Monday, January 31, 2011

Fast Track to Supremes

You remember the catchy little phrasing of the Bamster when he gave that rousing sermon on "Words Have Meaning", don't you? With the repetitive litany of an evangelical minister or Jesse Jackson on the stump, he cycled the rhetorical, "Just words?" through the Gettysburg Address, Martin Luther King's Dream and Lady Gaga's last MTV award acceptance speech to highlight that language really has meaning and can't be discounted lightly.

Law is language taken to an ideally higher level. It should REALLY have meaning. When the Attorneys General of 26 states (that's almost half of the Messiah's total of 57 which he visited on his campaign) challenge the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, on the mandate for Americans to buy a private company's product you've got to check the language.

A federal judge has done just that now:

Unconstitutional and Unseverable

The judge ruled that the government can't force folks to buy something if they don't want it. Since the law didn't manage to shoehorn in the traditional severability clause in the cramped 2600 pages of detail, that means the whole bloody thing is duck soup.

This should be hitting the agenda of the Big Nine in short order. And unless we've really had a serious shakeup there, I can see this being the end of a bad situation.

I've Been Teaching It Wrong!

Gosh, I thought I understood it. It seemed to be what all of the textbooks described. It seemed to be what Montesquieu wrote about and Madison outlined in our Constitution. It seemed to fall in place with Articles I, II and III in the Constitution itself devoted to Legislative, Executive and Judicial Branches. But, Senator Schumer is right there on the scene so he must know the correct answer:

The three branches of government are the House, the Senate and the President! I bet you didn't get it right either! I wonder how that makes the Supreme Court and the rest of the Federal bench feel?

And apparently the omission of those three branches over the last year when they neglected to take care of the simple trivial requirement of the law to enact a budget doesn't seem the least bit problematic to the man. It is reluctance to rubber-stamp a continuing resolution which will cause problems. Why didn't his folks take care of their primary function when it was due? Now he seems to think it is the Republican's fault and not his party.


Sunday, January 30, 2011

Dumbing From the Top Down

How do you dumb a population down to the point that the sheeple are controllable? You certainly don't want intelligent, analytical, questioning citizens seeking truth and opportunity. Not if you are going to seize power, regulate, profit and control. No, you've got to make them think they  are in control while simultaneously outfitting them to be compliant. Ignorance is your ally in this battle.

Where do people learn?

The default answer is the schools. The less obvious answer is their environment, their families, their peers and their mentors. But schools are the default. We have given the schools over to our government and therefore the battle is half won.

We determine curriculum, textbooks, teacher qualification, funding and tenure criteria by government action. We elect and appoint boards of education for school districts, municipal departments, state boards and federal regulatory agencies. Unnoticed is the fact that these decision-makers are not required to have any qualification for their position other than a campaign manager, a sincere smile and a bit of fund-raising ability.

That's how we get this:

Afraid of Truth, Cowed by Students, Ambivalent on Science

The teachers don't know the subject so they don't correct the students. They fear for their jobs so they don't respond to student challenges based on their ignorance and indoctrination. The teachers can't intelligently support their positions therefore they waffle on the reality.

I teach government or political science. That is arguably an inexact science. Biology, on the other hand, is a "hard" science. Facts in hard science are immutable. Either subject, however, is amenable to the scientific method.

You observe. You gather data. You postulate on the causes of the data. You confirm relationships. Sometime your theory fits and sometimes it is only partially correct. But, you never start with opinion, state it as fact and then ignore data that is contrary.

I can't deny a Supreme Being. I can't explain the enigmatic Uncaused First Cause. The Big Bang needed a source. OK, that's fine.

But I can demonstrate that life existed more than 10,000 years ago. I can show that species that once roamed are no longer around. I can see relationships between the past and the present. Is there a divine hand involved? I can't disprove it but neither can I affirm it. But, I could support evolution and a relationship to science more strongly than I can creationism or literal interpretation of the Bible.

Ignorant, uninformed, unqualified teachers leading to another generation and then another of ignorant serfs for an increasingly docile and dependent society. Once we were men.

Speed Governors For Clips

Police have guns. They carry guns all the time. They qualify with guns to protect us. They know about guns, of course. So, when a spokesman for a police organization, the National Law Enforcement Officer's Memorial Fund, speaks for the record in the New York Times he will be knowledgeable and informative.
“It’s a very troubling trend where officers are being put at greater risk than ever before,” said Craig W. Floyd, the group’s chairman. “Many of these criminals are outgunning our police officers. We’re seeing criminals with high-velocity clips on their guns.”
We need national legislation right now to control the velocity of those clips the criminals have access to. We can't have their clips be so much faster than the policeman's clip, can we?

Who needs a clip that goes faster than 55 MPH? Slow those clips down today. Then we can work on Carolyn McCarthy's barrel shroud thingies.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Art Imitating Life

A FAIP is a special sort of creature. He or she had the rather questionable privilege of being plowed directly out of undergraduate pilot training right back into instructor duty. Not one millisecond of operational experience of any kind intervenes as, much like a community organizer becoming President of these United States, a bottom feeding slug in a closed society is elevated to semi-divine status. Today an ignorant student and tomorrow a font of aeronautical knowledge and skill but really without a clue about "the life."

Because FAIPs fly little airplanes that can turn upside down and because they are universally reviled as ignorant twits, the USAF is usually benevolent with regard to their future assignments. They generally go to tactical aircraft after three or four years of instructor duty. There they are welcomed as long lost brothers in arms...err, maybe not.

There are few things more humbling for a FAIP than coming face to face with the realization that they don't have a clue and never did about flying high performance jets. Some come around and some don't. But, there is a definite learning process.

Shiver Me Timbers

Occasionally there is a need to remember that September 19th of every year is Talk Like a Pirate Day.

If you've watched Pirates of the Caribbean parts I, II and III at least a half-dozen times then you probably don't need help. If you know entire quotes from Robert Newton and can say "Long John Silver" with a proper burr on the Rs, you are ready without this.

But if you need some training and an occasional reminder about the language then try this on your Facebook page. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click on your chosen language option in tiny blue letters on the left side. It probably says "English (US)".

You'll get a dialog box showing all of the languages available. Click on the dropdown list for English and you will find "English (Pirate)"!

When you return to the Facebook page you might not see it immediately, but all of the supporting info is now offered in authentic Pirate.

....Posted three turns of the hourglass ago by a scurvy seadog and a cross-eyed parrot.

Pesky Freedom

Apparently the race card comes in a rainbow of hues. Typically found in brown or black tones with an occasional red one popping up like that rare M & M, we also now see it in yellow umbrage. That must come from the super-sized Crayola assortment.

Limbaugh Insensitive. To Who? Errrr, Hu? 

Would someone set the good Congresscritter down and explain to him that no one in this nation is granted by our Bill of Rights the privilege to not be offended by someone's language when applied to a third-party public figure?

It might be insensitive. It might be sophomoric. It might be crude. It might even be considered as offensive. It is hardly racist. And, it definitely isn't prohibited speech in a free United States.

Catching Up With History

The reports from Egypt yesterday showed the usual masses in the streets confronting riot squads, dodging tear gas canisters and hurling rocks. A column of APCs rolled through a congested business district slowly. Reports of deaths and confusing statements didn't help me understand what was going on.

