Words of Advice:

"Never Feel Sorry For Anyone Who Owns an Airplane."-- Tina Marie

"
If Something Seems To Be Too Good To Be True, It's Best To Shoot It, Just In Case." -- Fiona Glenanne

"
Flying the Airplane is More Important than Radioing Your Plight to a Person on the Ground
Who is Incapable of Understanding or Doing Anything About It.
" -- Unknown

"There seems to be almost no problem that Congress cannot,
by diligent efforts and careful legislative drafting, make ten times worse.
" -- Me

"What the hell is an `Aluminum Falcon'?" -- Emperor Palpatine

"Eck!" -- George the Cat

Monday, February 29, 2016

It's Already Dead, Joe

Joe Scarborough:
The day I hung up on Donald Trump, I asked on air, “Is this what Germany looked like in 1933?” Later, I warned Republicans that Trump’s rhetoric could lead to a brokered convention where “the party will kill itself.” But it looks like I overestimated primary voters in the early GOP contests. A brokered convention is now just the fantasy of Republican elites and Marco Rubio fans. The harsher reality is that the next GOP nominee will be a man who refused to condemn the Ku Klux Klan and one of its most infamous Grand Wizards when telling the ugly truth wouldn’t have cost him a single vote.

So is this how the party of Abraham Lincoln dies?
The "party of Lincoln" died when Richard Nixon adopted his "Southern Strategy" in 1968, when Ronald Reagan kicked off his 1980 campaign in the town where civil rights workers were murdered, and when notorious racists such as Jesse Helms jumped on board. More dirt was piled on that mouldering corpse when George H.W. Bush ran his "the nigras are coming to rape your kids" campaign ad in 1988.

Neither Nixon nor Reagan nor either of the Bushes would have sent Army soldiers to enforce a desegregation order. Unlike President Eisenhower.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Is This the Trump-Killer?

From today's "State of the Union with Jake Tapper":
TAPPER: I want to ask you about the Anti-Defamation League, which this week called on you to publicly condemn unequivocally the racism of former KKK grand wizard David Duke, who recently said that voting against you at this point would be treason to your heritage.

Will you unequivocally condemn David Duke and say that you don't want his vote or that of other white supremacists in this election?

TRUMP: Well, just so you understand, I don't know anything about David Duke. OK? I don't know anything about what you're even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists. So, I don't know.

I don't know, did he endorse me or what's going on, because, you know, I know nothing about David Duke. I know nothing about white supremacists. And so you're asking me a question that I'm supposed to be talking about people that I know nothing about.

TAPPER: But I guess the question from the Anti-Defamation League is, even if you don't know about their endorsement, there are these groups and individuals endorsing you. Would you just say unequivocally you condemn them and you don't want their support?

TRUMP: Well, I have to look at the group. I mean, I don't know what group you're talking about.

You wouldn't want me to condemn a group that I know nothing about. I would have to look. If you would send me a list of the groups, I will do research on them. And, certainly, I would disavow if I thought there was something wrong.

TAPPER: The Ku Klux Klan?

TRUMP: But you may have groups in there that are totally fine, and it would be very unfair. So, give me a list of the groups, and I will let you know.

TAPPER: OK. I mean, I'm just talking about David Duke and the Ku Klux Klan here, but...

TRUMP: I don't know any -- honestly, I don't know David Duke. I don't believe I have ever met him. I'm pretty sure I didn't meet him. And I just don't know anything about him.
Between not wanting to condemn the Klan and denying that he's never heard of David Duke, well, either Trump is an idiot or he's basically giving a wet one to the white supremacists. And I don't think he's an idiot.

Will this hurt him in the primaries? I sort of think not. But you can bet your next paycheck that footage from that interview is going to be cut into political campaign commercial that will air in places where people well remember the evil of the Klan and of David Duke.

And if the RNC hasn't begun to mainline vodka, I'd be very much surprised. Their only hope may be to figure out a way to deadlock the first vote at the convention. At that point, all of the delegates are free actors. Otherwise, as they know, come November, the GOP is going to play the role of the RMS Titanic and Trump will be guest-starring as The Iceberg.

Meg Whitman has an Attack of the Vapours

Meg Whitman, the CEO of Hewlett-Packard who had an official role with Gov. Chris Christie's now-suspended presidential campaign, called his endorsement of Trump, "an astonishing display of political opportunism."
For somebody who has run for statewide office to be shocked, shocked at the sight of political opportunism is about as hypocritical as it gets.

What Political Surrender Looks Like; Virginia Edition

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe on Friday signed compromise gun legislation that recognizes concealed-carry permits from all states while making it illegal for someone under a permanent protective order to possess a firearm.
Virginia's AG had abrogated a slew of concealed-carry reciprocity agreements, which began the fight with the Legislature. The deal ended the fight.

Make no mistake: McAuliffe lost the fight. The new law apparently removes the AG's discretion as to whether or not to grant reciprocity with other states. The "no guns for people under permanent protection orders" merely brings state law into agreement with Federal law.

Over 360,000 Virginians have concealed carry permits. That's a lot of voters to piss off. McAuliffe won by 2.5% in an election that had a 43% turnout. Giving 190,000 people who didn't vote the last time a reason to turn out and vote for the other guy probably didn't make sense to him.

Even if it did piss off our National Nanny.

(H/T)

The Worst of the Worst; Talkies Edition

The Razzies for 2015 were awarded last night.

(About the Razzies)

Your Sunday Morning Jet Noise

The Voodoo!

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Trump's Endorsements

In increasing order of craziness: Chris Christie, Paul LePage, Jan Brewer and David Duke.

No points for guessing which one The Donald disavowed.

The reality of the situation is that the votes of the certifiable count as much as anyone else's.

On another note, there were rumblings of The Donald's presidential ambitions a quarter-century ago. That article has a lot of really disquieting shit in it about Trump, enough that I wonder what sort of researchers both Rubio and Cruz employ that they haven't mined the gold from it.

And since Cruz employs one of the leading scumbags of American political campaigning, it's a real mystery.

Caturday

Jake's a little perturbed. The sheets and pillows are off (wash day) and the covers are roughly pulled up to cover the bed.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Misunderestimating the Odds; Drill, Baby, Drill Edition

From a Carl Hiaasen column, dated Dec. 7, 1987:
The U.S. government just released a hefty environmental impact study containing this reassuring, computer-generated conclusion: If oil exploration commences up and down the Gulf of Mexico, there’s merely a 48 percent chance that a major spill will smear the beaches within 35 years.
Didn't take nearly that long.

Dear Air Force: With Regard to the Joint Aircraft Designation System That You Foisted On Everyone Else-- Go Fuck Yourselves

What the hell happened to B-3 through B-20? The Air Force gets to trash the whole aircraft numbering system in favor of an execrable PR-laden excuse of a designation for their latest money-pit?
U.S. Air Force Secretary Deborah James, unveiling the first image of a new Northrop Grumman long-range bomber on Friday, said it would be designated the B-21.
Maybe they ought to call it the "B-2.1". Or maybe the number indicates how many the Air Force might possibly get to build.

Fucking zoomies. "Worthless" doesn't even come close to describing the utility of the Air Force.

So anyway, from here on out, the current Navy fighter is the F5H. The one they want to build is the F2O. The ASW helo is the HSS-3. AEW: W2F. COD: R2F-1. Big fucking helo: HU3S.

