sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Living in the Ponderosa Pines

They're calling it the "Tinder Fire", and it is threatening the White Wolf Mine. The area has been evacuated.

The project is insured, but I'd be sad if the hovel burned. The metal roof was scheduled to go on the place this coming week, but it won't if the place is destroyed or if the road closures remain in effect.

Rain is forecast for Tuesday and Wednesday. I can only hope that the rain finishes stopping the embers. 

High winds today prevented aircraft from dropping retardant onto the fire.


Yesterday - in the Legion


Jello Man

If people are to be believed, everyone around Cosby (with the possible exception of the sponsors who lavished him with money and goodies to obtain his endorsement) knew that he was into drugging and then raping women.

We all know that if you're famous, getting laid is about the easiest thing that happens. However, that didn't scratch the itch for Cosby. The women needed to be drugged, and unconscious. Bill might have been into necrophilia as well. We don't know the answer, but the dead are said not to complain to the police - or to turn up pregnant with the comedian's seed in them. He'd have been better off if he'd stuck to corpses.

Will the famous old star end up in general population with a cannon ball and chain welded to an ankle ring? I don't know, but to me, he deserves it.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Looking East

Tired of Winning?

President Trump said that during his administration, America may get tired of winning. The US strategic posture against North Korea seems to be working and we may see peace in Korea - something that Barack never thought would happen. However, a timid, feckless president doesn't inspire respect (unless you're the corrupt, lying, elite mainstream media).

More on Dear Leader:
(Fox News) North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made history Friday when he crossed into South Korea to meet with President Moon Jae-in. But not far behind him was a portable toilet, according to a report. 
Lee Yun-keol, a former member of the North Korean Guard Command who in 2005 left for South Korea, told the Washington Post that the toilet is meant to keep certain information about the leader private. 
The leader’s excretions contain information about his health status, so they can’t be left behind,” he told the paper. The report said that he uses the private toilet during international trips and, at times, even domestic events. 
The portable potty is shrouded in secrecy. The DailyNK reported in 2015 that it is transported in the leader's convoy. 
“There are multiple vehicles within the convoy so that people cannot tell which one he is in, and there is a separate car that acts as his restroom,” an unnamed source told the website.
The US and China need to insure that the deal is fair and that inspection is thorough - for everyone's benefit. North Korea needs to de-mobilize much of its military in addition to de-nuclearizing. But the steps that we're seeing are clearly historic. And while the leaders are meeting in South Korea, the threat of war on the peninsula dropped to nearly zero for the first time in generations.  The deed is not done, but the steps being taken to change politics as usual are profound.

India - China

Indian Prime Minister Modi arrived in Wuhan on the 27th in preparation for an “informal summit” with Chinese President Xi Jinping. The summit meetings will be held on 27 and 28 April.

Modi is the first head of government that President Xi has hosted in a venue outside Beijing. The leaders hope to establish rapport that will help build trust.

India and China came close to armed clashes last year over a Chinese border deployment near Bhutan. China claims sovereignty to the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. Both have steadily built up forces along their common border.

India’s sympathy for Tibetans and the Dalai Lama is a longstanding irritant to China. China’s Belt and Road Initiative beats almost every similar Indian initiative in the Indian Ocean region. Chinese naval ships poach in waters that India considers under its protection. 

China has close ties with every nation that borders India. A serious irritant is that a section of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor transits territory that India claims as part of Kashmir. China also has built its first overseas military base at Djibouti.

Indian forces train with South Korea, Japan and the US. India follows a “Look East” strategy for economic and strategic cooperation with Southeast Asian states. India also continues to develop long range weapons systems that exceed the military requirements of any war with Pakistan.

The two leaders hope to update a “modus vivendi”, a framework for settling disputes without using force, which Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi negotiated in 1988. Since September, teams of negotiators have been working on a framework for the future.

Historically, India and China have not been competitors. They have become so because of the effects of modernity, the endless needs of their large populations and greater global connectivity that has enabled competition outside natural market areas. 

Nevertheless, both nations need to cooperate to maintain regional stability, which is essential to achieving their development goals. They also need to cooperate in a mechanism for containing and suppressing Islamic extremism.

Pakistani leaders are concerned about any Chinese outreach to India. China sent high-level diplomats to reassure the Pakistanis. The Pakistanis do not yet appreciate that China is cultivating all the states in south and central Asia, including Afghanistan. 

In terms of long-term, world impact, this informal summit is significant because it affects the destiny of more than one-third of the world’s population. A Chinese journalist said that Xi and Modi are creating the Century of Asia.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Passing Observations

The world around you is a reflection of your reaction of the world around you. 

And when you're crazy as a March Hare, maybe you need some sort of mandatory institutional treatment rather than being set free to do harm?

