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, March 31, 2014

Bangity, Modding Edition

The first mod for the 22/45 was a Lam bushing. It took longer to read through the directions twice than it did to install.

Helps that I have a pin punch to push the hammer pin with, as well as a dead-blow hammer for knocking loose (and reinstalling) the bolt stop and the barrel assembly.

The Lam bushing allows removal of the magazine disconnect hardware. Empty magazines have to be pried out if the disconnect crap is left in. With it gone, empty magazines drop free, as they should on any decent semiauto. And the trigger feels less gritty and somewhat lighter.

$12 well spent, if you have a Mk.III or a Mk.III 22/45.

What the Hell Was That Thing Up There in the Sky?

Click on the image to enlarge

What is it? Good question.

The Changes in Government Snooping Are Just Eyewash for the Unwashed

So holds Bruce Schneier.

The government certainly doesn't want to make it harder for them to snoop on you. And neither do the major Internet players: Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, etc., etc.

I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of email correspondents that I have who have adopted encryption. It's easy enough to do, just download GNU Privacy Guard, or GPG4Win or pay for PGP, if you must. Thunderbird Email supports an addon called Enigmail that will run encryption.

But hardly anyone does it, trusting in security by anonymity, I guess.

If you want to communicate with some degree of anonymity, either use encryption or buy yourself one of these:

Governmental Scumbag of the Year; "Intelligence Edition"

The 2013 Rosemary Award was awarded to James "Jimmie the Perjurer" Clapper, for blatantly lying to Congress about the scope of collection of Americans' telephone data.

He had a lot of competition, including Emperor Alexander, who lied about the usefulness of what the NSA was doing, and the Department of Justice, for classifying quotes from the Constitution as "Top Secret". The list of "also-rans" for the award is impressive, including Admiral William McRaven, who ordered the destruction of Federal records (a bit of a felony) and the DoD, for classifying statements that had been made publicly during the Cuban Missile Crisis (which happened over fifty years ago).

The award is named for Rose Mary Woods, Richard Nixon's secretary, who "inadvertently" erased 18-1/2 minutes of the Watergate tapes.

(H/T)

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Deflating Cloud Storage

The NSA's fuckery has taken the steam out of the move towards cloud storage of data.

Like this wasn't foreseeable.

Personally, I don't think it much matters what reforms are put in place, for I don't believe that the American Stasi NSA will give a rat's ass. They'll whatever the fuck they feel like doing, which is what they've been doing from Day One. All the so-called reforms will do is persuade most people to go watch another squirrel while the NSA gets back to work spying on everyone.

Meth Nation- Go, Indiana!

I suppose it's just a coincidence that all of the states in Meth Nation form a contiguous landmass.


Not to say it isn't a problem elsewhere*, but these are the top ten meth states.
_____________________________________
* Like Wasilla, AK.

Don't Let the Storm Door Hit You in the Ass, Stevie

American action movie star Steven Seagal has given state-run newspaper Rossiskaya Gazeta a whopping 2,000 word interview in which he expressed support for Russia's actions in Crimea. ... Seagal also said that although he loves the United States, it is possible — "sometime" — that he will follow the lead of French movie star Gerard Depardieu and take Russian citizenship.
Tsar Valdimir IV seems to be set to amass a nice little collection of over-the-hill actors.

Musings about 2016, or "Somebody Please Shoot Me Now".

You can find a lot of musings about 2016 all over the damn place. It's probably true, though, that one of the problems with Hillary Clinton is that she has enough political baggage to fill up a truck and that's never helpful.[1]

While Bill Maher was pinging on the number of candidates who have "waited their turn" and he used Obama as the guy who didn't wait his turn and won, there are other examples of politicians who didn't wait their turn and won: Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

The outlier here, of course, is Reagan and Bush the Elder. Reagan waited his turn, but between nearly 20% inflation, a second gas crisis and the Iranian hostage crisis, even Rick Santorum would have been able to beat President Carter.[2] Bush was on his was to losing, but between an inept campaign by the Democrats, a lousy debate performance by Dukakis and the race-baiting of Bush, he turned it around.

In late 1991, it seems from the polling that Bush I was going to win in a walk. The "next turn" Democrats, like Anthony Cuomo, sat it out, figuring that they'd let some poor schmuck get buried and then come in in `96. Didn't work that way.

In 2000, there really wasn't a "next guy" for the GOP, other than Danny Quayle, and nobody was crazy enough for that.[3] And so George W. Bush won the Republican nomination[4] and the election.[5]

So yes, I think Maher is onto something. But it doesn't seem to matter. The GOP candidates for 2016, this far out, appear to be all of the same inhabitants of the 2012 Klown Kar, including Mitt Romney, and with a couple of quasi-new clowns. The Democrats seem to be, so far, Clinton and maybe Biden. Biden, well, you can just write off all but about ten states if he runs, for Shotgun Joe isn't exactly popular.

