Friday, August 31, 2007

In the News...

The top story on memeorandum at the moment (said moment being 08/31/2007 1430 hrs MDT) is a lil something in the WaPo which has our Dear Friends on the Left just a little bit upset. And their representatives are a bit upset, as well. I’ll simply quote Jim Geraghty at NRO’s The Corner, coz he pretty well says it ALL:

Sliming's New Meaning, Apparently, Is When You're Quoted Accurately

I understand lefty bloggers are quite bothered by this story in the Washington Post, with the eye-catching headline, "Lawmakers Describe 'Being Slimed in the Green Zone'"

[…]

Unless there's some fact not in evidence - that the quotes are inaccurate? — how is a bio sheet describing a lawmaker's position on the war, and quoting what they have said about it, "sliming"? Those who meet the lawmakers aren't supposed to know what a lawmaker has said about the war before? What, is this information some sort of secret? Don't the folks in the Green Zone who meet the lawmakers have a right to know a bit about 'em, perhaps to anticipate the kinds of questions they'll get?

Yep. What he said. There’s a lot of “truthiness,” like it or lump it, in what the fact sheets distributed throughout the Green Zone supposedly said. A 21st Century Cautionary Tale, this is. Or, “Be careful what you say; Google (and its cache) is forever.”

You’d think Ms. Tauscher et al would know this, wouldn’t you?

And while we’re on the subject of The Left, The War, The “Loyal Opposition,” and various and sundry other “Don’t Question MY Patriotism” types, there’s this piece of merde. Pertinent, and pointed, comment here, here, and especially here. I have nothing to add… other than the usual, customary, and reasonable “If you don’t like it here, then get the Hell OUT. Now.” My tolerance for the Fifth Column is getting thin. AWFULLY thin.

Today’s Pic: A B-25 in unusual livery…that of the United States Marine Corps…who did indeed fly B-25s in the Pacific Theatre during Big Bang II.

On the ramp at Amarillo Municipal Airport in…you guessed it!...Amarillo, Texas.

May, 2004. (as always…click for larger)

A Couple of Small Things...

Here’s another in a long line of interesting (well, that’s subjective) lil quizzes…and my results:
Mingle2 - Dating Site
The outcome is about what I figured…I seem to be fairly well-addicted, but I’m not in that over-the-top, “completely gone to the blogging dogs” category. Yet. Give me time.
(h/t: Mushy, a former sky-cop, blues aficionado, cigar smoker, and beer drinker. What’s NOT to like, eh?)
More video, this one via commenter Casca at Lex’s place…and originally posted at Theodore’s World:
I have no comment other than “George Bush! Yeah!” Pretty cool.

Well, the Brits Get SOME Things Right...


If there were prospective applicants for the position of "Girlfriend" queuing up around the premises of El Casa Móvil De Pennington (ha! I say again: HA!), I’d advise them to watch this video not once, not twice, but several times. And particular attention should be paid to the instructions regarding beer, space, beer, “the bedroom,” and beer. Oh yeah, and “male ego,” too. And beer.
Did I mention “Beer?” Oh. Right. I did.
(stolen from Mike, who finds great vids!)
Back in a few. Late night, it was. And a much later morning.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Apropos of Nothing…

...but the picture at this link made me heave a heavy sigh. They were killing me, that much is incontrovertible fact. But...I sacrificed a great deal of pleasure, Gentle Reader, when I gave those damned things up.

A great deal.

(I'm still on the wagon, in case you're wondering.)

Apocalypse? What Apocalypse?

Veddy IN-ter-rrest-eeng! Ok, Heidi, what do you have to say about this?

In 2004, history professor Naomi Oreskes performed a survey of research papers on climate change. Examining peer-reviewed papers published on the ISI Web of Science database from 1993 to 2003, she found a majority supported the "consensus view," defined as humans were having at least some effect on global climate change. Oreskes' work has been repeatedly cited, but as some of its data is now nearly 15 years old, its conclusions are becoming somewhat dated.

Medical researcher Dr. Klaus-Martin Schulte recently updated this research. Using the same database and search terms as Oreskes, he examined all papers published from 2004 to February 2007. The results have been submitted to the journal Energy and Environment, of which DailyTech has obtained a pre-publication copy. The figures are surprising.

Of 528 total papers on climate change, only 38 (7%) gave an explicit endorsement of the consensus. If one considers "implicit" endorsement (accepting the consensus without explicit statement), the figure rises to 45%. However, while only 32 papers (6%) reject the consensus outright, the largest category (48%) are neutral papers, refusing to either accept or reject the hypothesis. This is no "consensus."

The figures are even more shocking when one remembers the watered-down definition of consensus here. Not only does it not require supporting that man is the "primary" cause of warming, but it doesn't require any belief or support for "catastrophic" global warming. In fact of all papers published in this period (2004 to February 2007), only a single one makes any reference to climate change leading to catastrophic results.

Dang. So why do all these apocalyptic pronouncements about catastrophic climate change seem to appear every hour, on the hour, on The Weather Channel? It’s been especially bad the last two days, what with yesterday being the second anniversary of Katrina and all. Inquiring minds most certainly want to know.

Oh, Hell. Let’s not be coy. I already know why the BS is there; I just want to see what sort of tap-dance the “climate expert” is gonna come up with to discredit this latest bit of news. Probably something about revoking their credentials. Frickin' apostates. They never think about the polar bears!

Today’s Pic: No coffee and cigars on the verandah today. It rained for at least four hours straight this morning…a good, steady, soaking sort of rain. And that’s somewhat unusual for this part of the world, in that our rain usually arrives in fast-moving cloudbursts that deposit buckets of rain on semi-parched ground. But not today. Today we get a soaker. And I think that’s good (assuming Jenny’s husband got the hay cut).

More On Cannon AFB

More info and newsy-notes about Cannon AFB from AFA’s Daily Report:

A New Number for Cannon SOF Wing: Air Force Special Operations Command now plans to create the 27th Special Operations Wing at Cannon AFB, N.M., rather than naming it 16th SOW as originally conceived. Last fall, AFSOC changed the 16th SOW at Hurlburt Field, Fla., back to its original designation, 1st SOW, and expected to use 16th for its new wing at Cannon. However, according to AFSOC officials the 16th lineage transferred to 1st SOW, so apparently they decided instead to preserve the 27th Fighter Wing's considerable heritage in the new 27th SOW. We're still trying to figure out why AFSOC changed the Air Commando history-rich 1st SOW to 16th in 1993.

