Friday, August 27, 2004

Midwest Debut of Stradivari Homage

Sonus Faber is unveiling their Stradivari Homage tonight at Quintessence Audio in Morton Grove, IL. I already got a sneak preview this afternoon and it is one striking-looking speaker. Sounds great, too. Even through a very impressive rendition of a pipe organ and male choir, I was able to easily follow the harp part. Wow.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

The Tangled Web of 527s

The New York Times recently spilled some ink on the connections between a Bush campaign volunteer who also appeared in a Swift Vets for Truth ad. (The man has since stepped down from his campaign position.)

Well, Blogs for Bush has created a similar chart showing the connections between the DNC and various left-leaning 527s. Check out Harold Ickes. He sits on the DNC's executive board, and he's the "[d]riving force behind The Media Fund". But I'm just SURE he's not actually coordinating... no, I really mean it...seriously

JLH update: parts on order

I've decided to order up a batch of parts for my updated, higher-powered JLH amplifier. I'm getting a slew of 2SA970s and a handful each of 2SA1358 and 2SC3421 from MCM Electronics. The power transistors (MJ15003 and MJ15004) are from On Semi via Digi-Key. Also from Digi-Key are a quartet of 68,000uF/25V Panasonic AA-series capacitors.

I also contacted Conrad of Victoria, Australia about heatsinks. The units themselves seem to be priced mighty nice (~$71 for 2), but we'll see what the shipping quote is... and if they'll get too hot dissipating a whopping 133W each!

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Kerry's remarks to the 105th VFW convention

(transcript found here: -- I've snipped the portions where he shamelessly panders to his audience.)

Thank you. I am proud to be a lifetime member of this organization and grateful for your continued deep commitment to veterans and to the defense and security of our nation.

He didn't bother to wear the hat. I'm sure he was truly proud as can be, inspite of that. Even Al "Al" Gore wore the hat.
A few weeks ago, at the Democratic National Convention, I told the American people that I was reporting for duty. I did not say that lightly.

The salute looked a little funny, though, in my unexpert opinion.
I said it paying homage to and drawing strength from my crewmates on stage, the more than 500 delegates who were veterans in the Fleet Center and especially all of you -- every man and woman who has ever worn the uniform of the United States armed forces. We understand that the duty to serve goes on throughout our lives. That is what really brings us here today: our continued resolve to defend America so that all can share in the blessings of freedom. And let there be no doubt - when I am president, you will have a true brother in arms in the White House who understands that those who fought for their country abroad should never have to fight for what they were promised at home.

Translation: "with respect to goodies, I'll get you what I can." With respect to his 1971 accusation of warcrimes committed by his true brothers in arm in Vietnam, no mention of an apology.
They testify to the truth that we will never back down in defense of freedom. We will use superior military force to overcome any enemy. Let me be clear: like you, I defended this country as a young man. And I will defend it as president. I will never hesitate to use force when it is required. Any attack will be met with a swift and certain response. Any imminent threat to our security will be dealt with swiftly and severely. I will never give any nation or international institution a veto over our national security. And I will build a stronger American military.

This sounds fine. But he's voted for massive cuts to the military budget for the last 19 years. When he talks about strengthening, I can't help but believe he's not really meaning it. He goes on to guarantee a good counterpunch against those who would bring more 9/11 type attacks to us. Thanks, but too little too late. I'll take the man who takes the fight to the enemy where he lives.

Not giving outside entities a veto over our national security should go without saying. But he says it.
But, in these dangerous times, there is a right way and a wrong way to be strong. Strength is more than tough words.

Action? Oh wait, you're not done yet...
After September 11th, I am proud that all our people rallied to the President's call for unity to meet the danger. There were no Democrats, there were no Republicans there were only Americans.

If memory served it lasted for about a week. Dems needed to break free from the ties that bound them to a President they positively can't stand.
How we wish it had stayed that way.
But since then, we have become a country divided over Iraq - and it didn't have to be that way.

