Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Queen

I will be the first to admit that I love a good story of kings and queens. At the same time, being a student of history, I am not much of a monarchist. A sizeable part of me, when I see the queen, or Diana, or Prince Charles, is revolted. Why? Because these people maintain a life of privilage for no other reason than they are the decendants of warlords as brutal and amoral as any in Afghanistan or other lawaless regions of the world. Their estates are based on conquest, murder, theft, slavery, and repression on a global scale. I will not say that the current crop of royal idiots is up to no good. The sins of the fathers and mothers, cannot be put upon the heads of the sons, or daughters.

I am an American in the literal sense of the word and do not trust, or like aristocrats. That is why I have distaste for the Clintons and the Bushes and wish niether family to have anything to do with the White House. Yet I suppose we are all family members of someone else so it shouldn't matter. But to me and I think many Americans, it smacks of royalty to have familys battleing for power. I thank the Roosevelts, Kennedys, Adams, Bushs and perhaps Clintons, for their efforts. But would never think to vote for one of them based on who their family was.

I'd even vote for the son of a goat hearder if I thought he'd do a good job. (hint)

The royalty of the world are a bunch of has beens, they are mold growing on the corpse of past glory, glory long dead and not worth much when it was alive, at least to the comman people who had the misfortune to be governed by them.

Monday, February 26, 2007

What the hell is this thing?

This place is about 8 km east of Kabul. This structure is massive. It looks fortified and is 850 x 425 meters. It looks like it might be a prison. It does not look like an army base, at least not a US base. This view is from 12,000 feet up. I find Google Earth so helpful if letting me know about the lay of the land in news stories.

After hearing about the VP being at Bagram during a suicide attack on the main gate I was able to fly over to the air base and check it out. You can always tell US airbases by how F'ing huge and well planned they are compared to the squalid crap around them. See below...

The location of the suicide attack is not even on this image. The following image, taken from farther up has a red dot, added by me to show you the location of the main gate. As you can see the VP was never in danger and probably didn't even here anything more than a distant rumble. Short of a nuclear attack it would take an entire army to capture this base.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Footwear for fun! And the fun itself

This is the fun itself. Yeah I know. I have one 100% taker on this trip (HS of course) I need to send in for the permit by March 1st. Again we will not be climbing this face of Dragontail. This is for harty souls of considerable experience. Asgard Pass to the Enchantments is our ugly route. Other than a lot of sweating and grunting, and possible skinned knees and profanity, we should do just fine. Due to the steepness of this section I really want us to get into good shape and not worry about carrying the kitchen sink. It will be about like the last bit on South Sister. Once we get to the top of the pass we will be in The Enchanetments, about as alpine as it gets.

Mountain Goats like salt so if we take a leak we are not supposed to pee on a bush since the goats will paw them up to get at the salt. They are also pretty tame and will be around.

Bears are also in the area. The main problem with them is that they will eat our food. So we need to keep it up in a tree (15 feet up 5 feet out. We should also cook away from where we sleep.

I tried these on yesterday at REI and they were mighty comfy.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

New Places on the layout

The Glacier Lake area is not easily reached by road. This fire truck is driven by volenteers along the "old Glacier Lake Rd" This road is, today mainly a hiking trail. It is maintained by the railroad as part of its right of way to fight fires that may flare up during thunderstorms in the late summer.

The 6012A negotiates, at a snails pace, the curve in the middle of Torment Gulch. This area is notorius for two reasons. Firstly the radius is narrow and trains have derailed in the gulch on numerous occasions. Five Miles per hour is max speed in this area. The second reason is that this secluded area was where the G&G used to stop to pick up its consignment of pot bundles under the overpass in the background.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Status of 4--6-6-4 Challenger

The rear drive shaft failed. The Rivarossi Company is out of business so Vic's Hobbies is fabricating a new drive shaft. So for now the locomotive is in the round house waiting for parts. In reality these big beasts were mechanical nightmares to take care of. The heavy moving parts and forces applied to them ment that each engine, from the time they left the round house, litterally shook themselves to death. EMD's were far less trouble.

Stats for the Challenger:

Cylinders: 21x32"
Weight: 500 tons
Drive Wheels: 12 69"
Tractive Effort: 97,400 lbs

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Odom on the mark while Cheney is missing the point

Uncle Dick Cheney says:
"Having tasted victory in Iraq, the jihadists would look for new missions, " he said in a speech during a visit to Australia. "Many would head for Afghanistan to fight alongside the Taliban, others would set out for capitals across the Middle East."

I Say:

So who is this guy here?

