Thursday, May 28, 2009

No secrets

The Obama administration continues its war on national security, the latest front in which is an effort to declassify documents and open them up to the public.
President Barack Obama on Wednesday ordered a review of how the nation keeps and classifies its secrets and instructed his top administration officials to lean toward disclosure when they can.

Obama said he didn't want to leave documents kept secret without a clear national security-based reason.
Obama cites the need for transparency in government as the driver behind this effort, but near the end of the article appears a paragraph which I believe is at the root:
Obama aides have lamented overly aggressive classification and inconsistent restrictions. For instance, there are 107 unique markings for sensitive information and more than 130 different procedures to protect them.
This is what happens when you elect a far-left community organizer/activist with zero background in national security and foreign policy affairs as president. He brings with him to the White House like-minded people who have responsibilities thrust upon them which are completely alien to them. So rather than learn the ropes and find out why such measures are necessary, they decide to change the rules to better suit their comfort zone, consequences be damned.

Elections have consequences.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

$100 million in perspective

My buddy Kris once again providing material I've got no time to dig for myself. Gaze upon Barack Obama's $100 million dollar budget cut and despair.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Paint it white

Energy Secretary Steven Chu sees a black roof, and he wants to paint it white.
US Energy Secretary Steven Chu said Tuesday the Obama administration wanted to paint roofs an energy-reflecting white, as he took part in a climate change symposium in London.

The Nobel laureate in physics called for a "new revolution" in energy generation to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

But he warned there was no silver bullet for tackling climate change, and said a range of measures should be introduced, including painting flat roofs white.
I don't get it...silver bullets work on werewolves, and the climate change "crisis" is about as real.

Map The Fallen

Sorry for the lack of posting lately, but work's been hell. So even this past three-day weekend I mostly ignored the computer, except to goof off on Twitter.

It would have been nice to have stumbled across this before Memorial Day as it would have made a good post for yesterday, but better late than never.

Google employee Sean Askay embarked on a Google Earth project to map the fallen servicemen and women from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. To be honest, when I first saw this my initial thought was that it might be an anti-war propaganda thing. But that definitely does NOT appear to be the case. If Mr. Askay has an agenda besides his stated one of simply honoring the fallen, it's not at all apparent.

The project is a Google Earth map overlay which represents the home of record (not always the same as hometown) of a service member and the location of their death. Clicking on one of the icons brings up information about the fallen soldier and in most cases a link to their obituary.

I haven't lost any friends or acquaintances in Iraq or Afghanistan, but I did find out that an old classmate of mine lost a son. Whether you've lost a friend or relative there or not, it's worth checking out.

A few pointers since some in the comments at the site seemed to have difficulty figuring it out...make sure you have Google Earth 5.0 or later installed, then just click on the download link at the top right of the page. It worked fine for me, but some folks in the comments say they had issues, probably related to having an older version of Google Earth.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day

This song was used in the movie We Were Soldiers. It is sung by Joseph Kilna MacKenzie in memory of his great-grandfather, Sargent Charles Stuart MacKenzie. According to the younger MacKenzie:

Charles Stuart MacKenzie was a Sergeant in the Seaforth Highlanders. He went to fight in France during World War One and was shot in the shoulder, the military sent him home to Scotland for treatment, where the surgeon wanted to amputate his arm. He immediately refused, stating that he had to get back to his men. During his time in hospital he was asked what it was like to kill 'the hun' (as the Germans where called then). He replied what a waste of a fine body of men.

On the steps of the hospital, the last picture of him was taken in his uniform. This picture hung in his home above the fireplace. On his return to battle, he and his men were engaged in fixed bayonet combat. To the best of my knowledge, and taken from reports of the returning soldiers - one of his close friends fell, badly wounded. Charles stood his ground and fought until he was overcome and died from bayonet wounds. On that day, my Great Grandmother and my Grandmother where sitting at the fire when the picture fell from the wall. My Great Grandmother looked, and said to my Grandmother "oh, my bonnie Charlie's dead." Sure enough a few days passed, then the local policeman brought the news - that Sgt. Charles Stuart MacKenzie had been killed in action.

