Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Hotlining? Sneaky Bill Steals Artist Copyrighted Materials

Maybe I ought to start a third blog dealing with politcs and foreign affairs a conspiracy theories and what some politicans do behind the backs of their fellow citizens. I received a email from a friend in our local sketchclub (see links for it). I'm going to post it below and the reader can make up their own minds about it. In the interest of full disclosure, I went ahead and email my Congressional representitive about this. That link is included in the body of the text.

Email Start: While congress was supposedly busy with the banking bailout jazz this weekend, they found the time to rob all artists of our copyright law protection by hot-lining the ORPHAN WORKS act and passing it in congress. This is a bill funded by Google, Microsoft and several other search media corporations who intend to profit off this while making artists pay not only for EACH copyrighted work (that now is automatically done for FREE once its created, signed and dated) but we have to register for the privilege to use their search engines. This is just the beginning. Please read this email and help us do something about this.

-Will Terrell
Lubbock SketchClub

FROM ILLUSTRATORS ' PARTNERSHIP OF AMERICA: Orphan Works: The Devil's Own Day Never Too Busy to Pass Special Interest Legislation 9.28.08As lawmakers struggled Friday to clean up the mess on Wall Street, sponsors of the Orphan Works Act passed more special interest legislation. Their bill would force copyright holders to subsidize giant copyright databases run by giant internet firms. Like the companies now needing billion dollar bailouts, these copyright registries - which would theoretically contain the entire copyright wealth of the US - would presumably be "too big to fail." Yet it's our wealth, not theirs, the scheme would risk.

Small business owners didn't ask for this legislation. We don't want it and we don't need it. Our opposition numbers have been growing daily. So Friday, the bill's sponsors reached for the hotline.

What is Hotlining? Critics of hotlining say "that lawmakers are essentially signing off on legislation neither they nor their staff have ever read.""In order for a bill to be hotlined, the Senate Majority Leader and Minority Leader must agree to pass it by unanimous consent, without a roll-call vote. The two leaders then inform Members of this agreement using special hotlines installed in each office and give Members a specified amount of time to object - in some cases as little as 15 minutes. If no objection is registered, the bill is passed."- Roll Call, Sept 17, 2007.

In other words, a Senate bill can pass by "unanimous consent" even if some Senators don't know about it. The Devil's Own Day Senators Leahy and Hatch hotlined the Orphan Works Act twice last summer. Each time came at the end of a day, at the end of a week, near the end of a legislative session. Each time lawmakers were distracted by other issues and other plans. Each time artists rallied quickly and each time a Senator put a hold on the bill. Friday the Senators found a new opportunity.

With lawmakers struggling to package a 700 billion dollar bailout to avert a world wide economic meltdown, with the rest of the country focused on Presidential debates, with Washington in chaos and Congressional phone lines jammed, they hotlined an amended bill. On short notice, even the legislative aides we could reach by phone said they didn't have time to read it. And so, while we were rushing to get out a second email blast to artists, the bill passed by "unanimous consent" - in other words, by default. What better way to pass a bill that was drafted in secret than to pass it while nobody's looking?

Since Friday, artists have been conducting bitter post mortems on their blogs. That's understandable, but it's not time yet.

"When Sherman arrived at Grant's headquarters later that evening, he found the general - broken sword and all - chewing on a soggy cigar in the rain, which had begun soaking the battlefield.

'Well, Grant,' Sherman said to his friend, 'we've had the devil's own day, haven't we?

''Yes,' replied Grant, 'lick 'em tomorrow, though.'"

The Senate passed their bill Friday, but the House hasn't.

There's still time to write, phone and fax your congressional representatives. Tell them not to let the House Judiciary Committee fold their bill and adopt the Senate's.Tell Congress to protect the private property of small businesses. Lick 'em tomorrow.

