sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Traveling Salesman

Traveling Salesman

a fictional short (for Halloween)

Once upon a time there was a traveling salesman who stopped at a farm house for the night. It wasn't a normal night. It wasn't a normal traveling salesman, and the traditional pretty daughter wasn't quite what you'd call normal either.

On the other hand, the farmer, was precisely who you'd expect him to be. A big-hearted man with a wife who lived for her man and her family. Naturally, they invited the salesman to spend the evening without even once considering that it was Halloween. 

Trick-or-treaters didn't venture as far out as the farm. It would have been a long journey for a single caramel apple or a piece of hard candy. The army of grammar school children dressed as ghosts, Superman or Cinderella stuck to more traditional neighborhoods where many homes could be canvassed in that single night-of-nights that dentists cherish above all others.

Millicent, the farmer's daughter, was in the full bloom of young womanhood and it might have worked out better for all concerned if she hadn't been delayed one evening in the woods after picking berries for a pie. You see, there are caves in that region and one of them was home to some very sick bats. Milli ran afoul of the bats, which were not rabid, but had been infected by something much darker, far more incurable, substantially more dangerous. The attack came and went with some scratches and bites that miraculously healed by the time she arrived home. Her emotional distress, while profound when she slammed through the front door of the farmhouse, screaming and blubbering had also passed, with scarcely a memory. Her mother and father were certain that she fell asleep on the warm late spring day while picking berries and had a bad dream.

The virus coursing through her veins was no dream, though at the time it remained dormant, marshaling its resources.

On that windy All Hallows Eve, the family shared an early evening supper of pot roast and late autumn roasting ears, freshly dug red potatoes and jars with grandpa's squeeze inside to gentle the evening. When Ma mentioned the full moon that would rise later in the night, the traveling salesman winced sharply, but he produced a bone from the meat and set it gently in his napkin. Coincidences such as that one are common to families prone to idle talk at dinner.

Nobody recalled the salesman's name but he sold medical bandages and related technology. That he'd strayed so far from the hubs of the medical industry on that Halloween night struck no-one as strange, though some maintain that it is germane to the story.

As the Blood Moon rose on that fateful evening the virus that coursed through Milli's veins screamed that it was time for the demon to be conceived within her womb, and the mate to be devoured as had happened in antiquity. Unfortunately for the salesman, he fell into the hay in the barn with Milli, following the script to the letter. Fortunately for him, he'd been dead for several thousand years, a resurrected mummy from a crypt on the banks of the Nile. As such, he was completely sterile and the taste of the putrid flesh under the white, scrubbed, skin was so odious that she wasn't able to take more than a single love bite.

You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find -- you get what you need (or not).

Happy Halloween!






Another Close Call

This is your Halloween Sermonette. File it under "repent, the end is near" or any way that your conscience lets you slice it.

Twenty-one days ago, a large object, capable of doing significant damage if it were to strike our planet, was discovered by NASA. The asteroid, estimated to be about 1,300 feet (400 meters) in diameter, will shoot past the planet at 22 miles (35 km) per second at around 1 p.m. (1700 GMT) today, on Halloween afternoon. Known as 2015 TB145, it will come within about 300,000 miles (480,000 km) of Earth, farther away than the moon but relatively close by cosmic measures. 

Close encounters with asteroids can cause gravity captures and they can fall into Earth orbit, they can simply pass us by as 2015TB145 is expected to do, or a near-Earth encounter can alter the orbit of the asteroid such that it leads to an impact at a future point in time.


Small space rocks rain down on Earth constantly, with most disintegrating as they blaze through the atmosphere. 

About 65 million years ago, an asteroid or comet roughly six miles (10 km) in diameter crashed into what is now Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula, triggering global climate changes that killed off the dinosaurs along with about 75 percent of life that existed at the time, scientists say.

More recently, a 65-foot-wide (20 m) asteroid broke apart over Chelyabinsk, Russia, in February 2013, shattering windows and damaging buildings. More than 1,000 people were injured by flying debris. 

The damage that asteroids cause is proximate to their composition. Some are composed of gravel, bound together by very weak gravity. Others are made of iron and other heavy metals and are unlikely to break up on entry and auger in at speeds exceeding 25,000 miles-per-hour. An impact by an iron meteor 1,300 feet across (the near miss on Halloween), would far exceed the damage caused by the nuclear bomb dropped by the US on Hiroshima, Japan during the Second World War.


Airburst event: Chelyabinsk, Russia, February 2013

Friday, October 30, 2015

The Last Kingdom (TV Series Review)

The television series is based on The Saxon Chronicles (book series) by Bernard Cornwell. They are highly recommended as is the new television series on BBC America (cable tv). Some of the episodes are also available on YouTube.

The Plot: The year is 872, and many of the separate kingdoms of what we now know as England have fallen to the invading Danes, leaving the great kingdom of Wessex standing alone and defiant under the command of King Alfred. Against this turbulent backdrop lives our hero, Uhtred. Born the son of a Saxon nobleman, he is captured by the Danes and raised as one of their own. Forced to choose between the country of his birth and the people of his upbringing, his loyalties are ever tested. What is he? Saxon or Dane? On a quest to reclaim his birthright, Uhtred must tread a dangerous path between both sides if he is to play his part in the birth of a new nation and, ultimately, recapture his ancestral lands.

It's on every Saturday night at either 9 or 10 pm depending on your time zone. 

If you enjoy authentic Viking vs the English films, you will enjoy this one. Highly recommended.


Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Progressive Mindset


There are a lot of well meaning, fearful people in the world.

Those people read the news and are fearful of what might happen to them at any minute of any day. They link firearms to that fear and take counsel from their fears without having any idea of how the world really works. Usually those people find comfort in the nanny state, which promises that they will protect these human sheep from the cold and harsh world.



However comforting fairytales can be, they don't square with reality.


Regardless of what well-meaning people tell you about the world, violence is the natural order of things. In the animal kingdom you are prey or you are predator. Despite the assertions of the "progressive movement", we are all faced with the same facts in our lives.

Civilization exists because we all agree that we'll push nature aside and work things out on less dangerous terms, but nevertheless, at the core of it, violence is the only currency that matters. The military and police do violence so others will not have to. An armed civilian at home is prepared to do violence should someone attempt to harm their family at night. 

