Words of Advice:

"Never Feel Sorry For Anyone Who Owns an Airplane."-- Tina Marie

"
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

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

No Bond For Stanford

The judge has deemed him to be a "serious flight risk". The judge apparently felt that there was nothing like the prospect of 375 years in jail to persuade a billionaire to flee to a place where he can buy lots of immunity from extradition.

Toljaso.

Stand By for the Response of "No Way in Hell, Asshole, I'll See You in Court"

During an emotional interview at his Statehouse office with The Associated Press on Tuesday, [Governor Mark] Sanford said [Maria Belen] Chapur is his soul mate but he's trying to fall back in love with his wife.
You're not helping your case, there, Marko. That's the sort of statement that is almost guaranteed to lead to your soon-to-be-ex-wife, Jenny Sanford, filing a divorce action. If she really is "an Old Testament woman with a 170 IQ", then ol' Mark is about to experience a heavy application of wrath and scorn.

And he'd better get ready to make child support payments for a very long time.

Senator Al Franken

Norm Coleman finally conceded after receiving a unanimous dope-slap from the Minnesota Supreme Court. Still left unclear is whether the governor of Minnesota, a GOPtard named Pawlenty, will do the childish thing and try to further obstruct Franken from taking his seat in the Senate.

Commemorating Stonewall, Texas Style

Texas commemorated the 40th Anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising in unique Texas style: By raiding a gay bar and roughing up the patrons.

There is a very old story about an airline flight arriving in Dallas from JFK; one of the passengers asked a stewardess if Dallas was an hour behind New York City. The stewardess responded that Dallas was 20 years behind New York City.

More like 40 years, it seems.

When Is It Permissible To Tell Secrets?

The New York Times has an article today about intelligence-sharing between the U.S. and Pakistan. However, when one of their reporters was kidnapped in Afghanistan, the Times worked very hard to keep that quiet.

I understand the Times's desire to keep below the radar horizon the news that one of their reporters had been kidnapped. But that just begs the question: Why does the New York Times get to choose what secrets it will keep and what secrets it will expose? The Times has not done such a stellar job of it this decade, what with their being a willing butt-monkey to the Bush Administration's selling of the Iraq War. The Times "dines out", if you will, on their printing of the Pentagon Papers, but that was over 35 years ago which, in the news business, might as well have been in the Mesozoic Era.

I'm not saying that the government is the best arbiter of what should be kept secret and what should be made public. Recent history shows that government often uses secrecy to cover up its mistakes, misdeeds and outright crimes. Left alone, the government has plenty of incentive to give lip service to democracy and freedom of information while doing everything it can to squash it (I'm looking at you, Dick Cheney).

It is the old question, first raised about the cops, but now applicable to the news business: Who watches the watchers?

In Lieu of Original Content and Snark

Watch this aviation safety video, and keep in mind that they are only wearing body paint, the pilot is wearing a hat, and the flight attendants have shoes.



The CIA is hiring:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Spy Low Sell High
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Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorJason Jones in Iran


And Bernie Madoff is running a new Ponzi scheme in the joint:

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150 Years of Solitude
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Stand By for More Identity Theft

You may recall that the company running the Clear ID program suddenly failed. Nobody seems to be really sure what is going to happen to the personal identification of travelers who were enrolled in the program. The people who were registered are not exactly poor people, which makes them a ripe target for identity thieves.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Hey, Sherlock, What Was Your First Clue?

A suspected robber shot and killed himself after he was confronted by police outside his apartment yesterday. ... His death is being investigated as a potential suicide, a spokesman for the medical examiner said.
Sounds as though the cops there are going to be racking up a lot of overtime to solve that one.

Our Kafkaesque Justice System

So the Feds try a guy for being a terrorist. They lose badly, so badly that the jury wonders why the case was even brought.

Then they arrest the guy again and are trying to deport him for being a terrorist, the same charge which they were unable to prove in a court of law.

If you want to know why our government is often reviled throughout the world, it is because of stupid shit such as this. This is the (in)Justice Department and the DBP acting like a bunch of spoiled children, whining and carrying on because they didn't get what they wanted. (ICE is an appropriate acronym for some of the goons involved, for they sure do not have warm blood flowing through their veins.)

So if you ever wondered what life would be like if six-year-olds had the powers of arrest and could carry guns, now you know.

First Comes the Bombing.
Then Comes the Occupation.

Of the Moon, that is.

Predictably, the nut jobs are convinced that this will start a war with various species of extraterrestrials.

After the first Apollo missions placed seismometers on the Moon, NASA aimed the expended third stages of Saturn V rockets at the Moon to gain data about the composition of the Moon.

Buh-Bye, Bernie

Bernie Madoff has been sentenced to 150 years (life) in prison.

Based on that, I don't see Allan Stanford getting out on bond. He is the walking, breathing definition of a "flight risk."

Treasonous Republicans

Paul Krugman argues that Republicans are committing treason against the entire planet.

I don't know if treason is the right word, but the Republican party is evidence of the fruits of theology and educational systems that do not place a premium on the scientific method. What we have in large swaths of this country (primarily in the states of the old Confederacy) is an intellectually bankrupt idea that belief trumps facts. What that has brought us is a rapidly warming planet (as well as a bankrupt political ideology [neoconservatism] and trillions of dollars thrown away in a moronic war).

The truth is sometimes painful. And the truth here is that the planet is warming up. The truth is that the costs of stopping humanity's contribution to a warming world will be painful to bear. The truth is that not doing anything will be far more painful to our descendants.

