"It could mean sending an F16"

 A Dutch F16 is orange so as to be visible for easy spotting 

Zero Hedge reports on the saber-rattling by our mighty NATO allies as "aggressive" strategies are announced to counter Putin's continued warmongering in and around the Ukraine. Meanwhile, John Kerry continues to cower in his imaginary Swift Boat in the Black Sea gazing from a distance at the USS Donald Cook being buzzed by Russian MIG fighter jets on April 14. The UK Guardian reports:
A spokesperson for the US secretary of state, John Kerry, said his primary goal was to persuade Moscow to halt its destabilising activities in eastern Ukraine, and call publicly for separatist groups to disarm and stand down.
U.S. Air Force General Philip Breedlove, in his capacity as Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, announced a strategy to deploy troops of European members to the eastern borders of NATO Europe in order to step up its presence around Russian borders to reassure Russia's neighbors. Of course, Putin had already warned against that, so under the rules of whatever, Breedlove tried to call the Russian General-in-Charge to reassure him that this is nothing but a defensive move. The Russians, unfortunately, are not answering calls. Perhaps NATO might try using email.

Meanwhile, the NATO naval geniuses are pulling anti-pirate ships off the coast of Somalia to join the USS Donald Cook so that Russian pilots cans have more targets to harass in the Black Sea.

Just in case General Breedlove was not taken seriously, the Dutch Defense Minister was talking on television:
The Netherlands is looking into the deployment of F16 fighter jets to try and ease the conflict around Ukraine, defence minister Jeanine Hennis told a television talk show on Tuesday night.
While there is no question of Nato military action against Russia, ‘we want to be very visible as support to our Eastern allies’, the minister told the Pauw & Witteman show.
‘We are looking at how we can increase our air support or sea support in, say, the Baltic or the Black Sea region,’ she said. ‘We are members of an alliance for a reason and we will take our responsibilities.'
Asked specifically what form Dutch air support could take, the minister said 'it could mean sending an F16.'
From an historic perspective, NATO should not expect much militarily from the Netherlands. Infamously in 1995, the Dutch commander of UN forces charged with protecting 8,000 Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica, Kosovo was aware that a massacre was about to happen but did nothing to prevent Serb troops from marching those Muslims away to a mass grave site. It is called genocide in English but perhaps the Dutch have another phrase they like to use that was invented by the Nazis - lebensunwertes Leben translates to "Life unworthy of life."

Getting to the Bottom of Fort Wayne Potholes

Saturday, I had to replace my right front tire because of sidewall damage and the left front had to have a puncture patched. Fortunately, Discount Tire's road hazard coverage got me off the hook for less than twenty bucks but it took more than two hours of wait time. As reported here, here, and here - everybody, including Fort Wayne crewsINDOT and me and my sore old eyes have noticed potholes everywhere!

But nowadays, memories are important to me and I recollect that former Democrat Mayor of Fort Wayne, (2000-2007) Graham Richard fixed the potholes problem for us. To jog your memory, possibly you may recall how the mayor set out to install and run the latest-greatest management fad, Lean Six Sigma, to make our city hum - so check the chart and explanation below to discover just how well this methodology works in the real world:
Potholes are a continuous concern for residents. The average repair time is over 2 days. The goal is to repair 97% of potholes within 24 hours of when they are reported.
Several changes were implemented to improve the process of filling potholes. Residents can easily report potholes via telephone, cell phone and internet. Special lighting has been added to equipment to allow crews to fill potholes at night when the traffic volume is less.
Now 99.6% of all potholes reported are filled within 24 hours and the average pothole repair time is 1.5 hours. As a result, there has been a reduction of claims filed against the City by motorists with damaged vehicles from potholes. Improved processes have also resulted in less overtime hours and better customer service.
First of all, road hazard claims are not paid for by government and my lyin' eyes tell me that the potholes that I pass day-after-day and week-after-week are not getting fixed in two days - and I never see a city crew working at night. The city admits that it chases reported potholes and obviously must ignore all others. The real truth is that the city's costly approach to pothole repairs needs to change because "cold patch" asphalt is used to make repairs in the winter (if and when such repairs are actually made) - and cold patch is temporary - gone in days when adverse conditions exist.
Because it is still winter, the city fills each pothole with a winter mix meant to serve as a temporary patch. [Street Commissioner Brad] Baumgartner said the patch can last several months in dry weather but could deteriorate quickly with water and heavy traffic.
The city can’t put permanent patches in the potholes until the weather warms. Baumgartner said the city can’t fire up its asphalt plant until the temperature rises above 55 degrees.
Having demonstrated the weak solutions rampant in Six Sigma projects, let us return to the juicy tale surrounding Graham Richard. City residents were pretty much kept in the dark as to the workings of his grand plan that went on for almost eight years until the "shit hit the fan" when a payment was made to High Performance Government Network for a supposed three year, $285,000 contract, let days before the end of the mayor's term in December 2007 - covering the years 2007, 2008, and 2009. But a funny thing happened on the way to the forum, when a blogger named Jeff Pruit, discovered that the consultants had not done any work in 2007. Further, it is publicly acknowledged by Richard that he is a co-founder of the new consulting firm and the employees of the firm are all ex-city employees. To add insult to injury, HPGN now occupies office space in Fort Wayne's Public Service Academy building (hopefully not rent-free) and the state of Indiana issued a nasty audit finding. Further, a second version of the HPGN contract appeared in September 2008, which wrought questions about "what incoming Mayor Tom Henry knew?" and "when did he know it?"  It is painfully clear that City Council members were forever oblivious to the goings-on.