Lieutenant General William E. Odom, U.S. Army (Ret.), is a Senior Fellow with Hudson Institute and a professor at Yale University. As Director of the National Security Agency from 1985 to 1988, he was responsible for the nation's signals intelligence and communications security. From 1981 to 1985, he served as Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence, the Army's senior intelligence officer.

From 1977 to 1981, General Odom was Military Assistant to the President's Assistant for National Security Affairs, Zbigniew Brzezinski. As a member of the National Security Council staff, he worked upon strategic planning, Soviet affairs, nuclear weapons policy, telecommunications policy, and Persian Gulf security issues. He graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1954, and received a Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1970.

So what does this man have to say about Iraq?

"As Congress awakens to these realities -- and a few members have bravely pointed them out -- will it act on them? Not necessarily. Too many lawmakers have fallen for the myths that are invoked to try to sell the president's new war aims. Let us consider the most pernicious of them.

1) We must continue the war to prevent the terrible aftermath that will occur if our forces are withdrawn soon. Reflect on the double-think of this formulation. We are now fighting to prevent what our invasion made inevitable! Undoubtedly we will leave a mess -- the mess we created, which has become worse each year we have remained. Lawmakers gravely proclaim their opposition to the war, but in the next breath express fear that quitting it will leave a blood bath, a civil war, a terrorist haven, a "failed state," or some other horror. But this "aftermath" is already upon us; a prolonged U.S. occupation cannot prevent what already exists.

2) We must continue the war to prevent Iran's influence from growing in Iraq. This is another absurd notion. One of the president's initial war aims, the creation of a democracy in Iraq, ensured increased Iranian influence, both in Iraq and the region. Electoral democracy, predictably, would put Shiite groups in power -- groups supported by Iran since Saddam Hussein repressed them in 1991. Why are so many members of Congress swallowing the claim that prolonging the war is now supposed to prevent precisely what starting the war inexorably and predictably caused? Fear that Congress will confront this contradiction helps explain the administration and neocon drumbeat we now hear for expanding the war to Iran.

Here we see shades of the Nixon-Kissinger strategy in Vietnam: widen the war into Cambodia and Laos. Only this time, the adverse consequences would be far greater. Iran's ability to hurt U.S. forces in Iraq are not trivial. And the anti-American backlash in the region would be larger, and have more lasting consequences.

3) We must prevent the emergence of a new haven for al-Qaeda in Iraq. But it was the U.S. invasion that opened Iraq's doors to al-Qaeda. The longer U.S. forces have remained there, the stronger al-Qaeda has become. Yet its strength within the Kurdish and Shiite areas is trivial. After a U.S. withdrawal, it will probably play a continuing role in helping the Sunni groups against the Shiites and the Kurds. Whether such foreign elements could remain or thrive in Iraq after the resolution of civil war is open to question. Meanwhile, continuing the war will not push al-Qaeda outside Iraq. On the contrary, the American presence is the glue that holds al-Qaeda there now."

- Lt Gen William Odom in the Washington Post of Feb 12th 2007

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Trouble in Gregg Junction

The Northern Pacific is here now and they have been throwing their weight around. The G&G is a bit miffed at having to make room on the rails for all the traffic the NP wants to put on them. Then again since they are making money for every ton of freight moved and passenger taken they cannot complain too much.

We went to the WGH show . The EMD F7a Unit above is and MRC locomotive and its cheap!!!!! The locomotive is supposed to pull streamlined passenger cars

Friday, February 16, 2007

News Watch: FUBAR+SNAFU=US News

The "surge" has begun in Iraq. There is violence in Iran. Russia is complaining about the US throwing its weight around. 100,000 manufacturing jobs lost in 2006. So let us look at the leading stories for CNN's web site:

Girls' school bombed in Iran, gunmen besieged
Anna Nicole Smith's dead son gets it all
Video shows apparent al Qaeda attack
Pelosi: Iraq vote sets new direction
Mom yells for 911 aid in knife fight over fetus
Police: Attackers video homeless man's beating
Pastor falls from God's house to the big house
Britney Spears reportedly in, out of rehab
Weather woes batter JetBlue
White skin still the best skin, filmmaker finds
Elephant won't play polo, trashes van instead
'Lost' loses millions in ratings war

I see only 3 stories that are worth my reading. All the rest are total BS. Now let us look to the other side of the Atlantic for their headlines. Are they trying to be any more informative?

