One of the Boston Marathon Bombers spent 6 Months in the Epicenter of an Islamist Insurgency

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 28th, 2013

Week in Review

After the Boston marathon bombing all we’re hearing from those on the left and in the mainstream media is that it was a terrorist attack.  And probably not related to the bombers’ religion.  Islam.  Even though the bombers were ethnic Chechens.  Who lived for a time in Dagestan.  Where Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the older brother, lived for 6 months last year.  But what does that mean?  It’s not like Dagestan is a hotbed of Islamist extremism (see Two militants shot dead in Russia’s Dagestan by Alexei Anishchuk posted 4/24/2013 on Reuters).

Security officers shot dead two suspected militants in Russia’s volatile North Caucasus republic of Dagestan, the epicenter of an Islamist insurgency, the National Anti-Terrorist Committee said on Wednesday.

Moscow is struggling to quell the persistent attacks by Islamist militants more than a decade after it fought two separatist wars in the adjacent republic of Chechnya.

Well, I guess that’s exactly what Dagestan is.  A hotbed of Islamist extremism.  Nay, the epicenter of an Islamist insurgency.  Where Tamerlan lived for 6 months.  And from some accounts wanted to stay in Dagestan.  The epicenter of an Islamist insurgency.  Just so he could spend time with his mom and dad.  Apparently.

At least this was what those on the left and in the mainstream media would have you believe.  Because they can’t say things like ‘Islamist extremism’.  ‘Muslim terrorist’.  ‘Islamist militants’.  Or ‘radical Islam’.  For one it doesn’t fit the narrative.  President Obama killed Osama bin Laden.  Winning the War on Terror.  And when you won that war you can’t refer to your vanquished enemy as if they still exist.  So that’s one reason.  Another reason is that the American left just hates Christianity so much that they want to show nothing but tolerance to Islam.  Because Islam hates Christianity, too.

And then there’s that other reason.  President Obama was going to kill them with kindness.  Sort of like FDR with Joseph Stalin.  Who was going to make Stalin like him.  And once he did FDR was going to turn on that FDR charm to get whatever he wanted from him.  (Ironically, it was Stalin who got everything he wanted from FDR).  Which was what President Obama was going to do.  For he was sure the only reason why radical Islam was attacking America was because of George W. Bush.  Bush made the Islamists hate America by acting so tough and mean to them.  So President Obama was going to show them the softer side America.  (The side that didn’t have drones raining down death on the occasional innocent bystander).  A George W. Bush-free side of America.  And turn on the Obama charm.  It just couldn’t fail.  And it would have worked, too, if only it hadn’t failed.

Islamists hate us.  And want to kill us.  Case in point the Boston Marathon bombing.  This despite Osama bin Laden being dead.  And President Obama’s charm.   In fact, they don’t respect President Obama.  They respect George W. Bush.  But not president Obama.  Because tough and mean they respect.  But displays of weakness?  They look at that with contempt.  Which is why terrorist activity increased during the Obama presidency.  Because they just don’t respect a man dripping with weakness.  And you just can’t drip more weakness than when you go out of your way so as not to offend the people trying to kill you.


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Corduroy Roads, Positive Buoyancy, Negative Buoyancy, Carbon Dioxide, Crush Depth, Pressurization, Rapid Decompression and Space

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 9th, 2012

Technology 101

Early Submarines could not Stay Submerged for Long for the Carbon Dioxide the Crew Exhaled built up to Dangerous Levels

