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

Monday, May 31, 2010

String Turds

This can happen with cats. The hair that is making its way through their digestive tract almost forms up like string. The string connects one turd to the next one. When the cat goes to the litter box, it can then jump out with one or two turds dangling from its ass.

If you are lucky, the cat will walk by, you'll smell the turds and be able to remove them before the cat sits down and mashes the turds into the fur on its hindquarters. Or your rug. Or your furniture.

I was lucky tonight.

Trap

The Israelis fell right into it. As did the British over 60 years ago.

I'll stand by what I wrote over a year ago.

SLAPP

Some businesses are suing bloggers for writing mean things about them.

Here is a free tip to such businesses: If you run an ethical operation, where you take pride in good customer service, you probably have little to fear from bloggers.

But if you run the sort of bottom-feeding, scum-sucking business that routinely has your customers filing complaints with the Better Business Bureau or the state attorney general's consumer protection office, then yes, you can pretty much count on that some blogger is going to mention you in a very unflattering post. Depending on who you piss off, it could go viral. It could be one of the top hits on a Google search of your business.

And if you sue a blogger, word of that will get out and that go viral.

If your business model is to treat people like shit and hope that word-of-mouth is slow to spread, the Internet, between bloggers, facebookers and tweeters, is going to play hob with that.

Sportsmanship

It seems to be sadly lacking in the pros, which may be somewhat understandable, in a way, for pro sports is as much a business as manufacturing computers or importing cocaine.[1] At the pro level, winning is all that counts and it's only a foul if you get caught.

Yet sportsmanship is still alive and well. The girls at two high schools in Indianapolis have proved that.

[H/T]
[1]Probably the latter.

Today Should Not Be Memorial Day

Yesterday should have been Memorial Day.


The soldiers and Marines in this cemetery have been there for nearly a century (the Oise-Aisne American Cemetery). When their lives were taken from them, the day was called Decoration Day and it took place on May 30th. Most of them were likely draftees who, given their druthers, would have stayed home and raised families. Their great-grandchildren would be adults, now. But they did what was asked of them and more. And they never came home. Those who remembered them, who were devastated when the telegram arrived bringing news of their deaths, are themselves now dead. If their letters home were not preserved, the only tangible memory of their existence is now those markers over their graves in France.



We should not use the day to honor those men and women as an excuse to kick off the summer holiday season. It should be more than the day to mark when it is proper for women to wear white shoes.

I know, I piss into the wind about this every year.[1] It still gripes me. We've changed it from a day to honor those who gave the last full measure of devotion and made it into the unofficial start of the summer vacation season.

The Canadians had the good sense to do that to a day that remembers a long-dead monarch who is now best known for the phrase "we are not amused." We should have done the same.

[1]And I am going to continue to gripe about this ever year. Deal with it.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Brave State Trooper Guns Down a Kitten

I wish this were a joke, but it is not. A North Carolina state trooper shot and killed his neighbor's kitten because the kitten was climbing onto his car. The neighbors were not amused at having their son's pet gunned down.

They pressed charges. The trooper was charged with two counts of animal abuse and found guilty.

Now he's an ex-trooper.

(H/T)

First Flight- 75 Years Ago

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the first flight of two aviation icons:

The DC-3:


And the B-17:


I've written about the DC-3 before, so you can go read this post, which has a link to another one. In surfing around the Internet for this post, I came across this site. It has a lot of stuff on it and a boatload of photos. But it also has a few head-scratchers, like this page on how to fly a DC-3, which has this headscratcher of a statement:
The distance the pistons travel in the cylinders (stroke) is related to the power used. The piston rings, over time, wear a ridge into the cylinder wall at the top and bottom of the stroke, If 42" is used for takeoff, the bottom ridge will develop further up the piston wall than in an engine that has seen rated power for Takeoff. If the time comes when full rated power is needed (short runway, engine failure, etc.) and a power setting greater than 42" is used, the piston is now forced past the ridge in the cylinder created by many hours of using de-rated power. Forcing the piston rings past this ridge can cause them to break.
I'm not an engine mechanic, but that strikes me as being dead wrong. The crankshaft is a rigid machined chunk of solid steel that spins in a set of bearings. The connecting rods are also steel and they do not stretch as power is applied.

Can anyone think of why someone would say something like that, unless it was just bullshit to placate a nosey-parker on why they were not using maximum power on take-off?

Inaccurate"? Try "Lie".

For a lie it was:
The Republican candidate for President Obama's old Senate seat has admitted to inaccurately claiming he received the U.S. Navy's Intelligence Officer of the Year award for his service during NATO's conflict with Serbia in the late 1990s.
It was not an "inaccuracy". It was a lie.

"I was the Navy's Intelligence Officer of the Year," was what he said in 2002, which was not true in the slightest. His command was given an award. Anyone who has been in the service knows the difference between a unit award and an individual award. He is either a fucking liar or he is the classic poster child for the old saying that "naval intelligence is an oxymoron".

Never Feel Sorry for Anyone Who Owns an Airplane

Take it from me: When it comes to what it costs, those of us who own airplanes are economic imbeciles.

My annual was not terribly cheap, between three and four grand. Part of that was because a cylinder had to be removed for reworking because the valves were not sealing properly.

On the second flight after the annual was done, there was a decent oil leak. I figured that it was the pushrod seals from that cylinder; no big deal. So did my mechanic.

We were both wrong. It was the oil cooler.[1] That was a bit over a grand to fix, between the new cooler (OK, a rebuilt one) and the hoses and labor.[2]

The joys of owning an airplane. I keep telling myself that I'd never be able to rent anything like it, that I'd have to fly generic 172s and comparable Pipers. Not that there is anything wrong with them, but they are nowhere near as much fun to fly.


Airplane owners are certifiable, I think.

[1]I try not to think about what would have happened if the oil cooler had completely split. At the least, the insurance company would now own an airplane.
[2]The wrecked economy has done a number on my income, as well.

State Department: Kafka-Grade Fuckery

This is how it goes: If you are from another country but you live here, you own property, you run a business that employs a handful of American workers, you make a profit and you pay taxes, the faceless bureaucrats in the State Department can arbitrarily force you to shut down your business, fire your workers, sell your property and leave the country.

For no goddamn reason whatsoever. Because those faceless, soulless paper-pushers in the State Department feel like it.

BP: The "P" Is for "Phuckery"

Now it is coming to light that BP knew for almost a year that there were problems with the well casing and the blowout preventer on its Deep Horizon well in the Gulf of Mexico. But in the true spirit of BP towards matters related to safety, BP just went ahead and kept drilling.

"Drill, baby, drill."

Tens of millions of gallons of oil have gushed and are continuing to gush out of that broken well.

