Saturday, 28 February 2009

links for 2009-02-28

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Friday, 27 February 2009

links for 2009-02-27

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Brothers at War

This looks good.

Brothers at War is an intimate portrait of an American family during a turbulent time. Jake Rademacher sets out to understand the experience, sacrifice, and motivation of his two brothers serving in Iraq. The film follows Jake’s exploits as he risks everything—including his life—to tell his brothers’ story.

“Often humorous, but sometimes downright lethal, Brothers at War is a remarkable journey where Jake embeds with four combat units in Iraq. Unprecedented access to US and Iraqi combat units take him behind the camouflage curtain with secret reconnaissance troops on the Syrian border, into sniper ‘hide sites’ in the Sunni Triangle, through raging machine gun battles with the Iraqi Army.

“Ultimately, the film follows his brothers home where separations and life-threatening work ripple through their parents, siblings, wives, and children. Brothers at War is a rare look at the bonds and service of our soldiers on the frontlines and the profound effects their service has on the loved ones they leave behind. For more information please visit - www.brothersatwarmovie.com.”

The film is executive produced by Gary Sinise (CSI: New York, “Lt. Dan” in Forrest Gump), who said, “The media took the 15 people of Abu Ghraib and made them the face of the military. This [movie] is a true portrait of our military and their families.”

posted at 12:32 AM in armed forces , liberty , love , movie , national security
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Thursday, 26 February 2009

links for 2009-02-26

  • "I've never found it very easy to choose which theme to use when constructing a book in iPhoto. Part of the problem is that the sample pages that the program shows you when you choose the theme don't give you nearly enough details. If you want more details, you've come to the right place. On this web site, you'll find an exhaustive desription of each iPhoto book theme, complete with examples of each type of layout that is possible within each theme.

    "Even if you don't want quite so much information, the first few paragraphs about each theme can give you a summarized idea of the possibilities available within each one: the general feel of the layout, how many photos you can put on a page, what fonts are used, what text options are available, and more."
  • 'Before taking office, President-elect Barack Obama declared, "There is no disagreement that we need action by our government, a recovery plan that will help to jumpstart the economy." Vice President Joe Biden added recently, "Every economist, as I've said, from conservative to liberal, acknowledges that direct government spending on a direct program now is the best way to infuse economic growth and create jobs."

    'Despite the administration's efforts to stamp out opposition, however, the Cato Institute compiled an impressive list of economists who disagree with the DC strategy of Keynesian spending to help the economy.'
posted at 7:58 PM in links
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Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Today’s Genius function result

We’ve all had that song that gets stuck in our head. That happened to me today. Not sure how it happened, since I didn’t hear the song in a commercial or TV show, or anything like that. Just one second, it was there.

The song? “Edge of Seventeen,” by Stevie Nicks.

So when it came time to go pick D up from school, as we departed from the house, I cranked that very song in the truck for S and I to enjoy. While sitting at a stop light, I decided to use the Genius function to create a playlist of like-minded songs, and here’s the result:

  • “Edge of Seventeen” — Stevie Nicks
  • “The Chain” — Fleetwood Mac
  • “Magic Man” — Heart
  • “Wheel in the Sky” — Journey
  • “Hungry Like the Wolf” — Duran Duran
  • “Heat of the Moment” (Acoustic) — Asia
  • “Every Little Thing She Does is Magic” — The Police
  • “Hold The Line” — Toto
  • “Sharp Dressed Man” — ZZ Top
  • “Brass in Pocket” — The Pretenders
  • “Your Love” — The Outfield
  • “These Dreams” — Heart
  • “Baby, I Love Your Way” — Peter Frampton
  • “Leather and Lace” (with Don Henley) — Stevie Nicks
  • “You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)” — Dead Or Alive
  • “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?” — Rod Stewart
  • “Go Your Own Way” — Fleetwood Mac
  • “Renegade” — Styx
  • “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)” — Journey
  • “Crazy On You” — Heart
  • “So Caught Up In You” — 38 Special
  • “Dream Weaver” — Gary Wright
  • “Just What I Needed” — The Cars
  • “Here I Go Again” — Whitesnake
  • “Won’t Get Fooled Again” — The Who

The inclusion of “The Chain” raised my eyebrows. I expected Fleetwood Mac to make an appearance, given Nicks’ membership in the band. The rest of the list, mostly staples of the ’80s, is also not surprising, except for “Dream Weaver” and “Here I Go Again”. Losing the former makes the playlist that much better, and the only reason it’s in my library is because it was on a soundtrack (likely Wayne’s World) or compilation.

posted at 9:31 PM in music
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links for 2009-02-25

  • "My name is Mike Kobold, I'm a watchmaker and an armchair explorer. Unlike some of the hard-core professionals who wear my watches -divers, astronauts and explorers- I'm pretty much just a regular guy. Like most people, I have downfalls, shortcomings, and a number of irrational fears. For one, I'm scared of heights and am therefore risk-averse. I have ADD and am mildly dyslexic. Food is my downfall and I eat considerably more chocolate than anyone should. My job is sedentary and so is my lifestyle.

