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

Saturday, May 31, 2014

American Oligarchy

Pretty much what she said.

Don't Fuck With Marines


Classic Bangity and Gun-Related Tab Clearing

That is my Ruger 22/45 resting on a slow-fire target.


The target looks huge, until you consider that it is a fifty yard target. You shoot a Bullseye match one-handed. At that distance, the 8" bullseye of the target looks about the size of an aspirin tablet. Every slight twitch of the trigger causes the sights to wobble.

At fifty yards, you have ten minutes to get off ten shots. You do that three times. Then you set up 25 yard targets with 5.5" bullseyes. You shoot five shots in 20 seconds, reload, and shoot five more shots. Do that three times. Then you shoot five shots in ten seconds, reload, and shoot five more shots. Do that two more times.

By the end of the match, you've fired 90 rounds. A perfect score would be 900.

Of a dozen shooters, I came in third. I need to do some trigger work to bring the weight of the trigger pull down. I'll probably buy and install a Volquartsen trigger and sear before the next match.

For a full "2700" match, you shoot 90 shots with a .22 rimfire target pistol, 90 shots with a centerfire pistol and 90 with a .45 pistol. A perfect score would be 2700, which nobody has ever attained.

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

I was at a LGS the other day, listening to a guy tell the owner that he had been an early purchaser of a Remington R51. He said that the cocking serrations on the slide were so sharp that he cut his fingers on them. The rear sight fell out of the dovetail. The gun was so buggy that he sent it back to Remington for repairs. They just cut him a check for the full purchase price, including sales tax.

Remington, by all accounts outsourced the R51 to Para Ordnance. Whether the design was flawed or whether the factory either had no functioning QC department or an incompetent one is an open question. I'd sure as hell be leery to buy anything made by Para Ordnance at this point.

Remington's website doesn't catalog the R51. If you're into long-term investing and you can find a new one in the stores, you might want to buy it and just leave it in the box. It will probably be worth some serious coin in 20-30 years or so.

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

BadTux has an idea: The open-carry asshats should be made to carry "Hello Kitty" rifles.

Works for me.

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

Somebody once called YouTube "a reservoir of human stupidity". Over at The Firearms Blog, they've been covering a certain form of stupidity: The Tannerite Arms Race.

Tannerite is a low-grade explosive that requires a lot of shock to set off. People have been buying it to make small exploding targets- hit the target with a rifle and it goes boom.

Well, a certain batch of tools have been mixing up large amounts of Tannerite and then setting it off. One clown blew his old barn with over 150 pounds of the stuff. Some other clowns set twice that amount next to some trees.

As for the first clown, guess nobody told him that there are companies that will happily come out disassemble your old barn, and take it away at no cost to you (and some might even pay you). Because they can sell the wood for making furniture and flooring for hipsters. If the barn had a lot of chestnut wood, you might get a decent check for it. but that's neither here nor there.

What's going to happen, of course, is that the possession and use of Tannerite will end up requiring the same sort of licenses that are required to buy and use dynamite. Because of morons like these. (Yes, folks, there was a time when you would have walked into a rural hardware store and bought a case of dynamite.)

Tannerite + Imbeciles = This is Why We Can't Have Nice Things.

Caturday

Jake is resting and waiting for the dinner bell.


A few minutes before this photo was taken, he was sleeping on that brown heated cat bed, snoring gently from time to time.

Jake has been with me for ten years, now. He wasn't young when I got him; he's an old man, now

Friday, May 30, 2014

Because It's Friday

Spanish steam.


Update: N&W 611 is coming back!

Decoration Day

A cartoon from 1900:

The caption read: "You bet I'm goin' to be a soldier, too, like my Uncle David, when I grow up."

In about seventeen years, that young boy would indeed get his chance.

Gutting the Fourth Amendment, how Hard Cases Make Bad Law

In the states covered by the 7th Federal Circuit, if someone calls the cops and says "I'm worried about so-and-so", the cops can go break down that person's door, confiscate their guns (if they have any) and arrest them.

At this point, I don't see that there is very much left of the Fourth Amendment.

About the only amendment of the Bill of Rights that the courts haven't gotten around to gutting yet is the Third Amendment. But if the cops wanted to set up shop in your house, the court'd go along with it, you bet.

It was a nice Constitution while we were using it. The government, now, just pretty much treats it, in the words of George W. Bush, as "a goddamned piece of paper." Just like the Soviet Union did.

Customs Goons Assume the Role of the Nation's "Air Cops"?

In a story on NPR about how Customs is supposedly backing off is aggressive searching of light aircraft that have done nothing wrong to begin with, Eddie Young, who has a billboard-sized tile of "deputy assistant commissioner of Customs and Border Protection for Air and Marine Operations", said that his people are "the guardians of the nation's skies."

Really? Who died and left those assholes in charge?

This has been going on for awhile. I've mentioned before (though I can't find it right now) that Customs was fucking with the wrong group of people in going after owners and pilots of small airplanes.

We'll see if they change. But I'm thinking that they need a bit of de-funding.

(Also worth a read.)

Thursday, May 29, 2014

A Hard Book to Read

"Southern Horrors" by Ida B. Wells-Barnett.

The book is 120 years old, which is why it's available from Project Gutenberg. It is about lynch law.

If you like to think of this nation as an honorable place, it will rock your perceptions. Even if you think you know about lynchings and massacres by white mobs, this book will stun you with the breadth and depravity of the practice.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

What in the Wide, Wide World of Sports is Going On

A new record in the "Beer Mile", the first runner to break five minutes.

The Beer Mile is this: Chug a 12oz can of beer and run a quarter-mile lap, chug a second can of beer, run a quarter mile, and do that until you've run a mile (and chugged four beers). Yes, there are official rules.

The Weakest Part of an Automobile is the Nut Behind the Keyboard?

