Saturday, July 31, 2010

Bamster Loyalty

It is extremely dangerous to expect loyalty from the Messiah. He throws supporters under the bus without a second thought:

Rangel Should Retire With "Dignity"

No sense in waiting for an investigation or examination of the evidence. Make it go away please. Maxine? Are you watching? You're next.

Calculated Myopia

You are not supposed to think too deeply about complex issues. Simply listen to the Messiah and know all that you need to know. He was in Detroit yesterday explaining to the workers in a GM plant how a $60 billion bailout saved 55,000 jobs. (Ignore the 334,000 lost in the bankruptcies.) While claiming credit for saving all three of the Big 3 automakers and simultaneously ignoring the fact that Ford didn't get bailed, didn't go bankrupt and did make a profit without him, the Bamster touted the soon to be released Chevy Volt as a "game-changing product" like an iPhone. Of course, that requires you to be unaware that the iPhone achieved success in a free market and the Volt will be heavily subsidized and virtually useless.

Forty Miles and Look For an Outlet

Of course, after you've depleted your battery charge, the lawnmower engine kicks in and keeps you minimally mobile until you find a light socket. Why you can get about 340 miles before having to fill up the tiny tank with actual gasoline--sort of the same range you get in a real car, but without all the comfort or performance.

Let's ignore the cost of $41,000 for the car. You really won't pay that. Well, someone will, but it won't be you Mr. Greenjeans, since you will be subsidized by the government for $7500 dollars of that price. Taxpayers will foot the bill so you actually WILL pay that, or at least your children and grandchildren will. Of course you could buy a very well equipped Impala, Hundai Genesis, Infiniti G37, or Ford Taurus for that money which would get you a fast, comfortable, and reasonably economical car that you could go somewhere in.

But, let's say you like the economy of the electric car concept. Let's go to second level. What happens to our world when this shocking vehicle becomes de rigeur? What will it cost your company to install charging stations throughout the parking lot at work? What will the mall look like when you go shopping? What will your city streets look like when the parking meters are all rewired for charging? How many meth-heads will it take to haul the copper wire away?

Then consider your household budget. In Texas where I live, my electric bill goes up by a factor of four when summer comes and I run the air conditioning. What will my electric bill look like when I'm charging two Volts in my garage every single night for an eight hour cycle?

Of course, that assumes that we actually can get electricity to service this nightmare. Are we overlooking the power grid to support this? Can you recall "rolling blackouts" and "brownouts" from overload at current peak usage levels?

What will fuel the necessary new power plants? We can't use oil, we might use natural gas, we eschew clean coal technology and woe betide anyone who suggests nuclear.

Don't think about it. The Bamster will tell us what is good for us. Don't look behind the curtain.

Saturday Morning Rocker

The story of a life. I was still in school and after totally abusing my poor father's '58 Plymouth Belvedere, he replaced it with a '60 Chevy Impala 2-door. I'd wash it on Saturday afternoon and every couple of months Simonize it. Then it was the weekly trip to the drive-in movie. Usually it was with a girl, but once in a while there would be a boy's night out with a couple of six-packs. We actually did the hide in the trunk thing.

Chicago gets real cold in the winters, but creative drive-ins stayed open. They added electric heaters hung on the speaker poles. Pull into a spot then bring the heater in and put it on the floor to whir softly and push warm air around. You still had to turn on the engine about every half hour but who really cared. The windows were usually fogged up and nobody was watching the movie anyway. Working on the night moves...

Friday, July 30, 2010

Money Covers Lots of Homely

Offered without further comment:

Coming this week-end

Early Audience Insurance

For a show that is getting remarkably long in the tooth, it is obvious that American Idol has to generate some buzz. When it first debuted, the idiocy of the proles who apparently thought they had talent was entertaining. Then the actual competition with the paring away of the hopefuls down to the final twelve, followed by the weekly drama of the eliminations made for great TV. Watching the contests develop into polished stage personalities was a joy.

Then the pattern began to bore. How many exotic idiots in ludicrous costumes and absurd performances can you tolerate? How much soap opera drama can you absorb during the selection rounds? How many guest star mentors does it take to satiate? How much internecine squabbling of the judges panel will make you suspicious that it is staged? How many ways can Seacrist dangle the results?

And, how many ultimate winners that simply fizzle when faced with the demand of delivering sustained star performance until you get disillusioned.

Now the ninth, or is it tenth, year looms. We've survived the loss of Paula Abdul, and actually didn't miss her. We've tolerated the cloying saccharine sweetness of Kara DioGuardi. And we actually found Ellen DeGeneres to be insightful, self-effacing and truly funny for a season.

We've known that Simon Cowell was leaving, but what evil comes next?

Cataclysmic Shakeup of Big Booty and Burned Out Rock Legend

If all of that is more than surmise, then the first couple of weeks will generate a lot of Idol interest. Can it be sustained after the initial curiosity? I'm not sure.

DioGuardi out. Cowell gone. DeGeneres departed. J-Lo? Steven Tyler? At least we can depend on Randy...Yo, Dog! Keepin' it real!

Fusion of Powers

The core of our Constitution is the Montesquieu concept of separation of powers. Overlayed with Madison's vision of checks and balances it creates a distinctly different form of government than a parliamentary system.

We have a legislature to enact laws and determine policy, an executive to implement the laws and organize the administration, and a judiciary to rule on the meaning of the law while protecting the rights of the citizenry. Unfortunately most Americans have long forgotten how that works and now apparently the administration is more than willing to apply that ignorance for their own nefarious goals.

Ask Joe Bagadonutz standing behind you in line at the grocery store who determines what government should do, he will unhesitatingly say the President. Who determines what laws are needed? The President. Who should set taxes, disburse welfare, solve problems, regulate our lives? The President! NO! NO! A thousand times NO!

It's all about power and control. It is about the imperial presidency. Remember how they broad-brushed the Bush administration as usurping power, extending the executive branch, seizing Congressional authority? It would be hard to find comparable evidence of that compared to what we observe currently on a daily basis.

Try this one:

End Run Amnesty Makes Millions Legal

The fact that they could even seriously contemplate such a violation of our Constitution should scare you. It is the domain of Congress to develop any such program of immigration reform. They would have to publicly propose, discuss the implementation, support their actions in public and suffer exposure to dis-election come the next November.

Notice some nuances in that memo. The administration would be picking and choosing whom to legalize! Did I hear the 14th Amendment "equal protection" clause crack there? They would effectively be cherry-picking voters for the future to permanently establish a Democratic control of our government. Nothing more to understand about this than that simple power seizure.

"When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands that..."

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Blue Waters

No, I couldn't honestly say that I was the guy that raised the issue, but it seems that I'm not alone today:

Vanity Fair Wonders Where?

The Associated Press, hardly a right wing conspiracy, seems to expound on the Pac-Man theory of gobbling microbes consuming a gazillion times their weight in light, sweet crude:

Has Anybody Seen a Humongous Microbe Come By?

Even the weekly news magazine of choice for environmental whackos seems confounded by the conflicting evidence:

Time Postulates Exaggeration!

Do you suppose we've come to the end of the cycle of orchestrated hysteria? Is it conceivable that the corporate destruction of BP seems sufficiently certain that the media dogs are being kenneled?

Fighter Porn

Once upon a time:

Petard Hoisting

I'm back. The guy who rambled on about his amazement at technology and prattled about the neatness of his toys is now impaled upon his own petard, sort of.

See, I'm a huge Quentin Tarantino fan. I resurrect Kill Bill I/II from the bookshelf about every three months and immerse myself in five hours of gore. I laugh at the black humor of Pulp Fiction. And I sit in awe at the evil of Reservoir Dogs. That's why I want to see Inglourious Basterds.

I can't though.

The gods of the Blu-Ray world conspire against me in my quest. I don't know why or how they know I will be frustrated, but they do and they succeed in their goal of vexing me deeply.

When IB became available on disc about four months ago, I ordered it from Amazon. When it arrived I popped it in the Panasonic BD player which handles BD 2.0. The logo was displayed and the main menu loop ran nicely. I selected "Play movie" and waited. I saw the studio logo and the warning that the FBI would treat me like an illegal alien in Arizona if I copied the movie I was about to see.

Then the screen went black and the little "Reading disc..." advisory showed in the corner. Then nothing more happened...ever.

