Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Fly It Like You Stole It

From Air & Space magazine, a fascinating look at the world of Sage-Popovitch, the airplane repo men.

Repo pilot Kevin Lacey looks and sounds a lot like the Dennis Weaver character from the 1970s TV series “McCloud.” Despite the folksy demeanor, Lacey has a reputation as a somewhat Machiavellian aero-sleuth who always gets his airplane. He thrives on the sport of it: tracking an errant commuter airliner to its gate at a big European airport, then pouncing in the hours just before passengers arrive for an early flight. When he tells you he regrets not sticking around to apologize to inconvenienced fliers, you believe him. But he’s also sorry to miss “the expression on that airline agent’s face when they realized their plane was gone.”

But it doesn't always work out:

When the crew reaches the airliners, the sight they’re greeted with isn’t always pretty. Cut-rate Tower Air kept its wide-body fleet flying by quietly dismantling a trio of 747s leased from GMAC and dispersing the components among its 18 other airplanes. When Tower defaulted, the repo crew arrived to find little more than a shell of GMAC’s collateral. “The fuselages were still there,” Popovich says, “but most of the engines, all the avionics, hydraulic pumps, flight controls, landing gear parts—missing.” As Tower lurched into liquidation, Sage-Popovich rounded up 16 of the carrier’s intact 747s. It was a sweep of jumbos on a global scale. “JFK, Paris, Israel—they were scattered all over the world,” Nick says.
Fascinating read.

[Found thanks to Instapundit. He found it, I'm just sharing.]

Friday, March 26, 2010

Alberta Bound

Here's some Canadian country: Paul Brandt, "Alberta Bound."

Thursday, March 25, 2010

On Marxism

To quote Moe Lane (quote is from this entry):
Marxism is intellectualism for stupid people.*

*How hard is it to farm? I mean, illiterate Copper-age Sumerians who plowed with sticks managed it! And yet those people couldn’t manage to keep an agricultural system running to save their lives. Often literally.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

After the Milwaukee Road - Harlowton, Montana

NBC News
March 23, 1980
Reporting from Harlowton, Montana

Crossposted at The Pacific Slope Extension.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Surrender Cheaply

Jim Treacher, writing at the DC Trawler today:
Bart Stupak bravely stood on principle and opposed the abortion provisions in the bill, right up until the second he didn’t. He ended up voting for it because Obama promised to write him a note. In other news, I just got Bart Stupak to give me two $10’s for a $5.


So, the grand health care plan that spends more money but somehow saves money (yeah, right) passed.

Not happy.

And Scott Matheson (D-UT, UT 2nd Congressional District) should be getting nervous. Yes, he voted against the bill, but only after making sure the party didn't need his vote.

You know how much we rail against RINOs? Take a look at all of those so-called pro-life, or conservative, or centrist Democrats. Not every last one of them, but a heck of a lot of them sold out: John Boccieri, Charlie Wilson, and Steve Driehaus of Ohio. Joe Donnelly and Brad Ellsworth of Indiana. Bart Stupak (more on him in a bit) and Dale Kildee of Michigan. Suzanne Kosmas and Allen Boyd of Florida. Betsy Markey of Colorado. Tom Perriello of Virginia. Earl Pomeroy of North Dakota, Dina Titus of Nevada. All of them touting how centrist they are, or how they have conservative values, or how, no matter how much they march in lockstep with Nancy Pelosi on other issues, they have deep and abiding respect for the unborn.


"Centrist Democrat" is a synonym for a liberal who wants to get reelected in a conservative district.

Mark Steyn is even gloomier.
Happy Dependence Day! [Mark Steyn]

Well, it seems to be in the bag now. I try to be a sunny the-glass-is-one-sixteenth-full kinda guy, but it's hard to overestimate the magnitude of what the Democrats have accomplished. Whatever is in the bill is an intermediate stage: As the graph posted earlier shows, the governmentalization of health care will accelerate, private insurers will no longer be free to be "insurers" in any meaningful sense of that term (ie, evaluators of risk), and once that's clear we'll be on the fast track to Obama's desired destination of single payer as a fait accomplis.