This same picture now hangs above my fireplace. A few years back my wife Christine died of cancer, and in my grief I looked at his picture to ask what gave him the strength to go on. It was then, in my mind, that I saw him lying on the field and wondered what his final thoughts were. The words and music just appeared into my head.

A kibbitz from Mark, crossposted from my corner of the trailer park.

Update: Awesome. Thanks for posting that, Mark.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The filthy blog tag pox

Reader Ayrdale has struck me with the Filthy Tag Pox, in which I'm supposed to post eight random things about myself, so here goes...
  • I sometimes brew my own beer.
  • One of the strangest duties I ever had in the Air Force was to fire rockets at fighter planes in flight...our own planes.
  • I've visited 22 countries outside the US.
  • I've been to Las Vegas at least six times over the last eight years, yet gambling is one of the few vices I don't have.
  • You know that old-fashioned teletype punched paper tape? There was a time I could read the holes in it.
  • I've been in IT long enough to have programmed in both COBOL and FORTRAN.
  • I saw Aerosmith in 1974.
  • I once traded seats on a plane with Henry Winkler.
Now it's my turn to pass the pox to Mark at Dangling Invective, Chuck at Front Porch Anarchist and Dave C. at At The Point Of A Gun.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Close Gitmo, and then what?

This Richmond Times-Dispatch article is about Sen. Jim Webb's (D-VA) new-found opposition to closing Guantanamo Bay on Obama's timetable, but this paragraph gave me a chuckle:
Senate Democrats are proposing legislation that would fund closure of the Guantanamo prison, but would also block transfer of any of its prisoners to the U.S.
Er...what? In this piece of crap legislation, Senate Democrats would fund closing Gitmo, but leave the disposition of the prisoners in limbo. Brilliant!

Lufthansa's geography quiz

Spotted over at Mark's place...I guess he beat me, and this was my second effort.

Required reading: Leftism is NOT liberalism

Twitter user @vermontaigne tweeted a link to this article yesterday, in which a self-described "secular humanist Enlightenment liberal" separates "leftism" from "liberalism" like white from yolk.

It's long, but well worth the read. Michael Strong first establishes his liberal cred, then describes how classic liberalism has been co-opted by leftists, particularly on university campuses. Here's a stand-out paragraph:
But despite the healthy, productive, and necessary debate concerning global economic history and contemporary policy measures, often the loudest and most aggressive voices in academia do not represent healthy, positive or informed debate. The anti-globalization movement, anti-Americanism, and lingering communism that are common in some academic departments do not offer a useful, positive, or well-considered means of making the world a better place. Hatred and bitterness are no substitute for intellectual coherence. The social and intellectual atmosphere at most universities (and, significantly, the two cannot be distinguished) continues to support views that are better described as “Leftist” than as Liberal. It is not socially acceptable in the humanities departments of most universities to suggest that Hong Kong and Singapore are economically successful today in large part because they had the good fortune to have inherited classical liberal principles as a legacy of British colonialism, or that free trade is the best means available of alleviating global poverty today, or to debate whether FDR or LBJ was the most destructive U.S. president in the 20th century.
Strong offers a checklist to determine whether classic liberalism has returned to college campuses:
1. Are most students and professors aware that under 19th century free market capitalism in the United States and Britain that it was not true that “the rich got richer and the poor got poorer?” i.e., that the working class standard of living steadily increased under laissez-faire capitalism?
2. Do most students and professors understand that wealth is created almost exclusively by private enterprise (given a framework based on the rule of law)?
3. Are most students and professors aware that Marxist governments murdered over 100 million people in the 20th century, vastly exceeding the loss of human life due to the Nazis?
4. Do most students and professors acknowledge that those humanely-motivated academics who self-identified as Marxists should, indeed, accept responsibility for having advocated a repeatedly murderous ideology? (“We didn't intend those outcomes” is not an adequate excuse after the fourth totalitarian Marxist regime, predictably enough, committed mass murder.)
5. Do most students and professors understand public choice theory?
6. Do most students and professors understand the necessary relationship between economic freedom, on the one hand, and creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship, on the other?
You go read now.