People can pretty much walk anywhere.  As long as the ground is fairly solid beneath our feet.  Ditto for horses.  Though they tend to sink a little deeper in the softer ground than people do.  Carts are another story.  And artillery trains.  For their narrow wheels and heavy weight distributed on them tend to sink when the earthen ground is wet.  Early armies needing to move cannon and wagons through swampy areas would first build roads through these areas.  Out of trees.  Called corduroy roads.  It was a bumpy ride.  But you could pull heavy loads with small footprints through otherwise impassable areas.  As armies mechanized trucks and jeeps with fatter rubber tires replaced the narrow wheels on wagons.  Then tracked vehicles came along.  Allowing the great weights of armored vehicles with large guns to move across open fields.  The long and wide footprints of these vehicles distributing that heavy weight over a larger area.  Still, nothing can beat the modern rubber tire on a paved road for a smooth ride.  And the lower resistance between tire and road increases gas mileage.  Which is why trucks like to use as few axles on their trailers as possible.  For the more tires on the road the more friction between truck and road.  And the higher fuel consumption to overcome that friction.  Which is why we have to weigh trucks for some try to cheat by pulling heavier loads with too few axles.  When they do the high weight distributed through too few wheels will cause great stresses on the roadway.  Causing them to break and crumble apart.   

Man and machine can move freely across pretty much anything.  If we don’t carry food and water with us we could even ‘live off the land’.  But one thing we can’t do is walk or drive on water.  We have to bridge streams and rivers.  Go around lakes.  Or move onto boats.  Which can drive on water.  If they are built right.  And are buoyant.  Because if a boat weighed less than the water it displaced it floated.  Much like a pair of light-weight, spongy flip-flops made out of foam rubber.  Throw a pair into the water and they will float.  Put them on your feet and step into the deep end of a pool and you’ll sink.  Because when worn on your feet the large weight of your body distributed to the light pair of flip-flops makes those flip-flops heavier than the water they displace.  And they, along with you, sink.  Unlike a boat.  Which is lighter than the water it displaces.  As long as it is not overloaded.  Even if it’s steel.  Or concrete.  You see, the weight of the boat includes all the air inside the hull.  So a large hull filled with cargo AND air will be lighter than the water it displaces.  Which is why boats float. 

Early sail ships had great range.  As long as the wind blew.  Their range only being limited by the amount of food and fresh water they carried.  Later steam engines and diesel-electric engines had greater freedom in navigation not having to depend on the prevailing winds.  But they had the same limitations of food and water.  And when we took boats under the water we had another limitation.  Fresh air.  Early submarines could not stay submerged for long.  For underwater they could not pull air into a diesel-electric engine.  So they had to run on batteries.  Which had a limited duration.  So early subs spent most of their time on the surface.  Where they could run their diesel engines to recharge their batteries.  And open their hatches to get fresh air into the boat.  For when submerged the carbon dioxide the crew exhaled built up.  If it built up too much you could become disoriented and pass out.  And die.  If a sub is under attack staying under water for too long and the levels of carbon dioxide build up to dangerous levels a captain has little choice but to surface and surrender.  So the crew can breathe again.

Rapid Decompression at Altitude can be Catastrophic and Violent

Being in a submarine has been historically one of the more dangerous places to be in any navy (second to being on the deck of an aircraft carrier).  Just breathing on a sub had been a challenge at times while trying to evade an enemy destroyer.  But there are other risks, too.  Some things float.  And some things sink.  A submarine is somewhere in between.  It will float on the surface when it has positive buoyancy.  And sink when it has negative buoyancy.  But submarines operate in the oceans.  Which are very deep.  And the deeper you go the greater the pressure of the water.  Because the deeper you go there is more ocean above you pressing down on you.  And oceans are heavy.  If a sub goes too deep this pressure will crush the steel hull like a beer can.  What we call crush depth.  Killing everyone on board.  So a sub cannot go too deep.  Which makes going below the surface a delicate and risky business.  To submerge they flood ballast tanks.  Replacing air within the hull with water.  Making it sink.  Other tanks fill with water as necessary to ‘trim’ the boat.  Make it level under water.  When under way they use forward propulsion to maintain depth and trim with control surfaces like on an airplane.  If everything goes well a submarine can sink.  Then stop at a depth below the surface.  And then resurface.  Modern nuclear submarines can make fresh water and clean air.  So they can stay submerged as long as they have food for the crew to eat.