I tried again. Same result. Risking insanity, I tried several more times. I packed up the disc and returned it to Amazon. A few days later a replacement arrived.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Shipped it back and got my account credited. Since then, I updated the firmware on my Blu-Ray player. I got the new TV. I joined Netflix. I put Inglourious Basterds in my queue and yesterday it arrived in the mail.

Last night I poured a glass of wine, fired up the equipment, tossed in the disc and got...same old story.

Only this movie behaves this way. Maybe when it comes up on video on demand, I'll try again. Or, maybe the gods are benevolent and protecting me from a really crappy movie?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Bits & Pieces

Ahh, British humor. How can they manage to make us laugh without a single reference to body parts, nocturnal emissions, dysfunctional sex with animals or toilet functions? No expletives to delete either:

Fleeting News

You had better read this one before it disappears. When Rahm Emmanuel finds out about it, they will unleash the minister of propaganda to kill it:

Can't Find Any Oil as Dilution Works

The crisis can't be allowed to go to waste. They emphasized for 100 days the size of the spill, always quoting volume in "millions of gallons" rather than the more common measurement for crude oil of barrels. You don't get a large enough number that way.

They deployed a fleet of beach sweepers (creating "jobs") and we got deluged with images of white coverall clad crews gathering tar balls from pristine white sand. Yet, the pictures seldom showed blackened beaches. More commonly it was yards of crime scene tape, shielding a couple of dozen sun-bathers from water access while the clean-up crews stood around with a rake in one hand and a Glad-bag in the other. Media would zoom in on close ups of a black marble or two. Talking heads would raise a Zip-Loc with brown stuff in it as symptomatic of the ecological disaster.

Hundreds of boats were sent to sea (creating "jobs") to skim oil while thousands of flight hours were expended carrying video crews to shoot reddish spumes below the surface with little basis for evaluating dimension, quantity, or condition of what was pictured.

How many miles of video were shot of that oil-soaked brown pelican? Can you endure another picture of a baby sea turtle being held affectionately before relegation to his oil-soaked fate?

Politicos came visiting, posing, promising, touring, nodding sympathetically and then going home. Our own VP Biden brought his expertise to the Gulf Coast and then submitted a $750,000.00 tab for his travel expenses which quite arguably were either unnecessary to the effort or an essential part of his duties not an additional expense.

Businesses along the coast suffer. People stay home or vacation elsewhere. Fisherman are denied access to their livelihood. Diners question whether seafood is safe to consume.

Yet, apparently, nature is taking its course. For the last several days there have been minor items indicating that skimmers and collectors are having difficulty finding any spill to gather.

Maybe the 10 to the XX-power waters of the Gulf are absorbing the 10 to the 3rd power oil spill and what isn't diluted to inconsequentiality is evaporated to nothingness.

What will the Bamster have to talk about next? Maybe a discussion of how the DOD let 91,000 classified documents walk out the door under the arm of an E-4?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Circumventing the Rules

When they sat around the table in Philadelphia grappling with what sort of democratic republic was needed to govern an emerging nation, the toughest questions the Founders dealt with were about fair representation with power distributed among the thirteen free and independent colonies. Underlying the issue were concerns with how the emotions of the masses could best be channeled into wise government.

The differences between the states in terms of geographic size, population, economy and industry led to the bicameral legislature. The Great Compromise involved proportional representation in a House and equivalent representation for all states in a Senate. Large population states had many votes in the House while smaller states had just as much say as the big players in the Senate chamber.

But how to deal with emotional democracy and the inevitable tyranny of a majority still had to be dealt with. That's why the Senate would be "appointed" by state legislators, not chosen by popular vote (until the 17th Amendment). Justices of the federal courts would be appointed by the executive and confirmed by the elite Senators. No direct input from the masses there.

And the executive would be chosen by a college of "electors" equal to the number or representatives and senators, but chosen by processes which the states could determine. Nowhere in the Constitution does it make a single reference to a popular vote for President. Not one word!

That, of course, is why the whining of Al Gore in 2000 was so pathetic. The rules of the game were clear and it was completely irrelevant whether or not he won the popular election.

Now we've got this in Massachusetts:

State Would Award All Electoral Votes to National Popular Vote Champ

At first glance, I thought this guy doesn't know that he can't amend the US Constitution in the state legislature. But when I read it, I see that what he proposes and what these other state seem eager to do is well within the authority of the state.

You see, the electors of a state can be chosen by whatever process the state legislature determines.

Currently in some states the legislator chooses the electors. In some places the voters "elect" a slate of electors pledged to their Presidential candidate. In some states the governor has a hand in it. In 38 states the statute mandates en bloc voting for the winner of the popular vote in that state. In the remaining twelve, the vote is cast en bloc by tradition.

Clearly the issue is to "democratize" the Presidential election. A bold emotional appeal which would effectively insure that future elections are won by the candidate who appeals to the largest demographic slices: lower income, lower education, urban, the increasing ethnic minority percentages and those receiving public assistance.

The downside of course at the macro level is that less populous states would lose their voice forever. The downside at the micro level is that this plan is simply disenfranchising the people in their own state. Regardless of who Massachusetts voters preferred, their Electoral College voice would speak independently from the ballot. The people of Kalifornia would be choosing for the Bay Staters in Nantucket.

Technology Dazzles

I watch young people, and for me that is coming to mean not simply all those "younger" than me, but that generation of adults in the prime of their lives. They are immersed in technology and they take it all for granted. I'm sure the perspective has always been the same. The older, but not yet elderly, looking with amazement at the follow-on generation and pondering on whether they appreciate what has happened in their lifetime.

I've got a car that knows where it is and tells you how to get where you want to be. It reminds you of when you need service and it senses when you get in with your Blackberry in your pocket then it simply lets you talk when someone calls. If you say whom you want to call, it will do that for you as well. When I put it in reverse, it shows me a TV picture of what is behind me. When I approach and have a key in my pocket, it lets me in. If I try to lock that key in the trunk, it won't let me. It does a lot more and in a year or so when I replace it, there will be a cruise control that slows the car for traffic ahead, a warning that alerts me I've drifted out of my lane and still more gee-whiz. A veritable cocoon of computing.

My phone seldom gets to make a call. It's too busy handling email, searching the web, reminding me of my bank balance and calendar appointments, letting me read my Kindle library, offering me navigation help if I'm not in my car, checking the local weather, and finding me a decent restaurant with a wine list. It can do a lot more, but I haven't got the time to explore it.

In the kitchen my dishes get washed, my oven turns itself on and off as well as cleans the spills, the coffeepot gets up twenty minutes before I do and remembers to turn itself off after breakfast, and the microwave senses if food is hot enough, if the ice cream is ready for serving and if the steak I want for dinner is properly defrosted.

But, what really lit me up two days ago was when I actually sat down with the new TV I got about three weeks ago and did some exploring of what it can do. Oh, sure, it's got 1080p resolution, but that's old hat now. I'm on Dish and have now got the HD DVR and a nice Blu-Ray player. Everyone does these days.

No, what this TV has that wowed me was wireless 802.11n networking. It works just like my laptop. When I plugged it in the first time, it recognized my home network and in about two minutes was connected to the Internet. The TV comes with a range of pre-loaded Widgets and there is a Widget gallery to get more. There's Netflix, Amazon Video on Demand, Facebook, YouTube, Pandora, Rhapsody, AccuWeather, Yahoo and more at your fingertips.

Does it work? Incredibly well! Netflix has been the greatest. The app is quickly accessible from the TV remote. You can browse movie genres or build your own instant queue from the Netflix website. Click on a movie and in about ten seconds it will start. HD video, no stutters, stumbles or streaming interruptions and you've got full control just as though you were watching your own DVD's.

Pandora lets you pick stations from your own list that you've built online. Amazon gives access to their huge video library, AccuWeather makes sure the tornadoes don't get me in the summertime and Yahoo lets me check the markets and see if my 401k has any residual value.

I'm amazed at where life has taken me. Once as a boy, I was similarly amazed when they brought the first 7" black and white TV into the living room and we got to choose each night between the three channels. AM radio in the car wasn't too bad either.

Yep, We Do

Short Term Memory

There's an old cliche about dealing with duplicity:

"Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me."

If you play games with me, I'll remember and if I let you do it again, then I'm the one to blame. I should be smarter than that.

Now, it is increasingly looking as though the huge Democratic majority in both chambers of Congress is going to be eroded and conceivably washed away entirely. It portends to be an election that will make the 1994 Congress-cleaning look like a Dem victory in comparison.

