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

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A Phrase You Never Hear Anymore

"Exploratory surgery."

That was fairly common when I was a kid, for a doctor would feel something or an x-ray would render a fuzzy image of something. The only way to be certain was to cut the patient open and look. Depending what was found, a bit of exploration could immediately turn into a major life-altering procedure.

But now, with CAT scans and PET scans and MRIs and ultrasounds, the doctors have a pretty good idea of what's there.

Kiddie Table Down One; 2016 Edition

Former New York governor George Pataki has suspended his bid for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.
"Suspended" as in "I'm here in case you need to draft me to run." That would require a brokered convention, which hasn't happened within the GOP in 68 years. And it would likely guarantee that either The Donald would run a third party campaign or a lot of the GOP base would sit on their hands, seeing a candidate of the party's elite as just another stab in the back.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Two Hours I'll Never Recoup

After watching The Homesman on a cable rental.

"Slow", "gawdawful" and "pointless" are the first three adjectives that come to mind.

UPDATE: It grossed around than $6 million on a production budget of $16 million. Which is more than The Beaver, but it was still a bomb.

Step 1: Pick Up Law Book

Step 2: Throw it at the defendants.
Authorities said a Texas teenager serving probation for killing four people in a drunken-driving wreck after invoking an "affluenza" defense was in custody in Mexico, weeks after he and his mother disappeared.

Mexico's Jalisco state prosecutors' office said in a statement that its agents had been working with American authorities via the U.S. Consulate in Guadalajara since Dec. 26 to track down and capture 18-year-old Ethan Couch and his mother, Tonya Couch. The office said the two were located and detained Monday evening in a beachside neighborhood of the Pacific Coast resort city of Puerto Vallarta.
The first judge "retired" after sentencing that Young Asshat to probation after he killed four people. Hopefully, the next judge will be a little more resistant to the arguments of Asshat's lawyers. For his family has the money for the best.

His mom might be in a little more trouble than Asshat is. Tango sierra.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

The Bitter Tears of the Hoplophobes

Waaaah!
This year, among the socks and sweaters, bottles of wine, a large number of Americans will find another present: guns.

Gun shop owners across the US have reported a marked increase in interest in their products over the holidays. In November, the FBI ran more than 2.2m gun background checks, a 24% increase from last year. Gun background checks hit a new record on Black Friday, when 185,345 were processed by the FBI.
You can almost feel the angst.

On another note, here's an annotated chart of the American homicide rates for the last 130 years:
From here

You can draw your own conclusions.

Jon Swift Memorial Blog Roundup

Posted here.

I was invited to play. I suspected that there would be at least a small number of hoplophobic posts and I was right. So, of course, I went the other way.

Your Sunday Morning Jet Noise

B-52 minimum interval takeoff


Geez, doesn't anyone use tripods anymore? Even a monopod would have helped.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Modern Stupidity

This is the packaging for one of those portable power supplies for recharging smartphones:


This is a note on the lower edge of the package:


What sort of an imbecile would assume that an iPhone would come free with such a gizmo?

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

Now, this one is a little bit disturbing: A car done up in a "SpongeBob SquarePants" motif:


One has to wonder about the sort of person who would so decorate a car. Are they a doting parent to a child who isn't exactly firing on all cylinders? That's the best scenario that I can envision. The others, well, range from the owner being a little bit strange to wondering if Chester the Molester has gotten himself a new ride.

Halt and Catch Fire Mode

For "hoverboards", the "catch fire" part is literal. It seems that "Chinese POS is an apt description.

If you have one, you probably should charge it only when you're there to supervise it and not leave it plugged in. A better idea is to package it up and return it or, if you can't, regift it to your mortal enemy.

Caturday

Bella, in one of her favorite hiding places.

Friday, December 25, 2015

The Stolen Video

This is the video that Dan Zimmerman, intellectual property thief and publisher of Dead Hooker magazine, stole from Tam Keel.

Attributions are below the video.

Merry Fucken Xmas From the Cable Companies

The cable companies are in the Death Spiral:
Your cable bill is going up. Again.

While facing a growing number of consumers who drop pay-TV for cheaper online alternatives, Time Warner Cable Inc., Comcast Corp., Dish Network Corp. and AT&T Inc. are all planning to increase their prices early next year -- at the risk of turning off more subscribers fed up with the rising cost of television.
The Death Spiral is when a business begins losing revenue and so, to make it up, they raise prices. Which almost inevitably means that they lose some customers and thereby lose even more revenue. So prices go up and the spiral tightens.

And so it goes.

Because It's Friday

The "Polar Express", with no snow on the ground:


Which is pretty much the way it is this year in most of the U.S.

Merry Christmas, Gentle Readers!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Comcast: The Fuckery Continues

Comcast now hands out Internet routers with wireless built in. What they don't mention, at least not prominently, is that your router will be a public hotspot for all Comcast users. So if you live near a public place, your home system will be host to lord-knows how many people.

If you have a Comcast wireless router, it might be a good idea to go to the Google and look up how to shut that shit off. Unless you like the idea of paying Comcast for the privilege of operating a public hotspot for those assholes.

Stupid Media Goobers, GMA Edition

So some crook tries to stick up a high-end watch store in a mall, gets tackled by a security guard and, in the struggle, the goon's gun fires and a worker at another store caught the bullet. You'd think that would just be a local story, right?

Not if you're "Good Morning, America", which thought it worth national airtime.

Fuckers.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Happy Festivus

I'm avoiding the Feats of Strength, myself.

Shorter S&W: "All Engines Back Emergency Full!"

Smith & Wesson has walked back its "cease-and-desist letter" to the companies involved in the "Dream Gun" project, according to Dan Zimmerman. Intellectual property thief. Dead Hooker Magazine.

That didn't take long. If the boss of S&W hasn't been using the Hahvahd B-School equivalent of "you fucking morons" when discussing the sending of that letter, I'll be rather surprised.

GOP Tosses Another One From the Sleigh

South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham dropped out of the Republican presidential race on Monday, reducing the candidates in the party’s still-crowded field to 13.
Graham could have loaded all of his supporters into a single Budd car and still had empty seats.

Which is sad, in a way. Other than being part of the neocon warmonger caucus, Graham had some interesting ideas. But being somewhat rational and having intelligent ideas cuts no ice with GOP primary voters these days.

"We're Giving Priority Boarding to Active-Duty Military"

Including POGs and REMFs who will never go outside of CONUS, unless they go as tourists.

That is beginning to frost me.

S&W Hates Aftermarket Parts

So there is some deal where Smith & Wesson is sending out "cease and desist" letters to companies that make after-market parts fr their guns.

Which isn't exactly what's going on. But it's as stupid as objecting to a custom shop turning out a highly worked-over Ford Mustang. And what it'll do is piss off a lot of people.

You don't license a gun, you buy it. And once you buy it, it's yours and if you want to tinker with the internals, all the company can do is say "you've messed with it, the warranty is voided."

AR-15s and 1911s are as popular as they are because gunsmiths and home tinkerers can and do swap parts and try to improve on the basic design. There is a huge market for after-market Glock mods.