For the past four years, Google has been working on self-driving cars with a mechanism to return control of the steering wheel to the driver in case of emergency. But Google’s brightest minds now say they cannot make that handoff work anytime soon.

Their answer? Take the driver completely out of the driving. The company has begun building a fleet of 100 experimental electric-powered vehicles that will dispense with all the standard controls found in modern automobiles. The two-seat vehicle looks a bit like the ultracompact Fiat 500 or the Mercedes-Benz Smart car if you take out the steering wheel, accelerator, brake and gear shift. The only things the driver controls is a red “e-stop” button for panic stops and a separate start button.
There are a lot of potential good things about this, especially if going driverless is an option on a car. Had too much to drink, then just tell the car where to go, hop in the back seat and pass out while the car takes you home.

They had primitive versions of such things over a century ago, but they were called "horses and buggies". If you got potted in the saloon, you just unhitched your buggy, pointed it in the right direction and told the horse to go.

Of course, all of these driverless cars are going to talk to each other, so they can more seamlessly integrate themselves into the traffic flow. And sooner or later, it will be illegal to drive on some roads or in cities without the car being in autonomous mode. Which might improve capacities, as there is no reason why the computers couldn't drive the cars at 90 MPH and at an interval distance of inches.

But still, I think this new future as envisioned by Google is going to have a degree of suckiness. Especially since it's a dead-nuts certainty that a database of who drove where at what time will inevitably be created and maintained by one or more law enforcement agencies.

Wall; Against; Head; One's: Banging

Just look around the news over the last few days and you'll discover Very Serious Journalists discussing the fact that the American mental health treatment system is broken.

Because that's news to them. Not to the rest of us, of course.

Maybe the Santa Barbara Asswipe's family could have had him committed. They might have had the money for a private psychiatric hospital, if there was a bed available. But Asswipe was of full legal age and if he didn't want to be treated, there was probably no good way of forcing him. They would have had to hire a lawyer and file a petition for an involuntary commitment. Asswipe would have gotten his own lawyer (or had one appointed) to fight it. And unless it could clearly be shown that he was a danger to himself or the community, good luck with that.

A lot of the old hospitals were not places for healing. But they were places that housed people who were mentally ill. Now, we don't even do that. Those who are mentally ill end up in jail, on the streets, or if they are very lucky, they have families that can afford to care for them for their lifetimes. Some other lucky few may have a disability pension that will be enough to house them in a residential care facility, but a lot of those are more like the hospitals of old: Warehouses, only lots smaller.

None of this is news. Where we are now was probably not hard to forecast three or even four decades ago. The mental health treatment catastrofuck has been a very slow motion trainwreck, one that the politicians all ignored because there was no way to avoid it that did not involve spending public funds. And since one of the two main political parties has an unspoken position of "you should only die soon" towards the mentally ill (and the other party's position is essentially that of cowardice), we got the mental health system that we deserved.

Which is to say: Nothing at all.

So we'll just muddle on. Because there is no political will to fix this problem. Because there are the wingnut megaphone artists who would scream about coddling and shit if we tried. Serious (and lengthy) articles will be written by reporters and printed in various newspapers, and maybe one of them will get a Pulitzer Prize or something. But at the end of the day, we will be right where we are now.

In another year or two or three, another crazy young white dude will grab some guns or knives and go people-hunting. Afterwards, there will be stories in the papers of how disturbed that Jackhole of the Future was and how could it be that nobody could see the signs. There will be the mandatory hand-wringing by politicians and the press proclaiming that this time, something must be done to provide help to the mentally afflicted, at least those who are homicidally inclined. Once the story fades from the news cycles, not a damn thing will have been done. Not a single treatment center will have been funded, let alone built, anywhere in this country.

And so it will go.

We are so screwed.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Your Next Cah?

Too much serious about today, so:

For All Intents and Purposes, Today is Monday

So a little cuteness is necessary.


(H/T in personam)

Monday, May 26, 2014

Stealing the Show; RCAF Edition

Nearly sixty years later, this little episode would have been called "photobombing".

Today Should Not Be Memorial Day (and Please Stop With the Thanking Veterans Today)

Rant the First: Do not go up to a veteran today and thank him or her for serving because it's Memorial Day. Memorial Day is a lineal descendant of Decoration Day, which began as a day to honor those who had died serving in the Grand Army of the Republic, a/k/a the Union Army. Memorial Day is for honoring the dead. Veterans Day for honoring the living as well.

Thanking a veteran on Memorial Day could be construed as saying "you should only die soon."

So knock that shit off.

Rant the Second: Today should not be Memorial Day. It should be on May 30th.

Maybe I should just specify this yearly rant as a "continuing objection", or something.

But we, as a nation, moved Veterans' Day back to the anniversary of the World War I Armistice. This is supposed to be the day to honor those who have served and who had their lives ripped away from them.


It's not supposed to be a day to get a jump-start on the summer or the day to get twenty percent off on cheap-jack Chinese shit. That's just ignoble capitalistic debasement of a once-noble holiday.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Santa Barbara Asswipe

You might be aware that Asswipe knifed three people to death before he got into his Daddy-provided Beemer and went hunting other humans. He ran down at least two bicyclists with his car.

But oh, if you read the gun-control loving blogs, none of this would have apparently happened if Asswipe didn't buy a gun. Which assumes facts not in evidence, of course.

Some of them are currently somewhat distracted by Asswipe's participation in the "men's rights movement", but don't worry: They'll circle back to the idea that This Harmless Snowflake Would Have Done Nothing Without a Gun, soon enough.

Fusion Centers: Not Anti-Terrorism, but Government-Funded Corporatist Security Departments

Mike has the details.

Basically, the "fusion centers" are looking for dissenters, but only dissenters from the Left. You want to go out and slaughter people because of religious or ethnic hatred, expect them to ignore you. You want to protest fracking or pollution, they'll pay attention to you. Protest the military and they'll infiltrate your group.