If Barack Obama does nothing else in his term in office, this will make him one of the most consequential presidents in history. It's a huge transformative event in Americans' view of themselves and of the role of government. You can say, oh, well, the polls show most people opposed to it, but, if that mattered, the Dems wouldn't be doing what they're doing. Their bet is that it can't be undone, and that over time, as I've been saying for years now, governmentalized health care not only changes the relationship of the citizen to the state but the very character of the people. As I wrote in NR recently, there's plenty of evidence to support that from Britain, Canada, and elsewhere.

More prosaically, it's also unaffordable. That's why one of the first things that middle-rank powers abandon once they go down this road is a global military capability. If you take the view that the U.S. is an imperialist aggressor, congratulations: You can cease worrying. But, if you think that America has been the ultimate guarantor of the post-war global order, it's less cheery. Five years from now, just as in Canada and Europe two generations ago, we'll be getting used to announcements of defense cuts to prop up the unsustainable costs of big government at home. And, as the superpower retrenches, America's enemies will be quick to scent opportunity.

Longer wait times, fewer doctors, more bureaucracy, massive IRS expansion, explosive debt, the end of the Pax Americana, and global Armageddon. Must try to look on the bright side . . .

Friday, March 19, 2010

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

How To Lose Friends and Allies, Part 14,356

Jim Geraghty, writing today:

We're Playing Hardball with the Wrong Middle Eastern Country Starting With 'I'

Haaretz: "Israel's ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, has told the country's diplomats there that U.S.-Israeli relations face their worst crisis in 35 years." Apparently, we've given the Israelis a bunch of demands.

Hey, I have a tough time believing the Israelis just happened to announce a bunch of new settlements the moment the vice president stepped away from the luggage carousel. But it's not like their diplomatic high-inside fastball wasn't predictable when our government started crowding the plate with an official stance that the Palestinians would be normal, happy, well-adjusted pacifists if it weren't for a couple of new condo projects. We've got beleaguered descendents of Holocaust survivors who have been hearing "we will push you to the sea" for 50 years on one side, and on the other, a culture that has adopted as its national pastime making mentally challenged children wear suicide belts. Yet every president -- okay, not all of them, just the Democratic ones -- seems to think that sending enough retired senators and special envoys over there will garner them a treaty ceremony on the White House lawn and a couple (more) Nobels. Why is everyone reacting as if this diplomatic train wreck wasn't predictable? Obama and Netanyahu don't see eye-to-eye on almost anything; that'll strain the strongest alliance.

...These days we're no better friend to our enemies and no tougher foe to our allies.

Whoever succeeds President Obama, I hope he/she/it has some real foreign policy savvy. Between annoying Britain and Israel, mishandling Japan, and ignoring Canada and Australia, they will spend most of their Presidency trying to repair key relationships.

P.S. If you are not regularly reading and subscribing to Jim Geraghty, how can you call yourself a political junkie with any measure of credibility?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Tornado Season and VORTEX2

As you may have noticed from the links on the right, I'm a bit of a disaster nerd. More accurately, I find the natural processes of earthquakes, volcanoes, tornadoes and severe weather to be awe-inspiring.

Fortunately, people more capable and focused than I are interested in these phenomena, and study them with an eye towards greater understanding and applying that understanding towards minimizing the dangers they pose to people.

I was originally going to talk about the ambitious tornado study VORTEX2 and last year's quiet tornado season.

But tornado season has already started. On Monday, a spate of severe weather dropped two tornadoes on Oklahoma, and the Oklahoma-Texas region has had heavy thunderstorms every day this week.

Andy Gabrielson - SevereStudios.com

Usually the South sees what little activity that comes this early in the year, but initial forecasts predict a busy year for storm chasers.