Apparently, however, they believe that you have no memory of their earlier shenanigans. They expect that they can don the mantle of a sheep and you won't notice the big teeth of the wolf. You are going to forget about the party platform position and the pronouncements of Dem leadership like Pelosi, Schumer, Dick Daley, Diane Feinstein, Elena Kagan, Eric Holder and hundreds of others.

They are going to tell you they love gun ownership.

Sixty Days to Go To a Gunshop and Buy Some Credibility

While the economy is a hot-button, there is a core cadre of voters that bases their votes on the single issue of gun rights. Much like the abortion issue, the single item drives the choice.

There is another group that recognizes that the Bill of Rights was written as the short list of our essential liberties. The First Amendment is first because it contains the very basic components of political discourse. The Second is next because it provides us the ability to protect the First. Our liberty is at the core and it is deeply threatened.

The Dems seem poised to daub some paint and attempt to change their spots. Fool me once, shame on you...and I think I'll still remember in November.

Monday, July 26, 2010

A Sign of the Times

It is a terrible injustice. That mean old Bush administration came up with an oppressive policy called "No Child Left Behind" which mandated that schools across the nation establish some standards for graduation and then test students to see they achieved those goals.

Note that the feds don't set the standard or write the test. The states, through their own local state departments of education and school administrators develop the standards and the evaluation. The feds merely insure that the state program is at or above the minimum.

In Texas, the evaluation is called TAKS: Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills. Students get tested at three points during their K-12 education. By the time they get to grade 12, they are at a graduate or not point. Don't pass the TAKS and you don't get a piece of paper saying you are as good as the minimally acceptable national education standard. Ahhhh, the humanity...

So, here is the page one, above-the-fold story in today's Dallas Morning News Avoider:

Poor Ebonee Done 12 Years and Can't Solve for Y

She is 18 years old and "pretty". She's put in all those years, but naturally reserved time for "clubbing" with her "home-girls". She tries repeatedly and after eight shots at the minimum, she still can't get it.

Along the way she had time to get knocked up and now has a little baby to keep her company. The sperm donor sent her a "prison letter" to suggest that she check to see if she was preggers. He, however, would miss the delivery unless he gets time off for good behavior.

Somewhere along the way it appears she didn't pay attention in biology class either.

Is Ebonee worried? Well, yeah. She put in all these years and they haven't given her a piece of paper. She isn't overly concerned about her ignorance though. She wonders why she has to put so much effort in to learn something she plans to forget immediately.

How will she support herself and her baby? I guess that's going to be the obligation of those of us in category of wealthiest Americans.

Service and Disenfranchisement

It was never easy to vote absentee when I was on active duty. Typically you operate blissfully unaware of local elections. The only one that rises above the local noise level is the presidential race. The down-ballot choices are all unknowns and access to info about congress, state legislators, city council members and dog-catchers is only in local newspapers and you don't live there.

At some point prior to the election some poor young Lt. gets an additional duty assignment as unit voting officer. He gets a big manilla envelope with a stack of mail-in absentee ballot post-cards and a directory of election offices to find out where to mail them. The GI completes the request and then must seek a commissioned officer to counter-sign the eligibility for the ballot. Then you wait for your ballot to arrive...if it ever does.

Now we see this expose:

17,000 Disenfranchised In 2008--No Problem Says DOJ

Of course, that's the DOJ that has given us no enforcement for our borders, no sentencing for New Black Panther Party voter intimidation, Miranda Rights for terrorists, and New York City trials for Gitmo detainees.

Do you suppose it might have something to do with those at the pointy end of the spear being antagonistic to the policies of this administration?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Crushing Lib-Thought

Beautiful truth confounds the media master who thought he was being sooooo politically correct:

A guy that smart could probably equip Batman and let Michael Caine help the Caped crusader into the tight suit.

Facts Are Inconvenient

Want to see how talking points work?

See, the current issue is that the TEA Party, the Republicans and most particularly Fox News is ... drum roll... racist!

"It was about to go on Glen Beck..." But it didn't!
"Fox News aired this video..." But not until after the Obama administration fired Sherrod.

Is it paranoia? Do facts matter any more. Chris Wallace kicks butt!

Glimpse of Our Future

It was Einstein who said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result. You may recall that the welfare statists currently in control of our government often pointed at the healthcare model of Great Britain when they were promising bread and circuses to the masses last year. Look, they told us, at the wonderful public system of the Brits and see how inexpensive it is and how happy they are.

So, now we see this:

Manage Your Own Cancer Pain on Weekends

Here's a list of some goodies in the Brits future:

  1. * Restrictions on some of the most basic and common operations, including hip and knee replacements, cataract surgery and orthodontic procedures.
  2. * Plans to cut hundreds of thousands of pounds from budgets for the terminally ill, with dying cancer patients to be told to manage their own symptoms if their condition worsens at evenings or weekends.
  3. * The closure of nursing homes for the elderly.
  4. * A reduction in acute hospital beds, including those for the mentally ill, with targets to discourage GPs from sending patients to hospitals and reduce the number of people using accident and emergency departments.
  5. * Tighter rationing of NHS funding for IVF treatment, and for surgery for obesity.
  6. * Thousands of job losses at NHS hospitals, including 500 staff to go at a trust where cancer patients recently suffered delays in diagnosis and treatment because of staff shortages.
  7. * Cost-cutting programmes in paediatric and maternity services, care of the elderly and services that provide respite breaks to long-term carers.

And, if you listen carefully to the bleating you will hear that they intend to work their mischief during the lame duck session after the November elections. They know they will insure their demise if they demonstrate their goals before the polls close, so regardless of whether they win another term or not, they will wreak havoc as their last gesture of defiance of the people's will.

Fighter Pilot

Possibly the most detailed and best review I've yet read on "Fighter Pilot" is here in Aviation Week:

Fighter Pilot

Tell-Tale Tailpipes

It's hard to get a decent high-res picture of the CF-18 crash, but coupled with the witness comments about a pop-pop-pop noise and "sparks" from the engine just prior to the departure, this picture shows something interesting.

Take a look at the engine nozzles. You will note that one engine is streamlined while the other nozzle is closed. That would indicate huge differences in thrust between the two engines and could easily account for the yawing departure seen in the crash video.

Whether the differential was caused by a high-AOA compressor stall, a failure of an engine management control, or a last second attempt by the pilot to control the jet remains to be seen.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Be Careful Whom You Ridicule

Here's a tale about a Republican candidate for Congress from California's 51 district. The Imperial Valley district is about two to one Democrat to Republican, but that doesn't mean a Marine would worry about the odds.

Editorial Cartoon Ill Advised

Trashing the opposition rather than dealing with the issues is never a good choice. It ill-becomes a sitting Congress-critter to do so and it doesn't play well with the readership of any successful newspaper.

Gunny seems to have a good idea of how to connect with the citizens. We'll have to go back in November and see how he did.


The ability to get high maneuverability in a tactical aircraft has always taken some degree of compromise. Ideally a designer would seek stability, but to gain the necessary agility to change directions quickly you introduce sacrifices. What you gain in one place you give up in another.

A solution in the last couple of generations of aircraft has been bringing computers into the control system. The electronics can cut the reaction loop effectively and make continual recoveries to regain control before disaster. All well and good when everything is working.

Wings function on angle-of-attack. At some point called the critical AOA, the wing protests and stops doing good stuff and starts doing bad things. At the simple level that means no more increases in lift, but lots of increase in drag. That's an aerodynamic stall. More exotic wings get more exotic occurrences at the extremes of AOA. That is called "departure from controlled flight" and may or may not be recoverable.

Engines have their own AOA problems. A jet needs a diet of nice smooth, sub-sonic air. When AOA increases to extreme levels, the engine can protest with the jet equivalent of a back-fire. That's a compressor stall. It may be so violent as to destroy the engine or it could be so subtle as to remind you of spark knock in the family car.

The really good jets will integrate incredible aerodynamics with engines that are extremely flexible in their demands for airflow and control it all with a magical fly-by-wire stability system to help the pilot control it all. Those jets can fly very slowly at very high AOA. This is usually demonstrated at air shows.

Sometimes this happens:

The event was practice for an airshow flyby at high AOA and low altitude. Some eye witness accounts report "sparks and flame" from the engine accompanied by strange noises. No sparks visible on the video, however.

