The Elecktronick Tyger Roares
24 March 2006
  More about demolitions
After i finished the previous much-too-long rant, i hunted up the homepage of Controlled Demolitions, the world leader in explosive demolitions.

Interesting info there.
  Charlie Sheen Joins 9//11 Conspiracy Coocoo Birds v1.1 (long)
Under the heading Sheen Airs 9/11 Conspiracy Theory, an article on reveals that Charlie Sheen is another conspiracy coocoo bird, insisting that the buildings must have been brought down by "controlled demolitions", rather than by the airplanes that ran into them.

He also doubts that an airplane really crashed into the Pentagon, apparently, saying "Just show us how this particular plane pulled off these maneuvers."

He also said
It is up to us to reveal the truth. It is up to us because we owe it to the families, we owe it to the victims, we owe it to everyone's life who was drastically altered, horrifically, that day and forever. We owe it to them to uncover what happened.
Of course, if [as Occam's Razor, eye-witness reports and video footage strongly suggest, to say the least] those airplanes really did crash into the towers and the Pentagon, then convincing the surviving family members of those who died that it was some sort of big conspiracy, probably involving the US government (and, very likely, given the way conspiracy theorists "think", Israel) -- presumably in an attempt to give the Shrub a pretext to go to war is needlessly cruel to the survivors and irresponsible, to say the least, in the context of world politics.

Unfotunately, Sheen is far from the worst of 9/11 conspiracy coocoo birde; just as there are websites that spout misunderstood or even fictitious or downright bogus "scientific proof" that the Apollo moonlandings were faked (click here for an example), websites exist "proving" that, if, indeed, any actual airplanes even hit the World Trade Center (which they doubt), it couldn't possibly have caused the sort of catastrophic collapse that occurred (click here for an example)., linked above, has this quote at the bottom of its home page:
Hitler writes in "Mein Kampf":
"All this was inspired by the principle that in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the (public) more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and continue to think that there may be some other explanation."
(Hitler, as can be easily discovered with a quick Google (using the search terms "'big lie' nazi", for instance), was referring to his claim that the German Army had not lost World War One in the field, but that the Jews who controlled the press had convinced everyone of that; an amusing coincidence, since Israel is often put forth as one of the potential prime movers of alleged 9/11 conspiracy theories.)

9/11 conspiracy theorists make claims that, while true, are actually pretty well irrelevant to the issue -- for instance, one common claim is that other steel-framed buildings have suffered fires much worse than what (in their opinion at east) was happening in the WTC buildings, and did not collapse.

And so? The WTC towers were of a different type of construction than any of those other buildings -- virtually all of the WTC's steel supports were in the central core, not the floors and skin; when those weakened, you essentially had the same situation you can frequently observe in warehouses -- a heavy corrugated-cardboard box set on top of one that is not strong enough to support it, with the result that the lower box collapses straight downward. (There were columns surrounding the outside of the building, primarily to give it torsional rigidity; these were both smaller and not so strong as the central core. According to a paper entitled "Collapse of the World Trade Center Towers", by G Charles Clifton, HERA Structural Engineer (17th September 2001, revised 19th September, minor revision on impact force made 8th October, minor revisions made 11 December), the external bracing was pretty well eliminated by the initial impacts.)

As an example, quoting Dr. David Ray Griffin on
Steel does not even begin to melt until it reaches almost 2800° Fahrenheit. And yet open fires fueled by hydrocarbons, such as kerosene---which is what jet fuel is---can at most rise to 1700°F, which is almost 1100 degrees below the melting point of steel. We can, accordingly, dismiss the claim that the towers collapsed because their steel columns melted.

Most defenders of the official theory, in fact, do not make this absurd claim. They say merely that the fire heated the steel up to the point where it lost so much of its strength that it buckled. For example, Thomas Eagar, saying that steel loses 80 percent of its strength when it is heated to 1,300˚F, argues that this is what happened. But for even this claim to be plausible, the fires would have still had to be pretty hot.
I would suggest that, since the core of the building was pretty well open (elevator shafts) a chimney effect, yielding a forced draught may well have occured -- using forced draught, ordinary charcoal easily burns hot enough to melt steel.

Aside from that possibility, ordinary house fires, fuelled primarily by wood and other hydrocarbon-based substances, routinely leave melted steel and glass among the debris.