- Brad Holland and Cynthia Turner, for the Board of the Illustrators' PartnershipQuote from "The Devil's Own Day," by Christopher Allen, January 2000 America's Civil War Magazine

Tell the House Judiciary Committee not to adopt the Senate version. We've supplied a special letter for this purpose: http://capwiz. com/illustratorspartnership/issues/alert/?alertid=11980321

Our Website!www.elSketchoClubo.com

Well - Thats the entire email so make your own choice.

UPDATE (October 2, 2008):
Thank you to everyone that contacted their congress persons about the Orphan Works act, I know several of you emailed me saying you had in spite of my broken link in the last email (my apologies). This is the 4th time they've tried to slip this bill into law without debate. This however, is the first time that it actually passed in the Senate. Fortunately, enough people protested that it died when the bill arrived in the House. Thanks again everyone. Its dead for now... but not necessarily indefinitely. Keep an eye out.-Will Terrell Lubbock SketchClub.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

2300AD/2320AD/Full Thrust/Battletech and Other Games

There are just some things that grab hold of my attention and will not let go. Now I might go through some phases where such items do not hold on as tight as they did before, but I will eventually go back to them.

Such is the case with some role playing games and other wargames. Not so much as the mechanics of how the game is played, but the universe that was created as the backdrop to the events that one is playing with in the game.

Now I am in my late forties and do not get to play any of these games any more even though I really wish too. No, for me now, just buying a game module to read it just to keep up with what is happening in the gameverse is about all I can do. Such is the case with games like Battletech and Traveller. In others, such as the 2300AD created by GDW as a folow on to their Twilight 2000 role playing game. Or the recent attempt to relauch the 2300AD game with 2320AD. It is the story ideas and the universe that each is set against that now catches my attention.

When it comes to 2300/2320AD, I also have to lump in the kinda sorta wargame known as Full Thrust. In summary for all three of them, about 300+ years after the Third World War, mankind is back on its feet and has discovered the means of travelling to other solar systems. Once out there, they do meet other civilizations, and with one known as the Kafers, almost lost a war with them. Even twenty years later (i.e. 2320AD) there are still rogue Kafers that have to be delt with.

The Battletech universe is just as interesting. Set in the 31st century (or more recently under Wizkids ownership, they have moved the timeline up to the 32nd century). When that game first came out, the influx into America from Japan of all the different robot war machine (Battlemechs) models and manga. Back then, the company was FASA and they had a great cash cow (So I thought at the time) with Battletech.

I got into that game with the metal miniatures. In fact, that is how I got into most of my wargaming hobby is with collecting the metal figures first, then with other friends, actually playing the game. I still have several fishing tackle boxes full of the original metal and plastic miniatures. I use to keep a spreadsheet of just what type and how many of that type of miniature I had in my collection. There where that many that I had to have some means of keeping track of them. Painting the battlemechs (as they were called in different nations, mercenary, etc., paint schemes) became one of my hobbies.

The reader can do their own google search for those games for more information. This article is just a set piece for my blog to let anyone who reads it know a little bit more about me. Thankyou.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Big Switcharoo..

The Following information was sent to me via email by a old friend of mine and I thought to go ahead a publish it here just for the heck of it. We will see if it plays out as described below.

Date: Friday, September 19, 2008, 2:27 PM

This is an interesting read - I looked on snopes.com and it has it but is not able to verify it. We can not prove anything yet, but it this comes true, then you will know it was planned all along.

Sent: Thursday, September 18, 2008 8:37 AM Subject: Have you heard anything about this?

On or about October 5th, Biden will excuse himself from the ticket, citing health problems, and he will be replaced by Hillary. This is timed to occur after the VP debate on 10/2. There have been talks all weekend about how to proceed with this info. generally, the feeling is that we should all go ahead and get it out there to as many blog sites and personal email lists as is possible. I have already seen a few short blurbs about this the "health problem" cited in those articles was aneurysm. probably many of you have heard the same rumblings. however, at this point, with this inside info from the DNC, it looks like this Obama strategy will be a go.

