Sunday, March 29, 2015

STEMing it

Lots of praise these days for Science Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM),  a few despairing wails for preservation of the classical liberal education.  What's a student to do?  Especially a student of ordinary means who has to get a job to support him/her/self upon graduation? 
   You want to think about what you want to be when you grow up.  Most of us would settle for well paid.  Boys often think of jobs like railroad engineer, fireman, policeman, soldier, pilot, sailor, musician, athlete, doctor, and so on.  Girls can have all those dreams (except maybe railroad engineer) and others besides.  Getting a job that you like doing leads to a happier life. 
   In the STEM world, an engineering degree (electrical, chemical,civil, mechanical) is the top of the hierarchy  for a career that is fun to do, well paid, and in demand.  Engineers design new stuff, buildings, bridges, products, ipads, cell phones, space craft.  Design is fun, it deals with new ideas, processes.  Engineers are the key people in real world industries, the industries that make stuff, rather than just push paper.  When the grave yard shift cannot made the new product go together, they call the design engineer at home.  They don't call the lawyer or the accountant or the manager, they call the engineer. 
  To do engineering, and the other STEM subjects, you need mathematics thru calculus.  Mathematics ain't hard, but you have to start early, high school.  High school has to give you algebra, Euclidean (plane) geometry, trigonometry.  With that you can take calculus freshman year in college.  Which is a pre requisite for most of the sophomore and up STEM courses.  If you get to college without the math, you can take it in college, but by the time you get the algebra, trig, geometry and calc courses in, you will be a junior, and that pretty much locks you out of a STEM major. 
  So about the time you finish up middle school, you want to do some serious thinking about what you want to be when you grow up.  Most likely, you won't have a clue at that age.  I didn't.  But think about it.  You don't want to lock yourself out of an engineering degree at the age of 15.  The smart student makes sure they get the necessary math courses in high school just in case they want to go on to engineering in college. If you skip the math in high school, you are forced into a liberal arts degree in college. 

Budget Cuts, Real vs Fake

A real budget cut is when an agency gets less money than it did the previous year.  Republicans like real budget cuts.  A fake budget cut is when the agency gets less money than it asked for.  Democrats like fake budget cuts, either to tell the taxpayers that they are not getting ripped off, or to lambast Republicans who appropriate less money than the agency asked for, even when the agency gets more money than it did the previous year.
   This was on display on WMUR's Sunday pundit show with Josh Mcelvane this morning.  The house finance committee has been whacking Maggie's budget down to size.  Josh had two finance committee reps, one Democrat, one Republican, both new faces to me, on the show.  Both talked about cuts, whether there was one or was not one.  Apparently the cuts are fake cuts,  the final trimmed down budget is still bigger than last year's budget.  Maggie didn't get as much money as she asked for and that is terrible.  It might even mean layoffs in Concord.  Oh the horror! 
   Neither off them spoke of dollar amounts, of how much is going where, of substantial things like finishing up widening I93,  providing somewhere to put violent insanity cases other than hospital emergency rooms, or attracting new industry to NH.  They just talked about cuts, this is a cut, this is not a cut. 

Saturday, March 28, 2015

I think I have a right

to shoot down drones harassing me on my own property.   Suppose I'm having a cookout on my deck and a drone buzzes over taking pictures of me and my friends.  I think a 12 gauge shotgun is an appropriate response.  Likewise for peeping tom drones taking pictures in my windows. 

Friday, March 27, 2015

How big is the defense budget? Really?

And how much defense is it buying?  How much money goes to real combat units, Army battalions, Navy warships, Air Force fighters, and how much money goes to non combat things, defense contractors, administrators, lawyers, paper pushers, logistics, gold plate, and strange R&D projects.  Like that giant laser in a 747 project that finally got cancelled after sucking down billions. 
I suppose one could go thru the federal budget, which is probably on line these days, but  I just lack the energy to wade thru 10,000 pages of gobble-de-gook.  And the msm is too ignorant and too lazy to do it. 
As it is, we know the US spends a lot on defense, and we have a huge military establishment, bigger than any other nation in the world.  Yet to put troops into Iraq we had to call up reserves and put the active duty soldiers on repeated combat tours.  And as soon as Obama pulled our troops out of Iraq, ISIS took over. 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Cannon Mountain Ski Weather

We have had some warm, and some melting, but no rain yet.  There is plenty of snow left on the trails.  Should be good this weekend. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Train Wrecks

Fox did a short piece on the recent rash of oil tanker train wrecks, the ones that burst into flames and burn for days.  Fox was selling the Federal Rail Administration (FRA) story that all we need is tougher tank cars.  Not a word about condition of the track.  The FRA story is all we need to do is replace every tank car in the country with new ones featuring thicker, tougher tanks that will resist bursting in a wreck and spilling oil.    Trouble is, a train of all new cars derailed last month, and the new tougher cars burst open just like the old standard cars.  Lotta money spent at the behest of Federal bureaucrats, to no avail. 
   With the exception of the Quebec wreck last year, all the other wrecks have started off with a derailment.  And, derailments mean the track is old, the ties are rotten, the spikes loose, and the rail falls over on its side under the weight of the train.  We need to fix the track, not replace the tank cars.   Fox  doesn't understand this yet.

Nothing like doing my taxes

To make me wish for a straight flat tax.  No special treatment for anything.  Income is income, be it salary, interest, dividends, capital gains.   Nothing is deductible.  Rate is lower.