31 July 2007

The New York Sun, an Exercise in Irrelevancy

They have an editorial Defending the Oreo Cookie. It appears that the Washington post suggest that Oreos are bad for you.

Unbelievably bloody lame.

These aren't journalists, they are fanboyz pretending to be journalists.

Best Little Whorehouse Reporter Dies

I actually saw him a number of times when I lived in Sealy, TX. Most of Marvin Zindler's stuff seemed to be about consumer fraud when I saw him.

He was good natured about the slams against him in the musical, saying that he was alleging payoffs to the local constabulary (it's a Whorehouse, that's what they do) and mob ties (really don't know).

My Wife is a Member of ZOG, and I Didn't Even Get a F$#@ing T-shirt

My wife got a fund solicitation from AIPAC today. I haven't gotten anything.

I'm feeling so left out. What's wrong with me? Why can't I be a member of the Zionist Occupation Government?

But it's not like I'd give those morons money. They have their tongue so far up GW Bush's ass, they can taste his tonsils, and this guy would sell Israel down the river in a minute for Prince Bandar.

Good Thai Recipe Site

ThaiTable.com. A lot of treif, but a good signt none the less.

H/T Majikthise for the tip.

Bush Flouts Nuclear Anti-Proliferation Laws

The single most likely place on earth, and George W. Bush is handing nuclear technology to the Indian government so that he can throw some money toward some of his contributors.

Didn't we invade Iraq on the suspicion that Saddam was doing what George Bush is doing now?

Let's see:
  • They are refusing to release the text of the agreement.
  • India still refuses to sign the NNPT.
  • The agreement is vague enough that the Indians claim no restrictions on nuclear weapons.
  • Bush added a signing statement telling congress to go pound sand.
When do we invade the white house with the 82nd Airborne?

Seriously, what has Bush not screwed up beyond all recognition in the past 6+ years?

Very Light Jet Mfg Makes Teeny Jet

Eclipse, whose Eclipse 500 very light jet pretty much launched the segment has unveils a single engine teeny weenie jet prototype.

I think that this is Eclipse hedging its bets. It has a lot of orders, but from air-taxi services, which are an unproven business model, so it could be left with egg on its face.

I think that this may be bet hedging. It's a bit small for air-taxi services, but as a personal jet it seems about the right size, with a 1+3 cabin, as opposed to the 500's 1+5 cabin.

Swift Engineering of San Clemente, California was contracted to assist with the design and build the ECJ in slightly over six months.

“Swift Engineering has been a tremendous partner, and was instrumental in taking this new aircraft from design to flight test so rapidly,” says Raburn.
Six months is very impressive. My guess would be that this is a product of their experience with friction stir welding, which among other things, allows dissimilar materials to be welded, which has largely been responsible for the low cost of the Eclipse 500.

Remember, Always Wear Seat Belts...If Nothing Else

Here we have the story of a head on collision with a happy....relatively death free ending.
Collision involved naked couple

Investigators think that alcohol was a factor in a head-on collision in Comal County on July 18 in which two victims were pulled from their car naked.

"The only thing they had on was the radio . . . and their seat belts," Department of Public Safety Cpl. Rick Alvarez said.

On the evening of July 18, Lisa Marie Bishop, 25, of Austin was driving north on FM 1102 north of New Braunfels when she went around a curve and swerved into the southbound lane, crashing head-on to a truck driven by Juan Montoya, 49, of New Braunfels, Alvarez said.

Montoya was not injured. Bishop sustained injuries that were not life-threatening, but her passenger, 26-year-old Robert Rydeen of Austin, was airlifted to San Antonio and was in stable condition Monday, officials said.

Bishop told investigators that she and Rydeen had been at Schlitterbahn Waterpark and had removed their wet clothes for the drive home, Alvarez said. Investigators found some wet clothes in the car as well as evidence of alcohol consumption.

Alvarez said that in his 13 1/2 years as a DPS trooper, he had never before investigated a crash involving nude drivers.

"But she's from Austin," he said, "and I figure Austin folks are a little different."
You think?????

Mackris v. O’Reilly The Oratorio

It's a baroque classical Oratorio. Falafel and Violins, I guess.

John Roberts, Supreme Court Chief Justice, Hospitalized After Seizure

John Robert's seizure may not have any particular significance in the course of the court. It appears at this time that he is fine and suffering no ill effects.

He has had a prior seizure, in 1993, but there are no indications of anything that would prevent him serving, though having a second seizure, even after a 14 year interval might indicate a need for him to go on some prophylactic anti-seizure medication.

My diagnosis is that he had an attack of conscience, about once every 14 years for that sounds about right for a Republican, but I'm an engineer, not a doctor, dammit!*

*Man...I just love it when I can go all "reverse Doctor McCoy"!!!!

Inslee to push to impeach Abu Gonzales

Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA) is submitting a motion to impeach Alberto Gonzalez.

It reads as follows:
Resolved: That the Committee on the Judiciary shall investigate fully whether sufficient grounds exist for the House of Representatives to impeach Alberto Gonzales for high crimes and misdemeanors.
Truth be told, I'd much rather see a motion that inserts "for lying to congressional committees and investigators in violation of applicable laws, and" right after his name.

It's clear that he's lying. It's clear that he has lied for Bush since his days in Texas.

Impeach Gonzalez now. Impeach Cheney tomorrow. Impeach Bush the day after.

Feds Raid Ted Stevens' Home

Mr. "Internet Tubes" appears to be on his way to an indictment, and hopefully jail.

If you want to see the effect of oil on governance, one only has to look at Alaska. When I left, in 1969, this sort of stuff was unheard of.

Found money is corrupting.

The Supreme Court Patent Decision is Making a Difference

A patent troll's request for an injunction has been denied by a federal court.

The new standards put in place when the supreme court slapped down the patent court over it's "enjoin everything and everything is novel" standards are starting to have an effect.

It now appears that the patent troll's suit against ebay over "buy it now" is one of the first impacted by the new standards.>

Ordered by the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit whether an injunction is necessary in the long-running spat, U.S. District Judge Jerome Friedman in Norfolk, Va., ruled Friday that awarding monetary damages alone to MercExchange is enough to compensate any harms it experienced as a result of eBay's infringement.

That's in large part because the two-man Virginia company has shown public willingness to license its patents to eBay before, during and after the trial, suggesting money is its primary motive, Friedman wrote.

"MercExchange's modus operandi appears to be to seek out companies that are already market participants that are infringing, or potentially infringing, on MercExchange's patents and negotiate to maximize the value of a license, entered into as a settlement to, or avoidance of, litigation," Friedman wrote.

He also added that the firm "has utilized its patents as a sword to extract money rather than as a shield to protect its right to exclude or its market-share, reputation, goodwill, or name recognition, as MercExchange appears to possess none of these."

I love that little slam against MercExchange when the judge says it has no reputation or goodwill.

It's nice to see a bit of sanity returning to IP. Folks like MercExchange are pirates in the old school sense that they sit across trade routes and steal from people who take them.

The US Tortured British Agent for 4 Years

It turns out that a major source for MI5 was rendered, and tortured by the CIA in one of their gulags.
An Iraqi who was a key source of intelligence for MI5 has given the first ever full insider's account of being seized by the CIA and bundled on to an illegal 'torture flight' under the programme known as extraordinary rendition.
One of the items of significance is just how much MI5 were the poodles of the CIA.
A report by Parliament's intelligence and security committee last week disclosed that, although the Americans warned MI5 it planned to render al-Rawi in advance, in breach of international law, the British did not intervene on the grounds he did not have a UK passport. The government claimed he was the responsibility of Iraq, which he fled as a teenager when his father was tortured by Saddam Hussein's regime.
This had to come from 10 Downings street. Once again, Blair is Bush's poodle.


Pervez Musharraf, Benazir Bhutto Met in Secret

I'm not sure what to make of this news, but the fact that Musharraf and Bhutto have met in secret is significant.

I think that more than anything else, it is an indication of how profoundly weak Pres. Musharraf has become.

Pakistan, due to extensive meddling in the area by the US and USSR, have created a nuclear armed entity that is in many ways close to a failed state where government fails to reach into much of the country, particularly the oft mentioned "tribal areas".

30 July 2007

A Light Sabre to Make You Vomit

Well, it appears that Department of Homeland Security has come up with another means of enforcing tyrrany controlling unruly crowds, a vomit inducing strobe light.
Enough to Make You Sick
Its inventors call it the LED Incapacitator (L-E-D, as in light-emitting diode). Weapons buffs call it a nonlethal weapon. But test subjects who have buckled and reeled from its nauseating strobe call it other names—none printable.