But if S&W's going to try and choke off the after-market modifications to their guns, all they are going to really do is cut into their own sales.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Three More Days

Until the cessation of Christmas music.

About frelling time.

Pink Salt?

So there's this stuff called "Himalayan Sea Salt", which is pink and was deposited 250 million years ago, which would have been before dinosaurs were tromping about.

This is the back of a package:


With it being that old, ne might expect more than a few years in the "sell by" date.

What's with this stuff that makes it better than regular sea salt? Other than the presence of rust (which is why it's pink)?

Get a Frakking Grip; Miss Universe Ed.

If this shit matters to you:
The newly crowned Miss Universe from the Philippines is apologizing on behalf of the Miss Universe organization for the mistake that led a contestant from Colombia to first believe that she had won the crown.
Then you need some professional help. Or a vial of clonopin and a bottle of vodka.

Monday, December 21, 2015

"No-Fly Zone" Chowderheads

Almost all of the GOP candidates want to establish a no-fly zone (NFZ) over Syria, except Rafael Cruz, Rand Paul and The Donald. Hillary Clinton also wants to establish one.

They are all idiots.

Syria is, like or not, a sovereign nation. The United States has no legal authority to proclaim a NFZ over another nation. Doing so is an act of war. The Unites States has as much right to declare a NFZ over Syria as the Russians have to declare a NFZ over Ukraine.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Your Sunday Morning Jet Noise

The Cheetah:


By modern standards, they weren't in service for very long.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Magnetic Survey?

There was a magnetic survey aircraft working the area. Before they took off, they set up a reference antenna:


With this control box:


I don't know what they're looking for or who is paying them to do it. I didn't get a close look at the airplane, but it was a cream-colored Navajo with Canadian registration. Didn't see them set up the antenna, another aircraft owner told me about it.

Affluenza Absconder


Because getting probation because of "affluenza" after killing four people with the truck your daddy bought him isn't a good enough deal for that spoiled asshole, Ethan Couch.

The Affluenza Asshole was drinking, violating his probation, and he was caught doing that by other person with a cellphone camera and a Twitter account.

So now he's on the lam, apparently with his mommy.

NCIS: Naval Cover-up and Internment Service

Navy SEALS, to the horror of Army soldiers who saw the crimes, tortured and beat a number of Afghan detainees, including beating one man to death.

The soldiers knew that if they had done that shit, they'd be facing a general court martial and prison time.

But no, the Navy basically whitewashed the entire affair by taking the perpetrators to Captain's Mast, exonerating them and then promoting them.

Same as it ever was.

Caturday

A shelter cat takes a nap.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Whining About "Selective Enforcement"; Po-Po Edition

The cop who pointed a rifle at people during the Ferguson brouhaha is facing loss of his LEO certification. His lawyer is whining about "selective enforcement":
“There’s selective enforcement against Mr. Albers, in a situation where we have now seen at least a dozen officers in the selected photos having their rifles raised,” [Brandi] Barth said.
I've sat through some traffic dockets, now and then, and while I've seen defendants argue selective enforcement to the judges, I've never seen a judge give it any weight. When you get down it it, it's arguing "no shit, I'm guilty, but so were those other guys and you didn't nab them! No faaaiiirrrr!"

I don't know how such administrative proceedings go, but if that's the best argument that his lawyer has, he had better be planning on a new career.

The Polar Opposites of the "Open Carry" Assholes

The "yes, we can ban guns" assholes. Like this one. Or this frightening moron, who is advocating for a totalitarian police state.

Not going to happen, folks. Not now, not in the far foreseeable future. There is nothing about a gun that isn't replicatable, these days, with a set of decent shop tools. Making ammunition requires some knowledge of basic chemistry. Look, for example, at the Sten gun, a weapon designed mainly of sheet metal. Get a steel or even heavy brass rod or bar stock, drill it out, and you've got the barrel. If you're not worried about using it much beyond room-clearing ranges (or you don't care), it doesn't even have to be rifled.

Beyond that, the sheer quantity of guns in private hands means that tens of millions wouldn't be turned in. Americans are not like the Brits or the Aussies, passing a law does not mean people will obey it. If that were so, we'd be using the metric system today.

Didn't Prohibition, as well as the Futile War on Drugs have taught us anything?

The cops, from CBP and DEA (motto: "What Stinking Constitution?") down to the local po-po can't keep drugs off the streets. Over four decades of being able to track guns back to their original sellers and purchasers haven't done much to keep guns out of the hands of criminals. Using a gun in a violent crime is a Federal beef, but like a lot of other laws, that one rarely seems to be enforced.

But I digress.

Arguing for confiscation of all firearms will make it impossible for any negotiation. Why would the people on my side enter into discussions with someone whose bottom line is "we want it all"?

Then, how would it be possible? You'd need to change the Constitution. Which requires 3/4ths of the states to agree. If 13 states don't agree, an amendment is dead. You can probably name states that would never ratify such an amendment right off the top of your head. Even if you got over that hurdle, you'd have to send raiding parties into millions of homes and likely dig up millions of acres of land looking for stashed weaponry.

All that assumes, of course, that there would be no opposition to the confiscations. There would be. There would be on a multi-state level. And it takes no great leap of prognostication to foretell what would happen next.

Because It's Friday

It takes a little steam engine to start a honking huge one:

Yes, Big Pharma, Shkreli is You

The pharmaceutical industry has apparently been breathing sighs of relief over the arrest and charging of PharmaBro for various bits of financial criminality. The drug makers have been proclaiming that Shkreli is not one of them.

Not exactly true, as in "bullshit". Shkreli is, by far, not the only thief to buy up an old drug and then hike the prices to astonishing levels:
In 2008, Congress held hearings about this practice, focusing for instance on Ovation Pharmaceuticals, which acquired a drug to treat a breathing problem in newborns and raised the price to $1,500 per unit from about $100. There was also Questcor Pharmaceuticals, which spent $100,000 to acquire a decades-old drug for infantile spasms and raise its price from about $40 a vial to over $23,000, with the biggest jump occurring overnight in 2007. Valeant has done this type of thing for several drugs.
They are all pirates and criminals. They figure that if people need a drug, they'll pay what it takes and do whatever it takes to get it; a marketing strategy identical to dealers of meth, heroin and crack cocaine.

There once were people involved in the process who genuinely cared about the health of the public and saw it as their mission to develop new medicines to save lives. Most of those folks are long since retired or dead. Now, they're just bespoke-suit-wearing pirates. It wouldn't matter to them what they were selling, as long as they could make an unconscionable amount of money doing it.

They are evil.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Recoil Springs

Should be easy to pick out the old one and the new one.

Wanding the Customers

Maybe it's just my quirk, but I've made it a practice to stay away from private businesses that run their customers through metal detectors. If the place can be that dangerous, my feeling is that I don't need to be there.
Walt Disney World officials said it is installing metal detectors at all of its Orlando theme parks.
I've been there once and never cared to go back, anyway.