The Air Force is like a fan: If you stand in front of them, they blow; if you stand behind them, they suck; and if you stand beside them, they don't do a damn thing for you.

Because It's Friday

A steam-powered airplane:


I don't know of any other steam-powered airplane that was proven to have flown.

Science on a Friday

Gravitational waves:


Who knew that there was more than one physicist who appeared on television? I thought that they were rationed to only one.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Nice Going, Abercrombie & Fitch

It takes some real work to dethrone Walmart as "The Most Hated Retailer in America".

But you guys did it!

Back when they sold sporting goods, I bought a travel-version of a fly fishing setup for him at an A&F store. It had about six segments that one would put together to assemble the rod, along with all of the other accouterments. It might have even had a spinning reel, as well, it's been a very long time. At first, Dad was dismissive, but he took it on a couple of trips and grew to like it.

But that was before A&F remade itself as a clothing store for skinny, low-budget young poseurs who were spending their parents' money.

I can't see a reason why most people would even go into their stores, absent a need to either serve a summons or arrest somebody. The stores wouldn't even be worth robbing, since said poseurs pay with plastic.

The Veterans Administration and PTSD: A Crackdown is Inevitable

First, you should go read this lengthy blog post by Chris Hernandez. Know that he's done his legwork for it.

But go read it. I'll wait.

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

A shitload of veterans are gaming the system. The ones who are see this as free money. The VA probably believes that, just like they were hammered for Agent Orange, that it's easier to just approve claims than examine them and require proof.

What you wind up with is the military equivalent of "welfare cheats". You may well remember that certain politicians have waved around tales of "welfare queens" as a tool to attack welfare or any assistance to poor people.

Sooner or later, an ambitious politician may latch onto this issue. Because the fraudsters are costing this country billions of dollars.

When that happens, the veterans who really need help will be the ones who will pay the price.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Dead White Men Have the Right to Vote

So sayeth this clown:
Hans von Spakovsky, a Heritage Foundation fellow, last week argued that the Supreme Court should count the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's votes in cases in which the justices have already cast preliminary votes.
Because, what, no justice ever has changed their vote prior to the final one?

Bullshit. And of course, if they thought that Scalia was going to vote against them, they'd be arguing the exact opposite.

By the way, why weren't the GOP officials at the Nevada caucus demanding photo ID?

I Didn't Know that H&K Made AKs


(Source of the snark)

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Damn Skippy


It is disheartening the number of "motorists" who are too damn oblivious or obnoxious to signal their goddamned turns.

Of Course Bill Gates Backs the FBI. He'd Never Pass Up a Chance to Get in a Dig at Apple

Microsoft Corp. cofounder Bill Gates has jumped into the debate over Apple Inc.'s fight with the FBI over unlocking an iPhone used by one of the shooters in the San Bernardino attack, saying "the government shouldn't have to be completely blind."

In an interview with the Financial Times published early Tuesday, Gates disagreed with Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook's stance that creating the software requested by the federal government would build a back door that would make its products' security easier to breach.

“This is a specific case where the government is asking for access to information,” he said. “They are not asking for some general thing, they are asking for a particular case.”
Bullshit.

The FBI is demanding that Apple create an iPhone master key. How would it be possible for anyone to ensure that the FBI just didn't then use it on any other damn phone? Not unless any such phone is delivered to Apple and they unlocked it in a room without any Feebies present?

Which I'll bet a box of crullers that the Federales would never agree to that.

Secont, Gates's statement that "the government shouldn't have to be completely blind" is garbage. I am completely confident that the FBI has served subpoenas on the ISP and the cell phone provider.They know what emails have come and gone. They have the contents of the text messages. They know who the terrorists called.

This case is all about and it is only about the FBI coming up with a way to defeat encryption. The FBI's doing its damnedest to distract everyone by that by waving a bloody shirt. Which signals to me, at least, that the FBI knows that they have been lying all along about their alleged need to unlock the terrorist's phone.

And as for the FBI's statements that they only want to unlock this one phone? That's also bullshit.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Most Significant Threat to American Freedoms and Liberties

The real threats to our freedoms and liberties, at least since 1815, have never come from a foreign power. They have always been internal threats from the very people charged with defending our security.

No clearer example of that is the FBI's trying to force Apple to come up with software to defeat its encryption protocols.


No one side of the spectrum is simon-pure on this. One would not expect Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Rep. Pete King (R-Eire) to agree on anything, but when it comes to erasing American's rights under the Fourth and Fifth Amendments, they line up perfectly. It's always "give up a little more freedom, a little more privacy and we'll keep you safe" with them and with the vast majority of law enforcement.

We're at the point, now, where only a copper who either deeply respects the Constitution or is completely addlepated can't come up with a reason to crash through your front door, right this instant. "I heard a suspicious noise", "I smelled something bad"-- impossible to disprove.

Here, the Feebies want Apple to invent software to unlock iPhones. That software doesn't exist. It's probably not cheap to do that. You can bet the farm that the Feebies aren't going to pay Apple for their services. (Can you say "unfunded mandates"?)

What precedent exists for the Stasi FBI to demand that somebody invent something? Hell, why don't they make Bell invent the "whisper mode" from Airwolf?

Worse, once the Feebies have the software, what's to prevent them from using it whenever the hell they want to, warrants be damned?

Oh, but they have a need for it, the FBI sez. That's what they always say. Bullshit. The terrorists are long dead. If the FBI thinks that the dead terrorists were in contact with anyone else when they were plotting, why don't they ask the NSA? Or maybe the NSA's vacuuming up of all electronic communications hasn't proved useful at all? Maybe the NSA's monitoring has been a colossal waste of our tax dollars?

Well, screw the FBI, even though Apple probably is one of the vilest companies on the planet. When it comes to having a condescending attitude towards their customers, Apple is among the worst offenders. But that doesn't alter the point that Apple is right on this.

The fun part would be this: Say the FBI gets what they want. So it goes to the Dilbert-Wally team at Apple. They'll diligently work on the problem for six years, then come back and say "we can't do it". How can the FBI prove that they are lying?

Your Sunday Morning Jet Noise

SLUFs!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Even $100 Million+ Only Goes So Far; Khcheb! Edition

As of right now, JEB! is coming in fourth in South Carolina. Trump is first, Rubio and Cruz are a handful of votes apart, and Bush is far behind, with just over a third of the votes of Cruz-io and nearly tied with Kasich.

Kasich has been campaigning on a shoestring. Bush raised well over a hundred million, between direct donations and dark money to his "leadership PAC" which is prohibited from quote coordinating unquote things with his campaign. He burned through about a third of that in New Hampshire and came in at a level that came nowhere near matching the money that was spent.

My suspicion is that the donation river has dried up for Bush. He needed to do well in South Carolina to persuade the oligarchs to re-open the taps, but he hasn't. One has to wonder how long he can keep going before his coffers run dry.

Update: No further than tonight:
Former Florida governor Jeb Bush has dropped out of the Republican race for US president after failing to rank high in the first three state primaries. ... "Today I am suspending my campaign," an emotional Mr Bush told his supporters.
Somewhere, the shade of Terri Schiavo is laughing.