"Drill here, drill now."

Gulf Coast fisherman are facing the reality that most of them will be forced out of business.

"Drill, baby, drill."

"Drill, baby, drill."

George W. Bush is now in favor of using renewable energy sources.

"Drill here, drill now."

On the other hand Big Oil's Favorite Governor, Rick Perry of Texas, has called BP's debacle "an act of God" and, other than that, has been hiding out from reporters.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Dennis Hopper, RIP

Dead at age 74.

Covering BP's Ass

The FAA has placed two Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFRs, a/k/a "no-fly zones") over much of the Gulf of Mexico from the surface to 3,000'. The stated purpose is "DUE TO THE NUMEROUS LOW LEVEL OPERATIONS ASSOCIATED WITH THE DEEPWATER HORIZON."
All aircraft operations are prohibited except those flights authorized by ATC, routine flights supporting offshore oil operations; federal, State, local and military flight operations supporting oil spill recovery and reconstitution efforts; and air medical and law enforcement operations.


What the two TFRs do, of course, is keep aircraft hired by reporters and conservation groups from observing what is going on.

It is clear which side of the picture this Administration is on, and that is the side of BP. That would have been expected from the Cheney-Chimpy Administration and we all would have been appropriately cynical about it, but this is far, far worse.  BP engaged in a "Potemkin village" beach cleanup and I didn't read a word of chastisement from the the Obama Administration.

So what is the alternative to the Democrats when it comes to looking out for the interests of working people? The Teabaggers are clearly not it; they are an astroturf group for the GOP. The Libertarians are even worse than the GOP.

Who stands up for us? Maybe three senators out of 100: Russ Feingold, Bernie Sanders and Al Franken, perhaps? It's becoming clear that this administration does not.

We are so screwed.

Your Tax Dollars At Work

This is SOFIA, the Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy:


Imagine taking the Hooker telescope from the Mount Wilson Observatory and flying it. SOFIA is far more compact, of course, and was designed for infrared observations, hence the need to be able to fly it in order to get above 99% of the water vapor in the atmosphere.

Amazing stuff.

Caturday

George is resting and recuperating from his dental work. I normally don't let him sleep right there, but I was feeling sorry for him. He went through a lot.



Gracie was none too pleased after a session with the Furminator.



Jake is doing his impersonation of a doorstop.



He heard some birds outside the window and they caught his attention. But he was not curious enough to rouse himself and go look out the window.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Beyond Petroleum



(H/T)

Attention, Gulf Coast Teabaggers! (Especially You, Govs. Jindal & Barbour)

How are those lines of "we don't want anything from the Federal government" and "drill, baby, drill" and "regulations stifle businesses" and "zOMG, socialism" working out for you, now?

Florida panhandle beaches not on top ten list this year.

Gulf Coast hotels are slashing rates to try and hold onto their bookings. Where the oil is coming ashore, the tourists have disappeared.

BP, whether by accident or design, is poisoning the fisherman that have joined the cleanup efforts.

Seafood prices are going up and may go much higher.

Summer home rentals on the Florida gulf coast are down by 80% and nearly a quarter of the Gulf of Mexico is now off-limits to fishermen.

A strong hurricane in the Gulf could blow the oil ashore and well inland.

Yeah, the party of Hoover's mantras "business doesn't need regulation" and "Federal oversight of business stifles innovation" have worked out really well.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

If I Were the CEO of BP, I Wouldn't Want to Talk About a Procedure Known as "Top Kill"

It might give a few bad ideas to some of those shrimpers in the Gulf of Mexico who are going to lose their livelihoods because of the hundred-plus millions of gallons of crude oil spilled by BP.

Just sayin'.

(It's not working, at least not yet.)

The TeaBuggers

Yes, they were planning on wiretapping.

But the daddy of the lead Teabugger is a federal prosecutor, so it's off to "no jail misdemeanor land" for the Teabuggers.

Frickin' figures...

Future Jihadist Attacks?

The boys at Stratfor think it is likely that future attacks in the U.S. and Europe will be conducted with firearms, not bombs. The reasons are that the skills to make successful bomb attacks are harder to acquire, as are the materials. Firearms are legal in the U.S. and some of Europe and there are places to practice with them.

The counter to that is that the police, since Columbine, have trained in what to do when there are shooters running around ventilating people. And, in many parts of the U.S., the population of potential victims may have people with weapons. Some of the past attackers, whether by luck or design, have chosen target locations where non-police carrying of weapons is forbidden.

The Failed Times Square Bomber had purchased a gun. There are usually a fair number of cops there, though, and he might have thought he wouldn't get to wreak the havoc that he desired.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Art Linkletter

Has died. He was 97.

The story goes that Walt Disney asked him to host the opening of Disneyland, but that Disney couldn't afford to pay him more than union scale. Linkletter owned a camera store at the time and agreed, but only if he was also given a ten-year exclusive right to sell cameras and film at Disneyland. Disney agreed. Linkletter made a good fortune on that deal alone.

Fifty Years of Weather Satellites

It was been fifty years since the first weather satellite, TIROS-1, was launched.



(H/T)

Cheonan

I am not at all certain as to what the North Koreans thought they were going to gain by sinking the Cheonan. Relations with South Korea are now not much better than they were in the 1950s. Secretary of State Clinton is using the sinking as a wedge to try and pry China apart from North Korea and she may be gaining some ground, though progress in that is always hard to discern.

Watch what happens with the Kaesong industrial park, which is on the border of the two countries. It is in North Korea, it employs North Korean workers who work for South Korean companies, who run the factories there. If that shuts down, then things are getting truly bad. If it stays open, then both countries may be signaling that they will work through the sinking of the Cheonan and the deaths of those sailors killed when the Cheonan was torpedoes by a North Korean submarine.

Foreign Agents?

Are cardinals, bishops and priests agents of a foreign power? I ask this because the Obama Administration has filed a brief with the Supreme Court arguing that the Vatican is immune from being sued for its child-molesting priests because it is a foreign state.

Then are not at least the cardinals and bishops foreign agents? My understanding is that they are promoted to being bishops and cardinals and assigned to their jobs by the Vatican. The Vatican exercises some degree of oversight, though probably not a terrible amount, as I would suspect that their rules evolved during the days when it took weeks and months to travel from Rome to a far-off place like Scotland. The cardinals also vote in the papal elections.

It would seem to me that the church should not have it both ways; that they are both a foreign power and their hierarchy here are not foreign agents.

But evidently, they've been having it both ways for decades.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Safety is Job #1

Not at BP, where the attitude was "fuck safety, workers are fungible."

What is Behind the Teabaggers' Hostility Towards Government Spending?