A Little Holiday News to Gladden Your Heart; Wheels of Justice Edition


Martin Shkreli, aka PharmaBro, has been arrested on fraud charges.
Federal prosecutors accused Shkreli of engaging in a complicated shell game after his defunct hedge fund, MSMB Capital Management, lost millions. He is alleged to have made secret payoffs and set up sham consulting arrangements. A New York lawyer, Evan Greebel, was also arrested early Thursday. He's accused of conspiring with Shkreli in part of the scheme.
Given the amount and skill of legal talent that PharmaBro can throw at the case, it would be reasonable to expect that the case against him is pretty solid.

And, given that he is rich as fuck, don't be surprised if his bail is an eye-watering amount.

Nobody Can Now Remember When This Still True

Man can't fly. Most people had thought that it would never happen.

Two men did 112 years ago today. Unlike other would-be inventors, who later claimed to have flown first and then did nothing, the Wright Brothers began, slowly, to refine their invention into a practical device. They didn't get there, none of the Wright machines were utilitarian to any great degree. But they pointed the way and others made it so.


When my grandmother was a little girl, she was told by her uncle George that she would livelong enough to see men fly. Everyone in the family thought George was nuts.

Grandma lived long enough to fly in a 727 and to see men walk on the Moon.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

It Do Shoot

It do!


That's at 15 yards.

Putting a drop of oil here and there on the trigger mechanism helped a lot with the trigger pull. It's not target-light, but this is a service pistol. There's the usual amount of takeup that one would expect on a military weapon, but the break is

Might spring for some better sights, though.

What is odd is the safety, it's an older style and no ambidextrous. The right side of the frame has an arc of wear in front of the safety axis pin. The frame has a little bearing surface that a newer style safety would have ridden on. Somebody in the past had to have replaced the safety lever. Which might suggest that the gun had been issued to someone who knew something about using and caring for firearms.

Isn't Exactly the Prettiest Gun I Own

A Mk.III Browning Hi-Power (1992 date code):


It's Israeli surplus, marked with a small Star of David on the other side. The interior of the barrel is in fine shape. It's been carried a lot and apparently shot some, judging by the breech face. Lockup is solid. The trigger isn't gritty, but it is a little heavy.

Field-stripping and a bit of oil is in the cards, as it seems a little dry. Then it will be off to the range.

"Welcome to the Party, Pal"; NYT Edition

The New York Times editorial board is calling for the prosecution of American torturers and their bosses.

Yawn.

That torture was authorized by our government and perpetrated by government actors has been known for more than a decade, but only now, with the prospect that the GOP won't win the White House for at least another eight years, do those fuckers get around to denouncing torture.

What the fuck? Did it not occur to those jerkoffs on the editorial board that the soldiers at Abu Ghraib weren't copying off what they had seen done by working torturers? Have they not paid any attention to the sheer weight of documentation that torture was authorized at the highest level? For it was clear to even the most casual of observers that torture was being employed in our name.

Real journalists, not those half-potted editorialists, did hard and honest work exposing the lies of the Bush Administration. The "Torture Memos" have been public knowledge for nearly a dozen years. It's been known for a long time that top-level discussions about torture techniques took place in the White House. Attorney General John Ashcroft said: "Why are we talking about this in the White House? History will not judge this kindly."

Has it really taken this long for the Times to comprehend that Ashcroft wasn't talking about place-settings for a state dinner?

Color me "completely unimpressed" with the editorial bravery of the New York Times. But hey, should we have expected anything less from the Paper of Record for Warmongerers? (Never let it be forgotten that the Times functioned as the useful idiots of the Iraq War Lobby.)

Morons, all of them. They should be ashamed of themselves.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

QOTD

"Almost every problem can be solved by the suitable application of either money or high explosives."

Check Hooves Before Flight

The POH for Santa's Sleigh, Models Mk.I and Mk.II.

More M9s for the Army?

I would expect that to be the outcome. For the Army's gold-plated new modular handgun contract is now running north of a billion, with the cost of the guns to be over a grand apiece.

Expect some sharp-eyed Senator to figure out that the Army could just buy more M9s for less than half the cost per unit. When that happens, the "modular handgun project" will be as dead as most of the Army's other procurement programs in recent memory.

In Bloomberg's Eyes, "Yet Another Senseless Gun Death!"

Not to those of us who don't live in buildings with security forces, though.
A homeowner, 32, killed a would-be burglar in an exchange of shots Monday morning in north St. Louis County, officials said.

St. Louis County police were searching for an accomplice who got away. The resident was not hurt.
They banged on the front door, then kicked in the back door and that's when the shooting began.

Burglarize homes and you'll eventually find a resident with a gun and the willingness to use it.

Hard to Prove a Negative; ET Edition

Put away the red carpet, people. We are now definitely sure that the star KIC 8462852, 1,500 light-years away and hypothesized to potentially have signs of an advanced alien civilization, doesn’t host intelligent extraterrestrial life.

This confirmation comes from the Search For Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) International organization. While the SETI Institute in California had previously searched for signals indicative of advanced life coming from the star, this latest round of observations was much more intensive. Sadly, it appears there is nothing there.

"The hypothesis of an alien megastructure around KIC 8462852 is rapidly crumbling apart," said Douglas Vakoch, President of SETI International and an author of the paper published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, available on Arxiv, in a statement. "We found no evidence of an advanced civilization beaming intentional laser signals toward Earth.”
Why would an "advanced civilization" 1,500 light-years away from Earth be beaming laser signals at us? How would they know that this planet is inhabited, let alone has a civilization that could receive such signals? At that distance, the earliest we could expect them to notice that the Earth is inhabited and then send a signal our would be some time in the 48th Century, if they could notice a change in atmospheric CO2 levels, or the 50th Century, if they detected RF emissions.

Beyond that, who knows in what form an advanced civilization might communicate? Analog RF is rapidly falling out of favor; to somebody in 1955, a digital signal would sound like random noise.

Finally, why the hell would we want to attract the attention of any advanced civilization? Our history of two civilizations interacting doesn't inspire optimism. A very advanced civilization might regard us as vermin with a potential to be dangerous, and you can guess how things would go from there.

Monday, December 14, 2015

The Trump Tide

He's now polling at 41%.

A lot of that increase has come at the expense of Ben Carson, whose campaign is essentially rudderless (self-launching video alert, turn your speakers off). Ted Cruz and Masrco Rubio are the only other ones polling in double digits.

The rest are polling at approval levels only seen by Congress, genital warts and Ebola.

Medical Grade Stupidity

The citizens of Woodland, N.C. have spoken loud and clear: They don't want none of them highfalutin solar panels in their good town. They scare off the kids. "All the young people are going to move out," warned Bobby Mann, a local resident concerned about the future of his burg. Worse, Mann said, the solar panels would suck up all the energy from the Sun.

Another resident—a retired science teacher, no less—expressed concern that a proposed solar farm would block photosynthesis, and prevent nearby plants from growing. Jane Mann then went on to add that there seemed to have been a lot of cancer deaths in the area, and that no one could tell her solar panels didn't cause cancer. “I want information," Mann said. "Enough is enough."
There's one science teacher who apparently spent too many years conducting chemistry experiments without a fume hood.

I suppose that if they moved to Texas, they'd raise the average IQ in both states.

53 Years Ago

Mariner 2 did its fly-by past Venus.