US House rejects Bush Iraq plan
Seven jailed for Turkey bombings
Smith left her estate to dead son
Anti-US protest planned in Italy
Clashes reported in Iranian city
Italy orders CIA kidnapping trial
King of Nepal is stoned by crowd
Mauritania pilot outwits hijacker
Paraglider survives 32,000ft fall

On the BBC I see 3 stories I could careless about. Sort of backwords from the CNN site. Who is trying to inform whom? Clearly CNN is more interested in pushing fluff and white-bread and not anything really news worthy. It might scare the kiddies.

But to be fair let us look at CBS NEWS. Perhaps the former bastion of Cronkite and Rather is better at informing America:

Iraqis Upbeat, U.S. Guarded On Crackdown
NY Man Charged With Trying To Fund Terror
House Rebukes Bush On Iraq
Anna Nicole Smith's Will Is Released
N.J. To Honor Out-Of-State Gay Marriages
Docs: Patients Lie, And It's Bad For Them

Sort of a mixed bag from CBS. I am amazed how the death of a bimbo is in all the papers. Now on to FOX News!

Uneasy Quiet in Baghdad
House Dems push through anti-war resolution
Prominent Maine auctioneer who vanished five years ago located in Pa
Will Clinton Suffer Nader Nightmare?
Woman, 84, Admits Sex With 11-Year-Old
Bomb Strikes Iran Near Site of Deadly Blas
Inventor of TV Remote Control Dies
Italy Indicts 26 Americans in CIA Kidnap Case
Anna Nicole's Will Leaves Estate to Dead Son

Hey the 84 year old having sex with the kid pushed Anna Nicoles will to the bottom of the page! Way to go FOX!

Okay back accross the water to Reuters News:

House repudiates Bush troop buildup in Iraq
House backs tax breaks to advance wage hike
FDA widens peanut butter warning
Afghanistan vows to crush any Taliban offensive
Bush has two moles removed from his face
Judge orders Padilla's military jailers to testify
Warren Buffett heads list of top 2006 donors

What lowly reporting from Reuters! No Anna Nicole Smith at all!! How can we count on them to give us our daily dose of non-news? On the other hand how about them moles? Now I will go to Russa. What are the Russians learning from PRAVDA?

Models die of anorexia trying to become slimmer
Many Americans share Putin’s views on US-led foreign policies
Condom appeared after global epidemic of syphilis
Putin starts political intrigue linked with Russia’s new president in 2008
Russia and the USA wage a hidden political war
Russian army plagued with sex slavery and male prostitution
Anna Nicole Smith’s death remains a Playboy mystery
Man reads between naked buttocks to predict future

Hell yes!!!! That is why we and the Rusky's could kill each other off! We have too much in common. Such as trival and low-row media headlines! Pravda has the most cleavage of any of the websites too. I wonder what the Chinese are reading?

Japanese PM, Chinese FM meet on bilateral tie
Haneya to form national unity gov't within 3 weeks
U.S. House slams Bush's Iraq plan
Over 100 Africans drown as smuggling boat capsizes
Bomb explodes in southeastern Iran
WHO reports promising results on bird flu vaccines
China's central bank to raise deposit reserve ratio
China greets Year of Pig

The Chinese have a lot to learn about, no pun intended, Yellow Journalism.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Norther nPacific arrives

The Northern Pacific sent a team of workers down to check out the G&G trackage to make sure all was well for the forthcoming passenger service. All proved to be in order. The 6012a is parked on the maintenance spur waiting along with a box car full of NP materials for the station. The workers, should you wish to welcome them, are currently staying in a little caboose infront of the station.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Ack! Iraq part II

Why we are screwed in mathamatical terms:

26 million Iraqis

80% like us
20% hate us

Of the 20% that hate us 90% are too affraid to do anything but hate us.

That leaves 520,000 people who hate us enough to be actively involved with wanting us gone. That is a pretty sizable force. Furthermore this 520,000 man force is spread proportionally accrocc Iraq, with many more in the cities than in the countryside.

We on the countrary have a measily 140,000 troops. The best there have ever been, but far too few to secure the nation of Iraq. Many like to compare occupied Germany that never suffered such an insurgency with Iraq. The reasons for the total peace in Germany is made clear by the following statistics:

"Allied forces in Western Europe consisted of 4 ½ million men, including 9 armies (5 of them American--one of which, the Fifteenth, saw action only at the last), 23 corps, 91 divisions (61 of them American), 6 tactical air commands (4 American), and 2 strategic air forces (1 American). The Allies had 28,000 combat aircraft, of which 14,845 were American, and they had brought into Western Europe more than 970,000 vehicles and 18 million tons of supplies. At the same time they were achieving final victory in Italy with 18 divisions (7 of them American)."

