Friday, January 22, 2016

Like clockwork...

So it seems like every ten years or so since the late 80's, the Airforce comes up with a grand plane to retire the A-10 and replace it with a much faster jet that they assure us will be able to do the same job.  The first several times it was the F-16 that would take the role.  Then we had Gulf War the first and the A-10 performed with absolute stunning success, so they gracefully backed out.  I recall reading about the AF wanting to do it again just before the towers fell, and shortly thereafter let that effort quietly die as well.  Due to the length of the latest unpleasantness, they were half a decade tardy on the latest push, to which congress told AF leaders to get stuffed.

Unfortunately, every time we get an advancement in military technology, some people who should know better think "This will solve everything!" and make foolish mistakes.  This is why we had a run of air superiority fighters in the 50's and 60's that had no internal canons.  New technology caused the brass to determine that aerial dog-fighting was a thing of the past because missiles were the new hotness.  The Vietnam conflict showed the folly of that decision and now both the AF and Navy have schools for it.  Our fighters now sport canons as well.

The reality is easily summed up thusly:

During both of the gulf wars, the A-10 proved time and time again that they can go in, accomplish the mission, absorb obscene amounts of damage and still fly home.  Hell, it can fly home after losing an engine, all of its hydraulics, half a wing, half of its tail or even all of its fuel tanks if home is within 230 miles.  And it repeated these tasks over the Balkans and Afghanistan.

On the other hand, in October 2015, while flying a mission over Paktia Province in Afghanistan, an F-16 showed exactly how it was designed for air superiority, not close air support.  Upon receiving damage to one stabilizer from ground fire, the pilot immediately had to drop external fuel tanks and its air to ground armaments and return to base for an emergency landing.  This is not what we want in a close air support aircraft.

Now, apparently, due the the continuing FUBAR that has become the F-35 it appears that the AF has admitted that the retirement plan is on hold for several years.  They also quietly admitted that they are considering developing a replacement aircraft that is closer to the A-10 than the F-35.  They estimate that it would take 15 years to design a replacement.  If the F-35 is a reference, I think they are being rather optimistic.  Last I heard, current upgrades will allow it to fly until 2028.  Maybe its time to upgrade the AF leadership and procurement process instead.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

I weep for the species...

While cruising CNN for info on yet another celebrity death, I ran across a pile of tripe that they pass for news these days.  Yet another piece of poor journalism that appears in CNN Money of all places, bemoaning the horrible violence forced upon poor NYC and Chicago by the evil southern states and Indiana.

See, the problem with this article is that it fails on its own premise.  It is trying to blame all of these other states, while clearly pointing out all of the methods used that are already illegal.  Straw Purchase?  Illegal.  Smuggling weapons on airplanes?  Illegal.  Importing firearms into NY for sale without an FFL and documentation?  Illegal.  In fact, all of the issues reported are already against the law.  Then the author ends with this:

Sales between non-dealers aren't subject to federal background checks. So the black market is off the grid, flowing undetected across state lines.

Wow, really?  You mean the black market isn't a public place where I can go to peruse?  Shocking.  It's as if the criminals don't care about the law or something...

Dear sir, please contact the college where you got your degree.  They owe you a refund.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Idiots...On parraaade...

So a bunch of protesters decided to stage a protest today by blocking one side of the Bay Bridge at the start of rush hour.  This was the second protest in the area, the first happening earlier in Oakland.  The first one suffered from good participation by its participants (No spray paint, property damage, police confrontations, etc...) and suffered the further issue of resulting positive news reports.  Obviously not good enough.  So about two dozen special snowflakes drove their cars onto the Bay Bridge, form a line across all lanes and stop.  Then they run chains through the car windows across all lanes and start to protest.  It takes an hour and a half to clear them, by which time they have completely screwed up traffic in both directions.

Now, while I don't agree with everything presented by the organizers of the first protest, they were well spoken and generally didn't cause chaos.  I heard their speaking points and agree somewhat with their position.  But all of that good will and positive support was somewhat deflated by those who decided to screw up everyone else's drive home.  Much like their similar protest last year that shut down BART trains for hours, the people they caused problems for will have little sympathy for their cause.  Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should.

