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Quote of the Day: Death and Delivery


Dulce et Decorum Est –Wilfred Owen Bent double, like old beggars under sacks, Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge, Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs, And towards our distant rest began to trudge. Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots, But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind; […]

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Who Attacked Whom in Sri Lanka?


it appears to be a big mystery to some folks:

They don’t want to state the obvious, that Muslims attacked Christians. Mark Steyn also commented about this.

As Mark says, all Jihad is local. A thousand atrocities by the ROP need to be traced to root causes, but one attack on Muslims is endlessly highlighted and analyzed. It obviously would be better if there were no attacks, but the MSM pretends that there are no problems with Islam. And they wonder why we’re suspicious of them and their reporting.

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How to Build a Computer 30: SEMsational


This is a continuation of last time’s discussion on Electron Microscopy. In that one, we covered the question of why you’d want one of these and gave a summary of how you’d work one. Take some electrons, throw it at your sample, and watch what bounces off for information. Sounds so simple when we put it that way, right? This week we’re talking about what happens when you actually buckle down to do it in practice.

Taken from Chem lab, when there weren’t any chem techs around to stop me.

Okay, just looking at the thing isn’t doing me much good. What’s going on there, and why? Start from the top. That bottle on the left? That’s for liquid nitrogen, used in the x-ray detector. (Neat! Why do we want to detect x-rays? That’s a subject for a future column.) The cylinder on top marked “GEMINI” is your column; the electron gun is in the top, and the rest of it contains the magnets for focusing and directing the electron beam. The cube-ish box it’s sitting on is your sample chamber; the front pulls out to reveal the stage where you’d put your puck holding the samples. The dark grey table surface is granite, used to lend stability to the whole apparatus. The cabinet it’s sitting on contains electronics and the vacuum pumps. Now let’s get to how all that works together.

Take Some Electrons

This is for all of you who want to know how to build your own electron gun, with which to crush those who oppose you. To bounce our electrons off of the sample we’re going to have to start with some real high-energy electrons, and to start with some real-high energy electrons, we’re going to have to energize them ourselves. Thus, we build an electron gun.


Three essential parts of your electron gun. You’ve got your hot cathode (in dark blue), you’ve got your Wehnelt cylinder (in light blue), and you’ve got your anode (in red). Your what, your what, and your what? Okay, start with the cathode. You heat up a filament, it gives off a whole buncha electrons. That’s straightforward enough. The electrons want to head towards the anode. Also reasonable. You control the strength of your electron gun by the electrical potential bias between your cathode and your anode. (Uh… the bigger difference between positive and negative the more energy your electrons get.) Generally, I’ve done SEM work between 5,000 and 15,000 volts.

But that’s not all; you’ve also got to direct your electrons. That’s what the Wehnelt cylinder is for. Okay, that’s the fancy name for it. You know what it actually is? A bowl. A metal bowl with a hole drilled through the center of it. You put a negative charge on it, that’ll repulse electrons. It’s a smaller charge than the positive charge on your anode. The anode accelerates the electrons, the Wehnelt cylinder directs them. The electrons end up dropping out the hole in the bottom, at a high energy.

Throw Some Electrons at your Sample

Here’s a question for you; what’s the difference between the atoms in your sample and the atoms in the air around it? The answer, of course, is that you care about what’s going on in your sample. Any electrons that bounce off the air get lost at best and contaminate your data at worst. Oh, and your electron beam is going to impart a charge to your air molecules, which in turn is going to distort the electron beam. Clearly we can’t do this with air mucking things up.

Okay, encase your electron beam in a stainless steel chamber (betcha feel like a real mad scientist now!) and let’s pump it down to hi-vac. Vacuum systems will get their own post eventually, but a quick word here. You start with a roughing pump to get most of the air out. It takes you from ~750 Torr (atmospheric pressure) down to ~10^-2 Torr, or roughly one part in ten thousand. From there you turn on the high-vac pumps. These things drop the pressure to ~10^-5 or 10^-6 Torr, which is where you want to operate. One part in 10 million. Which still leaves roughly a quadrillion air molecules in the chamber, but I guess that’s few enough to manage.