What was this about?

Was it the students in London griping about their college tuition reflecting the actual cost of an education? Hardly. Was it the students in France complaining about adjustment of the work week to 35 hours and moving their retirement to older than 50? Nope. Maybe it was the crowd in Athens demanding more subsidies and redistributive taxes. Not at all.

Apparently it is a much more supportable and inherently fundamental backlash against thirty years of eroded democracy that has gradually abandoned the dreams of post-Nasser Egyptian democracy. It is a demand by the people to have a responsive and representative government.

Anarchy a Prelude to Resignation and Regime Change

Egypt became an ally after Sadat/Begin negotiations at Camp David. The two old terrorist revolutionaries embraced and in very short order the Soviet support of Egypt's vanquished military ended to be replaced by US advisors, equipment and training assistance. In return the US would get a secular democracy as a counter-balance to Islamist extremism in the Middle East.

Would it propel the masses of Egypt into the late Twentieth Century? Of course not. But it would spark investment, modernization, trade and balance in the region.

But the truism about power corrupting seems to have run its course. Mubarak's time has run out.

Last night I watched the Messiah's short comments on the crisis. I heard him waffle and side-step. He didn't support Mubarak and he didn't support the demonstrators. He apparently hasn't read the after-action reports from that type of weak response when it was applied to Teheran three years ago.

Leadership involves action. It requires a position to be clearly stated. It requires courage. It requires awareness of options and history. When the President of the US takes a firm position the results are nearly pre-determined.

Think back to 1987-89 and consider the collapse of the Soviet Union and then the remainder of Eastern European client states. Did Reagan leave any doubt about where we stood?

Frankly, Mr. O, you're no Ronald Reagan.

Saturday Morning Rocker

Get your Led out:

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Ministry in Texas

I'm not one of those who are much for church going. I kind of used up my interest sitting through years of Sunday masses at Our Lady of Perpetual Sermons church in Chicago. But a lot of folks around where I live are big into it. We've got more evangelical pastors per capita in Texoma than barmaids. It's a sad situation.

But there has to be a reason why folks go to these churches. It might be the preaching style:

The Asylum

California has long been viewed as a holding tank for the weird. It seems to attract a special breed of off-the-wall lunacy unrivaled by anywhere else in the US.

California is in the lead with regard to traipsing down the road to fiscal disaster. They are the role model of government excess and pandering which the US is aggressively emulating despite the empirical evidence of the ineffectiveness of redistributive policies, repressive regulation and environmental extremism.

But this is a bit far even for California:

Broadcast Birdsongs For Better Business

I enjoy hearing the birds around my home. I've got loads of robins and the very distinctive call of the cardinals and the multi-talented playlist of the Texas state bird, the mockingbird to entertain me. I'm not so good with the gutteral hack of the crows or the soaring wingbeats of the buzzards. I get a kick out of watching the redtail and golden hawks hunt the pastures. But I'm sorry, I couldn't get much out of some bureaucrat mounting a loudspeaker on the power pole by my house to pipe in pre-recorded bird calls.

I bought one of those Audubon Society bird-call clocks as a joke for SWMBO at Christmas a few years ago. I threw the damn thing out after about two weeks of the two AM loon.

It might be good to have the city council speak a bit of Mandarin though. While they were learning linguistics they couldn't be legislating. First, do no harm, second, dazzle your friends at P.F. Chang's.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Any Good Reason Why?

Can we come up with a single good reason why someone who is legally registered to vote would not be willing or able to identify themselves at the polls? Can you use that excuse to open a bank account, cash a check, board an airline, drive a car? Just asking, because Texas is about to apply common sense over the screams and wails of the Democratic super-minority in the state legislature.

The bill passed the Senate and with a 101 to 49 Republican majority in the House there is little doubt of passage. Gov. Rick Perry will sign it with a flourish:

Texas to Require Photo ID

An exemption for those over 70? Why? C'mon, if they've lived that long it would seem reasonable that they would have had a moment or two during their life to pick up a photo ID. Well, OK, if that's what you think will help, go for it.

This one is great:
“This requirement is just a poll tax by another name,” said Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, referring to the now outlawed practice of requiring voters to pay a fee before voting. The poll tax was used to discourage voting by minorities decades ago.
An amendment by Davis that would have removed the fee for any photo ID that qualifies for voting under the bill — such as a driver’s license — was rejected by the Republican majority.
Likening a photo ID to a poll tax is ludicrous rhetoric. There are very few people who actually don't have a photo ID already and the preponderance of those who don't are very doubtful voters. Let's be honest.

And, what a creative poison pill dear Wendy proposes! During a session grappling with a $17 billion budget shortfall that must be addressed she suggests waiving the fees for those photo IDs that qualify like driver's licenses and concealed handgun licenses. She knows that is impossible. Particularly when viewed in the light of this:
Sen. Troy Fraser , R-Horseshoe Bay, author of the bill, noted that it will allow Texans to get a state ID card for free from the Department of Public Safety. The state ID is one of the photo IDs that would establish the voter’s identity for voting purposes.
In other words, sweet Wendy's constituents need only go rise from their welfare provided abode and haul their food-stamp nourished butt down to the DPS office and get an ID.

And here we have a classic example of a red herring thrown upon the table of debate:
Democrats also criticized Gov. Rick Perry and GOP leaders for elevating the importance of voter ID when the state is facing a huge revenue shortfall expected to bring painful cuts in education, social services and other areas of state government.
“This session we have real problems that require real leadership,” said Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston. “The people of Texas want us to work on those issues, not focus on narrow, partisan games. Voter ID is not an emergency and should not be our first priority.”
If you can deal with an issue quickly and decisively then why not do it? Why get bogged down in complex budget problems that are in the hands of the Legislative Budget Board and won't get to the floor of the chambers until late March if you can conduct meaningful business today? 

The Beat Goes On

The mining of pearls of wisdom from commentary after the SOTU speech is still quite productive. This little interchange from Sarah Palin on Greta (the Ambulance Chaser) Van Susteren:
“His theme last night was wtf, winning the future,” she continued. “I thought, okay, that acronym - spot on. There were a lot of wtf moments throughout that speech.”

Palin, seemingly pleased with her joke, repeated the line later in the interview while poking Obama for referencing Sputnik in another section of his address.

“That was another wtf moment,” she said.
I've given up on saying WTF after a Bamster speech, or a Pelosi or Reid or Durbin or Schumer for that matter.

Now I lean more toward WGAS. Or even the more directive, ROMFYOYO.

The only problem I see going forward is that there are still some Republicrats in Congress that lean on BTSOM.

TNSTAAFL either.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Parallel Is Less Than Obvious

Remember Sputnik? I do. It was October 1957 and I was just fifteen. I had a model three-stage rocket on the bookshelf in my bedroom and it had never occurred to me that anyone but the US would be launching any orbiting satellites, grapefruit or any other size.

But the percentage of the population that was around then is pretty small. The number who recall JFK's visionary quest to "put a man on the moon and bring him safely back to earth before the end of this decade" is equally small.

