Friday, October 30, 2009

Union Leader backs off of Web

According to Now Hampshire, the Union Leader will no longer post political news and columnists on it's website. You want to read 'em, you gotta buy the paper. The Now Hampshire article is filled with wailing and whining about the unfairness of it all.
Let's see how this works out. The Union Leader has clearly decided that they only get revenue when people buy the paper. This is not rocket science. They have it right. So, they have decided to stop giving away the paper's best stuff on the web for free. If the content is that good, people will buy the paper to get it. And if it isn't that good, they won't.
And if it isn't that good? I think we know what happens then.
The business model of newspapers is straight forward, and in the absence of competition, it works. You get revenue for ad sales and paper sales. The business model for websites/blogs is unclear. Unless you are the Wall St Journal, people won't pay to read a website. Advertisers are harder to come by and don't pay as much as print ads. Websites/blogs are essentially free to operate, no bills for ink and paper, no wages to printers, delivery truck drivers and paper boys. It is doubtful that a Union Leader website could bring in enough revenue to support the reporters and editors they have now.
Dunno how this plays out in the end. Newspapers competed with radio and TV by offering more comprehensive coverage, and were readable on the commuter train. Webby competitors can be just as comprehensive, and if the WiFi ing of America works out, they will be readable on the commuter train too. Plus, who takes the train to work anymore?

Too big to read

The health care bill just porked up again. It's now 2000 pages long. Last month it was 1000 pages. Then it hit 1500 pages last week and yesterday it plumped up again. At this rate it will be 3 or 4 thousand pages after it gets out of the House-Senate conference committee.
This bill should be opposed, just 'cause it is so long. It's so long nobody knows what all is in it, what it will do, and what it will cost. Within 2000 pages of gobble-de-gook to search thru, a halfway bright bureaucrat can find a paragraph that permits what ever it is he wants to do. Or forbids what ever he doesn't like. So can lawyers and judges. In short, this bill turns control of health care over to un-elected bureaucrats, lawyers, judges, and pressure groups. And we have no control over any of these people. The bureaucrats are all protected by civil service and cannot be fired. Lawyers are like crab grass, they pop up everywhere and kill off the decent grass, and judges serve for life. In short, we give control of health care, 18% of the economy and growing, over to a bunch of people you wouldn't invite into your home.
Write your congress critters before they sell us down the river.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Too Big to Fail

Long discussion on the Lehrer News Hour about treatment of businesses "too big to fail" such as AIG or CitiBank/Group/Whatever. Not once during the discussion did anyone mention making them smaller. We pride ourselves on being a free market country. Well, you can't have a free market and have monopoly businesses. Once a business acheives a monopoly, it can charge whatever the traffic will bear, there are no competitors left, and we customers get robbed. Any company "too big to fail" is big enough to be a monopoly.
We used to have an anti-trust policy in this country. Anti Trust goes way back, to the 1880's with the passage of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. This was used to break up Standard Oil, John D. Rockefeller's monopoly oil company, a hundred years ago. There is still an "Anti Trust" division at the Justice department, which was active enough to attempt a breakup of IBM back in the 1960's, and did acheive a breakup of the telephone company in the 1970's. Too bad they went to sleep and haven't done a thing (save draw their pay) for the last 20 years.
Antt-Trust used to go to court to block mergers of big companies. That was useful, 'cause the way companies grow is by merging, taking over, or buying out their competitors. If anti-trust have been doing its job, AIG never would have acheived the size it did before self destructing.
The Justice department would have objected to the mergers on anti trust grounds.
In short, the solution to the "too big to fail" company problem is simple, don't let companies grow that big, and break up the ones that have. We used to do that.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

"At little or no cost to you"

You must have seen those Scooter Store and Hoveround ads on TV. They are right up there with the Gieco Gecko ads on Fox News. I got junk mail from them today. "You may be able to get a power chair or scooter at little or no cost to you with Medicare and private insurance." it says right up front.
Translation: They are so pricey that no one buys them with their own money.
Question. Should health insurance pay for power wheel chairs? As opposed to the standard you-push-it type? Are they not luxuries that ought to be purchased by the individual? Why should my tax money or insurance premiums go the the Scooter Store?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The well equipped home workshop

The well equipped shop needs an electric bench grinder to keep tools sharp. So far so good, I got one of those. Then of course you need a wheel dresser, a gizmo to flatten out any rough spots on the abrasive wheels. They used to be an all steel gizmo of no particular classiness.
Times have changed. You can now get a diamond wheel dresser, complete with a 1/4 caret diamond tip, for only $62.50 from Lee Valley, a maker of lovely but pricey tools. Quarter caret is close to engagement ring size. A replacement diamond, in case you get clumsy and break one, is only $21.50.
Them man made diamond folks are getting better and better at it.