The fusion centers do nothing productive. It is high time to defund them.

STOP NAMING THESE CLOWNS, ALREADY!!

OK, so some bitter sexually-frustrated punk hopped into his daddy's Beemor and went on a homicidal rampage.

Please, everyone: Stop referring to these shitbirds by their real names. Deny them the fame that they seek. I've said this time and time again, and I'm going to keep at it.

This one, for example, shall be referred to on this blog as the Santa Barbara Asswipe.

Beyond that, Asswipe apparently went on a homicidal rampage because he couldn't get laid. Back in the day, the cure for that malady was a few copies of some soft porn mags and masturbation. But no, guess that didn't occur to Asswipe.

Update: Asswipe's family supports gun control. Because then, Asswipe would have only killed three people (the ones he knifed to death), plus whoever he had managed to run over with his Beemer.

Your Sunday Morning Jet Noise

The Sub-Sonex:

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Caturday

Lord of all he surveys.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Because It's Friday

Doble steam car.


if you're unfamiliar with closed-cycle steam engineering, it will seem crazily complex.

The Rubber-Stamp Court Continues Operation; NSA Edition

The morons House of Representatives removed a provision in the NSA reform bill that would have appointed a privacy advocate to the FISA Court.

So the FISA court will continue as it always has: Only the government gets to state its case.


Courts are a forum for an adversarial process. If only one side gets to put on a case, then it's more a form of legalistic masturbation. The FISA Court has a long record of being a rubber stamp, approving virtually every surveillance request the government has made since the Court was formed. They've approved something over 30,000 such requests and disapproved maybe a dozen. And no, that's not hyperbole. Over a 12 year period, they've never not approved a pen register request.

Without a "freedom for spying" advocate, then nothing from the FISA Court would ever be reviewed on appeal, because there is nobody to file an appeal. So the FISA Court gets to continue on, thinking they're doing something meaningful. When all they are doing is spreading a judicial fig-leaf over a deeply unconstitutional process.

Hosing the Vets

"On this Memorial Day weekend eve, we can finally admit that America has had, for over two hundred years, a great bipartisan tradition of honoring those who have fought for our freedom by fucking them over once they give their guns back."-- Jon Stewart, in the segment titled World of Warriorshaft, "terrible memory lane".

Thursday, May 22, 2014

My Billionaire Can Beat Up Your Billionaire; Political Discourse in the American Oligarchy

Because Money = Speech!
A California hedge fund investor has pledged $100 million in contributions to pro-environmentalist congressional campaigns, bolstering the battle against climate change.

Billionaire Tom Steyer on Wednesday night hosted Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and six other Democratic lawmakers for a fundraiser at his San Francisco home and is planning an ad campaign for candidates who support tough action on climate change.

Steyer, founder of the hedge fund Farallon Capital, plans to spend $50 million of his own money and raise another $50 million from other donors for the November midterm elections.
Before you on the Right begin to wail about this, let's not forget that the Koch brothers have bought themselves a couple of states with their money, enough so that politicians will trip over themselves to take their calls.

But thanks to Johnny Roberts and the Supremes, this is where we are. Steyer pours in millions for his cause, as does Mayor "Nanny" Bloomberg, both Koch brothers, and others, such as Sheldon Adleman, Ken Langone, Rex Sinquefield, George Soros, and the list goes on. Politicians answer those guys' calls, because like in the 1960s, when bags of cash were delivered to national political campaigns, money is speech.


We still have a say, but they only listen to us every election cycle. For example, Adleman spent many tens of millions trying to persuade Republican primary voters that Newt Gingrich should be the GOP's man in `12. But Adleman is so rich that fifty million to him is like a hundred bucks (or less) to most people. Linda McMahon spent about $100 million in two elections in failed attempts to buy win a Senate seat in Connecticut (to be fair, self-funding campaigns has always been legal).

The rest of the time, they don't seem to much care what we have to say. Not unless they know, for a certainty, that we'll reliably go to the voting booth and vote on that issue.

Maybe it's sort of always been that way. Now, it's become rather blatant. About the only thing that's still illegal is naked vote-buying, where money is given specifically for a certain vote on a bill. But the difference between saying "I'll give you $$$$$ if you vote for/against this bill" and "I'm giving you $$$$$ and I really support/oppose this issue" would seem to be just quibbling.

Congratulations to the Class of 2014

That is all.

T-10 minutes

Atlas V launch at 9:09 EDT.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

And Your Point is What, Dumbass?

From a death penalty protest in Missouri:


No fucking shit, genius. That is exactly what the death penalty is: The state is lawfully taking the life of a person.

Whether you are for capital punishment or against it, this sign is the legal terminology equivalent of holding up a sign that says "gasoline is flammable".

Open Carry Assholes, Part Duh

See? You assholes are giving our enemies credibility.

Yeah, sure, Bateman is a jagoff who is pretty much an opponent of civilians owning guns, but still: He's bleating this as a win for the Forces of Bloomberg. When what it really is, of course, is a fucking self-inflicted wound by our own side.

Nice work, asswipes.

An Unintended Consequence of Our National Security Police State

The FBI is finding it hard to recruit qualified hackers who have not smoked pot.


Back in the days of Reichfuhrer Hoover, he didn't like the idea of FBI agents who were not clean-cut. So they didn't do drug cases or any other sort of unsavory undercover work.

Sounds as though things haven't changed all that much.

"A Police Chief, a Rabbi, and a Boy Scout Leader Walk Into a Room"......

.... to enter a plea on child porn charges.

