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PJMcK

PJMcK's Journal
PJMcK's Journal
September 12, 2023

Regarding classified documents

A friend is visiting with us. She worked for the National Security Agency for her entire career. In her position, she handled countless documents with various classification markings. Without violating her secrecy oaths, here are a few things she said.

The classification of a document most often is not related to the content but rather the methodology. Most content has a relatively short life-span because circumstance change so quickly. A country’s leadership may change or military maneuvers may start or end. The point is that the issues in a document might no longer be relevant.

(As an example, consider the classified documents found in President Biden’s possession. News reports suggest that those contained directions for then-VP Biden’s caravan for his son’s funeral. The funeral is over but the Secret Service methods detailed in the document could provide an enemy with information to attack a government official.)

The manner in which the document’s information was obtained, however, must remain secret because it is probably a continuing source which could provide current and future information. These sources could be human assets, technological systems or other means all of which need to be protected. This is the reason a document would remain classified: Even though the circumstances of the subject matter may have changed, the way its data was obtained will be detailed in the document.

This is the reason that Trump’s theft of documents is so serious. Lives and sources could be compromised resulting in the loss of intelligence information leaving our leaders blind to changing circumstances.

Additionally, our friend pointed out that our intelligence agencies are not haphazard with documents. Almost without question, the authorities know what documents Trump took. Like an old fashioned library card, the agencies know who has various documents. It’s how they knew to try to retrieve them and that Trump hadn’t returned all of them. She also suggested that in her personal opinion, the agencies know what is still missing and there are reasons we aren’t hearing about them.

As I wrote, there was nothing our friend said that was privileged and her comments were meant in a general manner. Still, they provide a fascinating insight.

When I asked her if she thought Trump was going to lose this case, she smiled tightly and said that if she had done the same as Trump, she could have been shot but she would definitely be jailed in solitary confinement.

July 28, 2023

The Adventure of a Lifetime

A couple of weeks ago saw the fulfillment of a decades-long dream to take an extended sailboat cruise. My wife and I returned to our home port in Haverstraw, NY after ten months and nearly 4,000 miles aboard Pelagic, sailing down then up the east coast of the United States.

It was an experience unlike any other! Our boat is a 1988 Pacific Seacraft Dana 24. She's 27-feet long and rigged as a sloop (basically 2 sails) and has a Diesel inboard engine as the auxiliary. The deck and cockpit are comfortable and functional and we can control all of the boat's functions from the safety of the cockpit.

The cabin is comfortable and elegant and highlighted by the copious amount of teak in its construction and the stout brass portholes. It has an open-concept so there aren't any bulkheads (walls) separating the space. As you descend the companionway stairs, the head (bathroom) is to starboard and it's a small private closet with a toilet, sink and lots of stowage. The galley is to port and features a two-burner propane stove with an oven and broiler. It also has a deep sink and large ice box. There are cabinets for food, staples and shelves for spices and such. Our pots and pans nest together and can be stored in the oven.

In the center of the cabin, there are settees on both sides and the table slides out from under the Vee-berth towards the front. All told, it's like an RV or a tiny house.

We don't have the necessary electrical power to run a StarLink satellite internet receiver so we were limited to connecting through cell networks. This worked fine except in some of the remote areas in southern Virginia and parts of North Carolina.

Along the way, we met many wonderful people. Some were sailors heading south on their boats and others were local shore folks. Nearly everyone was friendly, encouraging and helpful.

The places we visited were fascinating and some were historical. The Revolutionary and Civil Wars are well represented by many forts, battlefields and museums. The slave trade is dramatically presented in many sites. The pirates and legitimate mariners obviously have a deep and rich history represented in the museums and the harbors. The natural areas are stunningly beautiful but desolate and the developed areas are impressive.

Both of us are foodies and the journey didn’t disappoint. We enjoyed excellent meals onboard and ashore.

The First Mate developed an extremely efficient food storage system for the boat. She kept dry and canned goods under the port side settee and plastic bottles and canned beverages in the lockers behind that settee. We had provisions for at least a month aboard. She kept ice in the bottom section of the ice box and kept all of the bottles and condiments (and beer!) in the resulting ice water. We removed all of the paper labels after one got stuck in the pump that drains the ice box. On the shelves she had plastic baskets for cheese, vegetables and other items. It’s a bit of work since the space is so tight but it’s entirely functional.

