"When faced with a problem you do not understand,
do any part of it you do understand; then look at it again."
~(Robert A. Heinlein - "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress")

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Sunday, December 25, 2016

Be still, my heart. :-)

... Notice from Social Security.

This year (2016), it didn't increase by a single penny, staying at the level it was the year before.

NOW, it  "... will increase by 0.3% in 2017 because of a rise in the cost of living.".

(Not THREE percent, but THREE TENTHS of a percent.)

Now, in truth, it does NOT actually say that the cost of living rose only 0.3%, BUT, that sure SEEMS to be the implication.

I have NO idea what planet they are thinking of, but it damned sure isn't the one we're living on.

Obviously, THIS is a VENT.  :(

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Wednesday, November 09, 2016

TRUMP ... UPDATED 02 DEC 2016


From ibtimes.co.uk

At first, I didn't take him seriously.

But, the more I actually listened to HIM (rather that what other people were SAYING about him), the more I liked and RESPECTED him.

He's NOT an ideologue. What I saw was a business man, passionate about making things WORK. In THAT regard, he reminded me of Reagan. I soon found myself solidly in his corner.

Last night (08 NOV 2016), I hit the sack just before midnight, very worried because he was not quite there yet.

Around 0130, I woke up, got up, and checked ABC News' website, just in time to see Trump's electoral vote totals go past the 270 needed for victory. Just ten minutes later came the announcement that Hillary had called Trump, to concede.

With the knots in my stomach finally loosening, I felt better than I have in a loooong time.

After EIGHT SOLID YEARS of varying degrees of despair, I now actually have HOPE for the future of this country.

Trump will have a LOT on his plate when he takes office in January.

We shall see, But at the moment I stand with my feeling about who he reminded me of. I truly believe that we have managed to find, and elect, ANOTHER REAGAN.

And I am just FINE with THAT.  :-)

UPDATE 02 DEC 2016 - A letter from Ed, posted in Jerry Pournelle's post  https://www.jerrypournelle.com/chaosmanor/em-drive-speed-of-light-and-other-science/ made THESE points ...
"I think most observers don’t get that when you base your decisions on values, you make decisions this way. You try one thing on for size – it doesn’t fit, so you toss it away and try on something else, something different. Eventually you zero in on what you want. This is not ideology-based or strategy-based decision making. This is making decisions based on values."

"The problem with ideology-base decision-making is that they make as many mistakes but they don’t correct them. We had many years of not correcting mistakes.  I like Trump’s way."


That perfectly describes what I meant about Trump not being an ideologue. and why I feel such hope with him in charge.
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Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Shaking our tree.

- 04 Oct 1957 - SPUTNIK!!!

This little dingbat scared the Hell out of many of us then ...
from citizenship typepad.com

Nothing but a polished metal sphere of 585 mm (23 inches) diameter with a mass of 83.6 kilograms (184 lb) and carrying only a radio transmitter, it definitely got our attention.

THEY got there FIRST! Oh, Man!!!

You see, this was the thrilling days of yesteryear when the Soviet Union was ruled by Nikita "We will bury you" Khrushchev who, just the year before, had sent columns of tanks into Hungary to crush a rebellion there (just his way of stating "THAT is a NO-NO!").

The days of "Duck and cover" drills in public schools (not at all insane; if a nuke hit several miles away instead of on top of you, that could make the difference between surviving versus being shredded by glass blown in by the shock wave if all you did was just stand there and gawk at the explosion. Nukes are powerful, but not infinitely powerful. They can be survived, and have been. See reports of Hiroshima and Nagasaki for hard evidence. (Although, in an essay on civil defense, Robert A. Heinlein advocated situational awareness (paying attention to what's going on in the world) and summed up surviving the bomb in seven words: "Don't be there, when it goes off!" ))

That innocent looking thing was placed into orbit by ...
from on6wj-sputnik.blogspot.com

... the R-7 launcher (for a long time referred to as T-3), which evolved from an ICBM whose primary purpose was to transport a thermonuclear bomb from Point A (somewhere in the Soviet Union) to Point B (somewhere in the USA).

The local newspapers ...
San Antonio Light, 05 Oct 1957 - from newspaperarchive.com

... published times of when to see it in the morning or evening, when it would be brightly lit by the sun.

To read or hear about the Soviets (listening to the radio when they were stomping on the rebellion in Hungary was heart-wrenching) while they were on the other side of the world was bad enough, but a bit abstract.

To walk out into your back yard and actually see this bright little silver dot in the sky slowly moving overhead, and realizing there they are;  well, that's a whole 'nother story.

(Originally published  1239 CST,  03 OCT 2012)
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Tuesday, September 06, 2016

CALL it "The Freedom Tower" ...

... Not that mind-numbing bureaucratese of "One World Trade Center".

