Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Doom 'N' Gloom

Today's Funny is from Lisa Benson and it ain't so much funny as it's frickin' TRUE. The House passed this dumb-ass legislation (that they probably didn't read… again…) this past Friday with a 219-212 vote, as most of you Gentle Readers know. But there is hope the bill will fail in the Senate… and I'll quote from a piece written by Jay Cost at Real Clear Politics:
Despite the narrow victory, the distribution of the House vote actually suggests that the climate bill will have a tough road ahead in the Senate, as the following analysis will show. To start, let's break down the House vote by state caucuses. The following map does this. If a state's House caucus voted in favor of the bill on Friday (i.e. a majority of House members in the state voted yea), it is shaded green. If its caucus voted against (i.e. a majority voted nay), it is shaded red.

If the vote in the House on this bill had been calculated like the vote for President in the case of no majority winner in the Electoral College - where each state gets one vote - the climate bill would not have passed. Twenty-two state caucuses voted in favor of it while twenty-eight voted against. The bill passed in large part because of strong support from California and New York, which accounted for more than 26% of the total votes in favor of the bill.

Let us pray. I know MY senators (Texas) will vote against the bill, but those of you who live and vote in the green-colored states in the illustration above should be writing your senators early and often in opposition to this bill. Or call them up.


Are you ready for another round of stagflation… last seen during the first Jimmuh Carter presidency? You better be, coz it's coming. Here's David R. Burton and Cesar Conda, writing in last Sunday's Washington Times:

Both the money supply and federal spending have increased at breathtaking rates over the past year, unprecedented in peacetime. The policy decisions made by the Federal Reserve Board and Congress virtually assure we will enter a period of 1970s-like stagflation.

The recovery, when it comes, will combine slow economic growth, unusually long un- and underemployment, stagnating real incomes, rising interest rates and inflation. There is little that policymakers, having made colossal mistakes, can do to prevent such an outcome. However, there are steps that can be taken to shorten the period of stagflation and return to an era of robust economic growth, good jobs and stable asset and consumer prices.

The money supply is measured several different ways. They all show alarming increases. The monetary base (coins, currency and bank reserves) has doubled over the past year. It is increasing at a rate 12 times the average since 1981. M1 (the monetary base plus checking deposits) increased last year by roughly 16 percent, a near record and three times faster than average since 1981. M2 (M1 plus most savings deposits and money market funds) increased 9 percent in the past 12 months (a rate more than 50 percent higher than the average since 1981).


Instead, the Obama administration seems bent on doubling down and making a bad situation even worse with massive increases in business and individual taxes, nationalizing or taking control of major industries (including automakers, banks, insurance and health care), hidden but huge energy-cost increases in pursuit of the chimera of global warming and ever greater entitlement spending. The Congressional Budget Office recently estimated the Democrats' health reform plan would increase federal spending a further $1.3 trillion over 10 years.

Stagflation is baked in the cake. The question remains whether policymakers take the necessary steps to shorten the period of stagflation.

Read the whole thing, as it's said. Ain't I just FULL of sweetness and light today? But… let's inject a lil levity in this doom and gloom screed… in the form of parody:

Umm… the answer to "who's watching" would be ME. And YOU.

Monday, June 29, 2009

New Mexico Linkage

Blog-Bud Sharon... the proprietress of La Casa de Towanda... recently had her brother-in-law as a house guest for a period of time and entertained him by taking a drive around The Enchanted Circle, which features some of New Mexico's most brilliant and photogenic scenery. Sharon is treating her readers to an extended series of posts featuring photos of a lot of the stops on New Mexico's Grand Tour.

I dropped a comment on one such post saying something to the effect that she and I have MANY of the same photos, but hers are more impressive since she's made them accessible in a sequential series of posts, whereas I've doled (some of) mine out piecemeal over the course of three and a half years.
You should drop over to Sharon's place to see the best of what New Mexico has to offer in the way of scenery.

In the meantime... here's one of the pics Sharon and I share. I think.
The St. Francis de Asis church in Ranchos de Taos:

And here's a New Mexico pic you won't see over at Sharon's place... shot in the bar at the Plaza Hotel in Las Vegas, NM.