Why then does the Messiah raise that imagery in his speech? Few have found much to like in the pandering that went on last night. You can grab a line almost anywhere between "My fellow Americans, the state of our union is..." and "Thank you, and God bless America." There's nothing of substance and it wasn't well said.

Sputnik Was Different. China On The Moon is Today!

He does so much like to hear himself talk but he fails to notice that now he has become the only one in the room who is listening.

What has he done comparable to the Sputnik response? He's largely put the brakes on NASA. He's kowtowed, literally, to our adversaries. He's stifled our industry and scientists. And, he's indebted our future generations so that they may never recover.

"Our Sputnik moment..." indeed!

It Ain't Easy Being Green

Was anyone surprised last night? Did he "pivot"? Did anyone think he would?

His stock in trade is handing out successful people's money to unsuccessful people. They love him for it, and there is nothing he loves more than being loved. He pulls imaginary rabbits from bottomless hats with nobody seriously questioning how the trick is done. Last night he promised to double down on his pet projects, not by "stimulating" but by "investing." Notice the grand difference? Neither did I.

Education, Infrastructure and Green Energy

It isn't unintentional that those areas are not in the private sector. They aren't businesses owned by stockholders and investors. Those are pay-offs of the most blatant sort to the unions and pols that support him.

It should be very apparent by comparison of schools across this land that quality of education is not directly correlated with dollars spent. If a school is failing, raising the funding for that school by 50% won't suddenly make the kids smarter. It will make NEA and AFT happy though.

Infrastructure spending has been demonstrated in the last two years as a very  efficient means of routing federal dollars into strongholds of his power. I recounted last year my travels across the American west and the very obvious linkage between ongoing construction and jurisdictions. Tied closely to it all is the prioritization of  "shovel-ready" projects. No projects are shovel-ready until they are funded. No community plans a road, bridge, public building without the means in place to complete the project. You don't hire an architect, buy land and estimate the completion date until you've got the bucks lined up.

The continuous litany of obeisance to "green energy" and all of those jobs it is going to produce seems directly counter to the over-regulation, inconsistency and punitive assessments against the oil, gas, coal and nuclear energy industries. What he does has become an over-ride to what he says finally. We have begun to understand it.

Facts Vs Obama

Finally, he throws a sop to the new Republican congress. He offers a deal. He will propose a spending freeze at current levels. He doesn't point out that current levels have risen 84% in the last two years. The Republican's minimum acceptable position has been freezing at 2008 levels and a better goal is 2006. Think back. Were we really short of government in those periods?

You simply cannot disburse more money, as he proposes while simultaneously cutting spending or reducing the deficit. He sings the same song, but most of us know the words. Even the media is catching on.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Making the List

The Chief of Staff of the USAF releases a professional reading list each year of works which offer information on leadership, strategy and our military heritage. It isn't a huge list, but it offers a selection of books which make a contribution.

Fourteen Books to Consider for 2011

It's an honor to find myself in such company.

The Apocalypse Looms

If Justin Bieber's autobiography can become a best-seller, all three pages of it, then why can't the Chunka Chunka Burnin' Love known as Snooki make the list as well?

I mean really. What does it take to write a best-seller? You got some curves, you got some foul language, you got some tawdry promiscuity masking as entertainment, you got some big hooters and a bulbous butt. What more does it take besides maybe an absolute whore of a ghost-writer?

Shore Thing Hits Sandy Shoals

But really, there is some literary talent there. Unfortunately it is manifested by the creative minds of the reviewers who comment on the book at Amazon, not by the piglet whose name is on the cover.

Techno Impressions

Have had the new car for three weeks now. It's a lot like checking out in a new jet. Sure you can probably figure out the basic check-list, pre-start, take-off and landing speeds then go for a ride, but today a car is a whole lot more than simply a ride to the bar. The modern weapon system takes some training to employ to maximum effect.

There's some basic tech, of course. Radios have been around for a long time. Ditto for windshield wipers, lights, and performance gauges. I've had CD changers, automatic headlights, cruise control, and nav systems before as well. I even had voice control on the last car, but never used it very much because it was cludgy and didn't really respond to any but the very specific programmed command list. I didn't feel like learning to recite passages from scripture just to tune the radio or get the nav to take me to a restaurant.

Now we're five years further into the future and although there are a few bells and whistles out there which I don't have, this package has got most of them. Some comments here on what's new and what I like so far:

XM radio. A pet peeve of mine when I travel is driving through the great American West and traversing huge reaches of the country with no radio stations except Bubba the Bard with the latest prices on sow belly futures or Reverend Alfonso Trumpbuster's bible hour. Lots of good music in all genres as well as talk, news, sports and probably the neatest feature, traffic congestion and construction advisories accessed through the nav system for possible impact on your route. Hearing "Road construction one mile ahead," is pretty neat warning.

MP3 hookup. Whether you've got an iPod, Zune, flashdrive or some other player, simply plug it in and you've got another easily accessible entertainment source. Search by artist, album, genre or song title. Play random from an album, an artist, a playlist or your entire library. All accessed through the multi-function display.

Bluetooth phone. Pair the phone, the car records your contact list. When you get in the vehicle it knows the phone is there. Calls get announced, the nav screen shows ID, answer with a touch of a steering wheel button. Want to call someone? Simply tell the voice control system the name or the number you want to call. Hands-free and safer.

Adaptive cruise control. I didn't think I'd like this, but I'm hooked. Engage cruise control. See a digital readout of the speed you've set. A click gets you one MPH increase or decrease. Hold for increase/decrease in 5MPH increments. A slower vehicle ahead and you slow to maintain distance automatically. You can set three ranges, 180, 130 and 80 feet of spacing. Simply steer around the slower car and you accelerate back to cruise setting. Totally transparent.

Voice control. No need to memorize syntax for commands. Simply say "help" and you get a menu on the nav display for types of commands. Say "navigation commands" or "radio commands" and you get that list. Want to enter a nav destination? No need to tediously enter city, state, street, address. Simply say "navigation destination" and the system will ask you questions. "What state?" "Texas." "Did you mean Texas?" "What city..."

Navigation. This keeps getting better. In guidance mode it displays split screen. Left side shows your map, right shows a list of the turns with distance, direction and road name. Voice enunciates instruction and the XM traffic alerts will let you reroute to avoid problems.

Cooled and heated driver's seat. Yep, not only do you get bun-warming in the winter, you now can have butt-chilling for those hot summer drives.

Rear window sunshade. Sun coming up behind you? Glaring headlights from the fool in back of you? Simply raise the sunshade and it's taken care of.

Adaptive headlight system. Cadillac had some turning headlights back in the '60s, but this is a whole new ballgame. Swells in the road are no problem. The headlights are gyro stabilized for leveling. Around the corners they turn to light your way.

Parking assist. Moving forward sensors in the front bumper provide visual and audio alert for obstacles on your left, right and directly in front. In reverse you get the same as well as a video camera with reference lines for distance.

Smart key. No need to dig in your pocket for the key. Simply carry it on your person and the car knows you! Open the doors, press the start button and go. Pretty convenient.

There are other goodies, but it's a long way from Dad's '38 Plymouth sedan with the suicide doors, wood-spoke wheels and vacuum windshield wipers. Mine know when rain hits the windshield and take care of it automatically.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Carpetbagger Bagged

You own a house. You move 1500 miles away to work for a couple of years. You rent the house to someone else. You don't live in that house any more. Or do you?