All in the Details:Officials at Cannon AFB, N.M., have released answers to "frequently asked questions" on the shift of Cannon to Air Force Special Operations Command. As we reported, the first special ops aircraft assigned will be MC-130W Combat Spears-slated to arrive in December. The airmen who operate and maintain those Hercules, members of the 73rd Special Operations Squadron, will begin arriving in November and complete their move to Cannon by February 2008. The squadron expects to add both personnel and aircraft, reaching 12 aircraft in late 2009. Hampering the full move of AFSOC airmen and equipment destined for Cannon is a current lack of suitable hangar space and other necessary facilities. Construction is ongoing, but AFSOC expect the entire process, including beddown of Predator unmanned aerial vehicles, AC-130 Gunships, and CV-22 Ospreys, will take about six years.

Lineage is important, and there are very strict rules and regulations concerning USAF unit lineage. Pages and pages of rules, as a matter of fact. It’s good to know that the 27th Wing’s lineage will live on. I just hate it when history “dies.”

Note: the video below is from the Cannon AFB site, and is an official USAF video. I just posted it because I can.

video

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Somewhat Retiring...

I got off on quite the link-chasing tangent this morning after reading this lil piece of economic news at CNN… “Household incomes rise but ... Census Bureau reports slight rise in 2006 incomes but as a group, households aren't doing as well as before the 2001 recession. Ah, there always seems to be a Big But(t) in the picture when it comes to economic news. Or at least the picture Our Media like to paint, anyway.

The rise in household income and decline in poverty are positive developments, and they were expected given low unemployment last year. But U.S. households have yet to return to the higher income and lower poverty levels they reached during the last recession.

"In 2006, the poverty rate remained higher, and median income for non-elderly households remained $1,300 lower, than in 2001, when the last recession hit bottom," said Robert Greenstein, executive director of the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in a statement. "It is virtually unprecedented for poverty to be higher and the income of working-age households lower in the fifth year of a recovery than in the last year of the previous recession."

Didja notice anything unusual in the last paragraph? Correct me if I’m wrong, but I DO believe it’s quite rare for a news organization to identify a source as “liberal,” as in “…director of the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities…” Media use the adjective “conservative” all the damned time when describing the political orientation of various and sundry pundits…too often, in my mind… but good on CNN for using, at least once, an appropriate modifier for the economic wet-blanket crowd. Refreshing, that.

But, the point above is neither here nor there. What occupied most of my time this morning were a series of articles about retirement linked in the article referenced above and in subsequent pieces I read. There was this one, for starters: Retirement at risk: Who's falling short.” And that article led to this one: Shrinking Social Security; A new report says Social Security will replace less of your income than it did before, thanks to taxes, Medicare and the reality of hitting your 60's. And there were links within those links that cried out to be followed…and follow I did. What emerged was a rather depressing set of statistics and factoids about the doom facing my cohort and those that follow close on our heels: We’re not prepared, most of us, for retirement and what’s worse is few people are doing much of anything to rectify the situation. A lot of folks can’t save or contribute as much as they need to that ol’ 401(k) because…well, there’s just too much stuff we need right now… an iPhone, a new car (followed by another new car, next year), a bigger house, perhaps a little vacation place on the lake, a boat for the vacation house, college for the kids (if even that…), a cruise or two, a new wardrobe (“everything I own is ‘out!’”), yadda, yadda, yadda. And then all of a sudden you’re 65 and find yourself still working, with few, if any, alternatives.

I had a conversation with a friend the other night who’s in that boat I just described: 65 and still working. And a self-admission that although retirement beckons (“I’m getting tired”), the debt load is such that retirement is absolutely, positively out of the question…both now and for the foreseeable future. And savings? Non-existent. But the cash flow is good, the bills get paid, and the acquisition merry-go-round is still whirling. I fear for my friend. And others, too. Time is short.

Two years on and it ain’t just the rebuilding:

President Bush is visiting New Orleans to mark the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, as are Democratic presidential candidates Barack Obama, John Edwards and Hillary Clinton, and Republican candidates Mike Huckabee and Duncan Hunter. The White House will probably release a fact sheet detailing how many billions of dollars the government has spent on Gulf Coast recovery. The Democrats, no doubt, will call for more money and action. Here's hoping at least one political visitor will be brave enough to say the truth: that while many New Orleans residents are courageously taking the initiative to rebuild their homes, they cannot build an effective police and prosecutorial force on their own.

I’m afraid I just don’t have the intestinal fortitude required to live in N’Awlins these days. Not after reading this piece, anyway. Let’s hope things are going better on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and from all indications I’ve seen/heard, they are. Rebuilding is slow work under the best of circumstances, but it’s damned near impossible in a lawless environment. Pretty sad.

Our weather has changed here on The High Plains, thanks to a cold front that moved in overnight. The forecast is for widely scattered t-storms all day and tomorrow, too. It’s lightly raining as I tap this out, and that’s a good thing. Rain is usually good in this part of the world, unlike other places where just one more drop might cause a psychopathic response in the mass population. This cold front is bringing a ten-degree reduction in temps along with rain. Both are welcome…especially the cooler temperatures.

Today’s Pic: Another in the “SN3 Plays in the Puddles” series of pics from July, 1998. There’s another reason I’m posting this particular pic— it’s one of only three pictures (another, and not a particularly good pic here) of my beloved and much-missed ‘96 Impala SS. And this pic ain’t all that good either, come to think on it. Nice shot of the front wheel and turn signal, in addition to illustrating the quality of the wax job. That car really glistened when it was clean and washed up nice.

I don’t know exactly why I never took decent pictures of this car. Perhaps it just never occurred to me to actually…you know…DO it.

Whatever.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Slow News Day

Well, it’s a slow news day, this being the end of August and all. I don’t give two hoots about today’s “top stories,” according to the NYT, the WaPo, and memeorandum. And the Clovis News-Journal, too. I don’t know about you, Gentle Reader, but I’ve heard enough about Alberto Gonzales to last me the rest of my natural life and several months into the after-life, as well. And yet another pol got busted in some men’s room somewhere. Spare me. This is news?

