “obsolete”.

The current knock on NATO by Trump, his excuse for planning to gut it, is that other NATO nations have a "free ride" and don't spend what they should on their militaries.

I suspect that lower spending by other nations is not a new problem. But part of the problem in coming up with a comparison is that older data seems to have used GNP as a baseline, while modern data uses GDP.

Having said that, in 1968, the US and the UK spent 5-10% of their GNP on defense, as did Poland and the Soviet Union. Most of the other nations of both NATO and the Warsaw Pact spent 2-5%. (The U.S. spent 9.3% of its GNP on the military, but that was the peak year of the Vietnam War.

In 1995, Greece, France, Holland, Norway, Turkey, Portugal, the U.K and the U.S. spent at or over 2% of GDP on their militaries. By 2004, the list of two-percenters in NATO was Bulgaria, France, Greece, Italy, Norway, Romania, Turkey, the U.K. and the U.S.

Trump thinks that the EU is a German tool. Well, no shit. Germany is the strongest economy in the Bloc. And to some extent, that's not a bug, it's a feature. The Germans got to use the rest of Europe as a duty-free market to dump sell their excess production and, in exchange, they tacitly promised to keep the boys in the Wehrmacht Bundeswehr at home.

NATO, similarly, had two objectives. The first was to prevent the USSR for marching to the French Atlantic coast. The second, by committing all of Western Europe to that purpose, was to remove any excuse for German rearmament on a massive scale. A corollary to that was to make peacetime prosperity so attractive to the Germans that there would be little, if any, chance that the militarists would be able to take hold in the German psyche again.

The American nuclear umbrella was critical to that working. Because an attack on a NATO nation was considered to be an attack on the American homeland, an adversary could not be certain that the Americans would not respond to an invasion of NATO with nuclear force. Additionally, the stationing in Europe of a third of a million American troops, together with all of the necessary accoutrements of battle, was a clear statement of American interest in keeping the peace in Europe.

(Everybody, except for a certain French pissant leader in the 1960s, understood that bargain.)

And it worked, for quite a long time. It fell apart when the overt reason for NATO, preventing an invasion, went away when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.

Things might have worked out. Except the geniuses in NATO (including Bill Clinton and George W. Bush) got the idea of admitting countries that, were not only formerly in the Warsaw Pact, but were in the former Soviet Union, as NATO members.

Why this is a problem will be the subject of another post.

The Overlooked

The New York Times is publishing the obituaries of people who were overlooked, since most obits published are about while men.

First up: Ida B. Wells

If you've not read her book on the horrors of lynching, which was first published in 1892, you should.

For one thing, she believed that "a Winchester rifle should have a place of honor in every black home, and it should be used for that protection which the law refuses to give." Another things is that nearly a century before it entered common use among the majority population, she used the term "Afro-American". She tried to organize boycotts of businesses that practiced segregation: "The appeal to the white man's pocket has ever been more effectual than all the appeals ever made to his conscience."

It took a couple more generations before activists took her advice and began applying the power of the purse.

Tapocketa-pocketa-pocketa

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Torturers Wore Black Hoods, Not Robes

In Texas, torturers wear black robes. A judge ordered his bailiff to repeatedly stun a defendant.

Even a court of appeals in Texas couldn't stomach that.

He'll get a new trial. The judge will probably be reelected. Because Texas.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Suspect #1: Devin Nunes

On Dec. 19, 2017, a former staffer for Sen. John McCain named David Kramer testified before the House intelligence committee behind closed doors. He’d played a role in bringing the salacious and unverified Steele dossier to the FBI’s attention, and members peppered him with questions about it.
...
A few days after Kramer’s testimony, his lawyer, Larry Robbins, got a strange call. The call was from Stephen Ryan, a lawyer who represents Trump’s longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen.
If they were going to round up the usual suspects of who might have leaked to Cohen, they pretty much can stop after clapping the bracelets on Nunes.

No Shit, Dubya!

George W. Bush is taking a lot of satisfaction in how Trump's making him look much better, in comparison.

Birth Control Shoes, Plus More


I'm somewhat amused by the people who are saying that the voting age should be lowered to 16. They're pretty much the same people who want the age of eligibility to purchase rifles raised to 21.

We don't let kids buy alcohol until they're 21. States are raising the age for juvenile court jurisdiction from 16 and 17 to 18. Kids can't sign contracts until they're 18. They can't join the military on their own until they're 18. There has been moves to raise the age of marriage to 18 because kids are not mature enough to make that sort of decision.

So kids are not mature enough at 16 to do almost anything.

Which leads me to conclude that the "let 16-year-olds vote" push is coming from people who think that they can persuade the kids to turn out vote their way.

Shorter Nunberg: Hi-ho, Hi-ho, It's Off to Jail I Go!

I had never heard of Sam Nunberg, until yesterday. He went around to various reporters, complaining that being subpoenaed was so unfair, vowing he'd not cooperate and saying things along the lines of "what are they going to do, arrest me?"

Apparently, it may have sunk in that the answer to his question was "fucking-A right they will." For he began changing his tune last night. Maybe a relative in his family who is a lawyer had a short conversation that contained terms like "you idiot" and "federal prison".

The ancient term for this guy was "flash-in-the-pan".

Monday, March 5, 2018

Trump's Trade War

What benefit is there to Russia from it? Certainly, the Euros and the U.S. fighting a trade war has political benefits for Russia, as anything that puts the NATO European nations and the United States at odds works in Moscow's interests.

