Saturday, May 21, 2005

And now, for something completely different...

Have a tech note posted over at American Thinker on Google's new for-your-very-own-computer "Desktop" search engine. Now you can do searches on your files, email, and internet cache files just like the big boys do on the internet. Well, maybe, kinda, not quite.


Thursday, May 19, 2005

Playing to the audience

When evaluating the utterances and yawps of entertainer types, one must always keep in mind that these people are never off-stage. At least not in public. Perhaps not even in private. And their behavior and statements often seem deliberately geared towards offending or at the very least stimulating some degree of controversy. For one of the prime dictums in Hollywood is that even “bad” publicity is always better than “no” publicity.

My favorite scandal sheet, the New York Times, today features an article, “Latest 'Star Wars' Movie Is Quickly Politicized,” detailing the instant politicization of “Episode III - Revenge of the Sith." Mr. Lucas is credited with fueling the idea that the final offering in his trilogy twice over holds secret references to President Bush and the violence in Iraq:

… And just what was Mr. Lucas - who could not be reached for comment Wednesday - thinking when he told a Cannes audience that he had not realized in plotting the film years ago that fact might so closely track his fiction?

Alluding to Michael Moore’s remarks about "Fahrenheit 9/11" at Cannes a year earlier, Mr. Lucas joked, "Maybe the film will waken people to the situation."

Apparently in all seriousness, though, he went on to say that he had first devised the "Star Wars" story during the Vietnam War. "The parallels between what we did in Vietnam and what we're doing in Iraq now are unbelievable," he told an appreciative audience.

The audience is “appreciative” so why not give them what they want. And please don’t forget that “France is sometimes called the biggest blue state of all, after all.” How peachy. Open the film at Cannes, follow in the gravitationally-challenged Mr. Moore’s most ample foot steps – depth-wise if not otherwise – and you’ll have them eating out of your hand while they fill your pockets and sing your praises. What more could anyone ask for? Respect, maybe? In the form of a papal ring for them to kiss?

My first experience with being literally stunned by an entertainer playing to a specific audience was a number of years back when I witnessed Whoopi Goldberg performing in front of an all-black group during a BET special. Every joke, every quip, nearly every word was about “whitey.” That was her shtick for this audience. Play to their prejudices, their hostilities, to all the pent-up resentments they must certainly have because they are black. You are black and they want to hear you say it. Over and over again. Victimology, race-bating and a good time all rolled into the neat, but again, not-so-small package of Ms. Whoopi.

But leave it to the NYT to successfully reach for and grasp the absurd with the following wee bit of moviedom’s inner workings:

As a rule, Hollywood studios go to great lengths to ensure that their projects - both in the development stage and especially when they are positioned in the marketplace - are free of messages that could be offensive to any great swath of the movie-going public. Like, say, people who vote for one political party or the other.

That would have been closer to the truth if they left it at “…are free of messages.”

Peter Sealey, a former marketing chief at Columbia Pictures, who teaches entertainment marketing at the University of California, Berkeley, at the end of the article notes:

… that a Universal Pictures marketing executive had given a lecture to his marketing class about "King Kong" which is coming out later this year. “Is there a political overtone to it?” Mr. Sealey said. “I suspect he's got to think that through today. The political sensitivities are so great that you have to take that calculus into consideration. Is somebody going to read into ‘King Kong’ that it's pro-Iraq, or it's going to get PETA upset?”

PETA may get upset over “King Kong”? Are the inmates really running the asylum? More importantly, do we really need another King Kong movie?

I prefer Fay Wray any day.


ETA 1506 zulu

More on this from FASTFAC - Who, by the way, really was a top gun as well as a combat instructor pilot in Vietnam:

Anyone who believes that Vietnam and Iraq are parallel 4-dimensionally displaced twins of each other has their creative and intellectual heads up their collective asses! Sorry...might be a bit strong for an opener.

Lets see...similarities, similarities....