Here is something that may also come to pass: The vocal resistance to doing anything to address climate change from the eight-year delay of the Bush Administration and now the know-nothings in the GOP may lead to the extinction of the Republican party. For when things start to really go bad, people are going to look around for who was to blame. They'll blame the energy companies, who delayed any action by using the same tactics as the tobacco companies did ("junk science" "it's not proven") and then they'll blame the political parties who followed the cues (and the cash) of the energy companies.

Which leaves three ways to categorize the party of Hoover's resistance to doing anything about climate change: They are (i) crooks that took bribes; (ii) idiots; or (iii) traitors. Or "all of the above."

Saturday, June 27, 2009

English Language FAIL

Russia's energy giant Gazprom has signed a $2.5bn (£1.53bn) deal with Nigeria's state operated NNPC, to invest in a new joint venture.

The new firm, to be called Nigaz, is set to build refineries, pipelines and gas power stations in Nigeria.
Heh. That name should last as long at it takes for the cables from the Russian embassies in the US and the UK to hit Putin's Medvedev's desk.

(H/T)

Friday Failures

Friday seems to be the favorite day for regulators to slit the throats of failing banks.

45 have failed so far this year. Not good, but we're far from the blood-letting of the Reagan S&L debacle.

USAIR 1549

The NTSB animation. The upper left overlays the transcript of the cockpit voice recorder. At the bottom are readouts for airspeed and altitude.



For the non-pilots, you may note that the transmissions from the airplane were both terse and very limited. Once they told LaGuardia Departure Control what they were going to do, they stopped talking to them, for there was nothing that the controllers could do for them.

(H/T)

Caturday

Gracie is sort of over-stuffing this cat bed. It was her bed when she was a kitten (and about a quarter of her current size).


Jake is giving me his "well, come and pet me, dammit" look.


Gracie is watching me between the cushions of the sofa.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Crooked Politician

This time, a Democrat:
DETROIT - City Council member Monica Conyers, the wife of powerful Democratic congressman John Conyers, pleaded guilty Friday to accepting cash bribes in exchange for supporting a sludge contract with a Houston company.
It'll be interesting to see how much of this sticks to Rep. Conyers himself. He's been in Congress for 44 years, so the answer probably is "not much".

What a Welcome Change

It is such a refreshing sight to see a political wife who is not doing the "stand-by-yer-man" bullshit when her husband gets caught having an affair.
Jenny Sanford said Thursday that her husband Mark Sanford's political career is "not a concern of mine" and that she'd be just fine -- regardless of whether their marriage survives.
Good for her.

Sound Advice

Michael Jackson is dead.

Unless you are a member of his family or you personally knew him:

Get over it.

He was a talented singer and entertainer, no doubt. Anyone who was around when the "Thriller" music video was released can testify to that, it upended the genre of cheap-ass schlock that previously was standard for music videos.

But if you are not in one of the groups I mentioned above and if your life is so damaged by the passing of any entertainer that you need to publicly mourn, you might want to consider seeking some competent professional help.

Justice Department: The Douchebaggery Continues

The Justice Department is trying to keep notes of an interview with former Vice President Dick the Torturer out of the public eye because they are afraid of being made fun of by the Daily Show. One of the Justice Department lawyers argued this during a hearing
"I don't want a future vice president to say, 'I'm not going to cooperate with you because I don't want to be fodder for "The Daily Show." ' "
They are afraid of being the target of comedians? Call the Waaaaabulance!


What a bunch of pussies. Comedians have been making fun of politicians for longer than any of us have been alive. Jon Steward is having none of it.

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Cheney Predacted
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Thursday, June 25, 2009

As Gov. Sanford Breaths a Sigh of Relief

For, with the sudden death of Michael Jackson, nobody's going to be paying any attention to his misadventures for a couple of news cycles. "Sudden," indeed, the Times URL has the word "hospitalized" in it.

So it will be a couple of days before people get back to the fact that Sanford was getting laid on his state's nickel. Nobody, other than the odd prosecutor, may even care by then.

Pretty Good

TPM's flow-chart of GOP sex scandals:



They can make it even better, though, by removing the date reference so they can add another one: In the "girls" line, the first question needs to be "dead or alive?" If "alive", the chart should continue to the next question. If "dead", it should end at "Joe Scarborough."

No Surprise From the Supremes

That the only justice who thought that it was just peachy to strip-search kids on a whim was Clarence Thomas.

A ruling that the people ordering an illegal search cannot be held personally accountable is, to my mind, toothless. But I'll have to read it to see if the press reports are close to accurate.

UPDATE: They got it wrong. The immunity applies only to these guys, because the law, in the view of the majority, was not clear enough. But it's clear enough now.

The American Basij

Only it is called InfraGuard. I've blogged about them before, but JurassicPork mentioned them again.

Their web site is pretty stale, though, the newest announcement is nine months old.

They even have a code of ethics, which says nothing about preserving, protecting and defending the Constitution of the United States, let alone the law. They "serve in the interest of InfraGuard."

Presumably, the brown shirts are optional.

Nice Job of Being Concerned About Our National Security

Former US National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft has confirmed that the US government has spies on the ground in Iran.
Hey, Douchebag! The proper answer is "I can neither confirm nor deny that the US Government has spies on the ground in Iran." A simple "I cannot talk about that" or "that's classified" also works.

(H/T)

As the Governor Strays

"Just another politician with a conservative mind and a liberal penis." -- Jon Stewart

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Governor Mark Sanford's Affair
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Stephen Colbert also weighs in:

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Mark Sanford Does Something Interesting
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Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorStephen Colbert in Iraq

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

We Now Return to Our Soap Opera: "As the Governor Strays"

The lengths these guys will go to get laid have an affair: Governor Sanford's trip to Buenos Aries was so that he could spend some quality time with his mistress over the Fathers' Day weekend.