Not So Fast Rahm!

I'm thinking some Illinois Supreme Court justices stand a good chance of waking up with a horse's head in their bed or maybe getting a delivery of a nice fresh bacala wrapped in newspaper.

Crossing the Line

I've kvetched about the decline of American culture in this forum regularly. Gangsta rap, inarticulate four-letter vocabulary, the ludicrous nature of "Real Housewives of Peoria...or wherever" which features women who are neither physically "real" nor occupationally "housewives", and the abomination of parentage which is dad taking eight-year old to a WWE night all are symbolic. Nero today, Caligula tomorrow.

You've heard about this:

Skins Too Visible?

You've got to know that when even the utterly worldly, totally hip, absurdly liberal rag, the New York Times, finds your offering excessive that you've indeed gone too far.

We're Here to Help

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Chicken Little, Tell Turkey Lurkey...

Apparently the secret of modern journalism is take a quote, with or without sound basis, from a person in a position of pseudo-authority then embellish it with predictions of doom and collapse until you've got an hysterical screed that encourages you to abandon all hope and lay down to peacefully expire.

What do I mean? Take a look at this tidbit:

J-20 Breakthroughs Based on American Technology

The authoritative voice? Croatia's former military chief of staff! One must humbly bow at the aeronautical juggernaut which is the Croatian Air Force.

The "stolen" enabling technology? Some chunks of metal from a jet shot down in 1999, twelve years ago. The technology is the coatings and honey-comb structure which was devised and state-of-the-art in the mid-'70s!

So, with this scientific information from a jet which is so outdated that it was completely retired from the USAF inventory six years ago, we now can postulate that the first-flight one-off J-20 will be competitive with the USAF F-22 fleet.

The J-20 which currently has no 5th-gen engines, no weapons, no sensors and is little more than a planform might be in production in nine or ten years. By that time the F-117 tech will be a cool fifty years old.

We might as well throw in the towel. All is lost.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Leopard Is to Spots

As Bamster is to spending!

The State of the Union comes Tuesday and the new centrist President is going to continue down his path of re-invention of his image by...drum roll, please...proposing massive new spending as a way to tackle the deficit!

Applying the principles of the Krugman school of economic legerdemain he will announce plans for...drum roll, please...massive investments in green energy programs.

Push For Spending! Targeted to a Select Few, of Course! 

The man simply has no shame.

Searching For a Rock

Possibly the most frustrating aspect of political life is that it becomes impossible to find an anchor; a touchstone that you can always depend on to make sense and support your values. I had thought Peggy Noonan was one but this leaves me shaking my head.

Would Another Law Do It? 

There are few things that set my teeth on edge more than the ubiquitous misnomer, "fighter jet." The word "jet" is a modifier of the noun "fighter". The aircraft genus is fighter. The fact that it has a specific power-plant tells us more. We wouldn't call a P-51 Mustang a "fighter prop," would we?

One malaprop that rises to the same level is calling a pistol magazine a "clip." It isn't a clip. Never was, never will be.

We had a ban on high capacity magazines. It lasted for ten years. It didn't mean a hill of soggy beans with regard to crime, killing sprees or the proliferation of nut-jobs in society. It did NOTHING!

Wait, it did do something! It made the readily available high-capacity magazines much more expensive. A magazine that used to cost five or ten bucks now would set you back thirty or forty. There are literally tens of thousands of them in circulation. The last ban didn't ban them and the next one won't either.

Loughner used a ludicrous 31 round extended magazine for his Glock. Simply put that is stupid. Why does anyone make a 31 round magazine for a 9mm medium frame semi-auto? I guess because they can. You wouldn't use one for concealed carry. You wouldn't really want to use one for personal defense. When you stack that many rounds atop a spring-loaded device the reliability goes way down. It is simply much simpler to swap magazines after 15 rounds. It takes about two seconds and can be done easily with just a little bit of practice. Don't shoot to slide-lock and you don't even have to chamber a round.

Murder is against the law. Shooting judges and federal officials is against the law. Carrying concealed without a permit is against the law. Would any rational person believe that a prohibition against high-cap magazines would have any significance in terms of deterrent effect? Let's see, I want to kill a bunch of folks but can't get a high-cap magazine. I guess I'll have to give up the plan!

What makes ten a magic number? Would eleven be outrageous? Would nine be significantly better? Could a mad-man kill fewer people with three shots if he approaches to within six feet? Did Lee Harvey Oswald kill a president and grievously wound a governor with a bolt action rifle and three shots? Did Booth shoot Lincoln with a Derringer?

Peggy, you've let me down. You've made the terrible mistake of expounding in an area in which you apparently are woefully uninformed. You've proposed that the President appeal to the ignorance of the liberal mentality and the feminized nation that is morbidly hoplophobic to become a success. Rather than intelligently discussing an issue you've gone emotional and baseless on me.

Saturday Morning Rocker

Was Little Richard over the top? Just a bit! But here we've got American Idol judge Steven Tyler doing his classic thing:

Friday, January 21, 2011

Old and Bold Pilots

The saying is that there are no old, bold pilots. Today I’m 68 and Bob is turning 80. That is undeniably old. In the summer of 1966 we were a long way from old and whether we were going to be bold or not the odds of achieving even one more birthday seemed very much against us.

I had my 24th birthday that year. I flew a combat mission to Route Pack I and dropped a couple of 2000 pound bombs. I returned to Korat having survived one more day and with a mission count in the low eighties. That’s how we did it. One mission at a time. Bob would have been 35 that summer. Just a few years older than the Lieutenants but with a lifetime more experience flying fighters. He was one of the group that had arrived at Korat a few weeks after my class of nine brand new, recent graduates of pilot training had begun our tour. We had just 130 hours of rated time and had no operational experience in a very sophisticated jet. We were learning on the job and the job was a very dangerous one.

Bob and Ken Frank, Bob Phillips, Bill Loyd, Fred Tracy and a few others had come from Europe where they had flown the F-105 for a couple of years. They all had previous fighter experience and all knew what the mission was about. They were joined by a similar group of F-105 drivers who had been at Nellis with us for our training. Folks like Wimpy Peake, Mack Angel, Neil Eddins, Ed Rock and more were now our leaders rather than our instructors. They would be the means of survival for the green young Lieutenants. They would take care of us and in return we would do the absolute best we could to fulfill our role as dependable wingmen.

There is a contract between leaders and wingmen. It is one of the most basic lessons a new fighter pilot learns in his training. It is a deal far beyond what is taught while flying formation and earning your wings. The core of the concept is that a wingman devotes all of his effort to maintaining his briefed position. Being “there” is what it is all about. The leader must be smooth and do what he can to insure that the wingman can actually fly off of the boss’ lead.

But in combat the contract becomes more complex. The wingman is responsible for supporting his leader. He must take the load off the boss. He looks around for threats and friends. He maintains a big picture of the entire arena. He mirrors his leader’s navigation and tactics. He always stays where the leader expects him to be. He listens and says nothing but the absolute minimum. He never misses a channel change. He manages his own airplane and does what the leader told him to do.

