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

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Who Will Win On Tuesday?
My Answer Will Surprise You

The winner of the elections on Tuesday will be:

The People's Republic of China.




Regardless of how the election shakes out, whether the GOP takes both houses of Congress, one of them or none of them, this country is going to spend the next two years with the two parties in Congress locked at each other's throats.

I pretty much blame the GOP here. Mitch McConnell and Jim DeMint have made no secret of the fact that all they are interested in doing is destroying the Obama presidency.

They are not truly interested in fixing the Federal budget. In fact, they are interested in quite the opposite in their desire to make the ruinous Bush tax cuts permanent.

They are not interested in taking steps to reduce our dependence on oil, which is the only way to reduce the influence that the kleptocratic oil states have over us.

They are not interested in improving the infrastructure of this country.

They are not interested in improving education.

The only thing they are interested in is crippling the Obama presidency.

Meanwhile, China is becoming the world leader in high-speed rail and alternative energy. Not the United States. We are losing our technological edge, if we haven't lost it already, and all the politicians can do is carp at each other.

It is not the Federal debt that will ruin us. It is our politics.

Truth

If you do not vote, you are not part of the solution. You're part of the problem.



Think. Vote.



That is all.

(Photos from here)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Caturday

This is an indoor rabbit. I don't know its name.


Max was interested, to say the least.


Back at my place, Jake was taking his ease on my bed.


The two houseguest cats that I had last month may be returning in November due to further renovations at their home. It seems that painting the baseboards and lower walls of a room and then letting cats run around can produce some interesting textures on the surfaces.

Friday, October 29, 2010

When the Haters Come to Town

Kudos to Framingham High School (MA), which is putting on the Laramie Project on December 3rd and 4th. If you want to go, you can buy tickets here.

Of course, the clowns from the First Church of Bigotry and Hatred are planning to show up.

One of these days, it may occur to that family of hateful bigots that their protest do far more to advance the cause of acceptance of gays and lesbians than their protests do to win adherents to their "church's" point of view.

Is the Tea Party a Party of Parasites?
or "The Stupid! It Burns!"

Since it seems that Teabagger after Teabagger are railing against government programs while they themselves have made free use of government assistance programs, then one has to wonder why their heads aren't exploding from the hypocrisy of it all.

If you're a Teabagger and you are receiving a government pension, then why didn't you instead save for your own retirement? Why are you depending on the government to support you for the rest of your life?

If you're a Teabagger and you are receiving farm subsidies, why don't you grow shit that people really want to eat (or smoke) instead of taking a government handout so you can continue to farm?

It goes on and on, of course.

Because Torturing People, Burning People Alive and Expelling Tens of Thousands More Was a Good and Moral Thing to Do

Fresh off her early morning bit of drunk dialing to Anita Hill, it now comes out that Virginia Thomas has allied her Wingnut lobbying group with a group that believes that the Spanish Inquisition was the "most beautiful page" in the history of the Roman Catholic Church.

No doubt that they also take a similarly conservative and permissive view of slavery.

Halliburton Seems to Be At the Root of Everything Evil

Halliburton evidently got tired with building electrocuting showers for our soldiers and covering up rapes in Iraq, so they switched over to providing substandard cement for oil wells:
Halliburton officials knew weeks before the fatal explosion of the BP well in the Gulf of Mexico that the cement mixture they planned to use to seal the bottom of the well was unstable but still went ahead with the job, the presidential commission investigating the accident said on Thursday.
Note that this story broke soon after BP's Macondo well began gushing, but most people (including me) forgot about it. This isn't Halliburton's first trip down the "our faulty cement caused an undersea oil blowout" lane:
If "cementing" is the cause, it could spell new troubles for Halliburton, whose work was also suspected in a well explosion that took place last August in the Timor Sea near Australia. It took 71 days to fully cap and contain that spill, according to Australia's Sunday Times. The official investigation is still ongoing, but cementing was the main area of investigation, the head of the inquiry has said.
This doesn't let BP off the hook, of course. British Petroleum cut a shitload of corners in drilling the well, but that was to be expected, as BP is a company that has a long and storied track record of cutting corners, poisoning the environment and getting its workers killed. Halliburton's shitty cement was apparently one of the factors involved in the spilling of hundreds of millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, but it by far was not the only one.

Of course, if you follow the line of the Confederate party and the Teabaggers then you'd think that if we only removed those pesky regulations, then none of this would have happened, right? (It's time for your Thorazine!)

The Italian Taliban

The Italian Taliban seems to have settled in Castellammare di Stabia, which seeks to outlaw wearing miniskirts, blasphemy, and playing soccer in public.

Funny thing: Whenever a religious-based nutjob of a politician seeks to crack down on sexual harassment, what they do is go after women. They don't crack down on the harassers, no. It's sort of like trying to prevent bank robbery by outlawing banks.

From this, it would be pretty easy to conclude that Italian men are pathetic and weak creatures, indeed.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Regulate the Banks or Die

In less than a century, this nation has suffered three huge economic shocks that have been the direct result of Republicans' hostility to regulation, and on Democrats' inability to stand against the forces of money and corruption.

In the 1920s, the Harding, Coolidge and Hoover Administrations loosened every regulation that they could on business and banking. The thinking was then, as it has been since, that if government got out of the way of business and banking, then prosperity would trickle down to everyone. The result, of course, was the 1929 stock market crash, followed by the Great Depression during which nearly ten thousand banks failed. The Great Depression, it is worth remembering, did not end until the mother of all government spending programs began: World War II.

In 1980 and 1982, the financial lobbyists managed to "persuade" Congress to lift almost all Federal regulations on savings and loans. The S&Ls began operating in a free-wheeling manner and, beginning in 1985, they started failing. There were at least five senators who took large amounts of "campaign contributions" from one S&L operator.* The collapse of the S&Ls sucked in huge amounts of Federal money to fix. The stock market mini-collapse of 1987 and the subsequent recession was in large measure due to the S&L crisis. The S&L crisis consumed the "peace dividend" from the end of the Cold War.

One would think that two bad results would have shown the politicians of the GOP that the bankers cannot be trusted to operate without regulation. But you would be wrong to think that. In 1999, the Gramm-Leach Act, which had been pushed for years by Sen. Phil Gramm (R, UBS Bank), dismantled virtually all of the banking laws that had been enacted in 1933. Nine years later, the banking system in this country nearly collapsed as a result of the reckless actions of the banksters and their cronies on Wall Street.**

Three acts to deregulate banking, three economic catastrophes. You would think that maybe the Republicans might have broken the code by now. But you would be so wrong.

If a classic definition of insanity is to "keep doing the same thing and hoping for a different result", then please explain to me why most of the Republican politicians today aren't locked up in padded cells and being shot up with large doses of olanzapine.

_________________________________
* The Keating Five, who were all lucky that they didn't get indicted.
** Idiotic real estate lending was, in part, to blame for both the current mess and the S&L crisis.