An airplane has no such staying power like a sub.  For planes have nothing to keep them in air but forward propulsion.  So food and water are not as great an issue.  Fuel is.  And is the greatest limitation on a plane.  In the military they have special airplanes that fly on station to serve as gas stations in the air for fighters and bombers.  To extend their range.  And it is only fuel they take on.  For other than very long-range bombers a flight crew is rarely in the air for extended hours at a time.  Some bomber crews may be in the air for a day or more.  But there are few crew members.  So they can carry sufficient food and water for these longer missions.  As long as they can fly they are good.  And fairly comfortable.  Unlike the earlier bomber crews.  Who flew in unpressurized planes.  For it is very cold at high altitudes.  And there isn’t enough oxygen to breathe.  So these crew members had to wear Arctic gear to keep from freezing to death.  And breathe oxygen they carried with them in tanks.  Pressurizing aircraft removed these problems.  Which made being in a plane like being in a tall building on the ground.  Your ears may pop but that’s about all the discomfort you would feel.  If a plane lost its pressurization while flying, though, it got quite uncomfortable.  And dangerous. 

Rapid decompression at altitude can be catastrophic.  And violent.  The higher the altitude the lower the air pressure.  And the faster the air pressure inside the airplane equals the air pressure outside the airplane.  The air will get suck out so fast that it’ll take every last piece of dust with it.  And breathable air.  Oxygen masks will drop in the passenger compartment.  The flight attendants will scramble to make sure all passengers get on oxygen.  As does the flight crew.  Who call in an emergency.  And make an emergency descent to get below 10 thousand feet.  Almost free falling out of the sky while air traffic control clears all traffic from beneath them.  Once below 10 thousand feet they can level off and breathe normally.  But it will be very, very cold.

Man’s Desire is to Go where no Man has Gone before and where no Human Body should Be

Space flight shares some things in common with both submarines and airplanes.  Like airplanes they can’t fly without fuel.  The greatest distance we’ve ever flown in space was to the moon and back.  The Saturn V rocket of the Apollo program was mostly fuel.   The rocket was 354 feet tall.  And about 75% of it was a fuel tank.  In 3 stages.  The first stage burned for about 150 seconds.  The second stage burned for about 360 seconds.  The third stage burned for about 500 seconds (in two burns, the first to get into earth orbit and the second to escape earth orbit).  Add that up and it comes to approximately 16 minutes.  After that the astronauts were then coasting at about 25,000 miles per hour towards the moon.  Or where the moon would be when they get there.  The pull of earth’s gravity slowed it down until the pull of the moon’s gravity sped it back up.  So that’s a lot of fuel burned at one time to hurl the spacecraft towards the moon.  The remaining fuel on board used for minor course corrections.  And to escape lunar orbit.  For the coast back home.  There was no refueling available in space.  So if something went wrong there was a good chance that the spacecraft would just float forever through the universe with no way of returning home.  Much like a submarine that can’t keep from falling in the ocean.  If it falls too deep it, too, will be unable to return home.

Also like in a submarine food and fresh water are critical supplies.  They brought food with them.  And made their own water in space with fuel cells.  It had to last for the entire trip.  About 8 days.  For in space there were no ports or supply ships.  You were truly on your own.  And if something happened to your food and water supply you didn’t eat or drink.  If the failure was early in the mission you could abort and return home.  If you were already in lunar orbit it would make for a long trip home.  The lack of food and hydration placing greater stresses on the astronauts making the easiest of tasks difficult.  And the critical ones that got you through reentry nearly impossible.  Also like on a submarine fresh air to breathe is critical.  Even more so because of the smaller volume of the spacecraft.  Which can fill up with carbon dioxide very quickly.  And unlike a sub a spacecraft can’t open a hatch for fresh air.  All they can do is rely on a scrubber system to remove the carbon dioxide from their cramped quarters.