(Originally published 1404 CDT 10 SEP 2011 - Updated below)

"Freedom Tower" is what it was originally meant to be called anyway, until somebody got their panties in a twist and thought that such a name would be a gigantic Foxtrot Yankee to those who tried to bring us down. (Sounds to me like an excellent reason to so name it.)

From the Wikipedia entry (for what that's worth) ...
In 2009, the Port Authority changed the name of the building from "Freedom Tower" to "One World Trade Center", stating that this name is the "easiest for people to identify with".

All I can say is (EXPLETIVE DELETED!!!).

I saw a NOVA special on TV a few nights ago, all about the design and construction of the  1 WTC Building (They've already forgotten the original name) and the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.

The Presence of Absence ...
That's what the architect of the memorial said it was to evoke;  the sense of loss in the footprints of the original twin towers.

That's not a bad description of what appears to be the attitude of Obama and many of his minions who will appear at the 10th anniversary on 11 Sep 2011.  An attitude of "Let's put this behind us and move on." ;  a good sentiment in some circumstances, but in this context almost like saying that the Holocaust Museum should never have been built.

In the Shadow of the Freedom Tower ...
To add to the mix, we also have the Ground Zero mosque, except we're not supposed to call it that on account of it ain't located directly on the former World Trade Center site, Ground Zero, nor is it primarily a mosque,  ("A rose by any other name ...")

Although the City of New York refused to let a Greek Orthodox church that was destroyed at Ground Zero be rebuilt, they appear to have no problem with this abomination.

Maybe some solace can come from the fact that its location, about two blocks northeast of the Freedom Tower suggests that in the fall (around Sep 11), each afternoon it will lie in the shadow of the tower.

So, where are we now? ...
I don't have a date for the picture on the left, but it would probably be several months ago. The two open squares will be the memorial (hopefully completed tomorrow 11 Sep 2011). The picture on the right is how the tower should look when completed a couple of years from now.  (All images in this post are from www.nyc-tower.com )

This one is dated 24 Aug 2011

And this was taken on 01 Sep 2011 - coming right along.

Where was I on that fateful day? ...
The same place most of you were;  at work that Tuesday morning 11 Sep 2001.  Being in IT, they tolerated my occasional surfing of the internet, but it was other workers who urged me to check out the CNN website that morning; something about an airplane crashing into one of the World Trade Center towers.

I immediately thought it was a horrible accident, with Murphy's Law working at peak efficiency that it would be the tallest thing in Manhattan to be hit.  Indeed, that even made sense as it would be a more likely thing to happen because of its height.

I had read, many times, about the July 1945 incident in which a USAAF B-25 Mitchell bomber tried to land in zero visibility (because of fog) at LaGuardia Airport and the pilot became disoriented and crashed into the Empire State Building between the 78th and 80th floors.  At the moment, I felt that, because of the proliferation of tall buildings near landing approaches, such an accident was almost inevitable sooner or later.

Of course, that second plane hitting the other tower made it painfully clear what had really taken place.

The most horrific part was when the South Tower collapsed.  Most of the people killed would have been those trapped on the upper floors.  By that time, the ones below would have already been evacuated, with the only people still below being responders and others desperately trying to reach those still trapped.

What a horrible word is "only" when applied to people like that. The most merciful thing in their case was that when the rumbling started, they probably barely had time to wonder "What the Hell is that?" before it was over.  It was half an hour later before the North Tower went, and I believe that rescue people were still trying their level best there, knowing all too well what could happen and being totally aware when it did.

A year later, I took a driving vacation and, among other places, visited the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

On display in one wing of the museum was a U-2 reconnaissance plane.  On one wall, curving up from the floor, was a huge aerial photo, taken from that (or a similar) plane, of Manhattan Island.  What you could see so clearly in that photo were the Twin Towers, and it literally took your breath away realizing what was now gone.  I was trying very hard to hold back tears, and I don't think I succeeded. (If any reading this have been to the museum recently, I'd love to know if that photo is still on display.)

Update 27 Jan 2012 - As nobody has volunteered that information, I emailed the museum and received this reply:
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Your inquiry of January 26, 2012, regarding an exhibition has been received in the Smithsonian’s Public Inquiry Mail Service for response.

The oblique U-2 photo of the New York metropolitan area in the 1970s is still on view in the Looking at Earth Gallery (110) in the National Air and Space Museum on the National Mall.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Update - Sunday, 09 Sep 2012 - What was, ...
(Couldn't find a date for this picture)

... what is ...
As of April 2012 - from urbanpeek.com 
(The only image in this post not from www.nyc-tower.com )

As of today (Sunday, 09 Sep 2012) - from live camera

The steel structure is complete, with work on glass still proceeding and the spire to follow.

... and what shall be ...

The Tower is scheduled to be ready for occupancy in 2013, and at present has about 55% of its leases filled. The current economy isn't exactly helping, but those who worry about being able to find tenants should recall that the Empire State Building and the original Twin Towers took decades to fill to capacity.

