April 20, 2017

On Books and Their Covers

The OP was initially not to my liking and the art is not my cup of tea, but there have been enough positive comments from those with reliable opinions that I actually sat through the opening and watched an episode of ACCA.

It is set in an alternate universe where certain fashions reminiscent of early Hugo Boss do not have the same implications they do here.  The show has a decidedly retro look with the art being a throwback  to some 80's girl's manga...with the protagonists removed.

A couple of background nobodies from Alexandrite ponder their newfound importance. 

The production values are not high, and it seems to be a dry procedural...but I'm hooked. 

This is really interesting! 

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April 19, 2017

Dispatches From Afar

My 77 year old parents continue their adventure.

The other day I got a staticky phone call from my mother informing me that "...the boat is heeling so far over that I'm standing against the floor and water is up to the pilot house windo... and your dad...YOUR DAD..."

Aaaand...that was it.

No further calls went through for several hours until my mother finally answered with "...wait...WHO IS THIS?" "No! I was on the other line! No, we're fine but I've got....THEY'RE  COMING!" She then shouted my fathers name several times before the connection died.

My next contact with them was equally terse. "Can't talk now. We're in the emergency room."


I called my sister, who knew no more than I did but had gotten a cryptic and disturbing message on her answering machine. 

Anyway, it turns out that they ran aground in the ICW, which, as part of our nations failing infrastructure, is no longer as deep in some places as the charts indicate. The tide was going out and by the time they called for a tow, they were stuck fast. When the contractor was pulling them out of the mud the boat heeled over almost on its beam ends and water rose to the pilot house windows. 

When I finally got through to them they were racing a storm and a yacht into a small marina with one available slip and my mother was trying to pay dockage over the phone when I called.  The yacht was attempting to zip into the slip ahead of them and they nearly collided...fortunately, the yacht did not think to call ahead and actually pay for the slip so the dockmaster resolved the matter in favor of my folks and the yacht had to ride out the storm at anchor, but not before many obcenities were tossed at my parents. (Canal rage is a terrible thing.)

My dad, who some of you may remember, went on this excursion with a broken foot, went to the hospital to get it checked, re-set and more antibiotics as it was still infected. 

Since then, they've managed to render their engine air bound, which took them two days to resolve and as I type this they are completely without any electrical power to their pilot house (though they have running lights).

They seem to be enjoying themselves immensely. 

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Hey.....Is This Thing On?

Since last we met, I've developed considerable anger at Microsoft's Excel and Outlook. 

Here is a picture of a different anger, this time in the Serengeti. 

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April 15, 2017

Come for the Beatings, Stay For the Scorpions

I really thought that this story HAD to be a joke.

"Well, snakes would be derivative."

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April 13, 2017

Big Bomb is Big, but The Tautology is Not the Story

The news today has been abuzz with reports that the U.S.A.F. dropped a GBU-43/b bomb on an I.S.I.S tunnel network in Afganistan. Much of the reporting has been breatlessly reporting on the fact that this bomb is REALLY BIG. Some reports have implied that this is like nothing ever used before and is as big as a small nuke.

The bomb in question is about the same sizer as a British Grand Slam bombs used in WW2. 

This bomb has a much higher percentage of explosive to its total weight but its not anywhere near even the smallest nuke. 

A Kiloton is the explosive equivalent to one kiloton (that is one thousand TONS) of TNT. This can be chamically simulated (minus flash and radiation) with....one thousand tons of TNT.

Which brings us to Operation Sailor Hat...

...in which the U.S. Navy wanted to test the effects of nuclear blasts on its ships without actually popping a nuke. They stacked up a pile of explosives big enough to simulate one half a kiloton of TNT, that is, one 30th the yield of the Hiroshima bomb. Naturally, this assembly consisted of a detonator and 500 TONS of TNT. Note the sailor in the lower right hand corner for scale (and the fire extinguisher...'cause they REALLY didn't want a fire there.)

Here's the GBU-43/b. 

Much smaller than the bungalow sized bundle of boom above

It's also called MOAB (Massive Ordinance Air Burst) which is a somewhat tortured application of the G.I. Joe system of acronyms that enables it to be unofficially referred to as the Mother of All Bombs.