Before we left, I installed a 12-volt refrigerator/freezer made by Iceco. It’s about the size of a medium ice chest and I built a shelf for it in the wet locker behind the head. I hard-wired the power cord to the fuse block but I also bought a second power chord so we could use that when we were plugged into 110-volt shore power. We were able to run it continuously thanks to our solar panel and the engine’s alternator.

We also had many delicious meals ashore and the crab in the Chesapeake is absolutely addictive! We had lots of fresh fish and shrimp as well.

The starboard lockers were mine for tools, spare parts, navigation stuff and such. It is amazing how much storage is available on this micro-yacht.

Our route took us down the Hudson River through New York Harbor south to Sandy Hook, NJ. The next leg was in the Atlantic along the Jersey shore where we saw the first of many dolphins! We stopped in Atlantic City for 8 days to wait out Hurricane Ian. Since we're not gamblers, this was an interesting stay. Eventually, we went through the Cape May Canal, northwest in the Delaware Bay to the C&D Canal and then into the Chesapeake Bay.

We zig-zagged around the Bay for a month or so visiting friends, family and cruising destinations. Once we reached Norfolk, VA, we decided to take the Great Dismal Swamp route of the Intracoastal Water Way then continued mostly in the ICW because the conditions in the ocean were generally pretty tough during the late fall/early winter months. Additionally, the inlets were heavily shoaled and even with the Navionics and Aqua Map navigation apps we were fearful of running aground in such strong conditions.

The weather was a constant nemesis to our voyage. We dodged 3 hurricanes, 2 full gales, 3 half gales, 2 ice storms and numerous heavy rain and thunderstorms. From the time we left in mid-September 2022 until we reached Florida in early February 2023, we didn’t have a single full week of decent weather as there were storms every 4 or 5 days.

Once we reached northern Florida, our luck with the weather changed and we had mostly beautiful weather for the next several months. We got to the top of the Keys where we were planning to go offshore to the Bahamas but family and business issues intervened and we decided it was time to go home.

Heading north, we retraced our route revisiting some places and finding others we missed earlier. The most frightening sailing experience I’ve ever had occurred as we traversed the shallow Currituck Sound in North Carolina. An unexpected squall erupted with 30+ mph winds following us resulting in 4-5 foot waves that were fiercely trying to broach Pelagic. I was terrified of losing control of the boat. But the well-designed yacht and her auxiliary helped me keep us within the narrow ICW channel. In contrast, on our last day in the Atlantic heading into New York Harbor with beautiful sunshine on a comfortable broad reach, we saw whales breaching. It was a lovely welcome home sight!

The Dana 24 is a wonderful and powerful small yacht, built for ocean cruising. Some sailors have taken this design across oceans and even around the world. (While I don't personally desire such a voyage, there are some folks who wish I would!) The boat is seaworthy and strongly built with excellent equipment making it a fine sailing vessel. Our Yanmar Diesel, a 2GM-20F known as “Herr Diesel,” was reliable and gave us dependable service. Although I'm a musician, I’ve become an amateur mechanic and it’s necessary to take good care of this important piece of machinery. Each day, we would check the water intake strainer, oil level, transmission oil, coolant level, belts and fuel filters to make certain we were set for the day.

The boat sails responsively and handles well in all of the conditions we encountered. Our mainsail has 3 reef points but we never used more than the first set. We had our 130% Genoa jib aboard but mostly used the roller-furled yankee as a headsail. It doesn't overpower the boat and it gives better visibility than the genoa. Even in stormy conditions, we felt safe in the cockpit, on deck and in the cabin.

It was a remarkable experience. We plan to continue cruising on Pelagic and northern New England and Canada beckon.

The cabin is very comfortable for two people for an extended voyage. We each had one side of the boat for our individual clothing, books and other stuff and we each got one drawer of the dresser. We shared the shoe and hanging lockers. The Vee berth is okay for sleeping and it's about the size of a queen-sized bed. But it narrows towards the bow and as long as you don't mind playing footsie, it's quite comfortable.

The head gets a special hat-tip. It's smaller than a lavatory on a small commuter jet yet it was entirely functional. We have hot & cold pressure water so the evening sitz baths were most refreshing. For a 24-foot sailboat to have a private head is an extraordinary luxury!