So, You're Mad at the Democrats Because of the Bailouts?

Who was the president that both proposed the TARP bailout, the automotive bailouts and signed the bills?

If the TARP bailout had not been passed and if some of the major banks had gone belly-up, where would be be today? If GM and Chrysler had shuttered their doors, and taken with them most of the suppliers of parts to the automotive industry, where would we be today?

A Republican president proposed those bills that were necessary to stave off financial collapse, a collapse in large part brought about by the sustained trashing of financial regulation by Republicans. The Democrats, with a small handful of Republicans, who did what was required to stop a second great depression, are now being hammered by people who, as I see it, are comprised largely of morons and racists.

Let's look back at the history of the Federal debt, shall we?

Ronald Reagan and George HW Bush more than quadrupled the Federal Debt (from just under a trillion dollars to over four trillion). George W. Bush more than doubled it again. Historically, when this country goes to war, taxes are raised to help pay for it. George W. Bush cut taxes, especially for the rich, and got involved in two wars and he used off the books tricks to try and hide the cost of the wars.

During all of that time, the "conservatives" were absolutely silent on the issue of Federal spending. But now, only now, do the conservatives come out and yell about the Federal debt. Which leads me to conclude that if a Republican was in office, there would be no Tea Party.

But because there is a Democrat in the White House and a Black one to boot, we have the Tea Party. We have the Republicans promising to do the same things that they did before and which brought our economy to the brink of ruin. The Republicans bleat, as they did before, that cutting regulation of the banks and Wall Street will promote growth, while completely ignoring that the last time that regulations were removed, it took less than a decade for those thieves to wreck the global economy.*

The Republicans say that they can reduce the Federal debt while not mentioning one thing that they would do in order to reduce it. Oh, they say that "we'll cut fraud, waste and abuse" while forgetting that they were not able to make any measurable progress across three Republican administrations in doing that.

I sincerely believe that the Republicans seek to bring back a form of 19th Century feudalism. They seek to remove all regulations on business and to free the rich from having to pay taxes. They seek to make wealth multi-generational by removing the Rules against Perpetuities and by removing the estate tax. Their ideas of how to cut the Federal debt will be entirely borne by the poor and what is now known as the middle class.

I was once a registered as a Republican. I will, for the foreseeable future, never again vote for a Republican for the Congress or the Presidency.
________________________________
* Nine years passed between the passing of the Gramm-Leach Act and the near complete collapse of the American banking system.

Care to Guess Where Lufthansa Trains Its Pilots?

Give up?

Phoenix, Arizona.

While the writer doesn't get into it, at least not yet, note that this is ab initio training. Lufthansa is taking people who have not had any flight time and training them to be airline pilots. That is common around most of the world. Lufthansa is not the only airline that has its training center in the US, JAL has theirs in Napa, CA.

Of course, that isn't done by US airlines. Here, those who want to fly for airlines have to pay for their own basic training. They have to build time on their own. And if they manage to do all that, they can start out in the right seat of some jerkwater commuter airline for not much more pay than a fast food fry cook.

So when I hear an airline CEO moan about how tough it is to be in the airline business, well...

"C" Comes Out Of the Closet

"C", as in the chief of the British intelligence agency known as MI6. His name is John Sawers and he gave a public speech. His main point apparently was that secrecy is a good thing and that the sheeple Britons should not ever question what MI6 does.

He also said that MI6 does not torture people, but hey, if someone else does, he'll be shocked, shocked to discover that the Moroccans or the Egyptians or the Jordanians torture people. And if they then pass torture-derived intel to MI6, well, that's just peachy.

Note also that the British cops received extra authority to stop and first anyone they damn well pleased in order to combat terrorism. They have done that to 101,000 people and come up with nothing.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Modern Brown Shirts

Rand Paul, whose supporters knocked a woman to the ground and stomped on her.

Eric Cantor, who used the cops as a goon squad to kick people out of a public event.

Joe Miller (an admitted liar, lawbreaker and idiot), who had his private goons, who happened to be active-duty soldiers, handcuff and detain a reporter who was trying to ask inconvenient questions.

Christine O'Donnell, whose campaign manager threatened to "crush" a local radio station if it put video of an interview with O'Donnell up on a web site.

Republicans talk a good game about freedom and liberty. But it those are just worship words to Republicans, they don't believe in things such as freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, freedom to peaceably assemble or, for that matter, free elections.

It's OK If You Are a Republican to..

....land your airplane on a runway that is both closed and being worked on by maintenance crews.

I presume that any pilot who is not a sitting U.S. Senator who did that stunt would have their license suspended in about four heartbeats.

(H/T)

The Dick Cheney Disease

The Dick Cheney Syndrome is where the perpetrator of an act of violence demands that his victim apologize to him:
Tim Profitt -- the former Rand Paul volunteer who stomped on the head of a MoveOn activist -- told told local CBS station WKYT that he wants an apology from the woman he stomped and that she started the whole thing.

"I don't think it's that big of a deal," Profitt said. "I would like for her to apologize to me to be honest with you."
That's how it works with those guys. If they rape you, they want you to apologize for being so offputting that they were forced, just forced, to put roofies into your drink. A Republican carjacker would demand an apology because you were not perceptive enough to see that he needed to borrow your car, he had to pull a gun and take it from you.

Betcha if somebody stomped on that asswipe's head and put him into the hospital with a concussion, he'd think that it was a big deal.

Beyond that point, the Confederate party is living up to (or down to) their ancestors, who were not shy at resorting to violence to shut up those they disagreed with.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Oh. My. G-d!

Top Gear did a 1949 race between a Jaguar, a Vincent Black Shadow and the Tornado steam locomotive.

Part 1, part 2, part 3 and part 4.

Except that in 1949, the train would have had had more of an advantage in three ways: Railroads had track pans, the speed limit for trains would have been higher and an express passenger train would have had top priority.

An Acceptable Way to Argue If You Are a Brown-Shirted Thug

That would be to knock a woman to the ground and stomp on her head.

Except it wasn't done by a brown-shirted thug from the SA. It was done by goons who support Rand Paul. Because stomping on a woman's head is simply acceptable if you happen to be a Teabagger or a Republican.

And you just have to know that all of the Wingnut blogs think that stomping on people's heads is OK, don't you.

Monday, October 25, 2010

CheepCheepCheepCheepCheepCheepCheep (Car Question)

That is the sound that my car* makes, now, as soon as it starts. The sound is RPM dependent.

But it goes away after a few minutes.

Any ideas?

_____________________
* `05 Honda Accord, over 80K miles.

Brit Insanity

or eccentricity: Top Gear.



You are cautioned not to have anything near your keyboard when Jeremy Clarkson describes the work day of a truck driver and when they drive three cars through Alabama.

(If you do watch this, you unfortunately will have to put up with a lame Viagra ad.)

Self-Control, I Haz It!

If I didn't, I would have come home with one of these kittens.