As veterans, we know what kids go through when they are carrying an M-16 in a dangerous place and they can't tell friend from foe. We know what they go through when they're out on patrol at night and they don't know what's coming around the next bend. We know what it's like to write letters home telling your family that everything's all right when you're not sure that's true.

John Kerry even knows how it is to be in Cambodia on Christmas Eve 1968, getting shot at by the Khmer Rouge--who didn't yet exist, except, perhaps in the minds of a few men--and you were sent there on illegal mission by Nixon, even though he didn't take office until January 1969.
I know what we have to do in Iraq. We need a President who has the credibility to bring our allies to our side because that's the right way to get the job done in Iraq and bring our troops home.

John Kerry expects Our Allies -- different ones than those who are actually with us right now, since they apparently don't count in his book -- to take over while he pulls the troops home. "Thanks, Pierre. Good luck with the Baathist holdouts. Be seing you..." Apparently he feels he can simply snap his Northeastern Liberal fingers and the French will come a-running. I sincerely hope he doesn't hold his breath waiting.
We need to bring in NATO and other nations to share the cost and burdens. Right now, the United States is shouldering the lion's share of this effort. Ninety percent of all coalition forces and nearly ninety percent of coalition coffins are draped with American flags. The American taxpayers are also paying the vast share of the cost of this war.

Nevermind that NATO has served its useful purpose during the decades-long confrontation with the Soviet Union and its surrogates. Even if the rest of NATO came -- the members who aren't already fighting by our side right now -- who do they have to send? What military force can they field anymore? Now, granted, perhaps they could provide forensic accountants to track the flow of money among terror cells, but I don't think that's what JK meant.
We also need to massively improve and accelerate our training of Iraqi police and security forces so they can defend their own country; and we need ensure that there is far greater security to provide the credible elections in 2005 critical to advance Iraq's transition to stable, representative democracy.

That would be great. I s'pose he'll just 'change the dynamics' and it will be done. *poof*
As President, I will always ask hard questions and I will demand hard evidence. I will immediately reform the intelligence system - so policy is guided by facts, and facts are never distorted by politics.

Good thought, there. I suppose that it is supposed to be a scathing indictment of the Bush Administration. However The Commission found that there was no such political pressure brought to bear on the Intelligence Community. But it was such a good meme... why lay it to rest now?
As president, I will wage war with the lessons I learned in war. Before you go to battle,

You need to have your Super-8 camera and some extra film! Oh... sorry...
you have to be able to look a parent or family member in the eye and truthfully say: We tried everything possible to avoid sending your son or daughter into harm's way. But we had no choice.

Agreed, and during the 10 years of trying to compel Saddam Hussein to live up to his agreement dating back to the 1991 Persian Gulf War, I believe each succeding administration has done that. The 14 months in front of the UN Security Council was part of that effort, too. But Colin Powell and Co. couldn't overcome European economic interests in the region, nor their leaders' political interests back home. That's the way it goes.
And now, with so much at stake in the struggle against Al Qaeda the American people want to hear, in plain words the answer to a simple question. How are we going to get the terrorists before they get us? Just what is our strategy - not just for striking back against the terrorists, but for defeating their aims, destroying their movement, discrediting their cause, and bringing old and new friends to our side? What is our long-term strategy for making America safer?

Finally! Simple answers to simple questions! If you could have just answered these questions, that would have been great. But you didn't. Again. We are left to trust that you can change the ol' dynamics again.
Over the course of this campaign, I have laid out my plans to reshape and rebuild the American military so that it is ready to fight tomorrow's wars, not yesterday's.

Except that those who advise you seem hellbent on continuing the Cold War instead of fighting TODAY's war against militant Islamism.
As a combat veteran who has walked in your shoes, I know that the first duty of a commander in chief is to make sure that our troops are the best trained, best equipped fighting force in the world. And to never send them into battle without a plan to win the peace.

But you vote consistently to cut defense spending on weapons programs currently in use today. And you don't authorize the $87 billion dollars the troops need to keep supplied! You can vote against it if you first vote for it. The active military, I'm sure, will love to hear you revise and extend your remarks on that vote.
That is why I have called for adding 40,000 new troops, not in Iraq, but to relieve the pressure on our overstretched forces.

