We’ve been having some clouds, which is nice in that it keeps the heat down to below 110F, and gives us lovely sunsets. The only drawback is we can’t see the Bethlehem star tonight.

Sunset (1)Sunset (2)Sunset (3)Sunset (4)Sunset (5)Sunset (6)

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Daily Dose of Splodey- Gettysburg Edition

On this day, July 3, in 2000, the 137th anniversary of the end of the bloodiest battle of the Civil War, CDI brought down the National Tower.

Notice the interesting interleaving rod construction of the tower, reminiscent of US battleships fighting tops during the inter-war era.


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“Let Facts be Submitted to a Candid World”

But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security… To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

When one thinks of our wide-open borders, and the IRS, EPA, and Justice Department being weaponized to persecute political opposition extralegally, Obamacare, the Drone Memo, the race-baiting agitation engendered, the massive numbers of apparatchik “czars” having been appointed, the militarization of law enforcement, the violation of our 4th Amendment rights by NSA and FBI, and (if one substitutes “Muslim extremist” for “Indian”) the influx into our cities and towns of violent men who are sworn enemies of our country and our people, the above text resonates quite loudly even when the Obama Administration replaces that of Mad King George.  Unfit ruler of a free people, indeed.  No coincidence that the demand for political correctness has destroyed that candid world.



Germany: WW2 Panther tank seized from pensioner’s cellar – BBC News

Police in northern Germany have seized a World War Two tank which was being kept in a pensioner’s cellar.

The Panther tank was removed from the 78-year-old’s house in the town of Heikendorf, along with a variety of other military equipment, including a torpedo and an anti-aircraft gun, Der Tagesspiegel website reports. It wasn’t an easy job to get it all out – the army had to be called in with modern-day tanks to haul the Panther from its cellar. It took about 20 soldiers almost nine hours to extract the tank – which was without its tracks – and push it onto a low-loader, the report says. As the surreal scene unfolded, local residents gathered at the end of the driveway to watch.

Prosecutors in the nearby city of Kiel are investigating whether the man’s military collection violates Germany’s War Weapons Control Act. But his lawyer says the weapons are no longer functional, therefore shouldn’t be restricted.

via Germany: WW2 Panther tank seized from pensioner’s cellar – BBC News.

Damn busybodies always sticking their noses into other people’s business.

Look, if it took 9 hours to get it out of there, it probably wasn’t causing the neighbors too much trouble.



Confederate Flag “Controversy”

I’ve said a bit about the Confederate Flag bullsh…err “controversy” but nothing I could ever pen can match the pen of Hizzoner. Turns out our man Lex was years ahead of his time about this too and because you cared enough to start reading this Imma let him do it: 