Here's the back-story.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

A Couple O' Fun Things

I think a couple of o' few things have led to the explosion of craft breweries (read as: GOOD beer) in these United States, foremost among them being our exceptional standard of living and the general mobility of our society. Relatively well-off people who move around a lot… for whatever reason… are exposed to different people and things, not the least of which is beer and people who appreciate good beer. So… tastes change and evolve and almost always for the better. But there's something else in play, too. Snobbery, as manifested by the appearance of "beer reviews" and the like.
I used to think this territory was reserved for oenophiles, who tend to be among the most obnoxious folks in the world. But no longer… as we beer drinkers are beginning to encroach upon their territory. Hell, even YrHmblScrb has written a beer review… and if I can do it, anyone can. There's even a "how to" to get ya started, if'n you wanna get into the biz for fun or profit. And here it is… "How to Rate a Beer," by Jim Armstrong. Just a couple of excerpts:
When tasting and comparing many different types of beer, it is helpful to have a standardized way of rating them. If you’re serious about your suds, start taking tasting notes and build a profile of what things you like and dislike about different beer styles. This doesn’t have to be a complicated endeavor, but you have to go a bit further than “I liked that beer” or “that one sucks”.
A good place to start is by breaking down a beer’s rating into several categories. I use the same categories as the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) scorecards – those guys know what they’re doing, and their criteria works for me.
Works for me, too. Well maybe except for this bit:
When you start out, everything will smell like beer, but after doing this for awhile, you’ll be amazed at how many different aromas you can pick up. Eventually, you’ll be able to pick out specific varieties of grain and hops!
It all mostly smells like beer to me. There are exceptions, of course… any fool can smell the difference between stout and lager… but I'd sure like to meet the guy or gal who can differentiate between the different varieties of hops used in the brewing process. Then again, I'm quite sure my senses of taste and smell have been whacked by 40+ years of cigarettes. Still and even… I find that particular statement a bridge too far.
That said… the article is interesting and (I think) useful, if only to explain and differentiate what separates good beer from swill. And while we're on the subject... if you love beer and you've never heard of Michael Jackson (no, not that MJ), you've led a deprived life. The man literally wrote the book on beer.
So… how did I miss this?
"Did You Know" is only this year's ninth most popular video, according to Viral Video Chart. Number One? Susan Boyle, with a staggering 174,923,055 views since April 11th of this year. And we've ALL seen that one… right? Which kinda-sorta closes this "Did You Know" loop…
Today's Pic: A re-run that's in keeping with the lead-off theme of today's post: beer. As in, ♫♪ "These are a few of my favorite things…" ♫♪. Heh.

Saturday, June 27, 2009


Turn and face the strain...

So... Playing with the new 'puter continues, in my spare time.
And we have complaints, Gentle Reader, oh yes we does! From an e-mail I sent to a friend this morning:
A stream of consciousness litany of complaints follows...
I don't like the views in Windows Explorer, which is to say I cannot see the entire directory tree... I can only see the folders that Vista wants me to see, and only ONE directory at a time. Arrgh.

I lost all my bookmarks in Firefox, even though I made sure to copy the entire Firefox directory from the old box on to my external drive. The bookmarks document is there... but no bookmarks.

Vista doesn't like my external hard drive, refusing to boot when that drive is connected to the box. I had a moment of sheer terror the first time THAT happened... just a blinking cursor (a la DOS) in the upper left hand corner of the screen and nothing else. Disconnect the external drive and Walla! Boot as normal...

The latest edition of Word has completely rearranged all the menu items and it's NOT frickin' intuitive. At ALL. I have a 60-day trial version loaded on this box and just might reinstall my six year old version rather than upgrade.

My ancient version of MS-Money (circa '97) won't run on Vista and the downsized version provided on the new box ("Money Essentials" - hah) will not import or recognize the old files. This is a critical problem... my entire frickin' financial life for the past 12 years is in that program, with the exception of my tax files... which I haven't got around to messing with. Yet.
There's more but leave us not bore you. The upgrade will proceed slowly as I intend to spend as much time with SN1 as possible while he's in town. I can putz around with the 'puter all I want (and probably more, but let's not go there) once he heads back out to South Carolina tomorrow.
Today's Pic: Take Two of yesterday's beer and cigar extravaganza… a wider view with roughly the same poses. Buck is sitting differently, I ain't. I have but one stock pose for all occasions/circumstances, yanno?

And now, back to our day... already in progress.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Right Now...

SN1 is visiting and we just came back into the AC after burning a cigar and downing a couple of beers, as illustrated above. This, BTW, is our first post using the new box (which arrived today and fired up rather unremarkably... which is a Good Thing) and before we've migrated all our apps and data over from the old drive. There are SOME things I'm not liking about Vista, but we'll save our critiques for later. In the meantime... there's beer to be drunk.

Life is good.

Today's Funny

... is from Lisa Benson:

Heh, as we say in these parts.

Apropos of nothing... I went to Viral Vids to see if there was anything amusing to post and saw the entire Top 20 was nothing but MJ. I shoulda known...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Screw This

So... I turn on my teevee for the prime-time news hour (three, actually, if one counts all the news shows I watch on a daily basis) and what do I see? Wall-to-wall Michael Jackson. First he's been taken to the hospital, then he's dead. And now it's nothing BUT... man-in-the-street interviews, MTV video clips... the whole nine yards.

Forgive me my pique, Gentle Reader, but Dang! He's only a frickin' entertainer. It ain't like Ghandi or JFK died. As the title sez: screw this. I'm gonna mix up a G&T and go sit outside with a cigar, heat or no.

RIP Michael and thanks for all the great tunes.

This Says Nothing...

... other than the fact I eat out waaay too much.