Now, running your samples under a vacuum can cause issues too. Most organic things tend to have water in them. Water will boil off in vacuum. So, for example, if you want a nice shiny picture of red blood cells you have to prepare them by hardening the membrane so they don’t all pop like balloons in the vacuum. (As mine did, when it got time to do that lab in school. Still don’t know what went wrong.) This, incidentally, is why chem lab nixed scoping my sausage.

And Watch what Bounces Off

What happens when the electrons hit your sample? Well, they go bouncing all over the place, providing you with your images, as we covered last time. And your sample charges. You dump a whole bunch of electrons onto a thing, it’s going to charge up. And if it charges up that’s going to interfere with your electron beam and… well, you get the point. To make sure it doesn’t charge overly much, well, here’s a picture of a SEM sample mount:

You can always find a spare SEM puck in the ‘clean these so we can use them again’ tray. Cleaning these is always someone else’s job.

That’s a small disk of Stainless Steel. On top of the stainless steel there’s a layer of double-sided carbon tape. Carbon tape is conductive. $32 for a roll on eBay right now. You stick your sample on top of the carbon tape. Done? Not yet. Is your sample conductive? All of it? To ensure you’ve got a conductive sample you sputter coat on a thin (couple nanometers thick) layer of metal. The metal is conductive, it will ground out excess charge. Mostly. If you keep your electron beam focused on your sample too long it’ll still charge and screw up your pictures.

The top image is brighter because the beam has been allowed to rest on it longer, charging the sample. Probably. Adjusting brightness, contrast and focus is a continual battle on these scopes; it could have a different shade for other reasons too.

These are only some of the joys that brighten the lives of the noble SEM technician. An oddly shaped sample or an injudicious tilt of your sample stage can break your backscatter electron detector. (Which, incidentally, is another reason the Chem Techs are so protective of their scope.) Or some clueless engineering type can request several thousand images for his pointless project. (Helped with that one I did.) Or some wacko could come down asking you to scope his sausage… Right, moving along.

We’ll take a detour out of materials characterization and the SEM in particular next time. I casually mentioned sputter coating a minute ago, and I’d like to spend a little more time on what that means and how it’s done. Then briefly back to the SEM as we cover X-ray vision. Join us fortnight next for “Volleys of Argon” or “Iridium Dreams”.

This is part thirty of my ongoing series on building a computer, the Betsy Ross way. You may find previous parts under the tag How to Build a Computer. This week’s post has been brought to you by Old Glory! Yes sir, she’s a grand old flag indeed. Old Glory!

[First – Silicon] [Previous – Electron Microscopy] [Next]

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Spoiled Solemnity


Sometimes serious moments are broken to hilarious effect.

Our parish’s music director and cantor is currently on heavy pain medication after surgery. Consequently, he missed a line during a song at Mass this morning — the first time I’ve heard him goof in decades. It was a call-and-response song, meaning the congregation repeats what he sings. When he missed the line and laughed at himself — “Ha!” — some jokesters behind me responded in kind.

Elsewhere in the Mass, our lively priest from Nigeria gave an impassioned sermon. It was sufficiently upbeat to earn a cheer of “Yeah!” from my two-year-old niece.

What are some funny moments from your own serious proceedings? Worship, weddings, funerals, trials, business meetings, etc.

Another example is when I was put in charge of playing music from a portable stereo at certain times during my cousin’s wedding. At some point, I mistook one pause for another (wrong section) and played a few notes to startled stares. Thankfully, my cousin didn’t even remember the episode last I mentioned it.

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Are You Kidding Me?


No. You’re probably not. I kinda want blood for this. It’s not that they did it. It’s that they felt they could do it without recriminations. They are probably right. And, knowing a little bit about DoD supporting these operations, I will bet dimes to donuts that the US troops’ weapons were not locked and […]

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He Is Not Here


1 Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him. Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. And they said among themselves, “Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?” But when they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away—for it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a long white robe sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed.

But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples—and Peter—that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.”

So they went out quickly and fled from the tomb, for they trembled and were amazed. And they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

A blessed Easter to my brothers and sisters.