Serial rabbit murderer follow-up

Remember this item from last summer about a serial rabbit murdered in the Dortmund, Germany area? This morning while looking for something else I happened upon this article in Germany's edition of The Local. It seems they've caught the fiend:
A suspect in a series of grisly rabbit killings has been arrested from a neglected apartment full of animals – both dead and alive, Dortmund police reported on Friday.

Since early 2008, residents in the area have reported a large number of mysterious and disturbing rabbit killings. But investigators didn’t have any solid evidence until Friday morning at 2 am, when they found what they called their “first concrete lead.”

They arrested a 26-year-old suspect who was standing in front of his home with two animal transport boxes full of 11 guinea pigs.
That should help curb the price of hassenpfeffer a bit.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Gin & Tonic

Tonic opens up the show at Celebrate Virginia

Yeah, I know, I've been slow in posting new stuff lately. Been absolutely buried with work. But I did manage to find time last night to head down to Celebrate Virginia here in Fredericksburg with Mrs. Pool Bar to catch Tonic and the Gin Blossoms. I've always liked both bands, and we caught the Gin Blossoms back around 1994 or so. It's good to see both bands are still around (well, in the case of the Gin Blossoms, reconstituted) and they both sounded great.

The Celebrate Virginia Live concert series, by the way, is a great venue. It's well organized, offers good food (Famous Dave's BBQ among others) and an over-priced but good selection of beer. Parking situation was good, and it's worth spending the extra money for the "Golden Circle" tickets which put you right in front of the stage and in actual seats. The rest is lawn seating.

Coming up are Toad The Wet Sprocket and Little Feat.

Gin Blossoms frontman Robin Wilson closes the set
with an acoustic version of Elton John's "Rocketman"

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

'His only enemies are fellow Americans'

About three weeks old, but I just turned this up today. Columnist Gerald Warner positively shreds Barack Obama over the release of the "torture" memos and in general "cosying up to all the bad guys":
If al-Qaeda, the Taliban and the rest of the Looney Tunes brigade want to kick America to death, they had better move in quickly and grab a piece of the action before Barack Obama finishes the job himself. Never in the history of the United States has a president worked so actively against the interests of his own people - not even Jimmy Carter.

Obama's problem is that he does not know who the enemy is. To him, the enemy does not squat in caves in Waziristan, clutching automatic weapons and reciting the more militant verses from the Koran: instead, it sits around at tea parties in Kentucky quoting from the US Constitution. Obama is not at war with terrorists, but with his Republican fellow citizens. He has never abandoned the campaign trail.
And that's just for openers. Great the whole thing.

That sucks

Anyone who's worked in a USAF aircraft maintenance shop knows about "FOD walks" along runways and flightlines, in which personnel fan out and walk along areas traveled by aircraft to search for loose foreign objects which might get sucked into an engine resulting in foreign object damage, or FOD.

I'm thinking this bit of FOD would have been hard to miss.

The stimulus plan explained

My buddy Kris sent me this last night and I thought it was too good not to post.

Shortly after class, an economics student approaches his economics professor and says, "I don't understand this stimulus bill. Can you explain it to me?"

The professor replied, "I don't have any time to explain it at my office, but if you come over to my house on Saturday and help me with my weekend project, I'll be glad to explain it to you." The student agreed.

At the agreed-upon time, the student showed up at the professor's house. The professor stated that the weekend project involved his backyard pool.

They both went out back to the pool, and the professor handed the student a bucket. Demonstrating with his own bucket, the professor said, "First, go over to the deep end, and fill your bucket with as much water as you can." The student did as he was instructed.

The professor then continued, "Follow me over to the shallow end, and then dump all the water from your bucket into it." The student was naturally confused, but did as he was told.

The professor then explained they were going to do this many more times, and began walking back to the deep end of the pool.

The confused student asked, "Excuse me, but why are we doing this?"

The professor matter-of-factly stated that he was trying to make the shallow end much deeper.