The moral of this story, or lack thereof, is likely cloudy to the reader, so let me point out that, despite the eleven years that the City of Fort Wayne operated under this so-called state-of-the-art system, no one figured out that the Six Sigma solution to potholes was deeply flawed. The goal of the pothole initiative should have been more than just to provide better planning, scheduling, routing and customer reporting. On the other hand, it might be that city personnel knew their limited solution was flawed and their graphs misleading. In this scenario, perhaps the public unions didn't want employment threatened or maybe employees were not as competent as Mayor Richard would have us believe.

Back in  April 2011, I wrote a piece called Nuking Potholes for Fun and Profit which was read by almost nobody. The story centered around University of Minnesota research sponsored by MNDOT which uses a 50,000 watt microwave to heat and dry the roadway in and around the pothole and uses a mix of recycled asphalt and "home-grown" ground magnetite. These repairs hold up and a pothole repair takes eight minutes. No more throw, tamp and go patches.

Another proven technology for permanent pothole repairs involves using a truck mounted infrared technology to heat up the roadway before filling the hole. The technology has been around about 20 years. The video featured here has a demonstration of the equipment in action. The story goes further, pointing out that New York City refuses to use this money-saving device and relies instead on huge crews patching the hard way. Be sure to look at the NYC Tumblr site for a stark comparison.

And finally, the most cost-effective vehicle is the one-man-operated PK-2000 Pothole Killer. Repairs take about a minute or so per pothole and the roadway is immediately available for use. The vehicles can be purchased or leased for use by city crews or Patch Management will descend on the city to do the work for you - just as they are doing in Cleveland.

And as for Graham Richard - the man can sell ice cream to Eskimos - just as he did in his glorious presentation to the Brookings Institution. His latest gig as CEO of Advanced Energy Economy is perfect, since its chairman is a global warming alarmist with a hard-on against the Koch brothers for seeking change to California's perverse greenhouse gas laws.

If You Miss The Train I'm On . . .

If you miss the train I'm on, then you'll know that I am gone
You can hear the whistle blow a hundred miles

Nothing changes much from this rail passenger car photo inside the Hoosier State train at 8:22 AM on December 31, 2012 on its way to Chicago from Indy. As usual, passengers riding are sparse . . . which means another significant outlay of Indiana taxpayer funds averaging about $40 per ride to cover operating expenses above the $31 mean fare collected. Hypothetically, would anyone be riding the Hoosier State if the collected one-way rail fare was $71 ($31+ $40) for a five hour trip when a three hour ride (or less) by bus or limo will likely cost about half of the train fare plus subsidy? In any event, taxpayers not riding trains, for any reason whatsoever, are getting screwed.

