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Monthly Archives: June 2012

Trifecta: The coolest thing you will see all weekend, I garuuuuuntee.

If you think that’s nice, you should try the margaritas. At ten AM.

Friday Night Videos

June 29th, 2012 - 10:05 pm
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Not their best album — not by a mile — but one of their most infectious singles.

The Billfold of the Beast

June 29th, 2012 - 12:51 pm

Trifecta: Corporate money is awesome.

Gone Fishin’

June 29th, 2012 - 10:01 am

I’m on my way to a beach. A beach with little or no internet. But I do have a few posts set to go up for you while I’m getting all tan and drunk and stuff.

And if the local fauna are as friendly as they were last year, there might be pictures.

This marg’s for you. The rest are mine — all mine.

Fill it to the RIM — With Fail

June 29th, 2012 - 8:32 am

It’s official: RIM’s life vest is filled with lead. There’s no recovering from the latest:

Blackberry maker Research in Motion (RIM) has said it will delay the launch of its new phone operating system Blackberry 10 and is to cut 5,000 jobs.

The job losses are bad, but its new OS is already three years too late. Further delays will only determine how deep the casket gets buried.

Semper Fi

June 29th, 2012 - 5:18 am

Meet the new Marines, same as the old Marines:

After spending nine years heavily involved in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. Marine Corps has most of its troops again training for duty at sea and the kind of raiding operations the marines have long specialized in. While some marines will remain in Afghanistan until next year, most are now regaining their seagoing and raiding skills. The marines also believe that there will be more need for short term operations, where getting there fast is more important than staying around for a long time. To that end, the marines and the navy are scheduling a lot of amphibious exercises over the next year, something there has not been a lot of in the last decade.

Now if we can just maintain a Navy big and fearsome enough to get them to the beaches.

Holding the Line

June 28th, 2012 - 6:09 pm

I feel a little silly right now, but I’m not complaining about it. Not one bit.

It’s difficult to describe just how scary yesterday was in Colorado Springs and Monument. The Waldo Canyon Fire had tripled in size in just one day, and nothing seemed capable of stopping it. Everything was super-dry, everything was super-hot, and the wind was super-windy. Seasoned firefighting pros all swore up and down they’d never seen a wildfire like this one.

And it was coming right at us, by way of the Air Force Academy and a series of firebreaks which Waldo had breached, one after the other.

Waldo, despite the oldtimey name, was one wicked fast wildfire. Unpredictable, too. Every time the fire crews jinked, it jerked. And the winds, which Waldo itself helped create, kept the firefighting aircraft grounded for hours at a stretch.

So we really started to freak out here, when the evacuation warnings jumped even faster than the fire — a dozen miles north, to just across the highway from us. And we aren’t very far from the highway.

I took a personal/vacation day today, to give me enough free time to pack valuables and heirlooms and Drobo arrays and what have you, and take them far away. Melissa dealt with the kids and the animals and her own belongings. By three o’clock, I had all my digital data and my miniature TV studio all far beyond Waldo’s reach.

But the weather changed — the temperatures cooled, the winds died down, and the humidity increased. More importantly, the firefighters had learned how to deal with Waldo’s wicked ways. The Waldo Canyon Fire was nearly halted in its tracks today.

The cost was horrific. More than 300 homes destroyed. The historic Flying W Ranch burnt to the ground in minutes. Tens of thousands forced to flee.

But as I write this, not one life has been lost. And although Waldo still burns, the worst of the crisis seems to have passed.

So, I feel a little silly for having wasted a vacation day and racing all over the place to keep our things safe.

But I’m mostly grateful as hell.

Sharks Gotta Swim, Bats Gotta Fly

June 28th, 2012 - 4:18 pm

You stay classy, Democrats.

Wait — are Democrats really celebrating in the crudest way, a massive tax hike on everybody, and a vast increase in state power?

But of course they are.

“Stolen Valor” Knocked Down

June 28th, 2012 - 2:08 pm

Another SCOTUS decision slipped under the radar this morning:

The Supreme Court today struck down the Stolen Valor Act that made it illegal to falsely claim to be the recipient of military honors and decorations, SCOTUSblog.com reports.

The court found that the statute violates the First Amendment.

The decision, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, says the law, as written, “seeks to control and suppress all false statements on this one subject in almost limitless times and settings without regard to whether the lie was made for the purpose of material gain.”

This is a correct decision. However, people who do wear medals they haven’t earned absolutely must be shunned by all decent people.

Put. The Gravy Boat. Down.

June 28th, 2012 - 10:51 am

Trifecta: Congratulations on your wedding day — I hope you enjoy this donation I’ve made in your name to the President’s reelection campaign.

Take a Deep Breath

June 28th, 2012 - 9:54 am

Now that the shock has worn off, let’s think about this.

President Obama is now the owner of the biggest tax hike in history, he wields the most powerful IRS in history, has effectively been called a liar by the Supreme Court, and the Commerce Clause finally hit a wall future congresses will find it difficult to scale.

How again is this a political win for the Democrats?