I'm not an expert on mental illness except that I know that it takes different forms. Some are more severe than others. Yet, it's still one of those things that people don't like to talk about  - or more importantly - do anything about. A lot of the homeless people in America are simply nuts and nobody wants to deal with that institutionally so they wander the streets. Some are violent. Some are not.  If they get a hold of a gun or a knife, the guns or knives are blamed. Blaming a crazy person for being crazy is not politically correct.

Which begs the question of whether or not the mainstream media and the liberal/progressives are all nuts themselves for blaming the problem on the instrument rather than on the person using it. According to THEIR logic, cars, and not people, should receive traffic citations for unlawful conduct.

The Virtual Mirage Time Machine

         The Most Popular Virtual Mirage Post of All Time

It's a breach of contract case, where a German court was forced to decide a matter where a man hired a neighbor to impregnate his wife and paid for the service. It was only later discovered that the man hired was sterile. The facts are at the link - you decide. Honest effort?

As this blog approaches two million hits, I'm going to pull popular posts from the past and reference them. Do I win a toaster or something when I hit two million? Or is it three?

From the e-mail

Some of you have written to inquire about the progress of the book about pirates that I'm writing - Quidley's Secret is the present working title. I'm somewhere near 1/3 of the way through. To refresh your memories, it's essentially a story that originates with my own family history research, and involves piracy in the Carolinas in the late 1600's and Edward Teach (Blackbeard-the-Pirate) as a young boy. Patrick Quidley, the pirate referenced in the prologue, was hung by the British Admiralty Court on March 5, 1694 for piracy. The larger story is the subject of the book, which is historical fiction.