According to BadTux, a son of the South, it is racism. His point is that the Southerners didn't mind government spending on infrastructure (schools, parks, roads) and schools until Black folks began to benefit from it.

Here is just one paragraph.
As a youngster growing up in the South, I saw this first-hand in the gritty industrial city where I was born. Municipal swimming pools that I had swam in during my childhood were closed because "if we gotta share swimming pools with niggers, we just ain't gonna have no swimming pools at all." The school district's budget was gutted and what had been ultra-modern schools with the best facilities in 1960 became, by 1975, run-down hellholes where the science labs were filled with obsolete equipment, the swimming pool was filled in, the track was overgrown with grass and barely visible, and the tennis courts had no nets, not to mention the holes in the walls, the dirty and disintegrating asbestos tile floors, the leaky roofs... you get the point. When the desegregation orders came down and they were forced to share the schools with blacks, the white majority suddenly became anti-public-education regressives where previously they had been rabidly pro-public-education progressives.
Click on the link and read the whole thing.

Safety is Job #1

Not at Massey Coal.

But we knew that.

(H/T)

That Is an Ex-Lander!

NASA has pronounced the Phoenix Lander to officially be dead. It did not survive the Martian winter; apparently its solar panels were crushed by the weight of CO2 ice.

British Petroleum to Feds: "Fuck You."

In a tense standoff, BP continued to spray a product called Corexit in the Gulf of Mexico on Monday to break up a vast oil spill despite a demand by federal regulators that it switch to something less toxic.
Why should BP care? First off, they're a big corporation and, as we all know, according to the principles of the party of Hoover and the Teabaggers, corporations can do no wrong. There are enough politicians that have BP's back on this, even though BP has dumped something over 100 million gallons of oil into the Gulf o Mexico.

Second, the Gulf of Mexico is a very long way from the United Kingdom, so British Petroleum really doesn't give a shit.

Monday, May 24, 2010

It Sure Helps If Young Teabagger's Daddy is a Prosecutor

Which is why he can get off with a slap on the wrist for attempting to fuck up the telephones in a Federal building while an autistic kid is facing felony charges for a stick drawing of his teacher.

What a country.

If There is One Overarching Reason Why We May Lose in Afghanistan

It will be because of the blatant corruption and influence-peddling of the Karzai regime. And we are willingly climbing into that bed.

I suspect that it is fair to say that the Karzai regime is roundly hated by most Afghans. It may get to the point, sooner or later, that the Afghans will conclude that they would prefer the primitive Islamic brutality of the Taliban over the large-scale narco-corruption of the Karzai brothers. And then it will all be over.

Finale of Lost

I didn't watch the show. Not a single episode. But I gather that the finale of Lost was about as fucked up as the finale of Battlestar Galactica. Maybe even moreso.

There's probably a lesson there about writers not being smart enough or good enough to know how to end a series that has almost taken on a life of its own. Or maybe not.

Time-Lapse Space Shuttle

Click here; it runs for 3:32.

(If I embed it, it's self-launching and I hate shit like that.)

(H/T to Dr. Bubbles)

BP's Oil Spill Team Engineers

They used to work for Rockwell Automation:

Happy Victoria Day to Our Canadian Friends!

(What it is, in case you've never heard of it.)

The Sinking of the Cheonan

It's pretty certain, by now, that North Korea sank the ship. It's reasonably certain that this was done at the command, if not the concurrence, of the dictator of that nation.

It is less than clear what happens now. China is very reluctant to do anything to upset the North Koreans. South Korea will take measures short of war, for they have far more to lose in a conflict.

I'd look for an indication that China and Russia are tightening border security with North Korea in order to stem a tide of refugees. That may indicate how bad they expect things to be.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Grinding Down the Working Stiffs

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released its yearly report on what jobs people hold. The data is a year old, it takes them that long to compile it. This is the report summary.

Of the top ten jobs held by the most people, only one, nursing, pays well. For the other nine, if you were to try to support a family on the wags you earned, you'd be collecting food stamps.

These are the top ten jobs and the average wage:

Retail salespersons                                $9.74
Cashiers                                                 $8.57
General office clerks                             $12.57
Combined food preparation and
serving workers, including fast food    $8.28
Registered nurses                                   $30.65
Waiters and waitresses                          $8.50
Customer service representatives       $14.56
Laborers, material movers                  $11.11
Janitors and cleaners, except
maids and housekeeping cleaners       $10.56
Stock clerks and order fillers              $10.08

Some of the scarcer occupations make decent money. Mathematicians (2,770 jobs) average $44.99 an hour. Industrial psychologists (1,710) $40.03/hr. Prosthodontists make $53.42/hr, but there are only 660 of them. There are more locomotive firemen than that, 960, but they make a lot less: $22.63/hr.

The top ten jobs are all service-related and nine out of ten pay dogshit wages. Even in most of the factory jobs, you'd be hard-pressed to provide for a family on one paycheck.[1] It didn't used to be that way, but you'd probably have to be well into middle aged to remember when it wasn't that way.

[1]I'm sure that Rand Paul and the other dispensers of Libertarian Magic Dust think that's just peachy.

What a Country!

Shorter version of NY Times Article: You can put together toxic securities, sell them, insure them against near-certain failure, wreck the economy, get a 12-figure government bailout, take home over nine figure bonuses for doing that and you will never spend a day in jail.

Rand "Business Can Do No Wrong" Paul must be really happy for this guy.

What a country!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

If You Work For AGI, You Can Please Die Soon

I don't know who the entity AGI is, though they apparently are the most retarded telemarketers since the telephone was invented. Their phone number, according to my caller ID, is 616-980-4030. They never leave a message and, on the odd time that I've picked up the call, there is nobody there.

According to the chatter in Internet forums, they are a company of jackasses called Americall Group Inc.[1] The president is some asshole named George Kestler, who seems to have gotten his start by selling insurance to grieving widows and orphans over the telephone. These accidents-of-birth work for various financial institutions, who seem to take pleasure in annoying their customers.

May all of their brains be eaten by vermin. May they all be attacked by facehuggers. May their children all change their identities so that they are not associated with these telephonic parasites.

[1] Rand Paul thinks it is so unfair to criticize any business. Fuck him.

Father-and Son Anti-Government Whackjobs Murdered Two Cops

They gunned down two cops and were, in turn, shot dead in a subsequent gunfight. Of course, you won't read too much about it after a couple of news cycles.

Now if they had a last name like "al-Masura" or something like that, then you'd be hearing about this story for years.

Caturday- Ride, George, Ride

When I do the laundry and empty out the dirty clothes basket, George likes to jump in and lie there.