Rubio is Campaigning to Be President of Canada

Stephen Colbert riffed on Rubio's ad that used Canadian stock footage:



Earlier, there was a line about "Presidential candidate and future co-op board treasurer Jeb Bush". The whole bit was pretty funny.

Caturday Extra

This shelter cat has gorgeous eyes!


She's too pretty to wait a week to share.

Caturday

Gracie, may peace be upon her.


I was going to let it go this year. It's now been four years since her passing. But today is Caturday and it is her yahrzeit. No, I don't think of her a lot, anymore. Yet in looking through old files to find photos, the pain of loss is still there. Not anywhere near as sharp, but sort of like an old injury that twinges as a reminder.

The photo is from over 11 years ago, before arthritis began to slow her down, before her thyroid went out of whack and before cancer of the jaw took her.

I still miss her.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Tab Clearing on Gun Stuff

If you think that the Hearing Protection Act of 2015 has a chance of making it into law, you may want to buy threaded barrels now. If the bill gets close to being enacted, or becomes law, those will be unobtainium for a few years.

If the gun control crowd had any brains, they'd work to pass the bill and then, when it came time to bring up restrictions on stuff, they could point to that bill and say "see, we were reasonable, now work with us."

Good thing, I guess, that they're not that smart.

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

I've read some firearms pundits that say that one should test one's new gun with 1,000 rounds, including 200 rounds of your favorite self-defense load, before opting to carry it.

Yeah, right. And you should walk for 40 minutes a day, get 8 hours of sleep and avoid drinking more than one alcoholic beverage a day, too.

Assuming that you have a 9mm and you are going to shoot the cheapest damn stuff you can, you're still looking at about 20 cents a round, and that's for the nastiest Russian shit. 1,800 rounds of that is about $160. Maybe your gun's maker says to stay away from steel-cased ammo, so you can raise that by a few bucks.

The 200 rounds of your self-defense load-- That stuff usually goes for a buck a round or so.

So you're going to spend in the vicinity of $400 on ammo to test one frigging gun? And if your gun is one of the subcompact lightweight 9mms, you're really going to fire a thousand rounds through it?

In a pig's eye, you will. Most of those things won't see a thousand rounds through them in decades.

.380-- Some of those guns will beat the hell out of you if you shoot them a lot and you're looking around 28-30 cents a round for ball ammo (from here on out, I'm ignoring the cheap-jack Russian shit).

.40 is in the same price range. .45 ACP is close. .45 GAP is lots pricier. .357 Sig is sort of midway between .45 ACP and .45 GAP.

You might have noticed that I didn't mention any revolver cartridges. Revolvers don't have the same concerns, for the most part. As long as you keep them reasonably clean (especially the front of the cylinder and underneath the ejector star), the cartridges designed for it should work fine. Of course, you may not want to shoot heavy bullets in light revolvers or light .357 bullets out of a K-frame, but those are different issues.

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

I've read some stuff on "every day carry", that says that if you're going to carry concealed, you should carry only one gun all the time.

Well, that's fine, if you can dress the same way every day. Many of us can't. Some days, maybe the only piece you can reasonably carry is a LCP or an Airweight. On days when you can carry a larger gun, why would you want to limit yourself to a tiny gun firing a barely adequate cartridge?

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

If Hillary Clinton had any sense, she'd ask the NRA if she could speak at the convention this year. That would be pretty close to a "heads I win, tails you lose" proposition for her. If people listen to her, she can go around bragging that she had the stones to take her message to the NRA. If people booed and protested, well, the footage for her campaign ads would be golden.

Probably a good thing that the people running her campaign are proving to be largely anacephalic.

Because It's Friday

A live-steam PRR Q2 model:



You about have to be three-quarters English to be nuts enough to get into the hobby of building and operating large live-steam models.

Ted Cruz = Baby Tricky Dick

Ted Cruz's campaign is now doctoring photos.

They put up this one:


Which turns out to be this stock photo, only flipped and with the heads changed:


Look closely at the creases in the suit jackets of both men. They are in the same places in each photo.

Cruz's campaign defense is on the lines of: "There are serious issues to discuss, but you want to discuss the trivial fact that Ted Cruz is a liar and a cheat?"

I don't know if any of this will stick or not. But added to Cruz's lying about Ben Carson in Iowa, and it's hard not to conclude that Ted Cruz is running his campaign as though he was a grinning psychopath.

Which may be an accurate assessment of the man's character, for all we know.

And that brings me to the latest bit of Internet Fun:


Which you can buy here and which goes to support these folks.

UPDATE: The "Ted Cruz Zodiac Killer" campaign has raised over $35,000.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Enjoy Your Stretch in Stir, Asshole

SPRINGFIELD, Mo.-- A man who shot a crop dusting plane 18 times in 2014 because it kept him from sleeping was sentenced today.

[Some] 39-year old [Asshole], of Miller, was sentenced to six years and six months in federal prison without parole and may pay $17,500 in restitution to the aircraft owner.
Asshole can consider himself to be fortunate, for the maximum penalty for that sort of fuckery is 20 years in prison. And if by shooting at the cropduster, somebody had been killed, Asshole would be on Death Row.

Stupid fucker should have bought himself a box of earplugs.

"Sir, Would You Like Some Wood Pulp With Your Pasta?"

One of the makers of store-brand 100% Parmesan cheese has been adulterating their product with wood pulp, cheddar cheese and Swiss cheese. And now the president of the company may go to jail.

She was working in the wrong industry. If she wanted to sell crappy stuff, swindle people and get away with it, she should have gone to work on Wall Street.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Are There Guns in Heaven?

I would say yes, based on the Marine Corps Hymn. More particularly, the second half of the third verse:
If the Army and the Navy
Ever look on Heaven's scenes,
They will find the streets are guarded
By United States Marines.
The Marines aren't going anywhere without their weapons.

So yes, Virginia, there are guns in Heaven.

"I Wuz Commander-in-Chief of the National Guard"

That's apparently Johnny Bush's latest claim to fame.

Given what people remember about Abu Ghraib, it's pretty gob-smacking to think that he's going to brag about the Florida NG running the place.

The last former governor to brag that signing off on supply chits for the National Guard was "foreign policy experience" was the former half-term governor of Alaska.

Let's be clear about this: When the National Guard deploys, they do it as part of the Army or the Air Force. At that point, they are state forces in name only. They work for the military command structure and the Feds pay the troopers. They get the same active duty military pay and privileges of any other person on active duty. The guard soldiers/units are "federalized" and the state government has zip point shit to do with it.

While it might have arguably been good for the soldiers' morale to have their governator come visit them in the field, at that point, all the politicians doing that could promise was to help iron out any problems back home, in their states.

Claiming any foreign policy cred from a National Guard deployment is pure, unadulterated horseshit.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Oh, the Irony Is Just Too Rich; JEB! Edition

Jeb Bush, facing increasing pressure in South Carolina after lackluster showings in early contests, brought his older brother, George W. Bush, and the former first lady, Laura Bush, to vouch for his decency and judgment here in a race that has been driven in recent weeks by coarse language, anger and personal insults.
Asking Dubya to vouch for anyone's decency would be like asking Bernie Madoff to vouch for someone's honesty.

Or has everyone forgotten that Bush's campaign smeared John McCain in South Carolina by spreading rumors that McCain was crazy, his wife was a lesbian and that McCain had fathered a black kid? Few national politicians can do the job while holding onto their honor, but Bush shredded his like it was cheap toilet paper.