A later version of the LED Incapacitator, featuring a trimmer head.
A flashlight designed to make you nauseatingly ill? What fiendish minds would invent such a tool? The minds of Bob Lieberman and Vladimir Rubtsov, president and senior scientist of Intelligent Optical Systems, Inc., a small R&D company in Torrance, CA. Under a multiphase contract from the S&T Directorate’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Office, with technical direction from S&T program manager Gerald Kirwin, the two physicists are refining an ultra-bright, multicolored, pulsing “lightsaber” that’s more disorienting, dazzling, and dizzying—though a tad less dangerous—than disco. It’s enough to make you sick. And that, Lieberman says, is not always a bad thing.

How does the LED Incapacitator incapacitate? By simultaneously overwhelming the subject both physiologically (temporarily blinding him) and psychophysically (disorienting him). A built-in rangefinder measures the distance to the nearest pair of eyeballs. Then, a “governor” sets the output and pulse train (a series of pulses and rests) to a level, frequency, and duration that are effective, but safe. The colors and pulses continuously change, leaving no time for the brain or eyes to adapt. After a few minutes, the effects wear off.

The light could be used to make a bad guy turn away or shut his eyes, giving authorities enough time to tackle the suspect and apply the cuffs … all while sparing the lives of passersby, hostages, or airline passengers.

An animated cross section shows how red, green, and blue LEDs are focused through an optical plate.

“There are often confrontations at border crossings with suspected illegal aliens or drug runners,” Lieberman says. “You don’t want to hurt or kill them, just take them into custody. With this,” he smiles, “they don’t need to know English to comply.”

Output and size can easily be scaled up to fit the need; immobilizing a mob, for instance, might call for a wide-angle “bazooka” version. Scaling down is more difficult. At 15 inches long by 4 inches wide, the current prototype is more transportable than portable. The next-generation weapon must be as short and svelte as a D-cell Maglite, designed to fit on a duty belt. “Phase 3 will be our shrink phase,” Lieberman says.

This fall, in Phase 2, researchers at Pennsylvania State University will test the LED Incapacitator on volunteers at the school’s Institute of Nonlethal Defense Technology. Intelligent Optical Systems will use the test results to evaluate design features and tweak the strobe’s pattern and colors. “There’s one wavelength that gets everybody,” says Lieberman. “Vlad calls it the evil color.” Further tests are scheduled for the fall, and production could begin by December. By 2010, the LED Incapacitator could be in the hands of thousands of policemen, border agents, and National Guardsmen.
Not to mention enterprising criminals, and private security companies...delightful.

Will No One Rid Me of This Meddlesome Spammer?

It appears that MySpace has gotten a court injunction to keep Sanford Wallace out of their service.
The preliminary injunction came in a lawsuit MySpace filed in March. It claims Wallace created more than 11,000 MySpace profiles that churned out private messages, comments and bulletins that directed users to spoofed MySpace pages seeking their login information.

The ruse allowed him to hijack at least 320,000 accounts, which he used to send 400,000 private messages and post 890,000 comments, both of which redirected MySpace users to the sites freevegasclubs.com and realvegas-sins.com. The sites are owned by Feeble Minded Productions, an aptly-titled firm affiliated with Wallace.
He's not going to change. Can someone just send him to Gitmo or something?

It looks like he is covered under CAN-SPAM, and the least the judge thought it was likely enough that he granted the injunction, and there is potential jail time ther.

Favorite comment of the piece:
We were unable to find a phone number for Wallace and were reluctant to email him.
I gotta go clean my screen now.

Ha Ha!!!!!!!

My heart bleeds borscht for this muthaf#$@&^!

Subprime hedge fund manager forced to put yacht up for sale - Jul. 30, 2007


John Devaney, the CEO of United Capital Markets, a fund that specializes in buying and selling bonds that are backed by the mortgage payments, particularly adjustable rate subprime mortgages, has put his 142-foot yacht "Positive Carry" up for sale, according to a yacht broker's Web site.

Devaney's fund has run into trouble lately. A spokesman for the firm told Reuters on July 3 that it had stopped honoring request from some of its investors for redemptions, or withdrawal, of investments.

Devaney told Money magazine this spring that despite problems that the loans cause for borrowers, the assets backed by them provided a good return for his fund.

"The consumer has to be an idiot to take on those loans," he said. "But it has been one of our best-performing investments."
I hope he gets cancer.
According to the yacht broker's listing, the yacht has accommodations for 10 passengers in its five staterooms, along with space for a crew of seven. Its amenities include his and her baths in the master suite, and four guest bathrooms with Jacuzzi tubs and showers and cherry wood interior throughout.

It has two 2,250-horsepower engines and a range of 3,500 nautical miles.

The New York Post reported Monday that Devaney is also seeking to sell a home in Aspen for $16.5 million.

The Aspen Times reported in November that he bought that house, for $16.25 million, and that property includes a 16,000-square-foot main house and carriage house which include 16 bedrooms, 18 full bathrooms, two fireplaces, three kitchens and two caretaker bedrooms with bathrooms.
Unfortunately, this #$@&ing vulture is still rich.

Soldier denies Tillman berated him - Military Affairs - MSNBC.com

Once again, it appears that part of the military's account of Tillman's death is a lie.

As bullets flew above their heads, the young soldier at Pat Tillman’s side started praying.

“I thought I was praying to myself, but I guess he heard me,” Sgt. Bryan O’Neal recalled in an interview Saturday with The Associated Press. “He said something like, ’Hey, O’Neal, why are you praying? God can’t help us now.”’

Tillman’s intent, O’Neal said, was to “more or less put my mind straight about what was going on at the moment.”

“He said, ’I’ve got an idea to help get us out of this,”’ said O’Neal, who was an 18-year-old Army Ranger in Tillman’s unit when the former NFL player was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan in April 2004.

O’Neal said Tillman, a corporal, threw a smoke grenade to identify themselves to fellow soldiers who were firing at them. Tillman was waving his arms shouting “Cease fire, friendlies, I am Pat (expletive) Tillman, damn it!” again and again when he was killed, O’Neal said.

A chaplain who debriefed the entire unit days after Tillman’s death later described this exchange to investigators conducting a criminal probe of the incident. But O’Neal strongly disputes portions of the chaplain’s testimony, outlined in some 2,300 pages of transcripts released to the AP this week by the Defense Department in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.
There is something of greater significance here. It is that a Chaplain lied about this.

Christian conservative Dominionists have had the infiltration of the military as a goal for some time, look at the discrimination as the Air Force academy, and Tillman was known to be an Atheist.

I think that this guy chose to lie to investigators to further that agenda.

al-Maliki Wants Gen Petraeus out

I appears that al-Maliki has asked George W. Bush to dump Petraeus.

Word is that he's upset that the General is arming Sunni militias to fight the Jihadists.

My guess is that the real word is that it will be too difficult for him to do ethnic cleansing in Baghdad if these people get weapons.

SCIRI, al-Maliki's base tortured Iraqi prisoners during the Iran-Iraq war. His security forces have been murdering and ethnically cleansing Sunnis.

The last thing he wants is something that gets in the way of this.

On the bright side, if he succeeds, I think that it will flip a number of Republicans who value their seats more than they fear Karl Rove, so maybe it will get us out.

This Won't Translate into Balls, Because Bush Has Those in His Desk Drawer.

Well, it looks like Senator Specter criticized Abu Gonzalez on Air Force one.
Senator Arlen Specter violated both points of decorum on Thursday. He visited with reporters aboard the presidential airplane before it lifted off for Philadelphia and lambasted the attorney general.
Don't think that this will mean that he'll stand up to Bush though. He only votes against Bush when his vote does not count.

What Alan Said

As an aside, I rather imagine that Princes William and Harry would like to see the same thing with Paparazzi's motor bikes.
Ground those TV choppers
The senseless death of four helicopter newsmen in Phoenix underscores the stupidity and wastefulness of broadcasters who squander their precious resources on cheap chopper chases instead of more worthy pursuits.

This journalistically indefensible insanity must be stopped. If broadcasters won’t do it voluntarily, then the Federal Aviation Administration, acting on behalf of us innocents on the ground, ought to step in and do it for them.
So says Alan Mutter, and so say we all.