Peace is maintained, not through goodwill as many believe, but by those still willing to do violence on behalf of those who prefer to believe it does not exist. Peace is maintained through violent hands.  ("The Spartans do not inquire how many the enemy are, but where they are.")

The liberal elite, flush with wealth, hire rough men to surround them and keep them from harm and do not mind that the rest of world doesn't have that option.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Crooked Man

The Crooked Man

a fictional short (for Halloween)

There was a crooked man, and he walked a crooked mile.
He found a crooked sixpence upon a crooked stile. 
He bought a crooked cat, which caught a crooked mouse,
And they all lived together in a little crooked house.
                                         --traditional Nursery Rhyme


The very first thing that you noted about Billy was not the unkempt nature of his clothing nor was it the wild red hair. It's those teeth that drew you in. Stainless steel dentures that he'd sharpen so as to tear flesh from bone with little effort.

Billy Bones (true name William Francis Waznowski) became a mortician by trade after his dry goods store failed. He bore a grudge against the competition that ran him out of business but despite that animus, when members of the Fleming family shuffled off this mortal coil, he did a splendid job of making them look lifelike in their coffins. The story reporting the fire to their store after the last Fleming died didn't make it above the fold. It didn't even make the business section. It became news in the police blotter, the section immediately preceding the crossword puzzle, comics and the classifieds. Rumors of a curse or hex abounded for a season, but time erased them.

Speculation at the time ran that the editor had a well founded fear of Billy Bones and he spiked the story personally. I'm not sure what to believe.

Things became suspicious when neighborhood children went missing on Halloween night as they trick-or-treated on Billy's street. His house, brightly lighted, displaying pumpkins and black paper cats was a magnet for the children. He gave out full-size candy bars, not the measly treat-sized chocolate. On the night, he wore his best porcelain dentures, oversized, looking more like horse teeth than human teeth. His big smile as he handed out candy assured neighbors of his sincere intentions to be part of the community. Long after neighborhood lights went out as candy supplies were depleted, Billy's stayed on, and some children went back for candy four or five times. That very open and generous conduct ruled out any possibly of foul play so far as the police were concerned.

However, the mystery of the missing children remained. 

That he took a wife became the subject of gossip among the old biddies of the town. She had few charms, chronic halitosis and marginal hygiene, but as her age advanced, the likelihood that she would make a match faded until Billy's offer. As the wife of the undertaker, she would enjoy a certain stilted place in society. Wearing black, standing by in mourning at funerals, her yellow teeth and dull hair didn't seem so shoddy. Her body odor was completely eclipsed by the patented embalming fluid that permeated the funeral parlor.

The Halloween practice that everyone had become accustomed to changed as the couple lighted the mortuary and children were invited in to accept candy from Mrs. Bones, who lay inside a coffin well into the viewing parlor of the funeral home. Full sized candy and no prohibition on repeat visits still made the place the go-to spooky place on Halloween night.

It was only years later, after Billy and his wife died, that the new owner of the funeral parlor found that the Butterfingers were actually buttered fingers, draped in chocolate and that the Baby Ruth bars were made from real babies, purchased in bulk with a discount rate from Planned Parenthood. The Snickers were handed out for shits and giggles. A curse or magic spell, which faded following the death of those who cast it, made the young believe that they were eating genuine candy.

Happy Halloween.


Index


Halloween Costume Ideas

In the spirit of the season, I have a few humble ideas for your Halloween enjoyment, and for those around you who are celebrating the season

If your tablecloth is worn, you can go as an Arab.

If you have an old, torn sheet, you can go as an Arab (or a ghost). Same outfit except you keep the front of the sheet open if you're an Arab.

Any of these outfits plus a few road flares and duct tape makes you a mad bomber. Stay in character and chant "Death to America" as you're jonesing for free candy.

I've been told that trimmed (and glued) pubic hair makes a great Arab beard. I have no experience with this, you have to try it out for yourself.

For those of you who have a few bucks burning a hole in your pocket, you can buy a fake beard (left) at a novelty shop, wrap a towel around your head and wear an old BDU and you can go trick-or-treating as Osama bin Laden.

I've been told that blending any of the above with a Barack Obama mask is in bad taste, which says to me: "Try it!"

If you're going as a sheik, it might be a good idea to stock on condoms to hand out at the party. Isn't that what sheiks do?

The Burka costume is going to be a big hit this year. If you can't afford the $35.00 price tag, dye a sheet black and cut a slit instead of eye-holes (the difference between a black ghost and traditional Muslim female clothing).

If you're wearing a Burka, you need to make sure that you walk three steps behind the sheik-sheik and give all of your candy to him. He will decide how much of it to give back to you. If you and all of your friends go trick or treating in hijab, get together and take a group photo - for the memories.

There is also the Baracula mask for those of you who want to represent the POTUS as a vampire. It's not politically correct because we wouldn't want to mock the 'leader of the free world', would we?

If you are going as a couple, may I suggest a Star Wars Wookie outfit for the lady?

If you're going as Hillary (pants suit, portly belly) and Huma, make sure to wear comfortable shoes to complete the ensemble. Bring a broom and be prepared to ride side-saddle if you're Huma. Hillary will straddle that bad boy.


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Yoko Outs Hillary

Yoko Ono (former wife of singer John Lennon) boasted of having a sexual affair with Hillary Clinton, (More here) back in May 2015. The headline had no particular gravitas as far as the mainstream media is concerned.
The artist and widow of John Lennon, who is in Los Angeles to present a collection of cups and saucers she is exhibiting at the Museum of Modern Art, totally took reporters by surprise by admitting she had not only met the former First Lady at various times during a series of protests against the Vietnam War in New York in the 1970s but also knew her “intimately”. 
The celebrity admitted laughingly to having “a fling” with her at the time and acknowledged her election “would be a great advancement for LGBT and Women rights in America” she added.
Hillary Clinton, widely considered to be a closeted lesbian, has not publicly responded. To do so would damage her run for the US Presidency.

