Our Nation’s Hate

As far as I can tell the “facts” in the email are absolutely made up. There is not a shred of truth to it. But, to the sender it doesn’t make any difference because it’s just ammunition in an ideological war.


Nearly three million people have voted in the MSNBC poll at the top of this entry. It’s non-scientific in its methodology, but it’s incredibly telling nonetheless. Our country has no center in political opinion. The vast majority of the votes are for the two extremes.

We are a nation divided. I love Obama. I hate Obama. There, literally, is no middle ground.

It’s sad because we’ve come to the point where people are so stridently driven by dogma, they’d rather see their ideas used than see success. That is why to many Rush Limbaugh’s January 21 pronouncement is so upsetting and to others so enabling.

So I shamelessly say, no, I want him to fail, if his agenda is a far- left collectivism, some people say socialism, as a conservative heartfelt, deeply, why would I want socialism to succeed?

I have often said I’d use the Psychic Friends Network to forecast the weather if it worked. Rush’s words are the antithesis of that thought.

This morning I got an email from someone I don’t recognize.

News Alert:

The US Navy has stated that the Navy seals could have acted faster and rescued the captain of the Maersk Alabama last week, but had to wait until the White House could confirm that none of the pirates were related to Obama.

That quote comes from a forwarded email nestled within the one sent to me. The sender, the unknown Andre Lefebvre, adds:

That S.O.B. will destroy this country.

You just watch.

One morning, very soon, everybody, in the U. S., will wake-up and find out that they have lost all of their rights and it will be too late to do anything about it.

As far as I can tell the “facts” in the email are absolutely made up. There is not a shred of truth to it. But, to the sender it doesn’t make any difference because it’s just ammunition in an ideological war.

The exact actions the president takes on any given day are much less important to this person than the overall political bent. And, I suspect, he’d say what he said even knowing it was false because it might injure his enemy–Obama.

This country needs to be righted economically. Then we have a whole lot of healing to do. The vitriol and hate from right-to-left and back again isn’t healthy.

Thanks to my friend Woody who sent along the MSNBC poll not realizing it would produce this.

Something Isn’t Right In Space

So what the hell is going on? Why would we jeopardize our low Earth orbiting fleet (which doesn’t include most weather, communications and TV satellites, but does include the International Space Station, Space Shuttle, GPS, mapping and spy satellites) in an act we’ve already condemned when executed by others?

Back in January I wrote about the US spy satellite that will soon come crashing to the Earth. Sure, it’s got all sorts of scary chemistry (specifically hydrazine) on board, but there’s nothing to worry about, right?

Last week most of the experts were poo pooing the danger this satellite’s fiery reentry would bring. Satellites… even big satellites… come down all the time. That’s what they said until Thursday.

All of a sudden we want to shoot this school bus sized piece of space junk down. Shades of Bruce Willis!

From the Chicago Tribune:

Speaking to reporters, Marine Gen. James Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff , and James Jeffrey, the deputy national security adviser, said the Navy’s window of opportunity to strike the satellite before it enters the Earth’s atmosphere begins in the next three or four days. Cartwright said the window would likely remain open for seven or eight days.

If the satellite is not intercepted, it is expected to enter the atmosphere in late February or early March.

“This has no aerodynamic properties,” Cartwright said of the satellite. “Once it hits the atmosphere, it tumbles, it breaks apart. It is very unpredictable and next to impossible to engage. So what we’re trying to do here is catch it just prior to the last minute, so it’s absolutely low as possible, outside the atmosphere, so that the debris comes down as quickly as possible.”

A satellite is one lone object. Shoot it down and you get thousands, maybe tens of thousands of tiny objects, all unguided and some likely to remain in orbit for a long time. At orbital speed, even a small object with little mass is destructive.

Back in 1996, after the space shuttle had shifted its course to avoid a dead satellite, the New York times published this:

Dr. Donald J. Kessler, NASA’s senior scientist for orbital debris studies at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, said in an interview that space junk was a growing problem threatening the safety of spacecraft and astronauts. The Air Force tracks more than 7,000 pieces of debris larger than a baseball, including old rocket parts, outmoded satellites, discarded tools, remnants of explosions, and other odds and ends moving in orbit at more than 17,000 miles per hour. And researchers estimate there are more than 150,000 smaller objects that also pose a danger of collision.