Prologue – Port of Dover, 1685

It is a cold, wet, winter’s day in Dover, England. Today, enough rain has fallen to drench the paving stones and make them slick, but no more than that. In other words, it’s a day like many others. Gray winter days such as these where the cold, steady, rain pisses on the island are the rule, not the exception. Under normal circumstances good and honest men are huddled around their hearths. The merchants, who make their living from the sea, are all in. Warehouses are packed with goods but they aren’t moving because the ships are secure in their moorings, as the seas in the English Channel rear and crash against the shore. A warming bumper of hot, buttered, rum gets people through the short days and long, dark, nights. 
The weather masks the conclusion of an arrangement arrived at the previous year that has brought considerable wealth to certain men of Dover. The date is January 10, 1685 and the Quidley families of Orwaldstone, then still referred to as Old Rye, and Margate Limb of Dover, have gathered together in council at St. James Church in the crowded city, near the heavily fortified ramparts of nearly impregnable Dover Castle standing on the hill above them. 
A steady decline in sea traffic entering the Cinque Ports over the past two years and the increasing pressure for more revenue from taxation from King Charles II has been a vexing matter. The pressure has been applied to the King’s tax collector, and as was explained by that same man at the time, “If you have a tormenting boil, you lance it.” 
Lancing the boil has brought the sorts of issues that one inevitably faces in matters of cause-and-effect. For now, the downside to a tacit and selective approval of piracy on the high seas, has been accepted and recognized with the favor of great men for its tangible rewards.
The private meeting in the rich stone church is presided over by John Beaumont, Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports and Constable of Dover Castle. The forty-nine year old Beaumont dismissed the clergy for the day. The business at hand is not for their ears. Beaumont will stand for election to Parliament later in the year and he will be raised to a lieutenant colonelcy in Our Holland Regiment (the 4thRegiment). Both of these achievements will require more money that he has on hand as of January 10th.
The need for money prompted the Lord Warden to combine with young, aggressive, impatient, Captain Patrick Quidley and his uncle, Squire David Quidley, late in the season the preceding Year of Our Lord, 1684. By doing, he became the third member of a conspiracy.  Worse still in the parlance of the period, John Beaumont, a Catholic, is a confederate in a piracy ring with Protestants. 
Both Quidleys are high commoners and prominent men within the extended family that has prospered in shipbuilding, drydockage and repairs to shipping in the ports that the Lord Warden oversees. They’ve built ships for the King’s navy, ships for merchants intent on engaging in commerce for profit, and on their own account.
John Beaumont is the royal tax collector who sees to the franchises, liberties, customs and usages of the ports and gathers such as is owed to the crown, taking a salary for himself. Unfortunately, Beaumont’s taste for the gaming table and wooing other men’s wives has been his undoing. He took liberties with the Royal tax fund that he holds in trust. At the beginning of the New Year, 1685, after the Feast of the Epiphany, he will be required to settle financial matters with the Charles II’s factotums and pettyfoggers.  
Though he does not know it today, Beaumont will be favored after the King dies in twenty-seven days, by his successor James II, who will need all the friends he can get. But that is still a month in the future.
Outfitting the privateer Gull, a brigantine of twelve, ten-pound iron guns and two brass swivels, required a significant investment. Warships must be constructed with stouter framing and ships guns come dear. Other secret processes that improved the ship’s handling increased the price as well. The funds have been raised by offering shares to interested members of the family with fifteen percent ownership gifted to the Lord Warden in exchange for a vaguely worded letter of marque of dubious legal standing.
Today the shareholders have gathered to count the return on the first voyage of the Gull. The Quidleys could have met at the lodge since all are freemasons.  However, John Beaumont has not been inducted. As a Catholic man of prominence he’s not even allowed to become a Fellow of the Craft, let alone an Entered Apprentice or a Master Mason.  It’s a minor matter among conspirators intent on growing wealthier and there remains a cloud over the treasure. None of the Quidleys want the lodge and their fellows of the craft dishonored if things go sideways. Meeting in St. James’ Church even without clerics present can make the church complicit—if problems arise. The arrangement holds because John Beaumont is unconcerned that the Catholic Church would be blamed.
The hum of conversation between two dozen Quidleys diminishes as the Lord Warden, flanked by four Hollanders in uniform, carrying snaphaunce muskets, takes the dias.
“His Honour, Constable John Beaumont.” The sergeant of the guard announces, quieting the meeting without threat of malice.
John Beaumont is a tall, ludicrously pale man with sly eyes who has grown soft in the middle. He’s chosen to wear his honorary Admiral’s uniform today with his best powdered wig on his bald pate, but still looks every bit the profiteer. He smiles with his brown, rotting teeth from under his cocked hat, and dismisses the guard, who follow Captain Patrick Quidley, master and commander of the Gull, from St. James Church, through a side door that leads to the graveyard.
Captain Patrick Quidley is of average size and wears a light smile as if he contemplated an amusing anecdote that someone just shared with him.  His face, a seaman’s face the color of tarnished copper, enjoyed a symmetrical balance of sharp Caucasian angles without a hint of the soft life ashore. He wore a long, blue, sea captain’s greatcoat with gold braid and brass buttons polished to a bright luster.  Two finely made cavalry pistols are in his belt under that coat and he also wears a sword of the finest steel with a gold guard and ivory grip.
“Captain Quidley and Squire David have called us all here, yes even me, to announce the success of our joint venture in commerce, which we shall all toast with good brandy from South Africa!” As soon as he makes the announcement, servants begin to distribute mugs. The toast is offered by the Lord Warden, himself, with his own hand, “King Charles, God save the King!”
No sooner is the toast downed by the thirsty Quidleys and their bumpers promptly refilled, than Captain Patrick Quidley returns into the church, flanked by the four musketeers and by two score of seamen, also armed with short muskets, boarding pikes, belaying pins and cutlasses. A stout cart is wheeled in with a chest on it. The cart is pushed to the front of the church and is opened. It’s filled with gold and silver plate, gold dubloons, Spanish dollars, pieces of eight and religious articles of gold and precious stones.
The Quidley family are all aware of the fine details of haul from the Spanish galleon, San Jose de Padreof eighteen brass guns, which their most esteemed cousin, Patrick, took at sea in the Brigantine Gull
San Jose de Padre, enroute Lisbon, carrying His Eminence, Antonio Brandao, Archbishop of Goa on his way home following his term in office, blundered into the path of the Gull, which would have been content to board and plunder any ship it had the capability to best at sea.
Quidley lay in wait in the passage between the Canary Islands and the coast of Morocco, which was hardly an original place to ambush a slow, heavy, ship beating up the coast against the wind. The lumbering Portuguese galleon, badly in need of careening, managed one broadside against the Gullonly to have four of its brass guns explode due possibly to wear and poor handling.  The Gull, with fresh canvas and a new, smooth, hull, danced around her and swept her decks with grapeshot, killing the captain and the Archbishop. The first lieutenant raised the flag of the Holy See. Gullraised the black flag and then the lieutenant struck his colors, asking for quarter.
It would have been less of a problem if England and Portugal had been at war. As fate would have it, 1684 was one of the few years that England was not at war with anyone and neither was Portugal. In fact, they had been allied through the marriage of Catherine of Braganza and Charles II. That made Quidley’s choice of a Portuguese galleon a dangerous one. In his defense, Captain Quidley said that he hadn’t known of a certainty that it was Portuguese until they boarded her, found the bloody body of the Archbishop and confronted the terrified crew.  
Under other circumstances, the San Jose de Padremight have been taken as a prize of war. As it was, there wasn’t much to do but salvage what they could, maroon surviving members the crew and half a dozen priests on La Gomera Island in the Canary Chain and scuttle the San Jose de Padrein deep water.
In addition to the Archbishop’s personal fortune, the ship’s cargo consisted of 230 bolts of silk fabric, 84 casks of saltpeter, 30 chests of opium, 45 casks of indigo, 70 hogsheads of wine and 100 of brandy taken on in Capetown. 12 puncheons of a better grade of brandy bore the archbishop's seal.
The gold and silver delivered at the meeting in the church account for over half of the value of the take, estimated at £35,000 less certain commissions that needed to be paid on the cargo to quietly slip it into the commercial mainstream.  Subtracting the £9,800 cost of the sturdy Gull, it left £22,800 to be distributed of which £5,220 in shares and fees went directly into the pocket of John Beaumont, the King’s Warden and associated bribes amounting to an additional £400. The Quidley Family took their share as a combination of cargo and specie. The Warden took his in bar, plate and coin.
A lesser man, with command of a regiment of foot at his fingertips might have thought to seize the treasure in the Church of St. James that very day but the plain truth is that the pirate crew were better armed, more numerous, and there would have been a lot of explaining for the Warden to do. His Majesty’s infantry, while capable in drill and musketry, could not match the savagery of heavily armed and well-blooded, experienced cutthroat seamen in close quarters.
Following the division of treasure including shares given to the crew of the Gull, there present to oversee the transaction, the Quidley family disburses back to their homes, the Warden takes his gold down a narrow, cobbled street, and across the courtyard, had it loaded into a wagon drawn by four stout draft horses, which hauled it up the hill to Dover Castle and the matter rests for the moment.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018