It is NOT in the same ballpark as even the smallest known nuke.

It is a very good weapon for delivering a huge concussive force to a mountain and collapsing tunnels, which is what it was used for here. The target seems to be a massive underground system of tunnels and caves that is part of a chain of such fortresses set up by the Taliban and AlQuaeda in Nangahar province stretching from the northeast to south of Jalalabad of which Tora Bora is the most well known. that complex was well equipped with hydroelectric generators, and other equipment one would associate with the Maginot Line rather than a terrorist cave. 

Note though the buried lede in this story.

The operation in Nangahar not only warranted the use of a concussion weapon of this size, the weapon in question was targeted against an ISIS stronghold. 

Not Taliban, not Al-Quaeda, but ISIS...in Afganistan. There have been several islamist groups around the world that have sworn aliegence to ISIS, and the their operations in Africa have been known for some time. The scale of the operation in Afganistan, very near the Pakistan border, on the heels of numerous terror attacks inside Pakistan should give everyone pause. 

Pakistan is a nuclear power and its arsenal consists mainly of tactical nukes, that while small are multiple orders of magnitude more destructive than the very impressive firecracker we just dropped on a mountain fortress. They also have dubious security.
 In the past five years there have been at least half a dozen attacks on the facilities that reportedly store Pakistan’s nuclear weapons. The Kamra Air Base near Islamabad has been attacked three times by terrorists belonging to the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

This bomb strike, or more correctly the battle that it was part of, therefore, may well be consequential indeed. Not so much for what was dropped, but who it was aimed at. 

Having ignored it until it got dangerous, it appears that we waited too long to cut the cancer that is ISIS out of Iraq....it seems to have metastasized most alarmingly. 

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April 12, 2017

Today's Episode of Newspeak For Beginners Was Brought to You by the Word "Reaccommodate" and the Number "69"

J.C. Carlton has thoughts on the saga of passenger#69 and United's new seating arrangements. 

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April 11, 2017

Aaaaaand..They're Off

A bit over a week ago Dad dropped a 4x8 on his foot and broke it. (Well, the breakage was mostly his big toe...Mostly.)

Shortly thereafter, Mom had what we thought was a stroke and went to the hospital only to find that it was a drug interaction. Dad quickly compensated for this good news by lancing his toe to relieve pressure...and the next day it was horribly infected, requiring another trip to the hospital. 

So, it's been hectic here.

Naturally, these two walking wounded decided that these reminders of their mortality meant that now is the time to attempt THAT TRIP again. 

Day before yesterday...they set out.

They'll make a destination decision when they reach Florida, they're either going to Belize, the Bahamas or Puerto Rico. 

I blame Pixar for this madness.

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April 06, 2017


I guess our president decided to celebrate the centennial of America's entry into The Great War with a YEUGE fireworks display

Actually, this raid was in response to the horrific gas attack earlier in the week. 

I should note that we have over 1000 troops on the ground in Syria, a country whose government has not given us permission to be there and which is an ally of Russia who also has thousands of troops on the ground helping to protect Syria (an important ally of their's) by shooting at the Jihadists we are ostensibly backing and that a number of those Russian troops are operating out of Syrian airforce bases where they crew AAA batteries and ground attack planes, which, for some reason brings to mind the fact that those 59 Tomahawks were aimed at a Syrian airbase.  Meanwhile while we are fighting the (mostly) different jihadis in ISIS which Russia is also fighting in addition to those guys our troops are assisting that Syria considers enemies of their state without any coordination with us. So, Russian and U.S. troops are on opposite sides of a civil war, armed and shooting at people who are trying to kill them in an area in which at least two factions are using poison gas and Iran and Hezbollah have large forces in the area.

"What could possibly go wrong?"

UPDATE: Thoughts from a professional perspective from Cdr. Salamander here. 

This should check a few boxes and hopefully this will be it for now.

We have enough fighting in this horrible part of the world right now. We don't need more.


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100 Years Ago Today

Woodrow Wilson had run his successful 1916 presidential campaign on the notion that he would keep the US from becoming involved in the unspeakable mess in Europe. 

"He kept us out of war" might as well have been "If you like your peace you can keep it."

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April 03, 2017

In Lieu of Any Actual Content

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