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Mandate Survives as a Tax

June 28th, 2012 - 8:29 am

It’s not a mandate, it’s a tax, says the Supreme Court.

But it’s not a tax, says President Obama.

If this thing is a tax, then what can’t be construed as a tax? What worries me is, the precedent has been set. So even if this abomination is repealed next year, it seems Congress can do pretty much whatever it likes — so long as Chief Justice Roberts can get the idea into his head that it’s really just a tax.

But now I’m hearing that states can sort-of opt out. Well: that giant sucking sound you here is jobs fleeing to 26 states that are fighting this thing.

In any case, the Court seems to have emasculated the law just enough to take it from unwieldily and unaffordable, to even more unwieldily and unaffordable.

The mandate though is not a tax, because it falls on you only if you refuse to do as ordered — as mandated. I can’t wrap my head around how Roberts wrapped his head around this.

It’s Another Hot One

June 28th, 2012 - 7:40 am

Nobody here got much sleep last night, but we still don’t have to evacuate. I did finally get about 90 minutes of shuteye — the 90 before I have to walk the dog and change the baby.

More updates after I get caught up.

UPDATE: “Hundreds of homes destroyed,” but nobody knows exactly how many yet.

No further evacuation notices today, mandatory or otherwise. Our little neighborhood is still in the clear, but as we learned yesterday, that can change in a hurry.

We’re packing up things to bring to friends in Denver later today, just in case.

Entangling Alliance

June 27th, 2012 - 2:49 pm

There’s another wildfire with the potential to burn out of control — this one on the Turko-Syrian border:

When the Syrians shot down a Turkish military jet at the weekend, Turkey’s government responded with commendable moderation. But the temperature rose yesterday when the country’s Deputy Prime Minister, Bulent Arinc, revealed that Syria had gone on to fire on a plane sent to look for the missing pilots and described this as “a hostile act of the highest order”. Turkey is now threatening a military response against any Syrian forces approaching the long border between the two countries and has revised its military rules of engagement. . . .

But just as significantly Turkey is a member of Nato. Ankara has approached the alliance now under Article 4 of the Nato Treaty which allows any member state to demand a Nato meeting if it believes its “territorial integrity, political independence or security” is threatened.

Turkey hasn’t invoked Article 5, which would if approved would require Alliance action in defense of Turkey.

It’s Like Craig’s List for Refugees

June 27th, 2012 - 2:00 pm

A local man has put together WaldoFire.com, where evacuees can find people offering aid and shelter. And if you have aid or shelter, you can make that known there, too.

Expanded Mandatory Evacuation Map

June 27th, 2012 - 1:51 pm

That’s a big expansion from this morning, and doesn’t even include the new pre-evac warning area here in Monument. So far, not even any pre-evac anywhere west of I-25, which gives us hope.

Full PDF here.

Monument, CO Under Pre-Evacuation Warning

June 27th, 2012 - 1:20 pm

That’s just the part of town west of I-25. We’re east of the interstate — but not by much. Will post as I can, but right now we’re packing more things.

And This Time, They Mean It

June 27th, 2012 - 12:15 pm

Trifecta: Privileged white people fight the power of white privilege!

Northwestern tip of the blaze.

Here’s the western Colorado Springs edge of the Waldo Canyon Fire. It’s taken big chunks of Flying W Ranch Road, and has breach Centennial in a couple places further north.

The Flying W employee talking on the news just now said he was shocked by just how fast the fire took down the ranch.

Not good.

That’s the control tower near the middle of the screen. Remember though that a telephoto view compresses distance. So my best guess is that the fire is still more than a mile out. Here’s the close in view from Weather Underground, which shows at least two miles distance — but that was an hour or more ago.

Stay tuned.

The Wheels are Coming Off

June 27th, 2012 - 10:31 am

This is how it begins:

The first Democratic member of Congress has said that he will vote to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt for withholding documents related to the “Fast and Furious” investigation that has plagued the Justice Department, the Salt Lake Tribune reports.

Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, joined House Republicans on Tuesday with his announcement. Most Democratic members are expected to support Holder.

“Most,” not “all” Democrats. More will follow Matheson.


Compare this to the map at the bottom of the post. Crap.


Reader Jerry left a link to Weather Underground’s Wunder Map. There are all kinds of overlays you can play with, but the one I have here is the one labeled “Fire.”

The smoke overlay comes with the fire, so to speak — which obscures most of the map and, I think, reduces its practicality. Although it certainly packs an emotional punch.

I don’t need to point out the fire to you, but if you’ll look at the smoke in the top-right corner, I’m right around the “83″ temperature pin.


I zoomed in on the fire, took a screencap, and then messed with the exposure so you can “see” through the smoke a bit better.

The fire is mostly on the northeast ridge of the canyon, between westbound Highway 24 and Ormes Peak. 24 is dotted with small towns going west. Eastbound? Manitou Springs and then Colorado Springs. From this map, the fire appears to have crested (or nearly crested) the ridge above the Garden of the Gods park. There’s really nothing in the way of choke points or firebreaks between Garden of the Gods and the western part of town.