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Collusion and Obstruction: Two Different Kinds of Crime


If the President had been found guilty of Russian collusion — that is, of participating in a criminal conspiracy with the Russians to undermine our election — then it would have indicated that he was a particular kind of villain. It takes a particular kind of villain to knowingly work with our enemies to subvert the democratic process. That represents a treasonous betrayal of our country.

On the other hand, being oafish and ignorant of the nuances of executive authority in the context of a legal investigation, while it may arguably appear to meet the legal definition for a charge of obstruction of justice, need not suggest that the President is a villain. Rather, it may simply indicate that he is an amateur on matters of law and politics, and that he is accustomed to speaking his mind without considering the unique legal implications of doing so while being the head of federal law enforcement.

I never thought the collusion charges made much sense, and Mueller’s finding that no collusion occurred surprises me not at all.

As to obstruction, I find it much more plausible that the President expressed his frustration at what he rightly considered a relentless and unjustified witch hunt that was undermining his administration, and that he explored various avenues to put an end to it — but that, finally, he both allowed the investigation to continue and cooperated with it. We know that he resisted the temptation to invoke executive privilege, even when he might plausibly have done so.

I understand his frustration. I appreciate his transparency. I particularly appreciate the people who counseled him to let the investigation run its course.

I think it’s time his critics stepped back and considered the possibility that they’re trying to trap a normal person in a web of legal technicalities in an effort to undo, by hook or by crook, the outcome of a legitimate election that happens to have led to an outcome they find offensive.

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On the Road Again


This afternoon, I find myself at either the end, or the halfway point of a road trip to the Pacific Northwest. Boom-boom Skinner, the progeny previously known as L’il Skinner (all 6’-4” of him—he grew another inch in basic training) finally got his first leave to come home from the Navy.  It’s been about 15 months […]

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Easter Massacre in Sri Lanka


What the “Religion of Peace” hath wrought at many churches in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday.

Many foreigners were murdered in their church pews, including some Americans. My heart breaks, and anger rages.

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Quote of the Day: Facts and Feelings


“Facts don’t care about your feelings.” – Ben Shapiro

The reaction to the release of the Muller Report reminded me of this quote. There seem to be a large number of people whose feelings conflict with the facts presented. As a result, many have rejected the facts in favor of their feelings.

So what if Trump did not collude with Russia? He obviously did something wrong. He must have obstructed justice. Or he is a rotten person. Or something. He was guilty of wrongthink. (Admittedly that is only a crime in a fantasy world created by George Orwell, but if you feel a crime was committed, even when the facts contradict you and feelings are more important than facts … well, sheltering in a dystopian fantasy world may be an option.)

You can ignore facts that conflict with your feelings. Often you can ignore them for a long time. But as John Adams once said, “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.” Eventually, facts prevail. Even if it is because the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew in the wreckage that denying facts in favor of feelings creates. We may be a year or two away from the day when the Gods of the Copybook Headings limp up to explain it once more. That day will come.

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Scully Doesn’t Care: Why Men Loved ‘The X Files’


“You disparage Scully?”
“Who?” my wife asked.
“Gillian Anderson, she was Scully on The X Files,” I said.
“You mean that gross show?”

My wife is not wrong, “The X Files” was often gross. In fact, it was downright disturbing at times. In retrospect, it was also pretty badly produced, often poorly acted, and occasionally made no sense. None of that matters to me. I’m sentimental about “The X Files” and it has nothing to do with the quality of the show. It holds a special place in my heart because, despite its flaws, it was always there for me.

It may or may not surprise you, but I was kind of a dork in high school. I wasn’t smart enough to be an academic nerd, or geeky enough to be a comic-book nerd; I was more like 50 percent dork. I played some team sports, but I also founded a photography quartet called The Phototards. I had a few girlfriends but never attended a homecoming or prom. Some weeks I went out on Friday night, but on others I found myself sitting alone in my room with nothing to do. It was on those nights, friends, that “The X Files” came to the rescue.