Helicopter footage of a car chase or a fire is not news, it's porn masquerading as news.

Whiskey Foxtrot Tango??? Housing Bubble Bust in Anchorage??? Anchorage????

Well, it looks like the housing bubble is bursting in Anchorage Alaska.

That's right Anchorage, which is pretty remote, unless you live in Ketchikan.

Time on market has more than doubled.

Same thing with Hawaii, which geographically is one of the most remote locations on earth.

This is not a real estate crash. This is an easy credit, blood the economy with liquidity crash. That's why this is not local.

People don't buy houses on price, they buy it on monthly payments, and mortgages are still about 3% lower than historical norms.

The difference from 2 years ago is that the low rates created a frenzy, where people were afraid that they would never own if they did not buy right now.

Now there are people who believe (correctly) that if they wait, they will get a better deal.

That's why you are seeing this in places like Anchorage, Honolulu, Wichita, and Indiannapolis. It's a nation wide phenomenon.

FDA Once Again Kowtows to Industry

An FDA task force is recommending that no notice be given to consumers about the use of nanotechnology in their food and drugs. Big surprise, Bush toadie and FDA commissioner Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach said he endorsed the report and its recommendations.

The AG department has done the same thing with genetically modified organisms, and forbidden testing for Mad Cow in the US.

These organizations should be about protecting the consumer first, but nut in a Republithug administration.

Things I Really Hate

Number 773 on the list:

The fact that Coca Cola® has come out with a number of new flavors, New Coke, Cherry Coke, Lime Coke, Chocolate Coke, Beer Coke, etc. that have packaging almost identical to Coke Classic®.

I think that part of their marketing scheme is to get people to try the new varieties by mistake.

The special today came with a 20 oz bottle of Coke, and I just got a mouthful of something like Anchovie Coke®.


What John Said

In this case, I mean John Edwards. His minute and a half talk on media is well worth a listen.

Bush Nominates Bigot to EEOC

Well, once again Orwell is spinning in his grave. Perhaps the Brits should try generating power from this.

It appears that Bush has nominated a bigot and sexual harasser to the EEOC. He has been accused of supporting religious discrimination, and firing a woman with whom he had had an affair.

Typical. Just like trying to make mobbed up guy Bernie Kerick head of DHS.

Boeing Increases 787 R&D Estimate Again

It apears that Boeing is going to have to significantly increase its research and development spending in order to "preserve the 787 schedule".

My prediction of schedule slips seems to be more likely by the day.

Who Hasn't Been Tempted to Do This?

It appears that NASA has lost nearly 100 million of taxpayer purchased equipment in the past decade.

It appears that there are few controls in place for about $35 billion of assets.

That being said, the story of the lost laptop is my favorite:
It cites one employee who excused himself (or herself) of losing a laptop worth $4,000 with the explanation that the machine had burned up in the atmosphere.

The lost equipment report included the following explanation: "This computer, although assigned to me, was being used on board the International Space Station. I was informed that it was tossed overboard to be burned up in the atmosphere when it failed."
That sure as hell beats, "the dog ate my homework".

You know, if I were in orbit, that's what I'd do to a computer that was #$%%ing up badly. I'd watch it all the way down.

Media Whores

It appears that three "journalists", "Robert Bazell and Nancy Snyderman of NBC News and Susan Dentzer of PBS' NewsHour", all had speaking gigs with the America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) Speakers network.

Considering the fact that they get speaker fees in the 5 figures (I'm in the wrong line of work), I have to say there is a real conflict of interest.

I really miss the old horse (Media Whores Online).

Schadenfreude, I'm Loving It

According to the Buckeye State Blog, "sources close to the Flynt Hooker investigation tell me that they've zeroed in on one epublican, from Ohio's House Delegation, whose contacts appear repeatedly throughout the DC Madam's listings."

My guess is that this person paid with collectible coins.

If he, or she, did, beers on me.

The Gavel » Blog Archive » Oversight Hearing on US Embassy in Iraq

It turns out that there areallegations of forced labor in the construction of the huge US embassy compound in Iraq.

This is no surprise. Slavery, or peonage, is what the Bush admin wants for the workforce. That's what the guest worker program is all about.

I Want This Job

I was reading this article on Mattel's destructive testing lab in Shenzhen, China, and a thought hit me: I want a job there.

I don't want to live in China, but spending the day smashing toys sounds like a lot of fun.

It's Not Just Subprime Home Loans

It appears that many of the companies that borrowed through the subprime market will take it on the chin.
The report shows that about $680bn of loans will mature between 2008 and 2011 compared with only $180bn of maturing high-yield bonds.

Mariarosa Verde, head of credit research at Fitch, said the loan market was “critical to the wellbeing of these companies”.

Many highly leveraged firms rely on their ability to roll over existing loan debt into new loans rather than repay it when it matures, which they often cannot do.
The basic calculus is this:
  • Longer term loans are far riskier to the lender. It ties up the capital for a longer period, and there is a greater risk that the interest fall below market rates.
  • Risk requires greater return, so long term bonds are more expensive
  • Companies that get junk bonds cannot afford the rates of longer term loans, so they get short term ones, and roll them over at the end of the term.
  • When these loans come due, they refinance.
  • If rates have increased significantly, they take it on the chin, bankruptcies and liquidation.
  • This increases the risk, and hence the interest rates, putting more companies at risk.
Greenspan's policy of flooding the market with liquidity after the dotcom crash will have dire consequences in the next few years.

We Are Starting To See Empty Houses in High Rent Neighborhoods

It appears that we are starting to see An epidemic of abandoned houses.

This story is set in Chandler, AZ, just outside of Phoenix, but this is not the only place where this is happening.
A significant portion of the recent Chandler complaints are from newer neighborhoods in southeastern parts of the city where homes once sold for $400,000 or more and values have dropped, Carr said. Buyers who divorce, lose a job or can't afford rising adjustable-rate interest are finding they can't sell their houses for what they owe on them, he said.
This dovetails nicely into the return of Hoovervilles (Favelas) that I wrote about earlier.

The new economy that was supposed to be unleashed by deregulation is an old economy, a very old one. One that ended on Black Tuesday in 1929.

Even worse, it will be years before we can make what we need, because our economy has been hollowed out.

Why the Lib Dems are Condemned to Irrelevance in UK Politics

It appears that there is a bit of a problem in Devon, three councilors have left the party because another member does stripograms and phone sex as a livelihood.

They have left the party, and are now sitting as independents because, "We believe that our integrity and principles will be compromised if we stay."

At the party level, it is reasonable to try to get rid of her because you believe that she will not win re-election or is a drag to the party, but if you are willing to leave the party over this, you are not serious about the party, and most likely, the party just isn't that serious either.

28 July 2007

Destroying the Army We Have?

It appears that the US Army will fall significantly short of its recruiting goals this year.
The service missed its active-duty recruiting goal by 16 percent in June, the worst showing in two years. The shortfall was particularly worrisome to Army leaders because the summer, after students have graduated high school, typically is the best recruiting season.
Remember, that is with the Army relaxing standards, and allowing people with records, and sporting gang tats into the military.

As badly screwed as the military was after Viet Nam, this is going to be far, far worse.

Signs of the Coming Crash: Exotic Liquidity Instruments

I came across a term that I had never heard before, Dark liquidity pools.

These pools are basically a private and unregulated system of equity and bond trading.

It allows people to execute large purchases and sales without any public knowledge.
An activist hedge fund, for instance, may not want to reveal that it is buying up large blocks of stock in a company it is about to attack, or a mutual fund might want to sell a large amount of stock without causing a downdraft that would hurt any shares it still holds.
In a less enlightened era, this might be called fraud or insider trading, but those quaint notions originating from the FDR era reforms have been set by the wayside as a result of "reforms" beginning in the late 1970s (Thanks Jimmy Carter), accelerating in the 1990s (thanks Bill Clinton), and regulations have been largely ignored in the 2009s.

What's more, the uses of these instruments are exploding.
The hunger for anonymous block trading has caused the field to explode. There are about 40 active pools, double the number just last year. New pools and services to aggregate them are announced almost every month.
We should be concerned because it is yet another way for the insiders to make money off the information asymmetries in the market, and to further leverage their investments.

Much Like in 1929, theese will come back to haunt us. Without transparency, when reverses will set off a cascade of collapse, much in the way that they did on Black Tuesday, because the public prices will no longer accurately reflect asset values, and people will be trading blind.