Must be going to send them to Germany or South Korea or Japan.
The fact is, the war in Iraq has taken a real toll on our armed services. Ninety percent of the Army's active duty combat divisions are either in Iraq, have been to Iraq, or are on their way.

I will also double our Army Special Forces so we can find and get the terrorists before they get us.

Double it how? Please tell me it won't be by lowering standards.
And we must end the stop-loss and involuntary recall of troops that amounts to nothing more than a back-door draft. To fight this war, we have called up our Guard and Reserves at historic levels. And many of these units are being pushed to the limit. The Administration has extended tours of duty, delayed retirements, and prevented enlisted personnel from leaving the service. And when these troops come home, many have lost the job they left. We're going to see to it that everyone who fought for this country has a good job when they come back to this country.

On a serious note: shame on the employer who cuts a Guardsman or Reservist who has been called up. Unless your whole enterprise has gone belly-up, I fail to see an excuse for not bringing back Reservists and Guardsmen.
At the same time, we must strengthen our homeland security and do everything we can to prevent another 9/11. We shouldn't be letting ninety-five percent of container ships come into our ports without ever being physically inspected.

Ah, now I see how Kerry intends to spur job growth! He's going to hire every man, woman and child to inspect all the other container ships.
We shouldn't be leaving our nuclear and chemical plants without enough protection. And we must make sure first responders have the training and equipment they need.

But, as you know, winning the war on terror demands a team effort. We all know that the best intelligence comes from working cooperatively with other nations through real intelligence sharing and joint operations.

Is Joe Wilson still on Kerry's team of advisors? The man who tried to singlehandedly scorch the intelligence given us by Great Britain and also, if memory serves, Italy? Just checking.
That's why for months now, I have been calling for the creation of a National Director of Intelligence with the authority to oversee all of our intelligence agencies.

Really? You, personally, have been calling for this? Before or after the 9/11 Commission Report called for the same thing?
Last month, the 9/11 Commission embraced many of these ideas.

I think we are to understand that these were his ideas and The Commission merely agreed with them.
I have urged the President and the Congress to act - and act now - to implement them.

Perhaps Monsieur can be persuaded to join us for the vote?
But if we are going to win this war, we will have to listen to another profoundly important recommendation made by the Commission. "Long term success demands the use of all elements of national power: diplomacy, intelligence, covert action, law enforcement, economic policy, foreign aid, public diplomacy and homeland defense."

As President, I will fight a smarter, more effective war on terror. We will deploy every tool in our arsenal: our economic as well as our military might; our principles as well as our firepower. Only then will be able to tell the terrorists: You will lose and we will win.

Cute. So you'll do all the same stuff being done right now, just... smarter. Oh, right, because you're a smart guy. From Massachussets.
Finally, I want to say something about the plan that the President announced on Monday to withdraw 70,000 troops from Asia and Europe. Nobody wants to bring troops home more than those of us who have fought in foreign wars. But it needs to be done at the right time and in a sensible way. This is not that time or that way.

*deep breath*
Am I to believe that the right time for bringing home the troops is when they are actively facing the enemy? And that the wrong time is after the threat they were positioned to face has been removed from the table for 15 years or more?

Is he trying to protect German economic interests by keeping bases open?
Or is he trying to simply be against anything that Bush is for (and conversely)?
Let's be clear:

Get outta here! You? Clear?!
the President's vaguely stated plan does not strengthen our hand in the war against terror. And in no way relieves the strain on our overextended military personnel. And this hastily announced plan raises more doubts about our intentions and our commitments than it provides real answers.

Actually, he's right that a statement of a plan doesn't strengthen our hand. Action taken has strengthened our hand.
For example, why are we unilaterally withdrawing 12,000 troops from the Korean Peninsula at the very time we are negotiating with North Korea - a country that really has nuclear weapons?