I was wrong, of course; I thought that he would turn out to be just another Wingnut closet case, but I was close enough.

UPDATE: True to form, Fox News identified Sanford as a Democrat. (H/T)

Meanwhile, Back at the NY Offical State Circus

otherwise known as the State Senate, two competing sessions of the senate were held at the same time and in the same room.

I'd call them "a prize collection of Bozos", if I didn't fear that could give rise to a defamation lawsuit from Bozo the Clown. What they ought to do is reopen one of the old state idiots' asylums and move the senate sessions there.

Argentina, Appalachia

South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford was in Argentina during a days long unexplained absence, not hiking the Appalachian Trail as his staff told the public when state leaders raised questions about his whereabouts, the governor told a newspaper.
Yeah, he just ups and flies to Argentina on a whim, driving five or so hours to Atlanta to catch a flight to Buenos Aries. He's got children and he disappears over the Fathers' Day weekend?

Suure, he just took off on a whim. Just for shits and grins, he took a ten-hour flight to South America, because nothing says "fun" like flying to Argentina at the start of winter.

I have the sneaking suspicion that he went to Argentina for some gay sex, a little vacation out of the closet, if you will. He probably figured it was safer than going to the can at the Minneapolis Airport.

One thing is clear: The field of potential GOP nominees for 2012 is doing a great job of self-immolation.

Some Things Never Change; Stars & Stripes Edition, Pt. 2

The MSM is beginning to pay attention. The thrust is clear, the sin of the reporter was that he refused to write the stories that the duty liarspublic affairs officers wanted him to run.

The "Baghdad Bobs" of the 1st Cav ought to re-visit that portion of their oath about "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States", before they start being asked hostile questions which originate from the E-Ring of Ft. Fumble.

Supreme Court to Old People: Quit Your Job, Go Home and Die

That's the basic undercurrent of the majority opinion in Gross v. FBL Financial Services, Inc. In an opinion written by Justice Clarence "I've Got Mine, Fuck You" Thomas, the Supremes threw out the use of "mixed-motive" proof that is used in every other type of employment discrimination case. Justice Stevens, in his dissent, accurately characterized the majority opinion as "unabashed judicial lawmaking."

In the view of the "hooray for the powerful, screw everyone else" wing of the Court, a litigant who claims that he or she was discriminated against because of age has to prove that "but for" that person's age, they wouldn't have been fired. Which is just bullshit. What the "fuck the workers" side of the Court just did was to hand a recipe card to every employer who wants to fire their old folks. All they have to do is engage in "papering the file"; they have to put a disciplinary note in the file of the oldsters they want to terminate and then, when there is enough paper, just fire them.

Companies do this all the time already. You might have noticed that at companies which vest their employees for pension purposes, people tend to get fired a couple of months prior to their vesting. Or you might see a case where a supervisor is fired because their position "is no longer necessary", but in three months, surprise, surprise, surprise, the company finds out that that position is necessary and they fill it with someone who is 15 to 25 years younger and who does the job for $20,000 less.

Congress needs to fix this, now, just as they did for the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Words to Live By; Relationship Edition

Guys, take this one to heart:
Whatever you give a woman, she will make greater. If you give her sperm, she'll give you a baby. If you give her a house, she'll give you a home. If you give her groceries, she'll give you a meal. If you give her a smile, she'll give you her heart. She multiplies and enlarges what is given to her.

So, if you give her any crap, be ready to receive a ton of shit.
This has been a public service message from Your Friendly Correspondent.

That is all.

Some Things Never Change; Stars & Stripes Edition

During the Second World War, General Patton got all kinds of pissed off at Stars and Stripes because of,among other things, the cartoons of Bill Mauldin.

Some things don't change, for now the First Cavalry Division has barred a reporter from the Stars and Stripes because he was insufficiently cheerleady about what 1st Cav was doing in Iraq.

Guess, what, First Cav: Stars & Stripes isn't Красная звезда (Red Star). It never has been. Stars & Stripes is not a propaganda house for the DoD, the Army or any particular overly-full-of-himself general.

This is a bone-headed move and hopefully some really senior officer will helicopter into Mosul and administer some very well deserved dope slaps to the officers responsible.

(H/T)

Can You Imagine George Bush Ever Saying He Liked Any Poetry That Did Not Begin With "There Once Was a Man From Nantucket"?

Or, for that matter, giving a wide-ranging interview with a Pakistani newspaper? President Obama did, in which he discussed cooking Pakistani food and reading Urdu poetry.

Stuff like this really matters.

Cracks in the Wall

In a blatant act of defiance, a group of Mullahs took to the streets of Tehran, to protest election results that returned incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to power.
I suspect that the Basiji will have as much a problem with shooting down clerics as they do with shooting women. Those guys definitely have some stones.

As do the women who are stepping up to the thugs and daring them to swing their clubs. I doubt if those women are going to be willing to settle for being pushed down by the state and the conservative clerics anymore.

Go Ahead, John, What's Stopping You?

Rep. Boehner: "Being in Congress this year is like standing in front of a machine gun." [Boehner Press Conference, 6/23/2009]
Please, Boehner, go get some first-hand experience at being shot. Then come back to let us know if your pissy-ass whine was indeed correct.

What a collection of pathetic babies now make up the congressional GOP caucus.