While a submarine has a thick hull to protect it from the crushing pressures of the ocean an airplane has a thin aluminum skin to keep a pressurized atmosphere inside the aircraft.  Just like a spacecraft.  But unlike an aircraft, a spacecraft can’t drop below 10,000 feet to a breathable atmosphere in the event of a catastrophic depressurization.  Worse, in the vacuum of space losing your breathable atmosphere is the least of your troubles.  The human body cannot function in a vacuum.  The gases in the lungs will expand in a vacuum and rupture the lungs.  Bubbles will enter the bloodstream.  Water will boil away (turn into a gas).  The mouth and eyes will dry out and lose their body heat through this evaporation.  The water in muscle and soft tissue will boil away, too.  Causing swelling.  And pain.  Dissolved nitrogen in the blood will reform into a gas.  Causing the bends.  And pain.  Anything exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet radiation will get a severe sunburn.  Causing pain.  You will be conscious at first.  Feeling all of this pain.  And you will know what is coming next.  Powerless to do anything about it.  Brain asphyxiation will then set in.  Hypoxia.  The body will be bloated, blue and unresponsive.  But the brain and heart would continue on.  Finally the blood boils.  And the heat stops.  In all about a minute and half to suffer and die.

Man is an adventurer.  From the first time we walked away from our home.  Rode the first horse.  Harnessed the power of steam.  Then conquered the third dimension in submarines, airplanes and spacecraft.  We are adventurers.  It’s why we crossed oceans and discovered the new world.  Why we climbed the highest mountains.  And descended to the oceans’ lowest depth.  Why we fly in airplanes.  And travelled to the moon and back.  When things worked well these were great adventures.  When they did not they were horrible nightmares.  While a few seek this adventure most of us are content to walk the surface of the earth.  To feel the sand through our toes.   Or walk to the poolside bar in our flip-flops.  To enjoy an adult beverage on a summer’s day.  While adventurers are still seeking out something new.  And waiting on technology to allow them to go where no man has gone before.  Especially if it’s a place no human body should be.


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Government and Unions can Take a Bad Situation and Make it Worse

Posted by PITHOCRATES - November 27th, 2010

If you Think TSA is Dysfunctional and Unpopular Now, Wait Until it Unionizes

Question:  How do you make a bad situation worse?  Simple.  Add more government.  Or a union.  And if you really want to make things worse, add a government union.

The TSA is not very popular these days.  What with their nude imaging leering and their groping of our naughty bits.  They say it’s for our security.  But it feels more like we’re living in a police state.  But at least we can fire those who cross the line and enjoy these sexual assaults a little too much.  Well, for now, at least (see How to Make Air Travel More Infuriating by John Fund posted on 11/26/2010 on The Wall Street Journal).

But if you think TSA is dysfunctional and unpopular now, wait until it unionizes. This month, the Federal Labor Relations Authority ruled that 50,000 TSA personnel will be allowed to vote on whether or not to join a union with full collective bargaining rights…

Imagine if every change in procedures had to be cleared with union shop stewards. While it is not easy to fire TSA personnel now, just think how difficult it will be to remove bad employees if they are covered by union job protection agreements.

I think I see something questionable in your groin, ma’am.  By the power invested in me, I will need to take a closer look.  We have no female agents available, so I will have to insert my man-hands into your panties and feel around in the name of national security.  But you can trust me.  I work for the TSA.  And if you have a problem with this, tough.  I’m union protected.

If You’ve been Sexually Assaulted, it’s Best that You don’t Wear Pantyliners During TSA Security Screening

Sure, I’m being silly.  I mean, what could be suspicious in a woman’s panties (see Sanitary Towel Prompts TSA To Grope Sexual Assault Victim by Steve Watson posted on 11/25/2010 on

I recently traveled via air, and was subjected to that new scanning device. “No problem,” I thought. I was wearing jeans and a linen tanktop, bra, panties, and one camouflage pantyliner.

No doubt common for women to wear bras and panties.  And pantyliners.  Should be no big deal.

