Saturday, August 19, 2017

Boston Law Enforcement did better than Charlotte's

Boston had a bigger demo.  The Boston cops prevented anyone from bringing in weapons, and kept the two sides (lefties and righties) apart.   There are internet postings and TV pieces saying that Charlotte police stood to one side and let the two sides fight with each other.  Charlotte city  democratic party gave the stand aside order, hoping to create a national news feeding frenzy, which happened.  MSM has been talking about nothing else for a week.   I'm not sure if this theory is real news or fake news, but it is certainly plausible. 

Friday, August 18, 2017

Is the F35 any good?

It's been in development, sucking down money, for 20 years, and it's just now coming into squadron service.   It lost five out of five mock engagements with an F16 last year.  The cost per aircraft is outta sight,  maybe $80-90 million.   It won't turn very hard, g-limited to like 6 G.  Plenty of jet fighters going back 50-60 years can pull 8 G, no sweat. 
   They sent a demo model to the Paris air show where it  pulled enough fancy low altitude maneuvers to  catch some attention.  
  Aviation Week ran a three page piece where two experienced individuals debated the merits of the aircraft.  Pierre Sprey, experienced aircraft designer, panned the F35.  Retired Marine Corps colonel David Berke likes the F35.  Both men agreed that the demo sent to the Paris air show had been stripped way down to lighten it and improve it's maneuverability.  Neither man offered any numbers to support his position.  Numbers like range, speed, payload, maneuverability, rate of climb, maxt takeoff weight,  landing speed.  Nothing solid or hard, just unsupported "I like it"  or "I don't like it" 
   Colonel Berke said nice things about the F-35's  blended display system, claimed that it gave the pilot more intelligence to make better decisions.   Back in the day, all the pilot cared about was range and bearing to target.  Radar can do this.  Ground radar and the radar intercept officers give target location to the pilot over voice radio.  When the fighter closes to like 100 miles, his on  board radar will see the target.   They have spent a lot of time and money "blending" the radar, the IR, the ground datalink, and other stuff onto a single big cockpit display all at the same time.  They claim this is cooler than just showing the radar on the main cockpit display.  Maybe, but radar is the sensor that does the heavy lifting, might as well concentrate upon the radar, that's where the targets are. 

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Would you buy a used airliner from this man?

Air Force One, a specially modified Boeing 747 has been flying for 25 years now.   Getting on in years, but still young compared to the B-52's and the KC 135's which are still flying after 50 years.  The Air Force budgeted nearly $4 billion dollars to buy two new replacements.   That's $2 billion per airplane.  Boeing's catalog price for a brand new 747 is $387 million.   President Trump did some jaw boning on the president of Boeing and came away with a small (nit noi) cost reduction. 
    And now we have a new deal.  The Air Force will buy a couple of brand new 747's that were built for a Russian airline Transaero, now bankrupt.  The check bounced, and two nice new 747's have been sitting on a back lot  in Victor California.   The Air Force has refused to say just how much it is paying for them.  Let's hope it is no more than list price new, $387 million each.   
   Now comes the expensive part,  jazzing up the planes with super fancy interiors, nice paint, and radio and comm gear  that lets the president talk to every part of the military, internet, TV, and probably alien deductors.  Plus anti missile warning systems, flare dispensers and laser jammers, plus God knows what other cost enhancers.
   All this work is scheduled to last until 2024.  That's seven highly profitable years for some contractor.    Can you spell gold plated?

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Paying the bills

I do this once a month.   First I sort the month long pile of envelopes into two piles,  real bills that I gotta pay, and begs, dear party member please send money letters.  At this point the pile of begs is always taller than the pile of bills.
   This month was a triumph for the window envelope bills.  The idea behind the window envelope, which gives you 8 different ways to insert the check and the payment stub, only one of which results in the Post Office actually delivering your payment.  The other idea is that the company can change their billing address without reprinting a whole bunch of envelopes with the old billing address printed on them.  This month my phone company joined my TV cable provider and my electric company in changing their company name (Fairpoint Communications got bought up) in changing their company name as billing address.   Lotta churn for just one year.
    The new idea in begging this year is the survey.  Big fat envelope with a survey form inviting you to express your opinions and enclose a check.   I don't  bother with them. 
    And the bill people are trying to get everyone to pay by web.  They no longer print "Make checks payable to" on the bill stubs.  I don't trust the web enough to want to put my money on it, or over it.  I like checks that I hand sign. 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Civil War Memorials, Confederate version