Credit the program schedulers at Fox for nailing their target demographic: single guys stuck at home on Friday nights. I wasn’t a loser, but I sure felt like one sometimes on Friday until 9 p.m. when Scully and Mulder showed up, a welcome distraction from ponderings over pretty girls I didn’t have the courage to ask out all week. It was a far better option than watching “Step by Step” or “Dateline” with my mom — at the time anyway. No offense, Mom.

We didn’t find Scully attractive; it wasn’t about that at all. Mulder was a dork — like us — and Scully was right there with him, no condemnation, no judgment. She was all action in muted dialogue with zero sex-appeal. The last thing we needed on those nights was to see people having fun. No, we needed to see Scully crawling under a dilapidated shed with her Glock 9mm, ready to double-tap some mysterious creature a second before it sank its teeth into Mulder. Scully never knew what was going on, but she knew how do deal with it, and we adored her.

Gillian Anderson, the actress who played Scully, eventually went on to other things. The last thing I saw her in was the BBC adaptation of Charles Dickens’ Bleak House. She was a fine Lady Dedlock according to my wife, but I don’t recall her knocking the doors off the role. I also see on IMDB she played Miss Havisham in Great Expectations but I haven’t seen it. For all I know she may deserve awards for her post-“X Files” work; I’m the wrong person to ask. But in my book — and I dare say for many guys of my generation — she will forever be respected as Scully, who was there for us when we needed her, not as a shoulder to cry on (Scully wasn’t “feely” like that) or a form to objectify (Scully would have punched you in the jaw), but as a rock.

Scully reminded us that sometimes the week doesn’t go as planned, resulting in a bunch of messed-up situations, and if we’re not smart she’s gonna have to bail us out again next week. It’s almost as if Scully would tell us, “Man up. Get off your duff and make a better choice. Do something better with your time.”

But if we didn’t, Scully was always there for us.

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Impromptu Ricochet Meet-Up in Augsburg


For about two years, Dave Deeble and I have been trying to make arrangements to meet face-to-face since we both live in Germany, he in Herne and I in Diedorf (near Augsburg). Well, Friday, he contacted me while he, Sabine, Lukas, and Lucy were on their way back from skiing in Austria and suggested we meet.

On consulting our respective schedules, we found it worked out for us to meet at the Augsburg Gebetshaus Saturday morning. (The name means “House of Prayer” and it is a place which interested German-speaking readers can find out about here.) We met and I have to thank the good man and his gracious bride Sabine for taking the time to stop in.

We gave them the tour of the Gebetshaus from the rehearsal studio to the guest rooms to the prayer room itself. David and Sabine stayed for our 11 a.m. worship time — it being Holy Saturday, it was focused on the Atonement. Lukas and Lucy made friends with Maedel — in part over Minecrafting — and then they continued on their way.

We also had the much-appreciated opportunity to get to know each other a bit better, which would not have happened without Ricochet. That qualifies, I think, as an endorsement.

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About That Apology…


Here is a good article from KayDeeDub on apologies. Read it first, then my post. Or not … I don’t care. It’s your life.

Years ago, at a job I no longer work at, I did something that I knew was wrong when I did it and knew I could get fired if someone found out. I won’t give details I’ll just say it was about money, so you won’t think I was doing something untoward in a closet. Anyway, I did get found out. I sat down with my boss and simply confessed. Yes, I did it. Here’s why I did it. I knew it was wrong to do. I’ll fix it. And you can and probably should fire me, I deserve it. I’m sorry.

I didn’t lose my job for three reasons: my boss was a good man, I had a spotless record up until then (and since, I might add), and I fessed up with neither excuse nor blame.

Here is my point: everyone “makes mistakes.” And by mistakes I mean does something stupid that they know is immoral, unethical, and/or illegal. If someone says otherwise they are lying to you. But it is not those mistakes that define us. It is how we deal with the consequences of those mistakes that, at least in part, define us.

Here is my other point: when faced with a tough choice, the right choice is always the right choice. We know what the right thing to do is. Always do the right thing. You may suffer short term consequences at first, but long term you will always be better off.