Often over-looked is the need for the leader to do some things for the wingman. Smoothness is a factor, but much more important is awareness. The leader makes decisions for the flight and those decisions can get you killed or keep you alive. The leader has experience. The leader has maturity. The leader has honed the skills to accomplish the mission. The leader plans the flight to achieve the assigned objectives. But the leader must continually maintain an awareness of his wingman. How skilled is he? How much experience does he have? Can he do what I am asking of him? The wise leader cannot overtask his wingman. If the wingman can’t do it, the leader may not be able to do it either. The wingman is entrusting the leader with his life. The leader must remember it always.

The good leader not only leads in the air. He has a largely unsung role on the ground. Leaders who don’t learn of that responsibility aren’t leaders at all. They are simply people flying in front of others. There are many of those.

A leader may be afraid, but he cannot show it. A leader may be doubtful, but he must display confidence. A leader may be brave, but he can never be foolhardy. A leader may have great skills and knowledge, but he must teach them to his wingman.

The time spent after missions, at the lunch table, in the hootch as the sun sets after a long day is where the truly great leader passes on the secrets of the trade. He talks about techniques and skills. He explains how something seemingly difficult can be made easier. He suggests a better way to make something happen on the next flight. He knows that if he can make this young acolyte a better fighter pilot tomorrow that he will have a better chance of living himself. He is well aware that in a few short years, if he has done his job, the lieutenant on his wing will be the senior captain or major in the lead of the next generation. It is a heavy burden that is gladly borne.

Bob Dundas was my flight commander for a while at Korat. We flew together often. We survived the tour. We are old now. Will someone tell us that we are not bold? Bob is still bold and I freely confess that I owe my life to him and the guys like him. He was my leader. I hope I’ve been as good a leader for the guys that have flown my wing.

Happy 80th Birthday.

Hu's On First

It was the arrival of Capo di Tuti Capo, Hu Jintau. He glided down the stairs of his jumbo jet accompanied by a contingent of his military to be met by our gaffester-in-chief, VP Joe Biden. Hu didn't bow, didn't scrape, didn't nod. He is, after all, the boss and owner of a significant chunk of our once great nation.

The Messiah conversed after the photo-op with him doing his own obligatory bow. Apparently the Chinese custom of reciprocal head nodding doesn't apply to the President and Party Boss of the nation, especially when visiting a vassal state. The Bamster and the Belle had an exclusive state dinner for the man. Something they had not done for heads of state from long-term ally nations like Britain, France or Australia. Fine wine and prime beef for the Capo as the leader of the formerly free world basked in the radiance of his master.

Then, of course, the address to the nation. The press conference announcing who did what to whom for what price. How did that go? Well here is one interpretation:

Tiger Dines on Dove. Dove Coos Gratefully

That's right, folks. Driving an exceptionally hard bargain, the Bamster came away with $19 billion dollars in Boeing contracts which were signed in 2007 under the previous administration. What a businessman!

What's on second? I Don't Know is on third.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Don't Tell Bob Gates!

If Gates gets wind of how well the program is progressing he will have to increase his efforts to screw it up:

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Imperial Fiat

He continues to emphasize that the economy and jobs are his top priority. Putting America to work, encouraging investment, fueling GDP, "creating" jobs in the private sector are all his emphases. EXCEPT...

Well, we had a well blow out in the Gulf of Mexico creating an ecological disaster which will persist for decades...or disappear within a few weeks and be undetectable. So, wasn't there federal inspection of those projects? Yes, there was, but the agency responsible was incompetent. Therefore we must create a bigger agency with more regulations and, oh yes, don't forget to fine the free enterprise sector billions of dollars along the way. Set up a czar to distribute some of that largesse to people "impacted" by the spill. Let the czar do it arbitrarily based on how he feels about a claim.

Then don't forget to suspend all drilling in the gulf, even on-going wells; even already approved projects; even supporting research in the area. That should really help the job situation along the Gulf coast. And it should do a number on oil supplies for this country. Will gas prices rise by a dollar a gallon? Already accomplished. Buy a windmill or sails for your car.

But now we have this:

Operating, Approved, Major Coal Mining Curtailed

Yep, with a stake in the heart of a writhing oil industry let us move the focus to destruction of our more abundant domestic energy resource. Let's take a company operating with billions of dollars of infrastructure investment to meet energy needs and put them to rest. Of course there has been a detailed regulatory red-tape approval process to authorize this enterprise, but that was then and this is now. EPA, do your stuff.

Immediate impact? 1200 workers idled. Long term? Local businesses decline from loss of customers. Regions dependent upon coal as a low-cost power source for generating plants, heating, etc. will see prices rise. Uncertainty in the remainder of the coal mining industry regarding investment, approvals, potential for profits rises and energy shortages ensue.

You betcha. That Messiah has really got a grasp on the situation for economic growth, job creation and recovery.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Petri Dish For America

In December we saw a story indicating that the financial crisis in Detroit municipal government had reached a level at which certain areas of the city would no longer receive government services. There would be no trash pick-up and no police or fire response to certain neighborhoods.

Abandon Blocks 12 Through 20 To the Zombies

If that doesn't conjure up images of Snake Plissken in "Escape From New York," I can't imagine what would.

Today we've got this interesting tidbit emerging from Motor City:

Half of DPS Schools Will Close. Class Sizes Up to 60+

How did this happen?

The evidence is pretty clear. You've got a largely industrial city in an industry which once had no serious competition. The unions are entrenched and the demands for wages and benefits are unrelated to economic realities of  business. Minorities flock to the area to feed on the lucrative job opportunities. The core tax-payer upper income base flees the city for suburbs and other areas.

The automotive world shifted considerably as cars got smaller, quality became a major issue and foreign companies invaded the market with a better product for less money. That doesn't stifle the union's demands though. They continue to control the core industry and the ratio between productive workers and tax-dependent citizens begins to erode. Corruption in elected officials ensues. Crime erupts and as the region declines, productivity flees and governmental dependence grows. Departures exceed arrivals throughout.

State and federal money flows into the city to prop up the electoral base and insure support for liberal and progressive pols. The process accelerates.

So what do we have now? A down-sized industry struggling to be competitive in a global marketplace. A dumbed-down population which is incapable of supporting itself and dependent upon external redistributions for survival. A corrupt administration at all levels. Large chunks of the metro area effectively abandoned to blight and the remainder offering substandard services. Not a Mecca for a renaissance.

Scientists create conditions in controlled environments to observe outcomes. The lab uses a Petri dish to grow the molds and bacteria and then observe the outcomes. Detroit is the Petri dish of the nation.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Canadians Don't Look!

Our friends to the North are not immune to the disease of politically correct language excisions. Just as we seek to take the ubiquitous "N-word" from the lexicon of Mark Twain but not Chris Rock, so Canadians dare not be offended by 1985 rock songs.

Money For Nothing Gaily Bowderized 

I wonder how they deal with gangsta rap's language? Would their be anything left to play?

So, for all of my Canadian friends who can't hear the song in their homeland, we here at Radio Free Thunder offer this:

Hahahaha! They didn't let them use faggot at Wembley in 1985 either! I guess the Queenie wasn't offended!