There are fewer and fewer people who can remember the days when all humanity could do was to look out at the cosmos and wonder what was out there.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Stopping Winders 10

A gizmo to help with that.

I thought that I had Stopped MicroSpooge from putting Win 10 crap on my computers. This thing found that I had with only one, not the other.

Fixed now.

Hit-Skip: Your Car Will Drop a Dime on You

A driver allegedly involved in two hit-and-run incidents was tracked down after her car alerted the police.

As reported by local news outlets, an unusual 911 call to emergency services took place on Friday in Port St. Lucie, Florida. You would usually expect a human voice on the end of the line, but in this scenario, a Ford vehicle alerted the police to a collision.
The rationale behind the systems is that in an accident, especially a one-car accident, the driver and other occupants may not be able to call for help. Such accidents are not unheard of. At the least, EMS goes sooner if the car calls for help.

But it'll also pick up hit-skips, so you might not want to do that.

Your Sunday Morning Jet Noise

The HondaJet, which was just granted a type certificate.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Caturday

Jake began waking up from a nap when he heard me futzing around with a camera:


He developed a urinary tract infection that took two attempts to treat. A followup appointment today with a piss test showed that he's back to normal. But he's now on Royal Canin SO urinary health dry food. The vet gave me a sample of Science Diet urinary tract dry food, which he wouldn't touch.

Have to keep an eye on him. He is an old man.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Trump Aspires to be a Dictator

For he sure seems to be unclear on the concept of "separation of powers":
Donald Trump announced Thursday that if elected president, he would sign an executive order to mandate the death penalty for convicted cop killers.
So he's willing to stomp all over the powers of the states to legislate punishments for state crimes, let alone that of Congress to set punishments for Federal crimes, and do it all by executive fiat?

Let's see the number of conservatives who speak out on this. After all, the Right has been bleating for seven years about President Obama's use of executive orders.

In the same speech, Trump pretty much endorsed furthering the transformation of police into paramilitaries. Which is about what one would expect from the Mussolini of Manhattan.

Meanwhile, The Donald all but accused the Canadien Usurper of cowardice:
Donald Trump turned his sights on fellow Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz on Friday morning after reports that Cruz questioned his "judgment."

Trump addressed the comments via Twitter, writing that Cruz "should not make statements behind closed doors to his bosses, he should bring them out in the open - more fun that way!"
Which is fair for Trump to do. Making snide comments behind closed doors and then issuing a non-denying denial is a dick move.

Because It's Friday

A "road locomotive":


Why anyone would have built one after, say, 1920 is a matter for speculation.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Strategic Lunatics of Ft. Fumble, as Well as the Clinton/Bush Administrations

Based on a series of "table-top" war games, it's becoming clear to the Pentagon that if the Russians go into the Baltic states, there is little NATO can do to stop them.

This situation rests on the shoulders of the Clinton Administration, which entered into talks with the Baltic nations about them joining NATO, and with the Bush Administration, which signed the deal in 2004.

For the casual observer may wonder why it took the running of a series of war games to show that the Baltics are damn near impossible to defend. One might think that all it should have taken was to look at a fucking map.

The planners, faced with the inability to muster enough forces (and to keep them supplied, a topic that is almost never mentioned in the press), are talking about the use of tactical nuclear weapons.

That is insanity on a very great scale.

For the nukes would have to be detonated over Baltic territory. Using them against Russian forces on Russian territory is asking for a larger nuclear response. The Russians aren't going to say: "Oh, they nuked us, but those were tactical nukes." No, Gentle Readers, they are going to take that as an attack on the motherland and if there is anything more sacred in the Russian Oligarchy than money and power, it is the motherland, the Rodina.

The Russians will regard a nuclear weapon being detonated on their soil in the same way that we would.

Need I go on from there?

Smooth Move, Guys

The Citadel said on Thursday that it was investigating the events behind images on Facebook that showed seven cadets at the Charleston, S.C., military college with white pillowcases on their heads, evoking a likeness to the Ku Klux Klan.

Lt. Gen. John W. Rosa, the president of the Citadel, said in a statement that he found the posting “offensive and disturbing.”



What self-absorbed idiot child thought that this was a good idea?

Just Say "No" to North Korea

Kim Jong-un has suggested that North Korea has the capacity to launch a hydrogen bomb, a step up from the less powerful atomic bomb, although international experts are sceptical of the claim.

The North Korean leader made the comments on a tour of the Phyongchon Revolutionary Site, which commemorates the achievements of his father Kim Jong-il and his grandfather, Kim Il-sung, on Thursday, the official KCNA news agency reported.
...
North Korea conducted underground tests to set off nuclear devices in 2006, 2009 and 2013, for which it has been subject to UN Security Council sanctions banning trade and financing activities that aid its weapons programme.
The sanctions should be expanded to everything. Nothing whatsoever to or from North Korea (other than maybe Dennis Rodman).

They can eat their fucking nukes.

HondaJet Type Certificate Granted

Good for them!
It took 30 years and nearly $2 billion, but Michimasa Fujino’s obsessive quest to design and build his own jet finally came to fruition on Wednesday, when the innovative HondaJet received final type certification from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.
While that's critically important, what HondaJet needs now is the production certificate. Until they get that, an FAA inspector or a designated rep must sign off the airworthiness of each airplane. That, for a jet, is a costly endeavor.

Never Missing an Opportunity to Miss an Opportunity; Part 57,894

According to the Strategy Page, a number of Arab states are, in essence, giving up on the Palestinians.
For the first time Israel is opening an officially recognized trade office in a Persian Gulf country. The UAE (United Arab Emirates) will host the office in Abu Dhabi. The Gulf Arabs are growing bolder in admitting their diplomatic, intelligence and economic relationships with Israel. In part this is because “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Israel is the official “worst enemy” of Iran which most Arab Gulf states as their most dangerous foe officially or unofficially.
None of this should be much of a surprise. The Palestinians haven't had their shit together for a very long time. If Fatah wasn't corrupt before the Israelis largely drew back from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, they became so soon afterwards.

The Palestinians have been unable coalesce since, under pressure from the idiots in charge of the last American administration, they held elections eight years ago. Hamas won the election, Fatah refused to recognize that, a Saudi-orchestrated "national unity" coalition feel apart in a matter of weeks and, to the extent that a "two state solution" exists, it's the Palestinians in two separate states whose governments would be at war with each other, if they shared a border.

Western leftists aside, the reality-based world has exhausted its patience with the Palestinians. Even Lurch knows that no grand peace deal can be reached; the best that can be done is to persuade everyone to stop trading lead. It is a frozen situation.

But the rest of the world has its own problems and, to the Gulf States, the Iranians are a serious problem and they're willing to ally, formally or not, with other nations hostile to Iran. And if this is a surprise to anyone, then go look at who were our allies in the European Theatre in the Second World War.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Talk Me Down From Buying a Browning High Power

I don't need a Browning High Power. Hell, I don't even shoot semi automatics all that well. I very much prefer revolvers. But I have always liked the looks of one, and it is, pretty much, John M Browning's last masterpiece.

So please, Gentle Readers, give me some reasons why I shouldn't buy one.

"Hey, Mister, You Forgot Your 747s!"