There is NO credible comparrison to the situation in under-occupied Iraq. The US command made a fatal error in misjudging the numbers required to subdue Iraq. This error has continued to this day. The situation is strategically hopeless unless conscription starts in the US. Short of that there is no reason to keep US combat forces in Iraq one day longer. There is simply no way that the small force we have can do the job, no matter how honorable and full of valor they are.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

USA and trains FYI

If you think of trains and people getting around on trains you probably think of Europe or Asia or something like that. The USA is that "car centric" land where rail is dead. Not so! The worlds largest manufactuer of locomotives is General Electric, the worlds 2nd largest manufactuer is General Motors. It might also interest you to know how modern locomotives (deisels) work.

They are hypbrds of a sort. The deisel engines do not drive the locomotive. They charge batteries that drive electric motors. Thats right boys and girls Americas railroads led the way in electro-magnetic-deisel engines technology. All the trains you see chugging along the rails are being driven by electrical power.

Railroads are also not bad to work for at least according to the government. The average wage for a railroad worker, in a Class I railroad like the Untion Pacific, in 2005 was $67,000, including total benefits it was $92,000. The a number of empolyees for a typical class I railroad was 162,000. Class I railroads operate 475,000 frieght cars nationwide. Revenue for US Class 1 railroads increased from 35.4 billion in 2003 to 44.5 billion in 2005. Furthermore net income (the real bucks) rose freom 2.7 billion in 2003 to 4.9 billion in 2005.

So what do railways haul? Well 42% of all freight in the US is coal (804 million tons of it) accounting for almost 10 billion in revenue. The rest is about equal amounts of everything else for a total of 1.9 trillion tons generating 47 billion bucks in revenue in 2005.

How much rail is there in the ol USA? Well as of 2005 there was 171,000 miles of it. The real wierd bit is the following: Accoding to the most current statistics US rail usage has increased from 575 billion ton-miles in 1960 to 1.7 trillion ton-miles in 2005. In other words the rumors of US rails death have been greatly exagerated.

The main death that occured is in passenger service. Freeways killed the US passenger train system. However freightlines are thriving and have continued to thrive with the exception of the years between 1920 and 1940 when freight actaully declined.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

4-8-4 can run on the railroad now!

The #3781 is seen here pulling a westbound freight. Until today this big machine had a lot of trouble negotiating the mainline. The trouble was due to the nature of cow catcher on the front. It had little wings on either side tht just caught on switch levers. Alone the loco was fine, but the drag caused by a train behind it meant that the nose pointed slightly farther ascew from the tracks.

I took snippers and fixed the problem by removing the offending parts. Now the locomotive runs fine on the main line.

The 4-8-4 type of steam loco is called a "Northern" since it was originally built by Alco for the Northern Pacific. It became one of the most sucessful steam loco configurations and continued in service until the end of the steam era. G&GRR purchased their Northern when the Gregg's bought the railline itself from the Union Pacific. Keeping this oil-burning version alive and well takes a lot of man hours.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Awe the little trains sets of America.

The Kansas-Nebraska Act, which repealed the Missouri Compromise and reopened the question of slavery in the West, was the handiwork of Senator Stephen A. Douglas. Douglas had a desire to promote a railroad from Chicago to California through Nebraska. Already Secretary of War Jefferson Davis, advocate of a southern transcontinental route, had persuaded President Pierce to send James Gadsden to Mexico to buy land for a southern railroad. He purchased the area now comprising southern Arizona and part of southern New Mexico for $10,000,000.

Douglas's proposal, to organize western territories through which a railroad might run, caused extreme trouble. Douglas provided in his bills that the residents of the new territories could decide the slavery question for themselves. The result was a rush into Kansas, as southerners and northerners vied for control of the territory. Shooting broke out, and "bleeding Kansas" became a prelude to the Civil War.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Pondering the Progressive ~ Conservative divide

Marxists and convservaives are more alike than either wish to admit. Niether is progressive. Although their specific goals are different their outlook on the world is very similar. Basically they think that a human can be molded into whatever it needs to be by philosophy. They seem to pay very little attention to the hard-wired nature of mankind. An example of this for the Marxist is the silly notion that property and wealth can be equally owned and administred by all. This is flawed since human beings are heirachial in nature and so the very act of attempting of "administering" that kind of total equity is self defeating. You invariably end up with a group of people controling things for the masses.