...Iraq and Vietnam invited us (pleaded for us to help) was only Vietnam. Pleading for freedom in Iraq meant the excision of your tongue...starting somewhere in the groin area
...Iraq is two countries (Iraq North and Iraq South) is only Vietnam
...Iraq and Vietnam are/were governed by religious fanatics sucking up to a despot who didn't give a Vietnam...well...okay, we all do some sucking!
...I have it, Vietnam was "invaded" by the U.S. under the Republican was Iraq (does either Michael or George remember the names and party affiliations of previous Presidents?)
...Are people dying every day in hopes of finding their "freedom"...Yes! That's one.
...Should we be proud that America backs up its principles with action...damn betcha!

'nuff said.

No, just one more thing. . . Check six.


Wednesday, May 18, 2005


For those of you without dyslexia - or so I'm told by one of my osffpirng.

I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid Aoccdrnig to rscheearch taem at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Such a cdonition is arppoiately cllaed Typoglycemia

Amzanig huh? Yaeh and yuo awlyas thought slpeling was ipmorantt.

Cehck six.
2221 zulu
Response from a police detective of my acquaintance:

Lokos lkie a lot of satemnts I get form spusetcs. Tahkns
- Sgt. Dave L.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

English Comp 101

Today's little ditty is posted over at The American Thinker.

Please see "Times versus the Post"

Caio and check six.


Monday, May 16, 2005

SOS Redux

In today's New Republic Online (subscription required) is an article by Gregg Easterbrook titled "Test Flight" that, with added detail, makes essentially the same point I did in yesterday's post "SOS - Saving Our Senators." However, with some of those additional details I must take issue.

First, Mr. Easterbrook makes the statement, "The Cessna 150 is unpressurized, meaning it can only operate at low altitude, and has limited maneuverability, able to fly straight and level or in shallow banks." Well, the 150 has a limit load factor specification of +4.4 /-1.76 g. A 60-degree bank turn is a 2g turn. Is only 30 degrees from a vertical bank "shallow"? Certainly not the 7g or 8g turns I could pull in an F-4, but definitely not shallow. And at its slow flying speed, in a diving turn - diving to maintain airspeed - the 150 could prove a bit elusive.

Second, the statement is made that, "If the 'target of interest' had been a jet approaching at five times the speed of the Cessna, it might have reached its destination while flight crews were still adjusting chin straps." Very true. But keep in mind - and I don't know if they still do this or not - Air Defense Command pilots at one time would scramble without strapping-in before takeoff. Not the best procedure if one would wish to avail oneself of the ejection seat in the event of mishap. Securing oneself to the seat - known colloquially as strapping the plane to one's ass - would wait until one was heading to the intercept as fast as the little beast would go. If that's not what's done today, perhaps this time-saving procedure should be reinstated for the purpose of increasing the probability of timely intercept. Have fun, guys!

Third, the possibility of a playing possum scenario is described by Mr. Easterbrook:

"Studying this incident, any terrorists with access to a corporate jet or other jet won't take long to come up with this plan: Fly as slowly as possible on approach to Washington, in order to appear on radar like a lost single-engine prop plane, and then gun the engines to maximum once the White House is in view. A plane that's capable of doing more than 500 miles per hour, but playing possum at its minimum airspeed (usually somewhere around 140 miles per hour for jets), will look to air controllers like a little lost Cessna."

Sounds good, but probably more contrived than necessary. Get down "on-the-deck" - that's low enough to suggest one is trimming the tops of the higher trees as I once witnessed a fellow aviator do - go "balls-to-the-wall" - a "thousand miles an hour" as the F-105 Thud drivers would say - and don't forget to turn off that little black squawker, more formally known as a transponder. Which, by the way, does not identify the type of aircraft. Civilian transponders, as far as I know, do not as yet have IFF/SIF, as described in yesterday's feature broadcast on this same station. Altitude reporting, yes. Aircraft specs, no. If I’m wrong here, I apologize in advance.

And is it possible "the echo might be from a tiny Cessna or a 747"? Not likely. A 150 and a 747 have a bit of a different radar cross-section. The smaller the plane, generally the smaller is the cross-section, stealth tech not here being considered. Transponder off, just over the treetops, full throttle - they'll never see you coming.