Three 747s have been abandoned at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

The airplanes all have Icelandic registration prefixes. A quick check of the Icelandic aircraft registry shows no results for any of them. Which may mean nothing, as some countries may not list all registered aircraft for whatever reason they seem fit.

Whether a no-account outfit just dumped them there or if they were airplanes used by spooks which have outlived their usefulness is open to speculation.

The Dilemma Facing the GOP, or....?

Donald Trump, facing a barrage of criticism from other Republicans over his "ban all Muslims" comment, is once again threatening to take his bat and ball and go start his own game. Apparently, to Trump, being "treated fairly" means "saying nice things about his bigotry."

Which puts the GOP in a bit of a bind: Do they continue to pile on Trump and push him out, taking the risk that he will pull a Perot and effectively hand the presidency to the Democrats? Or do they tolerate, nay, embrace Trump's rhetoric, hope that he will flame out and that a significant percentage of the electorate won't punish the GOP for their eagerness to include a fascist?

Now here's a crazy twist: What if the Trump candidacy has been a case of a ratfucking that has spun out of control?

Trump conceivably could have gotten into the race to both boost his standing as a conservative commentator and to pressure the other candidates to say things that could be used against them by Hillary Clinton. He got a lot of mileage and publicity out of his birtherism, maybe he was hoping to build on that to boost his visibility. It's been pretty clear that The Donald has, for most of his career, followed the old saying: "I don't care what the newspapers say about me as long as they spell my name right." He'd get a lot of free publicity, his friend Hillary would have ammunition for the general election, it'd be a win-win for him.

Only now, it's out of control. In a quest to stay at the top of the polls, Trump has been saying more and more things that are batshit crazy: Forcibly deport over ten million people. Build a wall along the Mexican border and make the Mexicans pay for it. Register all Muslims. Keep all Muslims, even American citizens, from entering the country. He's approved of the detainment of Japanese-Americans during the Second World War. He's drawn parallels between his idea of banning Muslims from FDR's refusing to admit Jewish refugees during the war (effectively sending them to death at the hands of the Germans).

He's gone crazier and crazier, picking up speed like a massive avalanche of insanity-fueled racism. It'd eventually going to damage his brand; people may end up as eager to stay at a Trump property as they would to stay at the Tojo Hotel and Casino.

Avalanches eventually run out of steam. But they can leave a lot of damage behind. The Trumpalanche will likely bury him. It may bury the GOP for a long time. And there is a non-zero chance that it could bury the country.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Too Bad That "Stand Your Ground" Doesn't Apply to Bodies of Water

A 22-year-old burglary suspect trying to evade authorities was killed by an 11-foot alligator last month, the Brevard County Sheriff's Office said. ... His body was found in a Barefoot Bay lake just north of Ocean Avenue Way on Nov. 23.

While sheriff dive team members were recovering Riggins' body, they encountered a large gator "aggressively approaching" them.

The gator was trapped by the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and euthanized.

Let the Country Bottom Out?

A writer at Slate is arguing that maybe what needs to happen is that the GOP wins next year, and then we'll see just how bad things can get.
A Hillary [Clinton] presidency, we believe, would do very little to address wealth inequality, and the situation in the middle and working classes would continue to deteriorate. Republicans would have another villain to turn their base against — maybe even a better villain than Obama, if such a thing is possible — and a means of escaping accountability yet again. Maybe they’d win the next presidential election, and if not, they’d at least stir up enough hatred and backlash to maintain their ironclad grip on Congress and state-wide offices. When 2020 came, they’d gerrymander the hell out of every district in the country to ensure another decade of legislative dominance. It’s status quo all the way, and the status quo doesn’t work.

But! If Hillary lost because progressives abstained from voting, it’s possible that Republican incompetence would be laid bare, and that they’d run the country into the ground over the next four years. If that’s what it takes to show the people that a leftist political revolution is the only viable way forward, it will have been worth watching Hillary bite the political dust. Come 2020, we could be looking at a landscape where progressive politics can finally gather enough momentum to sweep the country, and usher in a new era of FDR-esque reforms.
I understand the argument. But that is playing around with dynamite and hoping that one escapes the blast.

First off, there is a non-zero chance that the GOP's nominee would be Donald Trump. Trump is a fascist. That is not an insult in this case, it's a statement of fact.

Trump has a history of not taking no for an answer. He will use every tool at his disposal to achieve his goal. He will proclaim that as one of the three branches of government, that he has the power to do what he wants. Even moreso than Andrew Jackson, he would likely disregard any court orders or injunctions with some pithy observation of how the Federal cops and the military answer to him, not to the judges.

Some of the other GOPers are only a little less crazy. Rafael T. Cruz is smarter than Trump, but that seems to be his only distinction. His track record (such as it is) in the Senate is one of a man who operates on the principle of "my way or no way". Indeed, his entire adult history, from college to today, is one of being an arrogant bully, convinced of his own superiority and unwilling to entertain any dissenting opinion on any subject. As much as Hillary, Cruz would roast live puppies on a spit and eat them if doing so resulted in a net increase in votes.

However, it is at least probable that, if a President Cruz lost an election or a court case, he'd abide by the outcome. I have so such belief about Trump as president.

Electing Trump president on the belief that things would get so bad that change for the better would happen would be akin to playing around with the inner working of an atomic bomb. Which is never a good idea.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Open the Packing Crate and Show Us the Real Ship

The USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000)


She began sea trials. For a destroyer, she's four times heavier than a Gearing-DD and almost twice as heavy as a Spruance-DD.

At at over four billion, she costs as much, adjusted for inflation, as the USS Nimitz.

"Freedom Is More Powerful than Fear."

That is what President Obama said last night.

Of course, he also advocated denying people the right to own guns based on a sooper-seekrit government watch list, a list that has included toddlers, political activists and even a U. S. Senator. Which sounds a bit like giving in to fear, at least to me.

Still, the base premise of Obama's argument is wrong. Freedom may be more powerful than fear, but over the long run, and often, only over the very long run. For the history of humanity, both in this country and around the world, is clearly that over the short run, fear is far more powerful.

Woodrow Wilson's criminalization of dissent during the First World War. "Lynch law". The Palmer Raids. The internment of Japanese-Americans. The Red Scares and the Black List. The judicial murder of Ethel Rosenberg. The War on Drugs. The "USA Patriot Act".

In Europe, the far right, running on a platform of fear, is making gains across the continent. Donald Trump's campaign is largely rooted in fear of, well, everything. Vladimir Putin's success is, in part, rooted in appeals to Russian xenophobia. The Chinese government plays the fear card like a well-tuned fiddle.

Fear sells, plain and simple. You can talk about freedom and liberty until you're blue in the face, but if the other guy connects with the voters on a fear-based platform, you're going to have a very hard time overcoming that.

And then, once freedom is restricted or liberty is curtailed based on fear, history shows that people have a devil of a time getting it back.

"Freedom is more powerful that fear" is only true if people are willing to stand up to fear, and take the tarring of being called "terrorist symps" or the like. Damn few have the stones for that. Remember, only one senator had the spine to vote against the Patriot Act: Russ Feingold.

That should be a warning to us all.