Probably the black one. But I have three cats as it is and they are all geriatric cats. Bringing home a kitten would have been rather unfair to them.

Still, saying "no, I can't" was very hard.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Let's Not Be Beastly to the Hun

My mother reminded me of this song this evening, after she went to movie night at her retirement community and saw "The Man Who Never Was."

Noel Coward had a lot of different versions. He sung this one during the war and this one afterwards.

A Month in a Cub

Some guy flew a Piper Cub from California to New Jersey and back this summer, so that he could fly up and down the Hudson River by New York City. The photos are a wonder to behold.

There is more on his website.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The No-Surprise Data Dump

Another huge document dump has been made by WikiLeaks. They seem to pretty much confirm what everyone, other than the loyal Bush defenders, have known for years.

For instance, the security contractors in Iraq were a trigger-happy undisciplined lot of goons.

The Wingnut Magic 8-Ball


It's just like a regular model, except the answers are different:

Government-mandated health care will trash the economy and bring on the end of our freedom to eat what we want.

Bill Clinton was a sexual pervert.

Nancy Pelosi.

ACORN.
Soon to be available at the new website "GlennBeckWantsYoutoBuyThisShit.com"

Why, I Remember When the Only Reason One Would Go There Was to Shell the Place

Cape Air (Hyannis) has painted its Cessna 402C N2748Y (msn 402C-0248) in this special color scheme for the W Retreat and Spa on Vieques Island. This aircraft will be dedicated this winter to fly guests of the hotel to the resort and will only operate on the SJU-VQS route.
There is a nice photo of the airplane at the link.

Vieques was where the Navy did live target practice for ships and aircraft for many decades.

Caturday

Jake: "Your offerings do not please me."


A spat over who gets to eat and roll in the catnip:



And the winner: Gracie!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Confederate Crybabies Threaten Violence if They Don't Win

There is a word for this:
Republican congressional candidate Stephen Broden stunned his party Thursday, saying he would not rule out violent overthrow of the government if elections did not produce a change in leadership.
The word is: "Sedition".

Time was that advocating the overthrow of the Federal government by force or violence got one several years in a Federal prison to reflect on one's folly.

The GOP really is the modern confederate party: If those rotten retarded children don't get their way, they claim that they will try to burn the country down. I'm at the point, now, where my attitude towards the treasonous fuckers in the Confederate party is: "Go fuck yourselves. I'm sick of your bullshit. If you have the stones, bring it. Otherwise, shut the fuck up with your whining."

Those fucking confederate states get more back from the Federal government than they pay in taxes. We in the Northern industrial and the west coast states pay more in taxes than they get and all those inbred fuckers can do is whine, whine, whine about government and how they want nothing from government. Except when a disaster hits their states, and then they whine, whine, whine about how the Federal government is not doing enough for them. Oh, and let's not forget all of the pork and construction projects that they are happy to get from the Federal government.

Fuck them. And their horses.

(H/T)

End the Federal Subsidy of Fox News!

Rupert Murdoch has connived to use the tax laws so that News Corp pays only 6% in income tax. Fox News is, in essence, a filthy tax cheat.

This should be fixed forthwith. For some reason, those stinking Wingnut corporations think it is only fair that the entire tax burden in this country be shifted onto the backs of those who earn paychecks.

Tax Fox!

(H/T)

That Kitten Was Damned Lucky

... that the Brevard County bomb squad didn't just blow up the box that it was in. No doubt that if the box had been left in Orange County, those kittens would have been blown into a fine mist.

Nice Job, Ginny!

After Virginia Thomas's ooky voicemail to Anita Hill, now comes even more confirmation that her husband, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, is indeed quite the creep.

I still don't understand what Mrs. Thomas hoped to gain by leaving that voicemail. Clearly she didn't intend to speak to Prof. Hill, as the call apparently was made soon after 6 AM. All that she has managed to do is drag her husband's perverted nature back out into the limelights for a few more news cycles.

And, as a result, tens of millions of people who were too young to have paid any attention to the original brouhaha are now aware that Clarence Thomas is allegedly some kind of pervert.

Mission accomplished, Ginny.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

That Prediction Was Too Easy

My prediction was pretty much a dead-nuts certainty.
In wake of NPR controversy, Fox News gives Juan Williams an expanded role
The cable news network signs the analyst to a new three-year contract for nearly $2 million. Meanwhile, conservative figures blast the public radio network for its response to Williams' comments about Muslims.
Only in the twisted minds of Fox News could Williams be considered a "liberal". But that is how they see him, it would seem.

one might ask why Fox News didn't also hire Helen Thomas.

Global Vampire Squid News

Here's a real shocker: The thieves and pirates of Goldman Sachs have given millions of dollars to the Chamber of Commerce's slush political campaign, along with the other rapacious bastards in various insurance businesses. Dow Chemical, one of the largest makers of carcinogenic products in the world, gave the Chamber of Corruption well over a million dollars.

If you think that those companies give a flying fuck about you, you are sadly mistaken. They don't care if your health car stinks, if the environment is poisoned or if the climate warms past a tipping point, only so long as their opportunity to rake in boatloads of cash today is not hindered in the slightest.

It Must Be a Guy Thing, I Guess

Spending $100,000 to build a machine to throw pumpkins? That's almost British-level of eccentricity.

Two Years?

It takes the Navy two years to go from commissioning a ship to sending it out on its first cruise? Given that warships typically serve less than 30 years, that's a fair piece of its operational life just to get ready to go.

Another thought: The USS Sterett has 39 officers and 275 sailors. Criminy, back in the day, only nuclear cruisers had that many officers. A 1052 FF had about 17 officers and 230 sailors, though, when a LAMPS det was embarked, that went to 21 and 250. If the officer count on the Sterett includes the helicopter pilots, say six or so, that means that is still has 33 officers in ships company.

By comparison, the Leahy and Daniels class CGs had 27 officers and about 430 sailors on them. Does anyone know what all of those officers are doing on the Sterett?

The Handy-Dandy Bigotry Detector

When somebody begins a sentence with "I am not a bigot", maybe throws in an example of non-bigotry, and then follows with a "but", they have just proven the point that they are, indeed, a bigot.

Shed no tears, though, for Juan Williams. He will be another sterling recipient of Wingnut Welfare. If he isn't hired full-time by Fox News, he'll become a visiting fellow of the Heritage Foundation, the Hoover Institute or some other right-wing think tank.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Jail to the Banksters?

One can dream, no?
Federal investigators are exploring whether banks and other financial firms broke U.S. law when using fraudulent court documents to foreclose on people's homes, according to sources familiar with the effort.

The criminal investigation, still in its early days, is focused on whether companies misled federal housing agencies that now insure a large share of U.S. home loans, and whether the firms committed wire or mail fraud in filing false paperwork.
Ah, to envision cellblock after cellblock full of banksters.

