Sunday, January 21, 2018

Coffee, making thereof

Your coffee is good when you can enjoy it black.  If you have to do the cream and sugar thing, it means your coffee is coming out bitter.
Step 1 in making good coffee is a clean coffee maker.  Brewing coffee releases all sorts of oils and fragrances which stick the the coffee maker innards.  After time ( a few hours) the oils turn rancid and make the next pot taste bitter.   You need a coffee maker that is easy to clean, inside and out.  The French press is good,  it comes completely apart and you can get inside it with a wash rag or a sponge.  The Silex vacuum coffee makers are good, all glass,  easily cleaned.  Percolators are bad, the inside of that perk tube  is just plain uncleanable. 
Step 2 is good coffee.  Shop around,  try a can of the expensive stuff.  Try some cans of the supermarket brand cheap stuff.  Keep some notes so you can remember what you like.  Up here, Surefine 100% Columbian $4.50 a can makes very good coffee, as good or better than some $10 a can coffee from Dunkin, Green Mountain and others .
   I don't do the grind it from beans thing.  I buy ground coffee and keep it in the fridge after opening it.  Works for me.
   Put in one heaping tablespoon of coffee for each cup of water.  Give the coffee at least four minutes to brew.  Try a little salt with the coffee.  Sometimes salt improves the coffee, the US Navy swears by it,  sometimes not so much. 

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Who will buy Greek bonds?

Nobody in their right mind.  The Greeks have racked up debts equivalent to several years of Greek GNP.  They are still spending more than they take in with taxes.  No way are they going to be able to pay off what they owe right now, let along pay off any future borrowings.  All sensible people know that lending more money to Greece is like pouring the money down a drain.  The Greeks just don't have, and never will have, the ability to pay it back. 
   For some reason, unclear to me, the EU (Germany mostly) has been giving the Greeks bailout money to keep them from outright default on their debts.  Why the EU feels this generous is a mystery, but they do.  And, for some years, the EU has run a Greek supervision operation that tries to tell the Greek government what to do to balance their budget.  The Greeks hate this.  They have been rioting in the streets of Athens to show their displeasure.  But the EU has been saying, "Do it our way, or no more bailout money." 
   And just last week, the EU began talking about getting out of the Greek supervision business in August and letting the Greeks do their own thing.  Not discussed was whether the bailout money would continue after August. 
   Greeks don't have their own currency, they are on the Euro.  Greeks cannot print their own Euros like they used to do when they were using their own drachmas years ago.  Now the Greek government has to borrow money when expenses exceed tax revenue, which they do, every year.  And what sensible person would loan the Greek government a dime?  Fortunately for the Greeks there are plenty of sucker banks who will buy anything, no matter that the borrower will never be able to repay. 
   It will be a good sideshow to see what happens to the Greeks after August.  Bring popcorn. 

Looks like the Congresscritters blew it.

They  were unable to pass a budget or a continuing resolution to fund the Federal government.  Republicans and Democrats are on the tube, blaming each other for the shutdown.  Neither side is explaining what great issue is being served by this impasse.  They probably don't know themselves.  After all they are Congresscritters, none too bright.  The MSM is busy blaming the Republicans, as usual.  We shall see if any voters believe the MSM any more. 
   I suppose the shutdown will continue until the pain becomes too acute and Congresscritters agree to fund the government again.  The pain is largely felt by servicemen who won't get paid.  And snivel servants declared "non-essential" who don't get paid either.  I feel for the servicemen, they don't get paid much and just paying the bills each month is tough.  I don't care that much for the snivel servants, they can go out and find honest jobs in the private sector.
   As far as I am concerned, the Post Office will continue to deliver my mail and my Wall St Journal, and my Social Security electronic funds transfer (checks are obsolete) will continue to happen.  At least that's what they are saying on TV.  I am not entitled to an income tax refund, so the IRS can stay laid off forever far as I am concerned. 
   I hear that the Congresscritters will continue to get paid, which is a scandal, they ought to be the first to have their pay stopped. 