    "Yet I've made it my goal to climb to the summit of Mount Everest. How do I go from here to there? Training and nutrition only get you so far, which is why I'm having to learn to control my fears and to overcome my weaknesses. My goal is to raise money for the Navy SEAL Warrior Fund. Because even a regular guy should do his part to help those who have risked their lives in the line of duty."
posted at 7:59 PM in links
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This is the issue

“This is the issue: whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American Revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far distant capital can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them for ourselves. … Somewhere a perversion has taken place. Our natural, inalienable rights are now considered to be a dispensation of government, and freedom has never been so fragile, so close to slipping from our grasp as it is at this moment.” —Ronald Reagan, 1980

posted at 1:42 PM in liberty , politics , quote
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Tuesday, 24 February 2009

links for 2009-02-24

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Sunday, 22 February 2009

links for 2009-02-22

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Thursday, 19 February 2009

If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns

“Laws that forbid the carrying of arms … disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes… Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.”

—Cesare Beccaria, On Crimes and Punishment, quoted by Thomas Jefferson in Commonplace Book, 1774-1776

posted at 11:09 PM in firearms , liberty , politics , quote
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links for 2009-02-19

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Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Now where might this be relevant today…?

“The principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale.” —Thomas Jefferson

posted at 12:58 PM in liberty , politics , quote
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Monday, 16 February 2009

“Do not lean on your own understanding”

Andrée Seu, “Alice’s battle”:

You have never seen a struggle like Alice’s struggle against joy. The doubting Narnian dwarfs were preemptively miserable, and so is Alice. The girlfriends’ counsel of lowered expectations mounts a new offensive in her mind. (There is no force so powerful as error in a godly person’s mouth.) But just as Alice starts to sink again, the Spirit counters with this coup de grace:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5).

Alice perceives in a hot instant that this is not only where the present battle is joined, but where every battle is joined—against the counsel of one’s saintliest friend, against the received wisdom of one’s generation, against the carnal instinct to protect oneself. There are only ever these two—the Word of the Lord; your own understanding.

It dawns on Alice that at any given moment of the day she has a choice of which thoughts she may entertain—those of her friends and “her own understanding,” or the word of the Lord. All that is not the latter is the former, no matter how sweetly wrapped.

posted at 1:54 PM in God , love
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Thursday, 12 February 2009

links for 2009-02-11

posted at 9:15 AM in links
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An evening with a living legend

Thanks to the best wife in the world, my Valentine’s Day gift arrived three days early. Last night I was privileged, along with a couple hundred others, to spend some time with General Charles “Chuck” Yeager.

General Yeager has long been a hero of mine. He was one of many reasons I entered Air Force ROTC in college. His exploits, as portrayed in The Right Stuff, kept my friend Matt and I up late into the night on more than one occasion. When she learned he was going to be in town as part of a fundraiser for the C.R. Smith Museum, my wife thought I would enjoy attending, and oh, was she ever right.

IMG_3655.JPG

We watched a 20-minute clip from a DVD about the general, and then he spoke for about an hour and a half, discussing his experiences from World War II onward, and taking questions from the audience.

Some of his recollections and observations that I can remember, in no particular order:

  • General Yeager has flown nearly every aircraft in the Air Force inventory, and myriads of planes that never made it in to service.

  • His favorite jet currently in American service is the F-15E. Given his opinions, one can surmise that he believes taxpayer resources would have been better spent upgrading and improving this aircraft, rather than investing in the F-22 and F-23. He referred to the F-22 specifically, as well as the F-16, as “great for air shows,” but not so great for modern air combat.

  • In October of last year, he went to France and flew the Airbus A380. General Yeager was very impressed with the “hotel with wings” (his words), and its stability. He told us of the flight tests he took part in with the water drums loaded throughout the fuselage (to simulate passenger and equipment weights), and how they would be moved about to change the plane’s center of gravity, and the 380 would take it all in stride.

