Open Thread – 16 July, 2013

No more Zimmerman for awhile.  You all get too abusive over something that should be a matter for debate, not for name calling.  pl 

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61 Responses to Open Thread – 16 July, 2013

  1. Lamoe2012 says:

    I first have to admit I have not read any of the afore mentioned comments. It’s a shame that people cannot have a civilized discussion about the events of the day.

  2. Alba Etie says:

    Col Lang
    Exactly this is extremely divisive and emotional topic – this Zimmerman trial .
    But since it is an open thread I am happy to report that we have had a lovely slow soaking rain event here in Central Texas – the last thirty six hours with more precipitation predicted .We averaged thirty inches of rain annually here – but the last eleven years of drought we have had yearly totals averaging only eighteen inches . So we are Blessed these last two days -with some local areas getting as much as four inches of rain. There may even be enough rise on the Pedernales River to cause me to break out the catfishing jugs – plenty of big grasshoppers for bait . Makes me think of that classic ‘Greensleeves “..

  3. Tyler says:

    Wife is due on the 21st, and I’m hoping to close on a house by the end of the month. Any advice for either?

  4. eakens says:

    Just in time. I was beginning to forget about Edward Snowden

  5. Jackie says:

    Thanks for closing the subject!

  6. Fred says:

    i recently obtained a copy of “From the Holy Mountain” by William Dalrymple. I started reading yesterday and was up ’til 2am. It is quite a moving yet humbling read. I’ll probably be up late again tonight.

  7. toto says:

    Is it too late for Bastille Day celebration? I thought the Colonel might appreciate this fine example of Gallic performance.

  8. The Twisted Genius says:

    Read a happy piece of local news yesterday. The Central Virginia Battlefields Trust placed a 12 pounder Napoleon at Pelham’s Corner in Fredericksburg. If you aren’t familiar with the story of “the gallant Pelham,” You should read more. He set an example worthy of emulation.

  9. Wondering how the Susan Rice and Samantha Powers appointments progressing? Do either have capability in any foreign languages?

  10. Any progress on the Senate taking action against Clapper?

  11. FB Ali says:

    For anyone still interested in the Afghanistan situation I would recommend two articles by Dr Anatol Lieven, far and away the top Western ‘expert’ on the region:

  12. Tyler,
    I hope you have some leave saved up. With these two major events about to hit, you will not have the time to do everything that you feel you must do. Just realize this and do what you can. If family offers to help, accept it. If friends offer, accept that too. Just breath and enjoy the ride. Congratulations.

  13. I heard that France invited troops from Mali and other African allies in their latest adventure to march in Paris with them. “Vive la mort, vive la guerre, vive le sacré Légionnaire!”

  14. Jose says:

    Patience and a Lawyer…lol
    Also, enjoy your last days of sleep…
    Best of Luck!!!

  15. YT says:

    Congrats to you on becoming a Dad.

  16. MartinJ says:

    An excellent book. I read it many years ago and was struck by the fluidity of holy places in Syria between sects – Muslims visiting Christian churches for blessings. Sadly this is a landscape that is all but destroyed, psychologically if not (yet) physically.

  17. r whitman says:

    bring money. its the American thing to do. Every man should have a big mortgage, it means he has to get up in the morning!!

  18. jonst says:

    Without getting overly consumed with it…make sure you have clear title on the house you are buying. And adequate–not less, not more–insurance in case a title issue arises in the future. And depending how long you plan to be in the house…factor in the value of the house–expected-20 or so years out, as the right amount of insurance. The MERS issue–a crime if ever there was one–has muddied the waters on title issues in real estate. A bit…
    For those of you, not familiar with the MERS issue..and gluttons for punishment–here are good resources on it.
    The White Paper is first source material. Exceptional, from a legal perspective, I would argue. But a lot of reading, true.
    As to becoming a Dad…just, congratulations!

  19. Alba Etie says:

    Patience is a virtue . And big congratulations on both life improving events !

  20. no one says:

    Congrats, Tyler.
    jonst, AZ is a title insurance state. You must have title insurance to close the deal and the title insurance company usually serves as the escrow company as well. It’s a really nice one stop shopping arrangement that, IMO, works out best for everyone.
    The way they do things back east is a primitive mess in comparison.