“It’s common for space shuttles to show evidence of frequent hits, but nothing catastrophic has happened,” Dr. Kessler said. “We are now getting good international cooperation to control space debris, but it will continue to be a problem for a long time and we have to take precautions.”

Illustrating how real the problem is, Dr. Kessler said astronauts servicing the Hubble Space Telescope found a half-inch hole punched through its main antenna. And after a flight of the shuttle Columbia last October, engineers found a similar-sized crater in a cargo bay door caused by the impact of a tiny piece of solder, he said.

Here’s the operative sentence: “We are now getting good international cooperation to control space debris.” In other words, space debris is bad and everyone should stop creating it.

In fact, last January, after the Chinese blasted one of their own satellites out of orbit, the US Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva said:

…the January 11 event created hundreds of pieces of large orbital debris, the majority of which will stay in orbit for more than 100 years. A much larger number of smaller, but still hazardous, pieces of debris were also created.

The United States is concerned about the increased risk to human spaceflight and space infrastructure as a result of this action, a risk that is shared by all space-faring nations. The United States and many other nations have satellites in space in conformity with international agreements that provide for their national security, and foreign policy and economic interests.

So what the hell is going on? Why would we jeopardize our low Earth orbiting fleet (which doesn’t include most weather, communications and TV satellites, but does include the International Space Station, Space Shuttle, GPS, mapping and spy satellites) in an act we’ve already condemned when executed by others?

Is there something that vile or that secret in this spy satellite? Are we looking for a little target practice to show everyone we’re every bit as capable as the Chinese? I don’t know.

My “educated amateur” space knowledge says, something doesn’t seem right… something doesn’t smell right… something doesn’t add up.

There are missing pieces to this story I neither possess nor understand. I sure hope someone else does, and they are free to speak.

Putting A Webcam Online

One of my co-workers asked a favor tonight. Her brother is in Iraq and she just found out they could have video chats using Yahoo! Messenger (there are other ways, but he was already on Yahoo!).

She asked me what camera to get? I’m a bargain kinda guy, but she had that ‘tonight’ look. I sent her to Circuit City.

She came back with a little Creative camera that slipped over the display on her laptop. It set her back $60, which she viewed as a good value.

I took out the disk and installed the drivers. I can’t remember an install taking this long and installing this many inidividual pieces of software. You do what you can to hold back driver creep, but there’s stuff there we’ll never identify.

The camera itself is sweet. The video is sharp and though all webcam video is jerky, this was no more jerky than any other.

I think this is a good thing, a loved one talking with their soldier halfway around the world. There’s also a potential downside. This technology can bringing unwanted stress or create conflict that snail mail can not.

When my dad was in the Navy, back in WWII, he and my mom traded letters back and forth. The conversation was disjointed, with questions and answers passing each other as he crossed the ocean. Now the conversation is realtime.

How does the military looks at this? Good for morale… or bad? Good for discipline or bad?

As I hooked up the camera, I wondered why this was technology I wasn’t using? I’ve got cameras and have hooked them up. Long term use never seems convenient or necessary.

Blue Angels Flight Video

On February 22, 1997, I had the opportunity to strap myself into an F/A 18 and fly with the Navy’s Blue Angels.

On February 22, 1997, I had the opportunity to strap myself into an F/A 18 and fly with the Navy’s Blue Angels.

I flew in the number 7 plane, a 2-place jet. There was a fixed camera pointing back at me capturing video of the flight.

The video of my Blue Angels flight ran on both WTNH and the SciFi Channel and is an amazingly constant request from Google users.

Here is the takeoff sequence from that day in El Centro, CA.

Katrina – What Can New Orelans Expect?

The Navy has published a study which forecasts the effect of a hurricane on New Orleans. It’s somewhat dry and a little technical, but interesting tonight.

Flying With The Blue Angels, Again

Last week, my government called:


I am an Aerospace Physiologist at [removed by request] on board Marine Corps Air Station [removed by request]. As the name/title implies, we are one of the training units of aviation physiology training for the Navy & Marine Corps. Part of that training is a G tolerance improvement program that we teach to Sailors and Marines whose outstanding job performance is rewarded with an opportunity for a one time only flight in the back seat of an F/A-18. We would like to use one or two portions of your video clip about your Blue Angels experience to show them the effects of G forces on someone who has never experienced aircraft induced G forces. Would it be possible to get a downloadable copy of your video?