But, Jesus, why are we even talking about the intrigues in the American Political Whorehouse, now?
________________________________
[1] "Politicians are like a box of chocolates: Democrats are mostly soft and gooey and Republicans are mostly nuts."
[2] OK, maybe not Santorum.
[3] Unrepentant Nazi sympathizer Pat Buchanan might have also had a claim. Both men were interested, but pulled out before the primaries began.
[4] Like his father, his campaign used race-baiting as a tool.
[5] As for his campaign's successful theft of the two general election, let's not go there.

Your Sunday Morning Jet Noise

Boeing 727:

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Asshole Identified

A few days ago, I asked who was the asshole who voted to kick a girl out of school for shaving her head in support of her friend who is battling cancer.

The answer is: Bill Newcomer.

Caturdy, Shelter Cat Edition

A shelter cat snoozes on a high shelf in the cattery.


Get thee to a shelter and adopt thee a cat. Or a dog.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Non-Partisan Political QOTD

"The American Political System -- a whorehouse with a thousand piano players."

The article is about the GOP's courtship of Sheldon Adelson, a particularly odious old fellow, whose business entities have had an uncomfortable familiarity with the criminal justice system. But the quote applies across the political spectrum.

Because It's Friday

A couple of months ago, I posted a video of the CPRR building a steam locomotive.

Today, a documentary about the Brits doing the same:

)

Not a hard hat to be seen, and safety glasses are extremely rare.

(H/T)

More Free Books

Manybooks.net, another source of stuff that's now in the public domain.

I came across this site on one of the gun forums, where a member there posted a link to a book titled "Zone Policeman 88" by Harry A Franck. Franck was in the Canal Zone as the Panama Canal was being dug. He first hired on as a census enumerator and was able to go over much of the Zone in that job. The description of what it was like on the floor of the huge digs and the living conditions alone is worth the time to read.

I've only now reached the point where he started work as a cop. There was no such thing as a police academy back then, it was all on-the-job training.

Franck apparently was one of the great travel-writers of the first half of the last century. I imagine that I'll be reading more of his work.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Local Weather Site

This will give you the current weather at a reporting airport as well as the last three days.

Here is it for Boston.

I don't know of a link to a menu page, other than this. Then you have to look on the right side for the airport weather and you can find a link for the last three days' worth of observations.

Meh.

What I do is manually replace the airport code, which I did here for San Francisco. You have to use capital letters for the airport code, though.

The Bangity Whines: If You Want Your Shit Quickly (and with Free Shipping), Avoid Amazon

Last week, as you may recall, I bought a new target pistol. I mentioned in the AAR from the first range trip, that, with my aging eyeballs, I needed to get a red dot sight if I was going to hit anything. In a comment, Peter suggested that I look at the Bushnell Trophy TRS-25.

I did and I ordered one from Amazon. I placed the order on the 22nd. The "shipping status" on my Amazon order's page says that they are "shipping now". Five days later, those cocksuckers.

Well, shit. I could have ordered the fucking thing from Adorama Camera with free shipping and they'd have shipped the goddamned thing that day.

I'm going to keep this in mind for future orders of crap. Maybe Bezos and his minions are too busy playing with their new shiny toy to mind the shop.

For one thing, I'm going to need a spotting scope. There's a long hallway in my office building, so I took in a target that had been shot up with a .22 and my 10-power binocs. I taped the target to a wall, paced off 50 yards and then looked at the target with the binoculars. I couldn't see the holes. For now, I'm just going to haunt the thrift shops and look for a used telescope. Even if it doesn't come with a terrestrial eyepiece, I can adapt. At 50 yards, it's not as though I need a high-dollar optic.

UPDATE: Five days to ship. According to the tracking link on Amazon, it's going to take five days for the frakking thing to get to me from Amazon's "Fulfillment Center", which is located in the next state. Sal would have gotten it here quicker.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

How Soon Rummy Forgets

So, Who Was That Asshole; Educational Edition

By now, you've probably heard of the Colorado girl who shaved her head in solidarity with her friend who went bald from chemo. The school where the girl who shaved her head took a dim view of that and suspended her for violating the school dress code.

No surprise that blew across the Intertubes like a shit-storm. One thing that social media, blogs and what not are good for is bringing shame and opprobrium down on the head of asshole bureaucrats.

And that's what happened to the numbnuts who were running Caprock Academy in Grand Junction, CO. The asshats administrators who run the school met and voted 3-1 to modify the dress code to permit supportive head-shaving.

Which leaves this question unanswered: Which one of those assholes voted to not change the policy?

And when someone becomes a school administrator, do they take that person into the hospital and scoop out much of their frontal lobes with a melon-baller?

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Digital House: Not Only "No", but "Hell, No"!

Like hell this is a good idea:


If you can hook into your house from outside of it, so can hackers and the authorities (which are nothing more than hackers with guns). Do you really want your home to be able to tell whomever what the temperature of your house is or what is the settings on your hot-water heater or what's in your refrigerator? Do you like the idea of your television reporting your usage?