He also likes to get his ride. I pick up the basket, with him in it, and carry it around my apartment at about head-height. He really seems to like getting to see things from a much more elevated perspective.



Those photos were taken last weekend, before George's shaving. This photo was taken yesterday:



Note that there is a white patch on George's hip. He does not grow any hair there.

George was abandoned by his mother and rescued by a friend when he was very young. He weighed four ounces (113gm). He had an open wound in his hip that was infested by maggots. He spent a lot of time in a bathroom sink, having his wound washed out with warm water and rinsed out with hydrogen peroxide until it healed. To this day, a bathroom sink is a comfort zone for George.

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Trainwreck That is Rand Paul

Rand Paul, the Teabagger/ party of Hoover candidate for the U.S. Senate in KY, has spent the last couple of days trying to furiously backpedal away from his many previous statements that he pretty much opposes the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Fair Housing Act (and, presumably, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act), as Paul thinks its perfectly OK when private companies discriminate against anyone they damn well feel like discriminating against. There is no need to rehash all that, you've probably seen more than enough blog posts elsewhere on it.

Now, he has come up with another corker: It is "un-American" to go after BP for its oil spill.

Has he forgotten, perhaps, that the "B" in "BP" stands for "British"?

So it is now "un-American" to attack the British, at least in Rand Paul's eyes.

Well, now we know which side he would have chosen in 1775: The Loyalist side, also known as the losing side.

Conflict of Interest, Ya Think??- BP Edition

The Federales are willingly letting BP control virtually everything. Including the data developed about the extent of the oil pollution on the Gulf shores.
Local animal rescue workers have volunteered to help treat birds affected by the slick and to collect data that would also be used to help calculate penalties for the spill. But federal officials have told the volunteers that the work must be done by a company hired by BP.
The Obama Administration needs to get of the bed that it is sharing with BP.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Edging Around the Drain

From yesterday's news:
Consumer prices over all fell in April by 0.1 percent, the Labor Department said in its monthly report on Wednesday. The decline was the first since March 2009. Prices rose by 0.1 percent in March 2010.

...

But without the volatile prices for food and energy, the core index for consumer prices remained flat, as they did in March. Over the 12-month period that ended in April, the core index rose 0.9 percent, which economists said was the lowest it has been since the 1960s.

Other costs that fell in that period included housing, down 0.7 percent, and apparel, down 0.9 percent, the largest decline of all the nonenergy components.
This is not good news, at least in my opinion. This is way too close to deflation to suit me.

If you think inflation is bad, deflation is worse. Deflation gives people an incentive not to buy anything other than bare necessities, for the money that is not spent now becomes worth more. In a deflationary time, what is economically best for individuals becomes economically suicidal for society as a whole.

If you think 10-15% unemployment is bad, if we get into a deflationary spiral, 15% unemployment will look like the good old days. Millions more will be out of work. Those fortunate enough to have a job will wind up working for a lot less, which means that those who will still be working and who own homes with mortgages will be at risk for losing their homes, especially if their loans are with scumbag banks like Chase.

The problem is that once deflation starts, about the only way to break the spiral is by massive government spending on a near WW2 level of spending. That won't happen if the party of Hoover has anything to say about it, for the destruction of the working and middle classes is a long-cherished dream of them. Their useful idiots, the Teabaggers, will be only too happy to be complicit until everything comes crashing down around their ears.

And then, they will look for someone to blame. That's when a real demagogue can arise and if that happens, then that will be all for our democracy as we have known it.

Hours I Will Never Get Back in My Life- Movie Edition

I've seen some movies that I thought were G-d-awful. Here's a list in no particular order, and yes, I saw all but one of them in movie theaters:

Hard Times. Why I chose to plunk down good money to watch a movie about how hard life was in the Depression was beyond me. I got enough of those stories when I was a kid. If I wanted more, all I had to do was ask my dad or my uncles or my aunts. I walked out after fifteen minutes.

Star Trek- the Motion Picture. If the ST fans were not so loyal, this movie should have killed the franchise off. It was over two hours long; it felt as though it was four hours long. What they did was take the script from the ST episode The Changling, stretched the hell out of it, put in some special effects and put the crew in uniforms that looked like onesies. This movie sucked so bad that Gene Roddenberry was not allowed to produce the Wrath of Khan, which was a far better movie.

If You Could See What I Hear. It was supposed to be a "light comedy". Anyone who watched this movie more than once was at risk for type 2 diabetes. At the time, I was in a relationship where we traded off choosing movies to go see. I hated this movie so much that my next pick was Conan the Barbarian. Speaking of which....

Conan the Destroyer. Conan the Barbarian was actually pretty decent. It had some tangential relationship to the Robert E. Howard stories. This one, however, did not and there was not a single person in the movie who could act worth a damn. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Grace Jones and Wilt Chamberlain were the leads, which should have told me that the movie was going to be a real celluloid catastrophe. And it was.

Return of the Jedi, or "Cute Little Stone-Age Teddy Bears Take Down the Evil Empire". This movie should have been the first real clue for me that George Lucas had become convinced that he was a god of the cinema. It was one of the first movies that I saw where I was wishing for more casualties in the combat scenes, like 100% or better.

Naked Gun 33-1/3: The Final Insult. This one should have been called "Stretching a Comedic Gag Too Far." The co-stars included O.J. Simpson and Anna Nicole Smith. Enough said.

The English Patient. This one was touted as "the Casablanca of the `90s". Yes, it would have been, but only if if all of the leads in Casablanca were played by venal characters who made the Nazis look sympathetic in comparison. Besides that, the movie was so long that even if I had any sympathy for the characters at the beginning, I wanted them all to die 30 minutes before the credits rolled.

The Mummy Returns. The 1999 Mummy movie was one of my favorites. This one, however, was the epitome of sequel suckitude. My rule is now that all sequels suck until proven otherwise.

Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. "Confessions of an egomanical retard" was more like it. This was another "get up and walk out" flick.

Burn After Reading. That is what the studio bosses should have done when they were given the script. This movie probably was one of the "these guys are really good, it can't be too bad" greenlight decisions. It's sort of the same way that a lot of Robert Parker and Patricia Cornwall novels got published. When I saw this movie, over 3/4ths of the audience walked out on it. I should have gone with them.

Jin-Roh. When I once remarked to an acquaintance that I had never seen an anime movie, he gave me the DVD and insisted that I watch it. It was dumber than dogshit. It convinced me that a good rule of thumb was "anime fans = male virgins". (And why those assassins were so in love with the "broomhandle Mauser", a weapon that was obsolete when the Luger went into production in 1900, is beyond me.)

There is another list I could do, of movies that I have seen parts of on the tube and would never ever watch from start to finish, but that's a post for another time.