But in 1992 after a bit of teasing we get:

Gosh! No faggots needed to apply at Nimes. I hope mothers weren't offended.

Ooops. Of course we wouldn't find any faggots in California.

No Dutch faggots either! Maybe the Canadians are just getting the word 25 years too late? Slow communication or politically incorrect previously? I'm so relieved.

Looking Beyond Today

Yesterday was a mixed bag for me, football-wise. I don't like the Steelers. I liked them back in the days of Bradshaw, Steel Curtain, Rocky Bleir, etc. But today, not so much. But, then again I don't like the Ravens either. Between the two, I dislike the Raven less so when Pittsburgh pulled the game out in the fourth quarter I was a bit disappointed. Regardless, both teams played a ragged game like a bunch of thugs. Whichever one would win would be simply snack food for the Patriots, Brady and Belichick.

The amazing game was the second one. The Packers dismantled Atlanta. It was a clinic for quarterbacks as Aaron Rodgers scrambled, passed, ran and directed an offensive juggernaut. This was the clear demonstration of a well-coached team peaking at the right time.

Today's games are not the two or three point spreads that yesterday's were. Apparently the "smart money" of sports pundits has determined that the Jets are no match for the Pats and the Seagles are meat for the Bears. Ten point favorites in both games.

That leads me to anticipate next week and frankly, as a Chicago boy, I'm conflicted.

The match-ups that are predictable are Steelers at the Pats and Pack at Chicago. Based on yesterday's play I would say there is no way the undisciplined thugs of Pittsburgh can match the well-honed system that is New England. That game should be another walk-over for Brady.

Chicago and Green Bay are division mates. They've been neighbors and rivals for a hundred years. They face each other twice a year, every single year. In the modern era the record favors the Packers. This season they split, with the Bears winning the early season game and the Pack winning a squeaker on the last day of regular season play.

Last games of the season are often irrelevant. The division winners have usually been determined so the scores don't tell us much. In this case, however, they might signal a peaking of the Pack. If last night was a sign, I'd say the Bears are really going to have their work cut out for them. Jay Cutler doesn't bring the package that Aaron Rodgers does.

My heart goes with Chicago next week, but my head says the Pack is very much back. Either one will be a fine representative of the NFC going into the Super Bowl. But only the Packers would have a prayer against the Patriots. Super Bowl will be Packers and Pats with New England coming out on top.

Let's see if I can predict the sunrise in the morning or whether I should sit quietly and sip my beer.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Fourteenth Amendment?

OK, the premise is that Mexican drug cartels are being supplied by unscrupulous federal firearms licensed gun-shops along the border. Despite the reporting requirements, records-keeping, background checks and "border security" which the executive branch manages, we are told that hundreds or possibly thousands of weapons are flowing to armed Mexican drug gangs. They are wreaking havoc throughout that nation which has fairly well denied private citizen ownership of defensive firearms.

The solution? Is it Mexican law enforcement? Nope. Is it customs inspection at the borders? Nope. Is it actually doing something about the shooters? Nope.

Let's close down gun dealers. Let's make it harder for Americans living in the border states to buy their ranch guns, varmint rigs, home defense weapons. Yeah, that's the ticket. Let's disarm our folks so they are as peaceful as the Mexicans across the fence.

Four States Gun Dealers Targeted

How does that proposal for special treatment of four out of fifty states deal with the requirements of the Fourteenth Amendment that all Americans are entitled to EQUAL protection under the laws. How can some businesses get new restrictions but if they move a few miles north they no longer face them?

Maybe the House of Representatives should send their recently read copy of the Constitution down Pennsylvania Avenue to let the Chief Executive do a quick read. Better yet, send someone to read it to him.

Saturday Morning Rocker

This has been haunting my drive-time playlist for a couple of weeks now.

OK, rockers, trivia time. What is that about? What is the "low spark of high-heeled boys"? What is the business with a "gun that doesn't make any noise"? What is this about?

Friday, January 14, 2011

Cowboy Bars and Pompous Pedants

What really demonstrates a lot here is the body language. Notice the prancing shoulder swinging as he pontificates his deep philosophical comments and his insecurity with fellow Americans:

You should be nervous, Tom. You probably would get your butt kicked in most cowboy bars in America. Ditto for biker bars. Ditto in 'da 'Hood.

Maybe you should contemplate Heinlein's very proper comment that "an armed society is a polite society." Apparently Heinlein had much more confidence in the predominant masses of his surroundings than you do. He also probably had a better understanding of the Second Amendment.

Another Shrugging Atlas

Netflix movies on demand make it easy to go back to movies from long ago and find insights that you didn't have at the time they were first seen. We did that last night with Network.

It was a satire in 1976. But, Atlas Shrugged was interpreted by many in the mid-'40s as an apocalyptic love story without much relationship to reality. Today both Atlas and Network are reality.

You naturally remember the catchphrase of Howard Beale. You may even remember the whole pajama clad spiel urging to people to rush to their windows, throw them open and shout it into the streets, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore."

Maybe more chilling in terms of what I see every time I face a community college class is this description of the information-seeking habits of modern Americans. It is much worse than even Howard Beale thought:

TV Controls Your Mind

Maybe the most critical soliloquy of the movie is this one delivered by Ned Beatty in the Howard Beale style:

The Reality Is Not What You Think

Art becomes reality.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

But She Really Means It This Time

The drama continues anew in Texas politics as our token liberal Republican Senator announces that this time she really is going to step down. This will be different than her resignation promises in '07 and '08 and '09 when she was challenging incumbent shoo-in for re-election, Gov. Rick Perry. After loading up her smear machine both to waste Perry's campaign funds and fuel up his eventual Democratic opponent in a futile campaign as a "true Texan" after 16 years inside the Beltway, she reneged again and again.

KBH Announces Retirement in 2012

It is way too early to designate a successor, but the early favorite is current Dallas mayor, Tom Leppert. He's popular, got a great record, loads of business experience and has an organization in place. He's also term limited for his job as mayor. He's already announced his departure come election time. His hat has been edging into the ring for about two years now.

Perry might have been a logical choice, but he has clearly shown an intent to serve his full term as the newly re-elected governor. Additionally he might be leaving his options open for a possible VP selection as the big race heats up. He's been identified as a potential Presidential candidate but that would be a fringe choice and is highly unlikely.

Lt. Governor David Dewhurst is poised to either take the governor's job should Perry pursue the Senate seat or alternatively make his own run.

The strategic ploy with the most reward here would be for Hutchison to resign rather than simply not seek re-election. Then Perry could appoint the replacement which should be Leppert. This would give him a huge leg-up in fund-raising, name recognition and voter appeal as an incumbent. It takes a lot of jeopardy out of the seat.

That won't happen however, because KBH is too narrow-minded and Perry would be accused of simply appointing a place-holder for his own ambition after a failed presidential bid.

It will be an interesting year and a half coming up.


Usually it is guns and the mis-information we find in the mass media designed to confuse and obfuscate the arguments. Today it is jets.

The Dallas Morning News this AM had a front page story of two Texas warriors being brought back to rest in their home state forty-four years after being shot down in their F-4 Phantom over the Ho Chi Minh trail. A great story and it needed a great photo to illustrate it.