The past had its own level of suckitude. But at least it took a shoe-leather cop to do this kind of spying on you.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Facebook Users Can Go Blow Themselves

OK, so I'm on FB. It's a decent was to keep up with people.

Bud I am getting torqued off at the people who are out begging "likes". They post something and it ends with "hit like if you've read this" or "like this post if you agree". Even worse are the ones where you're asked to "repost if you've read this" or if you agree or shit like that.

So, for the record: Assume that I don't read your fucking wall. Assume that when it comes to whatever issue you're posting on FB about... well, let's hand this one off to Groucho:

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Mike Rogers Is a McCarthyite Tool

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Douchebag) is claiming that Snowden had Russian help.

His claim is based on some cocaine-addled intelligence professional who told Rogers that "well, we certainly can't rule it out."

Which is about as McCarthyite a claim if there ever was one.

Can you rule out that Mike Rogers has anonymous gay sex for money in bus stations? I sure can't. And since neither you nor I can rule it out, by the reasoning that Rogers uses....

Your Sunday Morning Jet Noise

The F-35 "Turkey II":


(H/T)

Saturday, March 22, 2014

This Business Will Get Out of Control and We'll Be Lucky to Live Through It.

For all of the bleating by the Neocon Gods of War, who are advocating going into Ukraine and squaring off with the Red Army, one should consider this: Toe-to-toe confrontations by nuclear armed powers are rare because rational people know full well that once shooting starts, things can spin out of control very fast and in a very bad way.

India and Pakistan have twice come close to war since both nations acquired nuclear weapons (both times were caused by Pakistani acts of war). A nuclear war between those two nations might ultimately kill over a billion people around the world, far more than the 12-20 or so million dead from the initial attacks.

Think of that for a second. A short war between a second-rate and a fourth-rate military powers could quickly kill almost as many people as who died in the First World War. As much as some of the neo-con chickenhawks might poo-poo the Russian military, which has only recently begun upgrading its conventional forces from what was left over from the Soviet Union, not too many people are scoffing at Russia's nuclear forces.

Which is why when nuclear-armed countries start throwing their weight around, they are careful to pick fights with other countries which don't have nuclear weapons.

Which may also be why, given China's rather aggressive stance of late, one should not be surprised to find out that Japan has gone nuclear in a very quick fashion.

Caturday, Shelter Edition

The featured cat in the thrift store was caught mid-yawn.

1% Are Running for the Exits; Chinese Edition

A significant percentage of the upper crust of Chinese businessmen apparently are quietly moving out of China.
These wealthy refugees fear the pollution and corruption in China and are losing faith in the current government (a dictatorship run by the Chinese Communist Party) to set things right before the country collapses into another period of civil strife and economic collapse.
Their destination of choice is, apparently, the United States.

Which, if one reads the the right-wing press about how our own rich are supposedly fleeing, is rather interesting. The right-wing bleaters cry that the rich are fleeing the U.S. because of taxation. The Chinese rich apparently are OK with paying taxes if those taxes buy clean air, clean water and a reasonable amount of domestic security.

There are plenty of other countries around the world where it is possible to purchase citizenship.

But they are coming here.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Ooops, I Did It Again; Bangity Editon

Swung by a LGS after a business appointment and they had two of these on sale:



Well, now they only have one of them.

Truth be told, the grip of the S&W 22A felt slightly better. But I went for the Mk.III because if I get seriously into Bullseye shooting, the Mk.III is customizable to beat the band.

UPDATE/AAR: OK, I'm a bit of an ignoramus. They had two 5.5" bull barreled Rugers. One felt nice in my hand, well-balanced. The other was heavier. Heavier than I wanted, considering I'm going to put an optic on it. So I went with the lighter one. Which was a Mk.III 22/45, not a straight Mk.III.

It shoots well. I sighted it in on a rest at 25 yards and it'll do nicely. Then I tried one-handed and damned skippy, I'ma gonna need an optic. With myopia and presbyopia, getting a good sight picture is frakking hard.

Guy at the LGS recommended either a Burris Fastfire or a NCStar. I'll have to get something if I want to do more than make shotgun-lie patterns.

UPDATE: Frelling Amazon...

Because Its Friday

Two Chinese QJs get underway.

Spooks Poaching Your Emails

There's been a few developments.

First off, Google now claims that emails sent through its service, Gmail, are now encrypted for the entire routing.

Yeah, well. Nothing in Google's announcement would seem to indicate that they haven't given the decryption keys to the NSA, or that the NSA hasn't stolen them. And the NSA is claiming that the tech giants all were fully cooperating with the NSA's rummaging through their system, at least until Snowden blew the whistle on them. Google, Yahoo and all the rest have since been exhibiting a Captain Renault-level of outrage at NSA snooping.

Yahoo has not been pleased about the Brits rooting around through their system whenever some detective at Scotland Yard feels like it. So they're moving their operations to Ireland, where it takes a court order for such things. Needless to say, Inspector Lastrade and his chums aren't terribly happy about that.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Spring is Here

Only Speak Good of the Dead

Fred Phelps -- the founding pastor of a Kansas church known for its virulently anti-gay protests at public events, including military funerals -- has died, the church said Thursday.
Good.