Friday, January 19, 2018

Conquer the World with Soft Power

We  used to be good at that.  American soft power crumbled the fearsome Soviet Union.  We never had to use our substantial hard power against the Soviets,  in general a good thing.  Instead Hollywood movies, blue jeans, hot rods and drag racing, rock and roll, major league baseball, a booming economy where the streets were paved with gold, Voice of America and the BBC, and democracy, convinced the average Russian-in-the-street that America was way cooler than Russia.   This finally lead to the overthrow of the Soviet government in the late 1980's.  The Russian people, who had stood shoulder to shoulder against the Nazis under Stalin, just lost faith in Communism and wanted a government and economy like the Americans enjoyed. 
  Now we have Islamic terrorism to confront.  If soft power worked against the Soviets, a very tough opponent, it ought to work against the Islamics.  Some of the soft power that stood us in such good stead in the 50's and 60's is looking dated now.  Hollywood has almost forgotten how to make a good flick.  Detroit is bankrupt and the Detroit auto industry is building boring little econoboxes rather than 409 Impalas and GTO's. Pop music lacks any one of the stature of Elvis or the Beatles, short wave radio is mostly gone, replaced by the Internet. 
   We do have some soft power stuff going for us.  Apple and Iphones, Facebook and Google.  The world still sees our streets as paved with gold, that's why so many of them want to move to the US.  But the Islamic terrorists put up a show so strong as to recruit lone wolf terrorists with just Internet contact.  We need to do something about that.  Some movies making fun of them, or some horror flicks starring Islamic crazies in place of the usual monsters.  We could get pop music back on track by returning control of the industry to real music people, like it was in the 1950's, rather the the current crop of clueless suits who persist in featuring wimpy boy bands.   To replace VOA and BBC we could build up a respected international web site centered on real news (if there is  a journalist left alive who could run such a site).  Jim Lehrer hasn't been on air for quite a few years. 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

DACA, Lotta talk, few specifics.

   I have a lot of sympathy for people brought into America as children and who have grown up in America.  Far as  I am concerned, we ought to treat them as if they were born in the US.  Make 'em citizens.
   For all the talk from the newsies about DACA, we have few details.   Such as cutoff age for membership.   Clearly children brought into the country at age 6 and under ought to count.  Maybe age 12 and under.  Age 21 and over, clearly should not count, we reckon 21 to be the age of majority.  What about teenagers between 12 and 21?   For all the newsie babbling on the tube, you would think someone would have mentioned an age limit by now.
   Detail.  Is anything else required to gain the privileges of DACA status?  Graduation from an American high school?  Graduation from college?  Good behavior, such as a clean criminal record?  Or perhaps just no felony convictions?   Reasonable English language skills?  Holding a real job in the private sector?  Marriage?  children? 
  Detail.  Just what benefits come from DACA status?  Immediate US citizenship?  a green card?  some kind of path to citizenship?  Eligible to vote?  US driver's licenses?  Permission to stay in the US for say five years?  Or ten years? Or for life?  I have not heard a word about this detail from the  newsies either.
   Detail.  Do we offer DACA status to children arriving in the future? 
   I think we citizens deserve these details.  Clearly the newsies and the Democrats don't think so.
   Bottom line, our country needs more good decent citizens.    We ought to work to keep the DACA cases of good decent people as citizens and throw the book at gang members, drug runners, bus hijackers,  San Francisco shooters, and Islamist terrorists. 

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Windows 10 explorer

Window Explorer, not to be confused with Internet Exploder,  used to offer us users a view of the files we had on the hard drive, actually on all the drives, hard, floppy, CD, or thumb.  Now that we are upgraded to Windows 10, we find that Explorer doesn't work right.  The Win 10 version of Explorer shows four copies of all my files.  I keep my files in "My Documents" the traditional Windows location.  Only in Win 10,  Explorer show four versions of "My Documents" one of which just gives error messages when clicked on.  Which one is the real one? Why display the same thing four different times?   Is this to add confusion to us users? 
   And, Windows Explorer has forgotten alphabetical ordering.  Click on your desktop and ask it to sort your icons into alphabetical order.   The icons swirl around, but they do not wind up in alphabetical order. 
   Micro$oft strikes again. 

Monday, January 15, 2018

I wonder how that happens? The midnight pageview spike.

I get a few statistics from Blogger every day.  One them is "page views"  In fact I get a line graph of page views over time.  The funny part is the timing.  Every day, around midnight, I get a burst of 100 page views all packed into a very short time, like less than an hour.  Makes the graph look like a sea of low level grass with a whacking big spike of 100 page views sticking up once a day at midnight.  Why are they all packed in at midnight?  Surely normal people are in bed by midnight?  Is it robo webcrawlers all doing their crawling when the web isn't so busy?  Is it a bug in the Blogger software?  Something else?
   Inquiring minds want to know. 
   Also, how come I get so many page views from Italy?  Like more pageviews from Italy than from the entire US of A.  I don't post in Italian.