Schedule Slips on B-787

It looks like Boeing will be slipping the first flight of the 787 until September.

Boeing management is saying that, "But delivery of the first 787 to All Nippon Airways in May 2008 remains possible, (Boeing CEO Jim) McNerney says, even if the already compressed flight test schedule shortens to seven months."

I discussed this possibility earlier (also here), and said that it was likely that there would be delays in deliveries.

It's coming to light now because Boeing has a different culture from Aribus, which had similar problems with its A340, and as a result tends to be more upfront about such things.

27 July 2007

The Kitty Grim Reaper

It appears that a cat in Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Providence, Rhode Island brings death with its cuddles.

The cat, named Oscar, is normally standoffish, but will cuddle up to people in the last 4 hours or so before death.

Probably something to do with the cat sensing or smelling something that we can't.

Then again it's a cat, so maybe it just brings death along.
Thomas Graves, a feline expert and chief of small animal medicine at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine, described Oscar's actions as "such a cat thing to do", but admitted: "Those things are hard to study. I think probably dogs and cats can sense things we can't."

Dr Teno concluded: "I don't think this is a psychic cat. I think there's probably a biochemical explanation.
More Death cats:

Not sure if the last one is a death cat, but if looks could kill...

Only the Jesuits Would Think of This

It appears that the Society of Jesus (Jesuits)will be venturing into Second Life saving virtual souls from their virtual sins.


I got nothing here beyond the title.

I had a friend who wanted to carry the papal favor into battle in the SCA (Medieval combat), and he wrote the Vatican. He got back something like a 12 page letter full of questions from a Jesuit asking about the SCA. (His request was denied)

They are an eclectic bunch.

I'm Nominating the Times of India For a Nobel Prize in Snark.

To Quote my good friend Bladesmith, "Lessee here....Legless.....Legless......DICKLESS!!!!"

Here is the whole front page:

26 July 2007

Tillman Coverup May Obscure a Murder

While it has been clear for some time that Pat Tillman's death resulted in an orgy of military ass covering, it now appears that there are uninvestigated evidence of foul play, so the friendly fire might not be so friendly.

It's already clear that Tillman, who was killed in Afghanistan, did not like Bush, and thought that Iraq was an illegal war, but here are the quick points of the article:
  • The doctors - whose names were blacked out - said that the bullet holes were so close together that it appeared the Army Ranger was cut down by an M-16 fired from a mere 10 yards or so away.

  • In his last words moments before he was killed, Tillman snapped at a panicky comrade under fire to shut up and stop "sniveling."

  • Army attorneys sent each other congratulatory e-mails for keeping criminal investigators at bay as the Army conducted an internal friendly-fire investigation that resulted in administrative, or non-criminal, punishments.

  • The three-star general who kept the truth about Tillman's death from his family and the public told investigators some 70 times that he had a bad memory and couldn't recall details of his actions.

  • No evidence at all of enemy fire was found at the scene - no one was hit by enemy fire, nor was any government equipment struck.
The above General is being demoted, BTW.

This Is Not Funny, It's Repulsive

It appears that Municipal Judge Michael Cicconetti, of Painesville, Ohio, is a power drunk jerk, which is all the more remarkable since a municipal court judge does not have much in the way of power.

In any case, ordered three men charged with soliciting sex to take turns dressing in a bright yellow chicken costume while carrying a sign that reads "No Chicken Ranch in Painesville."

I'd call him a schmuck, but a schmuck has a head.

This might be a cute movie, or a funny Simpsons episode, but in real life it's an example of abuse of power, and this is not the first time:
It's not the first time Cicconetti has used barnyard animals in his sentences. He ordered a man who called a policeman a pig to stand next to a live pig in a pen and hold a sign that read "This Is Not a Police Officer." A couple who stole a baby Jesus statue from a manger were sentenced to dress as Mary and Joseph and walk with a donkey.
I'm upset at the tone of the story too, that says we are all supposed to laugh about it.

Professional misconduct is nothing to laugh about.

News Flash, Stealth Ain't Rocket Science

There are reports that Japan is considering development of a stealth fighter of their own.

Truth be told, the information necessary for reduced radar signatures has been available to the general public, at least those who can speak Russian, for about 40 years now.

The "secrets" of stealth derived from a Russian physics paper that allowed one to analytically determine the radar cross section of surfaces.

That being said, this is not really about Japan developing a stealth fighter. It's about Japan getting the F-22.

Export of the F-22 is forbidden by law, but Japan wants to buy some so they are starting this research, "in the hope it will spur the United States to review a ban on selling F-22 fighters".

The "DC Madame" Case Casts a Wider Net.

It appears now that a Navy Academy officer reportedly worked as an escort for Deborah Jean Palfrey.

Also, one of the numbers on the list is "that of an editor for the Army Times Publishing Co.", according to the Baltimore Sun.

Sometimes you just want to pop up some popcorn, and watch what happens.

As to prostitution in general, I favor it being legal ane regulated, which would deal with most of the health issues, and rid the world of the lowest form of life on Earth, the pimp.

Bush Administration Politicized State Department Too

This comes down to despising government and what it can do. As a result, the only reason to govern is for money and power, because you believe that no actual good can be done.

Thus we have Karl Rove and his bully boys arm twisting to get the State Department to engage in actions benefiting their political allies.
White House aides have conducted at least half a dozen political briefings for the Bush administration's top diplomats, including a PowerPoint presentation for ambassadors with senior adviser Karl Rove that named Democratic incumbents targeted for defeat in 2008 and a "general political briefing" at the Peace Corps headquarters after the 2002 midterm elections.

The briefings, mostly run by Rove's deputies at the White House political affairs office, began in early 2001 and included detailed analyses for senior officials of the political landscape surrounding critical congressional and gubernatorial races, according to documents obtained by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The documents show for the first time how the White House sought to ensure that even its appointees involved in foreign policy were kept attuned to the administration's election goals. Such briefings occurred semi-regularly over the past six years for staffers dealing with domestic policy, White House officials have previously acknowledged.
The point is not that Republicans are universally corrupt, though these days it certainly seems so.

Rather it is that when one comes from a position that sees government as the source of problems, and never solutions, then corruption is closer, since there is no good that comes through government service.

House Votes to Ban Permanent Bases in Iraq

Good news from the Gavel,
the House has passed a ban on permanent bases in Iraq.
Today, the House passed H.R. 2929, Banning Permanent U.S. Bases in Iraq. This bill states that it is the policy of the United States not to establish any military installation or base for the purpose of providing a permanent stationing of United States Armed Forces in Iraq. It also states that it is the policy of the United States not to exercise U.S. control of the oil resources of Iraq. The measure bars the use of any funds provided by any law from being used to carry out any policy that contradicts these statements of policy.
This is significant in a number of ways:
  • Bush will threaten a veto, making it clear that he does wants permanent basis (though he'll probably use the micro-management commander-in-chief excuse).
  • This veto is likely to be successfully overridden.
  • It's a direct challenge to the "it's not abut oil" lie.
  • Because it forbids expenditures, it's is clearly in the purview of the congress, even in the view most hacktacular of pundits (OK, maybe not...they are pretty hacktacular.
  • It's a marvelous club to use in the 2008 elections.

US Subprime Markets a "Dangerous Cocktail"

Moodys Investor Services described the US subprime marketas a"relaxation of risk management and underwriting standards combined with the growth of little understood debt derivatives, many of them based on US sub-prime mortgages, had proved to be "a dangerous cocktail" yesterday.

You think?

A governor of the Bank of England said that, "there were still troubles ahead in the sub-prime sector and that the losses of large investors made it difficult to decide where borrowing costs should move next due to the volatility it created in financial markets."

This is why I think that this is heading to an illiquid state. Exotic high risk instruments are coming home to roost, and when they do, prices will drop, because these instruments monitized (drove up the price) of residential real estate.

With people owning highly leveraged homes that are falling in value, they will be under water, owing more than they have in equity, and they will be unable to sell the homes.

Good News On Open Access on the Frequency Sale

We have reports that the 'Open access' provision on the 700 mhz spectrum is favored by a majority of FCC commissioners.

It appears to be both of the Dems, and one Republican on the panel, the Republicans are "undecided" (translation, waiting to see who ponies up to the RNC).

This will allow people to attach to the network with whatever equipment and using whatever software that they want, like the land lines, and the Internet.