Oh, the Humanity! - Feline Edition

George went in for his annual haircut and dental work. This time, I asked that they leave a stripe down his back. He hates it after he gets his hair cut when I stroke him on his bare back, so the mohawk effect is also an insulating strip. Gracie is hissing and yowling at him as he probably smells like the vet's OR.



He wound up losing a number of teeth this time around, so he is very much giving me a look that says "you have to sleep sometime."

Imagine Having an Exxon Valdez Sized Oil Leak Every 36 Hours

That is, apparently, what is now going on in the Gulf of Mexico. The BP oil leak is estimated to be leaking, not at 5,000 barrels a day, but at 95,000 barrels a day, or just under 4 million gallons a day.

That is like dumping out all of the oil leaked by the Exxon Valdez every 2.5 days. Keep in mind that the oil well began blowing oil into the Gulf of Mexico a month ago.

31 days, 4 million gallons a day, you can do the math. That's now over ten times what the Exxon Valdez leaked.

But BP's boss thinks that is a tiny amount of oil.

In the meantime, BP is using the Coast Guard as their personal goon squad to prevent reporters from gathering first-hand reports on the damage wrought by BP's little oil spill.


Watch CBS News Videos Online

BP and their lackeys in the Coast Guard are claiming "safety" as the reason.

Bullshit.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

"The Good Guys"

I just watched the premiere of that series, though the word "series" might be an optimistic statement. It has to be one of the stupidest and most moronic cop shows in a very, very long time.

Let me put it this way: To get me to watch it again, you had best bring a gun or a very large sum of money. For it will take either one to get me to waste another hour on that putrid heap of dreck.

Explain to Me Why the Teabaggers Are Not Clamoring for the Heads of These Guys

Probably because the banksters who have been ripping off the states by collusion and bid-rigging are (a) white; (b) rich; and (c) Republicans.

Of course, if they were Black and working for ACORN, oh, how the outrage would flow!

Don't expect to see much coverage of this story on the Fox-Murdoch Right Wing Noise Machine.

(H/T)

Would It Make Sense for Someone Who Has Never Ridden In an Airplane to Write Manuals on Flying?

I think we can agree that having someone write a manual on flying who has never flown an airplane would make little sense whatsoever.

Except in the state of Texas, that is, where a member of the State Board of Education homeschools her kids.
Texas school board member [Cynthia Noland] Dunbar, who home-schools her children and says sending them to local schools would be like “throwing them in the enemy’s flames,” says the changes she backs are all about “fighting for our children's education and our nation's future."

"In Texas we have certain statutory obligations to promote patriotism and to promote the free enterprise system. There seems to have been a move away from a patriotic ideology,” she said in a recent interview with the U.K. Guardian. “There seems to be a denial that this was a nation founded under God. We had to go back and make some corrections."
I suppose the next thing that they want to do in Texas schools is promote slavery as a method of achieving full employment.

Texas can secede any damn time it wants to.

(What a Texas history summary would look like & H/T)

The Global Vampire Squid- Sucking the Life From Its "Clients"

One of the outcomes of the last two years worth of financial news is this: You would have to be eight kinds of a fool in order, now, to become a client of Goldman Sachs. They might as well have to read you the financial equivalent of the Miranda Rights, for any information you provide them will be used against you.

Their clients are beginning to figure this out. Doing business with Goldman Sachs is like riding the back of a great white shark-- you might have the ride of your life. Or you might get eaten alive.

Remember a Little Bit of History

Southerners were doing stupid shit in the early 1960s, saying that President Kennedy was a traitor and that he should be killed. They've done their level best to wash history of their despicable actions, but we all know what happened.

So stuff like this, where a teacher in Alabama uses a hypothetical assassination of President Obama to teach geometry, doesn't surprise me one bit.

Sedition runs deep in the South.

(H/T)

Bye, Arlen

No tears here. He was a Republican for 40 years who switched parties, not out of ideology, but to hang onto his job.

Didn't work out so well for him.

Other politicians switch parties and survive, but they either do it for ideological reasons (like all of the segregationist Democrats who became Republicans in the 1960s) or they at least lie about it. Specter was almost unique in admitting he did it solely to stay in office. The Democrats regarded him as being as loyal an ally as the Italians were in both world wars.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

30 Years Ago

Mount St. Helens erupted. An earthquake on the morning of May 18, 1980 caused a massive landslide from the north face of the mountain. The removal of so much material gave the magma underneath a way out and it took it.



At 8:32 PDT in the morning, the mountain erupted massively. Over half a billion tons of ash was blown 12 miles into the sky in a matter of minutes. The pyroclastic flow of lava, rock and ash was so fast that it may have been supersonic (something to think about if you ever thought that you could outrun an erupting volcano). Every living creature within a 200 square mile area, including 57 people, was killed. The dead ranged from scientists and reporters to people who refused to evacuate because they thought that the mountain would not blow up.

Before the eruption:



During:



Two years after the eruption of May 18th, 1980:



It is still an active volcano. There were a series of eruptions, which geologists seem to classify as one long and drawn-out eruption, from 2004 into 2008.

May The Inventor of The Cellular Telephone Rot in Hell

That is all.

Now, If You Want to See a Really Lawless Nation

Then visit Russia, where the oligarchs, the government officials and the cops do whatever they feel like.

And if you don't like it, you will be arrested or beaten. Or shot.

So Much for the Democrats Holding Onto Chris Dodd's Senate Seat

The leading Democrat in that contest, state AG Richard Blumenthal, just politically shot himself in the head.

He has been going around and implying that he served in Vietnam. He did not. He strung a shitload of deferments together and when he couldn't do that anymore, he went the George W. Bush/Dan Quayle route and got a cushy job in the Reserves in the 152nd Toys For Tots Brigade.

He was a picture-postcard REMF.

And now, he may be toast.

Monday, May 17, 2010

"Two Hundred Thousand Dollars Is a Lot of Money."

"We're gonna have to earn it."

Sex Offenders Can Be Imprisoned Forever

So says the Supreme Court. What it takes is a finding that the prisoner is "mentally ill" and then they can be locked away until they die, no matter how long it has been since they nominally completed their sentence.

I understand that sexual offenders, especially pedophiles, have an extremely high rate of recidivism. And no, I feel no sympathy for such predators.

What I am concerned about is the precedent that the Supremes have set. I would be willing to wager that the majority of those prisoners get little to no mental health services during their incarceration. It is only when they are approaching their release date that somebody says: "Oh, this guy is so mentally ill, we really must hold him so we can treat his illness."

Yeah, right.