"Have You Rehabilitated Yerself, Kid"; Bridgeport Edition

The voters thought so.
The former mayor of Bridgeport, who spent seven years in federal prison for public corruption, was sworn in again Tuesday as mayor of Connecticut’s largest city.

Joe Ganim completed a stunning political comeback when he defeated incumbent Mayor Bill Finch in the Sept. 16 primary and easily defeated seven opponents in the general election to win back his old job. The campaign by the Democrat, who was released from prison just five years ago, was fueled by a wave of goodwill from voters who fondly remembered his years in office, from 1991 until 2003.
Ganim hired a former Feebie, who may have inflated his importance in sending Ganim to prison. Close to a dozen people ended up going to prison from the Ganim investigation. The Feebies who investigated him quit right afterwards, which may be of significance.

One might wonder how much money those guys took from Ganim to stand in his corner. But then again, cynicism over people's motives is my stock in trade.

A Little Monday Hilarity

Don't blame me if you start laughing at work.
Teachers of Reddit were asked: "What is the greatest way a student has misinterpreted one of your assignments?" Students and teachers chimed in with some hilarious answers.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Your Sunday Morning Jet Noise

Russian bombers in action, presumably over Syria.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

355 Mass Shootings So Far

That's the number that the pro-gun control crowd is bruiting about.

I don't know about you, but I certainly don't recall reading about or seeing coverage about a hundred or more mass shootings. And the reason that neither you nor I have, Gentle Readers, is because that number is bullshit.

What's closer to to the truth, you ask? Try four.

If a drug deal goes sour in Chicago or East St. Louis, the parties commence to shooting as an alternative form of dispute resolution and four of the clowns get winged, that's a "mass shooting" to the gun banners. Three guys bust into a house and the homeowner caps all three, that's a "mass shooting" by the criteria of the Obama Administration (and heaven help us if said homeowner has an Evil Black Rifle-- pearls will be clutched).

"355 mass shootings" is a lie. Worse than a lie, it is deliberate propaganda.

You want evidence that the gun-banners cannot be trusted to have an open and honest conversation: Think "355 mass shootings".

82 Years Ago

The 21st Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, repealing Prohibition.

Only the 12th (President and Vice-President from same party), 23rd (DC voters can vote for a presidential candidate) and 26th (18 year-olds can vote) Amendments were ratified faster.

A little-known fact is that that many of the people who backed the Repeal had also backed Prohibition. They backed Repeal because of the damage that they saw Prohibition doing to the rule of law and respect fo the authorities.

Caturday

When putting clean sheets on the bed, it's best not to leave in the middle of the process.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Unsolicited Advice to Those on Active Duty Regarding Opening Combat Specialties to Women

It is this: Shut the fuck up. Especially on social media, shut the fuck up.

OK, so you disagree with what SecDef is going to order. Fine.

But he is your boss and if you run your mouth, you're opening yourself to an Article 88 beef, if you're an officer, or an Article 134 beef, if you're not.

The first rule about talking about politics when you're in uniform: "Shut the fuck up".

Rule 2 about talking about politics: "If you have any doubt about whether or not you should discuss politics, refer to Rule #1."

Bet He Never Sees the Inside of a Jail Cell

Former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship was convicted Thursday of a misdemeanor count connected to a deadly coal mine explosion and acquitted of more serious charges.

A federal jury in West Virginia convicted Blankenship of conspiring to willfully violate mine safety standards. The misdemeanor charge carries up to one year in prison. He was acquitted of a more serious conspiracy charge that could have netted five years in prison. He was also acquitted of making false statements and securities fraud.
Second bet: If the conviction stands, he next president elected from the GOP will pardon him in a New York nanosecond.

"Not So Fast, Bucko"; Astronomical Edition

The State Supreme Court on Wednesday rescinded the construction permit for the Thirty Meter Telescope, a $1.4 billion observatory planned for the state’s tallest mountain, Mauna Kea, a revered symbol in Hawaiian culture.
I got nothing. Do your best snarking in the comments.

"It's Not the Crime, It's the Coverup"; Chicago Edition

Despite having sacked the police superintendent, Garry McCarthy, on Monday and ordered the formation of a taskforce into police accountability, questions continue to swirl about what [Mayor Rahm] Emanuel knew, and when he knew it – questions that at best raise doubts about his grip over his own city and at worst threaten to impugn his integrity.
"What did you know and when did you know it?"-- the question that has torpedoed many a political career.

Emanuel is pretty much a heartless and cold bastard when it comes to political shenanigans. He's one of those who would cook and eat puppies if it got him more votes than it'd lose him.

Covering up a murder done by a cop in order to win reelection is cold-bastard work.

Coldwater Creek Causes Cancer!

Federal officials promised concerned residents they would get to the bottom of whether Coldwater Creek is behind a rash of cancers reported by people who grew up in north St. Louis County.
No, not these guys.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Meanwhile, Across the Country

A former Prince George's County Police Officer could be sentenced to prison for as long 45 years after holding his firearm on a civilian's head in May of 2014.

A county judge Wednesday convicted Jenchesky Santiago on all counts stemming from the incident; first-degree assault, use of a firearm in the commission of a felony and malfeasance in office.
Witnesses reported that the cop also told his victim: “We’re PG police, and we shoot people.”

And this particular dirtbag wasn't the first Prince George's County cop to be convicted this year.

Not Adding Up; CA Shooting Ed.

A senior federal official who is monitoring the case said investigators believe one of the shooters left the party after getting into an argument and returned with one or two armed companions. Local officials, at an evening news conference, said it was not clear if the people involved in the dispute were the same people involved in the shooting.

The shooters carried long guns and wore masks when they opened fire on a gathering of San Bernardino County health department employees around 11 a.m., according to witnesses and officials.
...
{Denise Peraza] said the doors opened and two men dressed in all black wearing face masks entered with “big ol guns” and started shooting.

“Everyone dropped to the floor,” Peraza told her relatives. “The guys opened fired for 30 seconds, randomly, then paused to reload and began firing again.”

Peraza was hiding under a desk when she was struck in the lower back. After the attackers left the scene became silent for about five minutes. Then the doors swung open again, and a swarm of police officers entered the room.
So some guy gets into a beef during a holiday party, he leaves in a huff and comes back an hour or so later, dressed in black, with two of his friends, and shoots up the party? "My boss gave me shit, let's go kill them all!" "Yeah, let's!" "Dude, let's go do this!"

Even in a world of nutcases, this makes no sense.

Something's missing. No doubt, it'll get found out.

But, as I've said before, don't name these assholes.

How We Perceive the Universe Changed 100 Years Ago Today

Albert Einstein published "The Field Equations of Gravitation" on this date 100 years ago in Berlin.

General relativity changed the view of gravity. Before Einstein, gravity was believed to be a force-- objects pulled on one another. Einstein theorized that gravity was a consequence of the behavior of spacetime.

There isn't a "gravity well" per se, more like a funnels with curving sides caused by the mass of objects bending the fabric of spacetime-- like the way a rubber trampoline's surface is distorted by heavy objects on the trampoline. If you roll a marble across the surface of the trampoline, the marble may roll into the curvature of the trampoline caused by a heavy object. If the marble is moving fact enough, the curvature will change the path of the marble. If not, it will roll into the curved surface and come to rest next to the heavier object.