  21. Matthew says:

    Tyler: After my son was born, my wife subtlely “demoted” me. You suddenly have to share your wife’s time with someone new. It’s wonderful; nevertheless, it’s a big change.

  22. Charles I says:

    Congratulations, get all the sleep you can now.
    Read what you sign, and put down the most you can.
    New child and house – breathe deeply, often, and remember that most bitter shit that happens just happens and it is not about you.
    Be safe – that is about you.
    Calm blue ocean, may your gods bless you and yours.

  23. Matthew says:

    Jackie: I’m reading “Triange” the story of the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. So many similiaries–and arguments–then as now.

  24. Fred says:

    Cloth diapers, because you know one day you’ll run out of the other kind.

  25. SECDEF has announced 20% reduction in the Flag Ranks and Senior Civilian SES’s over next 6 years!

  26. jonst says:

    Yup No One, I know that….but I still urge people to read the fine print of the policy…or have a lawyer one trusts (not an easy thing these days) and pay the lawyer to read it. And then request the lawyer opine on the adequacy of the policy. In writing.

  27. steve g says:

    How about that heat wave just about everyone
    is experiencing? Heard the last ten years were
    hottest on record. We up nort Yanquis are
    witness to Florida, Texas style heat. Had
    9 inches of rain the last 3 weeks now the drought
    cycle again? Maybe Col.Lang could recommend a
    hardy short season tobacco type so we can grow
    our own as the guvment has raised taxes ala
    Canada on those products. I dont personally smoke
    but could see people that do grow their own.
    I believe back in the Revolutionary era they grew
    it as far north as New York and Conn still might.

  28. shepherd says:

    Congrats. I did both at the same time a few years ago. My mistake was that I didn’t let things slide with fixing up the house as much as I should have. And if you do have to work on the house, never do so during naptime. I once dropped an aluminum ladder outside the baby’s room just after my wife has finally gotten her to sleep. Wasn’t pretty. Best of luck.

  29. Fred says:

    Pelham was a brave man. It’s good to see Virginia isn’t forgetting her history. As to the cannon, I see they sell to private buyers. I wonder if I could at least get a loan for the back yard for the summer. I don’t know if it would be good for keeping the Yankees away, but it would sure irritate the liberal next door.

  30. Fred says:

    Great news from down under (not)
    Nice to be required to conform to computer programming. What’s the calibration accuracy on speedometers; or speed radar for that matter?

  31. optimax says:

    Congratulations, Tyler. Big changes on the way. enjoy them all.

  32. Fred says:

    Definitely a moving story. I can only imagine what these communities look like now.

  33. Fred says:

    More news from the ‘drone’ world.
    A remote controlled F-4 that can self destruct? If memory serves that stretch of Rt 98 isn’t part of a bomb range. There are certainly some beautiful beaches along it though and great scalloping/fishing off shore this time of year.