Two days worth of dishes in the drainer,* taken but ten minutes ago after consuming the morning's last cup on the verandah. It's HOT outside, Gentle Reader. Happy Hour will be delayed until late this evening as a result and will more than likely consist of Gin & Tonics. Plural.

*added much later in the day


The F-22 saga continues… three items from today’s Air Force Association Daily Report:

Hollow Threat: Just last week, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he was not yet ready to invoke a "veto threat" over the addition of 12 F-22 Raptors in the House Armed Services Committee's version of the 2010 defense authorization bill. Now, it appears he is ready. A just-released statement of administration policy on H.R. 2647 states the President's senior advisors would recommend a veto if the final bill still contains funds to take the F-22 program of record beyond 187 aircraft. Last week, Rep. Neil Abercrombie, chairman of the committee's air and land forces panel, said he believes the full House will find money for 20 additional Raptors in 2010. Talking with defense reporters in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday morning, the head of the House defense appropriations panel, Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), also lent his weight to the notion that Congress will approve buying more Raptors (see below). Saying it wouldn't be easy, Murtha pulled a list from an inside coat pocket that he would not share because it constituted "personal conversation" between himself and Gates, but which he said was a list of program decisions that Gates' considers "not negotiable," and from Murtha's subsequent remarks, we concluded the F-22 is on that list. However, the SAP and Gates' notional list are the not the last word. In Abercrombie's view, "The President is much too shrewd [not to realize] … that, should a veto come over adding a few planes into the defense budget, that that wouldn't be overridden in a nanosecond?" He added that a veto threat is "not a productive way to go about having this conversation."

Murtha for More F-22s: House Appropriations defense subcommittee chairman John Murtha (D-Pa.) supports further buys of the F-22 and is optimistic that more will be bought, but he said that it will take some wheeling and dealing in Congress to make it happen. Speaking with defense reporters Wednesday in Washington, D.C., Murtha said, "I think we can reach a compromise" on Capitol Hill that would allow the F-22 to go forward. Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee and its defense panel, "feels very strongly about it, and I do, too," Murtha added. Murtha said he wants the decision to be based on the threat, not on budgets, but that the decision to end the program at 187 aircraft "I think … was made based on cost." He said that on his panel, "we know the Air Force believes it does not have enough airplanes to train people, deploy people, and have enough spares available." (see below, The Sustainment Numbers Game) Murtha said Defense Secretary Robert Gates is "adamant" that no further F-22s be bought. He also said there is "strong sentiment" in the House to continue the production line "but not a majority." Murtha said that the F-22 debate is complicated by the fact that the airplane is still having maintenance issues—although he acknowledged it is still early in its deployment—and by questions about whether the F-35 will perform as advertised.

The Sustainment Numbers Game: When Lt. Gen. Mark Shackelford, the Air Force's acquisition military deputy, told lawmakers earlier this month that the smaller F-22 Raptor fleet would pose long-term sustainment challenges, he was referring to a wide range of issues, from depot requirements to unscheduled maintenance and repairs and the need to upgrade the older Raptors with enhanced capabilities. Air Force spokesperson Lt. Col. Karen Platt told the Daily Report Tuesday that Shackelford was comparing the sustainment of larger fleets with a sizeable inventory of backup and attrition reserve aircraft where there is less difficulty in removing aircraft from operational squadrons to undergo maintenance, repairs, or retrofits, to the sustainment of a smaller fleet—in this case, only 186 Raptors. Platt said, "The F-22 fleet, however, has a small backup aircraft inventory and no attrition reserve aircraft," so taking Raptors from an operational squadron for critical maintenance and upgrades has a greater impact on readiness and must be more carefully planned to mitigate impacting mission requirements. And any further losses, due to accidents or combat, would increase this effect, she added.

And then there’s this about recapitalizing the tanker fleet:

Tanker Verbiage: Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), chair of the House Appropriations defense subcommittee, said Wednesday he wants to introduce language during his panel's forthcoming markup of the Fiscal 2010 defense spending proposal that would call on the Pentagon to acquire new Air Force KC-X tanker aircraft from two suppliers vice just one and build them at a higher annual rate than the Air Force currently projects. However, he told defense reporters in Washington, D.C., his language would not go so far as to mandate this dual tanker buy approach—although it is the one that he clearly favors—but instead would retain the option for DOD to select a single supplier in a winner-take-all competition. The latter has been Defense Secretary Robert Gates' clear preference, but Murtha said he thinks it would be a mistake, given the failed attempt to advance with a single supplier last year. "You are not going to have a [new] tanker if you don't divide [the buy]," he said, recounting a recent conversation he had with Ashton Carter, the Pentagon's new acquisition executive. Murtha continued, "If you don't split it up with two, there is going to be a protest. It will be years before you settle it." Murtha said not everyone on the defense appropriations panel will support his measure, but, in the end, he predicts a compromise. "I think we will get legislation through that will say, we need to have tankers sooner rather than later," he said. Ideally, he'd like to have three new tankers assembled per month (see above), more than the Pentagon and Air Force leadership have said would be fiscally possible each year. Murtha acknowledged that earmarking the extra money to support a larger annual buy would be a challenge, but he didn't characterize it as a show-stopper.