  • During the Airbus visit, he was reunited with some of the Maquis resistance fighters who’d sheltered him for three months after he was shot down over southern France. “There’s not many of them left; they’re all older than me.”

  • He’s convinced France is the second-best country in modern aviation, behind the United States.

  • He lamented the consolidation of the aircraft industry in the U.S. When he was a test pilot, flying 25-30 different aircraft each month, the Defense Department could choose from myriad contractors: Lockheed, North American, Grumman, Corvair, Rockwell, Boeing, Bell, Martin, and McDonnell Douglas. It was extremely competitive, and the country was rewarded with the best possible aircraft for the best possible price. Now the industry has contracted to only three players, and these companies are free to “fleece” the government.

  • On shooting down a Me 262 during World War II: while on a mission, Yeager’s squadron encountered several 262s, but none engaged the P-51s. While passing over a particular area, the squadron came under antiaircraft fire. While spying where the flak was coming from, Yeager noted the guns were protecting a small airfield, and he saw 262s on the ground. He also saw a 262 coming in for a landing. He then lined up behind the 262 and destroyed it; “not very sportmanslike, but what the hell” was the general’s sentiment. He noted with amusement that an antiaircraft battery at the end of the runway had turned its gun on him, now racing down the length of the runway about six feet off the deck, and, missing his Mustang, was hitting its own hangars at the opposite end of the field.

IMG_3660.JPG

  • He thought Tom Wolfe’s portrayal of him and the Air Force in The Right Stuff was accurate; “pretty much how it really was.” On NASA, the German scientists who helped build the rockets, Vice-President Johnson: not so much. “There was a lot of embellishment.” (Yeager was a technical adviser for the movie, and flew several of the featured aircraft for the film.)

  • Regarding the early period of space flight research in the U.S.: the Air Force owned the space program. They were in charge of all the training of pilots-cum-astronauts, ran the test facilities and aircraft, all on a miniscule budget. They did all of this with nary a mention in the press. Then Sputnik went up, Eisenhower made space a priority, NASA was born out of NACA, and the place became a bureaucratic and budgetary mess “and has been that way since.” I gathered that he thought it outrageous that each of the original Mercury astronauts got his own press agent. Yeager has a very strong opinion about the space program, from which one might surmise that today it would be a very different, and likely much more successful, animal if it were still under the Air Force’s purview.

  • He does not regret ever going into space. He is especially proud that the men who came through the USAF Aerospace Research Pilot School, of which he was the first commandant, were among the Gemini, Apollo, and Space Shuttle astronaut crews.

  • Though he retired from the Air Force in 1975, he continued to test fly for the Air Force. His payment was a dollar a year. When presented with the offer, Yeager says his only response was “I don’t have to pay for the fuel, do I?” He’s also performed test flights for many private companies, including foreign ones (viz: Airbus, above).

  • Regarding his selection to fly the X-1: his dad was a natural gas driller in West Virginia, and as a 12 year-old, Yeager would help his dad repair dome regulators, which lowered the pressure of the gas so it could be more easily sent through pipes, atop drilled wells. Part of the gas system for the X-1’s rockets included the same type of dome regulators. Yeager contends “In some ways, I knew the X-1’s fuel system better than the guys who designed and built it, because I grew up with it.” His background knowledge factored in to his selection.

  • After three months in southern France, the Maquis resistance managed to get Yeager across the Pyrennes into Spain. Spain was neutral at the time, along with Switzerland and Sweden. Combatants who ended up in these countries were expected to pretty much ride out the war there. Spain had no petroleum resources of its own at the time, and due to the war, was having difficulty importing it. The U.S. agreed to an exchange of petroleum for several pilots, including Yeager, who had ended up there. The general joked, “Now I don’t know how many barrels each of us was worth…”

  • Improvement in technology aside, Yeager is indignant over the number of troops injured and killed by IEDs over the past few years on Iraq. He told us about how the Air Force used to assist the troops on the ground in the removal—via detonation/destruction—of roadside mines during Vietnam. (This involved the Bird Dog observer aircraft spotting and marking new disturbances in the ground alongside the roads, with ground attack aircraft following, strafing the marked positions.) He rhetorically wondered why something similar wasn’t being done in Iraq, and contends it’s because those running the war for the various services didn’t serve in Vietnam.

  • His last flight in a military jet of any kind was on 18 September 2007. Looking back through old flight logs, he discovered his first official flight in a military aircraft of any kind was 18 September 1942. He was obviously pleased with this 65-year run of flying military aircraft.

