Thursday, November 20, 2014

Perks of Power (A Continuing Series)

Our base commander periodically convenes “Town Halls” for the community, during which she takes audience questions.  The answers to some recent ones were published via email:

1) “Given the worldwide call for a fatwa on Americans and especially American military personnel, and given that we are all most vulnerable in our cars going to and from work, what is being done to allow those in the Flyover workforce who are properly licensed to be able to protect themselves during these extra vulnerable periods w/o breaking the law when entering base? I have already heard people say that they would prefer to face punishment than not to be able to protect themselves.”

Now, I will stipulate that the ISIS terrorist threat to any particular individual working on a stateside military installation isn’t nearly the threat posed by, for instance, a car accident on his daily commute.  That said . . .

Answer: Anti-terrorism measures are in place to protect members of the Department of Defense, the Air Force, and Flyover AFB. If you see, hear, or learn of a credible threat, contact your Unit Security Manager, Operation Eagle Eyes at xxx-3937, or AFOSI at xxx-4553. Specific measures DoD employees should take to reduce any risk of threat are to vary the employee’s routine at least once a week by utilizing a different Base Entrance (Gate) than is normally used; be aware of surroundings at home, including using care regarding the wear of military-specific clothing and periodically checking around and under motor vehicles for anything suspicious; and to keep the following base contact emergency numbers handy:

- Emergency: (xxx) xxx-9111

- Law Enforcement Desk: (xxx) xxx-6516

- Alternate SFS #s: (xxx) xxx-6517, xxx-6841, xxx-6842, or xxx-2177

- Fire Dispatch: (xxx) xxx-3033

Yes, we understand that ISIS terrorism is officially A Thing.  And I’m all kinds of happy that, after the terrorist/madman has killed everyone available to him, your “First Responders” might happen along to put him down before he does the job himself.  But the actual answer to the specific question is still to come:

The limitation of privately owned weapons falls squarely within the plenary powers of the Installation Commander. Base policy is not to overly restrict the possession of weapons by installation personnel. However, it is recognized additional controls beyond those in civilian jurisdictions are necessary. In the Flyover AFB Integrated Defense Plan, the Installation Commander has directed privately owned weapons will not be transported or possessed on Flyover AFB with the exception of storage in the  SFS Armory, approved use of handguns at the Rod and Gun Club, and the use of some weapons in the course of approved hunting on the installation. Failure to comply with this direction may subject the violator to barment actions, administrative actions, and/or criminal prosecution.

My paraphrase: “Nyah, nyah, I’m in charge, you have to do what I say!”  Here we aren’t even given the courtesy of a fig leaf of a justification for the policy.

On a positive note, the installation armory just happens to be located right next to the building where I work, and the armory personnel were efficient and courteous as they checked my pistol in and out. It's not something that I would do every day, given my assessment of the actual risk. But if I had to, I could.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Prole Baiting 101

Regarding the Shoshana Roberts catcalling video.  To review:

Steve covers the real estate angle.  Roissy has some background on the protagonist.  I especially liked Megan Daum’s op-ed in the LA Times about detachment, given my personal experience.

But what I want to do here is try to get at those elements that made Shoshana’s performance so successful at getting the desired reactions.  Yeah, yeah, I know we’re supposed to believe that “all women suffer this treatment,” but I don’t think anyone actually believes this.  Women who look, dress, and act like Shoshana get this treatment disproportionately, environmental conditions being equal.

But what are those factors?

Let me throw out some suggestions to get the discussion going.

  • Ethnic ambiguity.  Shoshana apparently identifies as white, or in any case has been taken as white in all the commentary that analyzes the racial angle of the video.  But she could pass as a mix of a number or races.  In close-ups, she looks vaguely Hispanic, perhaps Puerto Rican.  Very little black admixture, but opinions may differ.  But I suspect that a lot of the people . . . reacting to her on the video considered her one of their own, and thus more accessible.
  • Clothing.  Shoshana has stuffed her ample body into a tight-fitting black tee and jeans.  Shot directly from the front as in the video, this conceals most of her curves from the viewers; in profile, and the close-up of real life, it’s going to attract that kind of attention.
  • Body language.  Her posture is kind of slouched.  She doesn’t carry herself in a confident purposeful way.  In point of fact, she looks kind of like prey, and together with the factors mentioned above, she looks native to the, um, vibrant neighborhoods where she received the bulk of the attention, not just in class, but in that kind of going-nowhere-in-life demeanor of her surroundings.
  • Facial expression.  I’ll say it again.  It’s rude to walk by people under circumstances where eye-contact and a nod of greeting would be appropriate and not give it.  When women I see every day do this at work, I grumble about it in blog posts.  New York proles are apparently prepared to be more direct in their chastisement.