It is said in the People's Republic of China you must do three things in your life in order to be successful: (1) Have a male heir; (2) Make lots of money; (3) Build a monument to yourself.

There are MANY monuments in China. They're the most interesting thing that I find about traveling in Big China.

Tibet HAD monuments before the Chinese blew them up...because there is only room for Chinese monuments.

China built a monument to islet-building in the Spratly Islands. 

On 23 April, Chinese authorities held an unveiling ceremony on Fiery Cross Reef for a monument to islet building in the Spratly Islands, according to a report in the People’s Liberation Army Daily.

During the daily press session on 24 April, Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang was asked about the new monument. 
“It is reported that yesterday the Chinese side held a monument unveiling ceremony to celebrate the building of islets and reefs in the South China Sea. Could you brief us on the relevant situation? What are the purposes of holding such an activity?” 
Lu said, “Xinhua News Agency released relevant information yesterday.” 
“The main purposes of the Chinese side's building islets and reefs of the Nansha Islands are to perfect relevant functions on the islets and reefs, improve the working and living conditions for personnel stationed there, fulfill the Chinese side's assumption of international responsibilities and obligations in an even better way, provide more public goods for the international community, which is helpful to ensure the safety of navigation passage in the South China Sea which is vitally important for the development of China and regional countries.”
Lu dodged the question, which was about the purpose of the monument. Lu explained the purpose of the islets. 

Lu’s remarks are curious. The seven reefs and shoals that are now man-made islets were under water before China started dredging. They had no functions and were uninhabitable. They are located so far from any shipping lanes that they posed no hazard to navigation except to unwary fishermen.

There was no functional or safety reasons for China to build islets, but there were resource and sovereignty issues. All the inhabitable islands were occupied by other claimants, so China made its own islets, which no other nation could claim. Then it asserted Chinese sovereignty of the South China Sea and to all its sea and seabed resources.

Satellite imagery shows the Chinese have done an impressive job of terraforming and building on all seven islets. Three have runways for commercial and military jets. All possess defenses and have military garrisons. Some have green spaces and a park that grows grass and trees. Everything had to be transported from mainland China. Next hotels will pop up and it will be a tourist destination. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2018


There are a lot of different animals on the White Wolf Mine property on Arizona's Mogollon Rim. Since they're wild, they come and go as if they own the place - which in a real sense they do. I received reports from some of the guys who are pounding nails and working on the hovel that a herd of big horn sheep are in the area and have been recent arrivals to take advantage of a salt lick. I put out a large block of rock salt for the elk, deer, and apparently for the sheep now.

Carnivores get salt from the animals they kill but herbivores find it more difficult to fill their salt needs. Thus the lick.

One of the guys (no doubt he was 'on the clock' - possibly on overtime) got close enough to snap a few photos, but this one is the best. 

The way the property lays, the shack is just down from the summit and there is a valley, that I own below that. There's an occasional stream in the bottom, and it empties into Clear Creek about a quarter mile away (the larger creek in the area). Clear Creek flows through a gorge cut through millions of years. 

In the lower property, meaning lower in the small valley, there is a lot of rimrock and  the sheep have been bedding down there.

Photos of Clear Creek:

Monday, April 23, 2018

Word on the Street

US Missile Strikes in Syria

There is a reason why the Russians reacted by threatening US ships and air bases when we told them that we were likely to strike Syrian chemical weapons facilities. Russian reactions to anything is to suspect a plot, if only because they are inveterate plotters and schemers.  

They are peddling their S-400 (surface to air) system far and wide around the world as the only integrated, multi-level, long/intermediate/short range system that can interdict US aircraft and missiles in flight. It's a major source of hard cash and both Turk/Iranian are taking delivery so that they too can shoot down the Americans. Having the US fire missiles at Syrians, armed with the S-300 system (a subset component of the S-400 system) and have them impact their targets invalidates the ineffectiveness of the system.

The Syrians also followed another 40 missiles into the air the following day even though there was no US launch.