Therefore, it seems that the best strategy is to get out in front of this Obama maneuver, spell it out in detail, and thereby expose it for the grand manipulation that it is. So, let's start mixing this one up and cut the obamites off at the pass - send this info out to as many people as you can - post about it on websites and blogs - etc.

Friday, September 19, 2008

9th Annual T-38 Jet Rally (August 13-16, 2008)

(This was originally posted to my other blog on August 17, 2008)

One of my hobbies is playing with radio control model airplanes and the club that I belong to help put on, what in the past was a big money maker for our organization, the T-38 Jet Rally. This year, the 9th year of the event and with gasoline prices being what they have been; it was a very low key affair. Members of our hobby that have the need for speed and can afford it – fly model airplanes that are equipped with either a duct-fan or an actual, miniature turbine.
This article will be broken up into two parts.

The first part deals with the hobby of flying model airplanes, with a focus on turbines, but will include regular duct-fan and electric duct-fan power aircraft. Recently, in the August 2008 issue of Model Aviation which is put out by the AMA (Academy of Model Aeronautics), there were several articles about model jets. One article by Pete Oochroma detailes how someone can get into the Turbine part of the hobby (“Turbine Modeling Made Easy,” page 51). In another article (“Instant Jetification” by Curtis Mattikow on page 41) deals with electric duct-fans. Finally, for larger electric jet models, there was an another article written by Curtis Mattikow entitled “Large EDF Comes of Age” on page 65.

The easiest way into the jet part of this hobby is the electric ARF (Almost Ready to Fly) or now, the two new boys of the store shelves RR (Receiver Ready) and PNP (Plug and Play). Most of the models in this class are foam models. Such models would have all the radio servos, wiring, speed controller, and the motors and duct-fans already installed. To power these models, Li-Poly batteries are used. In this mode, just the basic components are used to make it fly. It is up to the modeler if he or she wants better performance, then they can upgrade the speed controllers, motors, etc. Curtis Mattikow included a list of RR models. Those include a F-15 from E-Do, a F-18 RTF(Ready to Fly) from StarMax. Kyosho has both scale and sport model electric jets such as the F-16 and the A-6 Intruder. A sport scale model jet is something that looks cools, but was never made into a full scale aircraft. Hobbico offers a electric duct-fan called the Diablo. It offers upgrades that take you from novice to a ace with the same airframe. GWS offers a electric duct-fan kit of the F-15 Eagle.

Now we make the jump up to larger jets. The ones that use glow motors inside a duct fan or actual turbines. The leader of the pack is Bob Violett Models (BVM). He offers both sport scale and scale jet models. For the past few years, his scale models have finished quite high in the standings at a event known as Top Gun. Sport scale models that he offers are the Bobcat, Kingcat, and the Ultra Bandits. BVM's scale offerings include such aircraft as the F-4, F-86, the F-16. BVM is also working on conversion kits for their big models that can be switched over to electric power. Now, there are other jet companies out there such as Composite-ARF, Aviation Designs, Jet Hangar Hobbies, and more. Companies that build and sell the turbines are several in number. Jet-Cat Turbines, WREN Turbines, Jet Central Turbines, and others. But, here in the United States, in order to operate a turbine power model airplane, the modeler must go through a process of training in order to secure for themselves what is known as the AMA (Turbine) Waiver. This helps supplement your home owner's insurance in case something goes wrong. This is basically a notarized form that is sent to AMA headquarters in Muncie, Indiana. As a bit of trivia for you – there are about 900 turbine waiver holders in the United States right now. To learn more about this and other issues dealing with model aviation in general, go to their website (http://www.modelaircraft.org/).

Part Two will cover the 9th Annual T-38 Jet Rally in particular. Lets begin with a little history behind our local jet rally.