Beyond that, what is to stop the governments from deciding that anyone who has committed a few crimes or has engaged in political dissent just has to be mentally ill? Some paid lackey of a psychologist, just like the ones who signed off on the use of torture at GITMO, would be more than happy to sign a stack of verification forms to hold anybody that the powers that be wanted to hold.

The use of mental health rationales to hold people in prisons and "hospitals" indefinitely was one of the darker abuses of the Soviet Union. It is sad to see that we are now treading forcefully down the same road.

Many Times Worse Than the Exxon Valdez

BP is claiming that they have had "some success" in capturing oil from their undersea gusher.

Let's ignore, for the moment, the question of how much oil they are going to be able to siphon off through a 4" hose.

Look at this nugget of information in the news story:
The announcement by BP came on the heels of reports that the spill might be might much worse than estimated. Scientists said they had found giant plumes of oil in the deep waters of the gulf, including one as large as 10 miles long, 3 miles wide and 300 feet thick.
That is one plume. There are others.

Assume, for the sake of argument, that this plume is uniform. Let's have some fun with math:

The plume is 10 miles long, three miles wide and 300 feet thick.

Let's convert to feet and figure the volume of that plume. Rounding off a little, that is 52,800' x 15,800' x 300' = 250,272,000,000 cubic feet. There are 7.48 gallons in a cubic foot. If that plume were comprised of 100% oil, that would be 1,872,034,000,000 gallons of oil, or nearly two trillion gallons in that one plume.

Even if that plume were comprised of just 0.1% oil by volume, that would still mean that this oil spill is approaching two billion gallons of oil, which is over two hundred times more oil than the Exxon Valdez spill. And that volume of oil would assume that the plume contains all of the oil spilled, which it does not.

Either my figures are very far off or BP is lying to us.

No wonder BP is resisting efforts to measure the amount of oil flowing out the well.

Bazooka, aka M1 Rocket Launcher

Edward G. Uhl, the inventor of the Bazooka, is dead at age 92. He was a young Army officer who thought of attaching a rocket motor to a shaped-charge grenade that had been earlier developed by the Army, but turned out to be too heavy to be thrown effectively.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

I Don't Think That Word Means What You Think It Means

I had lunch with my mother yesterday in a restaurant in her town. Seated at the next table over were a gaggle of young women in their late teens to early 20s. I overheard a conversation that went like this:

Girl 1: "My boyfriend and I spent last weekend at his family's house!"

Girl 2: "How it'd go?"

G1: "It went well. They even gave me a nickname!"

G2: "What is it?"

G1: "They nicknamed me `the Shiksa'! We were having dinner and his mother asked `would the Shiksa like some mashed potatoes' and I said `yes, please, I'd love some.'"

I had to work hard to stifle laughter. It's probably clear that she hadn't bothered to google her new nickname, for she might not have been so pleased by it.

Sometimes, Things Connect Up

The FBI was considering relocating its headquarters from the Hoover Building in D.C. to Prince George's County.

That made some sense, when one considers that the P.G. County cops have a very loose grasp on the concept of constitutional rights.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

It's Better to Be On the Ground, Wishing You Were Flying, Than to Be Flying, Wishing You Were On the Ground

Strong winds and flying over the hills of western MA and southern VT & NH to KLEB. When I tuned into the various Unicoms, hardly a peep. No surprise there, it was like riding inside of a dryer at times.

My stomach will eventually catch up to me.

Caturday

Jake, who is a bit perturbed because I stopped petting him in order to take this picture:



Gracie and Jake enjoy a morning sunbath.



George is having none of it. He apparently didn't want to share the bed with the other two cats.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Real-Life Oil Slut

Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-BP), who is doing everything she possibly can to protect the interests of BP and any other oil company who happens to spill tens of millions of gallons of oil into the oceans. You can always find someone from the party of Hoover to stand up for the interests of large corporations.

Meanwhile, the chairman of BP is trotting out the rationale that their is leaking not a lot of oil into a very large body of water, so what's the big deal, mate? I would like to put a glass of water in front of him, drip motor oil into the glass and ask him to take a swig.

It's Called "Defense in Depth", Officer Fucktard. Look It Up.

It is not a choice between making your home more burglar resistant or bying a gun:
[Overland Park, KS Officer Michael] Betten cautions [against] using a weapon as protection because it is crucial to keep intruders out to begin with.
The better option is to do both. Stronger doors and windows persuade the bad guys to go elsewhere. But if they get through that, then yes, you may want to have the option to corpsify them.

(H/T)

For Friday Fun

Old, but still funny: After the Death Star blew up.

... And All Sorts of Ugliness Ensued

I clicked on what seemed to be an innocuous e-mail today to unsubscribe from it. It took me to a site that clearly wasn't what I expected.

I immediately yanked the power cord right out of the back of my computer. I disconnected it from the network, booted to safe mode, started the AV program and set it for a boot-scan. Rebooted and something like 90 minutes later, it finished (found a couple of worms). Ran Malware Bytes and it came up clean.

So I rebooted again and reconnected to the network.

The ugliness was because I had a database on the office server open when I yanked the cord out. That did bad things to the database, which took a little time to fix and which pissed off all of the other users. All sorts of ugliness was prevented only by the fact that I am, at heart, a very lovable person.[1]

[1] And heavily armed.

A Used K-Car Might Look Pretty Attractive

Because cars that are networked to computer systems may be susceptible to being hacked. Conceivably, a hacker could take control of the car and run you right into a bridge abutment.

Why is it that it seems that we are hell-bent on running right into the sort of dystopian future that science-fiction writers have been mining for decades?

The Game is Rigged By the Banksters

And not in our favor.

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Hoarders
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What a Gulf Oil Surprise-- Not

The Federal Minerals Management Service acted as an arm of the oil industry, to the point that the MMS allowed offshore oil drilling without the required permits to ensure that the drilling didn't threaten endangered species. MMS regarded itself as an advocate of the oil industry and that their job was to make sure that every obstacle in the oil industry's way was cleared.

It'd be sort of like the bank guards leaving the safe open and going on a coffee break for eight years.

MMS is more and more being revealed as a near-criminal enterprise. When the plague of prosecutors descends on this mess, one can only hope that they take a very hard look at the collusion and, dare I say it-- corruption that was going in in the MMS.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Lewis Black Tees Off On Glenn Beck

Ah, yes, Glenn Back. "The man who uses more swastikas props and videos of the Nuremberg rallies than the History Channel" is upset by those who are comparing Arizona's anti-Mexican laws to Nazi Germany.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Back in Black - Glenn Beck's Nazi Tourette's
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The British Transition

Jon Stewart wondered why there wasn't more pomp and circumstance surrounding the change of prime ministers in Britain. John Oliver explained: "We have actual royalty for that; that's why we can treat our political leaders like the disposable bureaucrats that they are:

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Clustershag to 10 Downing - New Prime Minister
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Slowly Grinding Down the Banksters

They are being inflected with a modern plague: Lawyers.
The New York attorney general has started an investigation of eight banks to determine whether they provided misleading information to rating agencies in order to inflate the grades of certain mortgage securities, according to two people with knowledge of the investigation.