Possibilities include flight control malfunction, aerodynamic device failure such as leading or trailing edge flaps, engine flame out with yaw, some combination of factors.

Saturday Morning Party

Friday, July 23, 2010

A Cautionary Tale

Remember Jonathan Swift's Modest Proposal? It was a satirical look at the societal problems facing Ireland and England. Of course it was never meant seriously.

As you read the daily reports coming from the economic collapse of the various governmental levels of that blue state stronghold, New York, you must consider this story from several angles:

Not Native, Welcomed to Sanctuary, Feed For Free, Now a Mess

Why would Canada Geese flock to the metro centers of New York? Well, it is so much easier than fending for themselves in the wild. You simply show up and the well-meaning denizens give you all you need to live and it costs you nothing. Someone else is going to pay for it. Those that have a lot of grain will give it to you for free. The children will be taught to share their cookies with you.

The geese are alien immigrants, of course, but the fine liberal New Yorkers are glad to offer them sanctuary. They won't be profiled as a prolific source of goose shit. They will be viewed as a welcome diversification of the loons, mallards, crows and robins that reside in the parks and lagoons.

But then populations grow, inevitably. When you don't have to labor for your lifestyle you stay at home and procreate. You begin to crowd out the other residents. You view the territory as your right and defend your turf aggressively, while tending to defecate excessively in your very own neighborhoods.

Life is so easy that you call out to your relatives from the old country and invite them to join you. The New Yorkers know that hunting of large meaty birds like the Canada Goose is evil and should be made exessively expensive with lots of restrictions. Guns are used in the enterprise after all and we all know how bad those are.

So, not only does the local goose population grow, there is lessened management of the entire resource of geese. More geese show up and with them the slippery detritus of goose grain processing.

Now, these fine people decide that what needs to be done is not relocation, but genocide. A veritable pogrom aginst geese!

But unlike Swift's English dealing with roast Irish children, the New Yorkers are going to kill 250,000 geese and then bury about 5 million pounds of delectable and nutritious protein rather than make reasonable use of it.

That, however is only one satirical slice of the item. What about geese as a metaphor for people in a society unable to fund its own welfare state any longer? What about geese as old people? Gas them and bury them to solve the problem

The whole concept is frightening.

Gladly the Cross-Eyed Bear...Not!

I stare at this computer several hours a day. It's my choice, or maybe not. There could be something to this addiction theory. I know I feel uncomfortable if I'm away from it for too long. Regardless, whether voluntarily or compulsively, I spend a lot of time online.

That's why I like things to work. When they work as promised I am amazed at what is at my fingertips. I love what can be done so easily and the output that can be created professionally and almost effortlessly. I try to keep the stuff up to date and operating at peak efficiency.

That's why I've been increasingly irritated at IE8. There are some ideosyncracies cropping up that frustrate me. It might be IE or it might be the sites being accessed. Facebook, for example, simply doesn't work cleanly. After log-in, for the first dozen pages I view the display comes up like looking through dark glasses. The screen must be refreshed to eliminate the darkening scrim.

With my online course software, after log-in I've got to refresh the screen to get past a blank white screen. In Blogger, it's the intrusive blocking of scripted windows when trying to use program features. In other words, rather than being supportive of my work, IE8 is an obstruction.

So, deciding that by-gones would be by-gones, I returned to Firefox. Everyone, it would seem if you read a computer magazine occasionally, uses Firefox now. I tried it about two years ago when v. 3.0 was released and loved it...until the pushed updates every couple of days wouldn't install. Then the requirement to fully ininstall the browser, download again and reinstall became onerous.

Maybe, I thought, things have evolved. I fired up Firefox again. It is fast! It is user-friendly. It doesn't turn my screen dark or interfere with inserting links in my writing. It works!

But, then as joy filled my blackened heart, the screen locked up. Firefox was "not responding". Giving it a moment to catch its breath, I checked email, but Outlook looked up within seconds. OK, try to shut them down. No effect. Go to Task Manager and try to end them. No effect. Try to shut the computer down and reboot. No control. Use the power button on the computer? Nope. Simply pull the plug to shut down.

Could it be an aberration? Fire up Firefox again. Nothing else. Notice pops up that I need Adobe Flash v 10 for Firefox. Download it. Five minutes later, Firefox tells me that Adobe Flash is making FF unstable and it will shut it down. Then "not responding" and eventual unplug reset required.

Return to Firefox. An updated version is available. I accept the update, only to have it fail to install. Uninstall Firefox, obtain full latest version download, reinstall and start the whole bloody mess again.

Finally after getting Firefox shut down and looking at IE8 again, I randomly go back to Task Manager where I discover that FF still retains 68 MB of RAM on my system despite being supposedly shut down.

Insanity, they say is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results. I think I've been infected, but I'm in therapy and going to get better. I'll just stay away from FF and suffer IE's weirdnesses.

Don't any of you dare say MAC!

Tax the Rich; Feed the Rulers

What a day! The Founders had a vision of a government of public service, legislated by individual citizens chosen by their peers to essentially donate a short period of their lives to government then returning to their homes, farms and businesses. There is no evidence that they could have conceived of thirty, forty and even fifty year tenures in the legislature. And, they never envisioned that a legislative life would lead to great wealth. It was never supposed to be that attractive.

Today, however, we see considerable evidence that their vision has been shattered. Not only do we have lifetime sinecure, we also have incredible wealth in the ruling class. Along the way they have abandoned respect for business, free-enterprise, private property and the honest obligations of citizens. They understand that their tenure is guaranteed by fomenting class warfare. There are many more people receiving government distributions than contributing great amounts to the public coffers. If you wish to be re-elected, you impose taxes without concern of impact upon the most successful few and send money to your supporters and the massed electorate.

You do so confident that you, the legislator, will easily be able to evade the tax yourself:

Hypocrisy Sets Sail From Newport Not Nantucket

You would think that the senior senator from MA would be eager to support the distributionist policies of his own state. It is his philosphy of governance. Doesn't he believe in it?

Of course, the argument can be made that Kerry's action is no different than what any good citizen of MA could do. They all should flee the state and seek shelter in other communities. That would be fair.

There are other career legislators in the news this morning. The once powerful chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee has finally run out of delays. He has been under ethics violation suspicions and investigations for a couple of years now. Admittedly, the idea of "ethics violations" in the Congress is a bit of an oxymoron. Now, Charlie is going to trial:

Rangel Runs Out of Time

What that seems to indicate is that Rangel is so corrupt that even with a significant Democratic majority in the House and even in an election year, the stench has reached such a level that they must act.

And the performance will take us right to election eve. Life is becoming good!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Common Sense Reported Missing

There are some things I know, many without having the need to personally verify them. I never encountered a Western Diamondback Rattlesnake when I was growing up in Chicago. Without being told, however, I knew that they should be avoided when I lived in Arizona and went quail or dove hunting in the desert.

When someone suggested I not walk too close to the cholla, even though they call it a "teddy bear" cactus, I believed them.

I have never encountered a jelly-fish, although I have waded around on a couple of ocean beaches. I do know that they should be avoided. If I walked on the sandy shore and saw one washed up, I would not reach for it. It shouldn't be to difficult to avoid. The mobility of a jellyfish which has been washed ashore is somewhat limited. It slows down even more after death. Even an out-of-shape American can escape a dead jellyfish the size of a turkey platter.

How then do we explain this:

Take a Number to Get Stung Folks. No Pushing in Line

Consider the logistics of this. The deceased creature is about the size of a turkey platter. Imagine your own turkey platter. Now gather 150 people around it. Can you visualize a situation in which they could all be stung?

So, you and Joe are playing on the sand. "Hey, Joe, what's this gooey thing? Looks like a big jelly fish. I think I'll scoop up a big handful of glop...Ouch!"

"Oh, Sam, you must have gotten stung. Does it hurt a lot? Do you think it could sting me too?...Ouch!"

"Hey, what are you guys screaming about? Is that a jelly-fish sting? Suppose it has anymore stinger stuff left? Let me see...Ouch!"

"Ohhhh, c'mon let me try!"

Lather, rinse, repeat a 150 more times.

Is there a rash of stupid in New Hampshire?

Consent of the Governed

The very essence of a republic is that the power comes from the people. Only when the people consent to be governed by a group does that group then possess the power to act. When the government fails to recognize this simple truth, the government collapses either through peaceful process or through more aggressive seizure of the reins of authority. We've managed peaceful process for most of our 222 years as a nation, except for a bit of unpleasantness back in the 1860s.