When one notes the explosion of innovation when AT&T was told to do this in the 1970s (you could get phones that weren't black!), this is a good thing for everyone but the Baby Bells.

Us Screwing the Pooch in Afghanistan

It appears that the Italy Foreign Minister is calling on the US to end operation Enduring Freedom in Afghaninstan.
The Italian foreign minister said Wednesday that the separate U.S.-led operation in Afghanistan overlaps with NATO’s mission and should be ended.

Massimo D’Alema, speaking to a parliamentary commission, said the NATO mission and the U.S. Operation Enduring Freedom raise problems of coordination, posing risks for the Afghan population.

His comments reflected recent NATO concerns that civilian casualties could undermine public support for the international security mission in Afghanistan.
Basically, this comes down to the fact that the US's bomb-happy policies in Afghanistan are driving Afghans to the Taliban, and interfering with rebuilding and securing the country.

Basically, it appears that the US military needs adult supervision.

I don't find this surprising. The US military has been disdainful of these sorts of operations since it adopted its post Vietnam mindset, as evidenced by steadfast refusals to apprehend people with credible allegations of crimes against humanity in Kosovo.

Faith Based Missile Defense

I've just finished reading an articleabout the Congressional Research Service (CRS) on the travails of the Airborne Laser (ABL).

In a word, it's a mess.

We have, "The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) dropped the traditional requirements-setting process in favor of a "capabilities-based" approach, intended to more quickly field a system capable of responding to some, if not all, of the current ballistic missile threats, according to the report."

So basically, they will field this against something like an Atlas Class liquid fueled rocket, which derives structural integrity from internal pressure and a very thin walled skin.

Problem is that only the Atlas ever used this. Liquid rockets with conventional structures, like the Titan and the Soviet systems are more robust, and can be hardened to become mroe robust. Solid fueled rockets are more robust still.

Moving to those does not require anything but a bit of time and money...After it's not...OK, it is rocket science, but it's not hard rocket science.

Additional problems:

  • "The total ABL program cost cannot be given or estimated because of the acquisition strategy adopted by MDA for missile defense". This is almost certainly a deliberate attempt to shield a program over budget.

  • "Nor has the final system architecture been identified, meaning that the total number of ABL aircraft to be procured has not been determined."

  • "ABL will be a highly visible asset. It is very large, and will be escorted by fighter aircraft. Its high altitude will also help to distinguish it from other wide-body aircraft."

  • Long in-theater on-station time for the ABL is premised on forward basing. These forward bases would likely not have chemical replenishment capabilities, meaning return flights to the United States if the laser is used.
This is an ill conceived program that has continued through inertia, and the fact that the person who cancels this will likely have their career ended.

White Elephant

25 July 2007

Behold the Power of Cheese

You must remember, you can't support George W. Bush unless you are so terrified that you are at risk of wetting yourself.

Thus we have Airport security officers alerted to possibility of terrorists conducting dry runs for attacks.
The seizures at airports in San Diego, Milwaukee, Houston and Baltimore included 'wires, switches, pipes or tubes, cell phone components and dense clay-like substances,' including block cheese, the bulletin said. 'The unusual nature and increase in number of these improvised items raise concern.'"
Another attempt to keep us all in a state of fear so that we will accept whatever Bush does.


Home price depreciation at levels not seen since the Great Depression"

At the Big Picture, there aresome thoroughly shocking quotes from Countrywide Financial Chief Executive Angelo Mozilo.

I agree with Mr. Ritholtz's assessment that the shocker quote is, "Company is seeing home price depreciation at levels not seen since the Great Depression".

FWIW, Mr. Mozilo also said, "no one saw the deterioration of real estate values coming". I beg to differ.

There were a few people, including me, who were noting that house prices were insane, as early as 2002. (Not on this blog, on a message board)

I've also said that the dollar and the balance of payments in the US is unsustainable, and this will create a situation where interest rates going up makes real estate illiquid, and rates going down puts the US dollar through the floor.

We'll see how it goes.

More GOP Family Values

Former GOP aide admits to sexual battery
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Jim Nichols
Plain Dealer Reporter

The former head of the Michigan Federation of Young Republicans admitted Tuesday that he sexually abused a colleague during a national convention in Cleveland last summer.

Michael Flory, a 32-year-old attorney from Jackson, Mich., pleaded guilty to sexual battery on the day his rape trial was to begin in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court.

The college student he overpowered in a downtown hotel room gasped and dabbed her eyes as Flory replied to Judge Peter Corrigan's question, "Are you indeed guilty?"

"Sure yeah," Flory said.
Sure, yeah....That's showing remorse.
Assistant County Prosecutor Carol Skutnik said Flory's lawyers, Henry Hilow and Bill McGinty, surprised her with a plea offer as trial witnesses from several states arrived to testify.
Translation, when the other half dozen or so victims showed up, he decided to cop a plea.
The plea bargain, she said, doesn't include any suggestion of leniency, and the state will seek incarceration. She also said she hopes to present evidence of several "other incidents of sexual misconduct" in which Flory took advantage of vulnerable young women.

She and some supporters lamented when the incident became public last winter that Flory and his followers within the Republican organization smeared her reputation in retaliation for accusing Flory of rape. Skutnik said she found that to be true.Lovely fellow, huh?

House Democrats pass contempt citations

TPM is reporting that the House Democrats have passed contempt citations.

A few interesting facts here: The president cannot pardon, this is an offense against the congress, not the nation. Congress has a jail in the basement, and the master of arms can take people into custody for the duration of a congress.

They need to pass this, and then pinch one of the miscreants

Pathetic Republican Wife Beater

Well, former US Representative John "Drunken Wife Beater" Sweeney is in the news again.
Sweeney says he lied about domestic spat
Ex-congressman claims he wanted to shield wife from blame

By KATE GURNETT, Staff writer
Click byline for more stories by writer.
First published: Tuesday, July 24, 2007

JOHNSTOWN -- Former U.S. Rep. John Sweeney admitted to a gaggle of TV cameras Monday that he lied last year in a news conference when he said "there was no domestic violence" at his home.
He's claiming that she hit him.


On Monday, Sweeney turned to a former wife to defend him publicly. Betty Sweeney went on camera to admonish Gayle Sweeney for allegedly assaulting her ex-husband, saying "I am appalled."
Hiding behind a former ex-wife? Classy dude, huh?
Last November, with her husband's congressional seat on the line, Gayle Sweeney, 36, made an 11th-hour campaign commercial accusing Gillibrand of leaking the report in a bid to win office. Mrs. Sweeney told the Times Union last week she was "coerced" by her husband's political advisers into making certain statements defending him on the eve of the election.
Once again proving that the only thing lower than a Republican politician is a Republican political consultant.

Dollar Hits Another Low Against Euro

Well, the Dollar Hits Another Low Against Euro: Financial News.

The thing about these sort of moves is that they are not gradual. The dollar will slowly drift lower, then it will drop off a cliff when the herd mentality cuts in.

Bush Less Popular than Cheney, Who Is In Turn Less Popular than Hemorrhoids

"Preparation I" (impeachment). There is no substitute.
Washington Post-ABC News Poll July 23, 2007

Bush's net disapproval is 65%, Cheney, 59. It's 33 and 34 respectively for approval.

Nixon got as low as 66% disapproval, but only for about a week before he resigned.

The US Government Wants to Record Religion, Sex Habits, and Politics

The Grauniad has a the scoop on what the US Government wants for Britons coming to the US.
Highly sensitive information about the religious beliefs, political opinions and even the sex life of Europeans traveling to the United States is to be made available to US authorities when the European Commission agrees to a new system of checking passengers.
It appears that the EU is upset about this agreement. So am I.

Eventually, Karl Rove is going to want to get his hands on this sort of information for political micro targeting, and considering that we know that DHS has been compromised politically, he will get this information too.

Why You Should Run Numbers on Stories Like This

Typical headline, Microsoft, Feds, and Chinese authorities seize $2bn in pirated software. It's a typical lie. One that could be revealed in 10 minutes with paper and pencil, 5 minutes with a calculator.

Both software and drug busts suffer from the same inflated reporting.

Assuming Microsoft products have a value of $500 each, which is generous considering discounts, site licenses, bulk discounts, etc, that would say that they seized 4 million, that's right 4 followed by 6 zeros copies of their software.

A CD is about 1-½ mm thick, 4 million would stack over 3-½ miles high.

My guess is that they are using the bogus $50-100K/copy number that comes up in copyright cases.