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Being the Curmudgeon


I sent an email to the metro editor at the San Antonio Express-News this morning, about the following passage from an article about a board dispute at a local school district. Quote from the article:

Rep. Roland Gutierrez wrote a letter to Sen. Flores, which he shared on Twitter, calling the senator’s efforts to reign in the South San board “ill-conceived, ill-advised, and poorly received by your peers.”

I had read the article in my dead-tree edition, then went and looked at it online. The mistake was there, and the online headline included it.

I commented on it and the same day the headline was changed, but today, nine days later, the mistake remained in the text of the article so I emailed the metro editor. I’ll be interested to see how long it takes for it to be fixed.

Is it too much to expect a reporter to know the difference in words like “reign” and “rein?” Is it an autocorrect or spellcheck sort of error? I have seen many people write “free reign” when I am pretty sure they meant “free rein.” And the other thing I wonder is, why use a word when you really don’t know the meaning? Seeking comments from newsmen. (James.)

Like I said in the title, I know it’s sort of curmudgeonly to point it out but otherwise how will it ever get better?

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There’s a Donkey in the Middle of I-90


Yesterday afternoon, a Cook County Sheriff’s Deputy had to round up an unusual suspect.

Dusty the donkey somehow managed to escape the trailer he was riding in (or the trailer was not properly secured). He was found on a stretch of I-90 just northeast of O’Hare airport, near Arlington Heights, IL. He was reunited with his owner, who had just gotten him to be part of a petting zoo.

I would say this Deputy certainly risked her life to save this little creature. Something nice, for a change.

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Men and Women: Complementary, Not Competitive


One day in high school, a friend of mine didn’t dress for PE. I asked her what was the matter, and she pointed out that it was “that time of the month.” Oh. Hmmm … I had one of those every month, too, but it never really altered what I did from day to day. I mean, I cannot even imagine his reply if I’d have said to my dad on one of those 5:30 a.m. wake-up calls, “Oh, I’m sorry. I cannot go out and milk the cows this morning because it’s ‘that time of the month.’ Seriously?

Okay, I know I’ve gone on and on about my farm-girl life on Ricochet. But, it was the only life I knew, and it totally shaped everything I was, and am, and will be. For instance: I just didn’t understand the Women’s Rights movement when it began to rock the world as I was becoming a woman myself. I didn’t know that women needed to be liberated. I, personally, didn’t know any oppressed women.

It may have been my naivete or my small world, but most of the women I knew were pretty much equal in power and status to the men I knew. Some of these women had a paying job — they worked in town in a business, or they were a teacher, or they owned their own business (hairdresser, piano teacher) or were nurses. The rest of the women in my world, including my own mother, were equal to the men in their lives because they were married to a farmer.

My mother graduated from high school, attended business college, and then worked as a secretary in a nearby city during WWII while she wrote letters to my dad, who was a Navy radioman on an island in the Pacific. He used to say that he “listened to the war.” When the war ended, they were married, and within six months of their wedding, they had returned to our isolated mountain valley to be farmers. They loved it — both the valley and the farming!

My mom milked the cows each night, drove machinery, maintained her chicken coop of 100 hens, sold the eggs, cooked all the meals, did all the laundry, gave birth to eight children, and kept our house neat and clean. No, I do not know how she did this. My dad was also as busy: irrigating, milking in the morning, and growing and harvesting the crops. In winter, he was feeding the animals the hay they’d stacked up during the summer, driving a school bus (so they could have health insurance as a district employee) and maintaining the buildings, fences, and, and … I can’t even tell you all the jobs!

The idea that I would beg off doing my chores because I was having “that time of the month” never even crossed my mind. I watched my mother milk cows when she was nine months pregnant. I know that my dad didn’t necessarily want her doing that, but she did it because he had other things to do that she couldn’t do in that condition. I’m sure she was delighted that, for the youngest four children, she no longer had to milk cows because we older daughters were perfectly capable of doing it without her by then.

Neither of my parents was The Boss. They both were. They worked together. My mother kept the books. My dad made fudge or oyster stew sometimes. My dad and we children did the branding each spring. My mother oversaw the done-with-laying hen “harvest” — two days of chopping off heads, plucking out feathers, and removing innards so that she could cook the birds and preserve the meat and broth in Mason jars. Or, in the case of the young heavy breeds she raised each year — get put away whole in the freezer for a roast chicken dinner in the middle of winter.