These new scans are so horrible that if you are wearing something unusual (like a piece of cloth on your panties) then you will be subjected to a search where a woman repeatedly has to check your “groin” while another woman watches on….

Well, I guess in the name of security we must make some women uncomfortable.  What’s the worst that can happen?  A mild case of embarrassment?

But what ultimately happened is that I was subjected to search so invasive that I was left crying and dealing with memories that I thought had been dealt with years ago of prior sexual assaults.

Oh.  It can be that much worse.  We can traumatize a woman by invoking memories of a sexual assault.  Maybe we should revisit TSA screening procedures.  Come up with something that won’t traumatize people.  Maybe look for bombers instead of just bombs.  Use psychological behavior to narrow down the number of invasive bodily searches.  You know, as long as the collective bargaining agreement doesn’t object, of course.

Doctors to Save Medicare by being Screwed by Government

All right, we know what a train wreck the TSA is.  Surely there are things that government does well, aren’t there?  Well, let’s take a look at a big government program.  Medicare.  The government is cutting Medicare payments to doctors.  The program’s spending is so out of control that these cuts are pretty steep.  How steep?  Enough to make doctors drop Medicare patients (see Doctors say Medicare cuts force painful decision about elderly patients by N.C. Aizenman posted 11/26/2010 on The Washington Post).

Doctors across the country describe similar decisions, complaining that they’ve been forced to shift away from Medicare toward higher-paying, privately insured or self-paying patients in response to years of penny-pinching by Congress.

Not only that, but the system is forcing doctors into specialties, depleting the ranks of the primary-care doctors.

On average, primary-care doctors make about $190,000 a year, kidney specialists $300,000, and radiologists close to $500,000, figures that reflect the income doctors receive from both Medicare and non-Medicare patients. The disparity has prompted concern that Medicare is contributing to a growing shortage of primary doctors.

But can you blame them for going into specialties?  Being a doctor is hard.  All that schooling.  Long hours during residency.  And they’re saving lives.  For which they get paid Bupkis.  Shouldn’t we pay them well after they go through all that hell?

“The argument that doctors literally can’t afford to feed their kids [if they take Medicare’s rates] is absurd,” said [Robert] Berenson [a Commissioner of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, an independent congressional agency]. “It’s just that doctors have gotten used to a certain income and lifestyle.”

Easy for a government bureaucrat to say.  But look at the life of a doctor.

But, “the whole system would need to change. … I graduated medical school $100,000 in debt. I worked 110 hours a week during my residency for $30,000 a year and sacrificed all through my 20s. And even now, you’re still seeing people all day, with meetings and paperwork at night, on top of the emotional side of worrying when the patients you care for aren’t doing well. This is life-and-death stuff. And I feel like that should be compensated.”

This doctor failed to mention the lawyers constantly nipping at the heels of doctors.  And malpractice insurance ain’t cheap.

Doctors are Paid too Much?!?  Have you seen what Members of Congress Pay Themselves?

All right, let’s take a closer look at some of these doctors’ critics.  Members of Congress pay themselves pretty damn well.  And they don’t save lives.  Or work hard.  They get a lot of time off.  Lots of travel.  Lots of perks.  We can describe doctors as angels of mercy.  We describe a lot of these politicians, though, as scum of the earth.   And look at their salaries (see Boehner under fire: First cut should be lawmakers’ salaries by Jordy Yager posted on 11/5/2010 on The Hill).

The base pay for House and Senate lawmakers is $174,000, while majority and minority leaders each make $193,400 per year.

A run of the mill member of Congress makes almost as much as a doctor.  Considering what little a member of Congress does for that paycheck, who out there can say this is fair?

Unions and Government

The problem with unions and government?  They make life for the average Joe that much harder.  They protect their own.  And force others to pay for their elevated lifestyles.  And they abuse their power.  Always have.  And always will.  At least nothing in history has suggested otherwise.   

It sure gives you a warm fuzzy when you think about Obamacare coming down the pike, doesn’t it?


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