(H/T)

Oh, I Hope This Letter Was Real

A 2000 complaint letter to Chrysler, which gives a good indication why they failed. This is just part of it:
I’d like to sell the car, but I can’t because I can only drive it about 30 miles before something else goes wrong. (This has been my recent experience as the car has been in and out of the shop over the last few weeks. They can’t even find what’s causing the problem this time.) Plus, if I sold it, I’d probably get shot by the guy I sell it to after he walks 30 miles back to my house. Can’t be too careful these days you know.
Too funny.

Quote of the Day

From Joe Klein:
[John] McCain's bleatings [about Iran] are either for domestic political consumption or self-satisfaction, a form of hip-shooting onanism that demonstrates why he would have been a foreign policy disaster had he been elected.
(H/T)

Daily Show in Iran

Jason Jones was recently in Iran. While he was there, he interviewed three people who have since been arrested by the regime.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Jason Jones: Behind the Veil - Persians of Interest
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Sometimes they cannot help but get serious about events.

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Ebrahim Yazdi's Arrest
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Gil Scott-Heron Was Not Wholly Correct

While the revolution will not be televised, while it takes people going out on the street and fighting and dying,



television and passing around video over the internet and by cell phone is having a major impact. The prime example, of course, is Neda Agha Soltani, who would have just been a statistic, one of the many killed during Saturday's demonstrations in Tehran, if a couple of people hadn't captured her dying on their cellphone cameras.

Words have impact, but images have real power.

Kodachrome

Kodak is discontinuing Kodachrome. It has been in production for over 70 years. Digital killed it, for the main market was to professionals and they almost all shifted to digital early on.

I was sort of serious about photography in my teens and early 20s. Kodachrome was what the pros and serious amateurs shot, even though it was the one film that could not be developed at home (you could develop black & white and Ektachrome). It really did the best job in rendering colors. It came in ASA 25 and 64; if you wanted to take photos of moving objects, you learned how to pan and to follow through. I probably shot well over a thousand slides of it (and I still have most of them).

I haven't used any in decades, though, so while I won't miss Kodachrome, its discontinuance makes me feel like a bit of a dinosaur.

Monday, June 22, 2009

27 Years Old and Dead in the Street

Neda Agha Soltani, shot down by the Iranian Basiji Militia on Saturday.

She wasn't taking part in the demonstrations, but a Basij killed her anyway. The Iranian regime has much to be proud of; they've proven that they can gun down a young, slender, unarmed woman.

Deafening Silence

As Springbored has noted, the silence coming out of the other nations of the Mideast regarding the Iranian election has been notable for its utter lack of volume. There isn't a single Muslim nation, to my recollection, which has said anything other than to congratulate Ahmadinejad, including Iraq and Afghanistan.

We know where our erstwhile allies, the guys who democracy-loving George Bush put into power, feel about elections: They are in favor of them, but only if they can also rig the outcome. The Iranian regime, our so-called friends and the GOP all agree with the old saying of Boss Tweed: "As long as I count the votes, what are you going to do about it?"

Who Dragged Him Out of the Tyrant Protection Program?

And who really gives a shit what the Shah's spawn has to say?
The son of the former shah of Iran called Monday for solidarity against Iran's Islamic regime, warning that the democratic movement born out of the election crisis might not succeed without international support.
Like he doesn't have a dog in the fight. Spawn of Shah should forget about any dreams of becoming the next leader of Iran, for the odds are that there are damn few people in Iran interested in being ruled by the offspring of a CIA stooge.

I don't know what Junior was doing before today, but he ought to go back to doing it and keeping his jaw in the closed and locked position. The fact of the matter is that nobody is going to intervene. Intervention in a nation's affairs has taken a very bad odor since the neocons and their puppet president invaded Iraq. Besides that, there isn't a nation that has the military power, let alone the will, to invade and hold Iran.

Yes, the Ballot Boxes Were Stuffed. But That Doesn't Change Anything.

That's the latest line from the Iranian regime, where they now admit that in at least fifty cities, the number of votes cast exceeded the number of registered voters. Note also that the Iranian regime is asking its citizens why they simply cannot accept the results of a fraudulent election in the same way that Americans do.

One thing is clear, though, and that is that the Iranian conservatives are looking hard for any outsiders to blame. President Obama is smart enough not to get caught up in that. The various blowhards from the Party of Hoover, such as Lindsey Graham and John McCain, are nowhere near as savvy.

Why Children Should Go Hungry

A lawmaker from the party of Hoover actually made an argument for allowing children to go hungry. Note the item of jewelry that said lawmaker is wearing around her neck. Feel free to comment on the irony. No, it is not Michele Bachmann (R-Nut Barn), but it is understandable if you assumed that.

Then take a look at her actual newsletter and note the "joke" she posted on the bottom, which is a "humorous" take on the decades-old Wingnut line that "poor people are lazy."

I gather that she neither did not get the memo about "compassionate conservatives" nor was she awake for a good part of her Sunday School classes.

(H/T)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

So Much Blood

During a peaceful demonstration in Tehran on June 20th, a 16 year-old girl named Neda was shot to death by a paramilitary sniper.

Tehran Time

If the time stamp on this blog looks a little off, this is why. I'd suggest that everyone consider adopting point "a" and set their blog time to GMT+3:30, rather than GMT-4 (EDT) or whatever your local time zone happens to be.

Let's help cover these guys.

Bangity, Bangity, Bangity

I finally got around to taking my M-1 to the range. This is an M-1:



I purchased an adjustable gas cylinder plug for it. The plug normally closes off the front of the gas cylinder, and as issued, it is a solid piece of steel.

