School District Teaches Teenager a Lesson for Life

The  Itawamba County School District in Mississippi taught a teenage girl a lesson for life recently: intolerance rules.

She wanted to go to her prom with another girl.  Since the District couldn’t prevent that, as a governmental entity, without running afoul of the 14th Amendment, it chose to ban the prom alltogether, and hand it over to a private group of parents who could legally discriminate.

And discriminate they did.  Constance McMillion received her prom invitation, all right. So did six other students.  And it was a special invitation, to a special prom, just for them. The rest of the school attended their prom in a different, undisclosed location.

As if that wasn’t enough to humiliate her, a facebook page has sprung up where annonymous posters can spout their venom against the girl who dared to be herself.

Her reaction? “I just want the negativity to stop because I try to be respectful and positive.”

Too bad the grown-ups didn’t feel the same way.

Prague: There and Back Again

A year ago President Obama committed himself to seek a world without nuclear weapons:

Today we’re one step further and a new START weapons agreement has been signed in Prague.

The treaty the President plans to sign is one important step forward.  It will require the United States and Russia to reduce — by 30 percent below the levels in a treaty signed in 2002 — the number of nuclear warheads they have deployed on intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-based ballistic missiles, and bombers.  It also provides various mechanisms to allow each side to monitor compliance with the treaty by the other country, including on-site inspections and exchanges of data about our respective nuclear arsenals.  This kind of transparency promotes strategic stability between the two largest nuclear powers in the world. (source:

What’s more, the nuclear strategy for the US has been changed these days as well. First Strikes are mostly out. You bet that as a European and probable battlefield inhabitant I feel better now. Not altogether safe, but a bit safer.

The Watering Hole: April 8 – USN Carrier Operations

The society formed to control takeoffs and landings as well as life on a US Navy carrier (multi-page link) is more complex than many cities. The Carrier has been part of  naval history as far back as the early 19th century. In those days, kites and balloons were launched as observation platforms.

USS George Washington

I have a personal experience on the process involved in the landing system as my dear old Dad worked for Bendix Radio and was involved in the development of carrier approach systems in the late 1940’s. He was sent to the USS Coral Sea in order to interview Naval pilots and to observe operations. He learned that the average Naval pilot would have nothing to do with an automatic landing system that did not have a manual over-ride. While on the carrier, he developed a system that used a sideband on the plane’s radio that used frequency to indicate vertical attitude and tempo to indicate a deviation from horizontal attitude. It also relied on the pilot’s eyes to determine the direction of   horizontal deviation. He left the ship with a working system installed that was compatible with any aircraft and only required minor modifications to the carrier’s radar and communication systems. What helped was that he was chief engineer in the development of  the carrier’s electronic systems. Bendix got ten million from the development contract and two million for each of about nine conversions, not bad for about three weeks work. Pop was an early proponent of the KISS principle.

Four months later, he was working for Chance Vought on the F8U (Crusader) and Regulus programs as  a lead avionics engineer. Chance Vought had lost the bidding with an entry price of about 100 million for just development of the approach system.

The link, above, provides many chapters in carrier operations, but you may want to look here for some nitty-gritty details on flight deck operations.

This is our open thread. Please feel free to offer your own comments on this or any other topic.