.40 Short & Weak

With the Feebies fixing to replace their .40s with 9mms, I'd anticipate that a lot other law enforcement agencies will follow right along. Because that's what the cool kids are doing. Cops can be as fashion-conscious as a pack of tweens.

Anyway, if you missed out when all the revolvers* or 2nd/3rd gen Smiths were for sale at good prices, here's another chance at smoking deals.**
________________________________
* I'm still kicking my ass about not snapping up one of the NYSP Model 28s when they changed to L-frames.
** Sub-$500 Sig 226s, for instance. There are a number of unissued ex-LEO M&P .40s out there, too. Glocks, meh.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Tab Clearing: Cats, Encryption, and Idiots

I really don't care if cat treats are addictive. Jake is in his 20th year and he likes them.

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

Jake has had a persistent bladder infection. Convenia didn't touch it. Two weeks of Baytril seemed to help, but it started to come back three days later (symptom: blood in pee). He went back on Baytril for another two weeks and came off that 8 days ago. The symptoms haven't returned, he's appetite is better. Maybe he turned the corner on this.

I did toss out his old litter box a week into the second go-round of Baytril. Just in case.

The other thing was that during all of this, he dribbled a little pee on my bed, so he got the idea that he could pee there. I banned him from my bedroom over a month ago. Everything was washed, several times (thankfully, it didn't penetrate down to the mattress or the pad). I sprayed the bed and the bedclothes repeatedly with pet-odor killer.

After a week or so of keeping the door shut, I put up a baby gate to keep him out. Basically, one like this:


Except it was lots cheaper and made of pine. It worked, even if it was a PITA to step over. A younger cat would have jumped right over, but Jake's an old man.

I took it down yesterday. Jake got on my bed and laid there, as he has always done. When he needed to use the litter box, that's where he went. All back to normal. For now.

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

For years, I've had a link to my public PGP key as a signature in my emails. I've also have Signal installed on my smartphone. Only one regular correspondent and I exchange encrypted emails. Nobody uses Signal.

Which I take to mean that while a lot of people blather on about privacy, nobody really gives a shit about it. For they won't take even basic steps to keep their communications private. You might as well go back to sending postcards, people.

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

Some idiot was arrested for carrying one of these:


And for, when a real police asked the idiot if he was a cop, the jerkoff said that he was.

Folks, if you have one of those badges, then either toss it in a drawer or, better yet, toss it altogether. There is no benefit from having one. If a real cop sees you with one, he might just bust you on an impersonation charge. The chances of having one and getting anything positive from it are slim to nonexistent.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

"Domestic Extremists"

That's what DHS and the Feebies are calling Y'all Qaeda.

Heh. Cable News Flub Edition

Happy Valentine's Day


It's snowing, I might not get out for a traditional celebration.

Obama Derangement Syndrome: GOP's Conditioned Reflex

Scalia's corpse had barely reached room temperature before this happened:
The U.S. Senate should not act to fill the sudden Supreme Court vacancy opened up by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia until after President Obama departs office, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement Saturday.
The President has eleven months left in his term. He's going to nominate somebody, and I don't have to do any research at all to know that.

The GOP's default reaction to oppose anything President Obama says is leading them to make some very dangerous bets, as in "bad for them." By vowing to block any nominee, they are betting that they can win the presidency this Fall and retain control of the Senate. Neither are sure things. The Republicans should reflect on what sort of justice President Sanders would nominate, especially if the Democrats win back he Senate. If GOP senators tried to block it, there would be almost irresistible pressure on the Democrats to invoke "the nuclear option" (removing the filibuster for judicial nominees) and putting Sanders's choice on the Court.

Worse, the GOP will make the case, to Democratic and Independent voters, why they should vote for the Democratic candidate. The Clinton Campaign has been trying to motivate voters by telling them that keeping control of who gets nominated to the Supreme Court is vital. Absent a recent nomination fight, that's a pretty wonkish argument and it doesn't play very well. But with a bloody nomination fight and the spectacle of the GOP opposing anybody that is nominated, it's an argument that will sing.

If the Republicans were smart, they'd do what they could to take the issue of control of the courts off the board. They would work with Obama to find a candidate that is of center-right leanings, one that is palatable, even if barely, to both sides. Oh, their base would scream, again, about being betrayed, but so what? Nobody cares. They're going to turn out in this election, anyway. The real question is whether the Democratic base will turn out and that's open to debate at the present. Blacks don't like Sanders very much and the younger, not-well-off Democrats don't care for Clinton. But give them a bloody, high-profile example of GOP obstructionism and that may not matter much.

However, Republicans, at least right now, are choosing this hill to die on.

I don't think that's very smart of them. But I never said they were smart.

Your Sunday Morning Jet Noise

A very pretty Boeing 727-100 at Van Nuys, registered in Bermuda.


Supposedly, it was originally delivered to Pan Am and used in their West German service to Berlin.

I have a soft spot for the 72'. A brand-new AA -100 was the first airplane that I ever rode in. When I was in college, my flights to and from school were on 727s.

(Nanny Bloomberg has a house in Bermuda, but I doubt if he's classy enough to own a 727.)

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Timing is Everything

And theirs is pretty awful.
The leading opponents of Connecticut’s sweeping, post-Newtown gun laws appealed the state’s assault-weapons ban to the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday, arguing that semi-automatic weapons like the AR-15 are widely popular and well-suited to home defense.

Dick Cheney, In the Bedroom, With a Pillow

Associate Justice Antonin Scalia was found dead of apparent natural causes Saturday on a luxury resort in West Texas, federal officials said.

Scalia, 79, was a guest at the Cibolo Creek Ranch, a resort in the Big Bend region south of Marfa.

According to a report, Scalia arrived at the ranch on Friday and attended a private party with about 40 people. When he did not appear for breakfast, a person associated with the ranch went to his room and found a body.

Titanic-II

A couple of years behind the original launch date, but they still plan to build a replica of the RMS Titanic.

The Titanic II, to a modern-day cruise ship passenger, will be almost as luxurious as a stay in a Super 8 motel. To those who book a third class ticket, it'll be less luxurious than a stay in an old army barracks.

Pitchforks: Sanders and Trump

After more than four decades of serving as the nation’s economic majority, the American middle class is now matched in number by those in the economic tiers above and below it. In early 2015, 120.8 million adults were in middle-income households, compared with 121.3 million in lower- and upper-income households combined, a demographic shift that could signal a tipping point, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of government data. ... Middle-income Americans have fallen further behind financially in the new century. In 2014, the median income of these households was 4% less than in 2000. Moreover, because of the housing market crisis and the Great Recession of 2007-09, their median wealth (assets minus debts) fell by 28% from 2001 to 2013.
Not everyone agrees that the situation is bad.
Pew uses data from the Census Bureau, which critics contend too narrowly measures income and uses the wrong measure of inflation. A recent survey of top economists found 70 percent agreed that Census data "substantially understate" middle-class progress. Indeed, Brookings scholar Gary Burtless doubts the median household is worse off since 2000, another claim Pew makes, although gains have slowed.
First, let's look at a couple of charts. This one is household income, adjusted for inflation, 1967-2014:


The second is labor force participation rate, from 1948 through 2014:


For the first 25 years or so after the Second World War, the labor force participation rate was fairly low, at least by modern standards. Then it began to go up, a lot.