The caption reads: "...they flew an F-4 like this one taking off from the USS Saratoga."

Excuse me? That is a photo of a Navy jet. It is a photo of an A-7. It is a photo of a landing, not a take-off. 

Maybe it is OK that they at least found a picture of an airplane. 

Campaign Stop

It was expected that the Messiah would appear at the Tucson memorial service for the six victims of the mass shooting in Tucson. It was totally appropriate. A member of Congress, a congressional aide, a federal judge, a 9-year old girl and a dozen others were shot by a loon who quite clearly should have been under lock and key with heavy meds if bureaucrats had been doing their jobs.

I will confess that my aversion to the man overcame my professional responsibility last night. I simply could not bear to watch the ping-pong match presentation style as he shifts from left to right to left teleprompters in his chin-up Mussolini profile uttering platitudes. There was considerable hype about this being a defining moment for the man. He could redeem the empty campaign promise of bi-partisanship. He could demonstrate a disavowal for the empty rhetoric and duplicitous linkages of his own party. He could speak without politics about a loss, shattered lives, and a brighter future. Or this:
Or he could make it a campaign stop. That is what he and his crew know how to do much better than leading a nation. I caught him working the rope-line, shaking hands, grinning, posing for photo-ops and uttering those little sweet nothings which politicians do to potential voters to make them feel "special."

But, have you ever in your life gone to a funeral or memorial service and come back with a commemorative T-shirt?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Political Party No Handicap For The Stupid

This proposal by NY Congress-Critter Pete King really smacks of idiocy. Fortunately it looks like it will die at birth, but the total lack of logic in it can give a poor citizen cause to shake his head and wonder.

Protect New Yorkers 

How is the licensed concealed carry citizen going to know when he breaches the 1000 foot bubble around King? How is his goal of protecting citizens of his state going to be enhanced by restricting my rights and conceivably making me an unwitting criminal? Will the short list of special class citizens meriting this bubble mean that they must wear a prominent warning sign and make alerting noises as they pass by?

How does a state like New York which already boasts of some of the most restrictive gun laws in the nation going to have the situation improved by adding this lunacy?

My state, Texas, has a very specific format required to establish a guns-free zone. There is a short list of standard prohibitions such as schools, courts, polling places, racetracks, airports and bars/restaurants which derive more than 51% of their total revenue from sales of alcohol. If a business wants to prohibit guns, however, there are specific signage requirements to insure a standardized and understood format. Would King come to Texas and post that large notification on his back? Would it require a small contingent of security personnel to walk the perimeter of his bubble sort of like warning the medieval village of an approaching leper? "Unclean, unclean...."

Well, that might not be so very far off the mark in the case of Congress.

As a federalism issue it should be noted that the state capital of Texas has fairly standard metal detectors and screening procedures for visitors to the legislature. It should be further noted that if you hold a Texas CHL you simply display it to bypass the security screeners and speed your entry. I wonder if King would feel comfortable in our legislature?

No More Paper Tiger

Remember when Mao derisively labeled the US a "paper tiger"? That was when we had a huge military presence in Asia and in Europe. It was a period when we had 26 tactical fighter wings, more than 20 Army divisions, and were edging toward a 500 ship naval fleet. Well, SecDef Bob Gates just got his ticket punched in Beijing. We aren't a paper tiger at all. We don't have the strength of paper or even the stripes of Hobbes. And we don't have the will to defend ourselves or the respect of most of the world.

Gates went off to our Asian banker to smooth the path for the upcoming summit when Hu Jintao comes to Washington to accept the apologies and surrender of the Messiah. Gates was going to demonstrate a new era of cooperation and strong relationships forged by the passivity of the incompetent incumbent of the White House. How did that back-slapping, hand-shaking and jovial gathering go?

Wanna See Our New Toys, Mr. Gates? 

Gates got lectured by the Chinese military chief of staff. He got dissed by Hu at the public meeting and back home the Bamster is announcing the downsizing of the military by a couple of hundred thousand troops. Then as a special side-show the Chinese fast-tracked announcement, roll-out and first-flight of a new fighter. Be sure to check out the viddies at the Wall Street Journal link.

No, I'm not off the deep end about the "Stealth" aspects of the J-20. Slab-sides and jagged gear doors do not a stealthy fighter make. You definitely don't get one with all those control surfaces flapping and flashing your reflections all over the electro-magnetic spectrum.

The Chinese are still grappling with engine issues. They've got a cheap knock-off of a stealthy planform ala 5th generation fighter being powered by 3rd gen engines. They clearly don't have thrust vectoring capability like the Russians (3-D) or Raptor (2-D). They are addressing agility with brute force, lots of control movement. That isn't stealthy.

You need weapons for a fighter. Nothing indicates they are anywhere with regard to low probability of interception (LPI) sensors. There's no info about data linking or fusion from multiple sources. Simulator shots show a very rudimentary HUD style display without much else beyond flight controls. Landing and take-off speeds in the videos look quite high which isn't unreasonable for a first flight, but probably indicates concerns about high AOA maneuvering.

On the whole, the J-20 is a show. It is a propaganda ploy and it is a very intentional thumbing of a large nation's nose at the former world super-power.

If anyone still needs to ask the question about why we need more than 187 Raptors in terms of "who are they going to need to fight;" I've got the answer for them.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

We're #1!

As a second cousin to a Tiger, I'm feeling the spirit. Got me a piece of parchment from Auburn University/Montgomery which is close enough for an affiliation.

Especially since my undergraduate school didn't even have a football team!

Monday, January 10, 2011


I'm always a bit reluctant to pay much attention to critics. Movies that are panned are often quite good in my opinion. TV shows really shouldn't be reviewed at all because it all becomes a bit of navel-gazing when a network runs a show reviewing the network's offerings. It doesn't get much better when the newspaper or magazine is simply another arm of the media combine.

But what I really have to work at ignoring is book reviewers. Particularly when they are reviewing something I've written. Amazon is a real torture chamber in that regard because you don't have much of a handle on the qualifications of any reviewer.

See what I mean:


I didn't feel a compelling need to comment on the Arizona tragedy. The predictable comments from the MSM and usual suspects filled the airwaves and the blogosphere. Probably the most stupid one I encountered this morning was from yet another twit not understanding the simple terminology of "semi-automatic". In short order it was acronymed down to the very ominous sounding "SAW"! We must outlaw the SAW! Because, of course, the SAW shoots just as often per trigger pull as Roy Rogers' Colt SAA.

Here is probably the most rational discussion I encountered on the events:

Liberty Zone Answers Common Questions Sagely

Read that and you'll have a handy reference to respond to the stupidity that surrounds us.

Sunday, January 09, 2011


I read all of the Ian Fleming books when I was in high school and college. The movies initially did them justice. There was a linkage to what Fleming actually wrote. Then we got the comedy treatment of Casino Royale and a foolish attempt to make a Bond flick without Connery. It's been all downhill from there.

Now what would really be great would be taking Vince Flynn's great operative, Mitch Rapp, and doing those movies. Gritty and real with no exotic chases or cutesy gimmicks.

Saturday, January 08, 2011


Do you occasionally have difficulty in grasping a complexity that is expressed in a simple meme? I know I do. I don't think I ever fully understood the phrase, "the medium is the message." Everyone else in the world seems to know what that means but for me it simply doesn't register much information.

