“I Am Not A Crook.”

“I will finally end the abuse of no-bid contracts once and for all,” -Candidate Obama, 2008


(finds out governmentin’ is hard, and rules suck)

“I want new airplanes.  Buy me these ones, in particular.” -President Obama, 2014**

We “need” new aircraft for Air Force One.  There are two major companies currently making airliners currently capable of international travel without stopping to refuel.  We have decided to forego the competitive bidding process entirely and use the product of the company we like better.*


*the other company has a worrisome tendency for their planes to break up in flight for no particularly good reason, plus they are dang furriners and we can bygod make union-labor-made planes right here in the USA.  I’m actually 100% in support of this decision – just pointing out that our President is a liar.  Again.  Still.

**This is a VFD paraphrase.  It is entirely possible that he does or does not have any input into this decision-making process.  Even so, HE is the CinC and running DoD so it’s still his call.

More Like This, Please!

Doctor/Scientists 3D print a replacement trachea for (eventual, probably) implantation into the human body.  That’s cool for some pretty important structural problems.  Coming later (also eventually, probably): 3D printed replacement noses and ears.  That plus some new burn healing skin production stuff currently in development will save some peoples’ ability to live normal lives.

I know it is a curse to live in “interesting times” but . . . it’s kinda neat also.

Helium in Tires to Save Weight?

People have seriously considered it and tried it.  I blame the people at my Hyundai-related discussion forum for costing me an hour reading about helium.

Yes, you can put helium in your car or bicycle tires.  Yes, it would be lighter than air or nitrogen probably by a few dozen grams per tire.  You would save (much) more weight by tossing out the contents of your ashtray/change drawer, leaving your sunglasses at home, washing the dirt off your car or having a piss.  Also, it is the smallest element and would leak out at annoyingly high rates from your tires.

Helium is also a limited-availability natural resource with a huge price distortion caused by the USA government.  Currently it is cheap because we are selling our stockpiles**.  Market forces will react when our sale ends, and the price will rise probably dramatically, but probably we will still be able to afford helium balloons for parties.  I stopped buying helium balloons for parties when I figured this out – I’d rather have it cheaper for longer, to keep down the cost of MRI testing where people currently NEED helium (as a coolant) to save lives.

It used to be hard to make and we didn’t have gobs of it laying around.  It was $2500/ft3 in 1915 and $0.15/ft3 in 1989.  One isotope is currently still at $2000 because they make it from Tritium.  Helium is also mined with natural gas, and the prospect of “running out” of helium is something our great-great-etc. grandchildren will have to worry over, if anyone will.  100-300 years-ish.   As it gets more expensive, look for more efficient uses in imaging as well as higher incidences of recycling (vs. blowing it out to the atmosphere).  Also, expect lower-cost practical applications of MAGNETIC cooling.  (mind = blown)

The 1984 US olympic team allegedly used it to conduct heat out of their tires (helium conducts heat better*).  You can save 10 or 15 grams per tire using He but when you already have to ADD ballast to make minimum weight on a real race bike, this is not the best use of your time/money.

the Skunk Works allegedly tried and declared it to be too much hassle, even with military-ish maintenance schedules, a bottomless budget and a desperate desire to lose weight on the SR-71.

At least *some people* at Lockheed have considered it and figured they could save 3 lbs. per aircraft.  And maybe the tires could explode (but that was speculation).


**stockpiled to float our national security related blimps early in the last century, and not strictly required for exactly that these days.

*and supercooled helium doesn’t/can’t boil.  The way it transfers heat means it goes straight to gas instead of boiling internally.  Crazy.

Some People Might Say . . .

There is a show on the idiot box wherein one of the little boys made a noise like an eagle.  CREEEEEEEEEeeeeee!!!  and it reminded me again, and I LOLd so I’ll note this for you in case you missed it.

The Vatican has moved into the last century, at long last.  Instead of releasing doves as a symbol of peace, they have moved onto synthetic birds made of plastic and helium.  I think they would still be using doves, but it was more “trauma” than “peace” last time, when two different types of birds of prey came at the two doves when they were released.

Some people, in a more simplistic time, might have taken the attack on their peace pigeons as a sign of Divine displeasure.  Not them, I guess.  Just bad technique.  Better luck next year.  I mean, the man does claim to stand in the place of Christ after all!  The assumption* is he knows what he is about!

*wrong, but try convincing him of that!

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Ukraine is not a member nation of NATO.  We have an agreement to help them, between Ukraine and the USA, but that sort of thing has never stopped us from letting a supposed ally be overrun by communists before.  Ukraine is set to lose its Eastern half, or at least a land bridge between Russia and the Crimea, and there is very little Ukraine can do about it but waste men and money trying to stop the Russian-backed “rebels.”  There is currently no major military power-house nation officially involved in this conflict.  On the face of it, we have a civil war in Ukraine and it’s “nobody’s business but the Turks” what happens there.  Russia is officially not involved and we are also officially not involved.  But

General Hodges, commander of our Army in Europe, went to Ukraine and said we are sending a “small number” of “trainers” to Ukraine.  This of course is a euphemism.  It is telegraphing our intent to Russia not to simply allow them to have their way in Ukraine.  Small numbers of training personnel have a tendency to turn into larger numbers of special forces operators, followed by conventional forces in the increasingly-possible run-up to full scale 3rd Generation Warfare.  Leaving aside for the moment that the “rebels” of the DNR are somewhere into 4th Generation Warfare and that it is very hard to win a 4GW conflict with 3GW actions – this is entirely possibly going to turn into President Obama’s Vietnam.  IF he doesn’t act smartly.