Also, the Russians may have vetoed Mitt Romney as Secretary of State:
One subject that Steele is believed to have discussed with Mueller’s investigators is a memo that he wrote in late November, 2016, after his contract with Fusion had ended. This memo, which did not surface publicly with the others, is shorter than the rest, and is based on one source, described as “a senior Russian official.” The official said that he was merely relaying talk circulating in the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but what he’d heard was astonishing: people were saying that the Kremlin had intervened to block Trump’s initial choice for Secretary of State, Mitt Romney. (During Romney’s run for the White House in 2012, he was notably hawkish on Russia, calling it the single greatest threat to the U.S.) The memo said that the Kremlin, through unspecified channels, had asked Trump to appoint someone who would be prepared to lift Ukraine-related sanctions, and who would coöperate on security issues of interest to Russia, such as the conflict in Syria. If what the source heard was true, then a foreign power was exercising pivotal influence over U.S. foreign policy—and an incoming President.
And then the Kremlin got a guy that they wanted in the job.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

The Kitten-Torturers Go Away

(Earlier posts)
[Asswipe #1] was sentenced to serve consecutive terms of four years for animal abuse and three years of armed criminal action in the Missouri Department of Corrections.

[Asswipe #2] was sentenced to four years in state prison for animal abuse.
Asswipe #1 also got five years consecutive for making a shank.

They had pled guilty earlier.

Asswipe #1 apparently didn't make bail, so he'll probably get credit for time served. If I had to guess, he made a shank because other inmates in the county jail had expressed disapproval of his crime. They probably all moved away from him on the Group W bench.

Your Sunday Morning Prop Noise

"Spitfire 944"


Not a lot of airplane noise, but still fascinating.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

And Here We Go

President* Donald Trump says the U.S. “will simply apply a TAX” on cars made in Europe if the European Union retaliates against the trade penalties he’s seeking on imports of steel and aluminum.

The EU is promising retaliation against American exports if Trump follows through — as he says he will next week.

Here’s what the president* is saying on Twitter: “If the E.U. wants to further increase their already massive tariffs and barriers on U.S. companies doing business there, we will simply apply a Tax on their Cars which freely pour into the U.S. They make it impossible for our cars (and more) to sell there. Big trade imbalance!”
If trade wars were such a good idea and "easy to win", as Trump seems to think, then why are they so rare?

But don't worry: In a few years, they'll be calling the encampments "Trumpvilles".

Meanwhile, this looks a little suspicious:
Billionaire investor Carl Icahn sold nearly 1 million shares of stock in a company tied to the steel industry leading up to President* Donald Trump’s decision to impose costly tariffs on steel and aluminum imported into the U.S.

Icahn also has ties to Trump; he was an unpaid adviser to the president* before resigning last August.
The SEC will be looking into that any day, now, ya, sure, you betcha.

Not an Evil Black Rifle

Because a SKS doesn't have a detachable magazine.


The insanity of the "assault rifle" frenzy is that it is all a matter of cosmetics. The "we gotta get ridda them" folks focus on rifles that have one or more "military features": A threaded barrel, a bayonet mount or a pistol grip.

This is a Ruger Ranch Rifle:


It's a .223 rifle that does accept detachable magazines. It doesn't have any of the evil military cosmetic features, so it's generally OK everywhere. But in function, there's no difference.

Not counting Ruger Ranch Rifles and Mini-30s, there's probably somewhere between six to ten million AR-patterned rifles out there, which doesn't count other types, like AKs or AUGs or FALs or G3s. All those would have to be bought back at well above market rates in order to survive a 5th Amendment challenge. (You might recall that when Prohibition was enacted, possessing alcohol was not made illegal.) Twenty to thirty billion, or so, maybe?

So ditch the threaded barrel (even though suppressors are legal in most states), grind off the bayonet mount and replace the pistol grip and buttstock with a thumbhole-buttstock and voila! Not an assault rifle. Child's play to do.

On another note, I heard an interview with a teacher who was against arming teachers because this one teacher couldn't envision the concept that, in engaging an active school shooter, that one or more kids might get killed in the crossfire.

That, Gentle Reader, is the old Trolley Problem. Failing to act is a choice: The shooter continues to kill kids. So the teacher's choice to not have blood on their hands is to put one's self in a position of not being able to make a choice. Which is like removing the track-switch lever and throwing it out of reach.

Caturday

Chip gets the low-down on another cat that had been in my lap.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Don't You Love the Smell of Corruption in the Morning?

The Securities and Exchange Commission late last year dropped its inquiry into a financial company that a month earlier had given White House adviser Jared Kushner’s family real estate firm a $180 million loan.
Yep, nothing untoward or unethical, here.

Maybe that's why Donnie the Deranged is picking a fight with Alec Baldwin.

Because It's Friday

Erie steam shovel:


No, it's not Mr. Mulligan.

Our Microcephalic-in-Chief and Trade Wars

President* Donald Trump on Friday insisted “trade wars are good, and easy to win,” a bold claim that prompted pushback from a Nebraska Republican who quipped “kooky 18th century protectionism will jack up prices on American families.”

Trump has declared that the U.S. will impose punishing tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, escalating tensions with China and other trading partners and raising the prospect of higher prices for American consumers and companies.
Right. Trade wars are so good that we see them breaking out all over the world, all of the time.

One of the dumbest reactions came from Paul Ryan:
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said through a spokesman he hoped Trump would “consider the unintended consequences of this idea and look at other approaches before moving forward.”
In what alternative reality has Ryan been residing? Trump doesn't consider unintended consequences. Trump doesn't consider anything at all. If there's something he can do on his own authority, then he can and has do it on a whim.

If Obama was playing 3-D chess, then by comparison, Trump is chewing on the checker pieces.

Farewell to Icelandic?

The digital world may tromp the Icelandic language out of existence, much like a tank running over a squirrel.

A lot of other languages may go the same way, for the same reason. If everyone will have to know one of a handful of languages in order to function in an interconnected world, then what future is there for other languages?