Here's one though that is easy to understand. "Style over substance."

It is about a strutting temporarily upon the stage, "sound and fury, signifying nothing." I guess Shakespeare was better at condensing than McLuhan.

Style Over Substance

How many Americans are out of work? What's the number now? Figures vary but a consensus number puts it around 14 million.

So Junior Jackson, whose total qualification for Congress seems to be his name, wants all of those unemployed to send him a copy of their resume. He isn't going to do a damn thing about them. He freely admits cluelessness on solutions. Lord knows he's never had a real job himself, so how would he have a fix.

But this huge stack of meaningless paper is going to symbolize something to someone somewhere and therefore make it look as though he has done something of significance.

Which brings to mind the Signifying Monkey and an influence from my college years:

Saturday Morning Dance

Ever wonder how they choreographed Riverdance? Here's the answer:


If someone really wanted to do something really, really nice for me...

It's available here:

Engraved Rolling Thunder S&W 1911

Friday, January 07, 2011

Pick a Number

Do the numbers prove anything? Apparently it is a question of what you want them to prove. The cliche that "figures lie and liars figure" seems particularly relevant when we examine this Gallup report.

More Jobs, Less Work, Higher Un(der)employment? 

Do you need the unemployment numbers to go down so that you can tout how your stimulus has spurred economic growth? Sounds like a sound bite for a State of the Union applause line.

Well it doesn't look like you can get it from Gallup. 8.8% at the end of November, 9.3% in mid-December, and a monthly wrap-up at 9.6%.

How about part-timers who would love a full-time gig? Those numbers for the same intervals are 8.4, 9.2 and 9.4%. No good news there.

Maybe the total package of labor that isn't laboring would be a good number to grab? Whoa! That has risen to a whopping 19%. One in five Americans who would like to be working more than they are currently is not producing. That means they aren't earning, they aren't consuming, they aren't saving or investing, they aren't creating demand.

That's the definition of an unstimulated economy.

Clearly then we have to go to a government generated statistic and a union-funded think tank. Using a non-biased polling agency is way too objective to get the answers you need.

Jobs Added, Growth Slow But Positive

Of course. If you can't trust your government to give you the truth, who can you trust?

Welcome Back

I like to keep the "Regular Stops" list relevant. I add to the list when I encounter folks with something meaningful to say and am not reluctant to include some stops that don't totally agree with me. No, you won't find the core counter-culture represented there. Huffington Post won't appear and neither will the Daily Kos.

Occasionally some bloggers simply burn out or events beyond their control make it tough to keep the blog active. When that happens and the duration is more than a week or two, I'll remove them from the list. It doesn't mean they fell into disfavor, it simply means I try to keep the list relevant and active.

We've got a return today from someone with a lot to say and the capability to say it clearly and in terms which even the great unwashed can gain insight. New Paltz Journal is back with a new look. Take a minute to click and scan.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

A Blackberry Problem

Well, no. The problem isn't mine. I've got it paired up with the Bluetooth in the new wheels and can chatter away blissfully to myself while driving down the road with both hands on the wheel. I simply tell the magic genie in the windshield visor over my head to call Joe Bagadonutz and in split-second I'm talking to Jose's Donut Shop. It's magic.

But this guy's got some difficulties:

No! A Thousand Times NO!

When is a word not a word? When have you not said a word when you clearly communicated that your intent was to say the word? Yes, you've phrased it in a politically correct manner so as not to actually say it, but there is no doubt that you meant that word because if a doubt remained you would have failed to communicate what you intended to. You know what I'm talking about here, don't you?

How can actual adults engage in a discussion; mature, rational discourse on a topic of controversy, when they resort to circumlocutions like "the N-word"? Are we not saying it when everyone who hears the phrase knows what we meant? If we say "the F-bomb" are we blissfully spared information about what Anglo-Saxon crudity has be referenced? She's a "C-word" is somehow less offensive? I doubt it. He's a "P-word" is not a slur?

As a society we've become considerably cruder. The nation that was appalled at Clark Gable's utterance to Scarlett O'Hara on film now finds it exceptionally rare to view a movie or cable TV presentation which doesn't rely on that special "F-bomb" as noun, verb, adjective, pronoun, adverb and conjunction. I've got students who can't speak two sentences in class without stumbling into scatological references inadvertently. That of course leads to what the Bamster likes to call a "teachable moment."

So then, what to make of this:

Mark Twain Spinning at High RPM

This deserves a public outcry! The very point of the language is to typify the time. It is real! It is the language of the period. The very point of the language is to highlight that despite what we currently may think of the terminology, during the period of the novel that was the way people spoke. It is particularly noteworthy when we contrast the strength, loyalty and friendship of Jim, the slave, to the venality, corruption and deceit of the whites who pursue and threaten Huck.

Those who have read Palace Cobra may recall that there is a poem at the beginning of the book. It is a contrast between intellectuality and schoolboy mentality that typifies what makes a fighter pilot. It is about pulling little girl's pants down but much more is between the lines.

One of the key factors in my departure from Smithsonian Institution Press which was contracted to publish the book was the deletion of that poem as "inappropriate."

"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names can never hurt me."

"What's in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet."

"N-word" my ass!

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Baby Arrives

The 2005 Infiniti Q45 is now officially history. A simply great car and a fine piece of equipment to arrive in anywhere. The new baby is comfortably ensconced in the garage of Alamo North as I pore through the manuals trying to absorb the myriad details of the technology lest I deny myself some aspect of this complex pleasure.

But, mine is black:

And with the tan interior:

What's not to like about a V-8 that offers 385 eager horses and 0-60 in 5.5 seconds?

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Letting the Air Out of the Balloon

The new year is in place, the old Congress has adjourned, the new class will be sworn in shortly. We can only hope that some serious lessons have been learned. A return to business-as-usual will be disastrous for the country immediately and for the incumbents in 2012. They should realize that.

Possibly the brightest news of the day appears here:

Bi-Partisan Repeal in the Wings

One would have to be a blind optimist to believe that it will be that simple. It won't! But consider what the message would be.

The new legislature is seated. The House introduces a repeal bill and the unified Republicans are joined by twenty, thirty or more Democrats in supporting the action. That would clearly be bi-partisan, unlike the original passage. A great message enroute, step one.

Now take it to the Senate. Can it pass a cloture vote? With the reduced Democratic majority that seems likely. So, could it reach the floor for a straight up/down vote on a simple majority? It it does, you suddenly get pressure on some Dems to cross the aisle. Can the Reps keep Snowe, Collins, Murkowski and Brown in line? Could you get a passage? If you can, a passed bill would be a great message, step two!

Do it before the State of the Union and you've got a great message for the President to attempt to side-step and circumlocute before the American people. Could he veto it and then stand before the people telling them how he ignored the will of the majority? Might he not relent? Well, no. I don't think he would give in, but it would be a great message, step three.

Veto. Then can you get a two-thirds over-ride in both houses? No. No way. Remotely possible in the House, but totally beyond any possibility in the Senate. Yet, the cross-over votes would be a great sign for the American electorate to know exactly where their representation stands.

This is going to be good!