At least, that's how I comprehend it.

The Nobel Committee didn't award a Nobel to Einstein for any of his work on special or general relativity. They gave him one in 1921 for theorizing the existence of photons in 1905. Why the Nobel Committee refused to recognize his work on the theory of relativity, even after it had been proven to be true by experiments, may be wrapped up in interwar European antisemitism.

Thanks to European antisemitism, as manifested in the Holocaust, the necessity for physicists and chemists to be fluent in German was eliminated. After the war, articles in German scientific journals increasingly became published in English, as both the authors and editors came to realize that was the way to ensure their articles were widely read.

Shorter Chicago: "We're Sure that We Didn't Tamper With Evidence!"

The Chicago police have diligently investigated a charge that they tampered with evidence of the execution-style murder by a Chicago cop of Mr. McDonald and, yesiree, they didn't do nothing, Boss.

In a pig's eye.

(H/T to Joe from a comment, here)

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Tossing One of the Riders From the Sleigh; Chicago Edition

Rahm Emanuel sought for months to keep the public from seeing a video that shows a white police officer shooting a black teenager 16 times.

Now, a week after the video's release, the Chicago mayor has fired the police superintendent, created a task force for police accountability and expanded the use of body cameras.
The mayor's protestations that he was waiting until the investigation was finished before releasing the video is bullshit. As I wrote last week, try to think of another situation where it would take prosecutors over a year to bring charges against a person who pumped bullets into a prostrate victim, after the prosecutors had video of the murder.

Changing the top cop in Chicago isn't going to change the police culture in that city, a culture that rivals the pre-Katrina NOPD for brutality and corruption. The Chicago PD regards itself as above the law. Zendo Deb has blogged about the Chicago cops for a long time, if you want to read a compilation of disgustingly awful authoritarian fuckery. It should be obvious, now, that if the video hadn't been released, the City and the county prosecutor would have swept the killing under the rug.

Over the last ten years, Chicago has paid out over a half a billion dollars to compensate victims of police brutality and outright torture. And that number doesn't include what the city paid its lawyers to defend the cases, estimated at over $80 million.

Six hundred million may be pocket-lint money for the Feds, but it's not for any city. Chicago pays a heavy price for its gang of brutal overseers. One wonders when they'll get tired of it.

(Note that the Chief Torturer of Chicago went to prison for perjury and impeding an investigation. He was never called to account for torturing people.)

Assholery Has its Costs; Alabama Edition

Alabama would pay just over $51,000 in legal fees to settle a lawsuit brought by Planned Parenthood Southeast over Gov. Robert Bentley's attempt to cancel the organization's Medicaid contract, under an agreement filed in federal court Monday morning. ... The Department of Health and Human Services warned Bentley after his [attempted cancellation] that canceling the contract could violate federal law. Planned Parenthood Southeast sued later that month.
Only politicians can get up and, with a straight face, pretend that getting their asses kicked in court is a "win". But that's just what Bentley tried to do.

Quote of the Day

"Sometimes it seems that life is a continuous reenactment of the Charge of the Light Brigade, except with assholes instead of cannons."
On the other hand:

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Active Shooter

It seems that police and security forces around the world have been learning from the American experience with active shooters.

Based on the Paris experience, I'd look for those bullet-shields to be more widely distributed among police. Without them, the first French cops to enter the Bataclan theater would have been cut to pieces.

The active shooter scenario, sadly, is justifying the equipping of patrol officers with military-grade equipment. The cops are being trained not to wait, but to go in and fight, even if they're on their own. Stopping the shooters and stopping the carnage is the overriding priority, over officer safety.

Take a little bit of time and peruse some of the links in the Guardian article. You might find them interesting.

Your Sunday Morning Jet Noise

Russian bomber edition:


All three types have recently been in action over Syria

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Fairly Predictable; The Asshole of Colorado Springs Edition

The man who police say staged a deadly shooting attack on a Planned Parenthood clinic that offers abortion services said "no more baby parts" after his arrest, a law enforcement official said Saturday.

The official could not elaborate about the comment by the 57-year-old suspect, [Some Asshole]. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak publicly about the ongoing investigation.
And he's a "disaffected loner", or some shit like that. But because he's a, wait for it, a Christian white male, nope, no terrorism here.

But He Was Going to Turn His Life Around, Any Day Now!

Yes, and he was trying out for the choir, too!
Authorities say a man trying to rob a couple who thought they were going to buy a car off Craigslist has been shot and killed.

Aiken County deputies said in a news release that officers are looking for the second robber after he ran away following the shooting Wednesday afternoon.

Investigators say the would-be robbers pulled out a gun and demanded money when they met the couple at an Aiken gas station where they planned to buy a car listed on the Internet site.

Deputies say while the gun was pointed at the man, his girlfriend pulled her own weapon and shot at the robbers.
No doubt that the dead crook will be counted by the Bloombergers as "another senseless gun death."

War on Terror Was Never About Terror

Borepatch has pointed out that the French government is using the excuse of the Paris attacks to quash dissent in general.

I almost want to say "like this is news"? The last group of clowns in office tried to establish an American Stasi. The last president thought it was peachy to torture anyone he chooses. The current one eschews torture, but loves killing people.

I've written for years about the Patriot Act and the erosion of freedom in this land. There's probably more there than you will ever care to read.

Sadly, it seems that as long as the attention of the cops is directed at those people, whomsoever that may be, most Americans are just fine with sacrificing their freedoms and liberties for a fig-leaf promise of security. One political party may nominate an outright fascist as its candidate next year.

But it doesn't seem to matter, really. A candidate might promise to bring about smaller government or even follow the Constitution, but as soon as they walk into the Oval Office, they turn into Smeagol.

Our country has been corrupted into a police state. Most people are fine with that, it seems.

So we might as well elect The Donald and get it over with.

Freedom: 1775-2016. She had a pretty good run, for awhile, but she got sick in 1971 and became terminally ill in 2001.

Caturday

Not Jake:


But he has done that before.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Texas Question

Why do they call it "the Panhandle"?

It looks more like a smokestack or a bell tower. Florida and Oklahoma have parts that look like panhandles, but not Texas.

It's a weird state.

To Protect and to Steal

You are more likely to have your stuff stolen by the cops than by burglars.
Between 1989 and 2010, U.S. attorneys seized an estimated $12.6 billion in asset forfeiture cases. The growth rate during that time averaged +19.4% annually. In 2010 alone, the value of assets seized grew by +52.8% from 2009 and was six times greater than the total for 1989. Then by 2014, that number had ballooned to roughly $4.5 billion for the year, making this 35% of the entire number of assets collected from 1989 to 2010 in a single year. According to the FBI, the total amount of goods stolen by criminals in 2014 burglary offenses suffered an estimated $3.9 billion in property losses. This means that the police are now taking more assets than the criminals.
The cops in DC were essentially mugging people; if you had a joint in your pocket and $20 in the other pocket, the cops kept the $20.

It's no longer a game of "cops and robbers", the cops are the robbers.

