Saturday, October 25, 2014

A date with Concorde

I don't know if you're aware, dear reader, but I like airplanes. I am interested in makes and models of airplanes, and seeing them up close is always fascinating for me.
So when my wife proposed a day out at Brooklands Museum, I agreed. In addition to being the site of the world's first motor circuit in 1907, British airplanes, such as the Vickers range of aircraft, were built here from the 1940s right through to the 1970s. In fact, a BAC 1-11 and Vickers VC-10 are displayed on site. They are both huge planes, definitely comparable in size to an A340 and B747 respectively, with massive "whale fluke" T-tails. Check out the tail from the VC-10:

 photo VickerstailIII.jpg

The VC-10 is second only to Concorde in having achieved the fastest transatlantic flight time.
The really big draw to Brooklands is the supersonic Concorde herself. Specifically, the G-BBDG, the first production type for the British model Concorde aircraft, used to test the design before the aircraft was certified for passenger service. G-BBDG debuted in February 1974 and was retired on Christmas Eve 1981, having notched up 1,282 hours flight time in total, and has been at Brooklands since 2003.
Squirrel has a real soft spot for Concorde and I was keen to visit her too. She is, after all, a legend.  This was the plane that, from 1976 to 2003, travelled at twice the speed of sound, achieved a maximum height of 53,500 feet (over 10 miles high) and got you from London or Paris to New York in three hours.
The thing you hear about Concorde is that she is "diminutive". She is quite graceful, and admittedly on the small side as far as commercial aircraft go. Having said that, she is much larger than most people anticipate before seeing her in person. She drew my breath away upon first sight. I don't think diminutive is an accurate way to describe Concorde at all.

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The Concorde Experience at Brooklands allows you to enter the aircraft and take a seat for a 10-minute flight simulation. Squirrel and I were both honored to have claimed some space, even for a short time, on this beautiful bird.

 photo MonConcorde.jpg

As you have probably guessed, given that this aircraft achieved a speed of Mach 2, the cockpit is a cluster of superfine gadgetry:

 photo Conccockpit.jpg

And there you go, our date with lady Concorde!
 photo SquwithConcI.jpg

Friday, October 10, 2014

I made it out—and out I'm staying

During the past fourteen years that I have been living in the U.K., I have often been asked by people if I miss "the States".
I used to answer, "no offense, but yes."
But now, I would answer an unequivocal "no." Does that no longer make me a patriot?
Readers who know me well, especially those who remember my days on Diaryland, would acknowledge that I was so blisteringly angry about the anti-Iraq War—and, by proxy, anti-American—fervor taking place throughout the world ten years ago that I seriously considered joining up (I was 34 at the time). Only a long conversation with my father, a former Marine, held me back and convinced me not to do so.
What heady days those were. I was a pro-pot, pro-Bush neocon with a love of language, especially if it was salty. Above all, at all times, I considered myself a true patriot. One of the memes I had at the end of every entry announced "America For True Americans!"
I missed Boston. I missed the Charles River parkway. I missed the Watertown Stop & Shop supermarket. Of course, I especially missed my family. I longed for everything that defined my life from the '70s right up to 2000, when I moved here for good. And I did not have cause to think twice about boarding a Boeing 747 bound for the American east coast whenever I could afford such a flight.
Fast forward to November 2008. I thought the America I knew and loved was over when Barack Obama got elected to the highest office in the land that year. The rot had, in fact, started much earlier, during the Clinton adminstration. It was only with hindsight that I eventually realized this. After all, only a nation of TV-addicted mushheads could discount the bombshell that was Gennifer Flowers.
Mr. Obama ran his first term as a somewhat accountable politico, although there were signs of what was in the works that the usual asleep-at-the-wheels electorate failed to notice, or failed to care about. To use just one example, his fellow Democrats in Congress began to complain that he wasn't engaged enough with them, that he showed no desire to roll up his sleeves and engage in politics. Bill Clinton talked, held discussions, scrapped with the opposition, made deals, the whole lot, to get things accomplished. From the beginning, Obama was spookily disengaged from the whole process.
In his second term, Obama not only totally unleashed his pit-bull attorney general Eric Holder, he blamed Republicans for a government shutdown—during a time when John Bonehead ... er, Boehner, showed something resembling a spine (an illusion, obviously)—blamed TWPs (Typical White People) for the deaths of Trayvon Martin and "Big" Mike Brown, picked up the pace of covering up Benghazi and Fast & Furious, supported the so-called Arab Spring, better known as the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood, and used executive orders to launch not only wars on Libya, Syria and ISIS-controlled Iraq, but to enact the full-scale invasion of the United States by illegal aliens through a concept that liberals adore: amnesty.
We now have a president that will not, in any conceivable way, protect our borders. Muslim terrorists can stroll in. Central American "children" can skip in, bringing "Enterovirus"—otherwise known as polio—with them, not to mention MS-13 gang culture. And, now, the mother of all controversies: As Thomas Eric Duncan proved, Ebola victims are making it in with no questions being asked other than, "Have you got any tobacco or alcohol?"
Obama has given up on the job of POTUS. He's the Golfer-in-Chief.
For anyone paying attention, or not being brainwashed by the international liberal media elite, it seems foolish to ask me if I'm still homesick.
For all the bullshit that Prime Minister David Cameron may be full of, he is much more of a true leader of a nation than Barack Obama could ever hope to be. And for all its faults and its own political correctness—which, for instance, made the child grooming scandal in Rotherham possible—Britain is a place I absolutely prefer to stay put in.
Yes, the 2011 riots were frightening and indicates a serious problem with young people, especially minorities, in this country. But similar riots in France and Sweden during the past decade shows that at least we're not alone.
Over here, I don't have to watch some EBT layabout with an MS-13 tattoo at the checkout lane at the supermarket. I don't have to worry about polio starting to run rampant throughout U.K. schools, carried by Central American yout's with no right to be here, infecting my neighbors' children. God willing, I don't have to worry about Ebola as British immigration agents appear to be taking it seriously. Mr. Cameron doesn't constantly lecture me or any other denzien of Albion about race or how valuable Muslims are to our society.
Furthermore, if massacres like at Ford Hood or Moore, Oklahoma ever occur here, I can feel confident that they would be classified for what they are: terrorist incidents. Not "workplace violence." If some bitter Chechen immigrants bombed the London Marathon, I have enough faith in this country's leadership that it would be classified as TERRORISM. Not a "man-made disaster".
The difference between the way the U.K. and the U.S. want treat jihadists who so happen to be citizens of their respective nations that they travelled to Iraq or Syria from could not be starker. David Cameron has proposed to strip British ISIS fighters of their U.K. citizenship. Even though he might run into trouble with the usual suspects—human rights judges—he is trying his best, as the country's leader, to define what it means to be British and that it surely does not involve embracing terrorism.
Compare this with what FBI director James Comey said with regard to Americans who fought with ISIS returning to the homeland: "Ultimately, an American citizen, unless their passport's revoked, is entitled to come back. So, someone who's fought with ISIL, with an American passport wants to come back, we will track them very carefully." Let me parse this for you: So, someone with an American passport who has fought with ISIL will be let back into the country. They're entitled to it. God forbid we should strip an American of their U.S. citizenship for committing treason. But don't worry, we will monitor them.
Golly gee, isn't that enough to make the average American living in America feel safe? What more do you want, what more could you need? The FBI has assured us that those who feel that others should die for not worshipping the moon will be tracked. American citizenship is so sacrosanct, it can't possibly be taken away from anyone without their blessing!
I have to admit, this is consistent.  If we're going to bestow American citizenship on millions of people who have done nothing for the country but break the law by sneaking in, then why take citizenship away from another class of criminals?  Although I would argue that committing treason goes beyond mere criminality, that's just me.  I'm just a native-born American citizen who believes in following the law (a strike against the illegals) and live-and-let-live (a strike against jihadists).  What do I know? 
The only laudable thing about contemporary American life is that guns are still available. People have been purchasing them in a veritable flurry, convinced that they will be necessary to ward off swarthy illegals or jihadists coming at them with a scimitar. More power to them.  In Britain, we can't even have pepper spray. 
However, if you do manage to combat your assailant in a way that guarantees no future recidivist activities on his part while on American soil, you will be hounded relentlessly by the media for shooting an aggrieved member of society, a valuable person we failed to understand and embrace because we are, y'know, racist.  Just ask Mark Vaughan who equalized the "workplace violence" committed by Alton Nolen, a.k.a Jah'Keem Yisrael.  (Strange name for an Islamofascist, isn't it?  That's Isreal with a "y".)