What the Code Words "Excited Delirium" Mean

They mean "being beaten to death by the police".
The Madison County (IL) coroner says a man who was arrested over the weekend after exhibiting bizarre behavior at a strip club here appears to have died of "excited delirium."
Because it seems to me that all of the coroner's findings of "excited delirium" involve people who have been arrested. Some dude doesn't croak in his living room and there's an autposy finding of "excited delirium".

No, this "syndrome" only seems to happen to people in police custody.

Now I know that correlation does not mean causality. But isn't it high time that this "syndrome" received some serious and appropriately skeptical research?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Dinesh D'Souza: Guilty

He's admitted it. He knew he was breaking the law when he did it. So much for the Canadien Usurper's charges of selective prosecution.

And former VA Gov. McDonnell's going to trial for corruption.

Congratulations to the "Open Carry" Assholes

You won another one for the hoplophobes, oh yes, you did.

Portrait of Asshatus Gunnus
(Photo from here)

Morons. What ever convinced your little pea-brains that walking into businesses with slung rifles and shotguns was ever a good idea? What sort of twisted logic leads you to conclude that you're helping advance the cause of gun rights?

I'll tell you who you're helping: You're helping Mayor Bloomberg and his astroturf groups.

You're not helping us. You're not promoting the Second Amendment. No, you're acting like a bunch of children who don't understand social mores or civilized behavior.

Being "civilized" is refraining from behavior that is boorish or scares the children and the horses. Things such as men wearing hats (including baseball caps) indoors. Being a loudmouthed jerk in public. Wearing crocs in public. Asshole parkers. And openly carrying weapons in towns.

Didn't your mother ever teach you this lesson: "Just because you can, son, doesn't mean that you should."

How the fuck are you "helping" the cause of gun-owners' rights, guys?

This is how we get oodles of laws, from it being illegal to park in front of fire hydrants to having to tell the NSA and the FBI "Thou Shalt Not Spy on Americans". Because things that should be self-evident to a rational adult need to be spelled out for the idiots who cannot seem to conform their behavior to life in a civilized society.

Please, I beg of you: Leave your fucking ARs either at home or in your trucks. Do try to keep your heaters out of sight. There is no point in frightening those who are unfamiliar with firearms.

And Still, Nobody Goes to Jail

(Reuters) - Credit Suisse has agreed to pay a $2.5 billion fine to authorities in the United States for helping Americans evade taxes after becoming the largest bank in 20 years to plead guilty to a U.S. criminal charge.
Chump change for them. They can shake more than that out of their sofas in Geneva. The DOJ didn't force the bank to hand over its client list. The DOJ didn't have their banking license revoked. Nobody lost their job. Nobody went to jail.

In other words, the DOJ showed up and said, in essence: "Nice little banking operation yo have here. It'd be a shame if something happened to it."

You can tell how hard the bank was hit by this, because the article mentioned that their stock price went up.

After the S&L crisis, Reagan's DOJ got convictions and sent people to jail. Obama's DOJ just extorts money. Ol' Barry's lesson to the banksters is "if you steal, we'll make you pay a bullshit fine."

But it's just another day in the American Oligarchy.

Shorter Billionare's Take on Politics: "We Can't Ever Vote on Anything Because Hitler."

Ken Langone, who made his fortune selling hardware to people who then hire illegal immigrants to do the work, apparently thinks that voting on anything he doesn't likes for people to consider (such as income inequality) is Nazism, because Hitler sort of won an election. When called to account for his equating of Hitler to democracy, he said, in essence, "Hey, I was making an analogy. And if I say 'Hitler' and you think 'death camps', that's on you."

Ah, how lovely. The example of a brutal dictator who murdered millions of people is used by a capitalist thug to explain why democracy is evil.

Still, other than reasonably open elections, this country stopped being a democracy awhile back. The Supreme Court has almost finished its work of kicking the door wide open for an oligarchical state.

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Great War in Photos

I hope that you've been looking at the series.



Most wars are caused, more or less, by stupid and arrogant miscalculations. That was probably truest for the First World War.

CA Congressman Assumes Facts Not in Evidence; NSA Edition

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) on the NSA:
“They abide by the law, but they also have good lawyers who will go to court and try to press the meaning of what we write to the maximum amount. And we should be mindful of that.”
I don't want to hammer Lofgren too hard, as she has been one of the ones fighting to rein in the NSA. But the NSA won't really be reined in and the statists/cowards (Like Rep. Rogers and Sen. Feinstein) are fighting hard on behalf of the NSA.

Still, Lofgren's opening assumption is flawed. The NSA has not been abiding by the law. The NSA's spooks violate the law on a daily basis. And remember, those are just the times that the NSA decided to toss some flunky under the bus. Does anyone really not believe that the NSA has been running intel watches on prominent legislators and reporters?

Remember that the NSA's mantra has been "collect everything."
This actual surveillance system is expressed by the National Security Agency’s (NSA) own slogan which appears repeatedly throughout its own documents: collect it all.

That is an apt phrase. It describes exactly what the NSA’s objective is: to eliminate privacy worldwide by collecting and storing all electronic communications that take place between all human beings on the planet. It is devoted to sweeping up every email, every telephone call, every Google search, every browsing activity, and every online transaction in which people engage. That is not hyperbole: the NSA’s own documents leave no doubt that this is exactly its mission.
The NSA's defenders say that they need to do this to "keep us safe". But all they offer are meaningless platitudes. The NSA and its propagandists have not proven that their "collect everything" strategy has prevented a single terrorist attack.

Now, if you want to have a truly private conversation, you must do it face-to-face, in a room without any electronic devices, including old telephones. Because the NSA is listening in.*

________________________________
* What, you really think that they're not doing it here, as well?

Firefox Didn't Used to Blow So Much

If you read my complaints from yesterday, this is what Firefox 28 looks like:


I'm going to leave Firefox 28 on this desktop computer open until either they fix it or those fucksticks at Redmond send an update that requires a restart. FF-28 is so much more user-friendly. The clowns who changed the interface for FF-29 should be staked out for the coyotes to eat.