There are a few reasons to consider replacing the plug with an adjustable one. First off, for military ammunition, the gas system is set up for very positive cycling, which means that the operating rod (a long machined piece of steel that starts out with a gas piston at one end and locks onto the bolt at the other end) moves with a lot of force. It moves with more force than is really necessary for civilian uses. Second, if you want to make handloads, the adjustable port allows you to tune the gas system for your loads. Third, if you want to hunt with bullets that are heavier than the military ones, you will put a lot more stress on the gas system if you do not use an adjustable port. "Stress", in this case, means that you can bend the operating rod, which is A Bad Thing.

This is an adjustable gas port from Midway Arms.

Two vent holes are drilled on either side of the centerline of the plug; the holes are angled in. A central hole is drilled and threaded for a Allen set screw. The more you screw the set screw in, the more you close up the vent holes and the more gas is pushing on the gas piston end of the operating rod. A second set screw (really a ring) is provided so that you can lock the set screw.

I adjusted it this way: I started with the set screw cranked out. I loaded and fired a single round, which did not cycle the action. So I pulled the bolt back, ejecting the round and locking the bolt back. Then I used the Allen key to turn the set screw in 1/4 turn. I then loaded and fired another round and repeated the process until upon firing, the round ejected and the blot locked back.

(Caution: It is really important that in this procedure, you only load and fire one round at a time. You really want the bolt back and locked each time, for regardless how careful you are, it is almost impossible to adjust the set screw without having the barrel pointing near your face.)

Once I had it at that point, I started firing to sight in the rifle. At one point, I did get sluggish cycling, so I turned the set screw in another 1/4 turn. That seemed to cure it, so I turned it in another 1/8th of a turn for insurance and then screwed in the locking screw. Of course, if I change the ammunition that I fire to another bullet weight, the procedure has to be repeated.

On another note, it seems from my wholly unscientific and non-random visits to gun shops, that some handgun ammunition is becoming more available. .380 and .45 ACP seems to be in short supply, but 9mm and .40 were readily available.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Blathering of the Imbeciles

Mainly some jerkoff named Ruben Navarrette Jr., who thinks that President Obama should speak out on Iran.

Three words for Navarrette, which do not appear anywhere in his commentary: "The Great Satan". He apparently has zero understanding how well an outspoken stand by the United States would play right into the hands of the conservative clerics.

Three more words for Navaratte, which also do not appear in his argument for speaking out: "The Hungarian Revolution". If he has no idea how that played out, thanks to US vocal support for the revolutionaries, he should read up on it.

Obama is playing this one smart. Navarette should go back to doing what he apparently does best: Polishing the turd that is the Republican Party.

The Health Insurance Industry Protection Act of 2009

I have not been spending much time reading (and then blogging) about the health insurance bills that are being considered in the House and the Senate. But having said that, one thing struck me about the Senate's proposal, so far: All it does is mandate that everybody buy health insurance and for those who can't afford it, some paltry assistance with paying for it will be made available.

That's basically it. The bill looks out for the health insurance companies before anyone else. Yet the hard reality of the situation is that this country spends more, per capita, on health care than virtually any other nation and what we get for it is a system that is corrupt at its very core.

It is grossly inefficient. First, there are a number of health insurance companies, all with their own forms, their own authorization protocols and their own billing procedures. Any medical establishment, from a solo-practitioner to a major hospital, has to be able to deal with all of them.

Second, the system is geared towards encouraging that everyone buy the most super-duper machinery without any consideration as to demand so they can advertise "Bushwa County Hospital has a new, state-of-the-art, dilithium-quark imaging system". Of course, running someone through that shiny new DQIS costs three times as much as a PET Scan, four times as much as a MRI, six times as much as a CAT scan and twenty times as much as taking an X-ray.

Third, everybody tries to do everything. A sensible system would have all hospitals set up to stabilize whoever came in the door and then a regional system for specialty cases. If you needed a hip replacement, you'd go to one place, brain surgery, another and so on. By concentrating cases, the doctors who work on those would have enough to do to be thoroughly proficient; a mechanic who rebuilds transmissions every day is likely to be far better at it than one who does it every six months and the same is true for doctors. The current system rewards inefficiency.

But the biggest obstacle to fixing the health insurance mess is the health insurance industry, as any serious reform would threaten their rice bowls. Our current systems costs too much for what it delivers. The current system saddles employers with huge costs that increasingly make them non-competitive. But since the health insurance companies are able to get the best Senators that money can buy, don't look for anything to change anytime soon.

Caturday!

This is Sweetie. She is an outdoor cat, she will not come inside. She is Gracie's littermate. Their mother was feral. Sweetie was trapped when she was nearly two, but she refused to adjust to being indoors. She was, at least, spayed.


Gracie developed a nasty respiratory infection as a young kitten, which is why she was easy to catch. A strong course of antibiotics, at least four deworming courses, spaying and she's a fat aging cat.


George's lion cut is beginning to grow out. He'll be back to full-length hair by the time it turns cold.

Friday, June 19, 2009

405 Worthless, Pointless Douchebags

Otherwise known as the United States House of Representatives, which took time out their day to vote on a stupid-ass resolution about Iran. Ron Paul voted no. The other 29 either hadn't sobered up or hadn't been able to have the bail bondsman post their bond in time for them to cast their vote.

This stupid-ass resolution does nothing, other than provide a talking point for the forces of oppression in Iran. I gather it didn't occur to any one of those 405 drooling imbeciles that the Iranian conservatives regard the US government (including, yes, the 405 retards) as "the Great Satan".

They can't do anything to help on climate change or the mortgage meltdown or health care, but by gum, in the true spirit of bombastic bipartisan balderdash, they sure can pass toothless feel-good resolutions about events happening six thousand miles away.

Horseshit can at least be used as fertilizer. I'm not sure what good a congressman is.