We have watched for the last year and a half, the increasing distancing of the policy makers from the national will. One need not be driven by polls in policy making, but one must at least acknowledge the arguments put forth by the electorate. When the controlling government ignores the will of the people, fails to convince of the correctness of their choices and blatantly seizes the liberties of the nation for their own benefit, it is inevitable that consent will erode.

Gallup is not my favorite pollster. They are well established and reputable, but it is possible to occasionally see questions formatted in such a way as to predispose an outcome. There are other agencies which seem to ask the questions I seek answers to, but Gallup is a landmark in the public opinion measurement industry. Their methodology is sound and their numbers are verifiable.

Congress Now at Record Low Confidence Level

One person in ten now believes that Congress can do the job. That is an amazing level and it should be indicative of what is coming in roughly 100 days.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

To Serve and Protect

As we watch the decline of America accelerating into Billy Beck's "Endarkenment" we increasingly see comments on police brutality, authoritarian excess, governmental oppression, and jack-booted violence. Randy Balko at "The Agitator" seems to have a posting almost daily about an 87 year old grandmother being tazed, a confused Wal-Mart shopper being gunned down, or a citizen mis-identified and being brutalized.

I tend to dismiss these as the sort of aberrations that occur in a nation of 300 million people which is increasingly less sophisticated and daily immersed in a culture of numbing violence. I've known dozens of cops at all levels during my life and found them to be hard-working, dedicated, and generally constructive individuals. There might be a dull knife or two in the drawer, but there are a majority of mature, trained and prepared public servants. I'm not paranoid about the police...yet.

Certainly, we know that the police have authority and the tools of violence at their disposal. The potential always exists for misuse. It isn't unreasonable to wonder if they will be with the good people of America or will be co-opted by an authoritarian regime. Will they keep their oath or will they succumb to the temptations of the oppressors? It has happened too many times in history to be ignored.

That's why I grabbed this link from one of the comments at View From the Porch. It is Sir Robert Peel's "Principles of Policing"

Principles of policing

1. The basic mission for which the police exist is to prevent crime and disorder.
2. The ability of the police to perform their duties is dependent upon the public approval of police actions.
3. Police must secure the willing co-operation of the public in voluntary observation of the law to be able to secure and maintain the respect of the public.
4. The degree of co-operation of the public that can be secured diminishes proportionately to the necessity of the use of physical force.
5. Police seek and preserve public favour not by catering to public opinion, but by constantly demonstrating absolute impartial service to the law.
6. Police use physical force to the extent necessary to secure observance of the law or to restore order only when the exercise of persuasion, advice, and warning is found to be insufficient.
7. Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent upon every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.
8. Police should always direct their action strictly towards their functions, and never appear to usurp the powers of the judiciary.
9. The test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with it.

When we recall that Sir Robert is the "Bobby" for whom the British bobbies are named and that they were long known for performing their police functions without firearms, we can appreciate how effective these principles can be.

The knowledge that a small number of police can only be effective when supported by the large number of the populace does much to reinforce the Hobbes principle that power to govern can only come from consent of the governed. It is not imposed upon the citizens but granted by the governed to those whom they select to govern them.

Classwarfare Battle Skirmish

It is becoming woefully common. It is "us" against "them"; the little guy against the fat cat, the workers against the oppressive leadership, working class Americans against the wealthiest x percent, Main Street versus Wall Street, citizens against "special" interest groups, the proletariat fighting the bourgeoisie.

The motive is that if we vilify the other side we can do anything we want and you will eagerly accept it. (Please review Hitler/Jews and Stalin/Kulaks for context.)

Here's a beauty:

Transaction Tax on Market Operations

It isn't something Joe Sixpack is familiar with. Currency speculation and trading is complex and not what Joe will be attempting on Scottrade this weekend. It's done by "Big Banks" which must, by definition, be inimical to the common good since they make...drum roll, please...(obscene)profit. See how that works?

It isn't very much. No not a lot at all. Just a pittance. A mere "0.0005 percent" on a transaction so no one will notice. But, if it is so miniscule, how then does it raise $28,000,000,000.00 per year? Where does this money come from Pete? Who pays it? Really, who pays in the long run?

But, how can you deny the good that could be done?

Check this:

Here at home, the funds from this fee would be used to improve the quality and affordability of child care. This funding would provide more child care options, so working families can obtain the quality care their children need to begin school ready to learn.

Are you against "child care" for "working families" so children are "ready to learn"? You heartless beast! It will come from "Big Banks" and they've got plenty. Besides, we'll also use it for this:

Internationally, the bill would create a U.S. fund to assist developing countries with the impacts of global warming. At the United Nations Climate Change Conference in December, President Obama pledged to fund our country's commitment to mitigating the effects of climate change. This bill would make that promise real.

We're going to send the money to "developing countries" to deal with global warming! What about developing this country with free enterprise investment by those successful banks? Isn't that what our republic should be about?

Finally, the legislation would create a Global Health Trust Fund to fight HIV/AIDS, Malaria, Tuberculosis and other diseases that kill millions of people each year in developing nations. This money will fund treatments and prevention for these diseases, as well as research aimed at eradicating them altogether.

A mere $28B is going to do all that? Why don't we spend it here to deal with the diseases in our country? What's wrong with America first? Are we so economically flush that we can cure health problems around the world?

But then let's put the icing on the disgusting cake:

For too long, the needs of the financial industry have trumped initiatives that will help lift people out of poverty and give children a healthy start. The Investing in Our Future Act will aid in getting our priorities back in order, and reduce financial speculation by Wall Street.

The financial industry that fuels America's economy is EXACTLY what "lifts people out of poverty"! Our priorities should not be involved in tearing down our financial backbone. Wall Street is not the enemy of Main Street, it is the place where Main Street goes to do business and succeed.

Stark has served in Congress for 37 years. He's from the Bay area and next door to Speaker Pelosi's domain. He apparently forgot the principles of banking and entrepreneurial success that he benefited from before he went to Congress in 1973. Maybe he should be sent back to Walnut Creek after November.

"It's Not About Politics..."

Of course it is about politics. Everything they do is driven not by efficacy but by perception. It is all about shaping the message to pacify the Morlocks. Spin, spin, spin.

Regular readers might have noted yesterday a posting on Shirley Sherrod, the USDA executive who spoke at the NAACP convention last week. The video had surfaced of her describing what apparently was racially motivated discrimination against a white farmer who had sought her service. She got fired yesterday in immediate response to the outrage.

But, by the evening news the rest of the story began to emerge. The full video of the speech was reviewed and the inflammatory excerpt turned out to be the prelude to a true story of overcoming the prejudical attitude and doing what was right. Rather than a villain, Ms Sherrod turned out to be an angel. The farmer came forward to offer his testimony of the help that Ms Sherrod's agency had been able to offer. His farm was saved and he became a close friend of Shirley's.

It wasn't about what was right, however, when it came time for the administration to act. Their knee-jerk reaction was immediate cell-phone calls to Ms Sherrod and demands that she pull over to the side of the road and Blackberry text her resignation in immediately. They weren't to be confused with the facts. They were going to act. No racism tolerable by the racists in this White House!

I pulled that posting yesterday after the news.

Today, we've got the rest of the story:

Reconsidering the Decision

We will have to wait and see whether they can figure out a way to recant and admit their impetuous action was wrong. How will they be able to spin this to avoid looking stupid, come out as good guys and still retain the image of competence?

Robert Gibbs should have a field day weasel-wording this at the daily press briefing.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

All Is Revealed

We have no excuse for missing the signs when they are clearly before our eyes. Many of us heard what he said (and what he didn't say) during the campaign. Many tried to sound alarms, but we were badly outnumbered by people who didn't listen or didn't hear or possibly wrote their own skewed interpretation in their minds regardless. Now we reap the whirlwind.

Here comes yet another one to listen to:

Profit Is Bad, The People Own It All

One need not search too deeply to reveal that today's Venezuela is moving backward in great strides. A nation with rich natural resources in a world fueled by oil, is somehow diving into bankruptcy through application of socialist policies by a megalomaniacal madman. Naturally Oliver Stone would think that Hugo Chavez was Simon Bolivar, George Washington, Alexander the Great and Michaelangelo wrapped up into one red-shirted chubby little slice of churrasco.