On the other hand…this is interesting: The World’s Most Expensive Hotel Suites.” Not that I’ve bookmarked any of the websites or jotted down the reservation desk’s phone number for my next sojourn amongst the movers and shakers, or anything like that. I exaggerate not a whit when I tell you the price of the first house I bought was substantially less than the rack rate (howza ‘bout $52K per night?) at this flea bag. Your $52K buys you 24 hours in 17,000 square feet, because, after all, some of us just need our space. I’m sure it’s just perfect for you and your close circle of friends the next time you head out to Geneva

On the other, other hand, if the Presidential Suite at The President Wilson isn’t exactly your cuppa, you might want to try Glamping:

GLAMPING is a heady mix of glamour and the great outdoors, in which the freedom and challenge of going back to nature are tempered by home-making skills and the pleasures of domesticity. Glampers donate their roll mats to the boy scouts. For them, sheepskin rugs, leather pouffes, chilled champagne boxes, silk- and muslin-strewn gazebos, Egyptian-cotton sheets, blow-up sofas, double duvets – even tea-light chandeliers – are all part of the alfresco setup.

Or not.

Well, that’s the end of a long run (for me)… Acer buys Gateway to cramp Chinese plans for Lenovo.”

A Taiwanese computer maker has dealt a significant blow to China’s hopes of making Lenovo a flagship global PC brand.

Acer, Lenovo’s arch rival, has agreed to buy Gateway, the American computer maker, for about $710 million (£353 million).

The deal will catapult Acer above Lenovo to make it the world’s third-biggest PC manufacturer, give the Taiwanese company a significant presence in the United States for the first time and strengthen its position in Europe.

I’m pecking this post out on a Gateway computer, the fifth (and last) Gateway computer I’ve owned… the others were two laptops and two desktops, in a relationship that goes back to the early ‘90s. I’m not naïve enough to think my current computer is made out of largely American parts, assembled in America. Nope…more than likely this box and its internal parts originated somewhere in Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea, or some other Asian Tiger. But the name on the front is American, and the profits generated from the sale of the box stayed at home. I’m running out of options here, what with Dell and HP being just about the only mainstream American PC makers assemblers left. (I’m excluding the boutique builders, obviously.)

More food for the “Buy a Mac next time” thought.

Today’s Pic: “Whaddaya mean ‘go outside and play?’ It’s RAINING!” I’ve posted another pic from this particular series before, specifically a close-up of SN3’s wild hair after a session of puddle-stomping with Mom and Dad during a summer shower. This is just another installment.

July, 1998. Perinton, NY.

Monday, August 27, 2007

With Extreme Prejudice...

I came across the following comment to a post Lex put up yesterday from MaxDamage, quoted here in part:

Second act: fishing for dogs. First procure an electric fencer or something similar that has a nice voltage level (10K volts minimum) and wire it to a garbage can (metal, not plastic). Allow the remaining cats to investigate and learn to avoid. Replace the fencer with the stripped leads on an extention cord, invert the lid, fill with water, and place some old meat on a brick in the middle of it. 10K volts stings. 110vac at 15 amps hurts. 220vac at 40 amps kills. If you elect to do the 110vac routine you will be rewarded with yipping sounds in the middle of the night. You will then be able to roll over and sleep the sleep of the just and rightous.

Despite the wording in Max’s first line, this suggestion is all about “How to Kill a Coyote,” specifically a murderous coyote or coyotes that terminated one of Lex’s household pets with extreme prejudice. And a rather inventive way to dispatch said coyote(s), I might add. Which brought to mind a similar varmint-eradication activity I undertook many, many years ago, albeit with much smaller prey and much higher voltages.

The place: Lompoc Air Force Station.
The place, more specifically: The AN/FPS-67 search radar tower at Lompoc AFS.
The time: c. 1965, or ‘66, or maybe even ‘67.
The time, more specifically: Mid-shift…around 0230 ~ 0400.
The story:

My place of business, the search tower at Lompoc AFS, was over-run with mice at one point in time. Which isn’t much of a problem in an industrial setting, but it is somewhat irritating, none the less, to brown-baggers who, when lunch hour arrives, retrieve their lunches from the bookshelf, work bench, or other such non-secured storage places only to find small holes nibbled in said brown-bags and their contents. To make a long story short, many attempts were made by the occupants of the search tower to eliminate these little furry bio-hazards, consisting mainly of common ordinary mouse traps, which worked only to a limited degree. In other words, although there were casualties aplenty, the mice still managed to occupy the search tower. In force.

So it came to pass that YrHmblScrb, on duty in the wee small hours of the morning, his assigned work for the evening completed and the radar humming along with no difficulties, decided to work on the mouse problem and have a little sport at the same time. Hi-tech sport. High-voltage sport.

Radars, by definition, are high-power, high-voltage systems. The transmitter sub-system uses literally thousands of volts to produce pulses of energy which are measured in megawatts of power. The heart of the transmitter is a klystron tube, which sits atop a pulse-transformer, which is filled with insulating oil to prevent thousands of applied volts from arcing within and between contacts, which electricity is prone to do. The insulating oil, like all oils, has a finite life and breaks down over time, losing its insulating properties and, if left to deteriorate, will result in arcing within the pulse transformer and the loss of rather expensive radar parts. Not to mention downtime for the entire radar which was highly frowned upon, being said radar was the first line of defense against air attack, and all. One tests this oil and drains and refills the pulse transformer (a very nasty, dirty job) when the oil is no longer “within specs.”

Checking the oil to ensure it’s within specifications is a standard preventive-maintenance routine and there is a specific item of test equipment used to test said oil. This item of test equipment (a much earlier version of this) was basically a ten-inch cube with a large transformer in its base to generate high voltage, a removable bakelite cup (with large brass electrical contacts on the inside) that sits in between two spring-loaded contacts at the top of the box, and a manual rheostat that varied the voltage applied to the cup. One takes a sample of the oil from the pulse transformer, puts it in the small removable cup, switches on the box, and increases voltage until the oil breaks down and arcing occurs through the oil in the cup. You can either vary the voltage continuously until arcing occurs, or set the box to a given voltage and press a button to see if arcing occurs at that particular voltage. The minimum insulation spec for the oil is 35 thousand volts, the tester could generate up to 50 KV, if memory serves. Are you beginning to see where this is going, Gentle Reader?