Scientific News (Tab Clearing)

There has been a hypothesis for some time that the universe greatly expanded immediately after the Big Bang, expanding faster than the speed of light. As the idea goes, this happened between 10^−36 seconds after the Big Bang to sometime between 10^−33 and 10^−32 seconds. The universe expanded by 10^26-fold (or possibliy much more) during that time.

This week, astrophysicists announced that they have observational evidence for the inflation hypothesis. Which apparently is consistent with the idea that there may be many other universes. Somewhere, the shade of Friar Bruno must be laughing.

In other space news, the STEREO A spacecraft detected a solar flare and coronal mass ejection in 2012, which ht the spacecraft. The magnetic polarity of the storm would have been very bad news if it had hit our world. When one factors in the angular velocity of the Earth and the rotational speed of the Sun, the storm missed us by nine days.

More Casualties From the Great War

A shell or grenade buried in western Belgium since World War One, has exploded, killing two people.
At least two more were injured, one of whom is in critical condition.
The device was set off as workmen at a building site in Ypres were trying to dig it up.
The British and the Germans fought for years around Ypres. Shell-fuzing was a bit of a new art back then, I've seen estimates that the percentage of dud rounds was over 30%. That's if it was a shell. For all we know, it could have been a Mills bomb that was dropped by a soldier. Nearly a century of corrosion and it might have looked like just another stone.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Fifty Years Ago

Fifty years ago today, Jerrie Mock set out from Columbus, Ohio, on her flight around the world in a Cessna 180. Her goal was to be the first woman to fly an airplane around the world.

That was back in the day when the most sophisticated piece of aircraft navigation equipment for most of the world was an ADF. VORs were in use in the U.S., but were only then just being built elsewhere.

She did it solo. And she set a round-the-world speed record for light aircraft in the process. That's besides being the first woman to fly from the U.S. to Africa over the North Atlantic, the first woman to fly across the Pacific (west to east), the first woman to fly across the Pacific (in both directions), and the first woman to fly across the Pacific in a single-engined airplane (among other firsts and records).

Cessna gave her a new Cessna 206 in exchange for the 180 that she had flown around the world. After displaying for a timne at their factory in Wichita, Cessna donated it to the Smithsonian, where it is now on display in the Udvar-Hazy Center next to Dulles Airport.

Crimea River

In probably the biggest non-surprise of yesterday, Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula.

Next will come the mopping-up of Ukrainian military units on the peninsula. They have no place to run to and no hope of relief, so their choices are to give up or die futilely or bravely, depending on your point of view.

My quick Googling is that the Crimea has about 1.9 million people and 58% of them are Russians. Which is a hell of a lot of pro-Russian voters to take out of the next Ukrainian election. Unless, of course, the Ukrainians say that the people in the Crimea are still Ukrainians and they get to vote.

Manwhile, Vice-President Biden is running his mouth, which is his main talent. He seems to have no problem with invading another country, at least when we do it. When someone else does it, that's a violation of international norms. You can find idiots babbling on about economic sanctions, but they don't explain what effect that'll have on a country that has the eighth largest economy in the world and which is a major exporter of natural gas to Europe. Nor do they bother to think how the investors in Europe and the US will scream if the Russians retaliate by confiscating their investments in Russian projects.

UPDATE: As BadTux has pointed out, Putin merely dusted off one of our own plays when we were proclaiming shit like "Manifest Destiny".

GOP- Free to Hate You and Me

A little cartoon update to yesterday's post:

(From here)

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Borg of General Aviation

Textron Aviation, an amalgamation of Hawker, Beechcraft and Cessna.

I'd be more worried about Hawker than anything else, for they compete with the Cessna Citation lineup.

As to the rest- meh. Beech's Baron and King Air really aren't in competition with anything Cessna makes. The Caravan is mostly a trash-hauler. Cessna hasn't made a piston twin for 30 or so years.

The closest competitor to the Bonanza is the Cessna Columbia 400 TTx. The Bonanza has more seats and that oh-so-sexy retractable gear. Bonanzas can handle grass strips, just not terribly short ones. I don't know if the TTx can do that as well. On the other hand, the TTx is a descendant of the Lancair family from the early 1980s, while the Bonanza is a maturation of an airplane that was designed back in 1945.

MH370- Turn Off Yer TV

Nobody really knows what happened to Malaysia Airways Flight 370.

But that doesn't stop half-baked idiots from speculating on things for which they have little to no data.*

To quote a fictional detective: “It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.”
__________________________________
* Sorry, CNN, but when even "Scary Mary" Schiavo thinks you've lost your shit, you've gone over the deep edge.

Republican Legislator Working to Bring Back Segregation

That would be Phil Jensen, a member of the South Dakota Senate. He has introduced legislation allowing for explicit discrimination against gay people and he thinks that it should also be legal to openly discriminate against people based on race, sex, ethnicity and/or religion. He also thinks that anyone who receives government subsidies should be drug-tested, except for farmers.