Try this on:

"America's country's natural wealth was too important to be left in private hands, telling journalists in central London that oil and other natural resources "belong to the people."

Somehow that ignores the fact that some free enterprise investor has to take great risk and devote considerable effort to capturing that resource. "The people" would crawl blithely by on their knees and knuckles unaware of the existance of the resource.

But, if you really want to see how warped this man's thinking is, consider this rambling non-sequitur on socialism:

"We shouldn't make this kind of profit on oil or on health or on war or on prisons. All these industries should be public industries."

On health, does he seek medical care from affirmative action staffed bureaucrats? Does he anticipate that a skilled neurosurgeon will be available for minimum wage? Does he ask technology companies to build newer MRIs, CT scans and diagnostic tools for the sheer joy of contributing to the public welfare? What motivates progress in Stone's perfect world?

Maybe he hasn't been to war if he views war as a profitable industry. Possibly he can't weigh the economics of war with the destruction of life and property and the consumption of inordinate amounts of material and personnel. What "profit" other than defense of his worthless hide does he see in war?

And finally, maybe he hasn't checked up on who runs prisons lately. Prisons might be a growth industry but it isn't free enterprise, it doesn't make any profit, and there isn't a lot of private investment in the business.

The frightening thing isn't that someone influential like Stone is saying these things. He is a buffoon and we've known it for decades. The scary part is that he isn't alone. We know there are the Michael Moores and Sean Penns and Alec Baldwins out there, but we also should become aware that there are the Eric Holders and Janet Napolitanos and Elena Kagans and Tim Geithners and Donald Berwicks.

They believe that free market capitalism and American liberty are evil. They don't hide it. They tell us freely.

We have to start listening.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Are You Stylistically Unique?

Who Do I Write Like?

Give it a try yourself. Pick a chunk of text and paste it in to see who you resemble stylistically. I think I'm happy with their analysis, now if I could make the money he does.

What did I submit? A chunk that wound up on the cutting room floor from Fighter Pilot:

The drive up Rabbit Ears always seemed to make him feel younger. As the road wound upward out of the Yampa River basin he seemed to shed years, aches and worries. The sky seemed bluer and the air fresher as the black Mustang turned the last left hander just after the summit and he anticipated the peaceful run through the wooded park ahead. He had thought his dad would show up this time, but he hadn’t made it for some reason. Then things began to look a bit unusual. The expected right hand bend wasn’t where he thought it should have been. The road eased slightly right and then back to the left entering a stand of lodgepole pines. Maybe he had forgotten this section. Highway 40 continued a gradual climb as he dropped the transmission down into third gear. Something was different.

Slowly, almost without a perceptible change in the pavement, the road seemed to become much smoother. The trees gave off the most beautiful scent and he could hear the birds singing with the top down. The sunshine seemed incredibly intense and he was feeling better than he had in an incredibly long time. He didn’t mind the strangeness of the road; it seemed as though all was as it should be. He looked over the gleaming polished hood and ahead there seemed to be a bit of mountain fog drifting over the road. He slowed a bit and moved on.

It seemed that the foggy patch didn’t last long at all, then he was in a grassy meadow and ahead the road took a hard right hand turn at what appeared to be a huge golden entryway. Two men were standing at the gate. They were of indeterminate age, but clearly strong and fit. Each slightly over six foot and Robin thought momentarily that they reminded him of his own prime. They waved and summoned him to stop. As he pulled the car to the shoulder and started to get out he realized that he was wearing a clean, freshly starched, Nomex flying suit. Somehow it didn’t seem strange in the least.

The two men at the gate were unusually dressed, but their garb did nothing to detract from their demeanor. They seemed to exude power, grace and confidence. However they were costumed they were clearly men of stature to be respected. The one nearest the gate entrance was apparently wearing a jerkin of chain mail and a doublet of white with a large red cross. He resembled nothing so much as a knight of medieval times. The other had long flowing black hair and was clothed in a gown of shimmering gold cloth, but the scabbard holding the jewel-hilted broadsword at his left hip allowed no questions of his masculinity. Maybe there was some sort of costume party going on?

Robin approached, wondering what this place was and how he had found it and why he was in a flying suit. He began to get an inkling of what was going on, but wasn’t yet quite sure. He approached the gowned figure and extended his hand in greeting, “Good afternoon, I appear to be lost a bit. The name is Olds. Where am I?”
The mailed knight grinned and the gowned man smiled as he shook Robin’s hand. “Don’t you have any idea where you are? Remember how you got here?”

“I came up Rabbit Ears on US 40, but must have made a wrong turn.”

“No, you made the proper turns, but it took you a lot longer to get here than simply coming up the highway. Some say it takes an incredibly long time to get here. Others do it fairly quickly. It depends upon where you start.”

Robin began to ponder what he saw and how he felt. He looked at the golden entrance and then at the two men. Could this be what it seemed? “Would you be Peter?” seemed like a logical question considering.

“No, Robin, I’m not St. Peter. He’s down the road a bit further at the main entrance. I’m Michael, and this is George. We’re here at the annex to welcome you.”

“Really? George of dragon-slaying fame? And, you’re the Michael that cast out ol’ whatzisname? What is this place?”

“This place has many names, some call it Valhalla but I’ve got to confess that we’re woefully short of Valkyries to lead you in. You’ve pretty much got to find your own way around here. As for who we are, that dragon business is pretty much a metaphor for bad things and my friend George tends to exaggerate it a bit when he tells the story. As for me, let’s simply say that the casting out activity I was involved in took a lot of help from my friends. When the boss said you were coming, we thought it better that some warriors be here to welcome you rather than having you face Pete. He can sometimes seem a little bit stodgy to new-comers.”

“So, this is what I think it is? I made it?”

“Yes, you made it. I think you’ll like it here. There are a lot of folks have been dying to meet you…oops, excuse the pun. I didn’t mean it but as an archangel, I occasionally slip up on how sensitive man is to the issue of his mortality.”
“I could hardly take offense to anything you say, sir. I’m honored, and I’ll confess that I’m very surprised to get here. Who’s here?”

“Lots of folks you know and even more that you know of. We’ve got Luke and Immelman and the Baron here. There’s Galland and Bader and Gabreski as well as Bong and McConnell and I can’t even begin to list who all else. It would take too long, and we’ve got eternity! Why don’t you come on in and meet the group. It’s right through that gate, and the stag bar is always open. The boss just got us a great single-malt that’s quite literally heaven in a glass. Just don’t start any MiG-sweeps on your first night in the place, OK.”

“I guess I can live with that…oh, I see what you mean about terms up here. I’ll try to be on my best behavior, but as you probably know I occasionally get carried away. Will the car be OK on the shoulder there?”

“We’ll take care of it, Robin. We also do valet parking.”

He passed through the gates and began to understand Magee’s vision of “footless halls of space.” It seemed to stretch endlessly before him, yet his passage was smooth and swift. He saw a broad doorway ahead and from within the sound of voices came. It was a familiar song. They had just reached the crescendo when he entered the vast room. “The women all muster to view that great cluster…” Heads turned to see who had arrived, but not a beat of the song was missed as the voices soared. “And they stand and they stare at the bloody great pair…”

When it ended, one of the men turned and raised a glass his way. “Let’s say hello to the new guy!” he led, “Heellllooooo, Asshole!”

Another voice and another glass raised, “Let’s say hello to the asshole! Heellloooo, Robin!” It seemed that all of the customs he was familiar with were still in play. He was home at last.

And so the pantheon of warriors gained yet another. The stories were told, the whisky was drunk and the songs were sung. It was a pretty good duty station. They even got to fly.

Dealing With Civilian Leadership

The day was spent trying to get the DSL up and running. Morning was greeted with no internet and all attempts to connect with the usual stuff were failures. Call to tech support got the disavowal regarding the posibility that their DNS server might be down. Reset the modem (again), reboot your computer and router (again), take the router out of the system and go directly from modem to PC (despite that the modem had no internet connection). Finally after twenty minutes the "customer service" rep verified that they had a local central office outage.

White truck pulled up in the driveway this PM. "You aren't connected to the Internet," he reports.

Turns out when I availed myself of a new bargain rate bundle that would double my connection speed for a few bucks a month less than before, that I was mis-wired in the DSL system. Got it fixed and now bask in connection speeds roughly three times faster than before.