The Russians tracked the US/UK/French strike packages but did not fire on them for good reason. (1) they didn't want a war and (2) how humiliating would it have been if they'd missed? International embarrassment and innate Russian paranoia of being laughed at as manure-speckled kulaks and relegated into second-world status drives Vladimir Putin into a rage, fueled by concern because that's how leaders in Russia are toppled. 

Russia isn't even close to keeping up with the Texas GDP... and there aren't many products that they make which can be sold for hard cash abroad. S-400 was (and may still be) a great financial hope.

Is the Waffle House Shooting an Outrage?

Our friend and fellow blogger John Coffey has been to his local Waffle House more than once. I think that there has to be something seriously wrong with somebody for them to desecrate a waffle house when there are so many delicious waffles to eat there. It's a place of happiness and love. What's more love than a piece of buttery waffle smothered in syrup on your fork and a slab of delicious bacon to chase it?

Clearly, condolences go to the dead and to their families. 

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Sunday Sermonette

Front of the place
The White Wolf Mine is pushing forward toward completion, and we're moving toward the time when the place will be completely 'weathered in'. Once that happens, the finishing work can begin in earnest. 

And when the hovel is complete, I'll burrow in like an Arizona tick on an elk's back and that will be that. 

It seems like I've been on this project forever and because I have never built a custom shack before, every detail is somewhat new to me. That's not a bad thing, but it's still a thing.

Rear garage door and side of the house.
People have asked me if I've downsized because I'm ancient and heading toward my dotage. The answer is that, fortunately or not, I've up-sized just a little, while reducing the number of bedrooms and doubling the size of the garage in the house-near-the-mosque, which I sold to a Mohammedan, when I moved.

I went by the old neighborhood the other day and there were a lot of aloha snackbar types hanging out in what once was a really nice neighborhood.

The only sermonette value that I can suggest here is that patience is a virtue (that I lack). It is a LONG GRIND to build a place from the ground up.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Back Roads

There is a lot to recommend about Death Valley. One of the great myths of the place is that there is no water. 

There is a LOT of water in Death Valley. Some of it is to be found in hidden oasis locations. Such a place is Darwin Falls. This isn't all that far from where I saw a couple of B-52's flying nap of the earth a week or so ago. If you're going to visit the Panamint Range in Death Valley, a stop at Darwin Falls is a must. 

36.32776, -117.51466

There is an established trail to the falls and it's not a difficult hike. If you arrive early in the morning you will likely see deer, and/or big horn sheep. 

If I'm in the area, I like to plan a picnic lunch in the area. Remember, if you pack it in, please pack it out. Bring a heavy blanket for ground cover, lay back after a leisurely lunch and take a nap with the falls splashing playfully in the background. Of the times that I've visited, I'm almost always the only person there. (or my party is the only people there)

On a hot day, there is the relief of shade and you can soak your feet in the water and cool off if you're of a mind.

There will be more blogging about my recent trip to Death Valley...until I need to head out again and have more adventures to share. Should Darwin Falls be on your bucket list? 

It all depends what you enjoy.

The hike in doesn't prepare you for the fall
Darwin Falls is actually a series of waterfalls. The runs pictured below and the pools empty into a third pool that just stays there as the water sinks into the sand.



Starbucks is a national and international success story. The recent 'scandal', if you can call it that, simply underscores the "progressive" mindset.

I don't go to Starbucks, primarily because they are the lode stones that lure progressives in. The coffee they sell in California causes cancer. Don't believe me, look at the signs.

Should negros boycott Starbucks? Sure, why not? Ok, unless they plan to rob the place. That would tend to clarify things for Starbucks employees, and other progressives who frequent the place.


I don't like to receive robot calls, or calls from people from India, peddling this or that. The calls from India are annoying and persistent. I receive at least five nuisance calls a day from India, and the originating numbers vary, so they can't be blocked. One thing I can assure you of is if the calls originated from a closer number, I'd travel there and open a serious can of whoop-ass.

However since it's India - not worth the trip and once there? Why bother.

I'd change my number, but I don't think that would help.

I also hate to receive calls from political organizations dragging the sack for cash. The same thing goes for "charities". How do I know they're charitable organizations and not just some self-serving jerk on the other end trying to rip me off.

This sort of thing is very high on my pet-peeve-o-meter.

Hate Speech

We can certainly be judgmental about what people do, or say, or think, and we as private citizens may respond to those sentiments we find abhorrant or with which we disagree. But we should always be mindful of the fact that one of the founding principles of this nation was the right to freedom of expression, which essentially is the right to voice contrary opinions and views. 

There is no exception for “hate speech” in our Constitution, nor should there be. To allow such a concept into our legal system would endanger the fundamental freedoms of this nation and would be used as a cudgel to suppress opposing views deemed offensive by whoever. We live in a “free society”, however you wish to define it. Embrace that ideal, champion the rights of all citizens, even the ones you despise, or find another place to call home. You don’t have to take my word for it. The United States Supreme Court agrees. 