Neptunus Lex: The Civil War

By lex, on April 18th 2010
I grew up in Virginia , as some of you may know, and only really had my first exposure to New Yorkers in situ as a member of the Naval Academy fencing team. New York City was and probably still is the center of the U.S. fencing, with top notch universities such as NYU and Columbia contributing talent to such elite schools as the New York Fencing Club and New York Athletic Club. I hadn’t formed much of a opinion about New Yorkers until I firsts traveled up there and saw first hand the press and scrum of teeming millions.
I learned that they had already formed an opinion of me.
Where are you from, a national champion asked me as we were cooling down over beer and pizza at a local tavern, and when I told them he continued,”Are you a bigot?”
There’s a lot of that sort of examined thinking going on, as well as some perhaps unintentional psychological insights in Frank Rich’s latest screed in the New York Times: “Welcome to Confederate History Month.”
In “Race and Reunion,” the definitive study of Civil War revisionism, the historian David W. Blight documents the long trajectory of the insidious campaign to erase slavery from the war’s history and reconfigure the lost Southern cause as a noble battle for states’ rights against an oppressive federal government. In its very first editorial upon resuming publication in postwar 1865, The Richmond Dispatch characterized the Civil War as a struggle for the South’s “sense of right under the Constitution.” The editorial contained “not a single mention of slavery or black freedom,” Blight writes. That evasion would be a critical fixture of the myth-making to follow ever since.”
Slavery was indeed a national birth stain, and the effort to erase it cost hundreds of thousands of valiant lives in both sides of the Mason Dixon line. But just like the hardscrabble abolitionists of yore, modern northerners presume a sort of actionable moral and cultural superiority over the southern cousins. They do so while maintaining a deliberately blind eye to the kind of historical abuses of labor in northern factory towns and city ghettos that would have made an overseer blush for shame. They do so while eliding crosses burnt in Boston or the cracked skulls in Queens. It makes them feel good about themselves, even as they extend the smothering hand of well-intentioned government over the lives of individual people.
In the post-civil rights era, modern liberals tended to think of southerners – when they bothered to think about them at all – as crackers, hicks, and most of all racists. This is a useful exercise for the northern liberal; When you’ve presumed I’ll will on the part of an opponent, you are free to do whatever is necessary to complete his destruction, and do so with a clear conscience. Liberals prefer to sort southerners into one of two classes, victims and oppressors, the first to be made into dependents and the second to be demonized.
And they say southerners lack nuance.
Ronald Reagan changed the American politics landscape fundamentally back in 80s, as an admirer with a fundamentally different vision of what the US should be admits. He did so partly with a “Southern Strategy” that turned Yellow Dog Democrats into Republican voters. Rich, and many of his fellow travelers, continue to despise southern yokels who “vote against their self interest” by declining to graciously accept their government handouts and shut the hell up, leaving their betters to decide precisely how much of the bread wrung from the sweat of their brows they may be allowed to keep.
Thus, in line with the whole thrust of human history – at least until we began our national experiment in personal liberty – does one tyranny exchange itself for another.
To deny that slavery played a part in our Civil War would be to engage in denial for its own sake. But the slave owning class was never more than about 10% of a population disadvantaged region that sent at least a million of their 9 million citizens to war in order to preserve pre-negotiated rights. Some 15% of these men died in battle or through disease, another 30,000 died as federal prisoners and their survivors left no more than 150,000 on the field to surrender after Appomattox.
There was always more to the south than slavery – or racism, for that matter – and there is much more still, no matter the dyspepsia it might cause people like Frank Rich to see it in action. There is faith. There was and is a deep and abiding affection for the land, a sentiment that must puzzle those living in rent controlled apartments. There are traditions of gentility and manners that mystify on city dwellers who don’t want to see: Well bred teenagers still say “yes ma’am ” to an octogenarian waitress. There is also a fierce independence that harkens back to an earlier rebellion and a tradition of martial valor that remains to this day. One of my favorite bumper stickers as a young man was the one which said, “We don’t care how you do it up North.” And we didn’t. You go your way, leave ours to us.

And go in peace.
Faulkner wrote of the south that “The past isn’t dead. It isn’t even in the past.” The northerners I fenced against used me to chide me that we in the south had never given up fighting the Civil War.
Neither, it turns out, have they.

Pretty much somes up my 2 cents about the thing.

I grew up in what could be called “southern” Illinois. Being bi-racial myself, I hadn’t really experienced what could be called “racism.” Which isn’t to say it didn’t exist, my sister on the other hand (because she looks darker skinned) was once called a “nigger” by another student after school. We were shocked and upon confronting the kid and parent at school, in the principals office, the parent had simply said that his son used the wrong slur.

I’ll never know what that experience meant to may sis but that has stayed with me since. 

Now, having lived in the morgen part of the state, the more “Liberal” and “progressive” for quite a while, I’ve noticed the same attitude they have against those from the south that Lex wrote about those 5 years ago.

Not really familiar with Civil War history I’m not quite sure what the Confederate Flag means. Hell, that’s not even the issue I see. Some northern a still have a bigoted view towards those south of the Mason-Dixon and that’s what the whole “controversy” is about.