My husband has always appreciated that I was raised in a world of competency. I was not a little delicate flower that he had to care for. His family had a cattle ranch, so he didn’t know many delicate little female flowers. Neither of us wanted to stay forever in that valley, so we left for other adventures. That was 45 years, five children, four states, and several careers ago. We work together. He has skills that I don’t have. I have skills that he doesn’t have. Some of them are totally related to our genders, I’m convinced. But, I hope we’ve raised our children to understand that, just because men and women aren’t the same, there isn’t a list that is gender specific. You just work hard and do what you can, and don’t let other people’s notions of limits keep you in a box.

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Woo! My (Pending) Patent Is Listed!

A polynomial clothoid

In 2015, I did some research on curves (the sort of curves made if you play with a guitar string or a piece of springy wire), and my employer, Robert Bosch GmbH, decided to patent it. The patent application is now listed. Here’s a blog post describing my work.

Honestly, I don’t know if my patent will make any money for Bosch. The computer graphics industry doesn’t really buy patent licenses (a lot of companies would rather make do without), but other engineering fields sometimes will (e.g., the animation industry won’t license T-Splines, but engineering firms do). Anyway, I just thought I’d share this; I’m so excited.

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Comey Knew


Reading the Weissman Report* can be rewarding if you’re familiar with a lot of the other documents publicly available and know how to interpret the tortured verbiage of the report which is designed to imply all sorts of things that the authors would have liked to be able to prove but were unable to do so.

Remember the Steele Dossier that became a big media splash when it leaked the day after Comey briefed President-elect Trump on selective portions (only the salacious parts involving his personal behavior) in January 2017? The Dossier that was the basis for the four FISA Warrants issued regarding Carter Page? The predicate on which this entire Russia collusion story was based?

There is no mention of the Steele Dossier in Volume 1 of the report, the section dealing with collusion!**

There is a passing mention to the Steele Dossier in Volume 2, the obstruction section, when it refers to it containing unverified allegations. Most of the other references in Volume 2 concern how angry President Trump was about the allegations in the dossier. And who can blame him since they were false!

However, there is one very intriguing reference to the dossier on Page 246 concerning a private dinner Comey had with the President in late January of 2017. Here’s what the report states:

The President brought up the Steele report that Comey had raised in the January 6, 2017 briefing and stated that he was thinking about ordering the FBI to investigate the allegations to prove they were false. Comey responded that the President should think carefully about issuing such an order because it could create a narrative that the FBI was investigating him personally, which was incorrect.

Some thoughts on this:

If you are wondering what the source is for this conversation, it is, according to the report, Comey’s memo of January 28, 2017, written to himself!

Pretty clever 5-D move by Trump in his campaign to obstruct justice! (Just joking.)

Most importantly, it demonstrates it was very likely Comey knew the Steele Dossier allegations were false way back in January 2017. Why else would he be trying to persuade the President of the United States not to pursue an investigation of the allegations about him personally, allegations Trump knew to be false?

Because an investigation would have defused the ongoing campaign of Comey and his associates to find something, anything, to pin on Trump or at least seriously disrupt the new administration.

Because an investigation also ran the risk of bringing into the open that the dossier was paid for by the Clinton campaign, done at the direction of Fusion GPS (which at the same time was lobbying on behalf of Russian oligarchs tied to Putin), and compiled by Steele who used his contacts to get information directly from Russian intelligence!

Because an investigation would have also undermined the basis for the continued wiretaps of Carter Page and anyone associated with him.

And if the truth became known about the dossier, the Special Counsel would not have been appointed.

*I refer to it as the Weissman Report because he was running the show on a day to day basis. Robert Mueller was a figurehead. He was safe in that role because of his institutional devotion to protecting DOJ and the FBI and preventing any criticism of those agencies (a trait many who’ve dealt with him have recognized for many years) and he’s also proven, possibly because of that institutional devotion, to be easily duped by those working for him, whether it be the grossly corrupt Boston FBI office in the 80s, or the HQ FBI which relentlessly pursued an innocent man in the anthrax investigation during the 2000s.

