Feb 132016

No doubt Obama is salivating over the opportunity to install another Justice; but CNN is reporting that Senate Republicans say they’re not going to even consider another nomination until the next President. They are, I’m sure, hoping for a Republican President who will nominate a Justice who will actually accept the Constitution as written. But chances are pretty good that come January the nomination will come in from President Clinton. or even President Sanders. I shudder to imagine who *he* would nominate. Is Gus Hall still available?


 Posted by at 4:39 pm
Feb 102016

Early yesterday, the land-line rang. I rarely answer it; it’s sole purpose seems to be telemarketers these days. But I answered, and it was some guy with an Indian accent telling me he’s from Microsoft, that they have detected serious problems with my computer, and… “sir, why are you laughing at me?” I told him I knew that scam, he asked how, I laughed again, he hung up. Later in the day the cel phone rang; a woman with a *thick* Indian accent starts in on the same scam. I laugh, she asked why, I said I knew that scam, she hung up immediately.


It has been several years since I’ve gotten that scam, and now I got it twice in one day. What are the odds?  Hmm. The night before I filled out an online resume/application for a Really Good Job that I figure I have about the same chances of getting as winning the lotto. So… I suspect whatever “Beat The Statistics” luck I might have had going for me got drained into getting two scam artists on the other side of the planet to try the same schtick with me in one day. Perfect.

 Posted by at 12:32 am
Feb 082016

Russia carried out practice nuclear strike against Sweden

A Russian training exercise in 2013 featuring TU-22M’s and SU-27’s included a mock nuclear strike on Swedish targets. Because if there’s somebody the Russians need to consider nuking, it’s the Swedes.

The next decade could prove interesting for Scandinavia. After decades of being “successful” socialist welfare states, made possible by being mono-cultural small wealthy nations with no particular need to expend blood and treasure on the military or police, they are being challenged by an apparently bonkers Russia and an invasion of colonists from *massively* different cultures.

 Posted by at 8:29 pm
Feb 072016

The US has a bad problem with institutional stupidity… ignoring history and science and whatnot. But compared to some countries, we’re the friggen’ Jedi Archives. Take, for example, Monino.

The US has – among others – the National Museum  of the US Air Force in Dayton; Russia has the Monino Central Air Force Museum, where they’ve got all their neato aircraft developed by the USSR and Russia over the decades. Well, they’ve got it at the moment, but apparently not for long. Two Russian-language articles, because there doesn’t yet seem to be anything out there in English on this (I used Chrome to auto translate):

Silence Monino


Aviamuzey in Monino: on the threshold of annihilation?

The auto-translate is a bit iffy, but it seems that the museum is closing and the exhibits will relocate to Kubinka, which is some distance from Monino (according to Google maps, about 135 kilometers). At first this doesn’t seem *too* bad, but apparently they want to do it in a hurry (by *July* of THIS YEAR). As a result of that, a lot of exhibits will be simply tossed, and some larger aircraft will be chopped up for easy transport, and presumably welded back together at the new place. You know, kinda like slicing up the Mona Lisa and sticking it back together with Gorilla Glue.

The aircraft at Monimo will largely never fly again, due to simply not being maintained. So the only way to transport hem would be to chopper the smaller aircraft, and take the larger ones via truck. But cargo planes, strategic bombers and jetliners tend to not fit very well on surface streets. Thus the plan to disassemble the planes. But a lot of aircraft simply weren’t designed to be unbolted to the point where they’d fit on roads; instead, a lot of major components will *need* to be cut apart.

The photo below is marked to show the aircraft that are expected to be sliced up for transport:

Oh, *hell* no.

Come on, people. This is Russia. They’re used to thinking and building big. So how about this: build yourselves some *big* balloons. Big enough to lift these aircraft. Tether the balloons to massively laden trucks, and then, on days where the weather permits, simply drive them to the new place, suspended under the balloons. This might require severing power lines, but that’d be a temporary disruption and easily planned for and easily restored. So long as the truck will fit under any overpasses, the tethers can be disconnected on one side of the overpass and reconnected on the other. Use multiple trucks and a tether with multiple connections on the ground  end, and do it a truck at a time. Might be slow… but it’d be a hell of a show.

 Posted by at 6:43 pm
Feb 062016

The United States is probably unique, or close to it, in having a government where no matter how religious the people in it are, they’re not allowed to impose their religious views on the masses… and yet the masses generally demand that the political leaders be (or at least pretend to be) quite religious.

One talk show personality I listen to on occasion is Michael Medved. When he’s talking about politics, I generally find him to be reasonable… but he loses his damn mind when he starts going off about religion. A day or two back I heard him discussing the idea of electing an atheist President. He opposes the idea because, in his view, without some Unchangeable Universal Truth upon which to anchor your decision making on… why, an atheist could suddenly decide tomorrow that murder is awesome! Rape is neato! He has taken this position numerous times, and I’ve been hearing it from others for decades.