It may not be as insidious as it sounds, for he appears to be one of those die-hard libertarians who truly believes that if a business were to refuse to serve Black folks, that all of the good people would then not patronize that business.

Right. And his front lawn gets fertilized by unicorn poop.

So Jensen will introduce his Bill to Legalize Discrimination. It will, of course, go nowhere. But what it will do is be used to show people of color and LGBT people that the GOP hates them and that there is no home for them in the GOP. Sure, you might be a wealthy biracial dyke who is to the right of Romney, but why would you support a party that seems to want to adopt white sheets as formal wear?

That's how clowns like Jensen are going to lose the GOP a lot of elections. (Or they would if the tribe of fearful electoral surrender monkeys in the Democrats weren't so influential.)

(H/T)

Monday, March 17, 2014

Fundies' Heads Go "Boom"

Last night on Cosmos, Neil deGrasse Tyson discussed evolution, beginning with how wolves evolved into dogs and how polar bears evolved from brown bears.

One of the favorite cases for the pseudo-argument for intelligent design is the human eye. Dr. Tyson dismantled that argument. He showed that the eye was optimized for seeing underwater and that the eyes of land-dwelling animals, including humans, are somewhat kludged-up to cope with the optical distortion that came with the transition to living in the atmosphere.

And this is running on Fox, mind you. Not PBS.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

These Are the Guys Miss Lindsey Thinks We Should Be Fucking With

Russian FSB Special Forces run through some advanced training drills.


I imagine the Russian reality is that there is a bit less concern shown for accidentally shooting hostages.

(H/T)

Your Sunday Morning Jet Noise

JSDF US-2 amphib.


At one point, the video has some annoying music overlaid, but if you can stick it out, you'll see the airplane beach itself.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Live Long and Prosper

The origin of the Vulcan Salute

)

McCain's Flirtation with Ukrainian Neo-Nazis?

A column in the LA Times points out that Ukrainian fascists and neo-nazis are making up a critical part of the new government in Ukraine. The leader of one of the neo-nazi groups (Svboda, aka the Neo-Nazi Social-Nation Party of Ukraine) has publicly praised Ukrainians in World War II who massacred Jews.

The Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine is a member of a neo-nazi party. Another neo-nazi goon now has control of the Ukrainian armed forces and police.

And yet, the Israeli ambassador met with those people.

The Russian view of Ukraine is that a government which was elected by a democratic process was overthrown by a coalition of Eurotrash, which were led around by two neo-fascist groups, Svboda and Red Sector. Whether you accept their argument that the snipers shooting in Kiev was a false-flag operation by Svboda/Red Sector gunmen or not, the fact that neo-fascists now have significant power in Ukraine should give some pause to both the Right-Wing Noise Machine as well as the Obama Administration.

But it hasn't made a dent. Maybe we should wonder why.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Another Detestable Euphemism from Fort Fumble

According to the Pentagon, there is no such thing as a "hunger strike". Nosiree, that's "long-term non-religious fasting".

Sort of along the lines of "kinetic solutions" has replaced "shooting/bombing people". Ayup, and they don't "napalm kids" anymore, they apply "thermally-based crowd control solutions".

Newspeak run amok.

Feinstein vs. CIA

A lengthy story on what is going on.

Speaking of torture, it's still going on.

"Cosmos" and More

I watched the initial episode of "Cosmos". I was surprised that it's on Fox, for reasons that should be obvious to any casual reader of this blog.

I was also surprised at the material about Friar Bruno. I haven't gone looking, but I suppose that the Christian Talibanistas have their knickers in a twist over that. The popular focus has been for centuries on the Church stifling Galileo, while ignoring the immolation of Bruno. Yet it was the execution of Bruno that likely convinced Galileo not to go too far in pushing his ideas. Even before Bruno's death, the Church's power was so feared that Copernicus waited until he was dying (1543) to publish his heliocentric model.

As for the show itself, better to give it a few episodes to see how it builds.

Lots of schadenfreude across the blogs over Difi's late conversion to the notion that spying on Americans is a bad thing. I suppose it speaks more to her sense of entitlement, if not outright naïveté, that she and her esteemed committee would somehow be exempt from being spied upon by the security organs of the American surveillance state. She must feel betrayed to have spent all this time defending the spies only to have the CIA try to shiv her.

But whatever it took,maybe now she'll realize that those birds need to be reined in, if not outright neutered.

Windows had a pasta-gazillion megabytes of updates from Update Tuesday. Something in that must have caused Firefox some butthurt, as Firefox didn't want to run this morning and had t do some sort of internal repair work.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

DiFi Gears Up for War With the CIA

Her printed statement is a damning indictment of the CIA for engaging in torture and covering it up. Buried in her outrage about how the CIA has been trying to intimidate her committee staffers, violated the Constitution regarding separation of powers and violated Federal law regarding domestic investigations, she has confirmed that the CIA engaged in war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The CIA's actions against Feinstein and her committee are puzzling. Did they really expect that she'd just shut up and take it? Have they forgotten that when the CIA pisses off Congress, that Congress can and will eviscerate them? (They've done it before.) Besides slashing the CIA's budget with a chainsaw, Congress can force the senior management to spend so much time testifying on this-that-and-the-other that they might as well take rooms in a Capitol Hill boarding house.