The conservative has their own silly examples. Choosing sexual orientation for example. Anyone who has to choose what sex to be attracted to is probably, by nature eitehr bi-sexual, or homosexual and having difficulty admitting that to him/herself. Another great example is work makes people rich. This is true if you consider the worker making the CEO rich. But the fact is that the amount of effort you put into your career has limited value in making you wealthy. More often than not it is luck, inherritance, or marriage that makes you wealthy. There are millions of workers who bust their asses everyday but are not Donal Trump. Objectivist romantics like Ayn Rand, liberitarians, and conservatives all fail the test of statecraft since their ideas do not meld with the reality of the big messy world.

There will always be poor, sick, young, old, crippled, insane, unlucky, unwise, people who cannot simply be thrown away. Any type of society can choose whether or not to take care of its citizens. But the democratic republic MUST choose in the affirmative. I would say that many dictatorships or oligarchies have taken care of their people and many have not. All democratic republics have to do this. It is a means to an end. The conservative can't see this reality.

Whether it is social, spiritual, or economic, the conservative, is forever trying to stop the river. But the river always torrents around them. Though they build dams, the river of progress overtops them. Their view seems real but because it does not take into account the reality of human nature they fail in most of what they do. Even crime and punishment. States with no captial punishement have the lowest rates of violent crime. States with high execution rates have high rates of violent crime and further it seems that punishment by death offers no value to curb crime. The death penalty is a good example of a policy that, on the surface seems solid, however in reality the only humans who are deterred by the death penalty would not be committing the act in the first place.

Morality itself a product of human evolution cannot be reconciled with conservatism. True moral virtue is only possible through the enlightened view of the world based in fact not ideology. Anything less is not morality but favoritism.

So Marx and Grover Norquist would get along nicely.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Way to go W! Man you Rock!!!

President Bush said today, "It's a good sign that there's a sense of concern and anxiety. It means the government understands that it has a responsibility to protect their people. And we want to help them."

So it is a good sign that people who live in Iraq are concerned and have anxiety? I think that being concerned and anxiety have long been part of Iraqi life. I am really getting sick and tired of Bush, who has ruined and brutalised Iraq, talking about the poor Iraqis like they have to pull themselves up by their boot straps.

Now who is this guy? Well he is a member of Parliement in Iraq named Jamal Jafaar. Before that he was a terrorist who bombed the US and French embassies in Kuwait in 1983. He is also most likely an agent of Iran. Thanks Bush.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Northre Pacific is on its way

The details are now arriving about the deal between NP and G&G. Northern Pacific will stop in Gregg Junction to pick up passengers going both north and east. Much of the equipment that they will use has been used on their prestigeous North Coast Limited. SP&S has not given up and may also use the facilities at Gregg Junction.

I am not quite sure why MRC is selling its stock of HO scale loco's for so little money. Retail they go for around $75.00 But the G&G will not complain. There is a hitch though that will need attending to.

The paint scheme for the MRC locomotive is not a match for any of the existing off-the-shelf NP passenger cars. At least none that I have been able to find. So that means that the NP is either destined to pull passenger cars that are not matching or we have to paint the cars to match. I would like to do the latter. The colors are:

Main color: Dark green-black
Thick stripe: yellow
Pin stripes: orange-red.

Mike I need you to air brush three cars!!!!!! Below is a mock-up of what the finished train will look like.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Yes to change the subject...Train News!

Two whole mountains where leveled and two new ones sprouted up in their place. After making progressively better scenery I demolished some older mountains and made new ones. The G&GRR is operating flawlessly with Mikes old Athearn engine. It runs slicker than snot and all the rolling stock is working perfectly too.
The SP&S is still in negotiations with G&G RR to use their Portland line. The Northern Pacific is not such a stick in the mud, they will start serving Gregg Junction very soon. Northern Pacific passenger service is on its way! The NP was started by order of the President (Lincoln) back in 1864. By 1883 it was completed and ran between Minnesota and Portland then up to Tacoma. Eventually the NP was absorbed, in 1970, along with the Burlington, Great Northern, and SP&S into the Burlington Northern RR.
In 1996 Burlington Northern merged with AT&SF to become Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Railway. It was one of the 4 last serviving transcontinental railroads in the United States. It currently has direct control over 50,000 miles of track making it the second largest rail network in the US after the Union Pacific.

G&GRR got rid of the old Bachmann POS transformer. That machines voltage ouput curve sort of looked like a reverse L. It has been replaced with an MRC 1370. This unit uses solid state technology to control the current not a little wire on a coil. This should mean far smoother train operations for all locos.

Of course this means that G&GRR is now turning its attention to the electrical situation of the layout.

Problem 1: Wiring under layout is a big mess.
Problem 2: Blocks are non-existant.
Problem 3: More stuff like #1 and #2

Here is the current G&GRR layout in all its trackiness.