Version 24.1
Posted June 10, 2015, 12:59 p.m.

In celebration of our tenth anniversary, Melissa and I went on a fourteen-day Alaska cruise. On Monday, May 18, we flew from Washington Dulles International Airport to SeaTac Airport near Seattle, Washington, where we embarked upon Holland America Line’s m.s. Statendam. My long time readers may recognize the ship name; we sailed on the Statendam for our honeymoon just about ten years ago. We have always loved the Statendam and other smaller cruise ships, and of course there was great sentimental value in coming back to the same ship.

Statendam has seen some upgrades in the last decade, but most of it remains very familiar. Sadly though, its days are numbered. Statendam will be going into dry-dock later this year to be refitted and transferred to P&O Australia, where it will be called the Pacific Eden.

Our cruise left Seattle on the afternoon of May 18, and returned there on the morning June 1. The ports of call along the way were Ketchikan, Juneau, Icy Strait Point, Anchorage, Homer, Kodiak, and Sitka, Alaska, and then Victoria, British Columbia. In addition there were several days at sea or cruising scenic fjords and inlets, which took us to Tracy Arm and the Sawyer Glacier, as well as the Hubbard Glacier. We stayed for a couple extra days in Seattle at the end, and returned home the evening of June 3.

We had a wonderful time—it was incredibly relaxing, and the service (and food) on Holland America Line is just as wonderful as we remembered. We have cruised on a number of different lines, and Holland America remains our distant favorite. Anyway, I could write a novel about our trip, but instead of that I’ll just post over seven-hundred photos. Enjoy! Read More…

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Posted in Life, Photos
Posted May 26, 2015, 2:22 a.m.

Here on my tenth-anniversary cruise vacation to Alaska, I have spent relatively little time following the news. On port days where I have wireless Internet access, I am catching up on some of the major headlines, but other than that it’s just occasional ‘catch-up’ sessions with the news channels available on our stateroom television.

There are three news networks available here on the ship: MSNBC, Fox News Channel, and British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) World News. So my options are American news with a hard-left bias, American news with a hard-right bias, and international news with a . . . British bias? I am spending most of my time on BBC, which is the least offensive of the available options. It seems to be about on-par with CNN, which is the closest thing to television journalism we have left in the United States.

But sometimes the BBC’s journalistic integrity goes out the window, and they suddenly become fearful of speaking the plain truth. As a prime example, consider their coverage of the Islamic State (I.S.), formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Many of the BBC’s presenters have been repeatedly referring to I.S. as the ‘so-called Islamic State.’

So-called? Look, it would be journalistic malpractice to paint I.S. as being fully representative of Islam generally, so I understand that we have to be precise about how we discuss them and how we use their name. But at the same time, a dispassionate and accurate report about I.S. cannot separate it from the Islamic religion. Those who founded and support I.S. believe that they are following Qur’anic Islam. Whether they are right or wrong, their name accurately reflects their intent, and their intent is an essential part of the story.

The way that media outlets can separate the I.S. from Islam itself is not to editorialize every time they mention its name, but to interview Muslims who oppose I.S., quote from clerics who condemn them, and—most importantly—show the death and destruction that they have wrought in the lives of the mostly Islamic people of Iraq and Syria. But we can’t gloss over what the supporters of the I.S. believe, and we can’t pretend it has no direct connection to Islam or the Qur’an.

Supporters of I.S. believe that they are creating a new caliphate, a unified Muslim political and religious authority, in accordance with Qur’anic teaching and Islamic tradition. This is the truth, no matter what the ‘so-called journalists’ at the BBC think.

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Posted in Analysis, Briefly, Opinion
Posted May 24, 2015, 7:53 p.m.

A Car Accident

Imagine two streets intersecting in the city. One street has a green light, and traffic is passing through unimpeded. The cross-street has a red light, and traffic is stopped. All of a sudden, a red four-door sedan on the cross-street enters the intersection against the light at about twenty miles per hour. It clips the rear bumper of a white pick-up truck that was passing through on a green.