There is no “hate speech” exception to the First Amendment: LINK

Friday, April 20, 2018


NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) launched on the first-of-its-kind mission to find worlds beyond our solar system, including some that could support life. 

Researchers will use spectroscopy to determine a planet's mass, density and atmospheric composition. Water, and other key molecules, in its atmosphere can give us hints about a planets' capacity to harbor life.

The satellite successfully launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 on April 18, 2018.

NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) launched on the first-of-its-kind mission to find worlds beyond our solar system, including some that could support life.

TESS, which is expected to find thousands of new exoplanets orbiting nearby stars, lifted off at 6:51 p.m. EDT Wednesday on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. At 7:53 p.m., the twin solar arrays that will power the spacecraft successfully deployed.
"We are thrilled TESS is on its way to help us discover worlds we have yet to imagine, worlds that could possibly be habitable, or harbor life," said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. "With missions like the James Webb Space Telescope to help us study the details of these planets, we are ever the closer to discovering whether we are alone in the universe."
Over the course of several weeks, TESS will use six thruster burns to travel in a series of progressively elongated orbits to reach the Moon, which will provide a gravitational assist so that TESS can transfer into its 13.7-day final science orbit around Earth. After approximately 60 days of check-out and instrument testing, the spacecraft will begin its work.
"One critical piece for the science return of TESS is the high data rate associated with its orbit," said George Ricker, TESS principal investigator at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT) Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research in Cambridge. "Each time the spacecraft passes close to Earth, it will transmit full-frame images taken with the cameras. That's one of the unique things TESS brings that was not possible before."
For this two-year survey mission, scientists divided the sky into 26 sectors. TESS will use four unique wide-field cameras to map 13 sectors encompassing the southern sky during its first year of observations and 13 sectors of the northern sky during the second year, altogether covering 85 percent of the sky.

TESS will be watching for phenomena called transits. A transit occurs when a planet passes in front of its star from the observer's perspective, causing a periodic and regular dip in the star's brightness. More than 78 percent of the approximately 3,700 confirmed exoplanets have been found using transits.

NASA's Kepler spacecraft found more than 2,600 exoplanets, most orbiting faint stars between 300 and 3,000 light-years from Earth, using this same method of watching for transits. TESS will focus on stars between 30 and 300 light-years away and 30 to 100 times brighter than Kepler's targets.

The brightness of these target stars will allow researchers to use spectroscopy, the study of the absorption and emission of light, to determine a planet's mass, density and atmospheric composition. Water, and other key molecules, in its atmosphere can give us hints about a planets' capacity to harbor life.

Or are we alone in this part of the galaxy? Ancient Astronaut theorists have weighted in on their TV show on the History Channel.

The Russian Character

I ran onto this quote by George Kennan and it echoed a discussion that I had at lunch with a friend the other day. Read it, carve it in stone, whatever. Keenan nails the Russian national character perfectly: 
"The jealous and intolerant eye of the Kremlin can distinguish, in the end, only vassals and enemies, and the neighbors of Russia, if they do not wish to be one, must reconcile themselves to being the other.  
No matter how big and powerful, Russia always feels threatened. Even when they are feeling weak, they bluster and bully to hide their vulnerability. In this sense, Putin's policies and beliefs are largely consistent with Russian history and the legacy of the Russian Tzars."
As some of you who know me understand, I am not the least bit anti-Russian. I simply feel that knowing one's rival (or principal adversary as the USSR called the USA) allows you to predict behavior. Good or bad - you, blog readers, are the judge. However, apply Keenan's observations when you judge.

Great Russia and the ethnic Russian people are predictable. Russians brood endlessly and it's why they lead the world in chess masters and axe murders. 

I also enjoy the tv show on FX -  The Amerikans - a show about KGB Directorate S operatives in the United States during the Late 1970's up through the 1980's. I find the vibe accurate, and the shows entertaining. (also on Netflix) It's in its final season on TV now.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

It's All-Theater Thursday

Comey Book Tour

Was/is James Comey just incompetent or is the whining weasel that we see flogging his book (sort of a preparatory move to the Stormy Daniels book tour) a sly, smug, self righteous calculator who was bent on destruction of President Trump? That's a loaded question because the Democrats feel that he betrayed Crooked Hillary Clinton.

I don't believe that I will buy his book, not even to use as a doorstop, or as kindling for the fireplace, what a whining, miserable punk, James Comey has proved himself to be. What a self-promoting (kiss and tell) goofball. First we have Comey on tour and then the whore, but whether Comey or Stormy is the bigger whore remains to be seen.

Two Koreas

Live broadcasts agreed for 27 April. The two Koreas on Wednesday agreed to broadcast live key events of the upcoming inter-Korean summit, South Korea’s presidential office said. 

Comment: According to Kwun Hyuk-ki, a member of South Korea’s delegation in Wednesday’s working level talks, the two sides are largely in agreement over issues concerning media coverage and protection for the two leaders.

North Korea will hold a plenary meeting of its ruling party's central committee on Friday (April 20), state media announced on 19 April.