When it comes to a separation of powers battle, the party lines blur. Senators are senators first, before their political affiliation. They won't forget or forgive any of this, not without some resignations at the CIA.

As one of those who has been saying for a very long time that the CIA had become a rogue agency, I can only say this to DiFi: Welcome to the party, pal.

CIA's Opinion on MH370 Disappearance Means Absolutely Nothing

The director of the Central Intelligence Agency said on Tuesday intelligence officials could not rule out terrorism as a factor in the disappearance of a Malaysian Airlines plane.
A couple of careers back, I occasionally went to briefings that were given by someone in the "intelligence community". The one thing that was consistent across all of those briefings was that trying to elicit a firm opinion from the briefer was like trying to nail a blob of mercury to the ceiling. They never ever gave opinions.

Oh, they'd tell you what they thought the capabilities of a T-80 tank or a Sovremenny-class destroyer was, but good luck trying to find out anything about tactics or readiness. If you asked if the Soviets would use them for interstellar warfare, they'd demur.

Hell, if you asked the CIA if it's possible that MH370 was grabbed by the Romulans, they'd tell you that they can't rule it out.

Bitco[i]n

I have to admit that I've not understood the bitcoin currency. I don't understand how bitcoins are created or who controls them.

I'm no expert on currency, but this is what I think I know: There is hard currency, which is currency that is based on some tangible thing. Gold and silver were popular currency foundations, but it could have been anything else, such as iron ingots. Currency arose from warehouse receipts-- a farmer would take his wheat or grain to a local storehouse and receive bearer receipts for it. The farmer then might trade those receipts for something else, like a new harness for his ox. Those grain receipts were the first money.

Then there is fiat currency, of which about 99.9999% of the world uses. This is where a government issues currency and in turn. will only accept payments and taxes in that currency. A central bank of some flavor issues the currency and controls the supply. Some fiat currencies are more exchangeable (or trusted) than others, such as the Japanese yen as opposed to the North Korean Won.

So either a currency is valuable because it is backed by some tangible goodies or it is valuable because a viable government and national economy makes it so.

Bitcoins would seem to fall into neither category. I don't see where they differ from some kid making a $200 bill with crayons and construction paper. Bitcoins are a shadowy pseudo-currency with no government regulation, so I'm very much surprised that Goldman Sach's sleazy fingerprints haven't been found all over them.

Fukushima- Three Years On

TEPCO is making noises that they will have no choice but to dump a shitload of radioactive water into the ocean.

I haven't been following the news on the Fukushima disaster and the wider catastrophe that the 2011 tsunami has become.

One thing I do know: Whatever TEPCO says is probably a lie.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Poofy Language Griping

When did "saving", "customizing" or "maintaining" stuff become "curating"?

What triggered this mini-rant was the New London Day's website, which tells users to "look at the bottom of your browser window for a new version of [the 'of interest'] feature, which allows you to customize and curate stories based on your preferences."

So remember kiddies, you don't fix up your old heap of a car, you "curate" it.

You're not a stamp collector, you're a "postage curator".

You're not a "hoarder", you're an "insatiable curator".

Can we find a cure for this overuse of "curate"? Maybe the forced administration of a little curare?

(And get offa my lawn, while yer at it.)

Skydivers and Airplanes

Luckily, nobody was killed in this collision.


Others have not been so lucky.

A long time ago, I flew into an airport where there was a skydiving operation. As I was taxiing out, a whole lot of skydivers began landing. I pulled the mixture, shut down, and waited for them to finish. One landed close enough to my airplane that it might have been interesting.

I set a new rule that day: I won't fly into or near an airport with an active drop zone.

In Lieu of...


When I was a young child, my family lived in the Boston area. One of my teachers was a folk music buff and she would sing various songs if we were good in class. One day, she sang "M.T.A." One of the smart-asses in the class asked her why Charlie's wife just didn't give him a nickel, instead of a sandwich.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

MH370 is Still Missing

The flight disappeared over the Gulf of Thailand an hour after takeoff from Kuala Lampur en route Beijing on March 8th.

All we have right now, two days later*, is the sort of ignorant speculation that is the hallmark of cable news networks and third-rate fishwrappers.
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* It was mid-morning on the 7th in the US when the flight departed.

Your Sunday Morning Rocket Noise

Saturn V engine test at the Marshall Center in Huntsville.


They really did mount five F-1s in a test stand and light them all off. The noise must have been terrific.

N.B: This is post no. 9,000.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Time to Retire the 1911?

Both Peter and NJT have posts up about it, as well as links to at least one serious 1911 guru who is advocating tossing in the towel.