  34. Here are excerpts from a speech entitled “The President and the Press: Address before the American Newspaper Publishers Association”, given by US President John F. Kennedy at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City, April 27, 1961.
    “Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen:
    “Tonight, I want to talk about our common responsibilities in the face of a common danger. The events of recent weeks may have helped to illuminate that challenge for some; but the dimensions of its threat have loomed large on the horizon for many years. Whatever our hopes may be for the future — for reducing this threat or living with it — there is no escaping either the gravity or the totality of its challenge to our survival and to our security — a challenge that confronts us in unaccustomed ways in every sphere of human activity.
    “The very word ‘secrecy’ is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths and to secret proceedings. We decided long ago that the dangers of excessive and unwarranted concealment of pertinent facts far outweighed the dangers which are cited to justify it. Even today, there is little value in opposing the threat of a closed society by imitating its arbitrary restrictions. Even today, there is little value in insuring the survival of our nation if our traditions do not survive with it. And there is very grave danger that an announced need for increased security will be seized upon by those anxious to expand its meaning to the very limits of official censorship and concealment. That I do not intend to permit to the extent that it is in my control. And no official of my Administration, whether his rank is high or low, civilian or military, should interpret my words here tonight as an excuse to censor the news, to stifle dissent, to cover up our mistakes or to withhold from the press and the public the facts they deserve to know.
    “Today no war has been declared — and however fierce the struggle may be, it may never be declared in the traditional fashion. Our way of life is under attack. Those who make themselves our enemy are advancing around the globe. The survival of our friends is in danger. (…)
    “For we are opposed around the world by a monolithic and ruthless conspiracy that relies primarily on covert means for expanding its sphere of influence — on infiltration instead of invasion, on subversion instead of elections, on intimidation instead of free choice, on guerrillas by night instead of armies by day. It is a system which has conscripted vast human and material resources into the building of a tightly knit, highly efficient machine that combines military, diplomatic, intelligence, economic, scientific and political operations.
    “Its preparations are concealed, not published. Its mistakes are buried, not headlined. Its dissenters are silenced, not praised. No expenditure is questioned, no rumor is printed, no secret is revealed. It conducts the Cold War, in short, with a war-time discipline no democracy would ever hope or wish to match. (…)
    “It is the unprecedented nature of this challenge that also gives rise to your second obligation — an obligation which I share. And that is our obligation to inform and alert the American people — to make certain that they possess all the facts that they need, and understand them as well — the perils, the prospects, the purposes of our program and the choices that we face.
    “Without debate, without criticism, no Administration and no country can succeed — and no republic can survive. That is why the Athenian lawmaker Solon decreed it a crime for any citizen to shrink from controversy. And that is why our press was protected by the First Amendment — the only business in America specifically protected by the Constitution — not primarily to amuse and entertain, not to emphasize the trivial and the sentimental, not to simply ‘give the public what it wants’ — but to inform, to arouse, to reflect, to state our dangers and our opportunities, to indicate our crises and our choices, to lead, mold, educate and sometimes even anger public opinion.
    “This means greater coverage and analysis of international news — for it is no longer far away and foreign but close at hand and local. It means greater attention to improved understanding of the news as well as improved transmission. And it means, finally, that government at all levels, must meet its obligation to provide you with the fullest possible information outside the narrowest limits of national security — and we intend to do it.”
    John Fitzgerald Kennedy

  35. Tyler says:

    Thank you all for your advice and well wishes. I will try to live up to the expectations this tiny baby has for me as a father, and will certainly take everything you’ve said to heart.

  36. Tyler says:

    McCain can find the time to push through Obama’s insanely leftist nominees, but refuses to accept the nomination of GEN Dempsey because he won’t agree with Judas McCain who thinks we should invade Syria.

  37. Cosmoskitten says:

    I have to concur hearthily with jonst. MERS, among other financial things, is a total mess. Barry Ritholtz has written quite a lot about it.
    Hernando de Soto, a Peruvian economist, has written about the failure of record keeping in under developed countries, and how it affects peoples ability to lend capital.
    You can find a nice law review at
    The short version: Keep very careful track of your papers and transactions. Trusting your bank is foolish.
    The truth shall set us free.

  38. Tyler! Assuming that in January 2015 the US Senate has a Republican Majority McCain will hold at least one Committee chair. WOW!

  39. Cronin says:

    Steve G –
    The Connecticut River Valley is still home to some pretty significant tobacco farms. My high school English teacher grew up in Deerfield, Mass., and worked every summer in the tobacco barns as a teenager. However, it won’t grow anywhere else in New England on a large scale — only the Connecticut Valley has the right combination of soil and climate. But I wouldn’t be surprised to see tobacco cultivation start moving north into New Hampshire and Vermont parts of the valley as the climate gets hotter.
    Speaking of which, I’d take five or more blizzards in a row over even a few days of this heat. This is insane. My Swamp Yankee compatriots and I wilt in this stuff. Time to find a deep kettle pond, or maybe head over to Brant Rock where the Gulf of Maine’s nice and cold.