Our club (WINGS Miniature Aircraft Society) was able to use the main runway of the former U.S. Air Force base west of Lubbock, Texas, that was known as Reese Air Force Base. Now it is known as the Reese Technology Center. From the late 1990s up until the early 2006, our club was able to operate out of there since Reese Technology Center no longer operated full scale aircraft. Now, when Reese Air Force base was operational, it was a training base operating T-37s and T-38 jets. Reese had three north-south runways. The shorter, eastern most runway was closest to the flight line. The other two runways were longer and further west. These latter two runways were used by the T-38s and thus, that is where the name for our jet rally came from.
In 2006, rumors of the runways being purchased by Wal-Mart or some other group for storing shipping containers came true and the happy times of flying out there on Reese's runway came to an end. Our club eventually located a runway near the small town of Abernathy, Texas, that welcomed us. Different rules had to be observed since the Abernathy airport is still a active airport. With that in mind, WINGS Miniature Aircraft Society began site improvements with the pouring of concrete pads with little taxiways going out to the main active runway. As time and as additional money comes in, additional site improvements will be made.

Now, as for this year's Jet Rally, the weather played havoc with us during the overnight hours, but gave us some great flying weather in the afternoons. Friday, there were crosswinds for the flyers to deal with. The rest of the time, the wind was usually out of the south. For the onlookers and support people, we would usually stick under the tents or the pop-up shelters to beat the afternoon heat. Saturday evening, the Contest Director Mike Danchak handed out the wooden plaques to those who flew and or help out with putting the event on. Eahc plaque had a metal plate with the T-38 Jet Rally logo on the bottom and on top, behind a clear plastic cover, was a photograph of the person with one of the jet planes that was present.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Flash Force 255 Bunker (The Blog)

This is a general introduction blog to the hobby of collecting action figures, chiefly the 1/6th scale variety known generically as G.I. Joe (produced by Hasbro Inc.).

Do a web search for action figures, G.I. Joes, etc; you will find a whole bunch of sites. One of the groups that I am a proud part of is known as Flash Force ( http://www.flashforce.org/home.html ). A fictitious semi-government task force that is assigned the dirty jobs in the 1/6th scale world. Security, Covert Special Operations, Air, Land, Sea, and Space capable task groups make up what is now referred to as the “International Special Operations Command.” The name change came in part, after the September 11, 2001 attacks. Plus, the group didn't want anyone thinking that this was an actual government group if they were doing a web search and our little collectors club came up in the search engines. Flash Force was created by Teddy M. Terstegge. And under Yahoo Groups, you will find our membership posting messages there. This is a quote pulled from the recruiting page of the main website:
Flash Force is a unique hobby group dedicated to special operations and scale action figure enthusiasts worldwide. Flash Force represents the boldest and brightest in recreational communities, effectively integrating sophisticated and technologically networked interaction with "real-world" activities and events.The unit has established a truly global presence by enlisting hundreds of members in more than twelve (12) nations around the world.

Please go this this page to read more about becoming a member of Flash Force ( http://www.flashforce.org/recruiting.html ). Spend some time there reading over such things like Command Overview. Organization and History. Emblems and Insignia, etc. There is a gallery there full of stuff that Teddy and other members of Flash Force has done over the years. I got hooked into the group by following Teddy's web posting of his 1/6th scale model of the Blackhawk helicopter that he built, and was given the name”Midnight Magic”. ( http://www.flashforce.org/hawkproject/hawkproject.html ) I ended up becoming the Two Hundredth and Fifty-Fifth member of the group (hence Flash Force 255).

But this particular blog will also cover my other hobbies and interests as well. Mostly with radio control model airplanes. And sometimes with role-playing and or war games and the miniatures that go with them. I am also into art, computers, writing (hence the blogs).

My Other Blog

This is just more of a note about my original blog than anything else. It covers news of interest dealing with all things Aerospace with a bit of the paranormal and ufo stories thrown in for good measure as well. Here is the link ( http://aerospacedreams.blogspot.com/ ).