So. I get the oil checker out of the test equipment locker and set it up on the work bench. Then I got a 20 foot (or so) length of RG-59 cable…coaxial cable, with inner and outer conductors…and stripped both ends of the cable, separating the inner and outer conductors by a wide margin. I connected the center conductor to one contact on the oil checker and the braided wire outer conductor, which has been “combed out,” to the other contact. I then ran the RG-59 across the floor and over to the desk, a distance of about 15 feet or so, looping the cable across an overhead cable rack so that the end dangled just above said desk. Once again, I “combed-out” the braided outer conductor and arranged its wires under two or three damp paper towels on the surface of the desk, leaving remainder of the wire (the center conductor) hanging about an inch or two above the paper towels. I baited the center conductor with a small piece of lunch meat (from my lunch, obviously), turned out the lights, and retreated to the work bench to await my first victim. Which wasn’t all that long of a wait…

It took several attempts before I got it right. I had to make minor adjustments to the distance between the RG-59’s inner and outer conductors on the desk, and figured out that I couldn’t twist the oil checker’s rheostat fast enough to get the mouse before he realized he was being had—I had to set the oil checker's voltage at “max” and press that little red button for an instantaneous jolt o’ juice. And there were more false starts, but… you get the picture: trial and error works. And those mice did the most amazing double-back-flips and other sorts of gyrations when I zapped ‘em, not to mention the bright arc of discharging high-voltage through their little scum bodies. Very satisfying, to say the least.

I think I got four or five mice that evening, all told. Not a very effective way to kill mice, but a highly entertaining method…at the very least. I managed to reduce the mouse population that evening, but failed to eliminate it. We remained plagued with mice for as long as I was there.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Brief Sunday Post

This is pretty cool…if you’re a hockey fan: The NHL Tournament of Logos. And you can vote for your favorite! Do NOT, repeat, DO NOT come back here and tell me you voted for a team other than the Red Wings. Some things are simply unacceptable in life… and this is but one. No ifs, ands or buts.
Apropos of nothing…Detroit is the proud possessor of the NHL’s oldest logo, worn proudly on red/white jerseys since 1948. Second oldest? The Habs — 1952. Both, coincidentally, are Original Six teams, and both logos are classics. Cue up Tevye, if you please…
Gerard posted one of his better essays yesterday (“Back to School”), which is both funny and ALL too true. The essay is difficult to excerpt, building as it does from one point to the next. But I’ll try:
YESTERDAY I HEARD OF A YOUNG MOTHER who came downstairs early in the morning to find her fifth-grade son dressed for school but flat on his back in the middle of the living room staring in despair at the ceiling.
MOM: "What on Earth do you think you're doing?"
BOY: "I can't do it. I just can't go to school any more."
[…]
Today, after mulling the lie-down strike a little more, it seems to me there's more than a little to be said on the side of the fifth-grader's strike. After twenty years of schooling and more than thirty on the day shift, those early grades seem -- looked at through society's grubby glasses -- to be an idyllic time. After all, weren't they?
[…]
But if we try and shift our point of view a bit, and if we try to remember all those things the haze of our twice-told childhood fairy-tales hides from us, we might see it -- just a bit and just for an instant -- from the point of view of the fifth-grade boy flat on his back in the living room staring at the ceiling in utter despair.
Here he lays. He's been going to this job of his for as long as he can remember. Unlike my experience which didn't start until kindergarten, today's boy has probably been working in the education industry since age 3. They started him out on basic blocks and why he shouldn't nail somebody who took his cookie. Those are hard lessons. How to stack something up so it doesn't collapse in a heap at the first shudder in the earth. How to "share" limited and personal resources. Why you don't just paste someone who irritates you with the nearest blunt object. These are basic lessons, and we forget how hard they are. Some of us don't learn them at all. Those people are either in prison, running Fortune 500 companies, or assembling bombs.
Do go read the whole thing…including the 19 comments, as I write…you won’t be sorry. And have a little pity for your 12 year-old the next time he says “I don’t FEEL like going to school today…” He just might have a point.
Today’s Pic (Gearhead Division): An immaculate Rat Motor from a 1967 Chevelle SS 396, the first new car I ever bought and one of perhaps four or five cars I’ve owned that I wish I still had. Even though I wouldn’t ice down a case of beer in the back seat and go looking for drag races on Highway 90 in and around Biloxi, Mississippi. Not that I ever did anything that stupid, to begin with. Much. One of life’s greatest mysteries is how we (most of us, anyway) manage to survive youth.
Car show in Amarillo, TX. March, 2004.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Surprise? Surprise! No Surprise...

Interesting, but not all that surprising: Move over geeks, women are top web users.

Women aged between 25 and 49 are now spending more time on the internet than men as they become hooked on keeping in touch with friends online, according to figures published yesterday by the communications regulator Ofcom.

The figures are particularly pronounced in the 25 to 34 age group, in which women now account for 55 per cent of time spent online – demon-strating that the medium once thought of as dominated by solitary, glass-wearing male nerds is rapidly being feminised.

James Thickett, director of research with Ofcom, said: “Young women are finally finding content relevant to them on the internet. Social networking is what is driving a lot of usage; websites like Facebook and Bebo have a much higher female profile”.

[…]

Internet usage shows marked gender divides. Forrester Research, the technology specialist, describes the net as “just another channel for women to do what they enjoy: shopping, talking, and caring”. Its data, based on research of young people across Europe, shows that 55 per cent of women aged 18 to 34 – or 4.13 million – use the medium regularly compared with 45 per cent – or 3.49 million – of men. Women are also likely to spend more time on networking sites when they are there.

The article appears to be Euro-centric — no surprise there — considering it was published in Britain. But what did surprise me, though, was the rather patronizing comment about women and what they “enjoy:” “shopping, talking, and caring.” Hunh?

Also from the UK and I’m not making this up:

A wealthy Russian tried to buy a US B-52 bomber from American pilots at the Maks airshow, a Russian newspaper reported yesterday.

The unidentified Russian, wearing sunglasses and surrounded by bodyguards, approached the US delegation and asked to buy the bomber, the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper said. A member of the US delegation said the bomber would cost at least $500m (£250m) if it were for sale.

That’s pretty funny, but this isn’t:

And yet defence experts were yesterday dismissive of Russian strength, branding its air force a "Potemkin village". Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia has been forced to slash defence spending, leaving an ill-equipped conscript army to fight in Chechnya. The army's tanks are old; Russia's ships and submarines have seen better days; the navy's much-vaunted sea-launched Bulava missile still doesn't seem to work, despite a decade of development.

"In terms of military threat they are a joke," Robert Hewson, the editor of Jane's Air-Launched Weapons, said, assessing the array of Sukhoi and MiG fighters on display at the airshow, held at the former Soviet Zhukovsky air base. "Everything is a relic from the Soviet era. The level of technology you see in the UK, Sweden and the US is much higher.

Dismiss or underestimate the Russians at your peril. (Which The Guardian has a long history of doing, apropos of nothing.) All the Russians need to upgrade their forces is money, and given Russia’s vast oil reserves and the current price of oil, that money wouldn’t be too hard to come by in the near term. Or as long as the oil and natural gas hold out, anyway.

