Month: August 2012

Good News Out of Florida

Federal Judge Robert Hinkle has announced that if the Appeals court remands or dismisses the state of Florida’s appeal, he will issue a permanent injunction against their voter suppression law:

A federal judge said Wednesday he would permanently remove harsh restrictions on third-party voter registration groups that have handicapped registration efforts in Florida this year. U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle said he would grant a motion to permanently remove the restrictions once he receives confirmation that a federal appeals court has dismissed the case (the state of Florida has agreed to dismiss their appeal).

Hopefully, this will happen in the rest of the states that are trying to people from voting while black.

My Life is Complete

I hav found a website that has translated “My Hovercraft is Full of Eels” into the following languages:  Afrikaans, Albanian, Arabic, (Modern Standard), Armenian, (Eastern), Armenian, (Western), Aromanian, Azeri, Basque, Belarusian, Bengali, Bhojpuri, Breton, Bulgarian, Catalan, Cebuano, Chamorro, Chinese, (Cantonese), Chinese, (Mandarin), Chinese, (Taiwanese), Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Estonian, Faroese, Finnish, French, Frisian (Northern), Frisian (Western), Galician, Georgian, German, Greek (Ancient), Greek (Modern), Greenlandic, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Inuktitut, Irish (Gaelic), Italian, Japanese, Khmer, Korean, Latin, Latvian, Lithuanian, Low German, Luxembourgish, Macedonian, Manx, Māori, Malay, Malayalam, Maltese, Marathi, Mongolian, Norwegian, Occitan, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Proto-Indo-European, Punjabi, Romanian, Russian, Samoan, Sardinian, (Logudorese), Scots, Scottish Gaelic, Serbian, Shona, Sinhala, Slovak, Slovenian, Somali, Spanish, Sumerian, Swahili, Swedish, Swiss German, Tagalog, Tamil, Telugu, Thai, Tok Pisin, Tongan, Tsotsil, Turkish, Tuvan, Ukrainian, Uzbek, Venetian, Vietnamese, Võro, Welsh, Yiddish, Yorùbá, Zulu, Klingon, Avallaen, Esperanto, Interlingua, Ithkuil, Lojban, Toki Pona, Volapük.

There are languages on this list that I’ve never heard of.

For those of you who don’t understand, it’s a Monty Python thing:

The Story Behind the Story

OK, one of the inevitable cliches of modern Presidential campaign coverage is the veepstakes, followed by the post mortem of this decisions.

Well, this article has a deeply interesting back-story:

Gov. Chris Christie wasn’t willing to give up the New Jersey statehouse to be Mitt Romney’s running mate because he doubted they’d win, The Post has learned.

Romney’s top aides had demanded Christie step down as the state’s chief executive because if he didn’t, strict pay-to-play laws would have restricted the nation’s largest banks from donating to the campaign — since those banks do business with New Jersey.

But Christie adamantly refused to sacrifice his post, believing that being Romney’s running mate wasn’t worth the gamble.

“[Christie] felt, at one point, that [President] Obama could lose this. And, look, there still is that chance. But he knows, right now, you have to say it’s unlikely,” one source said.

The tough-talking governor believed Romney severely damaged his campaign by releasing only limited tax returns and committing several gaffes during his international tour in July.

Certain Romney was doomed, Christie stuck to his guns — even as some of his own aides pushed him to run, another source said.

OK, why is this story different from all the other useless veepstake gossip?

It isn’t the pay to play rules, which are straightforward: If a governor is running, the big banks pretty would have to choose between contributing to Mitt, or doing pension business with New Jersey.

The big story is that this article was published in the The New York Post.

That’s right, it was published in Rupert Murdoch’s house organ (there is the Wall Street Journal, but they have to preserve the illusion of credibility in non-business news).

I’ve racked my brain, and I can come up with only two reasons for Murdoch allowing a story like this to be published:

  • He is convinced that Romney is going to lose.
  • He has Barack Obama’s genitals in his back pocket.

It could be both.

Basically, when you look at Murdoch’s media empire, much of it depends on regulatory arbitrage, allowing him to form defacto monopolies, and skirt media cross ownership rules.

It’s why his continued ownership of dead tree newspapers make sense:  To a much greater degree than the broadcast medium, they can engage in long form journalism that sets the tone for a campaign, and so politicians curry favor with him.

The papers may not generate profits, but they allow him to curry favor with politicians and regulators, which in turn make the size and scope of his broadcast and satellite operations possible.

H/t Cthulhu at the Stellar Parthenon BBS.

F%$# the NRA, Without Lube

We had another shooting, this one local:

Charged as an adult in the Perry Hall High School shooting, 15-year-old Robert Wayne Gladden Jr., was held without bond Tuesday as a portrait of a withdrawn and occasionally bullied student with a troubled home life emerged through interviews with classmates and court documents.