Photographic film RIP

Nice big flyer from Hunt's Photo turned up in the mail yesterday. Not a single film camera in the whole thing. All digital now. Some old camera names, Nikon, Canon, Olympus, and Leica. Some new camera names like Sony, Casio and Panasonic. Some computer names like Epson and SanDisk.
Kodak is missing completely.

Monday, October 26, 2009

American military thinking

Good article in this month's American Rifleman about trench shotguns. Back in WWI, everyone was looking for more firepower for the infantry. The Europeans played around with a variety of unreliable sub machine guns. The Americans went for good old 12 gauge pump action shotguns. I saw one of these babies for sale at InterarmCo in Alexandria VA many years ago. It was worn, but the bore looked humunguous, and it had US Govt markings on the action. Not something one would care to face in a trench. Or anywhere else for that matter.
Machine guns achieve rapid fire thru a complex action that has to cycle without fail for each shot. Shotguns achieve rapid fire thru a much simpler design, they simply pack a bunch of lead balls into one big barrel. Notice that shotguns are still for sale at Walmart, where as the Tommy guns, the Schmeissers, the Stens, the grease guns, and their ilk are now museum pieces.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Perfect Storm (movie)

Finally saw the movie on cable the other night. I'd read the book, so I knew how it was going to come out. The shots of Gloucester Harbor and the draggers coming in and out were good. I've spent time in Gloucester, and it looked right on. The closeups of the crew getting ready to go to sea, saying goodbye to girlfriends, hanging out in waterfront dives were appealing as well. I watched it to the end.
It was ultimately unsatisfying as a movie. The Andrea Gail sinks with all hands in the last reel of the movie. We knew that was going to happen. Efforts of the crew to keep her afloat were like cliff hangers, you see them battling loose gear, mountainous waves, and failed equipment. But you know all this heroism isn't gonna save them.
The movie veered between blaming the sinking on a greedy owner, or a skipper's fanatical quest of the great white swordfish, or a broken ice machine, and portraying the storm as an act of God, against which no man can resist. In short, I turned off the TV at the end of the movie wondering what was the meaning of it all.
The skipper is portrayed as a likable guy, good seaman, who is willing to run some serious risks to bring back a full load of swordfish. The key scene has the Andrea Gail far out in the Atlantic, with fish holds full, and the ice machine broken. They know the weather is going bad. They could stay offshore out of the worst of the weather for a couple of days before heading in. But, the ice would melt, the fish would spoil and the voyage would be a bust. They decide to risk it, head back to Gloucester thru the teeth of the hurricane. The whole crew concur, they all want their share of the poceeds of the voyage. Watching the movie, it seems like a reasonable decision at the time. The boat is seaworthy, the crew is all old pros from Goucester, the saltiest fishing port in North America.
Somehow the movie fails to convince me that they die from folly, or from lack of seamanship or guts. Nor does it make it clear that they perish as an act of God. The owner gets some bad press, he is a nasty cheapskate, but he isn't shown skimping on boat maintenance or supplies. A Coast Guard rescue helicopter fails to accomplish an air-to-air refueling in atrocious weather, runs out of fuel, and crashes at sea before it can get out to help the Andrea Gale.
So, good photography, decent acting, but overall a so-so movie.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Sprinklers in your living room