Fisking Fisk: Isn't Robert Fisk A Journalist? I was gonna post a link to Britain’s leading village idiot and his latest (insert vile disparaging adjectives here) “column,” but Mr. Morrisey’s piece is oh-so-much better. The lede grafs, with links intact:

Allahpundit piqued my curiosity with his link to Robert Fisk's latest screed at the Independent, wherein he claims to be unable to find answers to many questions about the 9/11 attacks. Don't call me a conspiracy theorist, he says, and "spare me the plots", but he implores Karl Rove to tell him about how the Bush administration created the reality of 9/11. But spare him the plots, of course.

This puzzles me, because Robert Fisk claims to be a journalist, and one would expect a journalist to understand how to conduct research. Let's see if we can help Mr. Fisk with his questions, which unfortunately get spread throughout a paranoid harangue.

And a systematic dismantling follows.

Eating their own… Michael van der Galien at The Moderate Voice has an interesting and thought-provoking piece about the Progressive Putsch currently in progress. Excerpts, with links intact:

There is something strange going on in the progressive blogosphere these days: instead of uniting against Republicans, progressive bloggers like Matt Stoller have decided to declare war on every Democrat who they consider not to be progressive (read anti-war) enough. Seemingly frustrated that there are actually Democratic Congressmen that do not necessarily always vote along party lines - but make up their own minds - they have decided to ask their readers to make profiles of so-called “Bush Dogs” (Blue Dogs and New Democrats) as to be able to target them in the coming years, and to replace them with progressive, left-wing Republicans.

[…]

Those who dare support non-Democratic candidates for president - like Independents - have to be put away as well well. As a result of all their actions, Chris Bower believes that “progressives are moving closer to Democratic Party control.”

This prospect should - as far as I am concerned - scare the hell out of everybody who thinks that some independence of thought is actually a good thing. We have seen some of this being done by conservative bloggers and activists, but never on the scale as we currently see (it being done by progressives). The intention is clearly to stifle all dissent, and all debate. Whether one is a Democrat or not, and whether one is more progressive than conservative, and left-of-center is irrelevant to these people. Nor do they seem to care that the voters voted these people into office in the first place. They have decided that they are enemies of the Democratic Party (even though they are Democrats themselves) and therefore enemies of the people.

The most important issue according to the progressives? Iraq. it is all that matters. In this instance they decide not to go after someone for not being progressive enough on certain issues, because this person opposes the surge. In other words, one might argue that it is not so much about progressive vs. less progressive, but about anti-war vs. open-minded. Make no mistake about it however: once these people get their way regarding Iraq, they will target politicians who they deem not progressive enough on other issues.

Word. Read the whole thing while nodding your head slowly up and down. I, for one, am not all that afraid of the Progressives. They are SO far to the left, bordering on the radical, that their one-note message will be firmly rejected by the American Mainstream, which is much more conservative than any of the Blue-Enclave Progressives can possibly imagine. And, perhaps more interestingly, I believe most mainstream Democrats will ultimately reject the Progressives, as personified by Kos, Stoller, Move-On, et al, because of their sheer intolerance. Those guys simply cannot stand dissent from their dogma/theology (choose one), from anyone…inside or outside of their little circles. And that will be their undoing.

Today’s Pic: This past Thursday’s sunrise, Take Two. The first photo was better; I’m only posting this one to show the dramatic difference a simple change in shutter speed makes. In this case, the colors are washed out even though one sees much more detail (e.g., the fifth wheels, pickups, wall, etc.) than in the under-exposed shot I originally posted. It’s all about “creative control.”

Friday, August 24, 2007

Out and About...

No flying cars here. Via Gerard and The Raw Feed (linkies are convoluted at times)… Paleo-Future links us to (and discusses) a 1979 book’s “vision of the future.” And, in the example discussed, the book gets many more things right than wrong. Pretty interesting.

We, all of us, have a LOT of the stuff that the article predicted we would have…chief among them are our PCs, e-mail, electronic magazines (blogs) and the ubiquitous, big ol’ flat screen TeeVees.

One wonders what the author(s) of said article are doing today…

You just gotta go here…if you’re male. Turn your sound DOWN if you’re at work, but keep it at a level where you can hear what’s being said. Or not, if you want to attract undue attention to your “I’m not working” web-surfing. And you will get attention.

If that’s not enough, Gentle Reader…check out “Geek Tattoos.” Pretty funny.

(h/t: The Raw Feed. Again.)

Why is it I have to read about this in a British paper? Regardless of the source, this is well and truly over-frickin’-due:

Race, fashion and freedom of expression have collided in Atlanta this week over the vexed issue of baggy trousers.

A black councilman wants to ban the "low-rider" style — a figment of hip-hop culture — because it often exposes a man's underwear or a woman's thong, but has come up against a blast of opposition from civil rights groups and ordinary, fashion-free Americans.

Councilman C T Martin described the popular phenomenon of drooping jeans as an “epidemic” that is becoming a “major concern” across the United States. His proposal for a ban follows similar measures in a series of small towns in Louisiana.

Announcing his proposed amendment to the city's indecency laws, Mr Martin said of the fallen waistline, most prevalent among young black men and women: “Little children see it and want to adopt it, thinking it's the 'in thing'. I don't want young people thinking that half-dressing is the way to go. I want them to think about their future.”

And while you’re at it, make wearing your baseball cap backwards a misdemeanor. OTOH, I suppose this “fashion” affectation makes identifying the clue-impaired among us much easier. But it’s still a misdemeanor, in my book, just barely below felony status. Actually, repeat offenders should be charged with a felony.

/Old Fart rant.

Ahhh…one of the two real signs of Fall…the first installment of the NYT’s College Football Preview. I’m of the opinion, not exactly appreciated in certain parts of EIP’s readership, that football should ONLY be watched on Saturdays. And Friday nights too, assuming you live in Tejas, where high school football is something of a religion.

Oh, and that other real sign of Fall? Hockey training camp. It’s coming, albeit VERY slowly…

Happy Birthday, Buck!

Forty-one years ago today The First Mrs. Pennington delivered a bouncing baby boy at the Vandenberg AFB hospital near Lompoc, California. I’m not gonna lie and say “I remember it like it was yesterday,” coz I don’t. Certain moments, yes. But the “whole enchilada?” No. Mind you, that was back in the day when fathers were excluded from the delivery room (by law and USAF regulations) and relegated to pacing the floor in the hospital waiting room or something like it. Which, in my case, was the day room in the barracks of the 669th Radar Squadron. Minor digression.