Yoko Ono
More from Yoko (same article): 
“We met many times during the New York Vietnam War protests in the 1970s, and became very intimate. We shared many of the same values about sexual equality, fighting against the authoritarian, patriarchal, male-dominated society we were raised in” she explained. 
“We had a brief romantic fling when I lived with John in Manhattan and Hillary was studying at Yale, but eventually we lost touch. I am amazed how things are going well for her and wish her the best for her campaign”, she told reporters during the press conference.
The LGBT community is poised to welcome Hillary Clinton (and Huma Abedin) to their ranks as soon as Hillary officially announces, but most people believe that she will wait until after her election (coronation) before hoisting the gay flag over the White House.

If the mainstream media will coronate Barack Obama, oligophrenic, narcissistic and lazy, as president for eight years and cover his depredations, why wouldn't they be equally enthusiastic about Hillary, the bull lesbian? Ok, in point of fact they are. And since the US Supreme Court has blessed homosexual marriage, would it surprise anyone if Hillary and Huma tied the knot in the White House Rose Garden?



Monday, October 26, 2015

Ford's Change of Heart

Say what you want about Donald Trump - and I'm sure that you have a lot to say... but, he kicked Ford's butt and Ford responded.
(CNN-MoneyFord's heavy duty pickup trucks which used to be built in Mexico started rolling off an assembly line in Ohio this week. 
That's good news for the 1,000 Ford workers in Ohio, who might have otherwise been out of work.

It's also good publicity for Ford, which has been under fire for investing so much in Mexico. In April, the automaker said it would invest $2.5 billion in transmission plants in the Mexican states of Chihuahua and Guanajuato, creating about 3,800 jobs there.

Ford's south-of-the-border strategy has drawn heavy criticism from groups such as the United Auto Workers union and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

The Avon Lake, Ohio, plant produced its first batch of Ford's full-size F-650 and F-750 pick up trucks on Wednesday.

"Our investment...reinforces our commitment to building vehicles in America," said Joe Hinrichs, Ford president, The Americas. "Working with our partners in the UAW, we found a way to make the costs competitive enough to bring production of a whole new generation of work trucks to Ohio."
President Obama's move to "radically transform America" never included trying to keep jobs in the US, and the 91 million Americans who are not in the job market are mute testimony to that. The so-called unemployment rate that the Bureau of Labor Statistics quotes is a mishmash of 'worked numbers'. It doesn't reflect reality. And none of those 91 million who aren't working pay any taxes.

"How does that help us?" Trump said about the Ford investment in Mexico while campaigning in Michigan this week. "Mexico is becoming the new China."

I'm not a huge fan of Ford, but I'll say one thing for them, my 2014 Ford Raptor is one heck of a fun ride. I've drifted away from buying American and the massive federal subsidies that GM feasted off of has turned me off that company. To Ford's credit, they didn't take the free cheese. They need to take a bow for that and for responding to Trump's call NOT to outsource jobs to Mexico.

If they keep it up, I might buy another Ford vehicle when I'm in the market.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Dreaming on the Way Out

Welcome to your Sunday Sermonette!

It's not uncommon for people to have extraordinary dreams or visions in the final weeks of their lives. Accounts of pre-death visions span recorded history, but have been absent from the scientific literature. A recent study in the Journal of Palliative Medicine by Associate Professor James P. Donnelly, PhD, and colleagues found that end-of-life dreams and visions (ELDVs) are an intrinsic and comforting part of the dying process.
Christopher W. Kerr, James P. Donnelly, Scott T. Wright, Sarah M. Kuszczak, Anne Banas, Pei C. Grant, Debra L. Luczkiewicz. End-of-Life Dreams and Visions: A Longitudinal Study of Hospice Patients' Experiences. Journal of Palliative Medicine, 2014; 17 (3): 296 DOI: 10.1089/jpm.2013.0371
"These dreams and visions may improve quality of life and should be treated accordingly," says Donnelly, associate professor of counseling and human services and director of measurement & statistics for the Institute of Autism Research at Canisius College.

The 66 patients in the study were receiving end-of-life care at the Center for Hospice and Palliative Care in Cheektowaga, NY. Donnelly and his colleagues (Christopher Kerr, MD, PhD; Pei Grant, PhD; and doctoral student Scott Wright) interviewed the patients daily about the content, frequency and comfort level of their ELDVs. This is the first study to interview patients about their ELDV experiences in the last weeks of life. Previous studies were limited to retrospective information from clinicians or family members.

The researchers found that "the most common dreams and visions were of deceased relatives or friends." Dreams and visions about the deceased were "significantly more comforting" to patients than other kinds of ELDVs, and became more frequent as the person approached death.

"This study demonstrates that ELDVs are commonly experienced and characterized by a consistent pattern of realism and emotional significance," Donnelly says.

The study noted that some medical professionals tend to discount pre-death dreams and visions. "If they are seen as delusions or hallucinations, they are treated as problems to be controlled," according to Donnelly.

But there is an important distinction between ELDVs and delirium. The study concluded: "During a delirium state, the person has lost their connection to reality and ability to communicate rationally. Delirium is distressing and dangerous, and must be treated medically. In contrast, our study shows that ELDVs are typically comforting, realistic, and often very meaningful, highlighting a critical difference."

Then again, the world around you is not much more than a reflection to your reaction to the world around you. And if you study quantum mechanics at all it will seriously bend your noodle.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

A Moment of Silence

You'll never hear his name mentioned in the White House Rose Garden or in the Oval Office where President Obama praises the domestic terror group, #blacklivesmatter. But please take a pause for the cause, from your busy lives to have MSG Joshua Wheeler in your thoughts.


Slow News Saturday

I'm going to use my newly acquired socket wrench to pull the rear wheel from my Ducati Diavel and if all goes according to plan, haul it off and get a new tire on it. (nail in the tire) You can't repair a tire on a high performance motorcycle such that you will be sure that it won't leak because of the flex in the tire and the nature of taking corners with enthusiasm.

Thus, the best I can blog on is some movies coming up in the next 30 days that I plan to see. I like Westerns and there are two coming out that have promise...maybe. Then there is James Bond.

Bone Tomahawk
After a man's wife is kidnapped, four men (Kurt Russell, Patrick Wilson, Matthew Fox, Richard Jenkins) go to save her and find that many horrors await them. It's referred to as a "Western horror film", so stand by for it.

Revenant
In 1823, Hugh Glass, a fur trapper, is mauled by a bear while hunting in what will become the Dakota Territory. His companions rob him, murder his young son, and leave him to die, but he survives and sets out on a 200 mile trek to get revenge on the men who betrayed him and find the man who killed his son.