The forces of fire safety are pushing to require sprinklers in New Hampshire residential construction. If the firemen get their way, new homes will have tasteful chrome sprinkler heads sticking out of the ceilings. Homey they are.
Pricey too. This "safety" requirement will add 4 or 5 thousand dollars to the price of new homes or condo's. Just the thing to make affordable housing less affordable.
The insurance companies are maintaining a low profile on this issue. They figure the increased claims for water damage will make up from any savings in fire losses. Sprinkler systems will discharge accidently. I have a vivid memory of the time the sprinklers went off in the old Waltham Watch factory, right in the computer room. It was a tropical downpour, only indoors. We saved the computers by whipping big plastic trash bags down over the equipment racks. This could happen in your new living room.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Hybrid Powered Navy Ship

Fox news has been running a piece on the newly commissioned USS Makin Island, a big assault carrier. Fox describes a "new" propulsion system using electric motors. It is so efficient that the ship's radius of action is doubled and the cost of fuel is cut in half. Wow. A sea going Prius.
Well, it doesn't work that way. Makin Island's propulsion system is diesel, augmented with gas turbines. The gas turbines are cut in only when full speed is required, the much more economical diesels furnish power for regular cruising. This rig is claimed to be more efficient than regular steam turbines. Probably is, diesels are very efficient. Both diesels and gas turbines are small and light and I would expect the new power plant takes less room below than boilers, stacks, turbines, propeller shafts and reduction gears.
So where does the electric motor come in? This is a retro idea going back to the roaring 1920's. Back then a number of big US warships were built with electric propulsion. Steam turbines turned generators that powered electric motors to drive the propellers. This design eliminated the propeller shafts, the shaft tunnels, and solved the reduction gear and reverse problem. Turbines run at thousands of RPM, whereas big propellers want to run at a hundred RPM or so. Gear boxes doing 10:1 reduction and not breaking while handling 25000 horsepower are expensive and hard to make. Turbines only run in one direction. Electric motors can go from full ahead to full reverse at the flip of a switch, which is very attractive to skippers easing a big ship along side a dock.
The down side to electric drive is salt water. Should battle damage let salt water into the electrical gear bad things happen. Because of this, and improvements in gear boxes, the Navy dropped electric drive by the 1930's, and all the WWII warships had straight mechanical drives. Reverse was handled by an auxiliary reverse turbine. This didn't give full reverse, it gave a reverse thrust only about 25% of full ahead thrust. Skippers were told to dock gently or use tugboats.
Sometime in the 1990's the Navy revived the electric drive idea. I worked on an early project to do this. The motors were huge, fancy, brushless, solid state controlled with the semiconductors handling really massive currents. I asked what the purpose of the electric drive was. Someone told me the Navy had been watching too much Star Trek. They wanted to be able to divert full power from the propellers to the shields or the lasers or the radar or whatever. I got off that project long before it left the laboratory and came anywhere near salt water.
Looks like the electric drive project panned out, and USS Makin Island is equipped with it.

Health care, new handout to the drug companies

According to NHPR this morning, the 1500 page health care bill now extends patents on drugs by 12 more years. Talk about a pay off to big pharma. Talk about a cost enhancer.
Right now the drug companies get plenty of incentive to develop new drugs. They are making solid profits. We don't need to pass them more taxpayers money.
New drugs still on patent cost like crazy and the drug companies make money hand over fist on them. After 17 years the patent expires and other companies start making the stuff. And the price goes down by a factor of ten. Hundred dollar pills become ten dollar pills.
Extending the life of drug patents takes money out of everyone's pocket and gives it to the drug companies.
Write your Congress critters.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Net neutrality, Good or bad?