If "UI design" doesn't stand for "ugly interface design", it should.

Hooray for the Classic Theme Restorer add-on!

Capt. Renault Was More Professional Than the Aurora, CO Cops

Capt. Renault merely ordered rounding up the usual suspects.



In the search for a bank robber, the Aurora cops rounded up everybody that they could get their hands on. The cops had a description of the robber as a while male, 20s-30s, 130lbs. So they grabbed everybody: Men, women, children. The cops forced them out of their cars and handcuffed them, keeping everyone sitting on a curb for two hours. The cops searched everyone's car, just in case the bank robber was hiding in the spare tire well. Oh, the goons said they got consents for most searches, but can a person who is in handcuffs and who is told they'll be arrested if they don't consent truly be said to have voluntarily submitted?

I don't think so.

How much longer does this shit have to go on before everyone gets the idea that the cops have long ago abandoned "to protect and to serve" and now are operating in "to suppress and repress" mode?

Updated: A fine example of "suppress and repress" from Ohio (link fixed).

NSA- Reform that Gilds Over the Turd

It's all a fucking con. It apparently fixes nothing of consequence. The consensus seems to be: "The folks at the NSA are good people, we can trust them not to do anything wrong."

Which, of course, is bullshit. The NSA was listening in to telephone calls between reporters and their editors. They were not only listening into calls between our soldiers and their loved one, they were passing around the racy bits for their buddies to chuckle over.

So the cycle will repeat itself. The NSA and the other TLAs will develop work-arounds so they can get whatever shit they want without having to follow inconvenient laws and procedures. The pro-statists like Sen. Feinstein and Rep. Rogers will pat each other on the back, knowing that they were able to dodge anything approaching real reform.

And the terms "online" and "privacy" will forever be mutually incompatible.

The penguin knows the truth.

Imagined Conversation at Fox HQ

Head Honcho: "Goddamnit, who signed off on us carrying Cosmos?"

Minion 1: "What's wrong, Boss?"

HH: "I thought it would be a show about astronomy and space travel. But that DeGrasse Tyson fellow is talking about evolution! And climate change!"

Minion 2: "Oh, no, Boss!"

HH: "And last night, he blamed the focus on short-term profits as a reason why humans are not working to do something about global warming!!"

Minion 3: "Eeeeeeee!"

HH: "Who recommended we air this liberal show? Why didn't we get script approval? Heads are going to roll over this!"

All minions: "Eeeeeeeeeee!"

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Breen: It's What's for Lunch (plus Tab-Clearing)

I ended up sleeping in today, then went flying. The annual inspection for the airplane begins this week. Hopefully, it won't be too bad, because I'm having the windshields replaced. The left-hand one is 26 years old, the right-hand one is at least ten years older.

After flying, I went to the grocery store. It was already late for lunch, so I tossed in a package of frozen breen and nuked that.

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

Affluenza strikes again. Because rich people simply cannot do time.

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

So some far-right blogger breaks into a nursing home to take photos of a candidate's wife? What the fuck was he expecting to find? Of course, everybody is disowning the idiot as though he was exhaling plutonium. The campaign that the idiot supported is trying like mad to explain how they knew about the incident before it was made public.

I guess we'll have to wait for the guilty plea to find out what that moron thought it was a good idea to sneak into a nursing home to take photos of an advanced Alzheimer's patient.

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

Meanwhile, the cops in Philadelphia have been robbing bodegas. The badged-up crooks' MO is this: They get a search warrant from a brain-dead judge by alleging that the store is selling "drug paraphernalia"-- that being the same ziploc bags that are sold in every freaking grocery store in the country. The thieves show up, present the warrant, smash all of the security cameras, arrest the store owners and then help themselves to cartons of cigarettes, cash, cell phones and whatever else strikes their fancy.

But even with oodles of witnesses available and video evidence of the thievery, the U.S. Attorney for Eastern PA and the FBI just let the clock run out on the crimes. They didn't bother to interview most of the witnesses. The one guy they apparently talked to asked the Feebies to bring an interpreter and they never did.

A logical conclusion might be that somebody in the U.s. Attorney's office is eying a run for political office and doesn't want to get on the bad side of the criminals' policemen's union. Or the cops had hushed up some FBI fuckery and this is a returned favor.

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

Is farming a possible future for Rust Belt cities?

Firefox Officially Blows, Now

Firefox 29 changed the look of the tabs to make the tabs that are not open almost unreadable.

This is now what it looks like:


The tabs used to be all white. But the geniuses at Firefox apparently concluded that was too distracting, so they made them so that the text font is the same color as the tab itself. Sure, the text color is a skosh darker. But barely that.

I use a laptop. But I plunk it on the coffee table and I use a regular keyboard on my lap itself. Lots more comfortable. But at the distance of three feet, I can't read the background tabs.

This is an improvement? This is the sort of silly shit I'd expect from those arrogant assholes in Redmond. If they don't fix this one, I'm going to have to jump to Chrome for the time being.

Your Sunday Morning Jet Noise

Eclipse-500:


The original Eclipse company cratered years ago. It was probably the biggest financial failure in general aviation history. Over a billion dollars were lost.

Eclipse promised a jet at a fly-away cost of $775,000, a number that rational observers thought was ludicrous. But just like the firearms rags, the aviation press functions more as a cheering section for the industry, not as critical observers (with the exception of Flying in this instance, which never bought into the hype about Eclipse). People who should have known better ponied up deposits that began at $80,000 and then went much higher. The initial delivery price was closer to twice the advertised price and even at that, Eclipse lost hundreds of thousands of dollars per airplane and delivered airplanes that were barely complete enough to be flyable. There were stories that Eclipse was delivering jets with VOR-only installed radios, along with a handheld GPS.

