In Memoriam: Ed Rasimus

A fellow blogger and Vietnam fighter pilot, Ed Rasimus, has died. Ed flew F-105‘s and F-4‘s in Vietnam, receiving several decorations for valor in action, and wrote extremely entertaining books about his experiences there.  He blogged for several years at Thunder Tales, to the enjoyment of many.  He was diagnosed with adenocarcinoma last year, and the disease spread very rapidly.  He was admitted to a hospice recently, and passed away yesterday. Godspeed, Sir.  May your final flight be escorted by angels.  We’re diminished by your loss. Peter

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China steals another foreign aircraft design

Readers are probably familiar with reports that China’s ‘new’ Xian Y-20 transport aircraft (shown below) has just conducted its maiden flight. The aircraft is clearly very similar in many respects to the Soviet Ilyushin Il-76 transport (shown below), dating back to the 1970s (it uses the same engines as early models of the Il-76, and its claimed performance figures are very close to those of the earlier design).  China currently operates about 30 Il-76’s, and has more on order. It’s also very similar in some aspects to the Boeing C-17 transport (shown below – note particularly the tailplane and top

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The terrorist threat in North Africa

Looks like all those warnings about Libya’s vast arsenal becoming the feedstock for Islamist extremist terrorism are coming true, and the huge expanses of wasteland in the Sahara Desert and surrounding areas are becoming a haven and training-ground for them.  Der Spiegel reports: Northern Mali is just one part of the vast hinterland in which the Islamists can hide. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius refers to the rocky and sandy desert, spanning 7,500 kilometers (about 4,700 miles) from Senegal in the west to Somalia in the east, as “Sahelistan.” The Sahel zone is larger than all of Europe and so

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I wish the Obama administration would learn from this . . .

. . . but you may be sure they won’t.  Wisconsin’s doing great after cutting spending. Wisconsin’s budget picture brightened Thursday, with new estimates that show a surplus will grow to $484 million, giving Republicans and Gov. Scott Walker even more room to pursue their tax cutting agenda. The estimate from the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau was nearly $137 million better than one Walker’s administration released in November. . . . In 2011, Walker took office facing a roughly $3 billion budget shortfall and attacked the problem with deep cuts to education, local governments and other programs. He also forced

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Doofus Of The Day #674

A tip o’ the hat to Matt Sorrell, who blogs at Merlin’s Musings, for giving me a heads-up about today’s winners. Two people are hospitalized in Dallas following an explosion at an oil storage facility in East Texas on Tuesday. . . . According to Van Zandt County fire marshal Chuck Allen, a man and a woman, both 24, were smoking while sitting on top of a tank used to store a chemical and salt water mixture — presumably for fracking. The tank they were on exploded. Of the six tanks at the facility, three caught fire and burned. There’s

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Medical marijuana and firearms

Karl Denninger makes an interesting point about firearms ownership and the (legal) use of medical marijuana. You know that 4473 form?  Yeah, the one that asks about the use of illegal drugs? Well, what about medical marijuana — if it’s legal in your state? Guess what — there appears to be a rather strong presumption at the federal level that this is a disqualification for ownership of firearms! . . . This looks like something that is going to severely play hell with people who were foolish enough to believe that their state laws would protect them…… and incidentally, if

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Investment banking: Snakes and ladders

Der Spiegel has a very interesting two-part article on the current crisis in investment banking.  It’s well worth reading as an indicator that the economic slide that began in 2007/08 isn’t over yet, and may in fact be getting worse (as I and other informed commenters have been saying for some time).  Here are a couple of extracts. Last fall, only a few weeks apart, a businesswoman and a banker went to the Coq d’Argent, an upscale restaurant and hot spot in the world of London high finance, located on the top floor of a shopping complex, to end their

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Measuring blog readership

This post will be of possible interest to fellow bloggers, but not to many others, so if you want to skip this one and go to the next, feel free. Last July I wrote about problems I was encountering with Sitemeter and its measurement of visitors to this blog.  Recently I received a couple of e-mail follow-ups to that post from other bloggers, complaining that Sitemeter was showing their readership statistics dropping suddenly over the past week or so.  Mine are too, and Google Analytics and Blogger stats confirm that.  I suspect that Google and/or other search engines have ‘tweaked’

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Planes encountering fish – in mid-air!

I’ve been aware of a well-known incident where an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 hit a fish dropped by an eagle as it (the plane) took off from Juneau, bound for Yakutat.  The ‘seven-thirty-seven’ apparently became unofficially known as the ‘salmon-thirty-salmon’ among those involved. You can read more about the incident here. I came across this plane-versus-fish encounter while looking for information in connection with another article I’m preparing.  I’d heard of the Alaska incident before, but was very surprised when my Internet search turned up not one, but four such encounters!  Another took place in Canada in 2009, where an

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