Where did all of those additional workers come from, you might ask. My answer is that they probably were mainly women. While the 1950s image of the husband as breadwinner and the wife staying home and raising their 2.4 kids was a bit of a stereotype, there was a lot of truth to it. A high-school educated man working in a unionized factory job could make enough money to afford a modest house and a late-model car. But those days are gone and so, to keep the same place on the economic ladder, their wives had to go to work. The good jobs went away as the vulture-capitalists hollowed out the American industrial base and shipped the work, first to Mexico, then to China.[1]

Since the 1970s, the rich indeed have been getting richer and everyone else has been lucky if all they can do is not lose ground.


What is becoming clear to more and more people is that the game is rigged. It's becoming harder and harder to keep one's head above water. People who would have once retired have had to instead keep working.


So say you're a fairly young adult. At some level, you know all of this stuff. If you went to college, you may have graduated with a debt load more appropriate to owning a home.[2] It's a debt that you may not be able to pay off for decades, which will make owning a nice car or your own home impossible, unless you land a decent job. Which will be unlikely if you treated college as a place to get an education instead of a place to learn a well-paying trade. If you're a Democrat, why would you vote for Clinton? She's buds with the same banksters on Wall Street who have gotten very wealthy from making it hard for you to ever find a good job. You're going to vote for Sanders.

If you're older and a Republican, what you've seen is a party that kept promising they would change things back to when America was great, when all they did was make it easier for the richest to gut the foundations of the American economy. They trashed the housing market, so that your dream of selling your home and using the proceeds to pay into a good retirement community is gone.[3] You party leaders have promised for six years that "we will repeal Obamacare", all the while knowing that the sitting President, some guy named "Obama", would veto any such foolishness and that they didn't have the votes to override it. So they've been lying and backstabbing you for a very long time--why would you vote for an establishment candidate like Johnny Bush or the Rubot? You're going to vote for Trump.

Unless you're in the top 1% or the top 0.1%, at some level, you know that there has to be some real changes made. The center is fraying when a significant minority, if not close to the majority of the voters of each party are lining up behind the party insurgents.

If the party machinery manages to do something to derail both candidates, then it will become clearer and clearer to more and more people that America has become an oligarchy. A country where elections are just a fig-leaf to continued control of the country by the wealthy.

And once that realization fully sinks in, then the pitchforks will come out, sooner or later.
________________________________________
[1] There ought to be some way to indict those clowns on sabotage charges.
[2] Worse, if you were foolish enough to go to one of those for-profit schools like Trump U.
[3] If you cashed out your equity from time to time to remodel your home or to help your kids with school costs, then things are even worse.


Caturday

Jake is enjoying his favorite activity.


He's 20 this year. If he was a human, he'd be in his late 90s.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Grinding Away; Bundy and the Wheels of Justice

Cliven Bundy made his first court appearance and requested a public defender.

I'm not going to snark on that point. It's quite possible that Bundy might not have the ready cash necessary to hire a lawyer. Criminal defense lawyers, at least in my limited experience, want to be paid what they think it will cost to handle the case, up front. That's because the type of folks who need such lawyers generally aren't good credit risks to start with and they're really not inclined to pay up if they go to prison.

But it sort of boggles my mind that he was dumb enough to take a commercial flight. This guy and his kids and the rest of the Y'all Qaeda morons had been going around armed and spouting off all sorts of anti-government, sovereign-citizen rhetoric. They had pointed guns at Federal cops-- that's assaulting a Federal cop with a firearms enhancement, which is good for a consecutive sentence. It should have been reasonably clear that the Feds had had enough of that bullshit and were starting to arrest the usual suspects, of which Suspect #1 was Bundy Senior.

So he gets on a commercial airliner which, like visiting a Federal courthouse or a prison, means walking through weapons detectors. When he bought the ticket and his name went into the DHS computers as a future air passenger, it was like the Feds were being given a gift. The best time to grab up somebody is when they get off the airplane, for (a) they've already been searched and disarmed, and (b) so has everyone around them. (If they had tried to arrest him at the point of departure when he went through screening, some other clown might have been on the other side of the checkpoint.)

The Bundys are in jail. With their track record of disregarding court orders and waving guns around, it's a long shot that they'd be granted bail.

Whatever, their attorneys are probably going to tell them to say nothing, write nothing and sign nothing. Given the amount of mouth-running that they have engaged in to date, I'd hazard that advice won't be followed and that they'll all yak themselves into a long stay at a Federal prison.

Gravitational Waves

Again, Einstein was right. Even when he wasn't sure he was.
After nearly a century, the hunt for an elusive cosmic quarry is over. With the help of lasers and mirrors, scientists have directly observed gravitational waves, or wrinkles in the fabric of spacetime itself.

Two colliding black holes, one with 36 times the mass of the sun, and the other with 29, emitted those gravitational waves as they spiralled into one another and eventually collided.

From roughly 1.3 billion light-years away, these waves spread like ripples in the cosmic pond and washed over Earth on September 14, causing a minuscule but measurable change in the distance between four sets of mirrors—two in Louisiana, and two in Washington state.
I suspect that Einstein would have been astonished that it proved possible to build an apparatus sensitive enough to detect them.

Because It's Friday

German steam:



That class of locomotive can move right along.

For Sale: Oregon Milita Rifles. Never Fired. Dropped Only Once.

The last clown surrendered, moments after the usual "liberty or death" rant and declaring that he was at war with the Federal government. That's almost beyond mocking.


What has been learned? The Feds learned that ignoring these Y'all Qaeda jerkoffs when they commit crimes doesn't pay off. Until old man Bundy was arrested, nobody had been charged for the what went down in 2014. I believe the just-ended standoff was a result of that; those idiots thought that they were immune from the law. Anyone involved in the 2014 mess had better be talking to a criminal defense lawyer.

The militia guys often utter variants of a Thomas Jefferson quote: "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants." But when it comes time to fill up the watering-can, they're nowhere to be found.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

GOP: The Party of Treason

If this is confirmed, some people need to go to prison:
Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Shamkhani said a recent prisoner exchange between Iran and the US went ahead as planned despite calls by Republicans for a delay until US presidential elections.

“In the course of the talks for exchanging prisoners, the Republican rivals of the current US administration who claim to be humanitarians and advocates of human rights sent a message telling us not to release these people (American prisoners) and continue this process (of talks) until the eve of US presidential elections,” Shamkhani said Thursday in an address to a rally held in the central city of Yazd to mark the 37th anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution’s victory.
Sadly, this is nothing new for the GOP. Richard Nixon pulled the same shit. And quite possibly, so did Ronald Reagan.

One of the Stupidest People On the Planet; Ferguson Edition

"The assessment is, as the [consent decree] agreement currently stands, it will cost more to implement the agreement than it would be to fight it in a lawsuit,” [Ferguson Mayor James] Knowles said Wednesday.
What Mayor McDumbass doesn't realize is that they could lose and have to pay both costs. If their lawyer didn't make that abundantly clear, then they need to hire a new one.

What they're really doing is rolling the dice on the election and hoping that a GOP president will make the problem go away.

Clinton's Delegate Lead

(I'm not putting up a link, as it won't survive over time.)