Dear Mrs Clinton...

You have tied yourself firmly to the "success" of the Affordable Care Act, and you hope that this will swing people to you in the upcoming elections.  Really, based on the results of the mid term election after that thing passed, I am not sure you should.  But if you fail to understand why someone would be unhappy with the law you stand behind, I'll go ahead and give you a real world example of the success that it has graced upon my family.

First, understand where my family stood before you pushed this law into being.  I had a good job and since I worked for a company that valued their employees, we had excellent health insurance.  I believe you and Mr Obama called this "Cadillac Coverage" and for some reason thought it was bad.  This is important, since my wife was disabled, my step-daughter is a high functioning autistic and I have diabetes.

After the passing of the ACA, we noticed subtle changes at our healthcare provider.  Tighter times with the doctor, unrealistic expectations with my wife's diabetic supplies (I am on oral medication) and a variety of other small things.  When we inquired, it was always blamed on changes that were being implemented to allow for the full ACA to come into effect.  This really impacted us because Medicare (remember, my wife is disabled) would only approve specific amounts of needles and insulin.  Priming the needle was not taken into account.  My wife used insulin pens, so if one did not have enough, an extra needle was used on the new pen.  Might seem minor to you, but it was a huge problem for us.

Then the year that it came into full effect, our costs doubled.  It was directly placed at the ACA's feet.  You see, when you passed that ball of suck and fail, you put nothing in there to actually control costs.  As such, my family took it in the shorts.  Thank you.

After my wife passed away, my costs didn't really go down much.  Then, my company had a reduction in force.  I was caught up in it, so despite over a decade of service, I was laid off.  While I got a very good severance package, the cost of COBRA coverage was astronomical.  As I could not afford that, I went over to the Covered CA site to see what they could do for me.  Turns out that they could do nothing.  It was as much for poorer coverage there as it would be to get COBRA.  So, I have a choice between rent and food or healthcare coverage.  My step-daughter is covered by the county, so I have none.

Now I am still unemployed, I have no reserves left from my severance. I have cashed out my 401k and maxed the few credit cards I had.  I am scraping by on unemployment.  And now, because I have no health insurance and cannot afford it, you are going to penalize me money I don't have using the IRS.  An amazing success for the ACA.

You never had my vote.  But I am hoping enough people have been graced with similar ACA success and that they remember it when they go to the polls.

Saturday, January 16, 2016


Its raining outside this evening.  I have always enjoyed the rain.  My daughter went to bed early, surprising for a Friday.  I made a cup of coffee and decided to go out on our balcony.  It took a minute to bring myself to open the door and walk through.  This was my wife's refuge, everything here for her happiness.  Her last pack of cigarettes still sit on the bistro table where she left them with her lighter.  Her spent cigarettes still sit in the astray.  Her plants, which my daughter swore she would take over tending, sit dead in their pots.  The rain, desperately needed in California, comes down at a steady pace.  I took the seat opposite hers and stared out at the rain.  The headlights of cars on the road below highlight the rain hitting the roadway.  I sit, quietly staring and absorbing the sound of the rain and cars sweeping by in the water gathering on the road.  I can count on one hand the number of times I have been out here since she died.  This was the longest visit I have made.  Still it is only minutes before I can't stay any longer.  Not even half a cup of coffee gone.  I am told that it gets better, or at least easier to deal with, as time passes.  I have not found that to be the case.  Maybe it was the tumultuous events afterwards.  Maybe not.  Maybe it will be someday, but not now.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

SotU speech.

I chose to watch a hockey game instead.  It included two fistfights and a game ejection for a cross check to the head.  I am willing to bet I still had the better behaved and principled group on screen.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

That was it?

I just finished watching the president's town hall and the after show.  I want my 2 hours back.

The president spent the hour dancing around the tough questions.  I have to give him credit, he is an excellent public speaker.  However, he was all about emotion, hope and change and really not good factual answers on why his actions will make things better.