The US civil war was the most terrible war the country ever fought.   The Civil War killed more Americans than all the other wars in our history, all put together.   I am a New England Yankee, and  every village and town up here has a Civil War memorial.   Even though it has been 150 years since Appomattox,  the pain is still remembered.  Naturally New England war memorials bestow honor upon Union men. 
    I don't seen any reason why Southern towns should not bestow  honor upon the Confederate men.  One of the amazing things about the US Civil War is how well we were able to re unite the country after the terrible bloodletting was over.   Surely allowing  Southern villages and towns to put up memorials to Confederates was part of that.   And, all Americans growing up need to know the history of the Civil War.  It was fought to preserve the Union and to free the black slaves, and it succeeded in these aims.  The Confederates fought to repel Yankee invasions of their territory and to allow them to run their own affairs to suit themselves.   They lost, but they fought hard for four years, and compared to later wars, they fought cleanly.
   I can understand that our black citizens are less than enthusiastic about Confederate leaders.   But they need to know about them, and about the Civil War.  If the South had been a little luckier, they might have won.   As it was, Union war weariness by 1864 was strong, almost strong enough to defeat Lincoln's re-election, and just pull the Union Army back and let the South go.  If that had happened, blacks would still be slaves in the victorious Confederacy.
   In the interests of preserving a heroic history for future generations, and keeping the United States united,  I think we ought to keep all the Civil War memorials and statues, Union and Confederate.   I think our black citizens are just going to have to put up with the Confederate ones.  These men have been dead for better than 100 years, let's leave them and their memories in peace.

Monday, August 14, 2017

High Tech didn't used to be so political

I worked in high tech for 40 years.  We never got into politics, political correctness, diversity or that sort of stuff when chatting in the shop or at lunch.  At work we gossiped about  co -workers and we talked about the product.  We were always real manufacturers, who made stuff, packed it in cartons, shipped it off our loading dock.  Topics such as how to make the product better, more saleable, more reliable,  faster, lower cost were popular.  And Pine Wood Derby when the local Boy Scouts were running it.    And cars, sports, boating, skiing.   Don't remember much political talk, even in presidential years.  
   Judging from the Google brew-ha-ha that's all changed.   To have a software guy write a readable memo is all new, all the software guys I remember were functional illiterates in English.  They might write a mean stick in Fortran or C but forget it when it came to writing the instruction manual.  
   Had I been running Google, my first thought would have been, "Lo, a software guy that can write, lets get him write stuff explaining how our product works for our customers."  Let me talk him into retracting/modifying/explaining anything truly beyond the pale in his thinking, and  getting him writing stuff that brings in customers. 

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Correlation of Forces, North vs South Korea

In a nutshell, the Norks have twice the force of the south.  Saturday's Wall St Journal gives a breakdown, based upon a South Korean Defense White Paper of 2016.  The South has 655,000 regular troops (including a mere 20,000 American troops) against the North's 1.28 million troops.  As backup, the South has 3.1 million reserve troops but the North has 7.62 million.   Which gives the NORKs twice the number of soldiers as the South.  And, these force levels are enormous.  Consider that Hitler only had 2.5 million soldiers in the army that he sent to attack the Soviet Union in 1941.   And Nazi Germany was a much bigger country, fully mobilized for war, supported by a population about three times the size of North Korea.   In short, both Korea's have really really big armies, and a war between them would be bad.   Notice also that our troops in Korea are dwarfed by the South Korean forces.   Note that our 20,000 troops is twenty times the size of the force we moved into the Baltic states a few months ago  amid much fanfare in the MSM. 
    The article goes on to give numbers of warplanes, helicopters, tanks, armored personnel carriers, conventional artillery, rocket artillery, missiles, warships, and submarines.  All the quantities are impressive.  For instance the North is credited with 4300 tanks.   Rommel at his best never had more than 400 tanks.   The North is believed to have 70 submarines,  which is twice what  Admiral Donitz  had in 1940.  Granted these are diesel electric subs which lack the speed and range of nuclear subs, but are every bit as deadly when they get within torpedo range.  
   Another interesting but scary fact.  The North has 5500 rocket artillery pieces against a mere 240 in the South.  These weapons are descendants of the old Soviet Katyusha rockets of WWII.  They fufill the same role as conventional artillery.   The rocket launchers are cheaper and lighter, and have somewhat better range, and throw heavier projectiles than conventional artillery, at a sacrifice of accuracy.  If you are bombarding Seoul  rocket artillery is plenty accurate enough.   Presumably a lot of those 5500 pieces are dug in around Seoul, waiting for the word to open fire.   Cleaning them out with counter battery fire and air strikes will take forever.   Especially as the fire finder radars only work on unpowered artillery and mortar shells.  Rockets keep accelerating, the radar has no idea how long they have been under acceleration when they first detect them and they cannot compute the launch site for attention by our own artillery.
  In short, both sides have very large forces,  forces the size of WWII forces, ready for combat.  Starting up the Korean war again promises to be really bloody.  The Journal's commentary explains that the South Koreans are expected to win thru better training, better equipment and high morale, even when outnumbered 2:1.    But it won't be easy.