If you look very closely, you might notice that that ridge is a neighborhood (a rather nice one), and that the fire is right up against its western edge.


Thanks to tips from John Ki and JohnO, I’ve made the map much more readable. Click the link and play around with it yourself.

Waldo Canyon Fire Update

June 27th, 2012 - 7:37 am

More than 32,000 Colorado Springs-area residents have been forced to evacuate the Waldo Canyon Fire:

Heavy smoke and ash billowed from the foothills west of the city as the Waldo Canyon Fire became the top challenge for the nation’s firefighters.

“It was like looking at the worst movie set you could imagine,” Gov. John Hickenlooper said after flying over the fire late Tuesday. “It’s almost surreal.”

With flames cresting a ridge high above its campus, the Air Force Academy told more than 2,100 residents to evacuate.

Here’s the mandatory evacuation area, west of I-25, from about Highway 24 to Woodman Road. That’s all ‘burbs.

2,100 were evacuated from the Air Force Academy yesterday, which of course isn’t in session right now. I live in Woodmoor, marked on the map about nine miles north of the Academy.

It’s unbelievably dry here, and it’s been record-setting hot, too. That’s why every report you read about this fire has somebody saying something about how fast and aggressive it is. Melissa and I are pinning our hopes on the Air Force. For the fire to reach us, it would have to first get through the Academy — and we can’t imagine the Air Force allowing that to happen.

Made in the USA or Wherever

June 27th, 2012 - 6:40 am

President Obama — outsourcer-in-chief? Maybe:

A crucial aspect of an Afghani self-determined defense strategy will be the control of its skies. The US Air Force is currently in the process of procuring aircraft to support the Afghan Air Force, which would add 20 state of the art aircraft to the Afghan military arsenal.

Unfortunately, the road to this has been met with several significant bumps, as the Air Force last year awarded the contract to Brazilian company Embraer for its Super Tucano, as opposed to Kansas-based Hawker Beechcraft for its AT-6, which is manufactured in America. In a recent turn of events, however, the contract for the Brazilian-made aircraft was dismissed by the Secretary of the Air Force, and the contract is back on the table, setting off a new bidding process once again between a foreign company and one that is American-owned and operated.

Obama is just spreading the wealth around a little bit to Brazil. It’s not like he hasn’t done that before.

Stand By

June 26th, 2012 - 9:14 pm

Our local weather sucks:

Colorado’s so-called Waldo Canyon fire sent a mushroom cloud of smoke nearly 20,000 feet (6,100 metres) into the air over Colorado Springs near Pikes Peak, whose breathtaking vistas from the summit helped inspire the song “America the Beautiful”.

Closer to the blaze, which has been fanned by winds blowing into the Southern Rockies from the prairies to the east, trees were visibly twisting from the heat of the flames.

The latest evacuations brought the total number of people forced from their homes to about 12,000 as the blaze posed a renewed threat to hundreds of dwellings and appeared to have roared to within about a mile (1.6 km) of the U.S. Air Force Academy grounds in Colorado Springs.

The USAFA isn’t that far south of here. It’s on the opposite side of I-25, which should serve as a decent firebreak.

We’re signed up for all the reverse-911 and text alerts and all the rest. I have the family photo archives and whatnot on external drives I can grab in a hurry. We’ve already made arrangements for the dog and the cat, just in case.

It’s not panic-time here. But it is time to take sensible precautions, which is exactly what we’re doing. If we do have to pack up an go, follow my Twitter feed for more fire updates.

UPDATE: Please allow me to apologize in advance for the language I’m about to use.

Fuck you, Reuters.

The fire started it Waldo Canyon. It’s a wildfire. So there’s not one damn thing “so-called” about the Waldo Canyon Fire. That’s just exactly what the hell it is, capiche?

We don’t need any clever “one man’s wildfire is another man’s chance to make s’mores” formulations tonight. The place I love, the place I’ve called home for almost 20 years — it’s on fire.

So bite me, Reuters.

Everybody is in Line Behind Tim Cook

June 26th, 2012 - 3:43 pm

Intel has pushed hard (and ponied up big bucks) to get PC makers to produce “Ultrabook” laptops competitive with Apple’s MacBook Air lineup — so far without much success. Here’s one reason why:

Supply of metal chassis for ultraportable PC notebooks remains constrained as Apple has reportedly locked up most of the capacity available from suppliers.

Taiwanese tech industry publication DigiTimes reported on Tuesday that metal chassis supply “continues to suffer from shortage.” The reason: Apple is buying most of the supply available for its unibody MacBook lineup, including the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air.

The two largest metal chassis manufacturers, Catcher Technology and Foxconn, have reportedly been “aggressively establishing new CNC machines.” But they are said to be unlikely to full demand until the end of 2012.

This is why it’s better to innovate than to copy.

The Guns of August Redux

June 26th, 2012 - 1:39 pm

Trifecta: Is Arizona the new Sarajevo?