There may be other factors I’m not getting.  Any ideas?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Army Goes Full Tranny

Some years ago, when I first became aware that “transsexual” was a thing, I had the distinct impression that it necessarily involved surgery, as in physically replacing a man’s sexual organs with female sexual organs.  That always struck me as a pretty permanent solution to what might turn out to be a temporary psychological affliction, but whatever.

Of course, that’s so late 80s.  It doesn’t seem to be necessary anymore:

A transgender Army civilian, who was restricted from using a female bathroom in the workplace and was called "sir" by colleagues, faced repeated instances of discrimination and humiliation at the hands of the Department of the Army, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel announced Thursday in a ruling that is being hailed as a landmark decision.

I reported a while back (though durned if I can find the link now) that the Civil Service had, on its own initiative, declared tranny’s to be a protected class.  But, what, pray tell, did bad bad AMRDEC do?

In 2010, the Army veteran received a court-decreed name change and obtained a passport and driver's license that identified her gender as female. During that time, she dressed as a woman.

Can’t Stars & Stripes come out and acknowledge that this person still has a penis?  Because that is the central issue in this whole business.

However, she agreed to use a separate bathroom facility in her workplace to allow co-workers time to adapt to her new gender. On occasions, when the separate bathroom was out of order, she used the women's bathroom instead. That prompted supervisors to counsel her against such activity, which was a violation of Lusardi's rights, the Office of Special Counsel said.

From the start, Lusardi should have been free to use the women's bathroom, the OSC said. In addition, repeated cases of workers calling Lusardi, "he" or "sir" added to a hostile work environment, the OSC said. She also was given fewer job responsibilities at that time.

Lusardi is a man who wants to use the girl’s bathroom.  I kind of get the push-back.  Where are the feminists when they could actually accomplish something useful.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Juicy Bar Ban Trending

So, the Osan AB Juicy Bar Ban, reported here a year ago, now applies to all servicemen stationed anywhere in Korea.

From the policy letter:

Paying for companionship directly supports human trafficking and is a precursor to prostitution. This practice encourages the objectification of women, reinforces sexist attitudes, and is demeaning to all human beings. Preventing service members from supporting human trafficking and prostitution outside our installations helps ensure the highest levels of readiness, promotes good order and discipline, and provides for the health, welfare and safety of our personnel and community.

Of course, FKCC hasn’t presented any evidence for his assertion that allowing their soldiers access to female companionship is prejudicial to readiness or discipline, nor even defined what “precursor” means in this instance.  But that’s the fun part of being a general officer:  you get to just make stuff up, and make people nod along.

But nobody cares about “human trafficking”; this is all feminist appeasement.  But props to Gen. Scaparrotti for figuring out who his real masters are.

Happy Veteran's Day.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

"Responsibility": That word doesn't mean what you think it means.

From the Colorado Springs Gazette, via

[USAFA Commandant BGen Stephen] Williams said a key to improving behavior in cadets is giving them more responsibility.

This year, cadets have gotten more control over their lives, with seniors allowed to leave the campus when they are done with classes.

That kind of responsibility teaches cadets what kind of behavior is expected rather than mandating it. And it changes a command climate that may have hampered cadet growth.

"We became the helicopter parents as they go through the Air Force Academy," Williams said.

Except . . . that's not actually "responsibility". The essence of responsibility is, first of all, paying your own way. Very few college students do this, which is why a lot of their misbehavior -- binge drinking, random sexual hookups -- seem unique to the "college experience". No, what Williams is giving his charges is more license, of which non-military schools give their students quite a bit these days, and which they apply to . . . binge drinking and random sexual hookups. Now, if this is part of a late-in-the-program weed-out strategy of giving students enough rope to hang themselves, its a pretty expensive way to do it considering the expected damage to USAFA's reputation and the sunk cost of having funded the seniors' education for three-plus years. But my prediction is that this is not going to improve cadet behavior. I guess we'll see.