None the less…Buck is 41 today. And to say “I’m proud of him” would be a most egregious understatement. As the citations to military awards and decorations always say: “By his significant accomplishments and superior performance, Captain Pennington has reflected great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.” His wife, children, and parents, too.

Happy Birthday, Buck.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Wanna Buy a Motorcycle?

I’ve just about had it with the ‘Zuki. She’s handsome in an ugly-duckling, form-follows-function sort of way and her particular shade of blue strikes my fancy quite well, thankyouverymuch. She isn’t beautiful, by any means, but I knew that going in. She gets good gas mileage (50+ mpg), handles well…considering she’s neither a sport bike nor a full-boat touring-hog… and has about the right amount of power. The power isn’t sport-bike intense, which is to say “peaky,” but is well-distributed across the rev-range. Torque-y, in other words. She is a vee-twin, after all. So. What’s not to like?
Just this: She keeps falling over.
I dropped the damned thing again today. It was the same sort of scenario as last time— a low-speed, as in “standing nearly still,” slow-motion get-off, more like a “fall-over,” actually. But I did the dirty deed right in my frickin’ front yard this time, instead of a parking lot. I should explain…
I park the thing on the concrete pad/sidewalk next to El Casa Móvil De Pennington and always ride across the neighbor on the right’s grass and up on to the pad. It’s a fairly simple maneuver, with a couple of minor complications. First: You can’t approach the pad perpendicular to it; you must come in at an angle. Unless you want to run into El Casa Móvil, which isn’t a particularly good idea for all concerned: RV, bike, and YrHmblScrb…who kinda likes his body “as is.” Second: The pad is about an inch and a half to two inches higher than the grass. One maintains enough momentum on the approach to roll up on to the pad with the front wheel (bump!), ease off the throttle, turn the bike slightly to the right, while maintaining sufficient momentum to ease the rear wheel up on to the pad. And today the combination of INsufficient momentum, coupled with the rear tire hitting the lip of the pad and sliding out to the right…ever so gently, at first… before the bike fell right over. I couldn’t catch it. Once that thing starts to go…it’s GOING, whether you like it, or not.
The good news: I fell in the grass. The soft landing meant no damage to the fiberglass, I “just” broke the right turn signal. And got a lot of dirt in the foot pegs and various and sundry other nooks, crevices, and crannies.
The bad news: I’ve lost confidence in my ability to manage the damned thing at slow speeds. The bike, as I see it, is just too tall for me. That and the fact that it’s one heavy SOB. This is the second time I’ve dropped it, and that’s twice more than any of my previous bikes, going back to at least 1969 or so. (I have a great story about dropping my old Yamaha DT-1 in the BX parking lot at Wakkanai AS, Japan in '69 or '70. Remind me to tell you that one. Some time.)
So. Wanna buy a bike? Inquire within.
Oh…NO pictures this time. She looked pathetic laying there on her side in the grass. I couldn’t bear to embarrass her by showing her a$$ in public. Goes for me, too. Writing this is bad enough.

Out of This World. And In It, Too.

This is pretty cool stuff…Google Sky.

Stardate 61105.2, planet Earth. I've booted up my computer and loaded Google Sky and ready to trek across the galaxy.

Today Google released a beta version of Google Earth (4.2.0180.1134 (beta)) that includes a Google Sky feature that allows you to get up-close and personal with over 100 million galaxies and 200 million stars.

As Google did with Google Earth, Google Sky is made up of stitched photographs of the heavens pieced together to make a one giant navigate-able database of the universe.

To get started you have to download the most recent version of Google Earth software. Once you've done that launch the application and go to the View drop down menu and select the "Switch to Sky" item. Now you're ready to blast off.

This isn’t something I’ll use all that much, if ever, simply because I’m not all that interested in astronomy. But there are lots of folks that are interested, especially kids. And Google Sky should be a wondrous tool for teaching kids the basics about astronomy. Not everyone is impressed, however:

I don’t like it.

You read that right. I don’t like it. Well, to be clear, I don’t like it yet. I think this version is lacking some basic necessities, but once they (and some tweaks) are added this will be a pretty cool app.

For one thing, when I clicked the button to start it, it said it was loading the sky above my current location. However, it doesn’t tell me what that current location is. It doesn’t tell me what time of day it’s using — the sky moves, so time is crucial. It doesn’t move the sky in real time (or provide that option). It doesn’t tell me if the Sun is up or not. It doesn’t tell me where the horizon is.

And the proprietor of Bad Astronomy goes on to give Google a laundry list of fixes to implement in its next release. Point(s) well taken, but…Hey! Google said it’s a beta release.

The BBC has more, including alternate astronomy applications for the PC and Mac.

This is weird. You probably noticed the intro graf to the PC World article is expressed as a Stardate, with a link. I’m not a trekkie, but I am curious. So I chased the link. And here’s a screen cap (on the left) of the page one gets when following the link to convert any date/time to a Stardate. Notice the default date and time in the conversion block at the bottom of the screen cap: this is one minute off the generally accepted time of impact for the World Trade Center’s North Tower on 9/11. I just think that’s strange. Of all the possible dates/times to use as a sample, why this particular date? Strange…

Further on Cannon…from the Air Force Association’s Daily Report newsletter:

Thumbs Up for Cannon: New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson says the environmental impact assessment on turning Cannon Air Force Base into an Air Force Special Operations Command facility has received final approval. The former fighter base is slated to become home to special operations AC-130 gunships, new CV-22 tiltrotor aircraft, MC-130 Combat Talons, and helicopters. AFSOC officials earlier said that plans to take control of the base on Oct. 1 were on schedule despite funding worries cited by New Mexico lawmakers.

Good news, but if you follow all the links within the links (most of which are fairly old, dating back to Spring of this year) you won’t find any definitive statement about funding. Lots of “should be enough,” “we think we have enough,” along with various and sundry reassurances from shooters, including Deputy SecDef Gordon England. This past Tuesday the Clovis News-Journal reported everything is a “go,” including the naming of Cannon’s new base commander, Col. Tim Leahy.

What? Not Again? From the UK tabloid Daily Mail…“How Miss Slackistan and the Burka Beauties fell foul of the racism zealots.”

It probably seemed like a good idea at the time. Stuck for inspiration about what to wear at their village carnival, one group made a last-minute decision to dress up in mock Muslim burkas.