The meeting has been convened to discuss and decide "policy issues of new stage" to meet the demands of the current "important historic period.” This is the meeting where Kim finally will inform the Party elite about his diplomacy.

     China Monitors

Xi’s forthcoming visit reciprocates Kim Jong Un’s visit to Beijing in late March, during which Xi accepted Kim’s invitation. The visit is timed so that he can get a first-hand report from Kim about the summit meeting with the US President.

Xi was serious when he made four proposals for improving ties with North Korea. Chinese leaders are allowing North Korean no opportunity to backslide from Kim’s acceptance of Xi’s proposals. The diligence of China’s follow-up with North Korea attests to the determination of Chinese leaders to not allow a callow North Korean youth to set the terms of security conditions in Northeast Asia.

     Meanwhile in the US

Democrats are condemning CIA Director Pompeo for meeting with Kim Jong Un and working out the details of the meeting. Which is weird because the meeting was about de-escelating the situation in Korea and the Norks dismantling their nuclear weapons with China as the broker for that portion of the deal and joint inspections to verify de-nuclearization with the US and China. Would the Democrats prefer a war? No, not really, they just hate President Trump.

     Back to China

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said:

First, we should stay committed to the general direction of denuclearization. The denuclearization of the Peninsula is the master key to resolving all the issues related to the Peninsula as well as the pathway that leads to the long-lasting peace and stability of the Peninsula. All relevant parties should unwaveringly stick to this general direction.

Second, we should stay committed to the "dual-track" approach, namely, striving to denuclearize the Peninsula and establish the peace regime in parallel. The Korean Peninsula nuclear issue is closely related to the security threats facing all relevant parties, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), in particular, for a long time. When advancing denuclearization, addressing the legitimate security concerns of the DPRK is a reasonable requirement and a necessary step to achieve denuclearization.

Third, we should stay committed to seeking a package solution in stages and in a synchronized way. The Korean Peninsula nuclear issue has been there for long time and there is a lack of basic trust between relevant parties, especially between the DPRK and the US.”

As for North Korea, thus far we only know for certain that Kim is committed to discussing denuclearization. The US acceptance of talks about denuclearization implies US recognition of North Korea as a nuclear armed power, which is one of his major goals. Why else talk about denuclearization.

More importantly, we still do not know what denuclearization means as it applies to North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and its existing strategic deterrent. With just over a week before the first summit, some more concrete notions of North Korean denuclearization should have emerged.

This whole situation has a long way to go to play out but so far, it looks promising.


There was a big drum beat over a PRC live fire exercise as a prelude to an invasion of Taiwan (ROC)

The exercise turned out to be underwhelming. Taiwan's Defense Ministry said the PRC drills involved only land-based artillery conducting "routine" gunnery practice. 
"China deliberately released fake information to exaggerate it, to make it sound huge when in fact it's small," Taiwan's Defense Ministry spokesman Chen Chung-chi told the press.
The Chinese exercise failed to live up to its press buildup as a warning to Taiwan and as an intimidation exercise. It involved no naval or air phases. Taiwan held a counter-exercise that was larger than that of the Chinese.

Meanwhile in the South China Sea, the Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning conducted a full range of exercises related to carrier warfare.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

A Walk Down Memory Lane

Driving Around

Pink Hats

I avoid downtown Los Angeles like the plague, but must occasionally go there for this and that - and while I'm there, why not stop for BBQ prawns at the downtown Los Angeles Fisherman's Outlet (worth the detour) at 529 S Central Ave, Los Angeles, CA. Yes, it's a shameless plug but the BBQ prawns there are really excellent, and there's the seedy downtown LA vibe with the security guards out in force guarding the diners seated on the outdoor patio...dystopian society at lunch.

While navigating streets under construction and other traffic, I happened on a small womyn's march.  

Hillary remains popular!
The signs were interesting, "This Pussy Grabs Back", "Support Dreamers", "Gays (heart) Vaginas"(there were two homosexual male partners), "Pink Lives Matter", "Save the Whales", and so forth. Naturally, traffic backed up to look at the freak show on the sidewalks. There were the usual suspects - chubby blue-haired slatterns and new age hippies joined 'as one', wearing pink hats mimicking private parts. 

They chanted and screamed helplessly at the sky -- and I thought to myself, Conan was right. It's good to hear the lamentation of their women as your enemies are driven before you. The Progs are unhinged and their hoped for salvation: Russia-Russia-Russia, Stormy Daniels, and so forth have all flopped like a dying tuna on the deck of a garbage scow. Their message is - confused by identity politics. I spoke to a police officer while stopped in traffic and he said that there was a black womyn's march permit for the next day. They're apparently in a struggle with the 'color pink'. 

Even as the Democrat Party backstrokes to put as much distance between themselves and "Crooked" Hillary Clinton,  the womyn's movement seems to want her to make another run at the White House. I thought to myself, "that's a splendid idea."