It's like those drug busts during my college days, they would quote a street value for the pot that was 10-20x what I paid retail.

The UK Government Shows Copyright Sanity

Well it looks like the UK government is going to come out against copyright extension, leaving it at 50 years.

Good for them.

You will, of course, get hand wringing from the usual morons like this:

The Guardian quoted Fran Nevrkla, kingpin of Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL), the outfit which collects the rakeoff from clubs, restaurants, and broadcasters: "This announcement effectively makes all performers and record companies second class citizens," he said.
How does keeping to a promise that was made to the performers and to the public 50 years ago treat them as "second class citizens". Copyright is not about guaranteeing that artists make money. It's about making sure that artists have an incentive to create.

Retroactive extension is not an incentive to create.

Copyright is a limited time exclusive license, not property, and the idea that you could retroactively rewrite the contract while works are literally dissolving in vaults is a disservice to society.

Air Force Special Ops Command Looking for Toys

The Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) is looking to use a bomber as its next gunship platform, and it is looking at a significant increase in its air fleet (both subscription required).

I can't see how this really serves any purpose except to sell the Air Force's next gen bomber.

The use of something like the Osprey would be a significant increase in operational capabilities, allowing special operations troops to deploy via vertical insertion at greater distances, and to be extracted at greater distances, as opposed to a parachute insertion. This is a significant improvement in capability.

Additionally, the use of a stealthy platform to insert small numbers of troops might be a capability that might be occasionally (very occasionally) useful, and an upgrade to a higher performance airframe for gunships, such as the C-130 J, A400, or An-70 (the latter two would give a higher top speed too) would be an improvement, both in payload/range, and in reliability.

However, the application of a stealthy airframe to the gunship roll is nonsensical. The gunships only operate in conditions of air supremacy where there is no heavy air defense system. Certainly nothing beyond shoulder launched SAMS and light (57mm and less) AAA.

When the gunship is operating, it is orbiting a fixed position, and lighting it up. This is an inherently non-stealthy activity. The additional cost and performance hit for stealth buys you nothing.

My assesment, and I am not alone in this, is that the bulk of future deployments for the military in general will be in peacekeeping/counter insurgency operations, where the high equipment of an Air Force gains very little.

Air operations in Iraq would be much the same with the current fleet of F-15s and F-16s. Adding the F-22 and F-35 to the mix would change nothing. In fact, if a modern F-4 Phantom or F-105 Thud with modern systems would operate in exactly the same way.

The B-2 really gains nothing over the B-52, and the B-1 significantly underperforms both of them, requiring more tanking, and operates at lower altitudes which put it in range of optically guided AAA.

In any foreseeable engagement, the Air Force would achieve air superiority in hours, and air supremacy in days, even if some opposition aircraft (MiG-29, Su-27, Rafale, Typhoon) might nominally have superior air performance, because of superior situational awareness.

Integrated air defense networks will be non-existent when AFSOC deploys gunships, and so a transport would be superior, giving lower operational costs, and greater range/payload than a bomber or bomber derives platform.

Why Did We Think She Was Competent?

Here is an interesting article on Condoleeza Rice. It appears that a view months ago, she wrote an article about Lebanon and how public/private partnerships might help in rebuilding the country.

Problem was, no on was willing to publish it. It came back from the "Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and perhaps other papers before the department finally tried a foreign publication, the Financial Times of London, which also turned it down."

Think about that. A sitting Secretary of State could not get a paper to publish her OP/ED because it was so hactacular.

As a last-ditch strategy, the State Department briefly considered translating the article into Arabic and trying a Lebanese paper. But finally they just gave up. "I kept hearing the same thing: 'There's no news in this.' " Floyd said. The piece, he said, was littered with glowing references to President Bush's wise leadership. "It read like a campaign document."
The author goes on tho show how Bush politicized the State Department, as his administration has every other bureaucracy that they could get their hands on.

This misses the real point. The real point is that Condoleeza Rice is a complete incompetent who, much like Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld, has an unbroken record of failure.

This failure exceeds my wildest imagination. The fact that an academic, who was secretary of state was unable to write an article of sufficient quality for publication is a truly pathetic statement. In the publish or perish world of academe, this is inconceivable.

  • In the 1980s, she was lecturing troops in then West Berlin, and when someone wanted details, she did no know what a unit honorific in the Soviet army was.

  • In 1991, she was adamant that Boris Yeltzin not be given head of state protocol, because the USSR was going to reconstitute itself.

  • Throughout her career, she has been the only Sovietologist who did not recognize the sickness of their economy and society.

  • In 2001, she told Clinton's natinal security team that she wasn't worrying about al Queida, that the real threat was a resurgent Russia.
She is a fraud, elevated through right wing affirmative action, because it was convenient to have someone with a PhD in Sovietology to parrot right wing talking points.

No doubt her position as a double minority, black and a woman, has also served to elevate her stature in the party and with the pundits too.

Republicans believe that government is stupid, so they leave the stupid to govern.

24 July 2007

Prime Mortgages Going Bad Too

The refrain of the NAR, and other people pimping for real estate has been that the meltdown will be confined to sub-prime mortgages.

Coffin, meet nail.
Countrywide feels pain of ailing mortgage market - Los Angeles Times
CEO reports that even 'prime' borrowers are having more trouble making payments. Company's second-quarter profit slides 33%.
By Annette Haddad
Times Staff Writer

2:25 PM PDT, July 24, 2007

Shares of Countrywide Financial Corp. tumbled today after the nation's biggest mortgage lender signaled that rising defaults and delinquencies were spreading beyond the troubled sub-prime market to higher-quality "prime" loans.

The Calabasas-based company reported a 33% drop in its second-quarter profit and slashed its outlook for the rest of the year, citing an "increasingly challenging" housing market.

"We expect difficult housing and mortgage market conditions to persist," said Countrywide Chief Executive Angelo Mozilo.

During the quarter ended June 30, softening home prices in many areas of the country caused delinquencies and defaults to rise for Countrywide borrowers with all kinds of mortgages, Mozilo said.

People paid more than they could afford for houses because they were afraid that rising prices would lock them out forever, and they paid too much, and got mortgages that were too bkg.

More JASSM Shenanigans

Aviation week has an article, USAF Needs A Year to Assess Jassm's Progress(subscription Required), in which the USAF says that the JASSM needs more time.

The Pentagaon will wait until at least spring 2008—a rare yearlong pause—to certify that its newest cruise missile is ready to move forward following myriad technical problems and a 42% failure rate this year.

The Lockheed Martin Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff (Jassm) missile fell under scrutiny again this year after the Air Force informed Congress it had breached cost expectations by more than 25%. USAF and company officials are still trying to assess how high the amount will soar above the current $5.8-billion mark. The program’s goal in the mid-1990s included a $400,000-per-unit charge.

Senior Pentagon officials had been considering terminating Jassm because of the escalating price. The technical problems, including a GPS dropout issue brought on by an interface with the Selective Availability Anti-Spoofing Module (Saasm) in the missile, have only increased the level of scrutiny facing the effort. In recent tests, the GPS problem contributed to three missiles missing targets by nearly 200 ft.

Because of the 25% cost increase, the Nunn-McCurdy law dictates that the Defense Dept. must certify to Congress the program is sound on several points before proceeding. These include: the program is deemed critical for national security; no alternatives providing equal or greater capability exist for equal or lesser cost; new program estimates are reasonable, and management for the program is adequate to control cost.


Meanwhile, Taurus Systems GmbH. is working with its new U.S. partner, Textron, on how to market its KEPD-350 missile to the Pentagon. So far, Germany, Spain, Sweden and South Korea are either purchasing the missile or in discussions. The Taurus pitch for a niche in the U.S. market—offering the German/Swedish KEPD-350 for the hard and deeply buried target set—is already underway. Taurus can penetrate through concrete more than twice as far as Jassm. Some officials in the combatant commands have begun to show an interest in Taurus as a Jassm alternative, according to industry sources.

This is not about making the missile work. This is about Air Force Generals who want to work at Lockheed after they retire.

The system does not work. It's over budget. There is an alternative. This is throwing a defense contractor a lifeline so that the defense contractor can throw some lucrative consulting or executive gigs to the people supervising the program.