Spectre
A cryptic message from Bond’s past sends him on a trail to uncover a sinister organisation. While M battles political forces to keep the secret service alive, Bond peels back the layers of deceit to reveal the terrible truth behind SPECTRE.






Friday, October 23, 2015

Human Lice?

(Breitbart News) In the port city of Calais, in Northern France, a tent city was set up for refugees from Syria. Calais is the launching point to enter England from France. As the Human Relief Foundation (HRF), investigated the site, deputy chief executive Kassim Tokan, was taken aback at the waste, and that approximately 97% of the population were able bodied young men.
Tokan Reports: The young men had been burning food and clothes that were sent by charities, and complained they wanted to get to England, to live. Tokan suggested these men go back to the Middle East, in places like Jordan and Lebanon, which could offer them work and would be a better “fit”.

He said that 95 to 97 per cent of the people he observed in the camp were young, fit men – despite the BBC misleading the general public by featuring children in over 50 per of their pictures of the migrant crisis, as exposed by a Breitbart London analysis.

“They have enough food, they have enough clothes and we have seen clothes everywhere thrown. I think we need to find other places. These people come from certain countries, which are safe, everything is there, they can work, but I don’t know why they came here.
This report underlies the fears of the western world, that young Muslim men, who potentially could be advised to seek refuge in the west, could also be aligned with jihadists. Why would men uproot themselves from their families and culture to seek residency in the west? The disgusting way they have treated charitable offerings, and demanding crossing the channel into England is evidence enough these men are not who they say they are-they are not in flight.
Tons of food and survival goods were being wasted and left in mud, and at the begging of September, charities pleaded for people to stop sending goods as they were “overwhelmed,” asking for money and mobile phones instead.
Money and mobile phones? 

The Hungarians are not amused.
So far they have not asked for small arms, armored vehicles and artillery, but who knows? I wouldn't be surprised but what Germany provided it to them as part of their aid and relocation package. The Hungarians referred to military age males that make up the "refugee" camps as "human lice".

As with many other situations throughout history, the oceans that divide America from Eurasia can be a very good thing.

If the Europeans want the Syrians then, they can keep them. The American response should be to accept NONE of the current hoard of military age males leaving Syria for Europe.


Thursday, October 22, 2015

Deus Ex Machina?

Technology that is distinguishable from magic 
is insufficiently advanced.

Will artificial intelligence render religion obsolete within our lifetimes? Some people think so (here).

The article cited above suggests the arrival of "technological singularity",  a hypothetical event related to the advent of artificial general intelligence or "strong AI"). Such a computer, computer network, or robot would theoretically be capable of recursive self-improvement (redesigning itself), or of designing and building computers or robots better than itself. They project that it will arrive within about thirty years, possibly to coincide with the arrival of true quantum computing.

A project that I'm working on at a university in Texas at the moment will result in "strong AI", but not strong in the sense that the machine is self-aware.

I'm not a neophyte in the field, but there are different ways of constructing AI to use networks as tools. The power of those networks is clearly growing in such a way as to provide predictive information that has a strong degree of confidence. It's not machine based "Minority Report", but along those lines, using information that is not classified - - totally open source (expansive integrated meta data + AI).

Ethics in privacy and civil rights enter in but when we give away so much of our privacy willingly, it's difficult to blame the people who build the machines that then use it.

It comes to the point where you have to be wiling to give up your cell phone, computer, credit cards, television cable subscription, etc. --- moving completely off the grid. Most of us can't do all of those things and earn a living. Some few can.

The technical singularity point is the point beyond which events may become unpredictable or even unfathomable to human intelligence. Atheists believe that at that point, the machine(s) will become God and so it goes.

I'll leave my opinion on the matter to my responses to comments that you may choose to make.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Bull's Eye - every time

Technology that is distinguishable from magic 
is insufficiently advanced.


Since there is no limit to government spending, think of what this means to the local police and to the military as well as to lame shots who want to go hunting. (Tracking Point)



Would this improve your accuracy in, say, dove hunting? Quite possibly.


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Elites are Concerned

Imagine being the captain or first mate of a slave ship back in the days of sail - and you're hauling slaves from Africa to the Sugar Islands to keep up one leg of the molasses-to-rum-to-slaves triangle of commerce. Suddenly, you hear the pitter-patter of hundreds of unshod feet and languages spoken that you don't understand on the deck overhead.

That is what the political elite of the Republican Party are hearing, and it's none too comforting. They make a living by keeping their own little club intact and in power. (Fly over country only matters for votes. They needn't pay attention to what the great unwashed want) The elite are very well paid by lobbyists and special interests who will expect the party to vote the way it's paid to vote.

Frustrated by the fat cats who have ignored the will of their constituents, those people who vote have the temerity to support non-politicians for office, threatening the very fabric of pay-to-play that supports the kleptocracy.

Mitt Romney (who I like personally as a guy) is making a showing now as the party elite are trying to make a play against Donald Trump and Ben Carson to retake their beloved rice-bowl. I don't find it surprising that they've pulled him out of retirement to stump for Jeb! who can't draw a crowd of more than a hundred or so without paying people to show up and hear him pontificate. I don't think that it will work. The tread of native feet on the deck means that you can't stuff them back into the hold of the slave ship and chain them up again...

I'm sure that Mitt is happy to be asked out of retirement to help, but it's a sign of desperation in the same way that Biden is.

Because, it's not only the Republicans who are worried.

The Democrats were so sure of Hillary Clinton that they beat down any other voice, allowing only those straw men who posed no threat to another moribund Clinton Administration to run against her. Another Clinton serves the same special interests that feed the Republicans in an ongoing scam where the public can't help but lose.

Biden is in the bull pen in case that the old Bitch of Benghazi is indicted as a result of the ongoing political scandal. He will enter the race because if Hillary falls for any reason, the Democrats are stuck with Bernie Sanders, who only became a Democrat to run for office. He's another outsider. The details of the tectonic shift that's going on are obvious unless you're in denial.

The Summer-of-Denial has passed and the outsiders are soundly ahead of the insiders.


Polls show that most Americans believe that Hillary Clinton is a liar. Maybe the American voter isn't quite as stupid as I thought they were.