The student didn't think the economics professor was serious, but figured that he would find out the real story soon enough.

However, after the 6th trip between the shallow end and the deep end, the student began to become worried that his economics professor had gone mad. The student finally replied, "All we're doing is wasting valuable time and effort on unproductive pursuits. Even worse, when this process is all over, everything will be at the same level it was before, so all you'll really have accomplished is the destruction of what could have been truly productive action!"

The professor put down his bucket and replied with a smile, "Congratulations. You now understand the stimulus bill."

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Steel jaw leghold traps - still legal

I dropped by Gander Mountain, an outdoor sporting goods chain with a local store here in Fredericksburg, today with my son because he wanted to get some hearing protection. While there, I passed by a display of various steel jawed leghold traps, and I stopped dead in my tracks. I actually thought those inhumane devices had been banned like 25 years ago. Sadly, that's not the case.

I'm not sure exactly where they're still legal for use in the US, but one hit I turned up on Google dated in 2006 said that they were banned in only eight states, so 42 states still allow them. I stopped searching after a few minutes because I kept turning up anti-leghold trap sites with some pretty heartbreaking pictures.

I don't think I have to go into a lot of detail about why these are inhumane. Everyone's heard stories about animals that have chewed off a limb to free themselves from such a trap, or of trappers not checking their traps often (or forgetting about them altogether) and animals dying in agony of starvation, dehydration, hypothermia or easy predation.

These traps are indescriminate. Children and household pets have been known to trip them, and there are just far more humane methods of trapping animals without resorting to this horribly cruel method. There's absolutely no reason to permit the use of these traps.

I love animals, but I'm not a bleeding heart about it. I'm fine with hunting when the game is used for food, and I might even be OK with trapping an animal for pelts if it's done humanely. I just haven't given it that much thought. But leghold traps? Anybody with a soul would have to agree that they're not humane.

I'm not one for crusades, but I won't be shopping at Gander Mountain any more.

Heroic heroes heroically shout down 'racists'

The German edition of The Local reports that "thousands" turned out to counter an anti-Islamization demonstration in Cologne, Germany. Headlined "Thousands turn up to boo racists in Cologne", the lede goes on to say:
Several thousand people turned up in Cologne to protest racism and xenophobia at a far-right extremist rally in the city on Saturday.
According to Deutsche-Welle, police put the turnout at around 1,600. But they, too, know who the villains and heroes are:
Police in Cologne say about 1,600 people have protested peacefully against racism and a controversial "anti-Islam" rally held by right-wing groups that oppose the building of a large new mosque in the city.
At the heart of the matter is a plan to build a massive mosque in Germany's "Cathedral City". The mosque is big, but its minarets are still dwarfed by the spires of the city's largest churches. But what I find disturbing about this is the universal demonization of the protesters and the glorification of the counter-protesters, evident in both The Local's and Deutsche-Welle's coverage.

Reuters appears to exercise considerable editorial consistency in the captions accompanying five photos on the subject (photos viewable at the link):
A German far-right youth carries a German national flag and anti-Islamic placard during an anti-Islamic demonstration of the far-right group Pro-Cologne in the western German town of Dormagen near Cologne May 8, 2009. The group Pro-Cologne called a rally for the weekend to oppose a decision by local authorities in the nearby city of Cologne, Germany's fourth largest city and famous worldwide for its gothic Cathedral, to allow the construction of a mosque with a high dome and minarets.


German far-right youths carry German national flags during an anti-Islamic demonstration of the far-right group Pro-Cologne in the western German town of Dormagen near Cologne May 8, 2009. The group Pro-Cologne called a rally for the weekend to oppose a decision by local authorities in the nearby city of Cologne, Germany's fourth largest city and famous worldwide for its gothic Cathedral, to allow the construction of a mosque with a high dome and minarets.


A far-right supporter of the anti-Islamic group Pro-Cologne waves a national flag of Austria during a demonstration in the western German town of Dormagen May 8, 2009. The group Pro-Cologne called a rally for the weekend to oppose a decision by local authorities in the nearby city of Cologne, Germany's fourth largest city and famous worldwide for its gothic Cathedral, to allow the construction of a mosque with a high dome and minarets.