The suspect, who underwent a mental health evaluation Tuesday, remains at the Baltimore County Detention Center. He was charged with attempted murder and assault in the cafeteria shooting on Monday, the first day of classes. Gladden’s lawyer, George Psoras Jr., cautioned against a rush to judgment, saying the bullying his client endured pushed him to a breaking point.

(Emphasis mine)

One of Natalie’s BFFs, Abbey, goes to Perry Hall high, and was in the cafeteria when the shooting went down.  (She was uninjured)

What a Surprist

A federal appeals court has determined that Texas’ redistricting plan had a deliberately discriminatory intent and effect:

Hispanic and black voters in Texas were vindicated on Tuesday when a federal three-judge panel rejected the state’s new redistricting plans for Congressional and state legislative seats. A panel of the United States District Court in the District of Columbia properly found that the maps, based on the 2010 census, had a discriminatory purpose and effect in reducing the ability of minority voters to elect candidates they favor.
The evidence of the discrimination was stark. Almost 90 percent of the 4.3 million growth in the state’s population in the last decade came from minority residents. That growth qualified Texas for four additional Congressional seats, and it required the state to create new voting districts. Yet instead of adding districts in which minority voters could elect candidates of their choice, the Republican-controlled Legislature drew the districts in a way that reduced the number represented by members of minority groups. About some districts, the panel said, the plans maintained “the semblance of Hispanic voting power,” but the mapmakers actually diluted it.
Texas is covered under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act for its history of voting discrimination. It was in court because it had to get prior approval for any changes to its voting procedures from a federal court or the Justice Department — and it could receive permission only if it could prove that the changes would not have a discriminatory effect. The judges, sensibly, said no.

As the court’s majority opinion noted, no major surgery was performed by the lawmakers on the Congressional districts of white incumbents. But there was “unchallenged evidence” that in four minority districts, the Legislature performed surgery to cut out “economic engines” and harm the districts. In a couple of cases, the Republicans cut out the district offices of the members of Congress.

You mean that Texas Republicans are racist ratf%$#s?


You Just Knew That He Had His Piggy Little Fingers in All This

I’m (very) late to this story, but I’d just like to note that televangelist Pat Robertson is up to his hips in blood diamonds and crimes against humanity:

On February 4, 2010, Charles Taylor testified before the Special Court for Sierra Leone in The Hague, that Robertson was his primary political ally in the US. Taylor stated during his war crimes trial that Robertson had agreed to promote Liberia to the US administration in exchange for additional benefits for Freedom Gold, Ltd.

I really wish that we had signed onto the International Criminal Court.

No Blogging for You!

No Soup For You!

I was unrooting my phone so that I could update, and I forgot to uncheck the “repartition” check box on ODIN, so I wiped my phone.

Thankfully, I regularly backup my contacts, and my web browser, and so it was just a matter of reinstalling the apps, which I had recorded in screen shots for just such an emergency.

Still have to fix the ringtones though.

BTW, I cannot recommend my contacts synching utility MyPhoneExplorer, highly enough. It allows one to sync, contacts, calendar, and notes via USB, Bluetooth, or WiFi. It can work with both its own PIM, or with Outlook, Thunderbird, etc.

Russia to Order AN-70 Transports

The Russian Air Force is planning to order 60 of the transports:

Ukrainian company Antonov together with Russian United Aircraft Corporation will participate in manufacturing Antonov An-70 transport airplanes. Russian defense ministry already placed an order for 60 such machines, USD 67 million apiece. Developed since 1978, An-70 can carry heavier cargo than existing transport planes and land on ill-equipped runways.

An-70 can carry 300 troopers, or 200 injured persons, or 47 tons of freight. Comparably, the closest alternative to An-70 – the Airbus A400M Atlas – can carry 37 tons of cargo. Market price of the Spanish A400M is EUR 145 million, whereas the Ukrainian An-70 costs less than USD 70 million.

Planes An-70 will be produced at JSC Gorbunov Kazan Aviation Production Association in Kazan, Russia. The plane can fly at a speed of 780 kilometers per hour at distances of up to 7,800 kilometers. An-70 is capable of landing on 600-800 meter runways with earth surfaces. Onboard navigation equipment allows the plane to land and takeoff at airports lacking special earth-based equipment.

This is interesting, and not just because it represents a rapprochement between Russian and Ukrainian defense industry.

By almost every metric (except for noise where, the contra rotating props create a racket), it equals the A400M, and if this order is sufficient to make the production line viable, it could be a major headache for EADS.

APKWS Reaches Deployment

The US Marine Corps is planning to deploy the laser guided 2.75″ rocket to Afghanistan:

An unguided, Vietnam War-vintage missile with a dispersion pattern of up to 500 yards at medium ranges is being transformed into a precision air-to-ground weapon that already has been fired into a laser spot – about the size of a basketball – at a range of three miles.

The new weapon, with a warhead that can punch through a wall and then explode, is expected to be operational on U.S. Marine Corps helicopters in Afghanistan as early as this spring.