Washington Post, Washington Times, No Difference

The Washington Post seems to more and more be trying to plow the same ground as the Washington Times and Fox News.

Case in point: They hired Bill Kristol and fired Dan Froomkin. They don't have any problem with giving space to the pro-torture advocates, but when it comes to a liberal who has proven to be one of the best-informed critics of first the Bush Administration and now, increasingly, the Obama Administration, they dump him.

I can't say that I have much use for the Washington Post.

UPDATE: Paul Krugman weighs in. I think he's got a point. There is also an argument to be made that you're better off watching Fox News or reading Pravda, for at least you know where they are coming from.

We Will Steal the Election, Call It "Fair" and You Will Like It

That is the message of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the "supreme leader" of Iran.

Sorry, bucko. There is too much evidence otherwise. There was no real count of the votes; for once the count was started and it became clear that Ahamdinejad was going down to defeat, fraudulent numbers were used. The government just made shit up. It was as fair as a game of Three-Card Monte.

The Iranian regime is going to end. Maybe not now or this year. But they will go the way of the Shah, for they have shown themselves to be just as autocratic and dictatorial.

TSA Has a "Well, Duh" Moment

The Homeland Security Department's inspector general said Wednesday the national security threat posed by general aviation is "limited and mostly hypothetical."
I have to wonder what is going on, though. The TSA and their parent agency, the DBP, operate by creating irrational fear. Giving up the "ZOMG, Cessna 150s Are Coming To Kill Us" line would seem to be counterintuitive for the TSA. They are not going to get far by adopting policies based on rational threat evaluation.

GOP Twits

Pete Hockstra is not the only self-important Republican twit who is comparing his trainwreck of a party to the Iranians.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Irandecision 2009 - The Oppression of House Republicans
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorJason Jones in Iran



The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Irandecision 2009 - Iranians Support the GOP
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorJason Jones in Iran


Th astonishing thing to me is that the conservatives (and not just in this country) would obviously be happier if Ahmadinejad remained as president of Iran.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Pete Hockstra Meme

Continues.

Bloatware

According to this, Vista is ten times the size of XP. Windows 7, which is supposed to fix the problems of Vista, is even larger.

If Microsoft ever got into designing weapons, their basic rifle would probably look at lot like this:

Another Reason to Eat at a Real Italian Restaurant, Rather Than at a Fake One Like the Olive Garden

Besides the fact that you are paying a lot of money for mass-manufactured pasta freshly unloaded from the Sysco Food Service truck, that is. The Olive Garden is joining the Wingnut outrage against David Letterman:
Following a week of back and forth between CBS late night comic David Letterman and Sarah Palin over a crude joke he told about the Alaska Republican governor’s daughter, the Olive Garden restaurant says it is canceling all of its scheduled ads on Letterman’s “Late Show” for the rest of the year.

In an email to a Letterman critic obtained by POLITICO, a spokeswoman for the Italian restaurant chain wrote that “there will be no more Olive Garden ads scheduled for ‘The Late Show’ with David Letterman in this year's broadcast schedule,” citing the talk show host’s “inappropriate comments.”
Olive Garden, the faux Italian restaurant of the Wingnuts.

When You Engage In Gross Acts of Stupidity, The Mocking Goes On Forever

It all started with a simple, foolish tweet. On June 17th, GOP Congressman Pete Hoekstra compared the life and death struggle of Iranians trying to get their message out via Twitter to the Republican Party’s tussle with Democrats.
"Iranian twitter activity similar to what we did in House last year when Republicans were shut down in the House"
And the rest is history.

One example from the blog:

Like That's Going to Happen

Letterman mines for comedy gold from the faux-news-generated outrage:



This is what Fixed Noise and its tools are outraged about:

The Usual Rapists of Consumers

are lining up to support their ability to continue to rape consumers.

While re-regulating the financial industry is a good thing, one must keep in mind that a lot depends on who is the boss of the regulators. Can anyone doubt that if new regulators, working out of the Treasury Department, would have been taking three hour lunch breaks back during the Bush Administration? Just look at how the EPA slacked off on going after polluters or the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor went to sleep for years or the absolute degradation of the Civil Rights Division most of the Department of Justice, if you think that regulation from the Executive Branch is the cure.

Independent regulators may not be much better. The Federal Reserve had the authority to regulate the mortgage market, but with Alan Greenspan, a mumbling devotee of Ayn Rand, at the helm, nothing was done. Greenspan dithered, the economy inflated and now the entire world is paying the price.

Regulations and laws are one thing. But they need to be enforced, otherwise they are just a pathetically bitter and tragic joke (sort of like the legacy of George W. Bush).

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Amusement Park Fail

funny pictures
moar funny pictures

Sheriff Taylor, Don't You Know You're Not Supposed to Give Barney Any Live Ammunition?

Indeed.

(H/T)

No Tinfoil Required

Here's a tip: When the NSA says they are "overcollecting" e-mails, that means they are collecting all emails.
The National Security Agency is facing renewed scrutiny over the extent of its domestic surveillance program, with critics in Congress saying its recent intercepts of the private telephone calls and e-mail messages of Americans are broader than previously acknowledged, current and former officials said.
Congressional Twitterfeed: "zOMG!!1!! The NSA is reading everyone's email. They're listening to all phone calls. We had no idea! Who knew?!?"

Just everyone who had been paying attention to this issue.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Just Another Hypocrite From the Party of Hoover

Sen. John Ensign (R-NV), who has confessed to stepping out on his wife. He was screwing around with the wife of a close friend of his, or, presumably, now-former-close friend.