On the his side, Lex is absolutely right. Based on manners etc I know when I’m in the south. Everyone is very very polite. Coming back on a flight back to Chicago last year I knew I was on the correct flight because one of my fellow passengers treated the flight crew with arrogant disdain. The FA had asked him to put his laptop away and his retort was “it isn’t a laptop is an iPad.”

“Really dude? Put your damn iPad away”


Indeed, Northers are the ones still fighting the Civil War



The Confederate Battle Flag

Craig asked me what I thought about the current brouhaha over the Confederate Battle Flag flying over Charleston, and whether it should be taken down.

I am, thanks be to God, a Virginian by birth.  And I am the child of parents from the Deep South. In spite of being mostly raised out west, I am, and always will be, a Southerner.

I have, in the past, had memorabilia with the iconic Confederate flag.  As one of Craig’s commenters noted on Craig’s post on the issue, it used to be, to most of us, the flag simply represented that something was Southern. But like so much else in our culture today, it has become politicized. And I am not the most empathetic person in the world, but I can see where many Americans see the flag as still symbolizing slavery and oppression. So, I’m not displeased that Governor Haley of South Carolina has asked the state legislature to debate whether that particular flag should be taken down.

Like Craig, my flag is the flag of the United States of America. I feel pride every time I see it, and I see it often.


But we’ve entered a period of fundamental unseriousness in our country. The current furor over the Confederate flag is in fact, a reaction to the shooting of black Christians by a deeply disturbed young man, which had no reference whatsoever to the Confederate flag. Nothing at all. And yet, a sudden moral panic thrust a decidedly tertiary issue to the forefront of the national consciousness.

We see now people rushing to hide any evidence that the Confederate flag ever existed. National Parks removing the flag from Fort Sumter; TV Land pulling the Dukes of Hazzard from their lineup because the General Lee had the flag emblazoned on its roof; Amazon pulling products from their site.

Those knee jerk reactions to a tiny number of screeching voices are one thing. But the smug superiority of so many who pronounce that their instantaneous adoption of the position that the battle flag must be banished irks me. Those who take a position that is, at its heart, not terribly important at all, and then claim that it gives them some superiority over any and all that do not immediately proclaim their like-mindedness  is simply a tactic to shout down any rational discussion. It is an assault on our usual national tradition of reasoned debate on the issues of the day.

And while I hold no great fondness for the Confederate flag, I deeply despise being told by moral scolds that I may not fly it under peril of being deemed a racist, especially by people who have no idea what prejudices and biases I may or may not have in my heart.



About that F-35 vs. F-16 dogfight…

The interwebs and Facebook exploded this week with the latest revelation that the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is a dog that can’t dogfight.

David Axe’s post has set off a firestorm of criticism over the inability of the F-35 to outperform the 40 year old F-16. Everyone who has access to the internet is up in arms over this horrible failure.

But here’s the thing. The JSF is not really a fighter. Or rather, the emphasis is on strike, more than on fighter. It’s a bomb truck. It does also have a robust air to air capability, but that role is somewhat secondary to its ability to attack ground targets.

The F-16 was conceived during the last years of the Vietnam war, and designed immediately following it. COL John Boyd’s Energy/Maneuverability Theory had a very large impact on its configuration. The ability of outmaneuver potential Soviet threat aircraft was the paramount concern of the design. And the aircraft had to be able to outmaneuver because of the limitations of the armament of the day. To wit, the plane John Boyd and the Fighter Mafia wanted was to be dirt simple, with only the most crude radar for cueing weapons, and armed only with a pair of AIM-9P Sidewinder short range missiles, and the M61 Vulcan 20mm cannon.