But, not much opportunity to keep you entertained today. So, here's a little smile for your afternoon consideration. Working for bureaucratic leadership has always been a struggle for the military, all the way back to the Roman Empire:

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Facing the Nation

Christina Olds has just spent a couple of days at the National Museum of the USAF, participating in the National Aviation Hall of Fame inductions, and the Dayton Air Show. Reports are that she had a great time and got to meet a lot of readers of "Fighter Pilot".

National Museum of USAF Honors Robin's Memory

Notice, buried in that nice coverage of her visit, the mention that Fighter Pilot is now in its fourth (!) printing!

Next step on her world tour is Oshkosh for the EAA fly-in week. Should be something like a goat-roping, barn-raising and rodeo all wrapped up in one! If you are in the neighborhood, drop by and say "hi!"

Over the Years

A long, proud history:

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Unenumerated Powers

The Constitution is a pretty neat document. It provides us with an organization for a government--bicameral legislature, heirarchical judiciary, and individual executive chosen by a republican process designed to isolate it from the grand unwashed masses. It describes in basic terms the operation of the organization; things like requirements for office, length of terms, flow of legislation, division of responsibility, etc. Then it enumerates the things we expect that government to do.

Just to be sure it didn't get too uppity, the founders then attached a short list of things that this new-fangled federal government shouldn't do. To be sure that they were clear, they topped off that short list with two very brief statements. One says the list of rights are not all-inclusive. There may be more rights and we damn well keep them for ourselves. Then it spells out that unless we specifically said the feds could do something or we specifically denied the states a power, that the states would retain the authority not the feds.

It all seemed clear, until recently.

We've got a legislature that apparently doesn't give a moment's concern to the Constitution and the will of the people. And, more frighteningly, we've got an executive who seems eager to usurp dictatorial and totalitarian power.

Try this on for size:

We Will Know Who You Are, Chubbo!

Do you see the writing on the wall? No legislation involved here. This is imperial diktat. He declares that all citizens will be weighed and measured. Then a list of who is naughty and who is nice will be assembled.

"The fact we're now tracking BMIs', I think knowledge is power for us," nutrition expert Mitzi Dulan told Fox News."There are a lot of people that don't know their BMI and it's denial.

That's a rare instance of bureaucratic candor. Indeed knowledge is power and that is what is being seized. With it will be the leverage to ration your food, control your activity, and eventually to justify your denial of healthcare services.

I don't know my BMI. I never have. I know that I'm overweight. I don't need to know my BMI to know that. Whether I exercise denial or not with regard to my diet is not the business of my government. I've read the Constitution more than many members of our government have apparently and I simply can't find this authority anywhere in the document.

This is a symptom of a government that is rapidly getting out of control.

It's About Honor

This is what a vile human being looks like:

Stacking Up the Lies and Loved By the Left

And this is what happens in the US Courts when this scum is brought before the bar of justice

Stealing My Valor

This cannot be constitutionally protected speech. The judge seems to believe that no one is harmed by this fraud. He asserts that without anyone suffering damage, the lies cannot be proscribed. I wonder how he would feel if I were to claim that I were a degreed attorney and a federal judge to afford me credibility in a job application.

In what can only be described as a non-sequitur, the judge opines:

"This wholly unsubstantiated assertion is, frankly, shocking and, indeed, unintentionally insulting to the profound sacrifices of military personnel the Stolen Valor Act purports to honor," Blackburn wrote. "To suggest that the battlefield heroism of our servicemen and women is motivated in any way, let alone in a compelling way, by considerations of whether a medal may be awarded simply defies my comprehension."

No, your honor. I've known no one who acts heroically for the purpose of gaining a bit of ribbon and a casting of base metals. We never did it for that. We did it for our nation and our fellow-warriors. We did it at great personal risk and without consideration of self.

But, once we've done it we have earned a respect and honor which should never be diluted by self-serving scum like Rick Stranlof.

You want to know who is damaged by this, judge? I am damaged. I am demeaned. When I park my car and a passer-by sees the license plate, I am doubted rather than saluted. When I attend an event and wear a tiny ribbon in my coat lapel, I am lessened. When someone asks if I really served, that is when I am demeaned.

A Corpse in Armor

Writing books is inherently unrewarding until people read them. Then the reward is more psychological then monetary. Unless you are J. K. Rowling, Tom Clancy, Nelson Demille or Stieg Larsson, you aren't going to reap the big bucks. People decide to read your books because they hear about them. So, reviews are critical. Then you get motivated to possibly drain another bucket of your creative blood and do it all again.

If you scan New Paltz Journal occasionally, you probably know that Martin McPhillips has got a book out. What you may not have deduced is that it is a fictional tale with tight links to our eroding national situation. Here's a brilliant review from RicketyClick . The style is unconventional for a book review, but it sure will make you want to read it:

Review: A Corpse in Armor
You walk past the guard station and down the hall. A door in front of you clicks ajar; like all of the doors, it lacks both number and latch. You push in, and the door latches behind you.

The concrete block walls of the room are off-white under a featureless fluorescent ceiling. There’s a table, steel framed, with heavy tapering legs and a Formica top. The chair is also steel, with a molded but unpadded seat. Both are bolted to the floor. A brown expanding folder lays in the exact center of the table. A laser-printed label on the flap bears a bar-code and the legend A Corpse In Armor. Other than that, the room is empty — not even a wastebasket. You sit down, unwind the flap string, and dump out the contents.

There’s some background material: Individuals are shown either in ID photos or in surveillance images with the surroundings masked out. Settings are identified by surveillance photos with the people masked out. All the images are in black and white. There are several summaries of coroner’s reports. Notes on conducting asymmetrical warfare on American soil. A short paper on the academic barriers facing study of certain aspects of post-WWII history. Several interrogation transcripts or summaries thereof. An inexplicable flurry of receipts for takeout coffee.

The bulk of the file, however, consists of after-action reports.

They are first person accounts of a newly recruited, low-level operative whose need-to-know was…pressing, as far as it went, but not broad. There’s just enough info to get the story across, no more. No color, no texture, no context, little passion (and yet it is clear that only those with great passion would undertake this life), not even much jargon. For instance, this might have been an opportunity to present some good lessons in trade-craft, ala TV’s Burn Notice, but the focus is on the action; what craft there is, is implicit in the narrative.

The action is compelling, though, and the overall pattern is unmistakable to anyone who pays attention to news beyond the papers and cable TV; anyone who owns a gun for self-defense; anyone who refuses to believe that America is the worst nation ever to foul the planet. You find yourself nodding, time and again, but you wish you didn’t have to: the symptoms are dire, the diagnosis is clear, and the prognosis is not good.

This file presents a scenario that is perhaps somewhat outdated, even optimistic — for instance, the President is merely uninvolved, neither a serious suspect nor appallingly incompetent. Nevertheless, this is the war we’re in. You understand that in essence, the enemies of America are portrayed accurately; some aspects have played out in the news since this was compiled.

When you are finished, you shuffle the contents back into their folder. You stand up, bladder aching, stretch, and stand in front of the door. It doesn’t open immediately, and you hear faint footsteps outside. When they pass, the door latch clicks open. You walk past the guard station, and get on the elevator.

Your recruiter is waiting in the lobby. He says nothing, just cocks an eyebrow.

You nod. You’re in.

He points you to a restroom, to a break room with a coffee machine, and to the stairwell to the parking garage.

“Downstairs. Ten minutes.”

Saturday Morning Rocker

Wake up!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Those Who Fail to Learn History

You can't start learning the lessons of history to avoid repeating them, until you learn the history which contains those lessons in the first place. It also helps if you've got a bit of awareness of the world around you. Of course none of that seems to have hampered the stellar political career of Sheila Jackson-Lee...

Somebody, please buy her a book. Then hire someone to read it to her.

h/t to TigerHawk for the link.


It is almost impossible to make this stuff up! Pomposity that knows no bounds!

Senior Policy Advisor on Healthy Food Initiatives

Really? A US Senator with two years in office had a full time family chef? Now, the White House kitchen boss is called a "Senior Policy Advisor"? Who is this guy and where has he been?

Would Bourdain Call Him Chef?

An "activist" who founded a "home-cooking service"? A soup kitchen manager at Hull House? What's Avec like? It ain't Charlie Trotter's! Looks more like a single wide decorated in paneled big-rig style.

And high praise from his former boss at Hull House:

“He is a very charismatic, earnest guy – quiet and modest in the way you might say Barack Obama is quiet and modest.”