Thank you for your consideration in assisting the Navy/Marine Corps’ finest.


[removed by request]

Years ago, when I posted my Blue Angels video, the world was a dial-up place. No more. Most of you… actually, considering the sloppy way I code these pages… all of you are on some sort of high speed circuit.

Now that the navy wants it, I’ve taken the opportunity to lovingly remaster it (as they say when they’re trying to sell old TV shows on DVD) for broadband viewing and posted it to the site.

Click here to fly with me and the Navy’s Blue Angels. What a ride!

Blogger’s note: Since my original posting, the writer has asked if I would hide his name and base. Doing this for someone in the active military is the right thing. It is a real email, even without the name.

The Best Movie Ever Made

Having the DVR does open up some possibilities. Every once in a while I just scour the listings, looking for something to record. The software on my Comcast issued Scientific Atlanta box makes this a little more difficult than it should (reverting to your current time and channel each time you set a recording). It’s still worth doing.

Often, I record something and never watch it. Hey, that’s life.

Last night, after watching The Daily Show, I looked through the list to see what else had been saved for me. Near the top of the list I saw, “Under Siege.”

“Under Siege” is a classic ‘guy’ movie, starring Steven Segal, supported by Tommy Lee Jones, Gary Busey and the always inflated Erika Eleniak&#185.

The concept is (this will be the first time ever this is refered to as a concept picture) a disgruntled Gary Busey, the executive officer on board the soon-to-be-decomissioned USS Missouri, conspires with Tommy Lee Jones and his gang of evil doers to steal the Missouri’s contingent of nuclear weapons. First they have to neutralize the crew – often in the most violent of ways.

Of course there is one small thing they never planned for, Casey Ryback. Ryback was a Navy Seal and all around deep sea Rambo until he got busted for striking a superior officer. There’s not much detail, but the brief description given makes it seem like a patriotic, yet emotional outburst from a ‘real man.’ Now he’s a cook, finishing his 20 years in the Navy.

Is there any need to go into the details? There are a hundred other movies that are virtually the same. In fact, there’s another Segal movie, starring Eric Bogosian as the whacko evil doer, which would seem like plagarism if it weren’t from the same group.

There is something eerily attractive about this movie.

Busey and Tommy Lee Jones make great villains. This is espeically true of Jones who plays a psychotic who is genuinely off center in every way.

If I’ve seen this movie once, I’ve seen it a dozen times. And, if given the opportunity, I’d see it again tomorrow. It is a guilty pleasure, to be sure.

What is it that makes action movies like ‘Under Siege’ or nearly any submarine movie so appealing – especially to me a totally non-violent man? Is it somehow wired into my genes? I don’t know and I won’t attempt to fight it.

&#185 – It should be noted that though Erika Eleniak appears topless for a few brief seconds near the beginning of the movie, mostly she is dressed and shot in such a way that her physique is a non-factor… as difficult as that is to believe.

Say What You Mean

My physician was good enough to prescribe eye drops to try and cure my blinking. It’s gotten to the point where it looks like I’m sending semaphore to the Navy.

The drops seem to be working – at least partially. I’m grateful. Any improvement is more than welcome.

There is one odd part to this story. After I got the drops, I read the label to understand what to do. Read carefully, because I’m guessing what they’re saying is not what they meant:


Isn’t it going to be difficult to split that drop in half?

Big Buzz In The South Atlantic

I hadn’t been on the computer more than a few seconds when I got an instant message from Bob in Florida. Had I seen what was going on in the South Atlantic?

For tropical weather systems, the South Atlantic is like Death Valley. There are a variety of reasons they just don’t form or exist there. That is, until today.

With no reconnaissance flights and little advance study, it’s tough to say 100% whether this is a tropical storm or hurricane (I guess it would be a cyclone there). But, the photo makes a very convincing case.

Based on some visible satellite image loops I’ve seen, it’s intensifying and heading toward the Brazilian coast. This storm, if it continues, will bring a type of weather unheard of to a place ill prepared to deal with it.

I have looked in all the usual places to find more information on the storm. The Hurricane Center has nothing. Same thing goes for the Navy’s FNMOC. I would doubt the Brazilians have a hurricane forecasting branch of their own.

Stay tuned. This will be interesting. And, I’m not sure it would even get a name as there’s no list for that area.