The claim is made that the holes in the towers are not wide enough for an actual aircraft to have gone through. Aside from the question of eye-witnesses who saw, as i saw, live on television, an airplane actually hit one of the tower and punch through, the video of the second strike clearly shows (if you freeze-frame it), for the instant before smoke and debris erupt and obscure the side of the tower, an almost Warner Brothers-cartoon-perfect airplane-shaped hole in the building.

And so on.

(Clifton, cited above, opines that the fire was actually only a secondary or minor contributor to the collapse,finishing what initial impact began.)

While i have no doubt that there are people -- quie possibly in our own government -- evil enough to carry out such an elaborate and deadly (not to mention expensive) hoax, i simply cannot believe that anyone actually did. As with Kennedy assassination conspiracy theories, you can "prove" anything happened, if you postulate enough conspirators. But then you have to postulate more conspirators covering up the deeds of the first bunch, and even more conspirators supporting those until, if carried to its "logical", the conspiracy involves pretty much everyone except you and your friends.

A conspiracy big enough to pull 9/11 off would not --could not -- remain secret. Someone would leak.

Word would get out to plausible sources, not, say, Jim Garrison and his friends -- not in the "Well, I know for a fact that someone who knew someone related to the real conspirators said that his acquaintance heard that the reason his relative hadn't been seen was that he'd been killed to keep him from talking..." way that often pops up in the Great Uncocnscious.

Unless someone shows me something a lot more convincing about the WTC towers' collapse than any of these people have yet provided, airplanes hit them and they fell down.

Consider the logistics of the thing. Controlled Demolitions, the leader in the field, takes days or even weeks to rig a building they're going to bring down.

For a rational online post demonstrating why it is implausible to the point of impossibility that controlled demolitions could have been used,, in which a rational person using the handle "adoucette" finds himself responding to the posts of conspiracy wackos (arguing online with trolls and conspiracy wackos is like mud wrestling a pig -- you both get filthy, but only the pig enjoys it); scroll down to the message (ninth on the page as i'm seeing it) wherein he posts links to factual articles about controlled explosive demolition; like me he finds it Very Unlikely that nobody noticed the forty or fifty workers planting the hundreds -- probably thousands -- of charges necessary to take down something the size of the WTC, not toi mention the drilling in the walls and necessary torch precutting of a large percentage of the support members, not to mention the miles of det cord or other detonating connections needed over a period of weeks that such a demolition would have taken.

OTOH, if you want to read more wackos, here's a very small sample found by googling on "'controlled demolitions' preparation" (i'm sure you could quite easily find more, ranging from nearly-rational sounding to frothing-at-the-mout anti-semites and "libertarians"):,,letters to a conspiracy wacko: (and his site's home page: "It is not exactly clear when the grassy knoll supplanted the sixth-floor window in the popular mind-set. But now, four decades after Dallas, it is difficult to find anyone who believes Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone gunman."), (which is all about how the "Los Angeles Citizens' Grand Jury" "CONDEMNS GOVERNMENT ROLE IN 9/11 & COVERUP"; the entire "LACGJ" "finding" may be found at and so on.


Note 1: As if he really needed one, having apparently come into office determined to spank Saddam Hussein for dissing his daddy back in the day... {Return to Post}


Note 2: My own favourite such is the loon who triumphantly proclaims as proof that a picture of an astronaut on the moon must be faked because we are told that it was taken with a camera carried by another astronaut, mounted on his chest, but -- See?!? It shows the top of the other astronaut's head!!

Apparently this guy, besides having no academic knowledge of the laws of optics, has never taken a snapshot or wondered how the sky gets into pics taken by cameras held at eye level.{Return to Post}



"Demands Immediate Release of CIA Inspector General’s Report, Cheney Counter-Terrorism Task Force & War Game Records, Pentagon Evidence Seized by FBI, and Suppressed 9/11 Report of 'broadly inaccurate accounts by several civil & military officials'." {back to article}
  The Forever War (apologies to Joe Haldeman)
So the Shrub tacitly admits he hasn't a clue as to how to get us out of Iraq:
Asked later if he could envision a day when no U.S. troops would be in Iraq, Bush said that is a goal, but it "will be decided by future presidents and future governments of Iraq."

In other words, "not till 2009 at the earliest".