On this trip, infrequent passenger Karen Moody turns to the nostalgia that grips all "rail fans."
All day and all night I hear the faint sound of the whistle as it sounds the train’s passage along the tracks through the city. When the wind blows from the west I can hear the wheels clacking across the crossing and the whistle sounds stronger. I've loved it always.
My grandpa was a railroad engineer. In the early 1960s, when Grandpa was close to retirement and no longer doing the long runs, my mother took me and my brothers to the small switching area that we called the yard. Grandpa, in his engineer’s coat, cap and big heavy boots, helped us up the big steps of the locomotive. At least once I got to hold the throttle and grandpa helped me push on it a little to make the engine move. Such vivid memories I have of the oily smells, the rumbling diesels and the sound of crushed coal underfoot.
In fiscal year 2013, ended last September 30, round-trip passengers riding Hoosier State between the 3rd and 12th most populous cities in America, totaled only 19,100 or an average of 92 per five-hour, 196 mile trip (note: Amtrak combines revenue dollars and passenger rides for the combined trains - Cardinal and Hoosier State - so I divided the totals by number of days operated to determine the Hoosier State activity). For those who don't know, the Hoosier State operates between Indianapolis and Chicago's Union Station four days per week on days when the national Cardinal train is not running between the cities, leaving at 6:00 AM and departing Chicago for the return trip to Indy at 5:45 PM. Even with a five hour window, train #851 traveling north is on time only 51% of the time and train #850 out of Union Station on LaSalle Street is on time only 18% of the time at destination. Old track and lots of trains in the Chicago-Indy corridor will not improve with time and it is difficult to justify large expenditures to fix the problems with no evidence that Hoosiers have fallen out of love with the automobile - but the state bureaucrats and politicians do not require economic raison d'ĂȘtre. This is the latest news from Trains News Wire:
INDIANAPOLIS – For years, some passenger rail advocates have pressed the idea of allowing a private operator to take over a route operated by Amtrak, and demonstrate how service could be improved beyond what Amtrak provides. Now they may finally get their chance. The Indiana Department of Transportation has issued a request for proposals to find bidders willing to take over operation of the Chicago-Indianapolis Hoosier State route, currently operated by Amtrak.
In early October 2013, INDOT reached agreement with Amtrak to provide a $2.7 million subsidy for the Hoosier State to keep it running for one more year. The deal includes an option to continue the service for four more months after that. The communities of Rensselaer, Indianapolis, Crawfordsville, Lafayette, West Lafayette, Tippecanoe County, and Beech Grove (Hoosier State Partners) are putting up about half the $2.7 million the state has pledged to subsidize the Hoosier State route.
The purpose of the request, the department says, is to obtain competitive bids to operate the Hoosier State in a way that optimizes the service. The state and its partners intend to make the selection so a contractor may begin its operations when the current agreement with Amtrak expires on Sept. 30, 2014. Should additional time be required, the state’s current agreement with Amtrak may be extended through Jan. 31, 2015, by mutual written agreement of the parties.
At least one company is considering making a bid. Iowa Pacific Holdings President Ed Ellis tells Trains News Wire that, “We are evaluating it. We haven’t decided, but it is of great interest, and Indiana is being innovative in their approach.”
The state and its partners want the selected contractor not only to reduce the cost of operating the train, but also work with INDOT and Hoosier State Partners to improve operations, attract higher ridership and bring in increased revenues, thereby further reducing costs.
As I pointed out before here, operating passenger trains is a money-losing proposition and Hoosiers, other than those riding the South Shore electric commuter trains from communities close to Chicago, are simply not interested in unreliable train travel. At sometime in the near future, we will somehow have to repress the tendency to "Feed the Pig" and rationalize that passenger rail is dead. In the meantime, getting the government out of mass transportation would be a positive step, but we must always remember what Trains Magazine editor David P. Morgan said, way back in 1959:
If passenger trains are in the red because they are technologically obsolete, because Americans prefer the convenience of a car or the speed of a jet, then these trains must be given a decent burial and left to the historians.
And from James McCommons' book, "Waiting on a Train: The Embattled Future of Passenger Rail Service--A Year Spent Riding across America" comes this message in the finest tradition of John Galt from America's capitalistic freight railroads that happen to own the tracks:
"You need to understand this," McCommons quotes one UP [Union Pacific] executive saying to one of his sources.
If [Amtrak] is right to the minute on time and an ass in every seat, we don’t care. If you are nine hours late and nobody is on the train, we don’t care. If you have engine trouble and are stuck, we don’t care. If you bring a few million to the table in incentives, we don’t care. We are a $3 billion company, it means nothing to us. So no matter what Amtrak does. No matter what you do, we don’t care. WE DON’T CARE.

Sarah Palin Brings A Smile

A Secret Airport in Micronesia?

Where is the landing strip?
Well, I figured that it was my turn to play mainstream media mogul, since headline material on the Maylaysian Air Boeing 777 disappearance now goes far afield when such things as diplomatic communications become the news.
Malaysian authorities are now seeking diplomatic permission to investigate if it landed at a Taliban-controlled base on the border of Afghanistan and North West Pakistan.
Since when was it necessary to do diplomatic message exchanges with a terrorist group? Next we can expect - "Breaking: "Malaysian government is run by Ouija board."

So I turned to Google Images, typed "Micronesia" and found the above ** camouflaged landing strip somewhere in that island chain. The simply incredible camouflage, however, does not let me evaluate the runway length. We can only hope that they have comfortable facilities to house and feed 239 people.

** Please do not confuse me by claiming that this picture does not show a landing strip. The airplane has flaps up and wheels coming down. The airplane pictured is a Continental Micronesia 737 Sleeper. Formerly Air Micronesia ("Air Mike"), the plane flies a milk run between Hawaii and Guam and back, stopping at all Micronesia airports three times a week in each direction. The airport Is Kosrae International (KSA) located on an artificial island inside the reef of the easternmost island in the Caroline Island chain. The longest runway is 5751 feet. 

The Enforce the Laws Act presented by Congressman Trey Goudy (R-SC)

If you haven't heard this speech please invest five minutes of your time. The act will permit the Congress to assert standing and sue the President for contempt if the laws passed by the House are not enforced.

Obama has already threatened to veto the bill and there are those who hope that he does because that too will make him the loser.