There’s background on this particular flap… including a lot of useful links… here, if’n you’re at all interested. For what it’s worth, the average age of a KC-135 in today’s air force exceeds 46 years. How would YOU like to fly in an airframe that old, day in and day out?


The computer saga... So, we’re preparing to receive the new computing box tomorrow and part of that effort is to do a complete back-up of the current box’s hard drive. On Tuesday it came to my attention that my El Cheapo back-up program that came bundled with the outboard hard drive I bought a couple of years ago has been… umm… less than effective. I run incremental back-ups on a nightly basis and supposedly had a full back-up scheduled once a month. Investigation… i.e., comparing the contents of my external drive to that of the internal drive… revealed significant discrepancies. So… we wiped the external drive and launched a complete back-up last evening around 1730 hrs. As of this writing it’s still running and is only about half complete. It takes a long time to back-up 130 GB over a USB connection.

Oh. I also bought a full-fledged back-up program… no more El Cheapo solutions in this (ahem) space. I’m damned lucky my internal hard drive hasn’t failed.


The Nanny-State Saga... Today’s Funny, from Gary Varvel:

The “anti-smoking legislation” refers, of course, to the FDA regulation of tobacco legislation The One signed into law last week. Which, of course, is a stunning act of hypocrisy on Obama’s part. The President’s smoking habits remain one of the most closely guarded secrets of this administration, but rumor has it he’s “95% successful” in his effort to quit. Now I have NO idea what the Hell that means… in MY world you’ve either quit or you haven’t. But Hey! I don’t live in that “reality-based community” like he does… so what do I know, anyway?

For the record: I quit cigarettes two and a half years ago. Completely. None of this “95% successful” bullshit. Yes, I still smoke a cigar a day... sometimes two. One doesn't inhale that smoke, though.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Whither Afghanistan?

If you're interested in the subject question and have about 30 minutes to invest, there are no better opinions on the subject than what you'll see below. This is from last night's Charlie Rose program and features discussion with David Kilcullen, David Barno, and Tom Ricks... two leading counter-terrorism experts and the former commander of forces on the ground in Afghanistan. It's great good stuff.

Bonus: minor digressions on Iraq and Iran.

Typical Stevie Y

After all he's done... here he is being modest to a fault. If you're looking for a role model for your kids... there's none better than Mr. Yzerman.

(h/t: Kukla's Korner)

A Parable

A friend sends this along…

An old country preacher had a teenage son, and it was getting time the boy should give some thought to choosing a profession. Like many young men his age, the boy didn't really know what he wanted to do, and he didn't seem too concerned about it. One day, while the boy was away at school, his father decided to try an experiment.

He went into the boy's room and placed on his study table four objects;

1. A bible.
2. A silver dollar .
3. A bottle of whiskey.
4. And a Playboy magazine.

"I'll just hide behind the door," the old preacher said to himself. "When he comes home from school today, I'll see which object he picks up. If it's the bible, he's going to be a preacher like me, and what a blessing that would be! If he picks up the dollar, he's going to be a business man , and that would be okay, too.. But if he picks up the bottle, he's going to be a no-good drunken bum, and Lord, what a shame that would be. And worst of all if he picks up that magazine he's going to be a skirt-chasing womanizer."

The old man waited anxiously, and soon heard his son's foot-steps as he entered the house whistling and headed for his room. The boy tossed his books on the bed, and as he turned to leave the room, he spotted the objects on the table. With curiosity in his eye, he walked over to inspect them.

Finally, he picked up the Bible and placed it under his arm. He picked up the silver dollar and dropped it into his pocket. He uncorked the bottle and took a big drink while he admired this month's centerfold.

"Lord have mercy," the old preacher disgustedly whispered. "He's gonna run for Congress."

Along the same lines…

But, then again... there ain't no such animal.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Apropos of Nothing...

Taking a short break from Happy Hour... we decided to play a bit with the camera while pouring a refill. The results:

The first pic is a 40% re-size; the second is a crop of the full-size image (full manual... f/4.5, 1/30 sec, ISO 400. As ever, click for larger.). I think I'm beginning to get this focusing thing down. Exactly why it's been SO damned difficult is beyond me... seriously.

And now back outside... to continue as we've begun. Oh... another thing... Mothership Wit is rapidly becoming the beer o' choice for these warm summer days. It goes down SO easy it's almost like pop. That's a compliment.


A lot of folks I read have posted about the exchange SENATOR B. Boxer (D - LaLaLand) had with Brigadier General Michael Walsh recently. But this is the best thing I've seen on the subject:

Heh. It's a good ad and I wish Chuck DeVore all the luck in the world. He'd have MY vote if I still lived in California.