Calling themselves the "Page Three Beauties from the Ramalama Ding-Dong Times", the 17 men and women carried placards with made-up names such as "Miss Hairyarmpitsbad", "Miss Slackistan", "Miss Notbadinbedabad" and "Miss Reallyamanistan".

As they walked the one-mile parade route, the group knelt down in mock prayer and used fake compasses to try to find Mecca.

Their routine impressed carnival judges - a mayor, two district councillors and a parish councillor - and they were shortlisted for the "best entry" prize.

But before any awards were handed out, police told the group to leave after complaints about racism.

[…]

Local religious representatives criticised the carnival entry. Fareed Ahmad, president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association for Devon and Cornwall, said: "With carnivals it's quite difficult to judge between humour and causing offence, and on this occasion it looks like they have that balance wrong."

The Reverend Chris McQuillen-Wright, of St Columb Minor parish church, added: "One can see the intended humour and the play on words but, in light of the current international climate, it was insensitive and in bad taste.

"I cannot believe they thought people were going to laugh. No one would want to curtail freedom of speech, but it's hard to differentiate this from downright bullying."

“Racism.” “Insensitive and in bad taste.” “Bullying.” I gotchyer racism, bad taste, and bullying right here, Buddy. This is really getting old. REALLY old. And when community religious representatives chime in and climb aboard the PC Bandwagon, one gets the feeling that all is just about lost. I’d have laughed my a$$ off, but then again…I AM sorta insensitive and bullying when it comes to the subject of intolerance — of the real sort — and suppression of speech.

The subject of traffic…specifically MY traffic… is of more than passing interest to me. Or, in other words, I tend to live in Site Meter, checking out the stats, the search terms, the origins and durations of visits to EIP, and all that fun stuff. So, I find this lil graph interesting, in an academic sort of way:

Yesterday’s traffic was less than half that of last Wednesday’s traffic, and as a result, my “moving average of visits” stat took a pretty big hit, as you can see. But then again, we’re in much better shape, traffic-wise, than we were a mere two months ago.

Traffic is cyclical; I know this. And EIP is a lowly blog, as blogs go. But every time I see my stats drop off precipitously I still wanna say something like “Was it something I said?”

Today’s Pic: This morning’s sunrise. Not as spectacular as some I’ve seen, but not that bad, either. Besides that, I was getting tired of posting pics from the archives. Not that there’s anything inherently wrong with that…it just gets old. (Badda-da-bump)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Tardy

So. I’m late posting again today, as is getting to be somewhat “usual.” Or perhaps not. It matters not a whit, anyway. I’m under no compulsion, by law or otherwise…save my own internal demons… to post at all, right? But. There seemed to be a lot of “stuff” out there that captured my attention, not the least of which is a toe-to-toe intellectual exchange on the “dismal science” between Lex and a certain NYT columnist Lex had the temerity to take to task. Interesting, if not all that illuminating, it is. I say “not all that illuminating” because it is economics, and statistics (aiiieee!) divining/supporting economic theory, we’re talking about here. But I recommend you go read. It’s not everyday a leading economist…or an NYT columnist writing about economics… shows up on a blog to defend his scribblings.

Strangely enough, SN2 and I discussed, however briefly, the article Lex was on about during a phone conversation last evening. I told him I was tempted...but didn't... to (a) post the link to that article and (b) discuss the fact that MY income had dropped by approximately 70% during the referenced time frame, but only because I decided to retire. And you know the old story about retirement, Gentle Reader, don’t you? Retirement, as stated by wives too numerous to count, is “Twice as much husband, half as much money.” All too true, that. Even though I’m not married any longer, I recognize the wisdom in the thought. (The NYT article in question is here, if you’re interested).

Monday I posted a couple of pics and a link to Gerard’s photo-essay about Seattle’s HempFest. Well, if a picture is worth a thousand words, just how much is this worth, Gentle Reader?

I can honestly and unequivocally state that Bob Marley Fest was a whole helluva lot better. Better music, better people, much less stupidity…by an order of magnitude or so. Forgive me if the vid offended your sensibilities, Gentle Reader. It offended mine, too. But then again, I think that might have been Gerard’s intent.

Today’s Pic: Exactly what the photo title sez: A collage of Plane Pr0n from the Air Force Armament Museum at Eglin AFB, Florida. There are many USAF museums out there; and Eglin has a very, very good one. I’d be hard pressed to name the “best” of these museums, assuming of course, one eliminates the Smithsonian’s complex of aerospace museums…which are multi-confessional, as opposed to USAF- or USN-specific, anyway.

November, 1999. (As always, click for larger.)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Concurrence (and Other Things)

I concur:

Another question for Ms. West: If American adults are emotional slackers stuck in arrested development, who is responsible for the innovations and incredible wealth generated by the economy? Accepting restraint and boundaries is important, as Ms. West says, but painting outside the lines is important too. Instead of founding their company in a friend's garage while they were in their mid-20s, Larry Page and Sergey Brin might still be waiting their chance in a traditional top-down business. And if their project were finally approved, it would not carry a name as juvenile as Google.

My concurrence is for the arguments John Leo presents (in today’s WSJ) as a rebuttal and minor book review (of sorts) to Diana West’s “The Death of the Grown-up: How America's Arrested Development Is Bringing Down Western Civilization.” While it’s certainly true that America’s tastes have been significantly dumbed-down over the past quarter-century or so, and it’s equally true that we’re more adolescent than most as a culture, I’m not entirely convinced this is a Bad Thing. Like Mr. Leo, I grew up in the 1950s. And I’m not even ready to return to Happy Days because, in truth, they weren’t all THAT happy. As a matter of fact, the Eisenhower era is the stereotypical “uptight” period of our history. If you didn’t conform during that time, you were essentially toast. And if you were anything but a WASP back then you were pretty much toast, too. But those points are essentially a minor digression, and I don’t wanna get into a major digression wherein I cite chapter and verse about the ills of the ‘50s. Ms. West and Mr. Leo’s main points are the prevalence of an adolescent attitude in US society. And I agree with Mr. Leo, as previously stated.

Mainly because I don’t intend to ever “grow up.” It’s just too damned late for that…

I concur, Part Deux:

In what will surely be seen as a defining moment for the 9/11 truther movement, the History Channel has delivered a blow for sanity and rationalism by airing a superior documentary entitled 9/11 Conspiracies: Fact or Fiction.

There’s no other way to say it; the truthers got reamed.

They got reamed to the point that the truthers who produced the internet video Loose Change are scrambling to alter the third version of their conspiracy mongering tripe, even going so far as to drop any reference to the twin towers being blown up by the government (they continue to insist WTC #7 was brought down by explosives).