The cratering was inevitable, really. Lots of people lost their six-figure deposits, as Eclipse had kept going back to the delivery position holders and gotten more money from them. New Mexico had coughed up something like $20-25 million in incentives to get Eclipse to build its factory in Albuquerque.

The new company says its delivering Eclipse 550s. Apparently, as far as the FAA is concerned, they're still 500s. The price is within spitting distance of $3 million. Which isn't that far off the price of a Cessna Citation 510, which was Cessna's small jet model, and which was always priced in the multi-million dollar range.

But then again, Cessna knows something about making smaller jets. They've been building jets for about 45 years or so and airplanes for eighty years. Yet even they have their clunkers from time to time.


Saturday, May 17, 2014

Caturday

Shelter cats are enjoying their new outdoor porch. There are shady spots, warm spots, places to chill out, things to scratch. There is a bridge into the indoor cattery.

Heaven for the grown cats.

Vice; Miami

I blame Borepatch.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Because It's Friday

Bulgarian steam:

Thursday, May 15, 2014

In Case of Rogue Sheep

Which is probably why the Department of Agriculture wants to buy submachine guns.

Why is it that every freaking Federal agency feels the need to have their own set of in-house Imperial Storm Troopers?

GOP in MO Shamelessly Loves Them the Rich

On the one hand, over the governor's veto, the Republicans in the Lege enacted an income tax cut for the rich. Because of the political donations persuasive speech of pretty much one old rich fuck.

On the other hand, a lot of the very same Republicans want the voters to approve a sales tax increase in order to pay for transportation infrastructure projects. Which likely means "roads", since the GOP has an abiding hatred of public transit systems.

Because keeping income taxes the same on the rich and using the money for the common good is evil. But increasing taxes on the poor, the working poor and the shrinking middle class and using that money for the common good is righteous.

if there is a better example than this one recently which highlights the civic small-mindedness and selfishness of the rich, then I don't know of it.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Who's the Cat that Won't Drop Out, When There's Danger All About?

Tara! Can you dig it?



She saved the day, making the national news.

They say that cat Tara is a bad mother....

210 Years Ago

Lewis and Clark began their expedition up the Missouri river and to the Pacific ocean.

Emperor Napoleon was very happy to sell the Louisiana territory to the Americans. He likely knew that France had no ability to defend the territory. Better to get 60 million francs for it, rather than lose it by conquest.

The funny thing is that the bonds for the purchase were underwritten, in part, by a London bank and Napoleon used the money to build up French military forces for war with England. (Then, as now, banksters were little more than amoral sociopaths.)

The good thing is that the French and the British had been enemies for centuries. If they hadn't been and if France had sold the Territory to the British, America today would likely be a much smaller and far less influential nation and Canada would have been a world power, eh?

Shorter Military-Industrial Complex: "Let's Go Buy Us Some More Congressmen!"

Because if money equals speech, then the companies that live off the government's cash spigot have got lots to say.
Top U.S. government contractors are ramping up their political giving before the congressional elections, seeking protection from sales-sapping budget cuts.

The 10 biggest contractors, including Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman Corp, boosted political action committee contributions by 29 percent in advance of the 2014 midterm congressional elections compared with 2012, according to Federal Election Commission filings compiled by Bloomberg.
But cuts have to be made somewhere, so if the big boys manage to buy the congressmen they need to protect their projects, then the cuts will go more towards traditional moves which hollow-out the armed forces: Cuts to pay and benefits, cuts to readiness and training, cuts to recruiting.

But oh, you know that LockMart and their ilk won't be bothered if their products go either straight to the boneyard or just sit at the bases, slowly corroding away. Because they'll have already made their money.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Moving Bangity

This was a moving target drill, start shooting when the target begins moving towards you.


Turns out to be a lot harder than I thought it would be. I shot it both with a Colt Detective Special and a Taurus 605 with laser grips. The laser helped for the first shot, but after that, I was relying on the sights. There was one one clean miss, which didn't show on the photo.

One would have hit the attacker in a rather sensitive spot, though.

Still better than the Miami cops, I dare say.

Shorter Rationale for Length of CIA Torture Report Review: "We're Hoping You'll Forget About It."

Oh, they say that they need months and months to review the Senate report on the CIA's torturing people. They say that every Federal Agency, except maybe the National Parks Service, needs to sign off on it.

But we all know what is really going on here: The CIA is hoping that everybody will forget about it. They're hoping that the pro-torture party will win control of the Senate and scuttle the report. So if those skeevy fuckers can drag it out into next year, they think they'll be able to hide everything.

Here's the thing: They won't.
  • We all know what the CIA tortured people. 
  • We all know that the Bush Administration wholeheartedly authorized the use of torture. 
  • We all know that the Bush Administration found lawyers who said that torture was just peachy.
  • We all know that there were doctors and psychologists who directly supervised, if not participated in torturing people.
We know all of this. What matters is whether or not we, as a nation, are going to admit to our own crimes against humanity and hold the perpetrators accountable.

I'm betting on "No". Because the Senate and this Administration are just loaded with "good little Americans", who are more than willing to walk past the torture chambers whilst whistling a happy tune.

All of my life, I've had contempt for the German citizens who pretended that the horrors of the Nazi regime were things that they didn't see at the time. But it's pretty hard for me to keep that attitude when the same attitude is so prevalent, now, and in this country.

And for those who are going to complain of Godwin's Law, I offer this old joke:
An old man is seated next to a young, attractive woman at a dinner party. The man says. "As you know, I'm very wealthy, and I was wondering if you would sleep with me for a million dollars."

"Well," says the woman, "I suppose I would."

The old man smiles. "Would you sleep with me for ten dollars?"

The woman is aghast. "Of course not! What kind of woman do you think I am?"

"We've established that," the man says. "Now we're bargaining over the price."

