Saturday, 19 July 2008

AN INTERESTING HISTORY LESSON

Ken Berwitz

I just got this from my friend "Russ".  If you don't enjoy it - and learn from it - I give up. 

Be sure to read through to the last paragraph!!

Railroad tracks .


The US standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails)
is 4 feet, 8.5 inches. That's an exceedingly odd number.

Why was that gauge used? Because that's the way they built
them in England, and English expatriates built the US railroads.

Why did the English build them like that? Because the first rail lines
were built by the same people who built the pre-railroad tramways,
and that's the gauge they used.

Why did 'they' use that gauge then? Because the people who built the
tramways used the same jigs and tools that they used for building wagons,
which used that wheel spacing.

Why did the wagons have that particular odd wheel spacing? Well, if
they tried to use any other spacing, the wagon wheels would break on
some of the old, long distance roads in England , because that's the
spacing of the wheel ruts.

So who built those old rutted roads? Imperial Rome built the first long
distance roads in Europe (and England ) for their legions The roads
have been used ever since.

And the ruts in the roads? Roman war chariots formed the initial ruts,
which everyone else had to match for fear of destroying their wagon
wheels. Since the chariots were made for Imperial Rome, they were all
alike in the matter of wheel spacing. Therefore the United States standard
railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches is derived from the original specifications
for an Imperial Roman war chariot. Bureaucracies live forever.

So the next time you are handed a Specification/Procedure/Process and
wonder 'What horse's ass came up with it?' you may be exactly right.
Imperial Roman army chariots were made just wide enough to accommodate
the rear ends of two war horses. (Two horses' asses.) Now, the twist to the story:

When you see a Space Shuttle sitting on its launch pad, there are two
big booster rockets attached to the sides of the main fuel tank. These
are solid rocket boosters, or SRB's. The SRB's are made by Thiokol
at their factory in Utah . The engineers who designed the SRB's would
have preferred to make them a bit fatter, but the SRB's had to be shipped
by train from the factory to the launch site. The railroad line from the factory
happens to run through a tunnel in the mountains, and the SRB's had to fit
through that tunnel. The tunnel is slightly wider than the railroad track, and
the railroad track, as you now know, is about as wide as two horses' behinds.

So, a major Space Shuttle design feature of what is arguably the world's
most advanced transportation system was determined over two thousand
years ago by t he width of a horse's ass. And you thought being a horse's
ass wasn't important? Ancient horse's asses control almost everything..
and CURRENT Horses Asses are controlling everything else. 


EHUD OLMERT MUST RESIGN

Ken Berwitz

Ehud Olmert is the Prime Minister of Israel. 

He is a lousy Prime Minister who seems intent on making a named for himself by appeasing the palestinian Arabs who are committed to vaporizing his country.

And, as it turns out, it has become apparent that he is also a crook

The accusations have been out there for months.  But I held off writing about them until there was little doubt that they were true.  Now there is little doubt.

Here is a brief but excellent account of the sorry situation from Paul Mirengoff of www.powerline.blog:

Ehud Olmert and the decline of Israel

Israel continues to face many serious threats and potential threats: a nuclear Iran, an emboldened Hezbollah, and the dislike or hatred of various European states and some on the American left. But one senses that a greater threat is posed by what looks like rampant corruption within Israel itself.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert symbolizes the problem. Golda Meir resigned after the Yom Kippur war, which Israel won. Olmert did not resign after the botched war in Lebanon. This contrast alone suggests decline.

But now Olmert faces credible charges of corruption. An American businessman, Morris Talansky, says he gave Olmert more than $150,000 over a 15 year period, much of it cash stuffed into envelopes. Talansky says that, though the money was intended to help fund Olmert's political campaigns, in fact it helped support Olmert's lavish lifestyle -- a fancy Italian vacation, fine cigars, and a stay at the Ritz-Carlton in Washington, D.C.

Olmert is also being investigated over evidence that he may have bilked various charities of more than $100,000 by billing multiple organizations for the same flights and hotel stays. These organizations are said to include the Holocaust memorial authority, a group that supports Israeli soldiers, and a group that helps mentally retarded children.

Olmert claims that it's all a set-up by corrupt state law enforcement authorities. If true, that would exonerate Olmert, but it would hardly reduce the sense that corruption is rampant in Israel. Nor does that sense rest on the Olmert affair, whatever the truth of it. One reads frequently of venality in high places in Israel.