(h/t: Susan)

Some (Very) Light Reading

The Hockey Hall of Fame will announce its 2009 selections sometime today. The general consensus of opinion is that Steve Yzerman, a guy who has long been in the B-Rank of my heroes, is a no-brainer for induction in his first year of eligibility. From Fox Sports:
The easy decisions are for three of the four openings in the players category. Steve Yzerman, Brett Hull and Brian Leetch are clearly shoo-ins and make this year's class one of the most memorable in decades. All three are first-time eligible this year and the debate among the 18 selection committee members won't be long or spirited.
The fourth opening is the one that will spark plenty of dialogue. The other first-time candidates, who are retired three years from hockey, are Luc Robitaille, Alexander Mogilny and Dave Andreychuk.
The fans agree, too:
Here’s Stevie Y’s CV, from NHL.com… where you’ll find thumbnail bios of the other leading HHOF candidates:
Steve Yzerman -- Yzerman was Hull's teammate on the 2002 Stanley Cup-winning Red Wings. Yzerman also won the Stanley Cup in 1997 and 1998.

Yzerman was the fourth overall pick of the 1983 Entry Draft and went on to play 22 seasons with the Red Wings. He was only 21 when he was named team captain in 1986-87. He retired as the longest-serving captain in North American professional-sports history.

Yzerman retired in 2006 as the sixth-leading scorer in NHL history. Yzerman had 692 goals and 1,063 assists for 1,755 points in 1,514 NHL regular-season games. He had 70 goals and 115 assists for 185 points in 196 Stanley Cup Playoff games. He received the Conn Smythe Trophy in 1998 as the most valuable
player in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, when he led all scorers with 18 assists and 24 points.

Yzerman also won the 1989 Lester B. Pearson Award and the 2000 Selke Trophy as the NHL's best defensive forward. He was awarded the 2003 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy for perseverance.

Yzerman was named to the NHL All-Rookie team in 1984 and the NHL First All-Star Team in 2000. He played in 10 NHL All-Star Games.

Yzerman broke the 50-goal mark in five seasons, with a high of 65 goals in 1988-89. He had 62 goals in 1989-90 and 58 goals in 1992-93. He ranks eighth all-time in goals, seventh in assists and sixth in points.
Yup: no-brainer.
In other hockey news… this pains me:
Detroit -- The news wasn't surprising but no less significant.
The fact the Red Wings parted ways with Chris Chelios on Monday was expected. But it screamed attention, nonetheless.
Chelios, 47, didn't play much last season and had become an extra defenseman. But he's a surefire Hall of Famer. And when a team parts ways with a Hall of Famer, it's news.
General manager Ken Holland met with Chelios on Monday and officially told him the Wings wouldn't be bringing him back after 10 seasons.
"It was kind of understood last summer that the 2008-09 season would be the last one for Cheli as a Red Wing," said Holland, noting the need for the Wings to bring in young players such as Jonathan Ericsson. "Cheli wants to play another season, and I believe he can still play."
Bothered by a leg problem early in the season, then put in a reduced role when he returned, Chelios played in 28 games. He didn't have a point but was plus-1 and had 18 penalty minutes.
Chelios was in six playoff games, didn't score and had an even plus-minus.
He didn't return phone calls Monday. Chelios also didn't speak to the media after the Wings cleaned out their lockers after the playoffs.
He said late in the regular season he didn't expect to be re-signed by the Wings, citing the need for players such as Ericsson to get playing time.
There will be lots of talk over the summer about Chelli’s next team, if there is one. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him playing for Chicago next season… and I suppose that would only be fitting. It’s interesting how things change: Chelios used to be my… and most other Wings’ fans, as well… favorite “guy I love to hate” back when he played for Chicago and before he came to Detroit. I’ll miss him.
In local news… we had an organizational transfer ceremony out at Cannon Airplane Patch this past Friday. From the Clovis News-Journal:
The “game changers” officially belong to Cannon Air Force Base.
Flanked by two of the AC-130H Spectre gunships it flies and maintains, the 16th Special Operations Squadron transferred its flag Friday from Hurlburt Air Field in Florida to Cannon.
“The arrival of Spectre is a game-changer,” said Lt. Gen. Donald C. Wurster, commander of AFSOC. “If you’re a good guy, you will win. If you are a bad guy, you will perish. It’s as simple as that.”
Prior to the transfer, crews of the 16th at Cannon were operating as a detachment unit while the official squadron was stationed at Hurlburt.
Now, it is Hurlburt with the detachment unit.
“It’s a important step for (Air Force Special Operations Command),” said Lt. Col. Sean Farrell, commander of the squadron. “As we grow our continental base and we build the capabilities of this wing to match the capabilities of our wing in Florida. “We deliver an important element to the AFSOC mission.”
That element includes close air support, armed reconnaissance, interdiction, night search and rescue, and airborne command and control.
Welcome to the High Plains of New Mexico, 16th Special Ops! We’re glad you’re here, even though you may feel otherwise… given the radical difference between here and your old home. But, Hey! It ain’t all that bad…

Monday, June 22, 2009

Decisions, Decisions

The political war over the F-22 is heating up. From the Air Force Association’s Daily Report:

Gates Has a Big Problem: Defense Secretary Robert Gates says he has "a big problem" with the House Armed Services Committee addition of 12 F-22 Raptors to the 2010 defense budget. He told reporters at the Pentagon June 18 that the reason is "because it continues the F-22 program, which is contrary to the recommendations I made to the President." However, Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii), who as chairman of the committee's air and land forces panel put forth the additional Raptors, says we need them to provide "breathing room" to keep F-22 production going while debate continues on national strategy as the Pentagon works through the Quadrennial Defense Review. For Gates that debate is obviously over. In a direct slap at the professional opinion expressed recently by Air Combat Command boss Gen. John Corley that the current national military strategy requires more than 187 F-22 fighters, Gates told the reporters: "Frankly, to be blunt about it, the notion that not buying 60 more F-22s imperils the national security of the United States I find completely nonsense." With that statement, Gates not only derides Corley's judgment but also that of Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz, who has acknowledged the fiscal constraints that make a smaller F-22 force necessary, but who has stated publicly that the current military requirement is for 243 Raptors. Asked when he would recommend a presidential veto, Gates said, "I'm not going to go that far at this point." Abercrombie, however, meeting with reporters, openly ridiculed the notion of a veto, claiming that President Obama would be uncharacteristically foolhardy to veto a defense bill over the issue of a few airplanes. Abercrombie added that, in any event, a veto would be met in a flash with an override by huge supermajorities in each chamber. (Gates press briefing transcript)

Corley's Rationale: In making his unvarnished military assessment of the high risk he sees in halting F-22 production at 187 aircraft, Air Combat Command boss Gen. John Corley upheld his sworn duty to Congress to "provide his unbiased opinion on all matters of military importance," according to a June 19 statement from ACC. It's important to note, too, that in Corley's written response to a direct request from Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) about the F-22 risk factor, Corley noted that USAF leaders had asked for and received ACC views, but he also acknowledged that they and DOD leaders were faced with "tough choices … in balancing current warfighting needs against fiscal realities." That, in our view, shows integrity. Among the factors, ACC says Corley used in making his assessment were the need for homeland defense, combatant commanders' requirements, opposing air and ground threats, ongoing reductions in fighter force structure, and the rapidly aging fighter force—all part and parcel of the Defense Strategy Force Planning Construct. For Defense Secretary Robert Gates to dismiss Corley's assessment as "nonsense" is nonsensical.

Between Proverbial Rock and a Hard Place: Air Force Secretary Michael Donley and Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz issued a joint statement last week, acknowledging that they had considered the views of Gen. John Corley, who leads Air Combat Command, on the F-22 risk factor (see above and here High Risk). The bottom line, as they have said before, is that other needs trumped continuing F-22 production beyond 187 aircraft when they had to work within a fixed budget. They said: "We assessed the F-22 by taking into account competing strategic priorities and complementary programs within the context of available resources. After carefully considering a full range of views and alternatives, including those expressed by General Corley, we recommended to Secretary Gates that other priority Air Force programs should not be reduced in order to fund additional F-22s beyond the program of record." That, in our view, is an honest presentation of the situation and in no way denigrates Corley's military expertise.

We tend to go on about the F-22 quite a bit here at EIP.


Update from Saturday: We decided on a computer, Gentle Reader, and we should have a new Gateway LX 6810-01 in our hot lil hands by the end of the week. One of the more interesting things about computer shopping is reading all the customer reviews. Someone always gets a lemon and they are NOT shy about telling the world about it… it doesn’t seem to matter what brand or model computer you look at. So… we have our fingers crossed here at El Casa Móvil De Pennington in hopes our previous good luck with computers holds. That luck has been substantial, too. We’ve bought every single one of our computers over these inter-tubes, with the exception of our first two. And the only reason we didn’t buy those online is online shopping didn’t… ummm… exist at the time.

Speaking of our first computer… it was one of these. I bought my XT in early 1986, and it was the model that did NOT come with a hard drive; it had two 5.25” floppies. I bought a 10 megabyte… yes, MEGAbyte… Seagate hard drive from a mail order firm and installed it myself. The drive only cost about 300 Yankee Dollars, if I recall correctly. The XT itself was about $1500.00, if memory serves. As far as connectivity went, I had a 9600 bps outboard modem to access BBSes and the like. You cannot imagine how impressed I was when I upgraded to a 19.2 Kbps modem. Oh, the power and the glory!