Monday, November 03, 2014

Airline Rogering

I left some comments over at Hit Coffee concerning a New Republic article on airline flight cancellations, the upshot of which is that it's just not true that Airlines cancel flights because they aren't full enough.

Well, yeah. But it never occurred to me to make this argument. If anything, Airlines routinely overbook their flights in the expectation that somebody will miss their flight and they'll be able to charge for the same seat twice. That's why they're forced to bribe passengers to stay behind.

But the premise is not the only thing objectionable about the article.

Comedian Louis CK has absolutely no patience for the complaints of airline passengers. “People on planes, they complain,” he says. “They get off the plane, they come to your house, and they tell you about their whole flight experience…. ‘That was the worst day of my life! I had to sit on the runway for forty minutes!’… People will stop doing the dishes and turn around and go, ‘Oh my God, really? For forty minutes? That’s awful! You should sue them.'”

Let me tell you a flight delay story: In the summer of 2011, I was on a evening Delta flight out of Atlanta. The flight boarded an hour late. Once boarded, we sat at the gate for an additional hour. We then pulled away from the gate and sat on the taxiway for a third hour. Then we took off.

Not 15 minutes after takeoff, the pilot announced that the plane was having some mechanical issues and would have to return to the airport. Our plane then circled the airport for another hour (this was only supposed to be an hour and a half flight) before landing. We then sat on the taxiway again before getting back to the gate. We spent the night in the airport before getting on a “special” flight the next morning. For all this, we received — wait for it — a meal voucher.

Short of the airlines offering cancelled passengers overly generous compensation, like a free round-trip flight to Sydney, none of them will be happy about it. Even in the midst of a major thunderstorm, passengers will still complain about cancellations.

Let me tell you a flight cancellation story: back in February, the second leg of my United Airlines flight was cancelled. The plane was good to go. The weather in our departing city was good. The weather in our destination city was good. The weather along our route was good. But our would-be pilot was stranded in another city because his flight was cancelled because of weather. So not only was our flight cancelled (hey, sh!t happens), but our cancellation was deemed “weather related”, so no hotel, no meal vouchers, no consideration of any kind. We could wait a full 24 hours in the airport for the next evening’s flight. Maybe.

We opted instead to rent a car and drive it. There were three of us, plus a nice Mormon gentleman in the same pickle we were in, so the UA refunds for that leg covered the cost of the car. But that refund was a proration of the total ticket cost by mile, and a tiny fraction of the cost of what UA was charging for that flight ala carte.

So . . . no, it’s not just about the flight to Sydney.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Decryption Bleg

Hypothetically speaking, what if I wanted to make single-file digital copies of my movies to load onto my portable devices (e.g., iPad).  This should be a two-step process:  remove any copy protection using DVD Decrypter, then creating the digital file using Handbrake.

This process would work 90% of the time.  But in 10% of the cases, when I would open DVD Decrypter, I would see this:


Look at the number of files listed at the bottom:  238.  DVDs typically contain around 60 files in the TS_VIDEO folder.  Look also at the size of those files:  nearly 108GB.  Again, the physical capacity of a DVD is closer to 8GB.  If I scroll through the content window, I see that there are what appear to be multiple copies of each file.  That’s how I get to 238 files.

If I attempt to run DVD Decrypter, here is what happens:


You can see that on the first large (1GB file), the progress stalls; I’m up to 5 retries at the instant of this screen capture.  I tried skipping through the stalled files, but it didn’t help:  the first and and the last of the feature’s .VOB files would not complete decryption.

Handbrake’s performance is variable.  It failed its first attempt to even read the disk.  On subsequent attempts, it seemed to scan the files (37 of them) before producing this error:


And yes, I replaced the libdvdcss.dll file with XMBC’s version, just like the forums recommend.

Windows Media Player won’t play the disk; fortunately, however, VLC Media Player does.

Question:  what is the name for this copy protection scheme, and how can it be circumvented?