Used to be "net neutrality" meant internet service providers (your friendly local ISP) would treat all data packets the same. Your email, the website you are viewing, the music you are downloading, at bottom are just bits (ones and zeroes) traveling over the net. For convience the bits are grouped into "packets" of perhaps 2048 bits per packet or more. Each packet has an address that tells the various routers and computers and hardware of the net where to send the packet.
Right now all packets are treated equal. No packets have priority over other packets. When the net slows down, everyone's packets travel slowly. Misery is shared equally. that's net neutrality.
Some folks want to change that and allow priority schemes where high priority packets go first and low priority packets wait their turn. ISP's might offer priority service, pay more and your packets go first, your website loads faster. Taken to extremes it might mean the less well heeled websites might never load at all.
It also means that folks downloading movies and music can no longer tie up the net. Some ISP's have already been accused of packet sniffing, i.e. looking at the contents of packets, and putting the music and movie download packets on the slow boat to nowhere. This lets them maintain decent response time for websites and voice telephone calls (Skype) without putting in more fiber and more routers and more money.
What to do? On one hand I like the idea that my packets go as fast as anyone's and all websites load at the same speed. On the other hand I have nothing against putting download packets at the bottom of the heap, so my web service doesn't grind to a halt when some kid downloads the Beatle's White Album.
I don't like the idea of Uncle Sam regulating the internet in the interests of net neutrality. Some how I suspect that Uncle Sam's regulation would raise my costs, slow my service and make it harder for new players to enter the internet market. "I'm from the government and I'm here to help you."
In my humble opinion it would be adequate to rely upon the free market to sort this out. Some ISP's will compete by offering "pay-for-speed" services and some won't. Customers will be free to choose which ISP they subscribe to.
One other thing to watch out for. Some people's idea of net neutrality has nothing to do with packet priority and delivery speed. When these people say "net neutrality" they mean political neutrality. Political viewpoints of which they approve go thru and ones they disapprove of don't. These people are pushing for censorship under a disguised name.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A 1:87 size American icon falls.

Back in the depression racked 1930's, Irv Athearn started a small company to make model trains. Athearn survived the depression, squeaked thru the material shortages of WWII and blossomed in the post war years. The signature product was a series of kits. For a couple of dollars (way less than the cost of a single piece of Lionel) you got a kit that assembled into a very decent HO car. These kits stayed in production from 1950 right up until a few days ago. Generations of railroad hobbyists had bought zillions of the "Blue Box" kits and enjoyed them.
Last Friday Athearn called it quits. I got an email from them announcing end of production. No more $5 kits, from now on all you get is $18 fully assembled (ready-to-run they call it) . Irv Athearn died years ago, the company was sold to "Horizon Hobbies" and a new bunch of suits (managers) first moved production to China and then decided they would make more money selling $18 ready-to-run rather than $5 kits. Athearn kits were always easy to assemble, we used to call them "shake-the-box" kits (shake the box hard enough and the kit will fall together). The suits figure they can have a few pennies worth of Chinese labor put the kits together and raise the product price by a factor of three. Nice plan if it works.
Somehow, I don't think it's going to pan out that way. Hobbies are the ultimate discretionary purchase. People, kids especially, have only so much money to spend on a hobby. I think the Athearn suits are gong to find that their revenues stay about the same, as people buy fewer ready-to-runs at $18 than they did of kits at $5.
As the fond owner of a vast fleet of Athearn models, I decided to buy up a few more kits before they were all gone. It was a beautiful sunny day, the leaves are still pretty bright (although past peak now) and I drove out US 302, up thru Crawford Notch and down to Hartmann's RR hobby shop just north of North Conway. US 302 had smooth black new asphalt, NH has been aggressive in getting and spending Porkulus money. $49 later I had 6 new Athearn kits for building later this winter.

Health Care bill grows again. 1500 pages now.

Can nothing stop it? At 1000 pages last month no one could read it. Now its grown another 50% just to make sure no one can read it. Story here.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Wood Lathe

Finally got this baby turning wood. It's cool. Craig's list led me to this fifty year old Craftsman for only $50. Had to borrow a pickup truck to get him home. He spend a few weeks on the garage floor but the coming of winter added incentive to get the project moving, so I could get the car into the garage and out of the snow.
Step 2 was to build the bench you see under it. I am too old to grovel around on the floor working on stuff and I didn't want to tie up my only workbench for however long the restore might take.
Step 3 was to scrounge up a motor and buy a pulley for it. The motor was free but the damn pulley was $25 over the 'net. Also was able to locate a set of chisels, a set of brass punches to take it apart with, and the missing tool rest on the 'net.
Step 4 came after first power up. It ran but was making a really dreadful noise. The "I am a bad bearing" kind of noise. I pulled the bearings out of the headstock and ordered new ones from good old Accurate Bearing Co. The nice lady at Accurate apologized for only having Chinese made bearings. I said they would do and she put them right in the mail. USPS got them to me inside of two business days.
Yesterday it all came together. New bearings purred like kittens, chisels dug right in and presto, I have something round. Next to get some better looking wood than old two by fours and turn something decorative.
Just to add to the feeling of honest self satisfaction, the mail man dropped off the woodworking magazine with a cover story "Four Mini Lathes for your shop". These groovy little machines cost $600-$800 each (new) and don't have a half the capacity of my $50 antique.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Wall St Journal blinks