The Virginia (Thomas) Monologues

They have a simulation of both the original phone message as their ideas for follow-up calls. I love their rationalization for the call:
But who among us hasn't made an early morning phone call to the woman our husband harassed 19 years ago and asked her to say she's sorry?

In Pennsylvania, You Cannot Spell "Idiot" Without DOT

Last winter, a woman who was driving a car was rear-ended by a truck, which hit-skipped the accident. Her car was flung into the end of a guardrail. The guardrail amputated her left leg and also shattered her right leg and pelvis. Her medical bills have gone over the million dollar point.

So what did PennDOT do, you ask? They sent her a bill for fixing the guardrail.

Is Saying "Congressmen Are Idiots" a Redundancy?

This one congressman has to be the most brain-damaged person from Florida (since Terry Schiavo died).
Six years after Congress passed a law requiring photos on commercial pilots' licenses, a Republican congressman says he is dismayed that Federal Aviation Administration-issued licenses still have only two pictures on them -- those of Wilbur and Orville Wright.

Rep. John Mica, R-Florida, said he became aware of the lapse recently when a pilot showed him his license. The plastic license, Mica said, was an improvement over the paper licenses issued before the 2004 law, but "remarkably did not have a photograph" of the pilot, nor other security features.
Pray tell, what increase to security will that bring? Pilots are required to carry photo ID. Besides their driver's license, those pilots who fly international runs have their passports with them. Adding a photo to a pilot's license will add no security, but it will increase administrative costs.

Aren't Republicans like Mica the Moron supposed to be all about reducing the footprint of government?

One of the Oldest Crimes in the Republic

That would be knowingly selling defective supplies to the military. In this case, it was a company called Bristol Alloys, Inc., which sold non-heat treated steel to the Navy and falsified documentation that it had been heat treated.

According to the New London Day, the steel was used in hydraulic systems in submarines and surface ships. (That link might not work after today.)

A lot of people don't know that the False Claims Act, which allows whistleblowers to claim a share of the money that the government recovers from those who commit fraud against the government, dates back to the Civil War. The FCA was enacted because of rampant fraud perpetrated by those selling supplies to the Union Army. According to a 2003 list of top FCA settlements, Bristol Alloys would be a small-time player. Note that HCA (Health Corporation of America) had to cough up $1.3 billion.

Fuck Hate



Buy the t-shirt, too.

(Thanks!)

If Anyone You Know is Thinking of Going to Law School

Then they should watch this video:



There is a hell of a lot of truth in it.

(H/T)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Legalize Pot; Pt. II

In a practice eerily reminiscent of several totalitarian states of the past century, the D.A.R.E. program encourages children to rat out their parents. Because, as Bridget Magnus noted, nothing says "family values" like the state taking away the kids and dumping them into foster care.

As she also noted, the TSA's airport security program has been very good for Amtrak.

(Part I)

I Call "Bullshit" on the New York Times

For this headline:
Thomas’s Wife Reaches Out to Anita Hill
Virginia Thomas, the teabagging wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, as well as an allegedly notorious funneler of secret campaign cash, called Professor Hill, all right. But the voice mail can hardly be categorized as "reaching out":
Andrew Gully, senior vice president of the Brandeis University communications office, confirmed that Ms. Hill had received the message and that she had turned it over to the campus department of public safety. That office, in turn, passed it on to the F.B.I.
That's got to be some kind of really polite "reaching out" when the cops become involved. Which leads me to suspect that the "reaching out" could also be termed "a threat".

UPDATE: Of course, they've changed the headline. But besides that, nineteen years after the hearings, his wife calls Prof. Hill out of the blue and demands that she apologize? Well, that's not going to happen. One wonders why the Thomases can't get over it.
Asked yesterday why she thinks the Thomases are still reliving her testimony, Hill said, "I don’t want to speculate about what is going on in their lives."
Professional help may be in order.

Barry Loves Him Some Wiretapping

The Bush Obama Administration is pushing for changes to the law to make it even easier for the FBI to wiretap people.

I've said it before: Governments never give up power without a fight. I have yet to see an attorney general, let alone a president, with the stones to tell the organs of state security "no, you cannot do that."

Wir Fahren Gegen Engelland

The Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, has resorted to xenophobia in an attempt to shore up her political standing. She has primarily lashed out at Turkish immigrants. Germany, however, is in a situation where it needs to import more labor.

Germany did not permit those immigrants to come out of the goodness of the German soul. Germany would not be where it is today without the workers who immigrated there after the Second World War. The Nazis, however, never went away. They just went underground and are still there in all but name only.

More to the point of the title of this post: Every time that the Germans have become interested in what it means to be a German and "the purity of the German nation", blood has covered much of Europe. The last time a German leader talked about the preservation of German culture, millions of people were put to death for not being sufficiently "Aryan".

German nationalism is awakening. Those nations that have, as parts of their territory, land that the Germans have regarded as theirs, including France, the Czech Republic and especially Poland, had better start dusting off their war plans and mull over the state of their militaries.

For they may see the Wehrmacht coming for another visit again.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Concentrate on What You Are Doing and Ignore the Target

Some thoughts on Japanese archery.

This makes some sense. There was a time when I was a pretty fair shot with a handgun. I was at the point where I knew where the shot was going when I fired without having to look at the target. I could feel when it was right and when it was not.

Repeatability is the mark of a proficient shooter. A great shot can be luck, repeated great shots are skill.

747 at Fleet Week

Legalize Pot

Let's just do it.

Does anyone think that the War on Drugs, which is now in its 40th year (since Nixon declared it) is winnable? Does anyone seriously think that it ever will be?

40 years ago, the most common drug was pot. Cocaine was hugely expensive. Heroin was the drug of hard-core losers; if you knew someone who was using smack, you pretty much knew that you'd hear in a year or two that they were dead. LSD was in use as speed.

Now, 40 years later, cops have converted from six shot Smith & Wesson Model 10s to Glocks and Sigs. SWAT teams have become common and the SWAT goons roll out on everything beyond writing parking tickets. Civil liberties have taken a huge hit, especially among minority populations. The incarceration rate has gone from one person in a thousand in 1970 (which was roughly the incarceration rate for the previous fifty years) to five times that.


States and the Federal government have gone on a prison-building spree. Soulless bottom-feeding corporations have sprung up to both imprison people under appalling conditions and otherwise suck money from the families of those in prison.* And for all that, drugs are as plentiful, if not moreso, than they were in 1970.

The so-called "War on Drugs" is where the GI Generation, the Silent Generation and the Baby Boomers have proven themselves to be utter imbeciles compared to the generations before. When the Missionary Generation brought in Prohibition to try to stop the rampant abuse of alcohol, it proved to be an utter failure. Prohibition brought an astonishing rise in the amount of organized crime. Fourteen years later, the Missionary and Lost generations realized that Prohibition was a failure and ended it.**

We are now 40 years into Nixon's War on Drugs. Collectively, across this nation, we have probably spent trillions of dollars on drug enforcement, adding police, giving them new shit to play with, building prisons and locking up people.