I take issue with this line of reasoning on two grounds:

  1. Name me a religion that’s more than a century old that really, truly has unshaken, unbending moral positions. Not so fast, Christianity. Sit your ass back down and ponder the 1800 years when you thought slavery was cool, and suddenly changed your mind when the industrial revolution made slavery non-competitive in the marketplace. Or why you *now* think that democracy is a good idea, but back when Korah wanted a bit of it, God smote tens of thousands of people for the sin of being geographically nearby.
  2. If atheists, who are not anchored by faith in some specific set of codes brought down from On High, are so likely to wander to and fro ethically… why are there so few of them in prison? Attend:

Are Prisoners Less Likely To Be Atheists?

Where we find that in 2013, the US Federal prison system found:

Protestant 28.7% 44.0%
Catholic 24.0 25.1
Muslim 8.4 0.6
Native American 3.1 0.1
Pagan 2.0 0.1
Jewish 1.7 1.2
Churches of Christ 1.5 0.8
Buddhist 1.0 0.5
Jehovah’s Witness 0.7 0.8
Seventh Day Adventist 0.3 0.4
Mormon 0.3 1.4
Eastern Orthodox 0.2 0.4
Apostolic 0.2 0.4
Hindu 0.1 0.3
Atheist 0.1 0.7
Pentecostal 0.1 2.4
Sikh <0.1 <0.1

From this, we can see that atheists are *under* represented in the prison population by a factor of seven to one. Pentecostals, however, are under represented by a factor of 24 to one, Mormons by about four to one, Protestants by about three to two. Note one group is *over* represented by a factor of about 14 to one. With the exception of the pentacostals, the data doesn’t really argue in favor of the notion that religion imparts law abiding. And since we’re repeatedly told that the basis of law is pronouncements from On High… if *atheists* are better at obeying them than the people who claim to believe in that On High source, doesn’t this destroy the idea that a lack of some specific Truth makes one an uncertain candidate for President?

Seems to me a better approach than trying to elect someone based on what god they express belief in would be to elect people based on their track record of upholding the Constitution or arguing in favor of changing it. Because unless you’re an atheist or a Pentecostal, the prisons are filled with people who believe in the same sky wizard you do, and who like taking a dump on both their religions by-laws *and* the laws of society.

Note: I ain’t an atheist.

 Posted by at 3:05 pm
Feb 052016

Assange feels vindicated by U.N. panel ruling he’s being ‘arbitrarily detained’

In short: Julian Assange is wanted by Swedish authorities on charges that he raped a woman. Rather than face the charges, he has been hiding out in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for several years now. He is not being prevented from leaving; he can leave whenever he likes. But he is subject to immediate arrest by the British police, since they have an extradition treaty with the Swedes. So he has voluntarily stayed in the Ecuadorian embassy.

And now the UN has come down with a ruling that the Swedes and the Brits have “arbitrarily detained” him. Does this make *any* sense? The Brits didn’t catch him and toss him over the embassy walls, and barred his exit. The Swedes certainly didn’t.

So… WTF???

 Posted by at 10:57 pm
Feb 022016

Secretary of Defense Announces How He’ll Waste $582 Billion

… which basically boils down to the author of the piece attempting to make fun of the SecDef because the author believes that all DoD weapon system spending from here on out should be directed solely at fighting ISIS, because obviously the US will never face any other geopolitical threats.

 Posted by at 6:19 pm
Jan 282016

So there I was, sitting in a classroom, bored out of my mind, when all of a sudden the PA system woke up with a screech. Someone in the administrative offices had a TV on and was watching the Shuttle Challenger launch, saw it explode, and turned on the PA system and stuck the microphone up to the TV speaker. The classroom sorta froze for a few seconds, since nobody knew what was going on; the audio of course started up in mid sentence. When the speaker finally said something along the lines of “the space shuttle has exploded,” several students, myself included, packed up our stuff and bolted from the room, dashing towards the library. A whole lot of other kids and teachers had the same idea, with the result that hundreds tried to pack in to see the one TV in the place.

Boy, did that day *suck.*

Here’s the live CNN coverage. Note that the reporter is speaking when Challenger explodes… and, unlike current news reporting practice, he shuts up. Rather than a stream of unending blather, he lets the story speak for itself for a moment. Granted, he was likely shocked, but still…

Here’s some “behind the scenes at CNN:”

Here’s one hour of CNN coverage, from 11:00 to 12:00 (the explosion is at about 11:38):


And from 12:00 to 1:00:


It’s difficult to say that there was a bright spot in that day, but if there was, it was President Reagan. Originally scheduled to deliver the State of the Union address that night, he instead delivered a necessarily hastily-written address to the nation on Challenger… surely one of the great speeches in American political history.



 Posted by at 10:58 am