We’ve come a long way, Bay-bee. But ya know what? I miss those clickety old IBM keyboards. Those things were built to last, in addition to having the best feel of any keyboard I've ever used. They were heavy enough to have made damned good weapons, too... and I'm sure someone, somewhere, beat the snot out of another person using one. I wouldn't take odds on anyone surviving a determined attack with that keyboard.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day

Today is the day we celebrate the Ol' Man, Dad, Pop, or whatever name you apply to your father. He’s the guy who is our earliest impression of what it means to be a man... and the guy who is primarily responsible for molding boys into men. Here's my role model:
Dad in his Army Air Corps lieutenant's uniform, me, and Mom... around 1949.
The Wiki has an interesting article on Father's Day... including the proper spelling as opposed to common usage... which includes this lil bit:
Where Mother's Day was met with enthusiasm, Father's Day was met with laughter. The holiday was gathering attention slowly, but for the wrong reasons. It was the target of much satire, parody and derision, including jokes from the local newspaper Spokesman-Review. Many people saw it as just the first step in filling the calendar with mindless promotions like "Grandparents' Day", "Professional Secretaries' Day", etc., all the way down to "National Clean Your Desk Day."
Heh. That describes the earliest time period when a movement was on to make Father’s Day a national holiday… or during the very early part of the 20th century. I think it’s interesting to note that all those ersatz holidays actually have a day named for the occasion now… even though they may not be officially recognized holidays.
But anyhoo: call yer Ol’ Man.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

A Few Minor Irritants and One Good Thing

First things first: an apology.

I’ve had to enable word verification for comments. I was spam-bombed again last evening with another 44 character-based comments… from the same asshat that nailed me night before last, no doubt. I’m also a lil bit ticked with Site Meter in that I wasn’t able to correlate the date/time stamp on the comment e-mails with a specific visitor as recorded in SM. The reason I’m ticked is I seriously wanted to send an abuse report to the spammer’s ISP but I can’t do so without a smoking gun.

I’ll run word verification for about a month or so and then try and remove it again. Once again: apologies.


I used to think buying a house was one of the worst experiences in modern life, what with trying to find something that meets your needs and desires, is within your budget, and in a neighborhood that’s safe, attractive, and within reasonable distance of things you need/places you have to be. Then comes the offer process, the negotiating, inspections, the closing, and frickin’ paperwork out the wazoo at each and every step. It's misery personified.

As far as negative experiences go, buying a house is closely followed by buying a car, but for different reasons… most of which revolve around car dealers and salespeople, who are the slimiest people one will ever meet in an ostensibly legal endeavor. I think drug dealers are more honest and respectable than car salesmen. (Minor digression: let’s not consider divorce lawyers, who are in a category unto themselves and have a special place reserved in Hell. Except for mine, of course. He was OK. That said, I remain amazed more of those bastards aren’t shot dead in the street on any given day.)

But we’re talking about negative experiences… or we started out that way. I’m thinking of adding “buying a computer” to my short list. I’ve had my first two experiences… ever… with the dreaded “blue screen of death” phenomenon this past week, followed up with the curt but scary “Windows needs to examine your hard drive for errors. Run check disk now.” message (or words to that effect) upon the subsequent start-up. It doesn’t help matters that I’m nearly a year beyond the usual, customary, and reasonable three-year refresh period, and that fact contributes greatly to my angst. Along with the heretofore unknown Blue Screen events.

So… we began our day looking at various desktops in what we consider to be our current price range. And…

Too much frickin’ choice.

I suppose that’s a good thing… and really, it is. But I have “issues.” I don’t like what I’ve heard about Vista, but there aren’t any real alternatives for a technically-challenged individual… read as: don’t say a frickin’ thing about Linux. I don’t wanna hear it. And Macs are out of my price range, so don’t come at me with the wonderfulness of Mr. Jobs Magical-And-Oh-So-AWESOME products. I don’t like white or cream-colored computers, either. Nope… I want a garden variety PC that’s as close to plug and play as possible and costs less… preferably much less… than a thousand dollars. There appears to be at least 1,463 boxes in that category and we have begun the arduous task of sifting through the alternatives.

The good news? My current box… which is within a whisker of four years old… has an older Pentium processor (duh), a 180 gig hard drive and a gig of RAM. Contemporary boxes have much faster quad-core processors (Intel only, please), four times the RAM, and six times the hard drive for a couple o’ C-Notes less than I paid for my current El Cheapo Gateway… AND they carry brand-name nameplates, too. I (heart) progress!

But I hate making choices.

We’ll keep you informed.


Just an observation: I think we’re going through the wettest Spring I’ve experienced here on The High Plains of New Mexico, but that’s only going back six years. It pretty much rained all night and well into this morning… and the skies remain overcast and leaden gray as we speak. Our forecast is for scattered showers all day and moderate temps, something I most definitely can live with. This would be our third consecutive day of rain, an event unknown to me since I’ve been in these parts.

Maybe The Goreacle was right about climate change. If so, this is the kind of change I really can believe in. And like. As opposed to… well, you know.


I don’t get today’s Ramirez:

Please enlighten me if you have any idea what he’s on about, Gentle Reader. Never mind... I didn't see the caption below the drawing. It doesn't pay to post before you're fully caffeinated. I'll learn this lesson... someday.