Which - from a pure research view - is good news. Last year the VORTEX2 team had decidedly rotten luck for nearly a month, finally successfully intercepting a tornado near Goshen, Wyoming, on June 5, 2009. This was cutting things rather fine, as the team could only remain in the field for about a month due to time constraints on many of the participants.

This year, the VORTEX2 team will be taking the field again on May 1st, and remaining out until June 15th. Good hunting, guys.

[May and early June are traditionally the busiest times for tornadoes on the Great Plains.]

For more information:

VORTEX2 (Official site)
Storm Chasers - Discovery TV show; these guys have/will participate in VORTEX2
Weatherwise.com - story on VORTEX2
National Storm Prediction Center
SevereStudios.com - severe weather news
The Big Storm Picture - fantastic weather photography

Friday, March 12, 2010

Halfway Gone

"Halfway Gone", by Lifehouse. I like it.

"Better Living Through Looting"

Missed this earlier this week - from Instapundit:
BETTER LIVING THROUGH LOOTING: Six of the ten richest counties in America are in the D.C area.

Obviously, we should move Congress to Detroit.

When your chief industry is government - well, times are good.

But somebody has to work to pay the taxes that pay those government contracts and payrolls...

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Time of Clarity

March 8, 1983
Address to the National Association of Evangelicals in Orlando, Florida

A particularly salient quote:
It was C.S. Lewis who, in his unforgettable "Screwtape Letters," wrote: "The greatest evil is not done now in those sordid 'dens of crime' that Dickens loved to paint. It is not even done in concentration camps and labor camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried and minuted) in clear, carpeted, warmed, and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voice."

Well, because these "quiet men" do not "raise their voices," because they sometimes speak in soothing tones of brotherhood and peace, because, like other dictators before them, they're always making "their final territorial demand," some would have us accept them at their word and accommodate ourselves to their aggressive impulses. But if history teaches anything, it teaches that simple-minded appeasement or wishful thinking about our adversaries is folly. It means the betrayal of our past, the squandering of our freedom.
Perhaps due to the fact I'm working through Advise and Consent that this passage stands out, but I couldn't help but call it to your attention.

Video from the Reagan Foundation's Youtube channel.

Text from The University of Virginia's Miller Center for Public Affairs.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

An Exaltation of Jay

From Jay Nordlinger's latest Impromptu:
I grinned at this letter, and maybe even some liberals will, too?

Mr. Nordlinger,

A friend and I have been discussing “collectives” — collective nouns — such as a “murder of crows,” a “pod of whales,” and a “bevy of swans.” We have been trying to come up with a collective for liberals. We considered a “cacophony of liberals,” an “arrogance of liberals,” and a “piety of liberals.” Then we thought to keep things simple: What about a “collective of liberals”? What do you think?

I like it, much! By the way, here are a few of my favorite collective nouns: a “passel of hogs”; a “mob of kangaroos”; an “exaltation of larks” (many people’s favorite); a “parliament of owls”; a “conspiracy of ravens”; and a “party of jays.”

After the Tyrant

Michael Totten has an excellent essay on the modern Romania, twenty years after the fall of Ceausescu.

It's a fascinating read.

A sample:

A few blocks from the old city is Romania's parliament—the second largest building in the world after the Pentagon.

When it was still under construction before he died, Ceausescu called it the "Palace of the People," though ordinary people would never have been allowed to set foot in it. The apartments lining the main boulevard in front belonged to high-level officers of the repressive Securitate. Even today that boulevard looks like an intimidating Champs-Elysees of a totalitarian state, and it's so monstrous in scale that it can only really be photographed from the air...

..."What do you think of this building?" Olivia asked me. She seemed to think I loved it since I took so many pictures. It was certainly more pleasant to look at on the inside than on the outside.

"It's impressive in some ways," I said, "but it's also—well, it's big."

"We hate it," she said. "So much of the city was destroyed to make room for it. And it constantly reminds us of him."

Friday, March 05, 2010