And by the way, if you have one of those new-fangled, non-metallic composite structures for an airframe, without the transponder you are as stealthy as all get out!

Some Air Defense terms:

“Bogie” – what you’re looking for
“No Joy” – when you don’t see the bogie
“Tally Ho!” – when you do

Check six.

2020 zulu

Proposed solution from FASTFAC, an ol' Air Force buddy since our days together in pilot training. We even took our T-38 formation final check ride together. That is, he was in one plane with a check pilot and I in the other with my overseer:

Starting tomorrow:

"All private aircraft must "weigh out" prior to taxiing from the ramp to takeoff. Weight deviations in excess of +/- 1% of "empty" weight must be verified by TSA-trained ramp personnel by a combination of pounds of fuel on board, weight of all occupants on board (weighed prior to exit from the flight planning room) and all luggage...thoroughly inspected and tagged. In addition, all flight plans must indicate simple point-to-point navigation and always under IFR VFR flights are allowed for general aviation!

These are minimum restrictions. General government paranoia for anything that creates aerodynamic lifting capabilities (also know as "flight") will prevail for all civilian aviation, but only in so far that the primary focus will be on a 25 mile diameter circle somewhere on the East Coast. Other continental areas/facilities such as mid-plains areas such as reservoirs, major petroleum production facilities, and all facilities capable of holding crowds in excess of 25,000 are exempt from any of these fly-over restrictions...(did I happen to mention watching a Cessna 182 a couple of weeks ago out-fitted with pontoons circle over the Space Needle in Seattle and make a beautiful landing on the back bay?...twice in fact?...what could you possibly pack in two very large pontoons?)"

Check six.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

SOS - Saving Our Senators

Watching the video of our esteemed Senators scrambling out of the Capitol building was great entertainment. If not for us, definitely for our enemies. If a lone Cessna, on a VFR flight plan, meandering around while lost can create this kind of panic, just imagine what a real threat might do.

If you think me unkind, cynical or worse, please bear with me.

First, and this has not been mentioned on all the reports, one reason why they detected the aircraft in the first place was that it was "squawking" the VFR (Visual Flight Rules) code on its radar transponder. "Squawk"? "Transponder"? Basically a black box that responds to radar signals and transmits a reply to the scanning radar site. This reply not only enhances the radar return but also can include other information such as altitude. Military aircraft are equipped with an additional transponder feature called IFF/SIF - "Identification Friend or Foe / Selective Identification Feature". ATC (Air Traffic Control) will instruct a pilot to "squawk" a specific code out of the normally available 4096 selectable codes. Some are reserved for specific situations such as 7700 - Emergency, 7600 - Communications Failure, and 7500 - Hijacking. Factory default setting for VFR is 1200.

So? If the Cessna had its transponder turned off and was flying at treetop level I would venture an educated guess that the aircraft could be over the White House or Capitol before anyone would know what was happening. If this same airborne vehicle were equipped with optional features such as a suitcase nuke, our Senators, their staff and any visitors to the seat of our legislative branch would be well on their way to their eternal reward or damnation before anyone could pick up the phone to warn them. If one had a small twin engine aircraft - reciprocating or jet - the penetration speed would be much higher and the chance of intercept much lower. Remember the nineteen-year-old fellow who in 1987 flew a small plane into Red Square? He avoided detection all the way from Finland while flying through some of the most heavily defended airspace anywhere. Does that make you feel any safer, Senators?

All this is just one reason why we must fight the war against the terror masters at the source. These people are not stupid. They aren't going to attack after meandering around in restricted airspace with their low-speed Cessna while squawking the VFR code. And if they get their hands on WMD, they'll use them. We cannot inspect every cargo container entering our ports. Nor can we afford the myriad other tasks that would be necessary if we took a purely defensive stance.

About the only use I can imagine for the run-out-of-the-Senate-in-a-state-of-panic scenario is to provide some exercise for the more sedentary members of that august body. Who knows, perhaps Teddy will lose a few pounds and the Governor of California will have to cut out the obesity quips.