Russia Wants India to Dump Dollars and Use Euros for Future Arms Deals

This is significant. Russia considers the protection of its remaining defense infrastructure to be a crucial part of both its economy and its military capabilities. The fact that it is willing to risk alienating India over this in the midst of a huge competition to replace the IAF's MiG 21s, indicates that they have a very real concern about the dollar crashing.
A Euro Exchange for India's Russian Accounts (Subscription Required)
Aviation Week & Space Technology
07/23/2007, page 36

Neelam Mathews
New Delhi

India considers shift from the dollar for its Russian military contracts

Printed headline: A Euro Exchange

A fallen dollar has pushed India into a corner on its Russian military contracts.

A recent Russian insistence that India must pay more for defense equipment—how much is not known—to offset the effects of a weaker dollar has unnerved the Indian defense ministry, which already faces demands for an additional $10 billion in procurement.

India, which wants to keep its Russian military purchases on track, has begun studying Russia’s suggestion to convert purchases to the euro. But if it chooses to do so, the bill would be high: The exchange rate is currently nearly $1.38 to €1.

Is this another nail in the dollar's coffin?

Disowning Rumsfeld

There is an interesting article in the Military Times about the Pentagon rethinking the drawdown of troops in Europe.

The article claims that "The idea of cutting troops from 68,000 in 2001 to 28,000 by 2012 was part of an initiative by former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to transform the military into a leaner, more cost-effective force," but it was really all spite.

Rumsfeld began this policy when the most of the governments of Europe were unwilling to follow him into Iraq. It's a part and parcel of his "old Europe" slam.

Gates realizes that reality prevents this.

Republicans Hate Brown People More than They Value Their Word

Republicans protest pensions for Filipinos
By Rick Maze - Staff writer
Posted : Tuesday Jul 24, 2007 15:46:17 EDT

Republicans on the House Veterans Affairs Committee are trying to scuttle a committee-passed plan to provide pensions for World War II-era Filipino Scouts by getting a major veterans’ service organization to question whether this is the highest priority for improved benefits.

In a letter, the 13 Republicans on the committee complain about being blocked on July 17 from offering amendments that would have redirected the $875 million being spent on disability pay and pensions for Filipino veterans, including those who are not American citizens and who don’t even live in the U.S.


Filner said during the July 17 session in which the bill was passed that he was trying to fulfill a promise made at the end of World War II to provide benefits to people who fought on behalf of U.S. interests but were not part of the U.S. military.

It should also be noted that they were citizens of the US when the fought. The Philippines were a US colony at the time.

This is all about another phony way to cast Democrats as N***** lovers.

This Seagull is a Real Goodfeather

It appears that trhere is a seagull in Scotland that has terned* to life of crime.

It has taken to stealing Nacho Cheese Doritos from RS McColl newsagents in Aberdeen.

*Sorry, couldn't resist the pun.

Unprecedented Obstructionism

This is an interesting artic pm Republican obstructionism. This picture is worth 1000 words.

The Republicans will have filibustered almost three times as much as any senate in history.

Perhaps we should go back to having people actually give 24 hour long speeches again.

While they are doing that, they are not campaigning back home.

Internet Radio Reprieve a Trojan Horse

It appears that the olive branch that was offered by SoundExchange contained a hornet's nest.It comes with a requirement that they use DRM (digital rights management)

Along with the myriad of software issues, particularly across operating systems, that come a DRM scheme, it also reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of Internet radio.

If people want to store songs on disk, the go with P2P solutions. They tune into Internet radio because they want to listen, not rip.

This is How Much George W. Bush is Hated

If only the degenerate sots who spend their evening at Sally Quinn's parties got it.

Harold Lischner, and anti-war protestor is suing for false arrest. The defense team for the Upper Darby Township asked the judge to prohibit any mention of George W. Bush, whom Mr. Lischner was protesting, because they fear that he is so unpopular that his name will prejudice the jury.

The judge turned it down. In fact, he turned it down more quickly than I would, because I'd be giggling hysterically for an hour or so.

Back to the Good Old Days of the Cold War

Yet another benefit of the Bush admin's boneheaded missile defense plan for Europe is that Russia has resumed bomber flights to gage the response of the air defense systems of NATO countries:

Fighter planes from Britain and Norway scrambled on Friday to keep watch on Russian bombers that were approaching the countries' air space, officials said.

The incidents occurred amid high tensions between Britain and Russia, as each country ordered the expulsion of four diplomats from the other side. There was no indication the fighter plans were connected to the row.

A spokesman for Britain's defense ministry said two Russian Tu-95 bombers briefly entered British air space in the first incident about 2 a.m. (0100 GMT), but turned back after British F-3s intercepted them. He did not specify where the interception took place.

This is making us so much safer.

Bush to Congress: Drop Dead

The Bush admin has denied a congressman whose responsibility is to oversee homeland security access to the White House's emergency plans.
Congressman Denied Access To Post-Attack Continuity Plans
Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore. (Photo by Faith Cathcart)
c.2007 Newhouse News Service

WASHINGTON — Constituents called Rep. Peter DeFazio's office, worried there was a conspiracy buried in the classified portion of a White House plan for operating the government after a terrorist attack.

As a member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, DeFazio, D-Ore., is permitted to enter a secure "bubbleroom'' in the Capitol and examine classified material. So he asked the White House to see the secret documents.

On Wednesday, DeFazio got his answer: DENIED.

"I just can't believe they're going to deny a member of Congress the right of reviewing how they plan to conduct the government of the United States after a significant terrorist attack,'' DeFazio said.

This is how Bush and his Evil Minions operate. Even if congress has a constitutional right to review such things as a part of the budget process, give no information.

It's a fundamentally unproductive policy, as this secrecy reinforces the idea that the Bush administration has plans for implementing martial law.

ONLY $2 Million???? ONLY?????

The New York times has an article on the difficulties of finding a family sized apartment in New York.

In truth, they mean Manhattan, because they can be found in good neighborhoods Brooklyn and Queens, but generally it would be no never mind to be, but for this quote:

The elusiveness of these large apartments is hitting people with budgets of, say, $8 million just as hard as buyers with only $2 million to spend. And the fights for the apartments that are available are being won or lost in bidding wars.
Only $2 million? What the hell is up with that? Based on a simple rule of thumb, that means that these folks are making at around $700K/year.

Only in the Times real estate section is this poverty.

Spanish Satire Mag Closed for Speaking Truth

The Regester reports that the Spanish satirical humor magazine El Jueves was been shut down because of a cartoon about the Spanish prince.

All existing copies were collected and destroyed, and the judge ordered the "printing plates" destroyed (not up on modern printing tech, I guess)

The Spanish government has decided to pay €2,500 (about $3500 US) for each child that Crown Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia have.

Well, El Jueves published a cartoon (No, you'll have to find it on Google) with the Crown Prince and Princess in bed, with the caption, "Do you realise that if you get pregnant . . . It will be the closest thing to work I’ve done in my life?".

Funny, and made even funnier by the banning.

BTW, there are copies of the magazine on Ebay when I last checked

Computing for Druids, or for the Kids Next Door

A USB wooden Flash drive.

Bizarre. Not sure if it's a Druid thing, or somehow related to the cartoon show "Kids Next Door", where they rely on 2 by 4 technology.

23 July 2007

Bush Admin Rules: The Poor Deserve Formaldehyde

Lovely. This is certainly bringing back honor and dignity to the government.
FEMA knew of formaldehyde in trailers:
July 20, 2007

By David Goldstein McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON — Federal officials knew that hurricane evacuees housed in temporary trailers were worried about dangerous levels of formaldehyde but took little action, government documents show.

Their primary concern was the legal fallout if the temporary housing presented a health hazard, according to records obtained by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

"Do not initiate any testing until we give the OK," a lawyer for the Federal Emergency Management Agency wrote. "Once you get the results ... the clock is running on our duty to respond to them."


When Christian Dominionists Get Jiggy

He's president of the Christian Action League of North Carolina, and he's 74,so hew rented himself a prostitute.

At 74...I'm impressed...That being said, I'm not impressed that he paid the woman with a check.

The 74-year-old Cabarrus County commissioner was arrested at his home in Kannapolis early Thursday. He appeared before a Rowan County magistrate on six misdemeanor charges and was released on a promise to appear in court Aug. 22. He did not return e-mails or calls to his cell and home phones, and no one answered the door at his Kannapolis home.

Privette, a prominent Republican with a 30-year career, is one of the state's most vocal opponents against alcohol sales and legal gambling. He also serves on the State Baptist Convention of North Carolina and as president of the Christian Action League of North Carolina.