Back in August I found out the Journal wanted $375 to renew my subscription for one year. Wow!. The WSJ is a fine paper but it ain't that fine. I called their subscription department. How about a discount 'cause I'm a senior, a veteran, a republican, retired, a New Hampster? No deals. Pay up or else.
New subscribers can get the Journal for $134 a year but renewal is $375. So I let the subscription run out.
Then the Journal capitulated by mail. I received an invitation to renew for $134 a year in the mail. Sent in the check yesterday.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Slate's science needs to go back to highschool

This article on Slate claims the invention of an artificial black hole. Too bad that the device described is really a "black body" rather than a "black hole". A black body is a device that is a perfect absorber of radiation, no radiation is reflected, it is all absorbed. In principle an ideal flat black paint would form a black body. In practice an opening into a box, whose interior is painted black will be even blacker than the paint alone.
A black hole is a gravity field so strong that the escape velocity exceeds the speed of light.
And Slate doesn't know the difference. Typical poorly educated newsies.

Banks have come into money again

I just received no fewer than three letters from my credit card companies with those free checks inside. Just cash one or two or three with a limit of some thousands of dollars. Sort of like free money only you have to pay it back.
They gave up on this promotion during the dark days of 08 and 09 presumably cause they were all going broke. Looks like their balance sheets have improved and they are now pushing consumer loans again.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Why all the RINO news coverage?

Yesterday the Senate finance committee passed its health care bill (there are others in other committees) by 14 to 10. All the news coverage centered on RINO Olympia Snow of Maine voting for the bill. All the other Republicans on the committee voted against it. If Snow had voted against it, it still would have passed 13 to 11. So what is the big deal about Snow's vote?
Could it be that the democrats, and their media, want a Republican stamp of approval on the bill, so that when it becomes a disaster, the democrats can say it must be OK, the Republicans voted for it too?
I hear the "bipartisan" word thrown around a lot these days. Actually, in real two party democracy the two parties are supposed to advocate different policies and are under no obligation to support the opposition's policies. The intense desire of the democrats to get a bi partisan Republican OK on their health care bill is not real two party democracy in action. Not quite sure what it is, but I am not sure I like it.
The Republicans ought to have figured out that Obamacare is a disaster that will bankrupt the country. When that happens, it should be clear to all voters that the democrats brought the disaster upon us and they could get relief by voting in Republicans.
When RINO's like Snow buy into Obamacare then it gets harder to point the finger of blame at the guilty party.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Family Reunion Weekend

Right at peak leaf season all three children came up to visit. House was full, both of people and computers. More computers than people actually. One laptop had suffered a close encounter with a lemonade and had succumbed to terminal stickiness. A simply disassembly followed by a wash in the kitchen sink revived that one. Then we threw a combined birthday party for my mother (91) and Christopher (28) Baked a cake, dug out the fine china. Had ten people for dinner, something of strain on the chair supply, but we borrowed a couple and made out.
Monday I drove two out of three children down to catch buses to Brooklyn and planes to DC. Gorgeous day, sunny, bright leaves everywhere.
Approaching the state liquor stores southbound on 93 we run into traffic. At the toll booth they tell 93 is closed southbound and everyone is detoured down old four lane 293 right thru the center of Manchester. We nearly miss the plane.
Turned on the radio to find out what was going on. NHPR didn't know anything that we didn't already know. Little things like why the road had to be closed, and how bad the traffic back up was. It eventually had traffic backed up to Tilton, some 50 miles north of the road closure.
Today it's snowing. Two to four inches forecast. Bye Bye fall, hello winter. Global warming strikes again.

Friday, October 9, 2009

So what does the CBO really mean?

Like how much the health care package is going to cost. I heard a ten year cost of $830 billion or so over ten years. That's a little less than a trillion, but not all that much less. But now it is "deficit neutral" what ever that means. How did that happen? And how realistic are the CBO numbers? Do they require impossible acts of Congress to work?
And over what period of time? I heard the Healthcare bill even if passed doesn't start paying off until 2012 where as the extra taxes/fees/whateveryoucallem kick in next week. Do we get four years of higher costs before we see any benefits?