Since we’ve had Pelagic for several years, we were comfortable moving around one another in the cabin. It was tight but quite cozy. On Thanksgiving, the First Mate made a full dinner of turkey with stuffing and gravy, sweet potatoes, roasted Brussel sprouts and we even had little pumpkin and apple pies. It was a delicious feast!

I could write pages about our journey but I wanted to share this overview of our voyage.

Fair winds and following seas,
PJMcK
S/V Pelagic, Hull #106

June 15, 2023

Simple answer

Most people are scientifically ignorant. They don’t learn enough scientific fundamentals in middle and high school. They don’t understand the scientific process. They confuse the scientific term “theory” with “idea.”

Besides, the word “belief” is inappropriate because science is about learning to “know” things. Belief belongs in religion which should never be involved in science.

April 18, 2023

Sorry if I seemed to be "schooling" you

I’ve been licensing music for over forty years so I have quite a bit of experience with this business. Actually, I’ve written for jingle houses (a total rip-off for the writers; only the singers get residuals). It’s simply a business and none of the songs you hear in commercials (or otherwise) would be there without the permission of the copyright holder.

We listeners have no stake in the business other than our personal connections to the songs we identify with. That’s why advertisers go after those songs: They want us consumers to connect the songs we love with the products they’re selling.

In spite of our personal connections to music, we don’t control it any more than you or I have a say in for how much our neighbor sells their car or house. Songs are intellectual property like a book or a movie. The audience doesn’t own it. The fault isn’t Applebees’s, per se, it’s their advertising agency who has pitched and licensed the song.

It’s too simplistic to suggest that a licensee is “too cheap” to commission a new jingle. It costs nearly the same to get a new jingle or to license an existing song. This is particularly true if the advertisement uses the original recording and the ad has to license the song and the master recording, usually at the same price. Advertising budgets on a national level are in the millions of dollars and the percentage that goes to the music is relatively small. Most of the money goes to broadcasters. Besides, the jingle business has shrunken tremendously in the past 20+ years. For an existing song, the advertiser had to pay for the music and hire musicians and singers to create a “sound-alike” recording, (i.e., Osempic).

I get it: We all connect things, like songs or movies, to our lives. But we simply don’t own them. Im sorry this business practice offends you. I’m asking that you place the responsibility where it belongs, on the owner of the song. They’re the party that makes the decision to “sell out.”

April 18, 2023

Music licensing is big business

Your complaint is misdirected. The use of your favorite songs in commercials is the result of decisions made by the song’s writers and their music publisher and the record label (in some instances). If those rights holders have decided to make their music available for licensing, then it’s their responsibility… and their profit.

That’s why they do it, for the money. Music is a business, after all.

In that business, a publisher has two fundamental responsibilities. First is copyright management which includes filings with the Library of Congress (in the US) as well as registration of the song with various organizations like ASCAP or BMI and others. Second is song exploitation where different income streams are tapped. In the past, these would include record sales, public performances (radio, concerts, etc.), printed sheet music and licensing for film/TV/commercials and so on.

Today’s technologies have seriously diminished those income streams. The near-disappearance of physical album sales, the great shrinking of printed music (it’s mostly digital today) and the explosion of streaming services have reduced the ability of publishers to maintain the income from their music. As a result, many publishers have turned to aggressive campaigns to place songs in commercials or to issue synchronization licenses for films and TV. These have become the primary income sources for music catalogs.

Accordingly, this is why some investors have spent huge sums to buy classic catalogs like Bob Dylan’s. Those investors want a return on that money. Incidentally, not all investors buy catalogs. Many financial backers invest in existing companies expecteing a high percentage of any profits generated by the catalog.

So, you can’t really blame Applebees, United Airlines (they killed “Rhapsody In Blue” for me) or Ozempic for paying to use those compositions. Blame the writers and their publishers. They want to continue to make money from their music.

By the way, they’re not “ruining your music.” It doesn’t belong to you and the owners can do as the please.

April 17, 2023

I've read and heard many rumors

There seems to be an assumption among many in the pontification business that the Fox lawyers want to settle instead of going to court. The evidence and testimonies that have become public paint a damning picture for the network. The Fox lawyers' malfeasance was a huge mistake and they know it; they've lost the Court's faith and respect.