Americans are fed up with politicians, their handlers, and the whole rotten mess.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Random Monday Rant

The Value of Pigskin Gloves

Because I'm an infidel, I think that if I worked at TSA, or if I was back in harness, I'd be wearing these Wells Lamont 3214 Work Gloves with Grain Pigskin, Spandex Back, Hook & Loop Wrist Closure. It's like packing a BLT in your lunch box every day just to keep square with the world. Because if you are going to search a haji for weapons, there's nothing like wearing pigskin gloves to get your message across.

MK V

MK-V Fast SPECWAR Boat
When I was in the Navy, we used the Sea Fox, small boat. I don't know of anyone who liked the Sea Fox beyond the people who sold it to the Navy. I'm sure that Uniflite Inc, (Bellingham, WA) who built it and foisted the 36 ft. fiberglass boat it on an unsuspecting Navy loved the money that they made. 

I had the opportunity to take a ride on the newer MK V recently (joy ride) and check them out. They are a massive improvement over the smaller and generally worthless Sea Fox, which deployed from a boat trailer. 

When the Joint Special Operations Command was created (run by the Army) took over the SEALs, the generals asked what the Navy wanted. At the time, much of the equipment that was in use dated back to World War 2. The Navy didn't care much for the SPECWAR community and the budget showed. Things began to change, but not as fast as many would like. The MK V came out of that wish-list session

Some people said that the Sea Foxes did not deploy to the Gulf (First Gulf War) but we did have them on trailers at Ras al Mishab. They were never removed from the trailers, but they were there on site. The boats used in Gulf I were Fountain high speed boats, two of them had been drug seizures, re-purposed for Navy use. There were several design flaws in the old Sea Fox. The bow design was sloped to allow a clear view while transiting at speed, unfortunately this led to the boat plowing and even shipping water over the bow at wakeless speeds. Sea Foxes also had a tendency to dive, becoming momentarily (TOTALLY) submerged when operated in heavy seas. With or without a SEAL squad/platoon onboard it was not uncommon for SeaFox sailors to earn their dolphins or become submerged while in heavy sea states. This led to a number of injuries over the operational life of the Sea Fox and at least one fatality (in the Philippines).

For Blog Reader Dr. Jim: The Seafox had an LN-66 navigational radar, a HF/VHF radio, an avionic UHF radio, IFF and an AN/APR-39 ECCM radar detector. It also had a gyroscope compass.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Trump and Carson

To quote Old NFO's Sunday contribution:
"Imagine a world where the police are the enemy, the government spies on citizens, the IRS is used to silence opposition, patriots are called terrorists and terrorism is called 'workplace violence', and the Democratic Party's leading candidates are a socialist and an old lady under FBI investigation."
The mainstream media has a love-hate relationship with Republican Party candidate Donald Trump, who they still maintain is not a serious candidate. But as much as Trump plays them like a fiddle, they enjoy him. They do not enjoy Dr. Ben Carson. Carson, to the media, is the worst sort of race traitor. He's a man born into abject poverty in Detroit, raised by an illiterate single mother, who bootstrapped his way to be a celebrated neurosurgeon who is now running for president. Carson is a man of devout faith too, and I don't know if they hate him more for being an American success story or for his belief in God.

To add insult to injury, Republicans (who the Democrats maintain are deeply racist) are supporting Dr. Carson on an equal footing with Donald Trump, the white fat cat billionaire. They mock Carson to the extent that their liberal hearts will allow, but Ben Carson just smiles and goes on being a quiet man with good common sense and a kind heart -- preaching limited government, civil liberties, and a return from the socialist morass that is destroying the nation. And if the standard liberals hate Dr. Carson, #blacklivesmatter hates him with a vengeance because he says that all lives matter. What sort of insanity is THAT?

Americans are engaging in endless speculation on presidential politics these days. Jeb Bush is lashing out because nobody wants to come and hear him say anything, even though he's raised a lot of money. Carly Fiorina surges after debates but has a difficult time keeping up in the polls. Hillary Clinton fears her, but it doesn't seem as if she'll gain the nation al traction that she needs. Marco Rubio is doing well, but not well enough. The same is true with Ted Cruz. The rest of the Republican pack needs to get out of the race.

The next President of the United States might just be Donald Trump. The Democrats have been fudging the numbers as we all know and 92 million Americans are out of the labor force/unemployed. Those numbers are staggering. Trump's message of making America great again and his skill of bringing jobs back to American soil will resonate while Hillary promises another four years of Obama, only this time under female leadership.


Friday, October 16, 2015

Friday Wrap-Up

Electronic-Mail

A friend of mine who lurks on this blog, seldom commenting, and then only as "anonymous" -- you know who you are, texted me that they were visiting the home of my best friend. I replied, "Coronado, CA"? The reply came back, burning up electrons, "No, Chicago..." I corrected, "Nairobi"...

The weeks fly by, don't they, anonymous. Good times in the past, weren't they?

It's Friday

I begin my new Hollywood job in earnest next week, and I'm possibly looking forward to it far more than the job warrants. 

Politics

The US President is a smug narcissist who is very dangerous. While I am not now suggesting and have never suggested that we invade Syria and fight yet another land war in Asia - pouring blood and treasure down a rat hole - he is clearly provoking another Cold War. 

Hillary Clinton, author of the disastrous Arab Spring policy, wants to be the next president. Based on the debate they just had, all that she really is promising is to be a woman. But is she even that? Maybe it's best to ask husband, Bill... and leave the matter to rest there.

There is value to cold wars, I guess, so long as nobody lights off a nuclear weapon by accident. The Military Industrial Complex provides jobs for the middle class and it will possibly be ramping up  again. 

It's very difficult for a nation to buy bullets and butter at the very same time (historically). Obama will continue to buy votes as will his Party, but many in the US sense a potential shift in the politics as his (loyal?) opposition has rejected the political hacks and the non-political class leads in the primary polls.



And for us all, cares of the world aside, there is the weekend ahead!  And Ducati-friendly weather.



Thursday, October 15, 2015

Send in the Cubans?