Hillary Clinton supposedly has a significant lead in delegates. However, most of them are "superdelegates" of which there are 712. They are all party loyalists, of course, and most have said they support Clinton, whi is the candidate of the establishment.

However, that support is as firm as overcooked pasta. In the words of Sammy Tonin: "You want to survive in this business, you have your money on the horse that's out front." If it appears that Bernie Sanders is going to win the nomination, the superdelegates will abandon Clinton. They might not like Bernie, but they'd rather be seen as coming in late than not at all.

When It Comes Down to It, Dying For a Cause Isn't a Lot of Fun; Oregon Edition

The last four armed occupiers of a national wildlife refuge in eastern Oregon said they would turn themselves in Thursday morning after law officers surrounded them in a tense standoff.
They may have lost heart after Bundy Père was arrested.

With luck, the Great Oregon Clown Show will end today without more shots being fired.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Yuge Win!

Trump and Sanders are projected to have won their respective primaries in NH.

As of right now (10:15 PM EST), Johnnie Bush is in 4th place, barely behind Rubio. Considering that Bush dumped $30 million into advertising in New Hampshire, that's a pretty piss-poor showing.

Sanders is beating Clinton by a 3-2 margin, which qualifies as a shellacking.

Nevada and South Carolina, prepare for the infestation of candidates!

"The Internet of Things" Will Allow the NSA and FBI to Better Spy on You

So sayeth Jimmy the Perjurer, the chief of the American spies:
“In the future, intelligence services might use the [internet of things] for identification, surveillance, monitoring, location tracking, and targeting for recruitment, or to gain access to networks or user credentials,” Clapper said.
Smart TVx, webcams, hell, smart fridges and thermostats-- all could be used by the spooks to watch you and yes, they're working on doing that. If your car has OnStar or any of that crap, they want to be able to tap into that.

Find the camera and microphone of your smart TV and blank them off. Or go to a thrift store and buy an old CRT TV set. Don't choose to let the spies into your home.

Enough With the Negative (Gravity) Waves

The science section of the Interwebs is buzzing that the existence of gravity waves may have been confirmed.

In other news, there is some bullshit going on today in New Hampshire. Rumors are that lots of televisions in New Hampshire and surrounding states have been shot or otherwise destroyed.

Fifty Years Ago

Sophie Tucker, "The Last of the Red-Hot Mommas", died.

"I've been rich and I've been poor. Believe me, honey, rich is better."-- Sophie Tucker

Update: A BBC appreciation of Sophie Tucker (thanks to D. [this post was in the queue for several months])

Rudy's Just Gotta Find Something to be Outraged About

He was mightily offended by Beyoncé's gig at Super Bowl L's halftime show. Predictably, the Right Wing Noise Machine fell into line behind il Douche.

Giuliani is a huckster of hate. Finding things to take umbrage at is his schtick.

The Field Negro has a good point:
Imagine if Rudy Giuliana heard Johnny Cash singing the following lyrics at a Super Bowl halftime show: "Early one mornin' while makin' the rounds I took a shot of cocaine and I shot my woman down I went right home and I went to bed I stuck that lovin' .44 beneath my head.."

Or Eric Clapton singing the following: "I shot the sheriff, but I did not shoot the deputy
I shot the sheriff, but I did not shoot the deputy All around in my home town
They're trying to track me down They say they want to bring me in guilty
For the killing of a deputy For the life of a deputy, but I say..."

Rhetorical question. I know what would happen. Nothing. There would be no outrage or calls for a boycott of their music.
Never let it be forgotten that Giuliani is about as pro-police state and anti-freedom as they come, so long as the crackdown is on those people. Because 9-11. Or something.

More cynically, Rudy's job nowadays is to manufacture outrage. He's not going to get paid to show up on "Fox and Fiends" if he doesn't say things that'll stoke and justify the anger of white Republicans/Teabaggers. He's as authentic as The Donald, or any other infomercial huckster.

The National Anthem

Doing it right:



Doing it wrong:

Late Show's New Anmal Expert


Monday, February 8, 2016

Yepper, They Made the H&K Parody T-Shirt!!

I am so looking forward to this Spring's matches, especially when I will be shooting a revolver.


They're not for sale, folks.

Respectfully, Secretary Albright: F.O.A.D.!

The first female secretary of state, [Madeleine] Albright, 78, introduced [Hillary] Clinton, 68, at a campaign event on Saturday, February 6, in New Hampshire and told the crowd: “We can tell our story of how we climbed the ladder, and a lot of you younger women think it’s done. It’s not done. There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other!”
So, when batshit crazy Michelle Bachmann ran against anyone, Albright supported her?

I don't buy that for a yoctosecond.

"Don't Cry, Lindsey, We'll Face Political Oblivion Together."

(H/T)

Feel free to come up with your own caption.

Dear Apple: Toljaso, I Did!

Apple is facing the possibility of class-action lawsuits in the US and possible criminal charges in the UK.

Toljaso. And there is nothing like some bad press to convince corporations to backwater.

Sue the pants off of those fuckers, boys and girls!

Why Such Small Warheads; USN Missile Edition

In an earlier post, I commented on the lack of punch of a SM-6 when used against a warship. While the idea of using a five-million-plus dollar missile to deliver the equivalent of a 250lb bomb may sound deplorable, there is a good reason why the navy got away from ship-killing surface weapons.

The reason, simply put, was the lack of a good reason to have them. In a "cold war gone hot" scenario, it was pretty well assumed that, between airpower and submarines, any larger combatants of the Soviet navy would have either fled into port or been swept from the sea in the first day or so of the war. The role of the navy would then be to open and keep open the sea lines to Europe, as was done in the Battles of the Atlantic during both world wars. Besides hunting down and sinking Soviet submarines, the navy would have had to combat the threat posed by Soviet antiship missiles, whether air-launched or submarine-launched. So antiair and antisubmarine warfare were the predominant training tasks of the Cold-War navy.

Antisurface, or ship-on-ship warfare, was given short shrift. The 5" guns of the destroyers and frigates had two missions: Antiair defense of the ship and naval gunfire support for forces ashore.

Then two things happened: The sinking of the INS Eilat by Egyptian missile boats and the use of missile boats in the 1971 Indo-Pakistani War.

The first thing that was done was to quickly give the Standard missile a surface-to-surface capability. That was called "ISSM": "Interim Surface to Surface Missile". Some were fitted into two of the cells of an ASROC box launcher to give some non-AAW missile shooters a modest capability to fire anti-surface missiles (which required modifying the fire control radar to work with the missiles).

Meanwhile, the Harpoon missile, which was first designed for use against surfaced submarines (some Soviet subs had to surface to fire their missiles) was quickly reassigned a role as an antiship missile. Once Harpoon was out in the fleet, ISSM was rapidly retired (and quickly forgotten).

Still, the threat that Harpoon was redesigned to engage was the threat of missile boats employed by Soviet client states or Warsaw Pact nations. It wasn't really considered as a weapon against larger ships. Because at the time, nobody could foresee a use against large combatants.

The Soviet navy built bigger missiles, with half-ton or larger warheads, many supposedly with shaped-charges (if you can believe Wikipedia). They were built to sink or cripple large ocean-going ships, like carriers, which Western navies operate. Even if a point defense system detonated its warhead, a shaped charge that was detonated a few hundred yards away from a ship could probably do some serious damage.