First, don’t be surprised to hear next week/month/year that we are going to “lend” our support to Ukraine with unmanned drones or even manned warplanes dropping death on the “rebel” forces.  Of course they have no money to pay us back but what’s a few billion dollars between friends, right?

Second, remember that Russia supposedly was acting in the interests of ethnic Russians when they swarmed in and overran Georgia with military force.  And that Russia killed off the anti-communist Ukrainians in the East of Ukraine after their Revolution, and repopulated the region with ethnic Russians.

Third, remember to snort derisively when someone reports this escalation of military tensions as “unexpected”.  As long ago as two thousand years, we were warned not to be troubled by “rumors of wars” – but anyone paying even a little attention sees the very real possibility of World War Three starting over this little civil war growing up and having babies.

For Your Own Good, Citizen!

In addition to me, Istapundit also sees the truth.  In case anyone decides to act in a few years as if this could not possibly have been foreseen, I present the following quote for future reference:

First force the savings, then confiscate!“-Glenn Reynolds, Jan 24, 2015

The Democrats, having thoroughly lost the ability to make it happen when they lost control of Congress, have proposed a bill.  This bill is going to be described in the national press as being “for” the workers who just can’t seem to get it done on their own.  Expect Republican opposition to fold like a house of cards once the wind of “for the people” starts blowing in the press (unless the new Congress is really “different, this time!”).

The bill, if they think they can’t get it passed, is probably an attempt to make the Republicans look like jerks that hate workers of the country.  Truly, it is a display of their hand.  Not that they’ve been playing very close to the chest recently, but they’re really tipping the cards down here.

Senators Whitehouse and Neal introduce retirement savings bill.  The workers aren’t saving for retirement because their mean-ol’ baddy CAPITALIST bosses don’t offer them an expensive plan for tax-preferred savings.  That’s it.  No, it’s not that the national monetary policy prevents the dollars people earn from being enough to live on.  No, it’s not that 20-somethings can’t be bothered to think about retirement savings (due to bad national education policy).  It’s because it’s not automatic.  Not because people chose to invest somewhere else with their own money.  No, we’re going to shrink your pay checks because we know better than you what should be done with your money.  You WILL be enrolled in an Individual Retirement Account.  IRAs for everyone!  (not 529 plans though, those are only for evil people now).

For the time being, enrollment is voluntary.  They don’t think the courts are friendly-enough to mandatory wealth confiscation for retirement savings in addition to the mandatory wealth confiscation for retirement savings already provided by the Social Security system.  Those who are smart will opt-out of these plans as soon as they are offered.  IF you have enough free money every pay check (after bills and debt service) to invest, buy gold or guns/ammo.  Durable Things.  Not legal constructs.  As one wise man has pointed out:

“If you depend on the legal constructs of wicked men to help you save money, don’t be surprised when they take it from you, legally.”

The proposal was already fielded to cause you to convert your 401(k) into investments in USA’s national debt notes instead of whatever you wanted to invest in with your money.  The proposal has been fielded to limit how much of your money you will be able to save.  Now we have a proposal to take MORE than the 12% of your pay going to social security already, and invest that for your retirement as well.

VFD, IRAs for everyone is a GOOD idea!

No.   Voluntary IRAs at everyone’s discretion, invested as they see fit, would be a good idea.  Involuntary (or automatic) IRAs for everyone invested in places the government chooses, is a bad idea.


Let me be clear:
The end game is: after your money has been taken for your “individual” IRA, the money will be found to be inequitably distributed.  There will still be people who “need help” out there.  It’s just not fair that you set money aside, and these people have none.  In the interest of the greater good, and for fairness, we will take your individual account and socialize it.  Mark me well: unless something drastic happens, your 401(k), IRA, and yes eventually even your Social Security “savings” are all going to be confiscated and spread around to those who are less-fortunate.  You may have some of it back when the government says so.  If you obey.

. . . If You Know What I Mean . . .

At my church, there are special meetings all this week, with meals provided.  I got a plate of food, then went back to the serving table and got my dessert.  It was quite a plate-full and one of the guest preachers walked by and commented on it.  Know in advance that this guy was a Marine, and understands some things.

GP: (grin) Now, I know that’s all for your wife, right, Brother?
VFD: No! (chuckles quietly, leans close to the GP)
VFD: Now, here’s a double entendre for you:  I’m trying to look out for her figure!

Madness @ Work!

I submitted a supply request for a tool.  I had brought some seriously low-quality versions from home and didn’t really mind when they died, but I was using them for work – so I requested an actual high-quality tool-grade version as a replacement for use at work.  FOG asked CO1 about it while I was standing near both of them, and he didn’t recall seeing the email where she asked him.  She mentioned that wasn’t the first email of hers that he didn’t seem to have received.  He said it might be because he has her emails automatically forwarded to the trash.