What good has this done? What utility has been gained trying to use the hammer of law enforcement to stop people from using drugs?

The game is not worth the cost.

Let's legalize pot, first. If we legalize pot, than all of the criminal distribution network, from the growers who are making battlefields out of our wilderness parks to the goofball on the street who sell it, will be cut out of the game. Let's grow it, distribute it and sell it, legally. There is no reason why we can't tax pot the way we tax alcohol and cigarettes.

Sure, there will be social costs to legalizing pot. There will be stoners who would rather scrape together crap-ass work and stay high all the time, but they are already out there. There probably will still be some illegal distribution of legally grown pot, just as there is with cigarettes. Those who abuse pot and hurt people an be handled the same way that such is handled for alcohol use.

But trying to stamp out drug use by outlawing drug use has not worked. It is time that we, as a nation, realize that.***

___________________________
* Look into what it costs to make a collect call from a prison. It is very high. States get a cut of that, which amounts to a hell of a tax on the families of convicts.
** Though they did try to stamp out drug use, sowing the seed for our current mess.
*** I don't use drugs. I don't smoke. My alcohol consumption rate is about two drinks per month. Thanks for wondering.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Mortgage Mess

The Bayou Renaissance Man has a lengthy post up about mortgages and possibly why the housing market may go Tango Uniform in a big way.

Go read it before you read the rest of this post. Please.

The issue of "who owns the loan" is worse than most people think. This is why:

Scenario 1: Say that you wanted to buy a house that had been foreclosed upon. It is quite possible that, due to the documentation issues in the foreclosure process, that the bank that did the foreclosure had no right to foreclose. Not knowing whether or not that was true, a title insurance underwriter may refuse to write title on the property or may except any challenges.*

So now you want to take out a mortgage in order to buy the property and you go down to Friendly Neighborhood Bank. They want to see an appraisal and your title report. Which you give them. FNB's loan processors look over the papers, see this big honking exception and deny you the loan.

Scenario 2: Say you have a huge mortgage and you decide to roll the dice on this. You stop paying the loan off.** The banks can't foreclose, because they can't produce the note. On the other hand, you can't sell because the mortgage is on the books. Unless the mortgage qualifies as an "ancient mortgage" and, by law, cannot be foreclosed upon, you have unmarketable title. The only way that you can sell is to find a buyer who is willing to take title subject to that mortgage, which means that it would be a cash deal at a whopping discount. It would have to be a cash deal as no other bank would loan the buyer a penny.

Scenario 3, and this is the scary one: Say that you are going to sell and that you are current on your mortgage. You have a payoff letter*** from your lender. You are getting ready to close the sale, you send a copy of the payoff letter to the buyer's attorney and the title company. Before the mortgage crisis, everything would be cool.

But now suppose the title company or the buyer's lender says: "Not so fast. Prove to us, Seller's Lender, that you are the party that owns this loan and that you have the authority to assign the loan to the buyer's lender (or to execute a satisfaction of mortgage)." The loan, like most others, probably was sold by your lender and "securitized". Your lender remained the "servicing agent"; you made your payments to the lender, but you had no idea that your lender no longer owned the loan. Even if the lender has a duly-executed servicing agreement, that does not prove that the party that the lender sold the loan to still owns it.

Conceivably, in every state where homeowners are the record owner of the property (owner in fee) and where the homeowners have mortgages, those homeowners may be stuck in a situation where they cannot get clear title in order to sell.

This could get very ugly very fast.

Pass the popcorn.

__________________________
* "Except" is title-speak for "if this happens, you're on your own."
** This only works if you have record title and the banks have a mortgage. If the banks hold a "deed of trust", you're still screwed, because the banks have title.
*** This letters gives the loan payoff amount as of the projected closing date, a per diem in case the closing date varies, and directions as to how and where the funds are to be transmitted.

How Would You Feel-- a Thought Experiment

This is a Google Earth photo of a condo complex. It could be anywhere.

Let's assume, for the sake of discussion, that you and your family live there. You live in the unit indicated with the green arrow. It's a quiet complex, not a lot of drama. Those buildings are two stories high, the units are one level, one or two bedrooms, and there may be as many as eight units in a building and, as you can see, many of the buildings are connected. Like most condos or apartments, people pretty much keep to themselves. Like a lot of folks, you get up, get the kids off to school and you go to work.


Let's also assume that, unknown to you, a wanted man is hiding out in the complex. He is hiding out in the unit indicated with the red arrow. Maybe you think the neighbors over there are a little weird and off-putting, but there is nothing to indicate to you that one of your neighbors has a price on his head.

The man is wanted by a certain three-letter-agency. This one TLA isn't supposed to be operating in your area. So very early one morning, a drone aircraft from TLA flies overhead and shoots a missile or two into the wanted dude's hideout. That starts a fire and a couple of the buildings burn to the ground, including yours. Maybe you're lucky and you manage to evacuate your family before your home burns. Maybe you're not so lucky and you loose a child or two, along with everything you owned.

Who do you blame for this? Do you blame the wanted dude for hiding out near your home? Do you blame TLA for firing missiles into your complex? Do you blame both?

"Jive-Ass Dude Don't Got No Brains, Anyhow."

Barbara Billingsley has died. She was 94.

This is her bit in the movie "Airplane!":



Her interview on that role:

Editor = Idiot?

The one in the WaPo who let this sentence go by:
A study earlier this year in the American Journal of Epidemiology showed that among 123,000 adults followed over 14 years, those who sat more than six hours a day were at least 18 percent more likely to die than those who sat less than three hours a day.
All it would have taken was the addition of one word, such as "prematurely" or "sooner" or "earlier".

Besides that, a practice that is endorsed by Donald Rumsfeld is not exactly a sterling recommendation.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Perils of Phrasebooks

Today is National Feral Cat Day

Today is National Feral Cat Day, a day to reflect about the outdoor cats in our neighborhoods. These cats are found behind grocery stores, fast food restaurants or even sunning themselves in our backyards.
And there is more here at Ally Cat Allies.

Gracie's sister Sweetie was a feral cat.

The "trap, neuter and release" programs are fine ideas.

(H/T)

Caturday- Away Cats

This is Boo. He is 17 years old.


He is not an outdoor cat. He is allowed to go outside with supervision.

When I visited, I spent the night on a comfy couch. The couch normally serves as Boo's bed. He was gracious enough to share, he spent the night sleeping at the other end. Normally, when I sleep in a bed that I'm not accustomed to, my first night's sleep is really shitty. Not that night, though, I slept very well. I guess I really am a crazy cat lady.

This is Ming. She is 16 and suffers from some ailments. Because of the sound she has been known to make, her nickname is "Meep". Her staff take very good care of her. Ming was picked up when Animal Control found her nursing a litter of kittens behind a Chinese restaurant.


And here is Gracie, just because.