This far into the 21st Century, there still isn't much of a use for a large antiship missile by the navy, at least not launched from ships. The aviators have been working the problem, the Long Range ASM is projected to carry a half-ton warhead. Which is probably realistic, in that our ships aren't going to be operating in the western Pacific without some form of air cover.

Still, I wouldn't be surprised if there were at least studies on a new heavy antiship missile for employment by surface ships. I would be surprised if anything more than that had been done. Adding a large weapon system to a ship is not a trivial modification- the mounting of quad-tube Harpoon launchers on the Cold War CGs and DDGs raised issues of stability in heavy seas (as does adding anything heavy that far above the center of gravity).

The addition of a heavy antiship missile to the surface fleet may have to wait for the development of a new class of surface ships. Which, to my mind, will not happen within the lifetimes of most readers of this blog.

"Dear Waitress: I'm Stiffing You Because Jesus".

That seems to be the latest fundie trick: Leaving a fake tip that is really a religious tract.

I'm pretty sure that stiffing your server by leaving a fake $10 or $20 that is only religious propaganda won't exactly bring people to your way of thinking.

Unless, of course, you're trying to share the "good news" that you are a frelling asshole.

(H/T)

Super Bowl L

They didn't call it that, because "L" is a boring Roman numeral.

Anyway, if you like defensive football, it was a game to watch. Denver's defense rattled the hell out of Carolina's offense.

But let's get to the important part: The advertising. Though I did miss some of them, so if you're opinion is otherwise, chime in.

I think Doritos won the night with two great ads:





Hyundai had a funny one, too:



Budweiser had a bit of a misfire, though:



"Raise One to Right Now" is a nice play on the name of John E. Bush's dark money PAC, "Right to Rise", but since the ¿JEB? campaign is cratering, only hardcore political geeks got the pun.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

And Now, a Word From Monongahela Metal Works,
Makers of Fine Ingots For Home and Office

Bob Elliott has died.

Your Sunday Morning Jet Noise

The Tweet!

Smoke and Mirrors, USN Edition

The United States Navy’s fleet of Aegis cruisers and destroyers are getting a massive boost in lethality. For years, many believed that America’s mighty surface combatants were on track to be outgunned by their Russian and Chinese counterparts—however, a newly unveiled modification to the Raytheon Standard SM-6 changes of all of that.

“I'm announcing today new capability for the SM-6. We're modifying the SM-6, so that in addition to missile defense, it can also target enemy ships at sea at very long ranges,” U.S. defense secretary Ashton Carter said at Naval Base San Diego in California on February 3.
I call "bullshit".

I don't know squat abut the SM-6. But it's probably the same frigging airframe as the SM-2 or, hell, the old Terriers. The warheads of those things were designed to cripple airplanes and incoming missiles, not blast the shit out of ships.

According to Wikipedia, the warhead is a "blast fragmentation" warhead, which is weaponese for basically a big-ass grenade. The SM-2 reportedly had a 250lb warhead. Given that the SM-6 has an active radar, one might expect that since the SM-6 carries more smarts than the SM-2, that the warhead is probably smaller.

What this means in plain English is that these things are not shipkillers in the traditional "leave the enemy burning or sinking" sense (as the Soviet antiship missiles were). Sinking or leaving the enemy ship a burning hulk was a "seaworthiness kill." As the first article said, the SM-6 is trying for a "mission kill". That means "damaging some shit so that the ship can't fight"-- such as poking holes in radar waveguides, or hoping to damage some vital equipment.*

Getting a seaworthiness kill takes a big honking warhead carried by a large shell, bomb, torpedo or missile. The surface navy pretty much stopped going for seaworthiness kills of anything larger than a PT/missile boat when the last of the big-gun cruisers was sent to the breakers.

(H/T)
_____________________________________
* An analogy: There's a bad guy 25 yards away. You have a shotgun. You have two types of shells: #9 birdshot and 00 buckshot. In shooting the birdshot, you're hoping to annoy him enough to make him stop trying to hurt you-- Maybe you blind him or sting him enough to discourage him, or maybe a couple of pieces of birdshot hit a jugular vein or a carotid artery and he bleeds out. In shooting the buckshot, you're hoping to stop him from hurting you by killing him; if the buckshot hurts him badly enough that he stops what he's doing, that's fine, too.

In shooting at the bad guy with birdshot, you're going for a mission kill. In shooting at him with buckshot, you're going for a seaworthiness kill.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Nice Work If You Can Get It, Hil.

In the 18 months before launching her second presidential bid, Clinton gave nearly 100 paid speeches at banks, trade associations, charitable groups and private corporations. The appearances netted her $21.7 million - and voters very little information about what she was telling top corporations as she prepared for her 2016 campaign.
Her standard rate for a single speech was nearly a quarter-million.

Clinton's not disclosing the content of her speeches. My guess is that if she did that, she'd have to whomp up another speech. She likely has a set variation of them and once they're public, well, who's gonna pay to listen to a rerun?

Sort of like the old Vaudevillian who had an act that he toured the country, performing in one place or another. One act, one shtick, and he did it for decades. When he decided to retire, he went on the Ed Sullivan Show, did his bit, and that was it.

Still, both Hillary and Bill have raked in a cool $153 million in speechifying since 2001. That's in addition to his pension (currently about $200 grand) and the salaries that Hillary pulled down as a U.S. Senator from 2001 to 2009 and then as a cabinet officer from 2009 to 2013.

Caturday

Prison cat just wants out!!


Not to worry, she was in quarantine for a bit. Since this photo was taken, she has gone to her forever home.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Warm Up the Class-Action Lawsuits; Apple Edition

Apple's latest iOS update will brickify your iPhone 6 if it was repaired by anyone other than an Apple technician.

Imagine this scenario: Your car threw its fanbelt and you had your local mechanic put in a new one. Now, six months later, your can won't start, at all, and your local dealership says there's nothing they can do, that you need a new car. You'd be some pissed off, I bet. Even if the car companies could do this, they wouldn't, because even a Hahvahd MBA could see how that'd backfire in the court of public opinion.

There is something about the big tech companies, like Apple and Microsoft, that seem to make them feel that they can get away with being assholes to the world.

Upon them I wish a plague of lawyers and FTC complaints.

Because It's Friday

"Glenbrook" was under steam for the first time in 89 years.


(Nevada State RR Museum)

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Pharma Bro is Going to Prison, Sure Enough

Not for this:
Pharmaceutical entrepreneur Martin Shkreli threw insults at the US Congress on Thursday, less than an hour after refusing to testify at a hearing investigating accusations of profiteering on life-saving drugs sold by his and other drug companies.
But for this:
Smirking Martin Shkreli Antagonizes Lawmakers

If he maintains that smirk and cops an attitude at his trial as he did before Congress, the jury will be out all of twenty minutes before they come back and convict him on all possible charges.

Since the Feds Pay Farmers Not to Grow Crops,
The District of Columbia's Going to Pay Criminals Not to Commit Crimes

No, that's not a joke.
Avoid criminal activity for a chance to earn $9,000?

It’s a choice that some Washington residents may be able to make if lawmakers approve new legislation aimed at changing the city’s approach to crime prevention.

Under the proposal, modeled on a similar effort in Richmond, Calif., a new office would be created to identify individuals “who pose a high risk of participating in, or being a victim of, violent criminal activity.”