Bottom line, about that name ...
I hope this will be read by bloggers with far greater readerships than my humble 3 or 4 hundred a month, because I beg you to launch a campaign to make "Freedom Tower" the official name of this magnificent structure, or failing that, at least make it the de-facto name.

For my part, from here on out, I shall never refer to it as anything else

If honoring the memory of those who fell there was the only reason, that would be more than enough.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

"NEVER tell a soldier ... (Updated 28 JUN 2016)

... that he does not know the cost of war."
~Alan Rickman as Lt. General Frank Benson in Eye in the Sky (2015)




video
One of the official trailers on youtube

Caught this yesterday (26 APR 2016), mainly because it starred Helen Mirren (I'd watch almost anything with her in it), and discovered that her co-star was Alan Rickman (in his last performance before his death from pancreatic cancer on 14 JAN 2016 --- see "... and call off Christmas!!!" )

He picked a fine movie to go out on; a wonderful performance in a truly intelligent film.  He will be truly missed

The questions raised in this movie just don't have any good answers.  It will probably be gone from theaters in another week ot two, but I've seen a July 28 release date for DVD and Blu-Ray.

Update 28 JUN 2016:  That release date above was wrong. It's being released June 28 - TODAY.

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Thursday, January 14, 2016

"... and call off Christmas!!!" - (R.I.P. Alan Rickman - 14 JAN 2016)

There actually was something really good in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991).

That something is Alan Rickman, as the Sheriff of Nottingham.

In my previous post, I kinda dumped on The Syfy Channel a bit, for the inclusion of distinctly non-science fiction items in its lineup, including that movie.

(In a conversation with a clerk at Barnes & Noble, I learned that a writer, asking one of the people running The Syfy Channel about why they had changed their name from The "Sci-Fi Channel", was told that "Sci-Fi" is considered shorthand for "Science-Fiction", implying that would be the content;  whereas "Syfy" is in fact just a totally meaningless bit of noise, and gives them license to schedule whatever they wish.  Okay ... )

Back to Alan then.

Of all the people in this movie, he alone appears to be actually having fun, being so deliciously nasty.

After the Sheriff  has said he'll cut out Robin Hood's  heart with a spoon ...
Guy of Gisborne: "Why a spoon, cousin?  Why not an axe?"
Sheriff: "Because it's DULL, you twit.  It'll hurt more."
(Said with a sneer that only Alan Rickman can manage; he has an absolute lock on that.)

Sheriff: (to a wench"You.  My room.  10:30 tonight."
Sheriff: (to another wench"You.  10:45 ... And bring a friend."

Upon hearing from a scribe about the relationship Robin Hood has with the people...
Sheriff: "Just a minute. Robin Hood steals money from my pocket, forcing me to hurt the public,  -- and they love him for it?"
The scribe nods.
Sheriff: "That's it then.  Cancel the kitchen scraps for lepers and orphans, no more merciful beheadings,  -- and call off Christmas!!!"

One thing I'll always wonder: Was that last parting shot scripted?
Or, was Rickman on a roll at that time and he just ad-libbed it?

At times, he seems to be in an entirely different movie than the rest of the cast is, and almost succeeds in making this bloated epic truly watchable.  Unfortunately, as with Ian McShane in the latest "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie, he can't do the job all by himself  (although he does what he can). 

What put him on the map was his role as Hans Gruber (one of the all-time great villains) in Die Hard  (1988), opposite Bruce Willis...

Problem with getting on the map that way is the danger of typecasting.  In Quigly Down Under  (1990), opposite Tom Selleck, he played a villain with a mustache almost fit for twirling.  He seemed to be at the top of any list for playing a back-stabbing, conniving SOB, and got quite a bit of work as such.

But, that's not the only side to him.  Right after "Quigly", he appeared in Truly Madly Deeply (1990), wherein he was a ghost hanging around his girlfriend who really needed to get on with her life, but found it a bit difficult with him and his ghost friends around all the time, watching videos (what else do you do with all that time in the afterlife?)  It was a sweet, warm role totally unexpected for the guy who played Hans Gruber.

His latest work has been as Professor Severus Snape, the "Darth Vader" of the Harry Potter series...

He's actually the most tragic figure in the story, very multi-layered (Yes!  I'm quite aware that I use that phrase a lot;  I'm drawn to characters that rate it).  Rickman succeeds in the challenge of taking a character you've learned to hate, and making you almost weep for him near the end of the last movie.

What can I say?  The man is simply so damned good.
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UPDATE Thursday, 14 JAN 2016:  I've just learned that Alan Rickman has left us today...  

...  FAR TOO SOON.  Rest in peace, Sir.  :-(

frown emoticon(Originally published 2102 CST 08 AUG 2011)
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