Supersymmetry

I've read a couple of science articles about supersymmetry ("SUSY") and I am pretty baffled. SUSY seems to have something to do with a relationship between the subatomic particles that can be observed using very powerful particle accelerators and their "superpartners", which the theorists think exist but haven't been found. They're planning to crank the Large Hadron Collider up to full power by 2015 to look for the superpartners.

The thing is that if no proof for SUSY is found, then physicists will wander off and develop other hypotheses for how the Universe holds together.

Which highlights the difference between religion and science, in that in science, when the facts contradict the ideas, the ideas are rethought. In religion, the facts are denied.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Amazon to Sue Every Frickin' Person on EBay, Now.

Because those greedy fuckers have managed to patent taking a photograph of something against a white background.

You know, the thing that the DMV does to take most license photos? The thing that has to be done for a passport photo? The thing that wedding photographers have used for generations to shoot bridal photos? Putting the subject in front of a white background and taking the picture? Yes, that.

Amazon has turned itself into the World's Largest Patent Troll.

I think I'm going to patent aerobic respiration. I'll let you know to where you, your animals, and your plants need to send the royalty checks.

Miami Cops Channel Their Inner Blackwater

The short description is that the cops in Miami threw away all of their training, ignored their orders and acted as a pack of armed thugs.
On December 10 [2013], more than two dozen police officers from across Miami Dade County converged on a blue Volvo that had crashed in the backyard of a townhouse on 65th Street just off 27th Avenue.

As the car was wedged helplessly between a light pole and a tree, nearly a minute passed before officers opened up – firing approximately 50 bullets at the car and the two unarmed men inside the vehicle.

It got worse. They opened fire again and shot almost 400 rounds at the two men in the car. They ignored the radioed orders of their supervisors from start to finish.

How much longer does this have to go on before we have own version of the Nisour Square Massacre?

Your Sunday Morning Jet Noise

F-35 "Turkey II" vertical takeoff:


I'm skeptical of the utility of the F-35. But then again, I'm not convinced of Ft. Fumble's ability to buy anything more complicated than a bolt-action rifle without screwing it all up. The F-35 has been tasked with doing everything from ACM to ground-attack, which is a pretty good guarantee that it won't be able to do much of anything well.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

A Sad Day in Railroading

The last run of the commuter rail bar car.
Last call came Friday for the bar cars on commuter trains between Manhattan and Connecticut, a final run for rolling taverns where city workers gathered for decades to play dice, find jobs and hold annual Christmas parties with a jazz band.
The excuse is that the bar cars can't be coupled to the new MU cars that Metro-North is buying. While Metro-North says that they'll "look into" re-introducing bar cars on their new trains, we all know that horseshit. They're gone for good.

The Modern Puritans have scored another goal.

Caturday

A young shelter kitten.


He's living in that crate, for now, with his three brothers and his mother. When they're old enough, they'll go into the kitten part of the cattery and the mother will go visit the vet for spaying.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Because It's Friday

Fictional steam (or, at least, the paint job and markings).

The Wheels of Criminal Justice Sometimes Grind Slowly

But grind they do. As a number of the folks of the Bundy militia are going to find out.

For the FBI is going after them, slowly and methodically. Because it's kinda illegal to point weapons at Federal officials. And I'd expect that's one of the laws that the FBI really takes an interest in making sure people obey.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Sino-Capitalist Hollowing Out of the U.S.

In a recent blog post, BadTux discussed the Chinese long-term hollowing out of the American economy. He mentioned that a hollowed-out economy can't maintain a first-rate military, at least for very long.

But it's more than that. American military strategy in the 20th Century was, at its core, pretty basic. The US would let the Europeans kill each other while American companies would make weapons that the US would sell (or lend) to the favored side. Remember that the premier American pursuit aircraft of World War Two was initially designed and built to meet a British RFP. The rifle that the vast majority of Doughboys carried in World War One was first built for the British Army and then rechambered for the American cartridge.

The strategy of allowing the Europeans to bleed each other out before the Americans would intervene in force also allowed to the mobilization and equipping of a large American army consisting mostly of draftees. This avoided the cost of having to maintain a significant standing army, but enabled the fielding of millions of soldiers. But it required an industrial base capable of rapidly equipping such an army.

That industrial base has been hollowed out, both by Pentagon/Government/Administration mismanagement over decades.

A case in point: CDR Salamander has noted that the Navy has commissioned four littoral combat ships in just under six years. The LCS is a small, lightly armed ship.[1] In that span of time, as the good Commander has noted, the Navy commissioned 32 Perry-class FFGs. If you go back another decade or so, within that 5.75 year time window, the Navy commissioned all forty of the Knox-class frigates (1969-1974) and initial series production of 30 of the Spruance class (1975-1980).

This country has apparently lost the ability to simply design, procure and build complex weapon systems.[2]

But it goes deeper than that. Being able to rapidly equip an army required an industrial base that could shift to making military materiel. Any cursory perusal of the industrial history of the Second World War will show that companies that made consumer goods and industrial equipment transitioned to making military goods. Whether car plants or washing machine factories, they made stuff for the armed forces.

Over the last few decades, the bright boys of American industry, the capitalists and the banksters, have been actively engaged in closing American industrial plants and relocating production to nations as close as Mexico and as far as China. Go into any sporting goods shop and you will likely find that for anything other than firearms, everything that you may want to buy was made in a foreign nation.

How secure does this make us? In the First World War, Mexico was wooed by the Germans. In the Second, while the Mexicans declared war on Germany in 1942 after U-boats sank Mexican ships. Their combat contribution was one squadron of US-built P-47s that saw service beginning two months before Japan was nuked.[3]

As for China, well, they have either at times been an active enemy or a serious hindrance. The Chinese have been more-or-less complicit in the nuclearization of North Korea. It is not too big of a stretch to see China as the principal strategic adversary of the West in this Century. And yet, we keep selling them our industrial base.