And the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs predicts essentially interminable fighting in the so-called "War 0n Terror", which to date has been almost as sucessful as the War on (Some) Drugs:
"Iraq and Afghanistan will over time become stable," he said in a keynote address. "But the war on terror will continue long after Iraq and Afghanistan have had success in standing up their own governments."
Even without the "long after" part, that statement sounds like "Until the twelfth of when? When what freezes over?", given how well the two nations referenced are doing at setting up stable democratic governments. (Consider the case of the Afghan who faces execution because he converted to Christianity... I thought we threw the Taliban out.)

But there is an essential flaw in the concept of a "War Against Terror" (just as there is, for that matter, in the basic concept of a "War on (Some) Drugs"); i've pointed it out a number of times, but this quote (from a piece by Alfred A. Hambidge, Jr posted some while back (in 2003, i think) on Col. David Hackworth's website:
"And what the hell is terrorism, anyway? It's not a thing; it's not a place; it's not a person. It is a political and military strategy, that's all. Having a 'War On Terrorism' is as ridiculous as having a 'War on Flanking Maneuvers'. You'll end terrorism when there's no longer anything for anybody to get pissed off about."
(My own version of that thought is "The only things you can fight directly are things that, somewhere, have an actual throat you can get your hands on."

"Four more years", forsooth.
22 March 2006
  Every Day, in Every Way, Things Are Getting Better...
From the Associated Press:
Afghan Convert May Be Unfit for Trial
Associated Press

KABUL, Afghanistan - An Afghan man facing a possible death penalty for converting from Islam to Christianity may be mentally unfit to stand trial, a state prosecutor said Wednesday.

Abdul Rahman, 41, has been charged with rejecting Islam, a crime under this country's Islamic laws. His trial started last week and he confessed to becoming a Christian 16 years ago. If convicted, he could be executed.
Right. And these are our allies in the region, who are going to help us bring democracy to the area.


I recently went to see V for Vendetta. One of the characters (who is not a Muslim, but merely collects things) is caught with a copy of the Quran.

Of course, that's just a movie, right?

Police arrested him last month after discovering him in possession of a Bible during questioning over a dispute for custody of his two daughters. Prosecutors have offered to drop the charges if Rahman converts back to Islam, but he has refused.
Things are going very well in our campaign to bring democracy and justice and freedom to the area.

Just ask President Shrub.

(In completely unrelated news {yeah, right} Bush said in a news conference that the timetabkle for getting our troops out of the region will be "...for future Presidents to decide...".

(In other words, current plans are to keep winding the handle of the meatgrinder(s) that our troops' reproductive apparati are in till at least 2009.)
20 March 2006
  A Question
From the Houston Chronicle review of V for Vendetta:
Frightful questions about terrorism


Can a terrorist be a hero? If you answer no — if you blanch just seeing the question in print — keep far, far away from V for Vendetta, a gravely unsettling dystopian saga about a masked revolutionary bent on destroying the British Parliament.
I dunno.

Ask Nathaniel Greene. Ask any Maquis members you can find who actually did anything. Ask Bobby Sands. Ask Menachem Begin.

In the long run, a terrorist is a revolutionary who loses.

And, as often as not, a hero is a terrorist who's won.

By the way --Ms. Biancolli's review is favourable, and i'll add my endorsement: V for Vendetta is brilliant.
17 March 2006
  From Yahoo News this morning
Couple of items gleaned from Yahoo News this morning:
Bush Says Republicans Don't Fear Future
President Bush delivered a partisan pep talk Thursday night to Republicans who may be jittery about midterm elections while his approval rating is at an all-time low.
"We don't fear the future," Bush told donors who contributed $8 million Thursday night to support Republican House candidates. "We welcome it." {More}
This may explain why 60+ percent of Republicans think the war in Iraq is a good thing, while only 30-some percent of either Democrats or independents do, in a recent poll i was hearing about on NPR -- Republicans, like their beloved President, are either too arrogant or too dumb to understand what's going on, to conceive that perhaps they might be wrong...

Meanwhile, on another matter that i have fumed about before:
Military Sexual Assault Reports Up 40 Pct.
Reports of sexual assaults in the military increased by nearly 40 percent last year, the Pentagon announced Thursday, saying the increase was at least partly due to a new program that encourages victims to come forward.

According to a report released Thursday, there were 2,374 allegations of sexual assaults reported during 2005, compared to 1,700 in 2004. Of last year's reports, 435 were initially filed under a new program that allows victims to report the incident and receive health care or counseling services but does not notify law enforcement or commanders. {more}

So 435 of the reports were filed under the new system. If we assume that none of those would have been filed under the old system, that leaves 1939.