Friday, October 15, 2010

ICE- a Lying, Orwellian Police Bureaucracy

The lying fuckers at ICE have been telling local jurisdictions that ICE's "Secure Communities" program is voluntary. ICE has, at different times, been telling communities that they either have to agree to be in the program or they can opt out of it.

Except those are nothing but lies. It is mandatory.

BP's Security During the Cleanup Was Apparently Riddled With Corruption

Gee willikers! BP's security contracts in Louisiana, specifically St. Bernard Parish, were apparently riddled with corruption and favoritism.

I'm shocked, shocked, I say!

(H/T)

Money is Fungible

The "money is fungible" argument is that no matter how a group segregates its funds, it doesn't matter. The government has used this argument for decades when it came to the charities associated with terrorist groups, from NorAid in the 1980s to Hamas today.* The government has consistently maintained that by giving to a terrorist group's charitable arm, the money freed up other funds that could be then used for terrorist activities. Presumably, one would have to travel far and wide to find a conservative politician who did not agree with shutting down Islamic charities in the US.

Which makes laughable the assertions of the Chamber of Commerce that they segregate foreign contributions to make sure that foreign money is not used for political purposes.

______________
* Prosecutions against those who gave to NorAid were blocked by politicians such as Peter King of NY, who had no qualms about supporting Irish terrorism.

Afghan Corruption

Well, isn't this interesting:
In a move that could further strain Washington's already fraught relations with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, federal prosecutors are considering an indictment against his brother for tax evasion, according to a U.S. official and a source familiar with the investigation. ... A source familiar with the investigation said Mahmoud Karzai is expected to be indicted by a federal grand jury in U.S. District Court in Manhattan "The $64,000 question is when," said the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because no indictment has been made public.
The IRS is involved with this because Mahmoud Karzai is an American citizen and, as such, he is subject to Federal tax law.

Interstellar Trade

Paul Krugman examined that over 30 years ago. His paper assumes sublight travel, though at high relativistic speeds.

All bets are off if it is feasible to travel through wormholes, hyperspace or subspace.

Guess Who Are Taking American Jobs Now?

Goats.

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Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Goons of the NYPD

Ten rookies beat up a cabdriver while a police captain looked on and did nothing. One sergeant tried to intervene and was busted to desk duty for two years.

If you're a cop on the NYPD and you try to do the right thing, they will fuck you over. No wonder so many of them quit and hire onto other departments.

(H/T)

CCW Ban Falling in Wisconsin

A state judge has ruled that Wisconsin's outright prohibition on carrying concealed weapons is unconstitutional.

That is how it fell in Ohio. An appellate court in southern Ohio threw out the state ban. The prosecutors appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court, which signaled to the state government that they would uphold the ruling and stayed the case pending the outcome of a bill to legalize concealed carry. The legislature did. My recollection was that the Republican governor at the time vetoed one or more concealed carry laws, at least one of which was overridden and became law.

(H/T)

BPA Declared to be a Toxic Substance

In Canada, at least. Our own FDA may issue an opinion or ruling sometime between tomorrow and the death of the Sun, albeit probably closer to the latter date than the former.

Of course, the chemical industry is simply outraged.

The Future for the US Navy

First, you probably should at least read Galrahn's blog post and, if you have time, the CNA paper. The Proceedings article is good, as well, but for some reason, it is munged in Firefox (I used Chrome to read it).

I don't do a lot of military analysis and, to be honest, I've never thought much of the art. Many of the analyses I've read gloss over the issues of maintenance, training and sustainability, assuming that it'll all work out.

But permit me to make a few observations, though I am not going to address the options contained in the CNA paper or the blogs that I've cited above. (They did a decent job and I see no need to re-plow that terrain.)

The CNA paper noted the rate of warship procurement. The low point in the Bush Administration, FY 2008, authorized three ships. That was less than one-sixth the high point of the Reagan Administration (20 ships in FY 86). The CNA paper also noted that up to 40% of the fleet has been deployed at any one time in the last ten years.

The latter is, to my mind, not sustainable. It is not sustainable because that high of a level of tempo of operations (OPTEMPO) has negative results over the long run. Maybe 60% time in home port sounds good, but please keep in mind that includes the time required for major overhauls, in which a ship is drydocked and most of its equipment refurbished or replaced. If you take overhauls out of the mix, then when the ship is not in overhaul, it will spend the majority of time deployed. And even when the ship is back home, it is going out on various exercises.

The implications of that are these:

First, the fact that a ship spends most of its time deployed will stress the families of the crew. This raises dissatisfaction among the crews and easily results in more families rupturing. It will have an effect on retention, as many people who might have opted for a Navy career will chose to get out for family reasons.

Second, when the ship spends time back in home port (presumably a CONUS port), there will be precious little time to do anything other than get ready for the next deployment in a few months, including dealing with the regular inspections that the Navy requires, from InSurv* and PEBs to ORIs. An intermediate level maintenance availability probably is a jam-packed affair, with as much deferred as possible.

Third, the ships are going to wear out faster. The sea is an incredibly corrosive and hostile environment. Even if it wasn't, machinery wears out over time.

Fourth, being deployed is expensive. It just costs more to get stuff (food, supplies, repair parts, people) to a ship that is sailing off the coast of Bumfuckistan than a ship that is in Norfolk or San Diego, not to mention the fuel that is burned.

Fifth, a force that spends the majority of its time deployed will, over the long term, suffer quality problems when it comes to retaining people. You need only look at the Army, which got to the point during the Iraq War (and may still be there) that a detectable pulse was all that it took to be promoted to major or lieutenant colonel.**

The bottom line is that the current mode of operations for the Navy, the model that it has been following since the start of the Korean War, which is an ability to operate almost everywhere at the same time, is not sustainable.

So how do you fix this?

First, something has to give, and while this may be like wishing for unicorn poop to fertilize fields of golden clover***, the procurement system needs to be revised. Programs that are badly managed or out of control need to be cut. If Shipyard A bids $500 million for the delivery of a ship and the cost escalates to $800 million, then Shipyard A doesn't get to build any more of those ships. Whether its rifles, airplanes or warships, if it can't come in on time and on budget, then cut the program. One of the guiding principles of any negotiation is that you will be skull-fucked if you aren't willing to walk away from the deal. The Department of Defense, not just the Navy, needs to adopt that principle and it needs a president who is willing to veto any frakking bill that contains military procurement items outside of the budget.

Hell, it needs to be that any congressman who slips military pork into legislation, such as more C-17s, is denounced loudly as putting the needs of his contributors ahead of the military need of this country.

