EBA’s Saladbar Take-out: Best Deal in Town

$6.49 for a pint of soup, large container of saladbar/entreebar and a small container of deserts (big enough for a large slice of pie). Can’t be beat.

Next to EBA’s: A sure sign of spring, a delivery of new bicycles:

Note to local travelers: the Go-Go Mart’s gas pump is running at about 1.5 gallons per minute. The lines were atrocious, but I was on empty. Bummer.

Oh, and the guy who blocked the gas-pump passing lane for ten minutes, so nobody could get around to the front pumps (so he could get a sandwich) was somebody from Roger Gosselin Concrete and Excavating:

Spy Satellite Shoot-down Video

Naturally skeptical about such things, while hearing plenty of press reports about a successful shoot-down of the failing spy satellite, none of those news reports cited evidence, simply spokespeople.

I found that the military has a nice video site itself. Here’s the money shot, little glowing bits of high-tech satellite ablaze:

And the full video:

Now I’m left curious about the camera tracking controller – I don’t think a human could have done that.

Airline Safety

The problem of airplanes being hijacked and used as weapons was solved at 10:03 AM on 2001-09-11 over a field in Shanksville, PA. ‘Average’ Americans figured out the security equation just more than an hour after the first plane hit Tower 1. Everything since is a distraction.

The specific problem that’s supposedly being solved by Airport Security is using airplanes as weapons. That one’s been solved – you can’t do that anymore if you’re a hijacker.

But, what if you’re a hijacker who doesn’t want to use the airplane as a weapon? Everybody is still going to think you do. So they’re going to rush/kill you, probably before you even get to the cockpit. I agree that the hardened cockpit doors were a good idea, which is why the Israeli airline has had them for decades. But we have them now, let’s move on.

The only thing you can do to an airplane now is blow it up. But, you don’t even need to do that by suicide if you don’t want to, so why would you? If you’re a sociopathic maniac wouldn’t you rather live and extend your reign of terror? In the US we have a policy against negotiating with terrorists, so you can’t hijack to have demands met for release either. So, curiously, the 9/11 attacks dried up hijacking as a viable means of anything.

But to bring home the point, there have been hijackings for decades before 9/11, even bombings (Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie and perhaps TWA-800), and we didn’t implement draconian searches after that. There was more reason at the time – nothing you can do can ever fully prevent these things, terrorists aren’t stupid (they’re doctors and engineers – at least some of them) and this kind of chicanery just wastes everybody’s time and money. So long as a terrorist can take one up the wrong way and get binary explosives onboard, there’s a hard limit on how safe air travel can be. Even at that, planes can’t handle all weather, and life isn’t a risk-free proposition.

Meanwhile, if you’re in any number of professions which require even occasional air travel (or even a leisure traveler), the Federal government is infringing on the Fifth Amendment prohibition against being deprived of liberty without due process of law. The due process of law, and Hamilton was very specific about this, is a trial by a jury of your peers, and the liberties are derived from ‘natural law’, as described as ‘the law of the land’ in the Magna Charta, and inherited by our system. Let’s not be coy – at these ‘security’ checkpoints you are being detained by the government, they’re just letting you go quickly if you cooperate. If you don’t cooperate your detainment will be longer.

Travel by air is the de-factor standard method of travel in the US for many businesses, and many would not be able to maintain their living without it. For those who answer, “just drive”, this would be analogous to a practice at the founding of our country where your wagon was subject to search and seizure if it were on a road, but the government would tell you, “stop complaining, you can always walk through the woods.” That would have been considered just as reprehensible then as it is now.

Truthfully I’d love to see a private-sector implementation of a ‘safe airline’. There would be no carry-on luggage, pockets would be empty (standard-issue clothes would be best), and everybody would get an MRI on the way in to look for internally concealed weapons.

I think it would go out of business. Quickly.

Early Threat Against US Skyscrapers

According to an AP story, dated September 18, 1986, the Islamic terrorrists “The Committee for Solidarity with Arab and Middle Eastern Political Prisoners” released a statement saying:

“We shall meet soon in your great states. We shall get acquainted with your great states, your cities, your skyscrapers, your Statue of Liberty.”

The group, also known by its french acronym CSPPA, was responsible for four bombings in France at the time. They claimed the US pressured France not to release the prisoner they wanted released. The alleged organizer of the bombings returned to Iran six months later.

Several pundits have argued of late that the US did not draw the ire of Islamic terrorists until it occupied Saudi Arabia after the 1991 Gulf War. While this may have fanned the flames, this threat, almost fifteen years to the day before the attack in 2001, shows that this kind of thought was at least a smoldering ember before the Gulf War.

Amtrak to Start Sucking Much More

Starting this week, Amtrak will start featuring, no, not decent sandwiches, but automatic weapons on its trains.

From the AP story:

WASHINGTON – Amtrak will start randomly screening passengers’ carry-on bags this week in a new security push that includes officers with automatic weapons and bomb-sniffing dogs patrolling platforms and trains.

It has been until now a decent alternative to airline transportation. Now you need to drive if you want to avoid infringement on your Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment protections, and that’s only if you don’t get stopped at a MADD-promoted ‘sobriety checkpoint’. This move is good for the automotive industry, no?

Amtrak has three problems here. First, they’re going to lose ridership. They’re already barely able to keep operations afloat. Second, the move implies there is specific intelligence about terrorism on trains. See problem #1. Third, if they don’t have specific intelligence, they’re just being belligerent towards their customers, so… see problem #1.

This might finally be the straw that breaks mass-transit’s back in the US. Can this policy really be promulgated by those who claim they want to do something about human CO2 emissions?

Gaming Quarterly Earnings Calls

Here’s an excerpt of a story from the Wall Street Journal about a guy who’s gaming quarterly earnings analyst calls, by asking nonsensical questions riddled with Wall-Street Speak. Most CEO’s try to answer the questions anyway. It would be good to know which CEO’s saw through the subterfuge.

The WSJ wonders what the point is… it’s Socratic Irony. The CEO’s can’t tell the difference between a real analyst’s call and the goofball. It’s an indictment of the system, and the article makes it clear the participants don’t get it. They would not be expected to.

One wonders if Sasha Cohen is doing a radio show.