Without stopping, the driver of the red car floors it and disappears down the cross-street out of view. Several witnesses pull out their cell phones and call the police to report the accident. The driver of the white pick-up pulls over, gets out, and walks to the back of his truck. He is wearing blue jeans and a white shirt with a business logo on the chest pocket. He looks at the damage—the rear bumper has come off. He picks it up from the street, throws it in the back of the truck, hops back in, and drives away.

Police arrive three minutes later to find little evidence that a car accident ever occurred. There are a few broken pieces of plastic scattered around, but they could have been from this crash, or from a fender-bender a day before, or from any number of other incidents that occur in-and-around that intersection all the time. So the responding officers begin to interview the people nearby and collect witness testimony.

Read More…

Posted May 6, 2015, 5:44 p.m.

Introduction

A Similar Boeing 727 (Richard Silagi [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)])

A Similar Boeing 727 (Richard Silagi [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)])

Trans-World Airlines (TWA) Flight 514 was a regularly scheduled flight from Indianapolis, Indiana, to Washington, DC, with a stopover in Columbus, Ohio. On December 1, 1974, the flight was serviced by a Boeing 727-231, tail number N54328. It departed from Indianapolis International Airport on-time at 8:53 a.m. and arrived at Port Columbus International Airport without incident at 9:32 a.m.

The captain of Flight 514 on that day was Richard I. Brock, an experienced pilot with over 3,700 flight hours as captain or first officer and another 3,100 hours as a flight engineer. The first officer was Lenard K. Kresheck, another experienced pilot with over 6,200 flight hours. The flight engineer was Thomas C. Safrenek, who had almost 2,800 flight hours. As they prepared to leave Columbus, there were four flight attendants and eighty-five passengers on-board, plus the three members of the cockpit crew, for a total of ninety-two passengers and crew.

Flight 514 departed Columbus at 10:24 a.m., eleven minutes late, en-route to Washington National Airport in Arlington, Virginia (just outside of Washington, DC). It would never arrive. Read More…

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Posted in Articles, Photos
Last Updated April 14, 2015, 12:34 p.m.

Leo Thornton, 22, from Lincolnwood, Illinois, committed suicide on the lower west terrace of the U.S. Capitol on Saturday, April 11, resulting in a lockdown at the Capitol itself and the nearby Capitol Visitor Center. A witness who observed the incident from the Capitol steps reported that a man entered the terrace and then, without warning, shot himself in the head. The man had been carrying a protest sign, as well as a backpack and wheeled suitcase. The backpack and suitcase were handled by a bomb disposal team and determined to be harmless. Nobody else was injured.

Capitol Police lifted the lockdown around 4:00 p.m., but the west terrace remained closed during the investigation. There is no apparent link to terrorism.

Thornton was reported missing by his family on Saturday morning after he failed to return home from work the night before. According to Lincolnwood Deputy Police Chief John Walsh, Thornton suffers from Asperger’s syndrome, which is a form of autism. It is unclear at this time how Thornton got to Washington, DC, from Illinois. He traveled between Friday afternoon and mid-day on Saturday, but there were no travel-related charges on his credit cards and investigators have not announced finding any car that Thornton may have used.

Reports state that Thornton’s protest sign said, “Tax the 1%.” This is likely in reference to the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement’s false claims that the top one percent of American wage earners pay less federal tax than the remaining ninety-nine percent. In 2011, the most recent year for which data is available, the top one percent of wage earning households paid twenty-four percent of all federal taxes though they made only fifteen percent of all national income. On average, the top one percent pay about thirty percent of their income to federal taxes, a higher rate than any other income group (Congressional Budget Office).

Originally posted on Saturday, April 11, 2015.
Updated with new information on Monday, April 14, 2015.

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Posted in Briefly, Reports

About Scott Bradford

Scott Bradford has been building web sites and using them to say what he thinks since 1995, which tended to get him in trouble with power-tripping assistant principals at the time. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Public Administration from George Mason University, but has spent most of his career (so far) working on public- and private-sector web sites. He is not a member of any political party, and brands himself an ‘independent constitutional conservative.’ In addition to holding down a day job and blogging about challenging subjects like politics, religion, and technology, Scott is also a devout Catholic, gun-owner, bike rider, and music lover with a wife, two cats, and a dog.