Now that's funny!

Your Future In Amerika

Arizona wants the feds to get serious about controlling illegal immigration. The feds say that they don't need Arizona to confuse the situation with a "patchwork" of conflicting laws regarding the requirements to show identification.

This is Texas. This is the feds. And, this is a USAF officer, on active duty, crossing the border at a border checkpoint, not in the middle of the Sonoran desert at mid-night. He answers questions, shows a military ID card identifying himself as a commissioned officer and finally presents both a personal and a government passport.

He has prepared for this encounter because of a routine of such harrassment at this location by installing video cameras in his vehicle.

Can you say Gestapo? Jack-booted storm troopers? Out-of-control thugs? I knew that you could.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

NRA Confirms It

About ten days ago the word hit the blogosphere that the NRA was going to endorse Sen. Harry Reid in NV and by-pass Republican nominee and Tea Party favorite, Sharon Angle. The rationale was that despite Reid being on the ropes and the mastermind of the incredibly disasterous agenda we've watch unfold over the last 19 months, a replacement Majority Leader (assuming the Dems keep the majority) would be worse for gun issues. I dumped a nasty-gram comment on the NRA-ILA web page.

They finally got around to responding today. It is long-winded, self-serving and bottom line is that it confirms the rumor:

Thank you for contacting the NRA-ILA regarding recent reports that the NRA Political Victory Fund (NRA-PVF) has endorsed U.S. Senator Harry Reid for reelection.

For the record, the NRA-PVF has not yet made an endorsement in the Nevada U.S. Senate race. In fact, there have been no announced endorsements for any U.S. Senate seat for the November general elections-period.

For several reasons, we generally do not announce ratings or endorsements until closer to the elections. There are still votes to be graded and other information to be evaluated prior to issuing an accurate grade as Election Day nears.
The NRA-PVF looks at the entirety of a candidate's record. We start with the candidate's voting record (if any), along with answers to questionnaires, statements and floor speeches the candidate makes on Second Amendment issues, as well as any action the candidate may have taken as a committee member or leader.

Our endorsements are not given lightly, nor are they issued in every race. An NRA-PVF endorsement is something that has to be earned. As we do every election year, we wait until all the votes are taken and evaluate a candidate's entire record. Making a decision prematurely, before votes are taken, risks giving politicians a "free pass"-something we can't and won't allow.

It is important to note that the NRA is a single-issue organization. Our ratings and endorsements are based solely on a candidate's support for, or opposition to, our Second Amendment rights. Other issues, as important as they may be to many people, do not and cannot play any role in those decisions. NRA represents a broad coalition of American gun owners, who are bound together by their support for the right to keep and bear arms.

For us to factor non-gun-related issues into our ratings would foolishly divide our unified base of support on the Second Amendment. This policy has served NRA and gun owners well over the past three-plus decades, making us the nation's pre-eminent pro-Second Amendment advocacy group.

We fully understand that voters must take into account a variety of issues when deciding for whom to vote. We respect that. It is our responsibility, however, to provide voters with information solely on a candidate's position on gun-related issues so that they may factor that consideration in addition to other issues.

Admittedly, Senator Reid's record is not perfect; few politicians' records are. For a number of years (primarily in the 1990s) Sen. Reid had some problematic votes on our issue. But in the last five years, he has dramatically improved his record on our issue, so the NRA-PVF would be irresponsible if it did not give due consideration to those recent votes and actions. There is no doubt that, as Senate Majority Leader, Reid has supported efforts to protect Americans' gun rights, both by voting FOR pro-gun measures AND preventing anti-gun legislation from reaching the Senate floor.

In 2004, Sen. Reid voted against efforts to reauthorize the Clinton ban on "assault weapons" and ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds, which are standard equipment for many rifles and for most modern semi-automatic pistols designed for defensive use. Early last year, he flatly stated he would oppose any effort to reinstate an "assault weapon" and magazine ban if the Senate were to vote on it in the future. In 2005, Sen. Reid was instrumental in Senate passage (and eventual enactment into law) of the "Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act" (PLCAA). That law shut down reckless lawsuits against gun manufacturers and dealers, which attempted to hold them liable for the misuse of firearms by criminals. Sen. Reid also cosponsored the PLCAA in the previous Congress and voted against the Feinstein Amendment to ban "assault weapons" and "large" magazines, and the Kennedy Amendment that would have banned most hunting ammunition.

Sen. Reid voted for legislation, which became law in 2006, to prohibit gun confiscation during states of emergency. He also voted for legislation to allow commercial airline pilots to be armed in the cockpit to protect their passengers and crews .

In the last two years, Sen. Reid voted for the Ensign Amendment to repeal the Washington D.C. gun ban and restore self-defense rights in our nation's capital. He cosponsored similar legislation -- S.1414 -- in the 108th Congress. He also voted for an amendment to allow law-abiding citizens to carry firearms for self-defense in national parks and wildlife refuges. This federal policy change took effect on February 22. In addition, Sen. Reid voted last year for the Thune-Vitter Amendment to provide national reciprocity for state Right-to-Carry permits. Sen. Reid also voted twice for the Wicker Amendment allowing Amtrak passengers to include firearms in their checked luggage. In his capacity as Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid made votes on all of these amendments procedurally possible. And these are but a few examples of Senator Reid's support and leadership on Second Amendment issues.

All of which leads to a very serious question for all NRA members and gun owners who oppose Sen. Reid to contemplate: who would take Reid's place if he loses his race-and his critically important position as Senate Majority Leader? Remember, the Senate Majority Leader is the gatekeeper who decides which legislation will be considered on the Senate floor. If Sen. Reid loses, the next candidate for Majority Leader is very likely to be Charles Schumer of New York or Dick Durbin of Illinois -two of the most anti-gun U.S. Senators in history!

It is critical to the defense of the Second Amendment that we have pro-gun majorities in the U.S. Congress.

While no endorsement has yet been issued in this race, nor any other U.S. Senate race for the November general election, rest assured that we will make all of these announcements at the appropriate time and in light of our election policy.
Thank you for contacting us and please keep an eye out for our grades and endorsements as the election nears.
NRA-ILA Grassroots Division

It's Tommy This and Tommy That...

I spent a major portion of my adult life in the nation's livery and serving on foreign shores. I truly loved the life. But during my tenure I experienced some fiddling and broken promises. I weathered the storms, but kept the memories.

During the Carter years we experienced three consecutive years of freeze on our pay and allowances. There were no cost-of-living increases and in a period in which inflation soared to nearly 20% that made a difference in what went in the pot. Most of that time was spent living in Europe and that meant dealing not only with US inflation but also with erosion of the exchange rate so that as months went by the rent inexorably crept upward as the dollar slumped. In a valuable illustration of the impact of a President on the situation we saw a restoration of our pay to comparability within a few months of Ronald Reagan taking office and a nearly 40% jump in the dollar to Deutschmark exchange rate.

There were proposals to drastically revise the retirement system and they thankfully were defeated but not without a shift from retirement based on pay at the end of career to a pay based on top three years of pay--a not insignificant reduction. And, few people are unaware of the vacated promise of lifetime free healthcare for retirees. Tricare premiums and Medicare payments weren't supposed to be part of the guarantees.

Regardless, all things considered it was a good life. We always knew we would get paid. There might be some finagling like moving a payday from end of the month to first to float an entire payroll month into a new fiscal year. We still always got paid.

No Cash in Pentagon Accounts Soon

Now with combat troops fighting in two incredibly difficult theaters we've got an administration that plays games like "deeming" a budget passed without a budget. We've got posturing and sound-biting as we recess to allow the pols to visit their district and lie to the voters yet we don't have authorizations for the military.

The SecDef has not been remiss in letting the Congress know the situation well before the critical point, but the leadership refuses to act. When the few responsible representatives try to clean some pork out, the President threatens to veto the slimmer bill. At the end of the day we apparently are facing a situation in which warriors in battle are going to be fighting for free as their families go without with an empty checking account.

The priority appears to be a continuation of the dispensing of bread and circuses to the core support of the administration.

You talk o' better food for us, an' schools, an' fires, an' all:
We'll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don't mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow's Uniform is not the soldier-man's disgrace.
For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Chuck him out, the brute!"
But it's "Saviour of 'is country" when the guns begin to shoot;
An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;
An' Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool -- you bet that Tommy sees!