The other jet fighter the Air Force was buying at that time, the F-15 Eagle, took a completely different approach, with the biggest radar they could stuff into a fighter sized jet, and a whopping 8 air to air missiles, four of the big AIM-7 Sparrows (the primary armament) and four Sidewinders, as well as a gun.  The Eagle also was built with the E/M theory very much in mind, but primarily saw itself as a beyond visual range fighter, picking off Soviet MiG-21s and MiG-23s before they could even return fire.

The anti-F-35 camp (the loudest members of which are probably David Axe, Eric L. Palmer, and Pierre Sprey*) insist that any fighter simply must follow the E/M theory, or it is utterly worthless.

The problem is, E/M theory isn’t applicable to just airplanes. Turns out, it applies pretty well to air to air missiles also. And whereas a manned airplane can’t really go much above 9G without harming the meatware, missiles have no problem pulling 60G or more.  Building agility (high G capability) into an airplane involves tradeoffs. The structure has to weigh more or it will crack sooner, and conversely, intense efforts at weight reduction have to be implemented, as weight factors strongly into the equation. Having reached an effective plateau of about 9Gs, it simply makes more sense to concentrate on enhancing the maneuverability of the weapon, not the airplane.

Furthermore, it should be noted, there’s quite a few people pushing back against Axe’s sensationalistic piece. Far from being the true test that shows once and for all the F-35 is a POS, it was in fact, a first look, aimed at finding out not so much how well the F-35 performed against the F-16, but rather at what parts of the flight control software could be improved to give the F-35 more maneuverability, particularly at high Angles of Attack (AoA).  It appears the F-35 used in the test, AF-2 the second build “A” model for the Air Force, was also using flight control software that restricted certain portions of the envelope. And my sources also tell me the test took place during a time when there were restrictions on the engine performance. While the pilot might have no restrictions on throttle movement, the Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC) was programmed in a manner that would restrict some of the output.

From Aviation Week:

“…The operational maneuver tests were conducted to see “how it would look like against an F-16 in the airspace,” says Col. Rod “Trash” Cregier, F-35 program director. “It was an early look at any control laws that may need to be tweaked to enable it to fly better in future. You can definitely tweak it—that’s the option.”

Emphasis mine.  The F-35 has already demonstrated a 9 G capability. It’s cleared through a flight envelope up to 50,000 feet, and a speed of Mach 1. 6. It was a deliberate decision to accept a considerably lower top speed than the Mach 2.0 of the F-16, particularly since most air to air engagements take place in the transonic regime, from about Mach 0.8 to maybe Mach 1.1.

Incidentally, the F/A-18 Hornet is really a 7.5G fighter, and yet fought the way it was intended to be fought, it has an excellent reputation against the US Navy’s Aggressor F-16s.

The gang at aren’t exactly impressed with Axe’s article.

Nor is SMSgt. Mac at Elements of Power

UK Defense Journal points out that in other exercises more representative of real operations than a canned BFM scenario, the F-35 has performed quite well against the F-16.

Over the last few years there have been occasions where a flight of F-35s have engaged a flight of F-16s in simulated combat scenarios, the F-35s reportedly won each of those encounters because of its sensors and low visibility.

C.W. Lemoine, who has flown both the F/A-18 and the F-16, points out a few reasons why the Axe article is, in his words, garbage.

There are a great number of valid reasons to criticize the F-35 program, from its very inception envisioning one jet operating as a vertical jump jet, a carrier jet, and a conventional runway jet. The costs associated with the avionics and computer programming have been astonishing.  The deliberate spread of subcontracts across every possible Congressional district as a defense against cancellation is another issue worthy of debate.

But taking one small canned scenario, one intended not to see if the F-35 could out fight the F-16, but rather explore the flight envelope, and proclaiming that it invalidates the entire development program, is the type of sensationalistic clickbait reporting that does little to inform the public on the actual state of the program.



*Pierre Sprey is a statistician and a music producer. He also still contends to this day that the F-15 is a failure, in spite of a combat record of something like 105-0 in air to air combat. Take his words with that thought in mind.


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