Still, if you're using 1911-pattern gun for home defense or carrying concealed, you probably don't need to overthink this. You're not showering the use and abuse on your heater that someone who carries it for duty use is. It's not exposed to the weather and you're probably not shooting it overly much. And chances are that you're not looking at needing to do more than shoot what's in the gun for any single situation.*

But if you're of the "prep for SHTF" crowd, those concerns may be of interest to you.

The 1911 is a fantastic pistol. John Moses Browning was a genius, he alone designed a pistol before the Great War that stood the test of time and combat. But there nothing out there in the world of design and manufacture that is immutable. Obsolescence overtakes everything, eventually.**
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* There are people who still use Single Action Army style revolvers for both uses.
** Except maybe Ma Deuce.


Caturday, Shelter Edition

Nap time in the cattery at an animal shelter.


Every week is Adopt a Cat Week.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Putin: A Reach Too Far

Lawmakers in Crimea voted unanimously Thursday to split from Ukraine and join Russia instead, and scheduled a referendum in 10 days for voters on the disputed peninsula to support or reject their decision.

Russian lawmakers, clearly savoring the action, said that if Crimea votes to become part of Russia, they plan legislation that would speed up the procedure of making that happen.
International norms for the last several decades have been that land grabs are illegal. The people on this planet pretty much got tired of the idea that there would be a war every few decades over to which nation places like Alsace and Lorraine belong to. So it was settled that the borders between Country F and Country P, regardless of how unfairly they might have been drawn, were fixed unless both countries peacefully agreed to realign them.

That didn't preclude wars for independence, where the people in province X sought to split away. It didn't preclude the breakup of Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia or the Soviet Union. But it's considered to be gauche to send your army across the border because you want a little lebensraum.

The Crimea and, for that matter, eastern Ukraine may well be majority Russian. But that does not give the Russians a reason to invade, for the same reason that the presence of a majority ethnic German population in the Sudentenland didn't justify that land grab.

If anything, the actions of Russia are giving the Ukrainian government a reason to further marginalize its Russian population, if not engage in a bit of ethnic cleansing in the way that the Czechs expelled Germans after 1945.

Because It's Friday

Norwegian narrow-gauge steam:

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Our Star System is a Whole Lot of Nothing

The Solar System to scale,* with the Moon sized as a single pixel.

No wonder the Reavers were crazy.
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* The link was corrupt, now fixed. Please try again.

Stupid Spook Shit; CIA Edition

If you've followed even a bit of the Snowden Affair over the ten months or so, you will know that Sen. Feinstein, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has been one of the most reliable defenders of the NSA and the rest of the intelligence community as they seek to spy on everyone all of the time. She seems tho have found nothing wrong with the NSA monitoring all of our communications without any probably cause whatsoever. It's probably not too much of an exaggeration to remark that if the NSA installed cameras in the women's bathrooms at JFK airport, that Feinstein could be counted on to defend the practice.

Keeping that in mind, it was a bit of a surprise to learn that the CIA has been spying on her committee.

Because pissing off the people who decide how much money your agency is going to get doesn't really make a lot of sense.

Nor is providing firm evidence to the Senate that yes, you guys truly are out of control.

There used to be a joke that the difference between the Navy and the Boy/Girl Scouts was "competent adult leadership". Seems to me that the same joke applies to our intelligence community.

A Little Bit of Gun Humor.

And there is a lot of truth to it.


And get offa my lawn.

Emperor Alexander Channels His Inner Putin

He moaned recently that there has to be some way of "stopping journalism".

No doubt that he's kind of wistful that the NSA can't do an Anna Politkovskaya on Snowden and Greenwald.

The Emperor's whining about the damage done to the NSA is sort of like a criminal bemoaning getting caught. The NSA has done all sorts of damage to this country because they thought that they would never be found out. But secrets do have a way of escaping their confines, especially when someone is in the loop who thinks that the Constitution isn't just a "goddamned piece of paper" or "quaint and outdated".

I think it's worth restating this point: That the NSA's claims that its wiretapping and vacuuming up of our electronic communications have prevented terror attacks have proven to be a tissue of lies, a fantasy spun by delusional power-mad maniacs.

As much as I will be pleased to see Emperor Alexander joining the senior pundit circuit like his predecessor, I have no illusions that his successor will be any different from either Alexander or Hayden. Nowhere have I seen any evidence that, when presented with some shiny new surveillance tool, anyone at the NSA asks "should we be doing this."

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

About Time for a Little Levity Around Here

"Rabbit Hood".

Another Unabashedly Hypocritical Remark From Lurch

“It is not appropriate to invade a country and, at the end of a barrel of a gun, dictate what you are trying to achieve.”
Unless we do it, that is.

I understand that Kerry was a professional politician for decades before becoming a diplomat. But still, how can he say things like that without throwing up on the spot?

The other disquieting thing is that the who Ukrainian crisis has become a European endorsement of mob rule. At least if the mobs are outside of the EU, that is. They weren't so keen when it was the Greeks massing and protesting over the terms of the bailout dictated by Germany the EU Central Bank. But when the mob suits the purposes of the EU, they're fine with it.