Well, because

1) They are OUR troops and OUR troops alone. Using the term 'unilateral' is just asinine repetition on the candidate's part; and

2) 12,000 troops do not stand a snowball's chance in hell against a nuclear detonation. The South Koreans, however, are capable of dealing with a conventional shelling of Seoul. In short, they don't particularly need us for the latter, and against the former, they'd be sitting ducks.
As Senator John McCain said, "I'm particularly concerned about moving troops out of South Korea when North Korea has probably never been more dangerous than any time since the end of the Korean War." This is clearly the wrong signal to send at the wrong time.

With al Qaeda operating in 60 countries, we need closer alliances in every part of the world to fight and win the war on terrorism. So, as president, I will be a commander in chief who renews our alliances based on shared interests and a common vision for a safer world. For more than 50 years, our allies have joined with us to say: the future doesn't belong to fear; it belongs to freedom.

Just curious here, but which alliances do we need to renew? I think it is more apt to say that we need to make new alliances.
Thank you for your service to our country and God bless you and God bless the United States of America.

And there's a statement I agree with. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Kerry's magic hat

When the story was dug up that John Kerry claimed to have ferried CIA folk into Cambodia back in 1968-69, I immediately thought "Wow... something right out of Apocalypse Now." I wondered if the guy looked more like Martin Sheen or Jerry Ziesmer, the civilian in Saigon whose memorable line was "Terminate... with extreme prejudice."

I'm not the only one who's been wondering about that story. Hugh's got a couple of emails up today that express basic flaws in the Kerry camp's story. For example, who in their right mind would take a 55' swift boat up the river for a supposedly clandestine mission? (Scroll up from the link to see one from a former vet with questions about the story.)

I'd be more than happy to believe that the hat Kerry supposedly totes around in his attache was, in fact, his own during Viet Nam. But why make up a CIA guy giving it to him? Hell, why would any CIA guy give up his hat right before going into the Kampuchean jungle?

Friday, August 13, 2004

Goodbye, Julia

Julia Child died in her sleep at the age of 91. She brought French cooking to the nation via TV in an engaging and seemingly easy way. She also introduced Emeril Lagasse via her PBS show. (Okay... maybe a little Emeril goes a long way, but I confess I still watch him from time to time.) Most recently she teamed up with Jacques Pepin for a couple of specials.

I wish I had known this before I put the frozen pizza in the oven. It doesn't seem like a very good tribute. I'll try to do better later. Something worthy of her trademark "Bon appetit!"

DIY Amp decision -- at last!

I'm going to build a version of the John Linsley Hood class A amplifier. I've kicked around the idea of building one of Nelson Pass's Zen amps. But the glowing descriptions of the JLH amp over at Geoff Moss's Class A Amplifier Site, I'm going with the updated, 2-rail version. (See figure 3 here.

I'm going to build it point to point, or at least try to. I still remember which end of the soldering iron is hot, but I haven't tried building anything without so much as a piece of vector board in a long while.

Using the Duncan Amp Tools PSU Designer I've settled on using a single raw supply which should provide a bit over +/- 19 volts DC. A 750VA transformer should do the job for both channels. After the rectifier bridges (one each for positive and negative rails), I'm going to use an LC-RC filter.

According to the sim, I can expect around 20mV of hum, buzz and general nastiness. Therefore, I'll use a capacitance multiplier circuit to further quiet down the rails. There will be a pair of these (+/-) per channel to give a modicum of inter-channel isolation.

Now... where do I get some big, honkin' heatsinks?


I have no control over the ads that appear at the top, incidentally. As I write this I'm looking at one for the Carter Center. Wage peace. Nice sound, but let's just say I have doubts about their methodology. If you're looking at something up there that curdles your blood, go ahead and click it. It'll empty their coffers of a few cents and fill those of my fine hosts.

Thanks, Hugh

I have to give a shout-out to Hugh Hewitt who first answered a question that I didn't even know I had: "What's a blog?"

Well, now I know, and with a bit of encouragement from
his book, here I am. (If you know an "undecided": buy this book. If you know someone who is planning to lodge a protest vote: buy this book. If you ARE someone who is planning to cast a protest vote: shame on you! And buy that book.)

I'll be using this space to comment on politics, various hobbies of mine and my upcoming wedding.