A man wears a cross and the logo of France's far-right political party National Republican Movement (Mouvement National Republicain or MNR) during an anti-Islamic demonstration in the western German town of Leverkusen May 8, 2009. The group Pro-Cologne called a rally for the weekend to oppose a decision by local authorities in the nearby city of Cologne, Germany's fourth largest city and famous worldwide for its gothic Cathedral, to allow the construction of a mosque with a high dome and minarets.
The one photo of counter demonstrators carries this caption:
Anti-fascists carry a banner reading, "Europe. Germany. Cologne - De*Nationalize - it's all shit!" in front of the famous Cologne cathedral during a demonstration against the far-right anti-Islamic group Pro-Cologne May 8, 2009. Pro-Cologne called for a rally over the weekend to oppose a decision by local authorities in the nearby city of Cologne, Germany's fourth largest city and famous worldwide for its gothic Cathedral, to allow the construction of a mosque with a high dome and minarets.
Can Reuters possibly be more biased? The people protesting construction of the mosque are scary "far-right" wingnuts while the counter demonstrators are heroic "anti-fascists". Reuters further demonizes the protesters by referring to their flags as "national" flags, subliminally linking them to the "anti-fascist" exhortation to de-nationalize. And "anti-fascists"? Puh-leease. A group calling for "de-nationalization" of Cologne, Germany and Europe and calling them all "shit" is pretty obviously a fringe anarchist group.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Janeane Garofalo: Hypocrite Extraordinaire

In a Boston Herald article on Janeane Garofalo's recent stand-up comedy gig at the Somerville Theatre, Garofalo reflected on the antipathy some people have for her:
While Garofalo isn’t shy about her politics, she didn’t delve into a diatribe on her liberal views. She told the audience she stands behind what she says, but admitted she gets upset by hateful comments directed towards her.
There's no mention in the article, though, on whether the racists and teabagging rednecks who attended the recent Tax Day Tea Parties were upset by Garofalo's hateful comments directed towards them.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

More crap legislation from the Democrats

Linda Sanchez (D-CA) has proposed a bill so outrageously unconstitutional that it's hard to believe even a Democrat conceived it. Worse, there are 14 co-sponsors, including one Republican.
Proposed congressional legislation would demand up to two years in prison for those whose electronic speech is meant to “coerce, intimidate, harass, or cause substantial emotional distress to a person.”

Instead of prison, perhaps we should say gulag.

The proposal by Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Los Angeles, would never pass First Amendment muster, unless the U.S. Constitution was altered without us knowing. So Sanchez, and the 14 other lawmakers who signed on to the proposal, are grandstanding to show the public they care about children and are opposed to cyberbullying.
Presumably it's OK to coerce, intimidate and harass while shouting from a rooftop.

Here's a link to the bill.

Duck update

Some time in the last day or so mama duck started leading her seven ducklings around the courtyard at work.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Copyright thuggery

According to Patterico, Perez Hilton had this video pulled from YouTube over a copyright claim, when it clearly is protected under Fair Use. Patterico is pretty passionate on this particular form of suppression of free speech:
It is clear that Hilton is embarrassed by what he said, and he is using a transparently frivolous copyright claim to try to squelch free speech about his ridiculous statements.

I’m not standing for it.

If Hilton sends me a DMCA takedown notice, I’m going to fight it — and I may sue him. I have never seen a clearer example of fair use in my life. The video shows a mere three seconds of Hilton calling Prejean a “dumb bitch” (the word is bleeped out). Later, there is a one-second clip of the same video confined to a small box at the bottom right-hand portion of the screen, as the announcer intones: “They want to silence opposition.” He had no idea how right he was.
I snagged a copy of the video from Patterico's link using, so if it gets taken down from my account, I'll just upload it again.

Friday, May 01, 2009


This duck and his mate hang out in and around the fountain in the courtyard of our Corporate Mother Ship. They're not particularly afraid of people.