  40. Fred says:

    Surprise, surprise:
    Retirees in Detroit are about to get shafted. Mr. Orr was one of Obama’s fundraisers.
    Top unsecured creditors and where that obligation goes:
    Pensions, $5 billion. That’s out of a ‘debt’ of 18 billion. Translation, we have a proglem that was spun into a ‘crisis’ by bundling pension obligations into the term ‘debt’ thus creating a reason for CH-9 bankruptcy. The City of Detroit’s pension plan is in better shape than the State of Michigan’s, but you wouldn’t know that from what’b being reported in the press.
    On another note the Downtown Development Authority is proposing $167 million in public funding for billionaire Mike Illich to build a new hockey arena while at the same time being # 14 on the unsecured debitor list with $33.6 million. Just why a billionaire needs a $167 million of Detroit’s money when pensioners are about to get shafted is beyond me.
    On a bright note Egypt is still getting $1.7 billion and Israel $3 billion. Who says the President and Congress can’t work together. Way to go with the bi-partisan support.

  41. The US Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit has ruled against Reporter James Risen of the NY Times and denied any reporter or press privilege when a leak to the reporter was the subject of criminal charges against the leaker. A three judge opinion it could still be reheard En Banc by the 4th Ciruit of

  42. Continued Comment: IMO if the decision stands the USA will have had its Judiciary adopt an Official Secrets Act through enactment by the Courts.
    I had posted a comment previously with extracts from a JFK speech in anticipation of release of the opinion.

  43. The Twisted Genius says:

    As a transplanted Yankee, I share your preference for five blizzards over this oppressive heat and humidity. My wife’s friend in Saratoga was complaining about the heat adding that my wife must be used to it down in Virginia. My wife was quick to tell her that she will never get used to this heat.
    That Connecticut shade tobacco was a great source of pride when I was growing up there. It was grown under cotton cover to provide a filtered light and a warmer and more humid climate. Used for cigar wrappers, I believe many Cuban cigar makers often boasted of their fine Connecticut shade tobacco wrappers.
    You’re right about the quality of Connecticut Valley soil. It’s good stuff. Of course I’m sure you can vouch for the rest of the soil in New England being especially suited for growing rocks. I’ve picked truckloads out of fields as a youth. You cannot get rid of them. I’m still amazed by the garden centers here in Virginia selling rocks.

  44. The Twisted Genius says:

    That Steen Cannons definitely does some quality work. They also made two three inch ordnance rifles for the new Stafford Civil War Park. They’re also expensive. If you and your friends are handy, you might want to try your hand at building your own mountain howitzer.

  45. Tyler says:

    He won’t hold it for long. He’s polling pretty low here in AZ IIRC.

  46. Fred says:

    I may just try that one, though I”m not sure how I’ll live down having to shoot a deer with artillery.

  47. kao_hsien-chih says:

    Belated, but as hearty congratulations as all others on both counts!

  48. Charles I says:

    God Bless Helen Thomas. Rest in Peace.

  49. David Habakkuk says:

    Belated congratulations. I hope sleeplessness does not prevent you from commenting!

  50. Alba Etie says:

    Did you see that the Michigan state judge stopped the Detroit backruptcy filing – says that the emergency manager law that Orr operates under is unconstitutional .

  51. Helen Thomas was a fearless but biased reporter IMO

  52. turcopolier says:

    Helen Thomas was an American of Arab descent. Yes, she was biased about the Israel/Palestine issue. She was a biased as the people on the other side of the issue. At the same time it was just silly to say that Israeli Jews should return to wherever their ancestors came from. Do you think you should go to wherever your ancestors came from? pl

  53. Thanks for agreeing with me PL!
    My primary ancestry Polish, Welsh, Scottish! So a rather typical American mutt. First William Cumming arrived at age 17 in Halifax Nova Scotia in 1797! On the run if legend serves.

  54. steve g says:

    Cronin and TTG
    A 1961 movie called “Parrish” about
    the Connecticut Valley valley tabacco
    growers has quite the all star cast.
    Troy Donahue, Stella Stevens, Karl
    Malden, Dean Jagger and even Claudette
    Colbert. Saw it a couple of years ago
    on cable. Had all the intrigue elements
    of one grower that wants to drive out all
    the smaller ones. The trials and tribu-
    lations of weather and climate were well
    represented. Excellent plot and casting.