Israelis live under great pressure, and it is not surprising that they have become quite materialistic. Americans are at least as bad, with less excuse. And while an Israel as materialistic as today's might not have prevailed in 1948, there's no reason to assume that it cannot survive today, given the technological and related advantages it possesses. But a corrupt Israel -- one in which its soldiers are asked to sacrifice so much while its leaders line their pockets -- is another matter.

It is long past the time for this human disaster to hand the reins of government over to someone who might have a clue as to how to lead Israel and protect the country from its enemies.  Let him face the charges described above and either disprove them or go to jail.

Olmert must resign.   Now.


KEITH OLBERMANN LIES FOR YOUR VIEWING PLEASURE

Ken Berwitz

This comes to us from www.olbermannwatch.com.  It is a reminder that keith olbermann is a liar.  And that all his bluster and rehearsed fury is cover for the fact that he is a liar. 

Olbermann is what he is.  You just saw the proof.  End of blog.

derek aka gumstick oops, mean to add that comment here... (07/19/08)

derek aka gumstick wait, that was the ninth, not the thieving magpie... sorry... (07/19/08)


JOHN MCCAIN'S CREDENTIALS: AN EYE WITNESS ACCOUNT

Ken Berwitz

Not one word necessary from me on this one.  Mr. James H. Warner, writing for The Herald-Mail, says it all:

July 19, 2008

McCain's bravery, as seen by one man imprisoned with him

"Well, I don't think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president." That was retired Gen. Wesley Clark's condescending assessment of John McCain's military service. Clark's words have great weight because he was speaking as a key political/military advisor to Barack Obama.

If Gen. Clark had been talking about me, his remarks might be true. After all, I rode in a fighter plane and got shot down over North Vietnam. In no way do Clark's words apply to McCain. I know, because I was a firsthand witness to his singular leadership and courage. In the years I spent as a POW in North Vietnam, I saw McCain inspire and lead under trying circumstances that Gen. Clark has not the imagination to understand.

As for the role of a president, I was fortunate enough to serve as a domestic policy advisor to President Ronald Reagan. Seeing him in action, and seeing John McCain in action, I know they are equals in character, ability and political courage.

I met John McCain in a POW camp in Vietnam. He told me his father and grandfather read history every evening. Since our release, I have done the same. From my study of history I know what we need in a leader.

Great leaders have an undefinable quality: Call it charisma. Young Winston Churchill once wrote to his mother, "We are all worms, but I am a glowworm." And so it proved. John McCain, too, is a "glowworm." You cannot help but notice him.

Gen. George C. Marshall, Army chief of staff during World War II, said, "The first thing a leader needs is courage." Churchill had courage. As a cavalry officer in the British army, Churchill left garrison duty to go where the action was. During his army career he was several times under hostile fire and conducted two daring and famous rescues. The second rescue came when he was a war correspondent covering the Boer War in 1899. It led to his capture as a prisoner of war. He escaped and after several adventures reached safety in Portuguese Mozambique. The story made him a world-wide hero and helped get him elected to Parliament.

When he became Prime Minister in World War II, all looked bleak. After the surrender of France there were some who thought that Britain could not carry on alone and should negotiate a peace with Hitler. But Churchill would not quit. He fought on until, as he said, "In God's good time, the new world comes to the rescue of the old."

McCain, like Churchill, has courage. McCain, like Churchill, stood strong when all looked bleak. My friend, Col. Jack Van Loan, was in a cell from which he could see several senior Communist officers, along with an interpreter and men with a stretcher, enter McCain's cell. He knew that John was immobilized by his wounds. He heard them offer McCain early release and heard John answer that he would go home when we all go home.

He heard the voices of the officers rising until they were shouting angrily at McCain and threatening him. This was followed by a stream of obscenities from McCain and the rapid exit of the senior officers. John told them never again to try to get him to accept early release. He was defiant at a time that he was physically helpless, unable even to crawl on his own.

In the spring of 1971, I personally witnessed John McCain's courage. After the attempted rescue of POWs at the camp at Son Tay, in November of 1970, almost all Americans were moved to Hoa Lo prison in Hanoi, the infamous "Hanoi Hilton." The communists felt so threatened by the raid that, for the first time, they concentrated us in large cells, with as many as 60 men to a cell.