My home country has a totally open southern border and a Federal Bureau of Investigation that has just given the green light for further terrorist atrocities in on American soil.
Now, seriously, ask me if I wish I was still living in the U.S., especially the "sanctuary state" of Massachusetts run by that Obama rumpswab Deval Patrick.
If you have even a half-decent working brain, you won't bother.
I'm in Great Britain, and I'm staying put.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Denying the jihadists, or why I don't want to know Ben Affleck

I apologize in advance for the intemperate language, dear reader. Ben Affleck is a pussy. There, I said it.
The worst thing about being from Boston is knowing that this bozo hails from the same stomping ground. In case you missed it, Mssr. Affleck appeared on a recent episode of Bill Maher's "Real Time" program. Maher and his guest Sam Harris, the New Athiest author of the book Waking Up, were discussing the threat posed by radical Islamists and the varying degrees to which Muslims worldwide support, at least in theory, ideas anathema to the liberal Western way of life. Affleck was incapable of distinguishing between the moderate Muslims which Mr. Harris correctly pointed out are the people in the Islamic world that we need to support and encourage with the hope that they, not the jihadists, Islamists or fundamentalists, become the face of Islam globally and the Islamofascists and those who agree with or remain silent on them.
Comparing Maher's and Harris's points to calling someone a "shifty Jew," Affleck threw a hissy fit. He spoke in a tone of voice that nearly reached the ultrasonic register. He addressed Mr. Harris with a combative, "So, are you the person who understands the officially codified doctrine of Islam?" (To which Harris replied, "I'm actually well-educated on this topic.") I wish Harris had shot back, "Are you, Ben?" 
At one point, while former Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele spoke, Affleck can be seen rubbing his temples and running a finger across his stubbly upper lip. You would have a hard time arguing that he didn't look like a schoolboy who'd just been admonished by his teacher. Poor little mite was just so distressed. All this Islamophobia emanating from his fellow progressives! Oh me, oh my!
Bill Maher may be a punk—that will never change if his disparaging comments about the Boston bombing are any indication—but at least he gets it with regard to the threat posed by radical Islam. He is not like other Lefties in denying it. He does not think that Christians are the monsters. There are far worse liberals in the media than Bill Maher.
That said, you still have to be pretty damn far to the Left to disagree with him from a liberal point of view. Affleck doesn't want to hear that there are bad Muslims in the world—that, out of the four concentric circles of Islamic belief and practice that Mr. Harris explained, only one represents the reformers, the good Muslims. It's just so discriminatory!
Ben Affleck, you are a disgrace. But, though I disown you as a fellow Beantowner, the difference between a Westerner like me, who agrees with and will defend basic liberal values such as freedom of speech and freedom of religion, and the majority of the practitioners of "the doctrine of Islam" is this: I don't want to kill you. I'm happy for you to be alive, to wake up each morning to a brand new day (which is more than can be said for animals you shoot on some of these mornings).
However, this is a point I don't expect you to comprehend.