Friday, May 27, 2016

Nuking Hiroshima was the right thing to do

The Japanese started WWII by attacking Pearl Harbor, in time of peace, without a declaration of war.  They sank the Pacific Fleet battle line, which gave them naval supremacy thruout the Pacific, at least by the thinking of 1942.  They inflicted several more humiliating defeats upon us and upon the British.  They treated our prisoners of war like dirt, many of them died in Japanese captivity. 
   The Japanese fought hard.  Guadalcanal, Saipan, Okinawa, Io Jima, Tarawa.  Based upon bitter experience gained on Okinawa and Saipan, we figured invasion of the Home Islands would cost us a million casualties, and the Japanese far more.  By 1945 US submarines had blockaded Japan, nothing big enough to be worth a torpedo was getting in or out of the Home Islands.  The Air Force had total air superiority, and were fire bombing every city in Japan.  Even at this low point, with their backs to the wall, the Japanese refused to negotiate. 
   Offered a chance to end the war, Truman took it.  And it worked.  The first nuke on Hiroshima shook 'em up, but not enough to bring them to their senses.  The second nuke on Nagasaki finally did the trick.  The bitter end generals were pushed out of government, and some rational men took over and ended the war. 

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Horatio Hornblower, The Mutiny

Good flick.  Came to me thru Netflix.  The Brits started a series of TV movies about Hornblower, starring Ioan Gruffyd, nice young guy, who looks the part and acts the part well.  This one is maybe #5 or #6 in the modern series.
   Horatio Hornblower is a Royal Navy officer, serving during the Napoleonic wars,  invented by author C.S. Forester back in the early 1940's.  Forester wrote half a dozen Hornblower tales over the years and they are still in print.   The TV movies are all good.  Costumes are really good.  The naval officers, the petty officers, the seaman, the marines all wear different uniforms, nicely made.  I'm not a real expert on period costumes, but they all look right to my eye.  Most of the action is filmed at sea, on board ship.  The ship[s] are convincing.  Makes you think they took the trouble to find or build real sailing warships.  Either that or the CGI folks are getting really good.  The ships in this modern series are much more convincing that the ship[s] in the old 1950's Hornblower movie with  Gregory Peck and Virginia Mayo.
   Anyway, it's a good watchable flick, good camera work, good soundtrack.  Lots of action, great scenery, excellent plot.  The other Hornblower flicks are just as good. And the books are all good reads. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

So what is Congress planning for Puerto Rico?

Puerto Rico is broke.  They owe $70 billion on loans taken out in the past.  Between pensions, welfare, lotta featherbedding, and plain old graft, the Puerto Rico government spends far more than it collects in taxes. They cannot make payments on the loans coming due. 
   Thru some quirk in the law, Puerto Rico as a US territory, cannot declare bankruptcy the way cities and towns, and possibly states can.  The idea in bankruptcy is to prevent everyone and his cousin suing, which is more than anyone can defend against, and have an "impartial" judge divvy up the bankrupt's assets.  For companies, the judge usually decides to keep the company going, and avoid laying off all the employees. To this end, the bankruptcy judges usually tells the lenders to just suck it up, cancels  the debts, makes some company reforms and sets the company going again. 
  For places like Detroit and Puerto Rico, the path is less clear.  No bank with two brain cells firing is going to loan a nickel to places like that.  The unions, the pensioners, and everyone else will die in the trenches before allowing any cost cutting.  Which leaves the cash strapped government to make payroll with IOU's.
   Mean while, all the big New York banks, who made all the totally foolish loans are down in DC right now lobbying Congress to bail out Puerto Rico, i.e. have taxpayers pay off the loans, so the banks don't have to to confess how stupid they are.  The banks are asking for $70 billion in comfort money.  That's a lotta money.
   There is some kinda Puerto Rico deal going thru Congress right now.  Speaker Ryan is pushing it.  Nobody knows what's  in it. 
   A Puerto Rico deal should merely make it possible for Puerto Rice to declare bankruptcy and be protected from a zillion lawsuits while they work out the details.  The bankruptcy court should have the power to cancel debts, cancel contracts, fire politicians, and raise taxes. It should NOT pay off the lenders.  The lenders made stupid loans, anyone could tell Puerto Rico could not pay off the loans, even twenty years ago.  For being stuck on stupid, the banks oughta take a $70 billion hit.  Maybe it will learn 'em some.
   And our noble MSM ought to find out what is going down in DC and clue us in.  Perhaps the banks have bought them off? 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Let the passengers carry heat. Safer that way.