Ukraine was, more or less, a functioning democracy. Viktor Yanukovych was the duly elected president. He was probably as corrupt as they come, but then again, so was his political adversary, Yulia Tymoshenko. Ukraine is a bit of a mess, anyway. Roughly equal numbers of people tilt towards Russia as do towards the EU. Like Russia, Ukraine is more or less a semi-functional kleptocracy that is really run by oligarchs. Their major exports are steel, Antonov aircraft, and surplus military hardware left over from the USSR.

But still, it was kind of a democracy. However, Yanukovych wasn't doing what the EU or the US wanted, so he had to go, now, rather than wait for elections.

Hypocrisy may be the lubrication of choice for diplomacy. But like all lubricants, sparing use should be called for. American and EU policy towards the Ukraine Crisis is just drenched in it.

UPDATE: What the Rude One said.

The Defining Difference Between Russia and the U.S.

Our respective borders.

We are reasonably invasion-proof. Racist-based paranoia aside, even in 1942, it was pretty clear to rational thinkers that Japan couldn't mount an invasion of the United States. Besides the oceans, there is a major desert in northern Mexico, and some not-insignificant mountainous terrain. Getting the Southwest and Texas out of Mexican hands pushed any invasion from the south back across that terrain. While the Canadian border is relatively open across much of its length, the Canadians don't have the resources to mount an invasion, so any allies would have to cross the oceans.

In short, geography has given us security.

That is not the case for Russia. There are no major geographic obstacles between Moscow and Paris, other than some rivers. Three times in the last three centuries, European armies have attempted to conquer Russia.* The only defense that geography offers Russia against invasion from the west is distance.

If you understand that, then you understand why the Russians were pleased when the Yanukovych government tilted away from the EU. If you understand that, you will understand why the Russians viewed the addition of Poland and the Baltic states to NATO as a threat to their own security.

Beyond that, as we have shown little hesitation to bring about regime change by using our own military when it suits our purposes, it gripes me to hear the whining from clowns ranging from John Kerry to John McCain when somebody else does it.
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* 18th Century- Sweden. 19th Century- France. 20th Century- Germany. I rather doubt that the Russians have forgotten that the Ukrainians sided with the Swedes.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Why Hasn't John Kerry's Head Exploded?

When he makes statements like this:
"You just don't in the 21st century behave in 19th century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped up pretext," [U.S. Secretary of State John] Kerry told the CBS program "Face the Nation."
Right. As a senator, Kerry voted to invade another country based on a completely trumped up pretext.

Let's admit the fact that Putin took a page out of our own playbook: Gin up a false rationale for military action, get legislative approval and then invade another country.

This is an example of the enduring legacy of the Bush Administration: When it comes to things such as being against wars of aggression and torturing people, we, as a nation, do not come to the table with clean hands.

I probably shouldn't be so hard on Kerry, for he is only playing the cards that he has. But if his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, asked him: "So, it's only not aggression when you Americans do it," it's hard to come up with a decent answer.

Time for Somebody to Slap the Crap Out of Miss Lindsey?

[Sen. Lindsey] Graham, who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said there needs to be more than threats coming from the White House, and called President Barack Obama “weak and indecisive” on matters of foreign policy.
Right. As opposed to, say, George W. Bush, who was so strong and decisive on foreign policy matters that when the Russians invaded Georgia in 2008, he did what, exactly?

Bush sent some ships to the Black Sea to deliver "humanitarian aid" and urged the Russians to abide by the terms of the cease-fire. And that, pretty much, was it.

Of course, you wouldn't expect the stenographers in our national press corps to think of questions like that, let alone ask them of chickenhawks like Graham.

In Lieu of, Well, Something



It's hard to believe, now, that radio stations used to play this song, full length.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Your Sunday Morning Jet Noise

AV-8B Harrier:


The video does not do justice to the noise a Harrier makes when one is in a hover. It is L-O-U-D!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

NSA Wonders: What, You Haven't Covered Up or Disabled Your WebCam By Now?

I wish that I could mock those who think that the NSA and the GCHQ are watching them through their webcams. But it seems that they are, to some extent.

Cut out a small square from an index card. Place it over the lens of the webcam on your laptop. Then use a strip of electrical tape to hold the piece of cardstock in place.

By the way, Stephen Colbert is at least partially right: This is our fault. We keep voting for the senators and congressmen who voted for the Patriot Act and who keep re-authorizing it.

Caturday, Chiaroscuro Edition

Jake warms two sides of himself on the heated cat bed.


There is only a short period of time when the sun is beaming on that heated pad. He generally makes the most of it.

Jake sometimes makes a cry that sounds as though he's in pain when he uses his litter box. I've come to realize that he is telling me that the litter level is either low or it needs changing altogether. He was doing it on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. I dumped the litter, scrubbed out the box and put in fresh litter. Not a peep out of him since.