The investigation parallels federal inquiries into the business practices of a broad range of financial companies in the years before the collapse of the housing market.

Where those investigations have focused on interactions between the banks and their clients who bought mortgage securities, this one expands the scope of scrutiny to the interplay between banks and the agencies that rate their securities.

The agencies themselves have been widely criticized for overstating the quality of many mortgage securities that ended up losing money once the housing market collapsed. The inquiry by the attorney general of New York, Andrew M. Cuomo, suggests that he thinks the agencies may have been duped by one or more of the targets of his investigation.
I've said before, repeatedly, that we should have set up a guilloitine in Battery Park for these guys.

But this will do. Years and years of hearings, motions, depositions and trials. A fast execution might have been more merciful.

Naval Air

I have two videos from the PBS special on carrier ops over here. You should watch them in order.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Xenophobia. It's Not Just For Arizona, Now

It's taking place in jerkwater towns in far upstate New York that are probably closer to Russia than to Mexico. Or maybe those stupid, fearful bastards are worried about the Quebecers infiltrating across the border through Vermont.

And Now For Something Completely Different

Pass the Popcorn

The Feds are now reportdly investigating Morgan Stanley.

Party of Hoover Continues to Stand Up for the Banksters

It is, after all, what they do.
Senate Republicans moved on Tuesday to kill part of a far-reaching Democratic Wall Street reform bill that seeks to crack down on mortgage securitization, a financial practice blamed widely for helping to inflate the subprime mortgage bubble.

A provision in the Democratic bill would force some lenders to retain on their books at least five percent of the risk in mortgages that they bundle and package for resale as securities on the secondary debt market. The idea, known as requiring "skin in the game," is opposed by the mortgage industry.
The Republicans (like some Democrats) are all for reform that doesn't actually reform anything.

Conservatives Now Agree: George W. Bush's Presidency Was an Unmitigated Chain of Fuckups

Jon Stewart explains:

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Release the Kagan
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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Free Advice to the Pontiff

Just change one thing:
“Attacks on the pope and the church come not only from outside the church, but the suffering of the church comes from inside the church, from sin that exists inside the church,” Benedict told reporters aboard his plane en route to Portugal, speaking about the abuse crisis.

“This we have always known, but today we see it in a really terrifying way, that the greatest persecution of the church does not come from the enemies outside but is born from the sin in the church,” he added. “The church has a profound need to relearn penance, to accept purification, to learn on the one hand forgiveness but also the necessity of justice. And forgiveness does not substitute justice.”
This my free advice: Stop using the word "persecution." To say that someone or something is being "persecuted" implies that one is being attacked unjustly, because of prejudice, for no real reason.

That is most assuredly not what is going on. There is no reason to rehash the history of the church in this regard, not the abuses, which were systemic in many locations, and which were covered up by the hierarchy. "Persecution" is not what is going on here. This is more of a bitter harvest. There is a proverb about that.

Furthermore, forgiveness, in this regard, is not something that is in the church's power to grant, it can only beg it from those who were abused.

It will probably help a bit in that regard if the church stops regarding itself as the victim, here. The word "persecution" should be purged from the church's vocabulary for the duration.

Ick.

Time to Dig Out the Old Rabbit Ears

Cable TV might be going on the fritz:
A TV communications satellite is drifting out of control thousands of miles above the Earth, threatening to wander into another satellite's orbit and interfere with cable programming across the United States, the satellites' owners said Tuesday.

Communications company Intelsat said it lost control of the Galaxy 15 satellite on April 8, possibly because the satellite's systems were knocked out by a solar storm. Intelsat cannot remotely steer the satellite to remain in its orbit, so Galaxy 15 is creeping toward the adjacent path of another TV communications satellite that serves U.S. cable companies.

Galaxy 15 continues to receive and transmit satellite signals, and they will probably block or otherwise interfere with signals from the second satellite, known as AMC 11, if Galaxy 15 drifts into its orbit as expected around May 23, according to AMC 11's owner, SES World Skies.

AMC 11 receives digital programming from cable television channels and transmits it to all U.S. cable networks from its orbit 22,000 miles (36,000 kilometers) above the equator, SES World Skies said. It operates on the same frequencies as Galaxy 15.
You can bet that the customer service people at the cable companies are starting to drink heavily in preparation for the onslaught of calls from disgruntled subscribers, especially those folks who pay a shitload for all of the premium services.

The ensuing class-action lawsuits ought to be full of hilarity and mirth.

I would expect that the networks will use sites like Hulu to get their shows in front of an audience in order to try and maintain viewer loyalty. The big losers may be the TV stations and the cable channels, who would see a hell of a drop-off in ad revenue.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Help Get a Thud Airborne

The Collins Foundation needs help. Call your congresscritter.


Static displays of airplanes are nice to look at, but they are about 10% of the effect of actually seeing, hearing and smelling one that flies.

Kagan to the Supreme Court?

President Obama is going to nominate Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court.

I think this is a bad pick. Kagan doesn't strike me as being very progressive. Why in the name of (insert name of your favorite deity here) is he not pushing the envelope on this one? In the next Congress, Obama would have a problem getting the Republicans to approve anyone to the left of Torquemada; this is his last shot for at least two years at getting in a game-changer on the Supreme Court. There are four solid fascist/corporatist conservative votes on the Court as it is; the idea of nominating someone who seems attracted to the idea of "if the President does it, it is per se legal" is something that I find troubling.

I'd like to see a justice who has had to run for a public office, served in the armed forces or who has worked in the private sector; anything that would give a potential justice some first-hand experience in what it means to have to hold down a job in this country. Kagan doesn't seem to be that justice.

Limiting Miranda Rights

The Obama Administration is caving to the fearmongers:
The Obama administration said Sunday it would seek a law allowing investigators to interrogate terrorism suspects without informing them of their rights ... [Attorney General Eric] Holder proposed carving out a broad new exception to the Miranda rights established in a landmark 1966 Supreme Court ruling. It generally forbids prosecutors from using as evidence statements made before suspects have been warned that they have a right to remain silent and to consult a lawyer.

He said interrogators needed greater flexibility to question terrorism suspects than is provided by existing exceptions.
I would agree to this on one condition: That any "carve-out" of Miranda rights will also apply to Federal elected officials.