The follow up show was filled with an interesting array of people.  I was most entertained by the prosecutor sitting next to the cop.  Every hard question or comment brought forward by the cop was either danced around or not addressed at all by the prosecutor.  It took CNN a full hour to get back to actively showing skewed polls, belittling gun supporters and generally carrying the president's banner.  However, Don Lemon took that banner up with gusto.

Overall, it was somewhat entertaining, but not really informative.

The madness officially begins...

The event we have been dreading is now officially moving forward.  Super Bowl 50 is coming to Santa Clara.  When it was announced my family was not amused.  On a good day, traffic in the area sucks.  Santa Clara has never really planned properly for the traffic surrounding the new stadium.  The first events held there were famous for the traffic and parking failures.  Game day, don't event bother driving in the area.  Ridiculous "safety perimeters" are set up around the stadium for a normal game as well.

Now construction has started.  Joy.

The only amusement that I have had out of this event is to see the level of shenanigans that go on surrounding the event.  The city of Santa Clara decided to break the law and sign a contract with the NFL that violates both a previously existing contract and the city's own rules.  The losers?  1600 kids who's soccer fields are being turned into a media village.  Closed door meetings and legal back room decisions, in addition to a ill advised attempt by the city to sell the land to the Forty-Niners organization for pennies on the dollar, have marred event already.  The current lawsuit has not stopped the NFL from destroying the field, but there may be legal issues later.

This event should (theoretically) be a great economic boon for the area.  However, guess where Super Bowl City will be located?  In San Francisco, almost fifty miles away.  Fully half the events are actually happening in San Francisco.  In normal traffic during the week, that is over an hour away.  I found this to be really entertaining, since San Francisco did not bother to build a new stadium to house the team. Another event is planned for Walnut Creek, even farther away.

Homeland Security is shutting down everything withing 300 feet of the stadium for the entire weekend.  So, if you were planning to come into the area during that weekend on Amtrak or CalTrain, you can't get any transportation from the station.  No word on light rail, but I am sure it will be screwed up in some way.  This is also shutting down a local restaurant, which they did contract out for the entire weekend, but unless that is the exclusive watering hole for the media village, they will miss out on serious money.

Most people I know are looking to either get out of town or not leave the house to avoid any of the fiasco we expect.  Some are looking to AirBnB their place during the events to make money.  I wish them good luck.  Me, based on all the BS surrounding this event, I hope El Nino brings lots of rain.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics...

So I watched the president speak at his support party today.  I can't call it anything else since there was wild applause, supporting yells and hoots throughout the speech.  He joked, he played the audience, I was surprised no one held up a lighter or yelled "Freebird!".  He made reference to debunked studies and statistics once again.  I had to laugh when he mentioned Chicago for gun violence, since they have such extensive gun laws and restrictions to go with their high gun violence record.

There was a lot of the speech dedicated to calling up memories of people slain that his executive action would not have saved.  In fact, he admitted it in his speech.  But despite that, he has to do something.  And as such, something results in this executive action.  And really, its about as much as he could do and hope to get away with maybe half of it.  I went to the White House website to look at the actual documentation and found it to be both weak and worrying.

We'll see if he gets the funding approved for the extra ATF agents, but I am willing to bet it'll be approved in return for some other favor.  The FBI will be hiring more people for background check staff and move to 24/7 operation.  Based on the volume the have seen over the last 20 years, I really can't believe that this wasn't done long ago.  And the real loophole that existed, the "Trust, Corporation or Legal Entity" for acquiring NFA listed items (and firearms in general) will be closed by ATF rules.  However, I foresee a lawsuit at some point on that one.  The gun safety research item looks to be a toothless request for reports that will in the end do nothing but waste some interns time.

The items that I see as an issue is the mental health area, because I see a lot of room for abuse of the system.  The last line in the shows that they learned from past battles: "The rulemaking will also provide a mechanism for people to seek relief from the federal prohibition on possessing a firearm for reasons related to mental health."  I worry that this item will be a back burner item, as it appears to be an afterthought and the rest will move forward immediately.

Overall, tho, it looks like a lot of smoke and mirrors.  Creating the illusion of doing something, when it really is only stating that we need to enforce when is already on the books.