Monday, August 08, 2011

The Mouths of Madness

It's an interesting sort of a Monday, here at the day job. To begin with, my day-job physical location is different today. To avoid a truly nauseating level of detail, suffice it to say that the alignment and testing of a large-aperture optic is going to require a fixture that can position a small concave spherical surface at a predetermined location, within a few microns, and also to move it by measured amounts and return it to the predetermined "home" position to within that same few microns' uncertainty. This fixture must be characterized, meaning that we know the translator coordinates that produce the "home" position, and also the (reasonably) exact directions of the three translational and two rotational axes of motion. This characterization requires the use of a CMM (Coordinate Measuring Machine). My employer is borrowing the use of such a CMM, and also its operator and the temperature-controlled inspection room in which it resides, from a local tool-and-engineering shop with which it does a lot of other business, and so that's where I'm sitting today, mostly because I'm the one who knows how to run the five positioning axes. I have a computer here (the one that runs the positioners), but no internet connection. I run the positioners; I assist in the interpretation of the data; and I have stretches of time in which there's really nothing for me to do, but not enough time to go back to the usual location and do my usual work. So, I have Notepad open, and my idea is to semi-live-blog my day, publishing the results on a delayed basis after my internet connectivity is restored.

The CMM guy likes to listen to the radio. He likes the talk radio, to be a little more specific. His choices in talk radio here in the Fort are rather limited. Those choices begin and end with the local Clear Channel outlet, call letters WOWO. And, since I'm sitting in the inspection room, listening to right-wing talk radio must be what I like to do, too. In any case, it's what I'm going to do.

We started out at this morning 6:30. The CMM guy works early hours, as everyone else here seems to do, also. (My normal day job starts at 7:30, which probably still seems pretty early to most people.) At 6:30, WOWO's local drive-time host, a [sarcasm]certified genius[/sarcasm] called "Charlie Butcher" (yeah, sure), was holding forth. He seemed to think that the big news this morning was the US having lost its "AAA" credit rating. About which, he's sure that: it's undeserved, since we are, after all, the You Ess Ay (number one!) and the strong center of Freedom and All That's Right in the world; it doesn't matter, since foreigners will be happy to lend us whatever we want, at whatever rates of interest it pleases us to pay; and it's very bad, because it makes us look bad; and it's all Obama's fault.

In due course, Charlie Butcher goes away, and on comes a national act: Glenn Beck. The Weepy Mormon is also preoccupied with what he's calling "the downgrade" -- which is all Obama's fault, of course. This probably makes it the official Topic of the Day, and relieves me from wondering what Mr. Limbaugh's chief concern will be, later on. Mr. Beck differs from the local guy in that he seems to think that some vague bad stuff might be on the way as a result of "the unthinkable" having happened; however, he has no particular advice for his listeners as to how they should prepare for this bad stuff because "we don't know what it will look like." He implies that the general advice he's been giving his listeners applies, of course -- stuff like get out of debt and have supplies of basic necessities stored away. Of course.

Later: I've had lunch, and the airwaves are Rush-infested. He's mad (true dat!) ... or perhaps I should say, he's simulating anger. For the first time since there have been credit ratings, the US has lost its credit rating. Through the Great Depression, through the First World War, through the Second World War, we had a wonderful credit rating, but now ... no more. Now, France ... the voice is nearly choked with rage ... has a better credit rating than we do! And they make ... perfume ... and cheese!

Gee, Rush ... at least they make something that someone would voluntarily buy. What do we make? War? About the only other country that wants war -- Israel -- doesn't pay for it. Not a good business model, I think.

In any event, all of this is the Peace Laureate's fault. Barackalypse Now! Obamageddon! Oooooh, are the Amur'kan people ever going to get even with him! He's Debt Man Walking! He's landslide-able!

Apparently, the Wicked Negro is supposed to be talking live (it's 1:19 pm, EDT), but he's not doing so yet. He's not fooling Rush a bit, though. Rush knows there's some less-than-honorable reason why the current Supremo isn't out there on time to face the nation, and face the music. Rush isn't telling us why, exactly, but the contemptuous tones of his voice leave no doubt that it's truly vile. Oh, well.

2:35 pm, EDT: I gather that Prexy has spoken. Based on what Mr. Limbaugh has to say, I can't tell what the content of the Peace Laureate's remarks may have been. I can tell that it's completely unsatisfactory to our pillhead host, but there's no surprise there, and no information, either. I daresay it would have been quite unsatisfactory to me, too, if I'd heard it -- but undoubtedly for different reasons. I don't suppose it matters much anyway, in the big picture. The American Empire is passing away; the only real question is, how graceful (or graceless) will the process be? I think the American concept is that no matter whether any merchant really wants to accept fishy IOUs from the gangster who has the biggest guns, they'll have to accept them anyway, out of simple fear. But the gangster usually overestimates his guns; he imagines that because they're astronomically expensive, they must be astronomically good, which doesn't necessarily follow. In any case, things should be interesting. Meanwhile, my Day of Talk Radio is over. My eardrums have been turned to leather, and I'm certainly looking forward to a more-normal day tomorrow.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Live by the Sword, Die by ...

... the helicopter crash, I guess.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, and they could hardly have found a more valuable target: American officials said that 22 of the dead were Navy Seal commandos, including members of Seal Team 6. Other commandos from that team conducted the raid in Abbottabad, Pakistan, that killed Bin Laden in May. The officials said that those who were killed Saturday were not involved in the Pakistan mission.
As a notorious non-supporter of The Troops™, all I can say is, there's thirty folks who'll never become thug cops back home, at least.