The documentary took no prisoners as it destroyed almost all of the major conspiracy theories associated with 9/11 while revealing the real motivations of the truthers; that they are part of a political movement driven by raw, unreasoning hatred of George Bush, the American government, and to some extent, America itself.

[…]

The show will air again this weekend. Check your local listings but I have it in the Chicago area airing at 7:00 PM central Saturday night and 11:00 AM central on Sunday morning.

Don’t miss it.

That’s Rick Moran, writing at Right Wing Nuthouse. I watched the show in its entirety last evening and all I can add to what Mr. Moran says is “It’s about damned time someone said this.” Mr. Moran has a good essay up on the truthers and the History Channel’s show. Highly recommended.

I’m not quite surprised by this:

PRINCETON, NJ -- A new Gallup Poll finds Congress' approval rating the lowest it has been since Gallup first tracked public opinion of Congress with this measure in 1974. Just 18% of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing, while 76% disapprove, according to the August 13-16, 2007, Gallup Poll.

The mystery, Gentle Reader, is which 18% of us approve of the job our Congresscritters are doing. Who are these people? And which rocks are they living under?

Jumping the shark?

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - The political left and the political right will join forces on Fox's "24" this coming season. Janeane Garofalo, an outspoken liberal, is set to co-star on the conservative-leaning real-time drama, whose co-creator/executive producer Joel Surnow jokingly describes himself as a "right-wing nut job."

Garofalo will play a government agent who is part of the team investigating the crisis befalling Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) and company in the upcoming season.

“Janeane Garofalo, an outspoken liberal…” Department of Redundancy Department, that. An absolutely needless and ultimately superfluous characterization, unless you’re part of that 18% that approves of Congress, i.e., you happen to live under a nice comfy rock. NO ONE makes me dive for the remote quicker than young Janeane. Absolutely. No. One. I can’t stand that woman. Doubtless she wouldn't like me all that much, either. So it evens out.

But. Back to the subject at hand. I dunno about you, Gentle Reader, but I believe I’ll give this one a pass. Not that I watched the show to begin with.

We had our first, and only (so far), back to back 100-degree days Sunday and Monday. And it was pretty danged hot yesterday, hitting 103. Days like that make me worry about the health and well-being of my air conditioning unit, which is going on eight years old. The AC systems (I use the term loosely) in RVs are essentially small, low capacity units not unlike a window-mounted air conditioner, and they struggle when the temperature exceeds 100 degrees. My unit ran virtually non-stop from around 1400 hrs until late, late in the evening yesterday. But the unit worked “as advertised” and I stayed cool. That doesn’t prevent the odd “what if” thoughts from occurring from time to time though… especially when the AC unit begins to make strange, unusual noises.

Let us pray…

Today’s Pic: “Your Moment of Zen,” as Jon Stewart used to say (and maybe still does, I dunno). A view of the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park, SFO. Golden Gate Park was one of the places that I always included on “the nickel tour” for visiting firemen, relatives, friends, and such who came to visit while I lived in the Greater San Francisco Bay Area Soviet Socialist Republic. YMMV, but I consider GGP to be one of... if not the... best municipal parks in all of North America. And I’ve been in more than a few…

July, 2000. Another of my “first generation” digital camera pics. The usual disclaimers about quality apply.

Just a Couple of Vids...

By way of ASM826, a commenter at Lex’s place, here’s a lil reminder of days gone by…
“I’m Jon Karry, and I approve this message.” Heh.
Via Mike…in a way, since he posted “What if real life were like a comments section in a blog,” which led me to the “College Humor” site, which led me to this:

For the uninitiated…this is High Times. Only in America, eh?
A non-parenthetical parenthetical comment: I found it interesting that the Wiki claims Al Gore was either (a) on the cover of High Times or (b) was interviewed by High Times. “B” is probably the safer bet but ya never know, especially when it comes to the Goreacle. Now if we were talking about Al Gore III, I’d go for option “A.”

Monday, August 20, 2007

Still More Stuff I Missed...

Via Chapan unusual blog written from The Sandbox:

As always, the din from the rotors of the Black Hawk was overwhelming. As though the whole picture were on mute, the rotorwash drowning out all other noise, I watched as Col. Mike Meese, my professor this past spring, climbed silently into the helicopter and buckled up across from me, followed by three more soldiers in their bulky armor. Then Col. Meese’s voice crackled loudly over the intercom: “Sir! This is Wes Morgan!” I couldn’t see who the colonel was talking to, the cabin was so cramped, but I knew a moment before I heard an easily recognizable voice reply: “Good to have you with us, Wesley. Glad to finally meet you.” As the officer next to me pushed back to make way, another grey-clad, armored soldier leaned across the crowded space of the cabin to shake my hand. It was him alright: four stars on his hat, four more on his armor, the face you see on the news, and a nametag that read Petraeus.

You could be tempted to ask “What’s so unusual about a milblog from Iraq these days?”, given there are literally hundreds to choose from. Well, for starters, the blogger is a sophomore at Princeton. And a member of ROTC. Yep: an Ivy League Rot-cee cadet. That, in and of itself, is pretty danged rare. Add in the fact that this guy writes for The Daily Princetonian and gets face-time with the nation’s most famous general (at the moment), and you have some highly unusual, informative, and entertaining writing.

MORE Stuff I Missed...

...but feel absolutely compelled to tell you about, Gentle Reader. Another interesting tidbit from Gerard:

Hillary needs better staff advance work. Monday she said, in a parting shot at Karl Rove when asked about his observation that she is a "flawed candidate,"

Mrs. Clinton:" Well, aren't we glad to see him go, I think is the answer to that. You know, I am thrilled to be running this campaign, and to be getting the response that I'm getting all over the country. I was in Pahrump, Nevada, just today, earlier. 2,500 people. I feel very good about where I am." -- OpinionJournal - Best of the Web Today

One thing you don't want to say when you are a candidate for President is that you "feel very good" about being in Pahrump, Nevada. Pahrump, Nevada, is -- for those who know -- the whorehouse capitol of Nevada, and hence, as far as legal brothels go, the whorehouse capitol of the United States. Now that might be the normal metaphysical environment for politicians of all parties, but it just isn't done to glory in it.

You’ll laugh… you’ll cry…well, no, you won’t. Cry, that is. But you will laugh, and you might wanna chase a few of Gerard’s links, assuming you’re NOT at work. There are answers within to questions you may have never asked…