Assume further that the number oif reports using the old system varies directly with the actual number of assaults -- that none of those who would have reported it anyway were diverted into the new system. (An unlikely circumstance, actually; i'd guess that a number of people who would have reported such assaults under the old system will have used the new system.)

That's an actual 14% increase of at least over the previous year.

Woman is still the nigger of the world, apparently, at least in the US military...
15 March 2006
  Can anyone help me with this lens?
And so i went to KEH and bought myself a bargain-priced Russian 500mm mirror lens.

I haven't gotten anything developed that i shot with it, yet, but it looks pretty good.

Only one problem. As can be seen in the photos (click for larger images), when assembled with the PEN FT t-mount and the PEN itself and then tripod mounted, the camera winds up at a 45-degree angle.

Not a problem for, say, astronomical shooting (if my calculations are correct, the full moon ought to be about 1/4 the width of a PEN negative -- printed to 4x6, that gives a lunar image a bit more than 1" wide...), but for terrestrial shots... well, suffice to say that, if i'm not shooting architectural studies in Pisa, or cityscapes in San Francisco, 45-degree shots don't appeal.

There has to be some way to rotate the damned tripod ring -- and, indeed, at the front of the ring, there is a knurled collar that unscrews. But even with it completely removed from the lens, the damned collar refuses to budge.

So either (A) i'm doing something wrong (and since i don't have an instruction book and have never handled one of this particular type/design before, this wouldn't be a real surprise) or (B) being that it's probably more than thirty years old and prolly didn't get changed since it was first set, it may just be stuck.

So: does anyone have any experience with lenses like this (i can take more pictures, closer and at different angles, if that would help anyone to identify the thing), and if so, how do i turn the tripod ring?
13 March 2006
  Our Litigious Society
Disney is planning a film called Wild Hogs, which is supposed to star Tim Allen and John Travolta.

The IMDB description says
A group of middle-aged wannabe bikers look for adventure out on the open road, where they soon encounter a chapter of the Hell's Angels.
Well, the Hell's Angel happen to have trademarked their logo.

And they're going to sue.

And they'll probably win.

I love it -- squeeky-clean, sanctimonious Disney, the 500 pound gorilla of copyright litigation, will probably lose a copyright/trademark fight, suffering moral defeat at the hands of a bunch of scuzzy outlaw bikers
07 March 2006
  Quote without comment (none needed):
O'Reilly Warns Olbermann's Fans He'll Sic Security on Them

The Bill O'Reilly/Keith Olbermann feud became more bizarre over the weekend when a caller to O'Reilly's radio show, syndicated by CBS-owned Westwood One, was contacted by a member of Fox News Network's private security force apparently for mentioning Olbermann's name when he called in on Thursday.
  Wanna hear something REALLY scary?
Wow. And Congressmen who accept "gifts" thought they had troubles?
Oscar Guests May Be Hit with Taxes

Guests who took home gift-packed bags from Sunday's 78th Annual Academy Awards ceremony may have to pay $30,000 in taxes on their new acquisitions.
According to the article, among other things, there's a a $7,000 Victoria's Secret underwear set (ummm -- $7K for an underwear set? What the f**k is it made of -- woven threads of gold?)and a coupon for Lasik surgery.

The IRS claims they're worth $100,000 and that they are taxable.

Oh, the humanity...
06 March 2006
  Quis custodiet ipsos custodies?, or, Who will keep the bozos supposed to be keeping us secure secure? v1.1
While i find this particular story scarey, i don't, i'm sorry to say, in light of recent revelations about the manner in which the current Administration treats warnings about potential dangers, find it implausible...
Guards say Homeland Security HQ insecure

WASHINGTON -- The agency entrusted with protecting the U.S. homeland is having difficulty safeguarding its own headquarters, say private security guards at the complex.

The guards have taken their concerns to Congress, describing inadequate training, failed security tests and slow or confused reactions to bomb and biological threats.