One of the first things we did was to institute regular religious services in our cells. On Jan. 1, 1971, we were told that all religious activity was forbidden. This led to a long series of increasingly hostile confrontations that someone has labeled "the Church Riots." I was in a cell next to McCain's. In early March, the four senior men in his cell were removed and for some time we lost contact with them. Then the four senior men in my cell were removed, and we lost contact with them, also. The confrontations rapidly escalated. On the evening of March 18 there was a confrontation that almost descended to guards shooting mutinous POWs. The communists were now afraid of losing control.

My recollection is that John McCain was now the senior man in his cell. In any case, I know that he was deeply involved with what followed. The senior men in our two cells kept us under tight control, but carefully staged demonstrations of our anger over the religious ban and the removal of our cell mates. On March 19, St. Joseph's Day, the day after the dangerous confrontation, I remember the men in McCain's room singing, at the top of their lungs, first "the Battle Hymn of the Republic," then "Onward Christian Soldiers." This was not merely courage, but exquisite leadership to get men to show open defiance when it was clear that there would be retaliation. The only question was in what form and how harsh that retaliation would be. Remember that all of these men had been tortured and knew to what lengths the enemy was willing to go to maintain control.

Courage alone, however, is not sufficient. A great leader also needs greatness of spirit. Again, I turn to Churchill, who never held a grudge and was prepared to be gracious and magnanimous toward a defeated foe. When McCain led church services, he prayed for the enemy who had tortured him. I have observed Ronald Reagan in the White House and I have observed McCain in the Hanoi Hilton. I have seen that McCain, like Churchill, like Reagan, has courage, prudence, and magnanimity. That is why he is qualified to be president, even if he hadn't ridden in a fighter plane and gotten shot down.


SPEAKING OF LIARS.....TODAY'S NEW YORK TIMES

Ken Berwitz

Under the stewardship (make that sewership) of Arthur Ochs "Pinch" Sulzberger, the New York Times has fallen from its lofty perch as "the newspaper of record" into what basically is the New York Post with bigger words and a different fold.

Here is a perfect example.

The lead story in this morning's Times is about Iraq.  Taking time out from its daily hit piece on anything and everything that happens there, today's Times tells us that President Bush changed his policy regarding a timetable for troop withdrawal.  The clear implication is that Mr. Bush has finally at long last realized the error of his ways and is now listening to that giant of military expertise, General Barack Obama.

Here is the beginning of the article:

Bush, in Shift, Accepts Idea of Iraq Timeline

Published: July 19, 2008

HOUSTON President Bush agreed to a general time horizon for withdrawing American troops in Iraq, the White House announced Friday, in a concession that reflected both progress in stabilizing Iraq and the depth of political opposition to an open-ended military presence in Iraq and at home.

Mr. Bush, who has long derided timetables for troop withdrawals as dangerous, agreed to at least a notional one as part of the administrations efforts to negotiate the terms for an American military presence in Iraq after a United Nations mandate expires at the end of the year.

The agreement, announced in coordinated statements released Friday by the White House and Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Malikis government, reflected a significant shift in the war in Iraq. More than five years after the conflict began with the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, the American military presence now depends significantly, if not completely, on Iraqi acquiescence.

The White House offered no specifics about how far off any time horizon would be, with officials saying details remained to be negotiated. Any dates cited in an agreement would be cast as goals for handing responsibility to Iraqis, and not specifically for reducing American troops, said a White House spokesman, Gordon D. Johndroe.

Notice that fourth paragraph, the one I put in bold print?  It is the paragraph which puts the lie to the entipre premise of this article. 

Let me say it plainly:

President Bush has continually said that he would reduce troop levels in Iraq if conditions on the ground permit, but he would not create a pre-set timetable for withdrawal which does not take into account what is happening there.  This agreement, therefore, is exactly in accordance with what he has been saying all along.

There, is that clear enough?

So what we have, again (and again and again) is the New York Times lying to its readers by pumping out a headline which bears no semblance of reality....then burying the reality somewhere in the body of the article so the paper can say it was there.

It is amazing how low the Times has sunk.  What a shame.  But there it is, at the bottom of its self-created cesspool.

Maybe Sulzberger should offer keith olbermann the job of news editor.  Hey, why not go all the way, especially when the paper is so close to it already?

derek aka gumstick i thought 'the thieving magpie" was an appropriate musical choice for that clip... (07/19/08)


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