Well, I Guess That the US Is Backward Compared To....CHINA???

In an article in Fortune Magazine, of all places, they have Chinese President Hu Jintao sauing that excessive economic inequalities id damaging and destabilizing to a society.

That makes the Chinese body politic more evolved than ours.

Quick Currency Update

Dollar Hits New Lows Vs. Euro, Pound: Financial News.

FWIW, the Canadian Dollar is near parity, $1.0431CDN:USD.

The Fed cannot lower interest rates, it would create a run on the dollar.

A Great Commentary in the LA Times

The last line says it all, Looking back over a quarter of a century of chronicling current affairs, I cannot recall a more comprehensive and avoidable man-made disaster.Go and read it

Let There Be No Kings

During the constitutional convention, there was much debate over the impeachment clauses.

It was finally settled when Ben Franklin said that these provisions were not there, the only way to remove a President who was attempting to install himself as king would be assassination.

Bush is now claiming that if the president wants it, it's not contempt.

So he is claiming, as Nixon did to David Frost, and as Stalin and Mussolini did, that if he orders it, it is legal.

Impeach Dick Cheney today. Impeach George W. Bush tomorrow.

And the Winner in the Whiskey Tango Foxtrot Category.........

This is just whack. These guys are impersonating an officer because it's convenient.

Your Republican morality at a glance: Laws for the but nor for me.
Romney aide’s bogus badges: Sources detail ‘illegal’ security tactic
By Casey Ross/ Exclusive
Boston Herald Reporter
Friday, July 20, 2007 - Updated: 12:21 PM EST

In an apparent violation of the law, a controversial aide to ex-Gov. Mitt Romney created phony law enforcement badges that he and other staffers used on the campaign trail to strong-arm reporters, avoid paying tolls and trick security guards into giving them immediate access to campaign venues, sources told the Herald.
The bogus badges were part of the bizarre security tactics allegedly employed by Jay Garrity, the director of operations for Romney who is under investigation for impersonating a law enforcement officer in two states. Garrity is on a leave of absence from the campaign while the probe is ongoing.

A campaign source said Garrity directed underlings on Romney’s presidential staff to use the badges at events nationwide to create an image of security and to ensure that the governor’s events went smoothly.


Net Neutrality: You Know It's Good By Its Opponents

The MPAA has filed comments (PDF) that suggest that they oppose net neutrality because it might make it harder for copy protection systems and spying on users more difficult.

Fundamentally, what the MPAA, RIAA, and the Baby Bells want for them to say what you can do and SAY on your net connection.

Think of your cable company, without the charm.

Talking Turkey

There is a lot of talk about the "shocking" victory of Recep Erdogan's Justice and Development Party in Turkey's elections.

Some are touting this as proof that democracy can occur amongst a predominantly Islamic population.

Some are arguing that Turkey is beginning a slide towards theocracy.

Neither is accurate.

There are Islamic countries that have maintained democracys, just not Arab ones, and Turkey is not Arab.

As to the victory of Erdogan, it has very little to do with Islam, or Islamism, and much more to the very basic fact that, absent some sort of major crisis, people vote for government that works.

The secular parties in Turkey have been, at least by western standards, extraordinarily incompetent and corrupt.

Edrogan ran promising competence and relatively clean government, and he has largely delivered.

Whatever concerns that the electorate has, this outweighs the concerns of the population about a possible move toward Sharia law in the long term.

I would note that the same phenomenon is why Hugo Chavez wins elections, despite being far more alarming in some significant ways than Erdogan.

If people want to turn Chavez out of government, what they really need to do is to show that their interest is governance, not divvying up spoils.

Blowback from the Blackberry Case Continues

Significant patent reform is heading down the pike, and the Supreme Court has already made changes with its Teleflex ruling, and now Congress is weighing in.
Patent Fight Pending
Brian Wingfield, 07.20.07, 6:00 AM ET

Remember the patent dispute surrounding the BlackBerry wireless device? Last year a communications catastrophe was avoided when BlackBerry maker Research in Motion agreed to settle with NTP over a patent infringement lawsuit.

This glosses over what happened. NTP was shaking down Blackberry using an injunction as a threat. When they got an injunction against all non-government service, Blackberry responded that they could not separate the business, and that they would comply by shutting everything down in the US.

Blackberries are used by 90% of congressional aids, most of the White House Staff, and most of the Supreme Court clerks, and a lot of congressmen and perhaps a few of the Justices too, so when this happened, they all freaked, and started talking to each other about a fix.

NTP blinked, not Blackberry, and so they settled for far less than they were originally demanding, but the damage had been done. The political establishment is now aware that IP has run amuck, and this bill is an attempt to fix this.

I do not believe that it goes far enough. I believe that the special patent court, which views everything as a nail since all it has is a hammer, should be abolished, and I believe that the bar for injunctive relief should be set much higher, but the fact politicians are finally seeing this as a problem is a very hopeful development.

More Schadenfreude

Here is your daily dose of schadenfreude. It appears that Harry Reid wants "a full airing" of the DC Madame scandal.

I'm still wondering who the other senator that Larry Flynt mentioned.

Denmark evacuates Iraqi employees and their relatives - International Herald Tribune

I read this story about Denmark evacuating Iraqi employees and their relatives in the IHT.

If the US behaves in a historically consistent matter, we will leave the tens of thousands of translators and other Iraqis hanging out to dry, where many will die, and more will become stateless refugees.

This is distressing for both ethical reasons, these people have risked their lives for us, and for pragmatic reasons, each time we do this, it makes it more difficult to recruit members of the indigenous population to help us.

The fact that we do not allow anyone who has already risked life and limb to help us entry into the US is largely an artifact of bigotry, and to be fair, the US military is far worse about this than the State Deartment, which is already making noises about getting its employees into the US.

Does Privacy Sell?

I just read this story aboutAsk.com devising an aggressive privacy policy. It was couched as a way to compete with Google.

I've also heard about Microsoft doing the same (in the case of the Borg, however, I won't trust them to follow through).

This is not an outbreak of corporate ethics, but rather an attempt to capitalize on a perceived weakness of Google, the Elephant in the room, regarding privacy.

My guess is that this will not make a big difference, and we'll see relaxation of the new policies over the next 18-24 months.

22 July 2007

A new Twist on Peer-to-Peer: Telephone Service

A company called Ooma has a new setup to make VOIP work. It will the phone lines of its subscribers to actually complete phone calls

While this is presented as reducing completion charges, the real reason for this is that it is a way of avoiding the frequently infernal machinations of the incumbent local service providers.

The baby Bells are absolutely bone headed about this, because they do not want to see real competition in their markets.

Stars and Stripes: Democrats move to rein in use of private contractors in Iraq

It's about bloody time.
Democrats move to rein in use of private contractors in Iraq

Mideast edition, Friday, July 20, 2007

The Senate’s nine freshman Democrats announced a new effort Wednesday to rein in the use of private contractors to rebuild Iraq and to do an array of war-related jobs normally assigned to the military, The Virginian-Pilot reported Thursday.

According to the report, the group will ask Congress to create a “Commission on Wartime Contracting” that would assign auditors already employed by the federal government to ferret out waste and mismanagement in the more than $300 billion Iraq reconstruction effort.

This has been an ongoing scandal. Whether it's the dangerously unaccountable mercenaries from groups like Blackwater, or KBR serving substandard food provided by slave laborers, this war profiteering has been a national disgrace.

Bush Now Claims that He is King

Bush has now forbidden the Justice Department from pursuing contempt charges initiated by Congress against White House officials if executive privilege has been invoked.
Under federal law, a statutory contempt citation by the House or Senate must be submitted to the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, "whose duty it shall be to bring the matter before the grand jury for its action."

But administration officials argued yesterday that Congress has no power to force a U.S. attorney to pursue contempt charges in cases, such as the prosecutor firings, in which the president has declared that testimony or documents are protected from release by executive privilege. Officials pointed to a Justice Department legal opinion during the Reagan administration, which made the same argument in a case that was never resolved by the courts.


Mark J. Rozell, a professor of public policy at George Mason University who has written a book on executive-privilege issues, called the administration's stance "astonishing."

"That's a breathtakingly broad view of the president's role in this system of separation of powers," Rozell said. "What this statement is saying is the president's claim of executive privilege trumps all."
Impeachment investigations trump executive privilege. This is why proceeding should start against both Bush and Cheney tomorrow.