Which makes one wonder about the patriotism of the capitalists and the banksters who are complicit in this. Oh, they probably salute the Flag and wear flag pins and other symbolic nonsense, but when it comes down to money, those fuckers would sell their daughters into whorehouses and sell their grandparents' carcasses to rendering plants if they could make a buck on the deal.

Lenin probably really didn't say that "capitalists will sell us the rope that we use to hang them all." But it is nonetheless true.
_____________________________________
[1] I kind of hesitate to refer to it as a "warship", as it's pretty much a fast-moving target.
[2] Other than maybe submarines.
[3] Contrast that to the efforts of Brazil, if you like.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Ukrainian Musings

I don't know what the answer is. The folks in the western part of the country were correct in charging that the government of President Viktor Yanukovych was corrupt to the core. The folks in the eastern part of the country are correct when they charge that Yanukovych was the duly elected president and that he was ousted by a coup. The westerners want closer ties with the EU, the easterners want those ties to be with Russia. Both sides include fascist elements.

There may have been a workable solution to all of that. Maybe a form of regional entities with a federal government over them. A lot of countries have such forms of government. They sort of work and they allow regional differences to be taken into account.

Maybe that could have worked in the Ukraine.

But the window for that is closing. Once bullets fly and people die, attitudes harden. The combatants will want to extract a blood price and, like most civil wars, this one will spin out of control and go on until one side wins, both sides are exhausted, or a superior power intervenes and puts down the fighting.

I'd bet on #3.

UPDATED to add: But even if the Russians do intervene to put down the Ukrainian civil war, I would not assume that they'd automatically absorb the eastern regions of Ukraine. For if they do that and leave a truncated state to the immediate west, it's probably a dead-nuts certainty that what remains of Ukraine would clamor for admission to the EU and into NATO. The Russians have rued the admission of the Baltics into NATO, they'd be eight kinds of pissed off if even a portion of the Ukraine joined NATO.

On the other hand, given that, if the Russians do move into Ukraine, they'll probably occupy all of it, for the reason stated in the previous paragraph.

In Lieu of Something or Other

The Legend of the USS Titanic:


I know about the idiot legislator in Tennessee who thinks that signing up for healthcare is akin to jumping into an overcrowded boxcar on the way to an extermination camp, but that clown is so bloody ignorant that snarking about what he said is kind of like shooting a rotten pumpkin with a howitzer.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Fly Untied Airlines

Now arguably the worst airline since Aeroflot in Soviet days.


At least on Spirit, you'd be expecting horrible service and being nickel-and-dimed to death.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Your Sunday Morning Jet Noise

Beriev Be-200.


This one is serving as a water-bomber for firefighting.

Star Wars Day

It's a pretty damned lousy pun, in my opinion.


Saturday, May 3, 2014

Caturday


"You know what you can do with this tool, Peasant."

Friday, May 2, 2014

When They Feel the Heat, They See the Light; Technology Edition

About frigging time.
Silicon Valley tech giants have reportedly begun notifying users of data requests by government authorities under subpoena, despite requests by the government to retain a level of secrecy.

Reported by The Washington Post on Thursday, Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo have updated their policies to notify users of a data request unless a judge or other competent authority issues a gag order.

Electronically speaking, only Twitter and SonicNet have your back. But tne report for 2014 is due out soon and the other tech companies are beginning to realize that it matters.

Part of the Snowden Effect. He outed those rat bastards as being little more than a bunch of willing informers. But it seems that people don't care for that very much. As they could have learned from Eastern Europe, nobody likes a stukach.

Because It's Friday

Cambodian Steam

Splitting the Energizer Bunny in Two

Energizer Holdings , the company behind household staples like Energizer batteries and personal care products like Schick razors, announced Wednesday that it is splitting itself into two publicly-traded companies, one that will focus on the household products segment while the other will focus on the personal care products.
A few things are dead-nuts certain about this bit of news: First, some pirate (like Rmoney) has figured out already how to make a boatload of money from this. Second, the pirates told the directors that it "be good for the shareholders". Third, most of the smaller shareholders will be screwed over. And fourth, the people who work for Energizer will be fucked over.

Because that's what the capitalist pirates do. The Icahns, the Goldsmiths, the Romneys, they all specialize in getting their hooks into companies, looting them, and then leaving behind a dystopian landscape of shuttered factories, shattered towns and unemployed people.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

When Skull Thickness is Measured in Meters; Army Edition

A former commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan said Wednesday that corruption, not the Taliban, is the worst threat to the future of the war-torn country.

"For too long we focused our attention solely on the Taliban as the existential threat to Afghanistan," Ret. Gen. John Allen told a Senate subcommittee. "They are an annoyance compared to the scope and the magnitude of corruption."
No fucking shit, Sherlock.

You can find stories on corruption in the Afghan government going back to the first days after we dropped Our Man Hamid into the job as president in 2001. Afghanistan is tied for the ranking of Most Corrupt Nation on Earth for 2013. In 2007, Afghanistan ranked higher, only the 9th most corrupt nation on the globe.

But now we have a retired (as in "not required to stick to the official talking points") general who is admitting that Afghanistan is corrupt.

Ye Gods, what's next? An admission that one can get wet while standing outside during a rainstorm? What the fuck did he think was going to happen when we were flying in pallets of Benjamins to pay for things? Did anyone not notice the large mansions in Kabul that had been built by civil servants who were officially paid a couple hundred bucks a month? There are news story after news story on Afghan corruption, going back over a decade. If you were to print them all out, the word count would rival a Russian novel.

And all this is news to an Army general and to the dodderheads in the Senate?

The bind moggles. I can't even come close to the level of snark that is called for on this one. This is a job for a professional.