  55. confusedponderer says:

    Reuteers reports: “Islamist-Kurdish fighting spreads in rebel-held Syria”
    “The new round of fighting broke out in Tel Abyad, a border town near Turkey in the rebel-held Raqqa province. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said clashes began after Kurdish militias in the area discovered fighters from an al Qaeda-linked rebel group trying to rig one of their bases with explosives.
    The Kurds retaliated by kidnapping several fighters, including the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham, one of the most powerful Qaeda-affiliated forces fighting in Syria.”
    Never mind the “Syrian Observatory for Human Rights “, which is iirc a guy in his living room in London – it is in the larger context a rather predictable result, considering that for Islamists their particular brand of Islam comes first, and nations and nation states mean nothing in face of that. It was quite illustrative that Hamas was criticised by Al Qaeda for putting Palestine before Islam. Speaks volumes about their priorities.
    I wonder, didn’t Turkey’s Erdogan pursue reconciliation with the Kurds based on religion? Apparently there are things and interests appeals to Islam cannot overcome. Assad made the Kurds a much better offer when he promised them regional autonomy.
    Considering the latent racism I have observed in Turks and Arabs, the Kurds must be acutely ware that they are ‘just Kurds’, and ethnically different (in this context, regarded as inferior by Arabs and Turks).
    I always get confused looks when I tell about how in Mexico, the cheap buses I rode on didn’t stop for indigenas. Ethnicity and the colour of skin matter, for what’s it worth.

  56. optimax says:

    This is my theory on the cause of the Lac-Megantic train disaster that killed over 60 people.
    At about 23:00 on 5 July 2013, the train stopped at Nantes, Quebec.
    At 23:50, the fire was reported to the rail traffic controller.
    At about midnight, the engine was shut down, and the fire was extinguished.(Other timelines say 00:15)
    An MMA employee arrived on site to assist the fire department.
    At approximately 00:56 on 6 July 2013, the train started to move, after the fire department and MMA had left.
    Runaway train
    The train rolled down the approximately 1.2% grade into the center of Lac-Mégantic.
    The train derailed at approximately 01:14 on 6 July 2013.
    The locomotives detached from the rest of the train and stopped 1 km past the yard.
    There were no signals or track circuits, so the rail traffic controller would have no indication of a runaway train.
    I am going to assume engineer Harding followed MMA work practices when he secured the train on the mainline and that the firemen correctly shut down the lead engine when called to put out the fire and that sabotage was not a factor. It is my belief the accident was a result of unsafe MMA work practices and that the fire caused the air brakes to release on the train, sending it into Lac-Megantic at 63 mph on 10 mph track.
    Harding said he tied 11 handbrakes on the train which The CEO of MMA’s parent company considered sufficient to keep the train from rolling away on a 1.2 % grade is obvious by the fact he is quoted as saying the engineer didn’t tie all 11 brakes. On the Union Pacific, a train of 5000 to 6000 ft. (the Lac-Megantic train was just over 5000 ft.) parked unattended on a 1.25 % grade requires a minimum of 15 handbrakes, and most conductors would have tied another 5 brakes. This train did not have a conductor; it was a one-man crew. I don’t know if the reduced crew size contributed to the accident.
    Burkhardt also is quoted in many news articles saying that the firemen shutting down the lead engine released the air-brakes. Of course, the newspapers take his word as gospel. The fact is that’s bull. A train’s air-brakes are fail-safe. Train brakes stay released when the air pressure in the train line and each cars auxiliary reservoir is equal, 90 psi for freight trains and 110 psi for passenger. A reduction of train line air pressure applies the brakes. That way if a train line is compromised, say the train breaks in two, the train is stopped by an emergency brake application (big hole). It has been that way since George Westinghouse invented the triple-valve in 1872. An engine must be running for the air compressor to pump air into the train line to increase the pressure for the brakes to release. So shutting down the engine could not have released the train’s air brakes.
    Here is a link to a simple to understand Popular Science, 1951, article on train air-brakes. There have been some improvements in design since ’51—freight train air pressure is now 90 psi instead of 70 psi and the engineer’s brake-valve lever no longer needs to be placed in lap to maintain constant train line air pressure during a service reduction–but the principle remains the same. Article starts on page 44.
    The trains air brakes had to release for the train to run away. My theory is the fire heated the air in train line, raising its air pressure 20 psi, or higher, causing the brakes to release. The rules stipulate the engineer, when parking a train, set the air brakes with a 20 pound reduction, leaving 70 psi in the train line. The train line is metal and rubber. The fire could have melted the part of the air hose, sealing it so the air couldn’t escape through brake-valve on the lead engine, the heated air expanding as it crawled like a ghost through the length of the train line, releasing all or enough of the brakes to send it into Lac-Megantic.
    A witness saw the train start to move about five minutes after the firemen left and thought it strange the engine lights were off. I’m wondering if vibrations from the fire truck could have set off mini waves of oil in the tank cars, sloshing the liquid around and contributing to the initial movement. He didn’t say the train was traveling fast, which would have been the case on a 1.2% grade if there had been no handbrakes. Another witness leaving a bar in town saw the train barreling into town at 63 mph, the wheels smoking. The smoking wheels also show there were handbrakes on the head end of the train.
    What could have prevented the train from running away?
    A portable derail in front the train would have sent a couple of engines into the dirt but stopped the train from rolling further downhill. Unfortunately, a train was parked in the siding next to the mainline where Harding left his train, so he couldn’t park his train there. The siding most likely had a split-rail derail, which is more dependable than a portable one.
    Disconnecting the air hose from the end-of-train device and opening the angle cock on the rear of the train would have depleted all the air from the train line, keeping the heated air from building up enough psi to recharge the brakes.
    Here’s a wiki article on the derailment. The part about the air is wrong.
    Ex-employee talks about how unsafe the MMA is.
    I just read one article that the Canadian safety inspectors found contradictions in the engine’s event recorder. This “black box” records the position of its controls, brake levers and throttle, and the train lines air pressure. Even though the inspectors report won’t come out for months, this shows my theory is plausible: the engine controls would have been properly set but the air pressure would still have managed to increase enough to release the air brakes. These are circumstances the rule book never considered.