For instance, when an envelope with suspicious powder was opened last fall at Homeland Security Department HQ, guards said they watched in amazement as superiors carried it by the office of Secretary Michael Chertoff, took it outside and then shook it outside Chertoff's window without evacuating people nearby.
An old familiar name arises from the imbroglio:
...Wackenhut Services Inc., the private security firm that guards Homeland's headquarters in a residential area of Washington. The company has been criticized previously for its work at nuclear facilities and transporting nuclear weapons.
So, yeah, it's not too surprising...
One day last fall a fire alarm rang. As employees walked by [a former guard], they asked if this was a fire or a test.

"There were no radios, so I couldn't figure out if it was a serious alarm," she said
Sleep well, America; Homeland Security will protect you.

But who's protecting them?
02 March 2006
  Is a pattern beginning to emerge?
After 9/11, the Shrub said that no-one had ever anticipated that anyone would hijack airliners and use them as terrorist weapons

Later we found out that the military had wargamed such attacks years before, and that intelligence reports both from the Clinton years and from Bush's own early time in office suggested it.

After Katrina hit New Orleans, Bush said that no-one had any idea that the levees might not stand up, nor how much damage might be done.

The videotape of a pre-landfall videoconference briefing in which Bush was a participant, obtained by the Associated Press, says different.

Apparently it was all laid out in some detail.
The president didn't ask a single question during the briefing but assured soon-to-be-battered state officials: "We are fully prepared."
And FEMA's Brown, contrary to the lone hero theory of disaster (thank you Lois Bujold) seems to have expressed grave doubts in advance as to whether FEMA and other agencies were prepared...
  I'm not 100% sure how i feel about this one...
While i'm pretty heavily in favour of the separation of Church and State, i'm also not sure whether i really think this one violates it:
Pizza Magnate Seeks Catholic-Governed Town

Associated Press Wed Mar 1

If Domino's Pizza founder Thomas S. Monaghan has his way, a new town being built in Florida will be governed according to strict Roman Catholic principles, with no place to get an abortion, pornography or birth control.

The pizza magnate is bankrolling the project with at least $250 million and calls it "God's will."

Civil libertarians say the plan is unconstitutional and are threatening to sue.

The town of Ave Maria is being constructed around Ave Maria University, the first Catholic university to be built in the United States in about 40 years.
As i say, this one is iffy for me. If no-one but Catholics lived there, then i wouldn't have too much problem with it.

I question whether that will eventuate, so i'm probably again' it, but not so much as i might be in other circumstances...
Gov. Jeb Bush, at the site's groundbreaking earlier this month, lauded the development as a new kind of town where faith and freedom will merge to create a community of like-minded citizens. Bush, a convert to Catholicism, did not speak specifically to the proposed restrictions.

"While the governor does not personally believe in abortion or pornography, the town, and any restrictions they may place on businesses choosing to locate there, must comply with the laws and constitution of the state and federal governments," Russell Schweiss, a spokesman for the governor, said Tuesday.

Frances Kissling, president of the liberal Washington-based Catholics for a Free Choice, likened Monaghan's concept to Islamic fundamentalism.

"This is un-American," Kissling said. "I don't think in a democratic society you can have a legally organized township that will seek to have any kind of public service whatsoever and try to restrict the constitutional rights of citizens."
Do we need a new version of Godwin's Law, covering references to Islamic fundamentalism? resemblance to actual events or to persons living or dead...
...and so Tank McNamara has gone quail hunting Tank reads the hunting an exercise in male bonding with a bunch of NFL players, something helpful in his work as a sportscaster.

Obviously, this is just an amusing sequence the creators made up out of whole cloth, since Tank McNamara is nothing but a humourous comic strip about the wholly-fictional life of a medium-market sportscaster and nothing else.


(The link is only good for fifteen days)

Tank Mcnamara, and all characters and situations therein, is copyright © 2006 by Millar/Hinds.
My interests are broadranging -- comics, music, movies and good ol' science fiction mostly dominate. My Five Most Favouritest Films are (this week) Once Upon A Time in the West, Dark Star, O Lucky Man, Day for Night and Whatever I Watched Recently That Was Good. Currently that's Day for Night.

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Name: mike weber
Location: gainesville, Georgia, United States

Latter fifties, married, out of work (had knee surgery and haven't gotten back to work); my (step) son-in-law is back from Iraq, but a lot of boys are still over there. Support our troops -- throw the Republicans out!

November 2005 / December 2005 / January 2006 / February 2006 / March 2006 / April 2006 / May 2006 / July 2006 / August 2006 / September 2006 / October 2006 / February 2007 / August 2007 /

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