When he was a Congressman, Ensign was outspoken that Bill Clinton should resign for having an affair with Monica Lewinsky. You might then wonder what are the chances that Ensign will take his own advice and step down.

You're more likely to hear the whistling of lobsters in the mountains.

"Family values", my ass.

UPDATE: From Politico:
A born-again Christian, Ensign has been a member of the Promise Keepers, a male evangelical group that promotes marital fidelity.
As Darth Vader would say: The hypocrisy is strong with this one.

(H/T for the Clinton reference.)

There Are Some Insanely Funny People In This World

Like this guy. And also here. Lots more on the links on the left of the second linked page.

Not keyboard safe.

(H/T)

"The Transparent Administration"? Not So Much

Nobody gives up power without a fight. Nobody.
The Obama administration is fighting to block access to names of visitors to the White House, taking up the Bush administration argument that a president doesn't have to reveal who comes calling to influence policy decisions.
So why did they not retain the claim to be able to detain people without trial or to torture people?

Recount By the Firm of DeLay and Rove

That'll be the ticket:
The Iranian regime today seemed to be reversing its position – which had seen Ahmadinejad declared the winner by a landslide – as the embattled president arrived in Russia for a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.

The country's powerful guardian council said it was ready to hold a recount in areas disputed by opposition candidates. No details of the scope of the recount and who would carry it out were available.
Well over a hundred thousand people demonstrated in Tehran yesterday, despite being told by the government that live ammunition would be used to put the demonstration down. It was the largest demonstration in Iran since the protests against the Shah in 1979 and the protesters chanted the same slogan: "Down with the dictator!"

I suppose I could snark about how when presidential elections are stolen in this country, people just shrug, but that makes it seem as though Iranians care more about democracy than Americans. But that simply cannot be true, just ask Glenn Beck.

UPDATE: To add this:


(H/T for the cartoon)

Racist Repeat

More from the Party of Hoover: Sherri Goforth, a staff member for Diane Black, a GOP state senator in Tennessee sent out this composite of presidential portraits. Note what the sheet-wearing ghoul from the Volunteer State chose for President Obama's portrait:

When called on it, the racist heifer only lamented that she had sent the picture to the "wrong list of people" in her address book.

Which begs the question: Does she have a list of addresses solely for fellow bigots? And are they, in turn, smart enough not to forward it?

Does anybody these days not understand that nobody should say anything in an email that they would not mind seeing printed on a billboard alongside the highway?

(H/T)

Monday, June 15, 2009

When They Steal an Election in Iran

People protest.


I think President Obama is doing the right thing by keeping as quiet as possible on the electoral dispute in Iran. If Chimpy the Last was still the preznit, he'd have made some moronically bombastic pronouncement and the conservatives in Iran would use that as justification to crush the opposition.

This may be the beginning of the end for the theocratic regime in Iran.

(I'll leave the subject of how conservatives hate democracy for another time.)

Nanny State to the Tenth Power

The first “anti-stab” knife is to go on sale in Britain, designed to work as normal in the kitchen but to be ineffective as a weapon.
I hate to break it to you blokes over in Blightly, but knives aren't exactly high-tech weapons. Anyone with a half-way decent grinding wheel will put a point back on those knives in short order. It'll take longer with a mill file, but it can be done. Hell, it could even be done, slowly, with a patch of rough concrete.

Besides that, as any real knife pro knows, the proper way to use a knife is as a slashing weapon. The Samurai sword was a slashing weapon; you could press your fingers against the edge with little injury, but do that and slide your hand down the sword and they'd be calling you "Stubby". Slide a few inches of sharp steel against your opponent's neck and he is a dead man.

Once the goons figure out the proper way to use a knife, then what are you going to do?

Racist Bastard

Any questions?

Does anyone doubt for a picosecond that the comment by a party of Hoover activist, which said that a zoo gorilla was "an ancestor of Michelle Obama", was nothing short of racist? It was not "in jest", it was an expression of pure, unadulterated bigotry.

You can bet your ass cheeks that the putz would have never dreamed of saying anything like that about Laura Bush.

(H/T)

The Whitewash Factory Is Working Three Shifts in Iran

Iran's state television said Monday that the supreme leader ordered an investigation into claims of fraud in last week's presidential election.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ordered the powerful Guardian Council to examine the allegations by pro-reform candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, who has claimed widespread vote rigging in Friday's election.
The chairman of the Guardian Counsel had endorsed Ahmadinejad before the election. The Guardian Council will no more overturn the fraudulent results than did our Supreme Court following the 2000 theft by the Republicans.

Don't Expect Much on Health Care

Between the party of Hoover, which thinks that it is just peachy that 46 million Americans do not have health insurance, the goons in the insurance industry who are trying to kill any move to change the current execrable system, the big pharmaceutical companies and the politicians on both sides of the aisle with ties to the health industry, do not expect anything to change anytime soon.

The entire system is steeped in corruption and fraud. Please indulge me in a personal example (which I possibly have told before- sue me):

Some years ago, I found myself in the ER early one morning. (The "why" is irrelevant.) I was there for eight hours. The overall bill for those eight hours was roughly $7,000. My co-pay was about $125. Insurance paid about $800. The rest of the bill was wiped out as part of the agreement between the insurance company and the providers.

$7,000 billed, $925 paid. $6,000 just "vanished," since the insurance company had negotiated a much lower rate by the "you don't agree to take this, none of our insureds will go to you" method.

Now say that I had no health insurance. Those bastards in the hospital would have gone after me for $7,000. If I had settled with them for less, say $3,000, the bastards would have sent me a Form 1099 for $4,000 and I would have had to pay income tax on that. If I gave them a phony name and stiffed them, the hospital would have added $7,000 to their claim of "see how much we spend on the uninsured."