Both Mueller and Weissman’s involvement in this investigation has also been unethical. Mueller is a long time colleague of Comey and an ally of his during the Cheney Wars and should have been recused from the investigation, and the same for Weissman, with his record of unethical conduct, his blatant partisanship on behalf of Hillary and the Democratic Party, and his involvement on briefings on the Steele Dossier in the fall of 2016.

** It is simply astonishing and a demonstration of the bad-faith with which the investigation was conducted that in Volume 1, which purports to be about Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election, there is no mention of the only documented instance of collusion and coordination between Russia and an American presidential candidate, even though the contents of the document were leaked to the American press and used by the Obama Administration to obtain a FISA warrant to access the communications of a Trump adviser.

A further example of bad-faith is in the report’s treatment of the Trump Tower meeting of June 9, 2016 to which it devotes 12 pages. This was when Donald Trump Jr and Jared Kushner met with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya who had promised damaging information on Hillary Clinton but instead lobbied for their support in repealing the Magnitsky Act which sanctioned some Putin supporters in Russia. Trump J and Kushner took no action on the request. This would have been a natural place to bring in the Steele Dossier since Veselnitskaya had retained Fusion GPS, the firm retained by Perkin Coie on behalf of the Clinton campaign, and which, in turn, hired Christopher Steele to assemble the dossier, to lobby for repeal of the Magnitsky Act and Veselnitskaya met with Fusion GPS head Glenn Simpson right before, and right after the Trump Tower meeting! Instead, the report contains no reference in the text or footnotes to Fusion GPS, Glenn Simpson, or Steele. 

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Patriots’ Day


Thursday marked the 244th anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord. On the night of April 18, some 700 British regulars were dispatched from Boston to seize powder and arms belonging to the Massachusetts militia, then believed by the British authorities to be stored in Concord. Warned ahead of time, the Colonial militia commanders had the weapons and stores moved to prevent their capture by the British Army.

Approaching Concord by way of Lexington, the British troops encountered a company of 77 militiamen formed up on the Lexington commons. The British commander elected to draw up his own forces and engage the Massachusetts men. It is unclear which side fired the first shot. What is uncontested is that the British fired several massed volleys of musket fire into the shattered militia ranks. Given contemporary infantry tactics, it is surprising that the British commander would have made repeated volleys rather than advancing with bayonets (the preferred infantry close combat technique of the era). It is doubtful that 70 or so Massachusetts militia would have stood their ground against ten times as many charging British bayonets.

After the threat posed by the Lexington militia had been eliminated, the British resumed the march to Concord. When they arrived, they discovered that the arms they had been sent to capture were mostly gone. What stores were found were burned. The militia of Concord had prudently withdrawn into over-watch positions in the terrain surrounding the British force. When the burning stores gave the appearance that the British might burn the whole town, the militia began to engage with musket fire from what covered and concealed positions as were available, close enough to the British soldiers to be effective. (It is worth noting that as yet, long range rifle fire was not a factor in these battles. The militiamen had to get to within 60 or so yards to be able to bring semi-accurate fires upon the British.)

Repeatedly stung by musket fire from an enemy force that did not present a coherent body of troops to engage, order and discipline with the British ranks quickly broke down. The supposedly well-disciplined British regulars began to panic, running in a disorganized mob back towards Boston, some 18 miles away. Throughout the day, small bands of militia would follow them, maintaining contact, keeping up a steady stream of harassing musket fire. This denied the British officers any opportunity to re-form their ranks and then engage the militia forces tormenting them.

Late in the day, reinforcements from Boston met the panicked British, and some order was reestablished. However, all that could be done by then was to continue the withdrawal back into secure lines of the British garrison. The finest, best equipped and most well-trained army in the world at that time had been defeated by a body of semi-trained (at best), self-armed militia…all over the issue of whether or not the government had the right to seize the guns and powder legally belonging to the citizenry.

Happy Patriots’ Day!