Second, the wedding of one crew to one ship may have to be rethought. SSBNs have been operating for decades with two crews. Two crews per warship may be too costly, but the use of more crews than ships should be explored, say, five crews for three ships. This would allow for more time at home port for crews while keeping a high OPTEMPO for the ships themselves. This would allow time for more school-based advanced training. The downside of that is that manning costs would be divorced from ship operating costs, which might result in some nasty budgetary games. Having some extra sailors may also increase poaching by the Army, which happened during the Iraq War when tens of thousands of sailors were sent to Iraq to do things like run prison camps.****

Third, the Navy may have to get back in the business of operating repair ships for surface ships. All of the destroyer tenders (ADs) have been stricken since the end of the Cold War.***** ADs permitted high-level maintenance and repairs to be done almost anywhere that a port or a protected anchorage was available. Such maintenance now would have to be done in foreign shipyards, which can raise a host of security issues. The ability of ADs to go places where sophisticated repair facilities don't exist could also result in less time off station for ships.

Fourth, the Navy may have to consider de-crewing and decommissioning ships undergoing overhaul. The Navy doesn't like doing this as this would remove the crew as a labor and security force during overhaul. It also may raise quality issues as there would be far fewer people looking at the work as the overhaul progresses. This would, however, reduce the number of ships that need to be crewed.

Fifth, and back to the point of the various articles and papers, the Navy cannot continue to operate as it has for the last sixty years. Something has to give and if the Navy doesn't address this and continues to try to carry on as it has, then the Navy will end up not doing anything well and may wind up being broken.

I'm betting on "not doing anything until the Navy breaks down". Whatever the Navy wants to do to address the "fewer ships than tasks" problem will require political support. Reforming the procurement system will take political support and will piss off the contractors who make large political contributions. Kicking the can down the road is a well-practiced sport by politicians and too many of them still regard the defense budget as a welfare program for their states and district. I don't see that changing anytime soon.

_________________________
* InSurv reports have been so damning of the Navy's maintenance of its warships that the Navy responded by classifying the reports.
** The Arnheiter Affair is illustrative of that situation.
*** Given the fact that Congress treats the military budget as a pork barrel.
**** After about a month of training in "how to play sojer".
***** Two sub tenders are still in service, the Emory S. Land and the Frank Cable.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Detroit 1-8-7

I've been enjoying the show. Michael Imperioli is doing a great job as Detective Fitch.

What chowderhead, though, came up with the title. "187" is the section of the California penal Code which defines murder. The Michigan Penal Code defines murder in section 750.316. I guess that "Detroit 750.361" didn't sound right.

There has to have been a title that ABC could have come up with that would not have the network look like idiots. But who am I kidding, they're network guys. Being an idiot is part of the job description.

Paladino's Non-Apology

Story here and text here.

Note that Paladino, the teabagger who is running for governor of NY, is not taking back anything he said. His defense is that he is a "simple man" (an incredibly wealthy "simple man") who was stupid enough to read a speech prepared for him.

He is sorry because people took offense at what he said.

So let's try this on:
"Hey Carl! I'm sorry that you were offended because I referred to you as a `mouth-breathing moron who likes having sex with goats'. No offense meant. Can we be friends, now?"
Do you think that would fly on a street-corner encounter?

Me neither.

But This Would Never Have Happened Under a Republican Administration

The Federal Communications Commission said Tuesday it is conducting an industry-wide investigation into cell phone billing practices amid complaints by customers of Verizon Wireless and other carriers of unwanted data charges.
Because as we all know by now, the Republicans have the backs of big corporations.

Update Windows!

Microsoft just released a veritable boatload of security updates for Windows.

If you are running Windows, best run Windows Update, like frakking now, rookie!

Dear Justice Roberts: A Grateful Nation Thanks You for Allowing the Political Process to Become Even More Corrupt; Part II

The Daily Show looks at the huge gusher of money flowing through anonymous political front groups.

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(C) Spot Run!
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Karl Rove is outraged, I love it!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Seniors- Another Whiny-Ass Special Interest Group

More than 58 million retirees and disabled Americans will have to go another year without an increase in their Social Security benefits, the government is expected to announce this week.

It would mark only the second year without an increase since automatic adjustments for inflation were adopted in 1975. The first year was this year.

The cost-of-living adjustments, or COLAs, are automatically set each year by an inflation measure that was adopted by Congress back in the 1970s.
Of course, the seniors are upset as all get out.
"I think it's disgusting," said Paul McNeil, 69, a retired state worker from Warwick, R.I., who said his food and utility costs have gone up, but his income has not. He lamented decisions by lawmakers that he said do not favor seniors.

"They've got this idea that they've got to save money and basically they want to take it out of the people that will give them the least resistance," he said.
Let's pass over, for the moment, the point that a hell of a lot of the Teabaggers collect social security. Instead, let's step into the Wayback Machine to 1975. Inflation was running high and there were stories about seniors eating dog food. Congress passed a law mandating that government retirement benefits, including social security, would increase each year by the cost of living. From then on, the seniors made out pretty well. The Carter Administration put the burden of living with high inflation on the backs of government workers and the military, limiting them to cost of living increases of 5.5% when seniors were getting COLAs as high as 9.9% in 1979 and 14.3% in 1980. As things were, the seniors made out pretty well.

Now the economy is stalled. People are losing their jobs, still. Those who are working have had their hours cut. Those who are still working full time are having to pick up more of their health insurance and, in many cases, their pay has been cut.

And the seniors want sympathy because their benefits are not going up?

Cry me a river.

More Hypocrisy From the Teabaggers

Republican Senate nominee Joe Miller said Monday that he will not be answering any more questions about his personal background for the remainder of the campaign.

"We've drawn a line in the sand. You can ask me about background, you can ask me about personal issues. I'm not going to answer," Miller said.
So, let's be clear about this: Bashing Obama for knowing Illinois politicians or where he went to Church in Chicago or where he was born or being a community organizer, that's OK.

Asking Joe Miller why he is against government handouts when he colluded with his wife so she could file for unemployment assistance or why he takes the state's oil money (him, wife, 8 kids, means they collect $12,810) or why he has six figures of credit card debt or why he availed himself of government-backed student loans, that's not OK.

Just to be clear on this: Get a few parking tickets as a Democrat and the Confederates will proclaim you to be unfit for office. A Republican whose hobby used to be murdering hobos, raping co-eds and eating roasted puppy livers, well, "that's all in the past" and is not an impediment to being elected.

Have the Wingnuts Drilled Down to a New Depth of Idiocy

They are fretting about whether or not soups and cereals have been manufactured in accordance with Muslim law, are they "halal".

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Who really gives a shit? If it doesn't bother anyone that Oreos are kosher, then why would they care if they were also halal?

If Cats Ran the Olympics

Synchronized Sleeping would be an event.


I feed them a good quality dry food. I use Friskies "Feline Favorites" as their treats. I have to keep the open bag of the Friskies in a cabinet, as the cats have figured out how to knock the clip off.

I had bought a second bag, because I had a coupon that was nearing its expiration date. The other morning I woke up to the sound of one of them beating the hell out of a paper bag. Sure enough, they were trying to tear open the new bag. (It is a good thing that I keep their claws clipped.) Now that bag is in the cabinet, as well.

Browser Bloat

A long while ago, I once made a little bit of money doing web sites. I'm very much out of touch with that, now, but I still have several browsers on my computer for messing around.