The legislation seeks funding to cover stipends for about 50 individuals a year, who would be paid to follow a program “involving life planning, trauma informed therapy, and mentorship.”
I'm not sure how that would help potential victims directly-- they're going to pay people not to be victims?

On the one hand, if the program worked, it would be a hell of a lot cheaper than locking people up. It might encourage some of the bad guys to stop being criminals.

On the other hand, the idea that government's going to pay criminals not to commit crimes doesn't sit very well. And since the District of Columbia's government is overseen, to some degree, by Congress, I expect that this program's going to die an early death (unless they can do it 100% with outside funding).

Letting Your Kid Play Tackle Football: Legal Jeopardy?

As the evidence mounts linking tackle football with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, sooner or later, some bright soul in the child-protection game is going to think about charging parents who let their kids play tackle football with child abuse.
A study conducted by the Department of Veterans Affairs and Boston University determined in September that 87 of 91 deceased players tested had CTE. Bennet Omalu, the groundbreaking doctor played by Will Smith in the film "Concussion," estimated that more than 90 percent of all NFL players have CTE.
CTE has been found in at least one 18 year old who played football, as well as it's suggested in scans of others.

And yes, they're finding this in hockey players and boxers (formerly called "being punch drunk").

I'd offer to bet that cases will be filed on this against parents before the decade is out, but I'd be taking your money.

(H/T)

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

If You Liked Richard Nixon, You'll Love Ted Cruz

Both have the moral compasses of snake-oil salesmen.
Dr. Ben Carson and his campaign accused Sen. Ted Cruz’s team of sabotaging Carson in the Iowa caucuses Monday night by encouraging Cruz supporters to tell voters at their caucus sites – incorrectly – that Carson was dropping out of the race.

“It was happening all over,” Iowa State Director Ryan Rhodes told MSNBC. “One of the precincts Candy [Carson, the candidate’s wife] walked into, she had to correct the record. She actually walked in, in Ankeny, and gave a speech about no, he’s still in the race and that’s a lie.”
Cruz has been trying to sell himself to Evangelicals as a "good G-d-Fearin' Christian, like all y'all". So this is what good Christians do: Stab their opponents in the back? Cheat and lie their way to the prize? All the while trying to cloak themselves in the robes of Jesus?

If that's accurate, then when dealing with such good moral Christians, never ever take your eyes off them. Keep one hand on your wallet and your other hand on your gat.

Army "Modular Handgun System" News (and a Bet)

The Army has extended the submission deadline to Feb 12th. The article claims that Beretta, Glock, SigSauer, Smith & Wesson and HundK are submitting proposals.

Ruger isn't and I think they're smart not to. My belief is that the costs of the MHS program will keep climbing, to the point that Congress and/or the DoD will kill the program, if only to claim that they are serious about restraining costs.

But meanwhile, the F-35 Turkey II program marches on, blowing through more cash in a few weeks than what the Army would have spent on a bunch of overpriced pistols.

(357 page proposal to buy a fucking handgun? Goddamn their eyes.)

The Only Cure for "Fire in the Belly" is Embalming Fluid

But lack of support doesn't hurt.

Spawn of Paul is out. So is Frothy.

If John E. Bush doesn't place above Rubio next Tuesday, he'll probably be out, as well.

Tesla CEO Suffers From Blogger-Butthurt

If you want to buy a Tesla and you say something less than complimentary about the company online, then the CEO will personally cancel your order.

Elon Musk's apparently got a skin thinner than that of an onion.

Say "Goodbye" to Lions, Tigers, Cheetahs and Elephants

and hippos and Cape buffaloes and gazelles and zebras and hyenas and aw, hell, every other wild critter in Africa. For the population of Africa in 2100 will be between 3.4 to 5.8 billion people.

The outlook for this planetary petri dish isn't so good.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Terror Threat Index

The Launch of Building 11

USS Sioux City, LCS-11 has been launched. In awhile, she'll begin her naval career of sitting alongside a pier, awaiting repairs.

Pretty sad that it took two years of construction to get to the launch date. The eleventh ship of the Perry class, which went to the Aussies, was laid down on March 1, 1978 and launched on December 1st of that year. The eleventh ship of the Knox class was laid down on January 6, 1969 and launched on August 1, 1970. The eleventh Sprucan was laid down on April 4, 1975 and launched on March 26, 1976.

Either the Navy is pretty fucked, the LCS design is fucked, or American shipbuilders can't build shit anymore.

CDR Salamander has had a lot to say about the LCS.

Iowa: Full of Sound and Fury, Signifying Little?

Clinton effectively lost and Cruz won.

Hillary Clinton is the candidate of the establishment and, a year ago, it was pretty well presumed by the People in the Know that the nomination was effectively hers. Now it isn't. When you're the candidate with the support of your party's establishment and you've raised enough money to buy a couple of new 737s before a single vote is cast in the nomination process, a tie is a loss.

As to Rafael Cruz, it's worth keeping in mind that Frothy won Iowa in 2012 and Huckabee won it in 2008.

The game is afoot!

Oh, almost forgot: O'Malley quit the race. As if anybody gives a shit.

Update: Huckabee also quit, saying "the voters are sick of me." He might have been joking, but it was damned accurate.

Monday, February 1, 2016

2016: Let's Fucking Do This Thing

The Republican and Democratic Iowa caucuses start now.

Ohh..Do Want. (HK T-Shirt)


I don't know if I can get this past the printer's legal department, but I may try.

(Origin of the slogan)

"Challenge Coins"

I served for a fair piece back during the Cold War. Mostly worked with other folks in the Sea Service, occasionally got to meet Army, Air Force and a few foreign types, mostly socially.

In all that time, I never heard of a "challenge coin", let alone saw one.

I don't understand the concept, other than handing them out in lieu of pay or bonuses. As far as the "challenge" part, do you get to keep inferior coins, as though it was a game of marbles? The loser buys drinks?

Maybe it was a different time, back then. For I can't see where handing out such trinkets would have been met with anything other than snark and derision.

Dear NHL Executives: You Suck and Your Mothers Are All Whores.

The fans voted for John Scott of the Arizona Coyotes to be the captain of one of the all-star teams. That didn't sit well with the NHL brass as Scott's mainly an enforcer, which is hockey-speak for a fighter, a brawler. The NHL tried to talk him into declining the nomination.

He refused to do that, so Arizona traded him to Montreal, which then shuffled him off to a minor-league team. The NHL brass thought that by doing that to Scott, he wouldn't then be eligible to play in the all-star games.

See, while the NHL likes fighting on the ice because it pulls in fans, the hockey purists don't like it. They didn't want an enforcer in the all-star games. All that machination, including fucking with Scott's career, was so they wouldn't have a player in the games whose main talent is fisticuffs.

The fans revolted, the NFL caved. Scott was back on the team. They won the all-star championship.

Then the NHL had the fans vote for MVP and gave them three choices, none of them Scott. The fans revolted, again. They wrote in Scott's name.

Being on the winning team got Scott a million dollars. Being voted MVP got him a new SUV.

He's still in the minors, but that'll probably change.

p.s. to the NHL executives, including the owners of the Coyotes and the Canadiens; same goes for your wives, your sisters, and your daughters. And yourselves.