Friday, June 19, 2009


A friend sends along a link that can be a most serious time waster if you let it. It might only be so if you’re “of a certain age.” Or have an eye for the strange and unusual… like these LP covers from 1955 and 1967:
Heh. I’m sure all good Trekkies have the latter… but as for me? I’d be more into Gracious Living… without the apron. But ya know what? I never saw Mom and Dad looking like that, nor did we have such a kitchen. I must have led a deprived life.
So… you are directed to Bills’ Retro World, where there’s more than album covers. There’s TV, movies, and sports, too. And cars! You just know those people above (who were living graciously) had one of these:
And there are more… mostly ad copy from the '50s… but there are some '60s images as well. My parents owned a few of those cars and I owned at least one myself.
Dang. I must be old.
Back to the record covers for further proof:
I remember this one all too well. It was the first record I ever bought with my own money, and I bought my copy in 1957 at the ripe ol' age of 12. This particular gem was released in 1956 but sales were still going strong a year later. Or maybe it's because my Dad was stationed in Ankara, Turkey and we were a year behind the times. Whatevah. "Blue Suede Shoes" was a revelation to my 12-year old mind and probably was what set me off on a life of depravity and dissipation.
But that's another story altogether.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Right Now...

... well, OK... ten minutes ago. The view from under the awning during Happy Hour, just concluded. You'll have to twist the second pic in your mind's eye, coz I'm too lazy to (mess) with the eccentricities of Blogger and my photo editing program to fix what should NOT have to be fixed to begin with. Suffice to say the photo appears in its natural landscape format in my photo editing program, but refuses to display appropriately in Blogger. (note: fixed at a later date because I upgraded my image management program and the upgrade WORKS!)

All that said... that's one of those exquisite Acid Deep Dish cigars... nearing the end of its natural life... in the company of a
New Belgium Sunshine Wheat. It was the most unusual of occasions: a passing thunderstorm without accompanying gale-force winds. So we sat our Old Ass under the awning and leisurely finished our beer while drinking in the sights, sounds and smells of rain on The High Plains of New Mexico. I'll have to admit, Gentle Reader, that yes... it does get better than this. But not lately.

Postscript, 1700 hrs.: Dinner is served... garlic shrimp linguine and a big-ass salad. I told you it gets better, didn't I? ;-)

PPS, 1805 hrs: Dessert. German chocolate cake with a bit of Häagen-Dazs butter pecan on the side. No coffee though. What a Philistine, eh? (Am I scraping the bottom of the blogging barrel... or what?)

The Early Bus... Now Departing

We're on the Early Bus again today. I’m not quite sure what’s up with my sleeping habits of late but we’re not all that worried. What woke me up this morning was a brief but somewhat noisy thundershower that rolled through P-Ville just before 0530. Rain on an RV’s roof creates quite a racket, ya know, enough to wake even the heaviest of sleepers… and maybe the dead… and that would be me, Gentle Reader. So we rolled out, fired off the coffee pot and took a peek out the window to see there were some great cloud formations and the beginnings of what looked like a brilliant sunrise.

It was.

I took 68 pictures, most of which are throw-aways as I’m still having focusing issues with the SLR. This is beginning to piss me off.
For Ann and others who may be interested… All shots were taken with the 50 mm lens in shutter priority mode, f/1.4, at ISO 100. Image 17: 1/250 sec., Image 31: 1/160 sec., Image 34: 1/320 sec.
Customer service is NOT dead. Witness the following, which is pretty much self-explanatory (addresses redacted):
From: Buck Pennington
To: Tim Blythe
Mon, Jun 15, 2009 at 3:13 PM
Hello Tim,

Today must be a busy day for all y'all. I placed a call to you about an hour ago and left my callback number and haven't heard from you yet. I've tried to contact you a couple of times in the interim and got an "all reps are busy" message.

Anyhoo. I want to place an order for a box of Acid Deep Dish 5.0x58 @ $XXX. Please use the regular credit card (Master Card ending in 8473) and the usual method of shipping... i.e., second-day air.... to my Portales, NM address.

The last time I ordered the representative screwed my order up and sent me a box of Def Seas which I kept rather than return, mainly coz I have yet to meet the Acid I didn't like. That said... I really WOULD prefer the Deep Dish this time around.

Norman (aka Buck) Pennington
Tim’s reply:
From: Tim Blythe
Buck Pennington
Tue, Jun 16, 2009 at 8:29 AM
RE: Order
You got it, Buck. Sorry for being so hard to get a hold of. I'll get this shipped out so you have it tomorrow!!
Thank you and enjoy!
Tim Blythe
(800) 357-9800
OK… I kinda-sorta figured Tim was using a little bit of poetic (i.e., marketing) license when he said “so you have it tomorrow.” He wasn’t. My cigars arrived yesterday afternoon, shipped out from Cigar.com via next-day air AND including a three-cigar Acid sampler thrown in, gratis. It really is a pleasure doing bid’niz with Cigar.com, and most especially Tim.
Yes. This IS a testimonial.
As noted in yesterday’s post, we were anticipating our 100,000th visitor here at EIP. And so it came to pass at 1934 hrs last evening:
A googler… looking for the ever-popular MC-12W.
I'm thinking it's a good day to cruise out to the base. We need to do a beer and commissary run, anyway.