BAE Systems expects to deliver its next batch of low-rate production Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) missiles directly to the U.S. Marine Corps for shipment to operational units. The first 325 low-rate production missiles were delivered to the Navy Department in December, and the second lot of 600 will be dispatched in early fiscal 2012. With the end of operational testing in January, a full-rate production decision for about 1,000 missiles a year is expected to follow early in the year.

Particularly in a place like Afghanistan, where the opposition does not have heavy armor, it makes a lot more sense than something like the the Hellfire, which is too heavy and too expensive.

My other posts about this are here.

India Looks to Go CATOBAR

It appears that will be going with catapult launchers🙁Paid Subscription Required)

The Indian navy is likely to call an end to its tryst with ski-jump aircraft carriers, deciding that its next big vessel will be a flat-top with a catapult-launch system.

While India’s first home-built carrier, known as the Vikrant, is to be a 44,000-ton short-takeoff-but-arrested-recovery (Stobar) carrier, the second ship—tentatively titled Vishal (“Immense”)—is seen as a 65,000-ton flat-top with a steam-catapult system . The Naval Design Bureau, which oversees design and implementation of all indigenous warship building efforts, is expected to freeze its requirements by year-end.

A commodore with the Naval Design Bureau says, “A decision has been taken to move away from conventional Stobar and short-takeoff-or-vertical-landing (Stovl) operations.”

The navy’s Sea Harrier fleet is closing out its service. The Indian carrier Vikramaditya—the former Russian carrier Admiral Gorshkov—and first indigenous carrier (Vikrant) will be transition vessels to Stobar operations. The next logical step is catapult-assisted takeoff-and-barrier-arrested recovery (Catobar), “which brings with it immense advantages in the mix of assets we can deploy on deck,” says the commodore.

The navy has been known to want to deploy heavier fighters from a carrier. Still, the freeze on a flat-top catapult-launch design also dramatically changes the navy’s future fighter requirement. In 2009, the service invited information to support a purchase of aircraft for deck-based operations, which did not specify launch type but had been presumed to be Stobar. Several companies were asked for information: Russia’s MiG and Sukhoi for the MiG-29K and Su-33 , respectively; Dassault Aviation with the Rafale (noting that the Rafale could be modified for Stobar operations); Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter ; Boeing’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet ; and two aircraft concepts— Saab ‘s Sea Gripen and Eurofighter ‘s Naval Typhoon.

The real issue here is not deploying fighters, which generally have the thrust to weight ratio to deploy from a ski jump, but the ability to deploy aerial early warning aircraft, carrier onboard delivery, and tankers, which have a lot less go.

What, Senior Military Officials Are Willing to Put Sailors At Risk to Appease Defense Contractors?

I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on here!

The officers evaluating the Lottoral Combat Ship (LCS) suppressed negative testing data:

U.S. Navy emails and other documents suggest that officials muzzled bad test results for the first Littoral Combat Ship (LCS-1) variant, the USS Freedom, at a crucial time in the program’s development, when the service was considering which seaframe to pick for the $30 billion-plus fleet.

Top program officers for the ship and at Naval Sea Systems Command (Navsea) told subordinates to avoid certain language in the test-result reports because of concerns over the downselect decision, the documents show. One naval officer said in an email he would delete the offensive wording of the report.

The Navy acknowledges it clamped down on “widespread” discussion of “preliminary” test results, but says it did so to prevent an “unfair comparison” between LCS-1 and the competing LCS-2, the USS Independence, because the second ship had yet to go through the same trials.

Yeah, sure.

They were just trying to be fair.

I’m not taking personal checks from these wankers.

Cessna Jumps on the Diesel Band Wagon

They will be putting a diesel in the model 182 Sklylane: (Paid Subscription Required)

While avgas consumers and suppliers fret over the future of their leaded fuel, Cessna is partially weaning itself of that toxic brew by equipping its popular Model 182 Skylane with a Jet A-burning diesel engine. Others are likely to follow.

Unveiled at the Experimental Aircraft Association’s recent annual gathering in Oshkosh, Wis. (see p. 35), the Turbo Skylane JT-A (photo) is fitted with the new SR305-230E engine built by SMA, a subsidiary of Snecma of France. The four-cylinder, 227-hp powerplant is already certificated by both the European Aviation Safety Agency and FAA , and Cessna hopes to begin deliveries of its newest model in early 2013.

While Austria’s Diamond Aircraft has been producing aircraft powered by Austro Engine diesels for several years, the entry into that market by the much-larger Wichita aircraft maker with wide name recognition and a global support network is significant and likely to find favor, particularly in lesser-developed regions where avgas is scarce and expensive. Visitors at the Oshkosh introduction told Cessna personnel that the per-gallon price of 100LL avgas at some remote locations had topped $22.

Austro is a former Diamond Aircraft subsidiary (they spun it off) founded to replace the Thielert engine after that company’s implosion.