If settlement talks are occurring, my assumption is that Fox thinks they can find a dollar figure and buy their way out of the lawsuit, perhaps with some confidentiality built into the settlement agreement.

This would be bad. Dominion has built a solid case and it's no longer clear that their goals are financial as much as reputation-related.

However, this is a zero-sum legal and public relations circumstance. It's not enough for Dominion to win their case. Indeed, Fox News must also lose in a big way and very publicly. This is the only way to blunt the corruption of Fox News and its hosts. Fox should have to pay a large sum and make all kinds of public statements of contrition and apology. That's the only way Dominion-- and, by extension, the United States-- will win this case.

I hope the trial is going forward and today's postponement is because of a simple procedural or scheduling issue.

April 10, 2023

Guns in America


It's relentless.

It's heartbreaking.

It's every day.

It's everywhere.

It's unstoppable.

It's insanity.

It's the fucking Republicans and their NRA.

It's their fault.
March 20, 2023

Ain't Velcro the best!

There was an episode of Star Trek: Enterprise where T'Pol's grandmother traveled to Earth from Vulcan and her ship crashes. She integrates herself into the local community while awaiting rescue from Vulcan. As an act of thanks, she raises money for a local kid to go to college by showing some Vulcan Velcro-like item to an entrepreneur who buys the technology. So Velcro is an alien invention! Who knew? I think the episode is called "Carbon Creek."

There was a "Making Of" documentary about Stanley Kubrick and 2001 where they describe how they filmed this scene as well as the one where astronaut Frank Poole is jogging around the perimeter of the rotating portion of the spaceship, Discovery. I couldn't find it quickly but it was enlightening.

There's an interesting tale behind the famous score from 2001. When editing a new film, the director will often create a "temp track" of music to give some presence to the film during post-production. This track is also helpful for the composer to understand the director's thinking about the underscoring. In this case, Kubrick used the Richard Strauss theme for the opening as well as the other Strauss's, that's Johann, waltzes for the trip to the Moon sequence. Additionally, Kubrick used music by Krystof Penderecki and Aram Khachaturian for the sequences aboard Discovery.

During the film's production, Kubrick commissioned Alex North (Spartacus) to compose an original score for the movie. This was recorded but in the end, Kubrick discarded it and stuck with his temp track. All of those recordings had to be licensed for the film and the commercially-released soundtrack was something of a hit release. Interestingly. Kubrick never told North that he didn't use the commissioned score and North only discovered it at the premiere! Ouch.

Apparently, North was so pissed off that he walked away from the music and the scores and recordings disappeared. Decades later, the music scores were re-discovered, edited and recorded for a CD release. One day, I was kind of bored so I cued up the recording and tried to sync it with the film based on the titles of the tracks. Mr. North wrote an excellent score but, frankly, Kubrick was right!

January 29, 2023

Self check out doesn't save anyone's time

It does, however, save money for the store.

Every time— I’m not exaggerating— I’ve used a self check out lane in these types of stores, something I’m buying requires a sales agent to clear the purchase (like alcohol or other over-21 purchases) or the equipment isn’t working properly. The result is that lines back up because there are only one or two agents.

It’s one of the many reasons Walmart, etc. no longer get our business. My time and sanity (not to mention my ethics) mean more to me than saving money on mediocrity.

It’s yet another way the corporations are squeezing the non-oligarch Americans through our money and our time!

January 15, 2023

What was Santos thinking?!

Really, did he think all of his lies would go unchallenged?

Is he so deluded he believes his BS?

In this age where we find out about every wart and wrinkle of everyone one from the British royals to Hollywood celebrities to national politicians, did Lyin’ George really believe he’d get away with his fantasies?

If so, he’s really stupid.

For years, I lived in the NY-03 district. I voted repeatedly for Santos’ predecessor, Tom Suozzi, for mayor of Glen Cove, Nassau County Executive and for Congress. Even Republicans knew who and what Tom Supzzi was and what he stood for. Santos is almost as big an election turnabout as going from President Obama to Trump. It makes my head spun!

Profile Information

Name: Paul McKibbins
Gender: Male
Hometown: New York City
Home country: USA
Current location: Catskill Mountains
Member since: Mon Jun 5, 2006, 04:16 PM
Number of posts: 21,238

About PJMcK

Lifelong Democrat

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