The Missiles of November

The Russians have announced that they are moving S-300 and S-400 missile systems to their Syrian airbases. The Russians also moved the cruiser Moskva closer to Syria, so that she can cover the area with her air defense missiles.

It take no great feat of imagination to suppose that a Turkish jet that puts so much as a wingtip into Syrian airspace will be blown out of the sky. The Russians will proclaim that they were only defending the sovereignty of their ally, Syria. They'll claim that they gave the Turkish jet notice. The Turks will deny everything and point to how their jet crashed in Turkey itself.

Which, as you no doubt have already concluded, is the storyline of the shooting down of the Russian jet, only with the names reversed.

At the same time, expect some kinetic urban renewal from the Russians, directed at the people who killed the Russian pilot in his parachute.

In the meantime, all across NATO, governments are scrutinizing their copies of their NATO treaties and trying to find wriggle room to get them from having to go to war over this. For we are on the verge of getting into a shooting war, one in which the main belligerents on both sides have nuclear weapons.

Because It's Friday


Black Friday


(H/T)

The newspaper yesterday was thicker than a typical Sunday edition, crammed with sales flyers. I have no intention of going anywhere near a shopping center until my Sunday grocery run. I think it was last year that there was a fistfight at the local Walmart on Black Friday morning.

I can understand why the Puritans* banned the Christmas celebration, since then as now, it has more to do with commerce and partying than anything religious. The celebration of Christmas is more a continuation of Saturnalia.

Without the sales of the Christmas season, it's probably fair to say that a good number of retail establishments would shutter for good. So Tom Lehrer's song, which started out nearly sixty years ago as satire, is now possibly the most honest Christmas sone you'll hear.
__________________________________
* They were pretty much the Christian equivalent of ISIS, back in their day.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!



Found on FB:


And yes, Judge James Hannon was indeed blind and so he didn't look at the color photos taken by Officer Obanhein. Guthrie and his friend, Rick Robbins, were each fined $25 and they did have to pick up all of the garbage.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Frothy Must be Frothing

I can't imagine, right now, how frustrated Rick Santorum must feel. For decades, Republicans have operated on an informal basis of whoever comes in second gets to run the next time around. Reagan lost to Ford, Bush lost to Reagan, Dole lost to Bush I, Buchanan lost to Dole. For reasons I've forgotten, Buchanan dropped out early for `00. McCain then lost to Bush II, Romney lost to McCain and Santorum lost to Romney. By that history, it's Santorum's turn.

But right now, Santorum is polling just ahead of syphilis and is tied with Miss Lindsey. Even Romney's dog could poll higher.

Meanwhile, the GOP elites are in full-panic mode, for they're now saying, in public, that The Donald is a fascist. Which is arguably true, but don't expect that to dent the allure of the Manhattan Mussolini to the base of the GOP. They're convinced that even if Trump brings full-on totalitarian police state to be, that Trump will only go after those people.

This campaign is plumbing the depths of ugly long before the first vote will be cast.

Color Me "Cynical"; Chicago Edition

A white Chicago police officer has been charged with murder over the shooting death of a black teenager, just one day before a deadline by which a judge has ordered the city to release a squad-car video of the incident.

Veteran officer Jason Van Dyke was indicted on Tuesday on a first-degree murder charge after shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times.
The City fought like hell to keep the video under wraps, but lost.

Note that the shooter was on the "rubber gun squad" for a year before the indictment. It's hard to conceive of another situation where a gunman might shoot a person sixteen times, including shooting the victim in the back as the victim lay on the ground and then it took the prosecutors a year to file charges, unless the killer was a cop.

A cynical observer might conclude that the cop would have been left there, if not restored to full duty, if the City had been able to keep the video secret. For it sure seems like it was only when the video was going to be released that the prosecutors brought charges.

The Worst Person in the World (Martin Shkreli) Is Also a Fucking Liar

You might remember him, he's the weasel who raised the price of an old drug from $13.50 a pop to $750. When the shit hit the fan over that, he promised that his company would lower the price, soon, any day, you betcha, and provide some free samples to hospitals.

Well, cynical observers, such as Your Humble Blogger, were skeptical.

And guess what, Gentle Readers? We were right.
Controversial pharmaceutical boss Martin Shkreli has has decided he’s not going to lower the price of his HIV medication after all.

Shkreli’s company Turing Pharmaceuticals announced on Wednesday that it would provide volume discounts of its drug Daraprim to hospitals, but it appears that the company’s $750-a-pill price tag still stands
.
Psychopaths like Shkreli never change. He never had any intention of honoring his word. All he was doing was stalling for time.

Here's hoping that the Federal prosecutors speed things up and finally send this clown for an enforced vacation. Bernie Madoff might like a new cellmate.

Stupid, Stupid Criminals

I trust you'll be able to spot the flaw in the plan of this criminal mastermind:
A woman allegedly called 911 to draw officers away from her location so she could drive home under the influence, Wayne Police said Thursday. ... Police said Hayley Oates made the call so that she and a companion could drive home from the Grasshopper Bar & Grill on Erie Avenue under the influence without fear of being arrested.

Oates allegedly posted to social media a message reading “lmao.. 2 mins later the cop peals out.. silly piggies tricks r for u.”
And here's another idiot that had to brag about his crime on social media:
A Florida man who killed his wife and posted a photo of the bloody corpse on Facebook was convicted Wednesday of second-degree murder after failing to convince a jury that he shot her eight times in self-defense.
Even Inspector Clouseau might have been able to crack that case.

"Have a Coke and Some Cash"

A nonprofit founded to combat obesity says the $1.5 million it received from Coke has no influence on its work.

But emails obtained by The Associated Press show the world's largest beverage maker was instrumental in shaping the Global Energy Balance Network, which is led by a professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. Coke helped pick the group's leaders, edited its mission statement and suggested articles and videos for its website.
This is more of a follow-up to an earlier story. Coke said that its money was an "unrestricted gift", but they sure got into the nitty-gritty with the bribe-takers, to the point of ensuring that their logo didn't have any blue in it.

But I'm not sure that Coke is the main evildoer in this story. The researchers may have approached Coke with a proposal, which makes them different from a whore at a truck-stop only in degree.

Coke essentially says that, having been caught buying off researchers, they'll stop doing it. At least this time. Their "Chief Health and Science Officer" has resigned-- ayup. Coke having a senior executive working on health issues would be almost as laughable as Budweiser or RJ Reynolds having a similar position on their company flowcharts.

(E-mail excerpts here)

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

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

The Turks have shot down a Russian attack jet near the Syrian border.

Some of the targets that the Russians have been striking in Syria is in an area under the control of ethnic Turks, and the Turkish government had told the Russians to stop bombing the Turkmen. So it's within the realm of the possible that the Turks thought "ehh, close enough" and shot down the Russian attack jet.

The Turks will now, no doubt, go whining to NATO that they had to defend their sovereignty and such. But the Turks threw the first punch. Putin does not seem to be the sort of national leader to let such slights go unanswered.

By the way, killing pilots who have parachuted out over enemy territory is a war crime (one for which we've executed people). Don't expect the Russians to overlook this point.

This could get very ugly very fast.

(Source of the title for this post.)