So this is what the program file folder holds for each

Google Chrome 6.0: 677 files, 248 MB.

Firefox 3.6.10: 262 files, 30.4MB

Exploder 8: 38 files, 5.45 MB

OffByOne 3.5: 5 files, 1.5MB

Opera 10.62: 248 files, 23.8MB

Safari 5: 478 files, 40.3MP

SRWare Iron 5.0: 296 files, 47.7MB

I suspect that IE 8 has got files buried elsewhere.

What the hell is up with Google Chrome? 248 MB?

Monday, October 11, 2010

What if Fiction Wasn't Fictional?

What if what we know as fiction are true tales that bleed through from another universe?

What would readers in that universe make of a series of stories where, in a time span of a little more than a century, two different nations are taken over by corporals*, each of whom try to conquer the known world and each of whom has their aspirations dashed to pieces on the steppes of the same country?

_________________________________
*Yes, I know that "the little corporal" was a nickname. Sue me.

Shorter Carl Paladino: "I Don't Hate Gays, But They're All Going to Burn in Hell"

Carl Paladino, the Teabagging candidate for governor of New York, got in a little bit of rhetorical gay-bashing yesterday. Like a lot of the party of the Confederacy, he seems to be of the opinion that being gay or straight is just a matter of flicking a mental switch.

He despises gay people, but then he thinks that discrimination against gays is wrong. How does he square that, you might ask. (He doesn't.)

Palladino is a real piece of work. He's used dubious schemes to rip off the taxpayers of New York State to get both grants and property tax rebates. Those schemes have made him a shitload of cash. He's just another Teabagging hypocrite who hates government spending, unless it puts cash into his pocket, then he is fine with it.

Add a Language

Koro, a language that was unknown to linguists.

The Tea Party's Myth

Paul Krugman dynamites the myth of the Obama Administration as big spenders.

One thing he didn't mention is that the $700 TARP bailout came in at less then a tenth of that number, as banks were eager to pay back the money, so they could both shed the stigma of taking Federal money and they could go back to paying huge bonuses to the rapacious dirtbags who ran them over the cliff in the first place.

Torture Nation; UK Edition

Convictions obtained against "terrorists" in Northern Ireland are now being overturned in job lots because the "trials" were held in special courts with fabricated and dubious evidence routinely admitted. Torture was used to extract confessions in cases where the defendant could be proven to have not been involved.

Watering down the rule of law is a tactic for fools and pants-wetters. Too bad our government is incapable of learning from the British example on this.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Sound of Gunfire, Off in the Distance, I'm Getting Used to It Now.

Not gangbangers or any of that stuff. It's hunting season for both most species of small game as well as wild turkeys. Legal hunting time begins around 6:30AM, which is when I'll hear distant gunfire.

Nope, Not a Witch

SNL:

George Bush and Dick Cheney, Live, on Stage!



(H/T
)

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Tea-jihadists are Voting Next Month.
They Don't Want You to Vote.

They win if you don't go down and vote.



So pull your ass out of the couch on November 2nd and get to the polls.

Security People Are Idiots

The UK variant of our lovable DHS is concerned about a purported aviation security risk posed by an iPhone application.

They need to get a grip on themselves, for this is nothing more than an exercise in advanced pants-wetting.

Let's assume, for the sake of argument, that a terrorist has a fairly modern MANPAD missile launcher, like the SA-18. A terrorist isn't going to be sitting in the middle of a cornfield in West Jesus, Iowa and shooting at airliners flying from JFK to LAX.

Those missiles don't go that high.

If the hypothetical terrorist is going to shoot at an airliner, he will have to be within several miles of an airport in good weather, as those missiles must optically lock onto the target before they are launched. Which means that if he wants to shoot at a specific flight, all he needs is an aircraft band receiver tuned into departure control (assuming that he is shooting at departing airplanes because they have more fuel and will burn better on impact). If he's not that particular, all he needs to do is see a large airplane and fire the missile.

Now if the terrorists have managed to smuggle in a longer-ranged missile system, then we have far larger problems than an iPhone app.

(H/T)

Rural Life

This post takes, as a launching pad, the story of the man's house who was allowed to burn down because he hadn't paid the $75 annual fee to the local fire department.

I have lived in areas that run the gamut from sketchy urban to very rural. Currently, I live in an area that is sort of exurban in that there are still a few working farms around.[1] I live within a town's borders, but there is no town police force.[2] The town is part of a neighboring town's school district. Fire protection is by a volunteer fire department.

I can't praise the volunteers enough. They have to have all of the training of professional firefighters, which is a shitload of training, and many of them also have paramedic certifications. To my mind, volunteer firefighters deserve all of the praise and glory that we give our servicemen and women.

But there is a problem inherent in living outside of the cities and larger towns: If you call for emergency assistance, the response times are long. I now live within earshot of a fire station. Early one morning, as I was feeding the cats, I heard the fire siren go off. Twelve minutes later, I heard the siren of the first truck leaving the station. Add in the time it took to drive to wherever they were going and get set up, well, that's a long time to have your home on fire.[3] (In their defense, they do have paramedics on duty, so if you call for a medical emergency, those folks roll immediately.)

I lived for a time in a rural county that had one state patrol car on duty at night. If you called for an emergency, even if the officer had responded with a high-speed lights-and-siren run, it could be as long as 20 or 30 minutes before he showed up, and that was if he wasn't busy at another call. You might get lucky and a town cop or another state trooper might show under mutual assistance. In that town, the unofficial motto of the volunteer fire department was "we've never lost a cellar hole."

I have had personal experience with calling the cops in my current location for a trouble call, and that one was an incident where two people were beating the shit out of each other right out in the parking lot. It was at least a quarter-hour before a cop came by and by then the combatants had given up and limped away.

Living away from the city has its charms. It's usually quiet. You can look out your window and see the green of forests, marshes or grasslands. Muggings are rare. Life seems slower. Other than you have to have a car or two, it's less costly to live here.[4] On the other hand, if you want good coffee (not Dunkin Donuts) or food other than American, pizza or Chinese, you are shit out of luck or you make it yourself. If you want to see an indie film or a documentary, you'd best join Netflix and you're not going to be browsing through quaint bookstores.

The biggest drawback is that you are often on your own for a first response in an emergency. You need a good first-aid kit, fire extinguishers (depending on your home size, at least a few) and a gun. For you cannot count on help arriving in time to do more than clean up.

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[1] Horse farms don't count.
[2] 911 calls go to the county sheriff's dispatcher. If people around here call for the cops, they almost universally pray that the state police show up, not the sheriff's deputies.
[3] That assumes that the first truck is a tanker truck. If a tanker truck doesn't respond and the first truck is either a ladder truck or engine truck, then all they can do is make sure that everyone is out and then watch the fire spread.
[4] City folk have been known to load up on groceries here before heading home because the prices are cheaper and the selection is more varied.