(Fox News) The word is out that the Cubans have advance teams on the ground in Syria in preparation for deployments of Cuban Army armored infantry units who will support the Iranian Kuds Force, Russian Naval Infantry and Russian Army units.  I'm sure that Raul Castro cleared it with his new best friend, Barack Obama. 
From Fox (cited above) Gen. Leopoldo Cintra Frias, head of Cuba's Armed Forces, recently visited Syria to lead a group of Cuban military personnel joining forces with Russia in their support of Assad, according to information received by the University of Miami's Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies. 
On Wednesday, a U.S. official confirmed to Fox News that Cuban paramilitary and special forces units are on the ground in Syria, citing evidence from intelligence reports. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Cuban troops may have been training in Russia and may have arrived in Syria on Russian planes.

The Chinese People's Liberation Army's Navy aircraft carrier battle group centered on the Liaoning (formerly Varyag) is expected to depart within the month to join their Russian allies off the Syrian littorals in support of whatever operations the Russians decide to undertake. 

It's all fun and games with Barack Obama serving as US President and the game of kick me can be played with no consequences. In fact, Obama feels that the Russians, Chinese and Cubans are his friends.

There is no word of North Korea joining in the circle jerk, but I wouldn't be surprised if they sent troops as well.
From Fox (cited above) The U.S. official described Cuban's involved in Syria as similar to the "Cuba-Angola arrangement" -- a reference to Cuban troops operating on behalf of the Soviets in several central African countries in the 1970's. Cuba also sent troops to Syria in 1973 to support them in the Yom Kippur War against Israel and deployed officers to observe Israeli military tactics.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

More about Water on Mars

Cause and effect is sometimes best measured by first looking at the effect.



The Colorado River canyon, just above Grand Canyon (left), and Nanedi Vallis on Mars (right) pictured at the same scale shows how both canyons were formed by rivers that appear to have been approximately the same width. The river channel on Earth looks darker because it is filled with water, whereas Nanedi Vallis is dry and has been for quite some time.
Natasha Batalha, Shawn D. Domagal-Goldman, Ramses Ramirez, James F. Kasting. Testing the early Mars H2–CO2 greenhouse hypothesis with a 1-D photochemical model. Icarus, 2015; 258: 337 DOI: 10.1016/j.icarus.2015.06.016
"If we compare some of these valleys on Mars to what we know on Earth, for example the Colorado River, then they look to be the same width," said James Kasting, Evan Pugh Professor of Geosciences, Penn State. "We know how much water it took to carve the Grand Canyon based on five to six million years of rainfall, which is estimated to be about three to six million feet (of rainfall)."

In 2014, Kasting's group proposed a climate model showing Mars warmed by a dense atmosphere of greenhouse gases, specifically carbon dioxide and hydrogen. In a recent issue of Icarus, they report that using a photochemical model, they determined the possibility that there was a high percentage of hydrogen in the atmosphere. According to Batalha and Kasting, photochemical models simulate different aspects of the atmosphere using mathematics to determine the chemicals and how they react. They also set limits that define what is happening at the surface and in the atmosphere.

"The main focus of our work was how can you, and is it even possible to, get a 5 percent hydrogen atmosphere because 5 percent is a lot. Terrestrial planets don't usually have that big of a hydrogen envelope because it escapes pretty easily," said Batalha.

To get a high percentage of hydrogen in the atmosphere, they found that they need volcanic fluxes caused by plate tectonics. However, the researchers believe that while there is some evidence that Mars had plate tectonics, this theory remains controversial. Future work will look for evidence that supports their climate model without relying on plate tectonics. One possibility might show that hydrogen escapes more slowly into the atmosphere than currently predicted.

A competing hypothesis, called the impact hypothesis, claims that the high bombardment of asteroids on the surface of Mars led to a temporary warming, causing steam atmospheres that then condensed and produced rainfall that carved the valleys on Mars' surface. However, that would have generated only around 1,500 feet of water, while the Grand Canyon took millions of feet of water to form, according to Kasting.

Data gathered by NASA's Curiosity Rover, launched in 2011 and currently on Mars, suggests prolonged, standing liquid water was present in Gale Crater. According to Batalha, further evidence showing water stayed on Mars for tens of millions of years would support a warm early Mars while putting the impact hypothesis to rest.

"While Curiosity couldn't directly prove our hypothesis about a high hydrogen atmosphere, if you get millions of years of warmth, then you're driven towards hydrogen because we haven't been able to figure out any other way to create that warmth. All of the other greenhouse mechanisms fail in our models," added Batalha.



Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Crime and Punishment

The move by the Obama Administration to release tens of thousands of hardened criminals onto the street is hailed by the liberal left as being "the right move". As I have suggested before, it works for the police, who are guaranteed more overtime as they clean up the carnage.

Punishment used to take the form of public shaming (putting people into stocks in the public square, public flogging, etc.). More on the order of spanking for adults. Today it's taken the form of long prison sentences as three-strikes laws have created a much safer society in America by warehousing the segment of society that is too broken to co-exist.

At the same time, it's created a public expense as large numbers of govt. employees are given the job of watching, feeding (and coddling) criminals who live in large concrete boxes.

The liberal elite can afford to pay for private security measures which include their own armed guards to protect them from the people that they are so happy to see released from custody. Having your own guards means that you don't need to personally own a gun, so depriving the common man of his defense against threats bares a twisted logic that doesn't work in fly-over country.

America's children are most frequently abused where alcohol/drugs are abused in a home. In a family where both parents are present, don't abuse substances, and a loving, nurturing environment is present, the offspring of that environment is far less likely to end up guarded inside a concrete box. If that's the case, why isn't the American effort to reduce prison populations focused on those things that will encourage healthy families?

Husbandless mothers/fatherless children are not doomed, but when you look at the odds, that's where the ranks of the imprisoned spring from.

What about the rest of us? What part do we play in this human drama? Shakespeare said that, "All the world's a stage" and that we are each actors playing our part.

My daughter (pictured left) is exercising her right to keep and bare arms and to practice with the same. Is a Glock 21 (.45 ACP) too much handgun for a young woman? Apparently not.

There is a saying from the Old West that God made men and Samuel Colt made them equal. When you consider the practice of releasing tens of thousands of angry, violent men from their cages onto the population, the concept of equality for women comes into focus. That can only be achieved through ownership and familiarity with firearms. The liberal elite in Washington DC, who surround themselves with heavily armed bodyguards don't agree with me.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Putin's Popcorn

President Barack Obama lamented (on CBS Sixty Minutes) that poor Vladimir Putin was simply out of his league while the wiley community organizer from Chicago showed him a thing or two. According to Obama, his leadership reigns supreme.