All of that is bullshit, because they get paid less, a lot less, by every insurer out there. But the fictional number of how much it costs to provide medical services for uninsured people, is what is driving the health insurance debate. It is nothing short of fraud on the part of the white-coated professionals.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Chaos in Iran

Sully is doing good work covering this, read his blog. There are repeated allegations that the Iranian regime has deployed killers from Hezbollah as they cannot trust the Iranian cops to be sufficiently brutal. There are allegations that Hezbollah is in the dorms of Isfahan University in Tehran and is shooting and beating people.

The Iranian regime sacrificed any legitimacy it once had. It is now little different from that of the Shah or of any number of thug-led states in that part of the world, like Syria and Egypt.

The Sound You Just Heard Was Glenn Beck's Head Exploding

Even better: The parade was sponsored by a Fox channel.

Millions Enjoy Puerto Rican Parade

Updated: Sunday, 14 Jun 2009, 6:18 PM EDT
Published : Sunday, 14 Jun 2009, 6:18 PM EDT

MYFOXNY.COM - If a street could smile, Fifth Avenue would have been grinning from ear-to-ear at Sunday's Puerto Rican Day Parade.

The sounds of salsa and the sight of thousands of colorful costumes and floats delighted paradegoers of every age.

Fox 5 and sister station My9 broadcast the event and were proud sponsors of the 52nd annual extravaganza. Fox 5's Ernie Anastos and My9's Brenda Blackmon hosted.

The National Puerto Rican Day Parade is one of the largest parades in the United States.

If This Kid is Guilty As Charged

Drown him.
A South Florida teenager was arrested early Sunday and accused of killing and mutilating the cats of his neighbors — a disturbing string of deaths that has horrified residents and shaken animal lovers in two Miami-area communities.
If he is guilty, that kid is a future serial killer.

Who Thought Zombies Needed Condiments?

Who'd have thought that they needed to pour sweeteners on their victims.

Karl Rove Was Having Wet Dreams

at the way they "counted" the votes in the Iranian presidential election. For it seems they did not even pretend to count the votes, they just reported fictional totals.
One employee of the Interior Ministry, which carried out the vote count, said the government had been preparing its fraud for weeks, purging anyone of doubtful loyalty and importing pliable staff members from around the country.

“They didn’t rig the vote,” claimed the man, who showed his ministry identification card but pleaded not to be named. “They didn’t even look at the vote. They just wrote the name and put the number in front of it.”

Plenty of coverage out there, go read it. You know Karl Rove is wishing that he could have done the same thing last year, just like they did in Ohio in `04.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

More Secrecy From the "Transparent Administration"

I call "bullshit" on this:
Dozens of communities nationwide are at risk from a coal ash spill like the one that blanketed a Tennessee neighborhood last year, but the Obama administration has decided not to tell the public about it because of the danger of a terrorist attack.

The Environmental Protection Agency, as part of an investigation opened after the Tennessee spill, classified 44 coal ash storage ponds in 26 communities as potential hazards.

The agency, which earlier this year pledged to be transparent and carry out its work in the public view, wanted to disclose the information until the Army Corps of Engineers said it shouldn't because of national security concerns.
"The potential for a terrorist attack" is code for "it's going to be too embarrassing if we tell you, so we won't tell you." There seems to be little difference between the Bush and the Obama Administrations' use of "the threat of terrorism" and the claims of "national security" that were invoked by the Johnson and Nixon Administrations to cover up their misdeeds and lies.

They have to be really stupid to think that classifying this information will work. It should not be too hard to go on the Internet and search for "coal ash ponds". Here's a list. Georgia Power alone has three plants that have a total of 1.5 million tons of coal ash in containment ponds. PSI Energy in Gibon County, Indiana has about 900,000 tons of coal ash at one power plant, so does Dayton Power & Light in Ohio. You could get aerials of those plants from a number of sources. You can also find articles about individual plants, such as this one.

You'd have to be a real imbecile these days to think that this information is going to stay under wraps. Or you'd have to work for the Army Corps of Engineers ("Our Motto: Our Levees Usually Almost Never Fair.") if you really believed that they can hide this stuff.

If You Want to Have Computer Privacy

You cannot have a connection to the Internet. You cannot have a computer which is networked to another computer which is connected to the Internet. You might get away with just having a dial-up modem and only connecting for the purposes of sending and receiving e-mail, but even that is not certain.

The Pentagon and the NSA are setting up new "cyberwar" structures. There is little doubt that Federal law enforcement will do the same, if they not already are. State and even local law enforcement will piggyback along and they will do their snooping of people's computer systems under the guise of "national security."

Before you dismiss this as "the concerns of another Moonbat", consider this: The FBI has had to repeatedly admit that their agents grossly misused the "National Security Letters" to obtain information from banks and other entities which should have been the subject of warrants. The FBI did this because NSLs are not subject to judicial review and warrants are, of course, issued by judges. Second, back when the American Fascist USA Patriot Act was enacted, the Federal cops promised over and over that the expanded powers they were getting would only be used in anti-terrorism cases, yet the first time they used those powers, it was on a fraud case out in Vegas.

One newer rule: The Internet and privacy do not mix. That seems to be clearer and clearer as time goes on.

One very old rule: Never trust the government, especially law enforcement, to respect your rights on their own volition. They will not. History is replete with examples.

We need an independent "cyber-watchdog" to keep a very close watch on these people.

Caturday

I did little with the camera this week, so here are some older shots.

Gracie in one of the cat condos:


Her younger half-brother, Rocky.


Jake, just being cool.


And, of course, the OC, George.