  • He’s a modest man who doesn’t look at his accomplishments in the same light as the rest of us. One can understand that; living in the moment, you oftentimes fail to appreciate it for what it was at the time it happened. Yeager contends that he was simply in the right place at the right time, with the right set of skills.

Given that General Yeager’s 86th birthday will be on Friday, the 13th, a cake was brought out and the entire audience sang “Happy Birthday” to him. He thought it was a kick. He mingled briefly afterward, and had a slice of cake. There was no official signing or greeting line; the general either hadn’t planned to, or was too tired, to sign books and other items. All perfectly understandable.

IMG_3672.JPG

It was disappointing to not be able to greet General Yeager personally, shake his hand, and thank him for his decades of service. But I am not disappointed in the overall experience. It was fantastic! If you ever have the chance to meet with General Yeager or hear him speak, do not miss such an opportunity with an authentic American hero.

Much love and thanks to Kelly for making last night possible for me! I love you, sweetheart!

posted at 12:22 AM in armed forces , aviation , hero , national security
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Tuesday, 10 February 2009

“A republic, if you can keep it.”


“Many Americans would be surprised to learn that the word ‘democracy’ does not appear in the Declaration of Independence, or the U.S. Constitution. Nor does it appear in any of the constitutions of the fifty states. The Founders did everything they could to keep us from having a democracy.”

Democracy = mob rules. Republic = rule of law. Keep this in mind when American politicians—of any stripe—talk about the “will of the people”.

This is worth ten minutes of your time if you’ve forgotten—or never got—this lesson in civics class.

posted at 8:56 PM in learning , liberty , politics , video
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Saturday, 07 February 2009

The Keene Act and You


Remember: together, we can forge a better America.

posted at 8:26 PM in fun , movie , video
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Monday, 02 February 2009

ATPM 15.02

The February issue is now available for your reading pleasure.

If you’ve gotten over Wes’ analogy to high-altitude, fiber-producing, spitting camelids in last month’s Bloggable, you’ll be pleased to know he’s now moved on to the blogosphere discussion of appropriate iTunes App Store pricing. Oh, and Steve Jobs’ health. Because the mainstream media will just not. Let. It. Go.

Mark wanders down memory lane so far as Internet connections are concerned, and laments that some employment forms across the Pond are in non-editable PDF form. Why is this a problem? When one such form is 28 pages long, that’s a lot of handwriting. There’s also the testy problem of folks paying for a broadband connection half the speed of which they’re paying for.

For anyone looking to get things done, Ed has updated the master list of applications which might help you to do so. Yours truly, with much help from Lee and Eric, offers a report from our adventure in San Francisco, and Macworld Expo 2009. Speaking of memory lane, Linus takes a stroll about Removable Storage Avenue, with a column title that made me smile nostalgically.

Speaking of San Francisco, one of the things the three ATPM musketeers did while we were there was take lots of photos, and the Bay Area offers lots of opportunities for great shots. Lee shares some of his favorites with us for this month’s desktop pictures. Linus contributed a cartoon complimentary to his column, wherein an old maxim is shown to not be true.

Some of you may think laptop stands are just not cricket, but Frank Wu is impressed with the Cricket Laptop Stand. (What? Too many Britishisms in this month’s ATPM post?) Ed puts MacSpeech Dictate 2.1 through its paces, and the voice recognition tool emerges unscathed and highly recommended.

As usual, ATPM is available in myriad formats for your enjoyment.

posted at 11:54 PM in Macintosh
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It has never been, and is not, about hunting

“The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of the republic; since it offers a strong moral check against usurpation and arbitrary power of the rulers; and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them.” —Justice Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States, 1833

posted at 12:43 PM in firearms , liberty , politics , quote
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links for 2009-02-02

the iconmaster » Shortening URLs from NetNewsWire

An AppleScript which will take the selected headline in NetNewsWire and fetch an is.gd-shortened URL, placing it in the clipboard. Handy for passing off URLs from NetNewsWire to Twitter.

(tags: AppleScript NetNewsWire scripting Twitter url)

posted at 7:04 AM in links
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Sunday, 01 February 2009

Obama demands 10-percent cut from Pentagon

Ed Morrissey:

Obama’s busy expanding all of the rest of the government except for its primary, Constitutional mission: defending the nation.

With several friends serving our country in the armed forces, I can only pray they continue to have jobs until they are ready to leave the service.

posted at 4:18 PM in armed forces , national security , politics
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