It's a symptom of chronic narcissism as a severe personality disorder, but what's new? Half of America loves him because he sees to it that they get free cheese and ObamaPhones. 60 million Americans are on food stamps, and both he and Hillary Clinton hope that they'll remember that when they vote.

Whatever Syrian-based force we had to fight ISIL, four or five guys at last count, that number is now zero after the Russians wiped them out.

Then there is the SECRET (but not so secret) anti-Assad Syrian force that the CIA trained up to take out the Syrian Govt. They had trained a few thousand, but the Russians have severely reduced those numbers as well, and they'll keep wiping them out until they don't exist. Naturally the Iranian Kuds force will move in and slaughter what's left. 
Does anyone except me read history? I haven't heard a comparison to the Bay of Pigs from the mainstream media and I'm not holding my breath.
You can't tell the players without a program. The US Military trained 4 or 5 fighters to take on ISIL. The CIA trained a few thousand to take on Assad (unsupported by aircraft and vulnerable to the Russian attacks that wiped them out).
The US isn't in a position to save the CIA trained rebels as the Russians pummel them with air and artillery strikes and the Iranian infantry has at them. Obama really pulled Vladimir's pants down around his ankles, didn't he?
The Russians "know their targets, and they have a sophisticated capacity to understand the battlefield situation," said Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., who serves on the House Intelligence Committee and was careful not to confirm a classified program. "They are bombing in locations that are not connected to the Islamic State" group.
Meanwhile, Obama is preparing his 'victory over Putin in Syria' exhibit together for the monument that he is building for himself in Chicago. (Obama Presidential Library)

Will Barack risk World War III by establishing a no-fly zone over Sovereign Syrian Airspace? No. Not a snowball in hell's chance of that happening. 

The circumstances will end up shoving another million military age males into Europe.

Putin has once again "won", or as the administration would prefer to spin it, "has hung himself."

Barack Obama dismantled the US Sixth Fleet (Mediterranean Area of Operations) not long after taking office. He has quietly re-established it and a carrier battle group (around the USS Eisenhower - CVN 69)  left Norfolk on October 7 enroute the area off Israel, to show the flag and try to salvage Obama's blunders, which it can't.

Enter China
(IBD) Russian and Chinese military sources now confirm that Chinese warships are en route to the Middle East to get in on some of the action of humiliating the U.S. 
In just a week and a half, Moscow has upended the dynamics of power in the Mideast by taking on the role that President Obama relinquished: acting like a superpower in a regional conflict that has implications extending far beyond the region. 
Russian ruler Vladimir Putin launched airstrikes against rebels opposing the terrorist Assad regime in Syria, first with a modest force to gauge the U.S. response and perhaps pull out if threatened. Seeing no threat, Putin has been intensifying Russian operations, even sending in Spetsnaz special forces troops. 
China's entry means two major powers are stepping in to do what the U.S. was unwilling to do against IS. 
It's a lesson in how fast the tables can turn when America displays weakness — losing wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and proving to be ineffective against IS despite fighting it for a year and three months now. 
Our commander-in-chief even admits that he has no strategy against the monstrous caliphate that his very own policies of weakness brought into being. 
What is apparently happening now was inconceivable before Obama sent America spiraling into decline: our two Cold War adversaries uniting militarily in an effort that will ultimately give them dominance, at our expense, in the most strategically important part of the world, the oil-rich and politically fragile Middle East.
That is the price of having a weak and indecisive leader, and of a weak, soft, spoiled, ignorant electorate who returned him to office after four miserable years to continue his reign.






LL - The Younger Years


Mesa, AZ, with girlfriend.

Lori's father did stage wrestling (like WWF, before there was WWF) in addition to his day job. He wrestled under the stage name, "The Terrible Turk"...even though he was French, not Turkish. Naturally, I did not fear him because then, as now, I was indestructible.
There was a more famous "Terrible Turk" who wrestled in the late 1800's. Her father was a far less famous wrestler with the same moniker. There was ANOTHER Terrible Turk that I found on a Google search who wrestled in AZ in the 2011 timeframe. 
And while I'm at it, happy birthday WoFat. 

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Pluto (is a planet) Update


Water Ice on Pluto: Regions with exposed water ice are highlighted in blue in this composite image from New Horizons' Ralph instrument, combining visible imagery from the Multispectral Visible Imaging Camera (MVIC) with infrared spectroscopy from the Linear Etalon Imaging Spectral Array (LEISA). The strongest signatures of water ice occur along Virgil Fossa, just west of Elliot crater on the left side of the inset image, and also in Viking Terra near the top of the frame. A major outcrop also occurs in Baré Montes towards the right of the image, along with numerous much smaller outcrops, mostly associated with impact craters and valleys between mountains. The scene is approximately 280 miles (450 kilometers) across. Note that all surface feature names are informal.
Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

REPRINT:

The first color images of Pluto's atmospheric hazes, returned by NASA's New Horizons spacecraft last week, reveal that the hazes are blue.

"Who would have expected a blue sky in the Kuiper Belt? It's gorgeous," said Alan Stern, New Horizons principal investigator from Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), Boulder, Colorado.

The haze particles themselves are likely gray or red, but the way they scatter blue light has gotten the attention of the New Horizons science team. "That striking blue tint tells us about the size and composition of the haze particles," said science team researcher Carly Howett, also of SwRI. "A blue sky often results from scattering of sunlight by very small particles. On Earth, those particles are very tiny nitrogen molecules. On Pluto they appear to be larger -- but still relatively small -- soot-like particles we call tholins."

Scientists believe the tholin particles form high in the atmosphere, where ultraviolet sunlight breaks apart and ionizes nitrogen and methane molecules and allows them to react with one another to form more and more complex negatively and positively charged ions. When they recombine, they form very complex macromolecules, a process first found to occur in the upper atmosphere of Saturn's moon Titan. The more complex molecules continue to combine and grow until they become small particles; volatile gases condense and coat their surfaces with ice frost before they have time to fall through the atmosphere to the surface, where they add to Pluto's red coloring.

In a second significant finding, New Horizons has detected numerous small, exposed regions of water ice on Pluto. The discovery was made from data collected by the Ralph spectral composition mapper on New Horizons.