Monday, April 16, 2018

Inconvenient Truth

It's Only Money

The federal government reported a budget deficit of $666 billion for its 2017 fiscal year, but a new comprehensive accounting published by the U.S. Treasury shows that federal finances deteriorated by $1,157 billion in 2017—a figure 74% worse than the deficit. This thorough accounting is mandated by a federal law that requires the Treasury and White House to produce an annual report on the “overall financial position” of the federal government.

Data from this report also shows that the federal government has amassed $89.9 trillion in debts, liabilities, and unfunded obligations. This amounts to more than $700,000 for every household in the U.S., or 92% of the nation’s private wealth. This includes the combined value of every American’s assets in real estate, corporate stocks, small businesses, bonds, savings accounts, cash, and personal goods like automobiles and furniture. 

The Treasury report reveals that the federal government currently owes $7.7 trillion in pensions and other benefits to federal employees and veterans. To pay the present value of these benefits would require an average of $61,000 from every household in the United States. Yet, the vast majority of these liabilities are not reflected in the national debt.

A similar situation exists with Social Security and Medicare. Contrary to popular belief, these programs don’t save worker’s contributions for their retirement. Instead, they are social programs that provide benefits to the aged and disabled mainly by taxing people who are currently working. Hence, Social Security and Medicare are sometimes called “pay-as-you-go” programs.

Social Security’s unfunded obligations amount to $180,000 from every person who currently pays Social Security payroll taxes. Medicare’s unfunded obligations amount to an additional $133,000 from every U.S. resident aged 15 or older.

Build That Wall

On 15 April, two Pakistani Frontier Corps paramilitary soldiers were killed and five were wounded in cross-border exchanges of fire from Afghanistan while they were working on the border fence. The border fence project is intended to cover nearly all 2,500 kms (1,553 miles) of the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. 

The border is a sensitive issue, made worse by Pakistan’s fencing project. Pakistan’s Inter-Services Public Relations office (ISPR) said the Frontier Corps troops were fired on from Afghanistan while they were busy in "routine surveillance along Pak-Afghan border for plugging of gaps and making necessary preparations for starting fencing in that area."

The Pakistani fence favors Pakistani smugglers. It interferes with Afghan smugglers by cutting their easy access to markets and suppliers in Pakistan’s border regions.

China is contributing to the building of the wall to protect their belt road project in Pakistan. China has another "great wall" that enjoyed considerable success in the past.

Walls work. The Democrats in the US Congress only oppose the US/Mexico Border Wall because it would deny them the votes by illegal aliens voting illegally that is a vital component of their plan for remaining in power in places such as California. (Build the wall; MAGA; lock Her up)

Sunday, April 15, 2018

The Wave (Sunday Sermonette)

The Wave is a sandstone rock formation located in Arizona, near its northern border with Utah.

The formation is situated on the slopes of the Coyote Buttes in the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness of the Colorado Plateau. 

It's not all that far from the Pink Coral Sands State Park in Utah, which is also worth a visit. You can take your quad there and run the dunes - bright pink sand.

The White Wolf Mine and the Mogollon Rim mark the very southern extension of the Colorado plateau. The Wave is farther north on the plateau, north of Grand Canyon. I've spent a lot of time in the general area exploring. "Technically", you can't drive in to The Wave. There is a walking trail and you need to hike it. That's the official word from the Federal folks.

Lat/Long 36.995468, -112.007804

LL, keeping the guys headed in the right direction on the back way to
The Wave. Somebody has to be in charge, otherwise we'd devolve from
a mob into a herd.
There is a back way in (lawfully), where you can get closer and make it a much shorter walk if you know the shortcuts. The shortcut brings you up from the south through Black Valley, and much of it has no recognizable 'road'. 4x4 and high clearance rigs only, bring spare parts for when you break your ride. This country must have been hard on horses, because there is a lot of rock, and you'd wear out horse shoes on the surface (hot in the summer). If you're running solo, bring a sat phone.

The vista can not fail to inspire painters and photographers.

LSP, you need to take Juliette to The Wave 
because it's a mecca for art philosophers and
I would think for parsons as well.

There are different components to The Wave and you
can walk them all in the course of a day if you bring
water with you. No lemonade stands here in this place.

The walk into The Wave is a sermonette
all it's own. At least it is to me. Your experience may differ.

The area was sacred to the Piutes and to the Apache. It's the
far northern range for Apache, far southern range for Shoshone
and the Utes. It was a place for medicine men to receive visions
in the years before whiskey dulled their senses.

Settlers came and tried to raise crops along the Pariah River
a day's ride northwest from here - equally sacred ground. And
the Indians kept killing them off and burning them out. In time
they stopped settling in sacred ground.

It's a maze in its own right. That is
certainly part of the charm of the visit.

A long time ago, these were sand dunes. Then
they became rock. 

Your visit to The Wave can't last 
forever. The goal is to leave no trace.

The journey has a beginning and an end, 
and if that's a sermonette, so be it.