Things have changed.  Back before 9/11 passengers all understood that when hijacked, they should sit tight, don't give the hijackers any trouble, and they will come out of it alright.   9/11 changed all that.  Now passengers all understand that if they let the hijackers take control of the aircraft,  they will die a fiery death in the crash.  Since then, a few "unruly" passengers have been subdued in flight by fellow passengers. In one case a fire axe was used as a pacifier. 
   If we just let the passengers carry heat, then Abdul the Hijacker has to worry about some little old lady passenger in economy taking a .38 out of her purse and splattering his brains all over the cabin ceiling.  And certainly hijackers armed with box cutters aren't going to win over passengers with handguns.  And if we say handguns are OK, then TSA can stop hassling passengers over the odd Swiss Army knife in some guy's pocket.  And we can drop that stuff about liquid explosives.  The liquid explosive is so touchy that Abdul the Hijacker is more likely to have the stuff go off in the taxi on the way to the airport than in flight.  Real terrorists use Semtex, a plastic explosive. 
   If one in twenty passengers carries, then the hijackers will face a fusillade from  five to ten armed passengers no matter what flight they try. 
  And we could solve the long security line problem that TSA is putting us thru.  For that matter we could lay off TSA and save our selves a lotta hassle and a lotta money.
  All we need for decent security is to X-ray all the checked bags to keep the terrorists from putting a bomb in the baggage compartment.  And  X-ray the hand luggage as well.  We could solve the long line problem overnight.

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Donald is rising in the polls

My major objection to The Donald used to be national polls showing him losing to Hillary.  Well, that seems to be turning around.  This weekend the TV newsies began to cite new polls showing The Donald level, or slightly ahead of Hillary.  The lead isn't decisive yet, but compared to where The Donald was a couple of months ago, it's a whole bunch better. 
   The Republic might be saved yet.

Ergonomic Fail. My Cell Phone

It's extremely small, it's black, which makes it hard to see.  Set it down somewhere and you cannot find it.  Inoffensive computer casework beige would be easier to see.  And I would be happy to have one a tad bigger if it held a bigger battery. 
  Control of this miniature wonder comes from stroking the touch pad with your finger.  The poor thing sports just two real physical buttons.  One button is the "wake up" button.  Press it and the phone comes to life, touch screen lights up. Press it again and all sorts of weird stuff happens, including missing my incoming call.  The other button adjusts the loudness of the ring. 
  Should phone ring in my shirt pocket, I'm bound to press one or both real buttons while fishing phone out of my pocket.  Which means ring loudness randomly changes from max to zero, and the incoming call gets lost.
   For my simple needs, the ring loudness might as well be another "app" on the touch screen menus, I'm less likely to screw up the ring settings by just handling the phone.  The wake up button ought to be a slide switch, so you cannot press it by accident. 
  My other gripe, the phone has TWO keypads, a numeric pad like a standard desk phone, and a qwerty keyboard.  So, entering a new contact, it asks for contact name.  And shows the telephone keypad.  It takes four or five finger strikes to find the qwerty keyboard. 
   This is a lower end Trak Phone, no monthly contract.  God help us from the smarter phones.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Curse of the Cameraman

Newly fashionable among Hollywood cameramen, the under exposed shot.  In a recent Bond movie (Skyfall) we have a furious hand to hand fight between to black silhouettes.  I guessed one was Bond and the other was a Bond villain, but there was no way to tell  one fighter from the other.  Which makes the whole fight scene pretty meaningless.  A recent Marvel comic book movie (Dark Thor) all the scenes are super dark. Ocasionally we can make out the actor's faces in an otherwise black scene, but some times not even that.  These aren't the only ones. 
   This ultra dark fashion makes watching movies a real PITA.  It's as bad as the fad for shake-the-camera shots of a few years ago. 
    And we still have the curse of the soundman out there.  You know, the sound man allows the score or the sound effects drown out the dialog.
    Hollywood used to get this right, well lit scenes with understandable dialog.  But lately directors have been allowing cameramen and soundmen to screw things up.