"Large expanses of Pluto don't show exposed water ice," said science team member Jason Cook, of SwRI, "because it's apparently masked by other, more volatile ices across most of the planet. Understanding why water appears exactly where it does, and not in other places, is a challenge that we are digging into."

A curious aspect of the detection is that the areas showing the most obvious water ice spectral signatures correspond to areas that are bright red in recently released color images. "I'm surprised that this water ice is so red," says Silvia Protopapa, a science team member from the University of Maryland, College Park. "We don't yet understand the relationship between water ice and the reddish tholin colorants on Pluto's surface."

The New Horizons spacecraft is currently 3.1 billion miles (5 billion kilometers) from Earth, with all systems healthy and operating normally.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Francisco

Lic. Francisco (Pancho) Ochoa Bejarano

Pictured right in the photo
It would be remiss of me not to mention the untimely passing of Francisco, who I worked with in Mexico. He was a licenciado (lawyer) who lived in, around and among the underworld of Mexico until he was tortured and murdered this week.

An unfeeling person who knew him asked me, "How did you think that he'd end up?" I replied that I thought that he'd end up tortured and body-dumped, but that doesn't mean that I didn't like the lovable rogue.

In order to share a few lighter moments, I must remind you that (1) It's Mexico. (2) It's Mexico; and (3) It's Mexico. Don't judge.
Context: Most Mexican men have a number of wives. In fact, I can't think of one that I know who doesn't have at least two or three. The Casa Grande (Old Mom) is the first. 
In the case of the infamous Chapo Guzman, Casa Grande is Alexandrina, who I know. The other wives (in the case of Chapo G, there must be a dozen or more) fall into the category of Casa Chica. 
They don't often mix socially. The exception is the 'Mexican Wedding', a tradition of sometimes up to fifty bride's maids, where every wife stands in the reception line and hisses at the others.
!Birthday Party!

Location: El Tabule Restaurante, Tijuana, BC Norte, Mexico
El Tabule, owned by Francisco at the time, was a hang out for Cártel Arellano Félix, and it was the place where I had personally met with the leadership of that cartel. The restaurant was originally owned by Mohammed al Sidiki, (who I have also met) who also owned a restaurant of the same name in San Diego. Mohammed, a Middle Eastern money launderer, had his own problems and abandoned ownership to his partner - another money Mexican launderer, who ended up doing a lengthy sentence in a Mexican Prison. Because Francisco was their attorney, he took the place for fees. At one time he also owned, Los Mariachis, across the street - the local favorite breakfast spot if you're in TJ.
Francisco (age about 40), invited me to his new girlfriend's birthday party. I had not met this one yet, but he had more than a few women in his life. I arrived at El Tabule to a party that looked like it had been set up for a little kid. Francisco met me near the front door and I commented. He said (with sadness) that she'd never had a real birthday party.

A pinada had been strung in a corner of the bar, to my left as I walked in. There were usually cartel kingpins sitting in the dark bar, but this day it had been strung with Christmas lights to augment the festive nature of the party.

I met his girlfriend's parents, and then his girlfriend, who wore a very cute pinafore. I asked Francisco how old she was. He said, that it's ok, "she's sixteen today". I don't think that there is an "age of consent" in Mexico that anyone recognizes. Apparently, age sixteen makes it ok. The fact that he'd been dating her for a couple of months previous to the party is naturally overlooked for the sake of social convention.

At different times (changes of leadership due to incarceration or death) Francisco was one of two or three licenciados to Cártel Arellano Félix. At the time of his death, he'd been reduced to doing debt collections in Mexico City. He must have tried to collect from the wrong guy.

!Kidnapped!

Location:  The Sonora Desert, Durango, Mexico

Francisco had been kidnapped and held for ransom. I learned where the kidnappers held him from one of the people involved in the kidnapping's sister. She didn't want her brother to get into trouble. He missed work on the day in question as set forth below:

I decided to show force in an attempt to obtain his release. They had him in one of four shacks and an outhouse on a ranch in the middle of nowhere. We approached down an arroyo to a point about twenty yards from the shack where the narcos and Francisco had congregated. I was there with SEMAR. I the commandante called up a helicopter on the radio and it made a fly-over.
The Mexican Marines won't land a helicopter in gunfire or in any situation where the landing might cause damage to the aircraft - so they are for show.
The commandante screamed into a megaphone that if the kidnappers left in the pick up truck (parked in front) and drove away, leaving the hostage/kidnap victim, that no harm would come to them. To reinforce the demand, the Marine special team fired a few dozen rounds into the corrugated steel building, without once considering that they might hit Francisco. (It's a subtle distinction frequently overlooked by the Mexican Navy/Marines)

Armada de México uniform
The narcos complied, left the building with their wounded and drove off to the East. Francisco, who'd wet himself during the barrage, had been duct taped to a chair and otherwise undamaged. The Marines had naturally laid an ambush east of the ranch on the road out and killed the four narcos packed into the cab of the truck and a fifth, bleeding out in the bed.

He referred to the incident as "the day my balls exploded". The Narcos used jumper cables attached to his testes and the tip of his courting tackle, respectively, to encourage him to tell them where he kept his money.  (His testicles didn't physically explode - he dramatized and characterized a painful event in that way) He went on to love and be loved.

There are many other stories, but I won't be able to recount them with Francisco (who also owned a liquor store) drinking shot after shot of Don Julio 1942 Tequila Anejo, laughing about them all.

The time that El Diablo ended up curled on the floor of a hotel room like a boiled shrimp as a kingpin and "The Russian" - an assassin who had worked for Amado Carillo, stood over him. Both of us were in the room at the Holiday Inn Express (there are two in Guadalajara - this was the newer one across the street from the Burger King).

There was the tour of Guadalajara with Ignacio "Nacho" Coronel Villarreal in his car, where he explained to me how things really worked. Six months or so later, SEDENA killed Nacho, the narco who ran Guadalajara for the Sinaloa Federation...and so many other events.

RIP

Some of us will hold a wake for him in the next week or so. We're talking on the phone and will set something up at a dive bar in TJ on the road east, out of town, across from the border wire. Further east from the prison and well past the airport. If MA is reading this, it's the same bar where Francisco tried to sell her to a corrupt judge from Chihuahua. The sale didn't go through.