I don't see this passing judicial scrutiny. The cops can say "we suspected of terrorism, yer Honor, because we found him drunk behind a 7-11" or anything else.

This is a stupid-ass idea.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

BP- Behind the Curve on Safety

And an industry leader when it comes to racking up safety violations.

The bit that probably shouldn't come as a surprise is that the industry leader in safe practices is ExxonMobil. They learned a hard lesson that skimping on safety is foolish economy.

Now that chowderheads running BP are going to learn the same lesson.

Torture Nation

Brutality, mistreatment and torture are the order of the day in the California penal system.

Some of the takes of mistreatment would seem to come straight out of a Soviet gulag.

Happy Mother's Day to All You Mothers

It only took nine years after the first official Mother's Day (proclaimed by President Wilson in 1914) to make the leading proponent of Mother's Day, Anna Jarvis, to become opposed to the holiday because it had become overly commercialized.

Nonetheless, of the vast raft of Hallmark Holidays out there, this one is probably the least objectionable. In the pre-nanny, pre-cleanings service, pre-yard service era, mothers were about the only family member who never had a vacation. Families might rent a cabin on a lake, an ocean or up in ski country for a vacation, but one guess as to who still got to cook at least one or two meals a day, make sure the place was kept clean and so on.

So, happy Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

To Our Russian Friends: Happy Victory Day!

And in a first, in today's parade, American, British and French soldiers will be marching.

The sacrifices of the Soviet people in the war have, for decades, not been given much credit in the West. Neither has the efforts of the Western allies been given much recognition in Russia.

Hopefully, that is all changing.

Caturday

I cover most of my bed with a cotton throw for the cats to lie on. That keeps cat hair and fluidic leakage off my comforter and sheets.



But George loves to lie on the sheets and if I fail to pull the covers up, he will do so.



Gracie enjoys a bit of sun.



(click on any of them to enlarge)

"You Guys Drilling For Oil Do What You Want. We're Good."

That was basically the attitude of the Minerals Management Service, the office in the Department of the Interior that is supposed to be regulating and overseeing offshore drilling.
Numerous Congressional and internal investigations have called the oversight agency badly mismanaged and at times corrupt. It has been rocked by regular scandals, including disclosures in 2008 that agency officials took bribes and engaged in drug use and sex with oil industry officials. And its own scientists have said that senior agency officials in recent years revised staff reports to eliminate environmental concerns that might have complicated oil-company drilling applications for offshore sites in waters near Alaska.
This is not the first time that there has been a problem with blowout preventers in the Gulf of Mexico. There was a leak in 2000 when one failed to function.

The actions of the MMS were a classic case of the bureaucratic equivalent of the Stockholm Syndrome. First, the MMS, while scuffing their toes and saying "gee, you boys really ought to have back-up preventers installed", did nothing to require it. Second, the MMS decreased the inspection and testing requirement for installed blowout preventers.

One of the things that has to come out of this disaster is a through reformation of the MMS. It is a gutless, toothless, ineffective regulator. But that is exactly what the oil industry wanted and, with the aid of their bought-and-paid-for legislators in the Congress, what they got.

And if you don't see any parallels here between the total failure of oversight and regulation of offshore oil drilling (and coal mining) with the negligible amount of oversight and regulation of the banksters, then you have not been paying attention.

Friday, May 7, 2010

For Rent in New Jersey



Probably unfurnished, so the tenants will have to bring their own mattresses and Chicago Typewriters.

(H/T to RJ)

A Headline You Don't See Every Day

Lord Jesus Christ suffers minor injuries in downtown Northampton crosswalk mishap

If the driver was Catholic, that could result in an interesting time at her next Confession.

Star Wars, the Original Trilogy, in Two Minutes



(If it doesn't load, go here.)

(H/T)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

If We Are Going to Strip Citizenship From the Supporters of Terrorist Groups

We can start with taking away the citizenship of Rep. John King who, for decades, was the congressman representing the Irish Republican Army. King never wavered in his support of the IRA, even when the IRA was using car bombs. He thought that IRA terrorists were "good bail risks".

Orion Spacecraft Test

A test of the capsule escape rocket, the one used to jerk the capsule ofrom the booster in the event of an abort.



Very cool!

Of the 1960s-era capsules, both the Mercury and Apollo spacecraft used similar systems. Gemini capsules were outfitted with ejection seats.

(H/T)

Same Criminal Corporation, Different Oil Spill

Remember the Exxon Valdez spill? BP was the company that was responsible for being prepared for oil spills in Alaska. BP cheaped out and they had neither the equipment nor the crews that they told everyone that they had. Because being ready for emergencies is expensive.
Before the Exxon Valdez grounding, BP's Alyeska group claimed it had these full-time, oil spill response crews. Alyeska had hired Alaskan natives, trained them to drop from helicopters into the freezing water and set booms in case of emergency. Alyeska also certified in writing that a containment barge with equipment was within five hours sailing of any point in the Prince William Sound. Alyeska also told the state and federal government it had plenty of boom and equipment cached on Bligh Island.

But it was all a lie. On that March night in 1989 when the Exxon Valdez hit Bligh Reef in the Prince William Sound, the BP group had, in fact, not a lick of boom there. And Alyeska had fired the natives who had manned the full-time response teams, replacing them with phantom crews, lists of untrained employees with no idea how to control a spill. And that containment barge at the ready was, in fact, laid up in a drydock in Cordova, locked under ice, 12 hours away.
BP is still cheaping out and cutting corners in Alaska:
In congressional hearings after the 2006 Prudhoe Bay spill, BP management was accused of making "draconian" budget cuts that affected safety and health, including limiting the use of a corrosion inhibitor inside the pipeline, a step that could have prevented the deterioration that led to the 2006 spill.
Note that BP has amassed a track record of ignoring safety rules and having to pay large fines after being found out.

The company is a corporate felon, following an explosion that killed 15 workers at a BP refinery in Texas City because of flagrant disregard of safety protocols. But unlike people, where a felony conviction inflicts lasting legal limitations, BP just carried on, doing whatever the hell they thought was the cheapest. "Safety be damned" seemed to be their motto.

It is also expensive to tell the truth and do what is right, things that BP also has a track record of not doing.
The BP well was apparently deeper than the 18,000 feet depth reported. BP failed to communicate that additional depth to Halliburton crews, who, therefore, poured in too small a cement cap for the additional pressure caused by the extra depth. So, it blew.
Everyone who has been an believer in the philosophies of Ayn Rand that businesses will do the right thing because their good names are on the line should head down to the Gulf Coast and start cleaning up oil. Every teabagger who has been spouting the "we don't want government to do anything" line should join them.

And the Bureau of Prisons should be repainting a cellblock for the BP retirement plan.