  57. confusedponderer says:

    Turkey won’t tolerate Kurdish autonomy in Syria
    “Turkey’s deputy prime minister says his country supports Syria’s territorial integrity and won’t tolerate the creation of a “de facto” Syrian Kurdish entity on its frontiers.
    Speaking to reporters Monday, Bulent Arinc would not spell out what Turkey would do prevent any such entity from coming about but said it would act carefully and in a cool-headed manner.
    Authorities here have been concerned over Syrian Kurdish militants’ recent strengthening of power in areas bordering Turkey.
    The concerns have been heightened by reports that Kurds in Syria are preparing to form an autonomous region in those areas.
    Last week, a Syrian Kurdish group — affiliated with Turkey’s own autonomy-seeking Kurdish rebels — took control of a town on the border with Turkey after fighting radical Islamic groups.
    Now that’d be a reason for Turkey to war against Assad all by itself. In light of such statements, was Erdogan’s engagement of the Kurds through appeals to the common religion just a way to placate them?

  58. Fred says:

    Darrel Issa, out to screw Americans one more time. Maybe he should figure out the postal service could save 1/4 billion by not taking images of every letter mailed.

  59. Fred says:

    I thought air brakes were a fail safe, i.e. lose air pressure and the brakes are applied, rather than needing air to keep the brakes working?

  60. optimax says:

    They are fail-safe. I pointed that out in the comment, and the Popular Science article is very clear. A reduction in the train line air pressure causes the slide-valve (triple-valve) to move to one side and forces the air from the auxiliary reservoir, which maintains a higher air pressure, into the brake cylinder, shoving a piston out that forces the brake shoes against the wheel. The diagrams on the PS article are easy to understand.
    To set up the brakes the engineer reduces the air in the train line by venting the air in the train line with a control valve. If the continuity of the train line is compromised, say the train comes apart, the brakes automatically apply on all the rail cars because the air pressure in the train line is zero.
    My theory is the trains brakes released because the fire heated the air in the train line, and expanding air increased the air pressure in the train line.
    Increase in train line psi releases brakes. Decrease in train line psi applies brakes.

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