Obama Wins the Nobel Prize.

Wow. I thought one had to actually accomplish something to become eligible. What does he have to look forward to now?
On the other hand, the Nobel committee probably thought Obama was as deserving as Jimmy Carter was.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Republicans running for Paul Hode's House Seat

Paul Hodes, my democratic US house rep, is not standing for re election, he is running for US Senate. That leaves his House seat open. This morning's radio informs me that Jennifer Horn is going to run for the seat. Jennifer is a very nice person, she ran for Congress in '08 and lost. Her TV speaking is weak. Her platform last time was confused.
And, Charlie Bass is making noises like he will run. The seat in question was Charlie's until Hodes beat him in '06. Charlie is a good old boy, pleasant, good man with a smooth, if somewhat empty, line of talk. He didn't do much except vote a straight party line when he was in Congress. He got slack on the matter of answering his constituents mail, something that Hodes is very conscientious about.
Somehow I wish my party could come up with better candidates.

How to win in Afghanistan

Simple. Take Mao Tsetung's famous phrase, guerrillas are fish that swim in a sea. The sea being the civilian population. Plenty of Afghans know who is Taliban and who is Al Queda. All they have to do is drop a dime, call the Americans or the Afghan police and that bad guy becomes a "detainee" in about 45 minutes. If enough Afghans did this, Taliban and Al Quada would be toast. This can happen. Ask the Iraqis.
Why doesn't this happen in Afghanistan. Fear. Anyone who rats on the terrorists gets killed, and his whole family gets killed too. The terrorists don't do Miranda warnings, they just pull the trigger. The Afghans know this. And, the bad guys will be there forever, whereas the Americans are fickle as the weather, here today, exit planned tomorrow. Any Afghan who risks his life, and the life of his family, by passing intelligence to the Americans might get hung out to dry tomorrow. They all know about the American bug out after Charlie Wilson's war.
The Obama administration's dithering over Gen McChrystal's request for more troops is hurting our cause. The longer the dithering goes on in the public press and on Fox News, the more the Afghans get the idea that the Americans are going to pull out, real soon now. Obama needs to do something and do it now. Longer he dithers, the more Afghans get the idea that the Americans are not serious.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

You can't pay for health care by taxing healthcare

Some brain dead Congress critters think this will work.
Anyone with half a brain cell understands that taxing healthcare runs the price up, requiring more healthcare funding to pay for it. Raise a billion dollars by taxing health care and health insurance has to cough up another billion dollars to pay the tax. It's a circular firing squad.

Lousy sound work

New movies have terrible sound. They play the score over the dialog so you can't hear what the actors are saying. The score should ALWAYS be muted when the actors are speaking. Same goes for sound effects, the "Foleys" (footsteps, doors slamming, traffic noise etc).
Then the actors have to stop mumbling. Even when whispering in a lovers ear, the actors have to enunciate clearly and remember that they are speaking to the audience.
The old classic movies understood this and their soundtracks are clear as a bell, even when the movie is fifty years old or more. The new movies are just plain hard to hear.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Pity us bloggers, we don't get a shield law

But we do get the FTC on our case when we make a positive statement about a product. Actually the "shield law" (reporters don't have to testify in court) is a bad idea. It gives a really valuable privilege to just a few people. Who is a reporter really? Do part timers count? Free lancers? Michael Yon? (Michael is a free lancer who furnished the best Iraq coverage) And how about humble bloggers like me? If we go the whole route and call us bloggers reporters, then damn near everyone in the country can get out of testifying in court. That over turns two centuries of legal practice. Right now citizens have to testify except against themselves. Clergy, doctors, lawyers, husbands and wives also get an exemption. Reporters have to testify or the judge can lock them up for contempt of court. This happened to a female New York Times reporter in the Valerie Plame case a couple of years ago.
Far as I am concerned if a reporter's testimony will put some lowlife behind bars, or clear an innocent defender, make him testify. The reporters whine that sources will stop talking to them, but that's foolishness and special pleading. Sources talk to reporters cause they have an axe to grind, or they enjoy bragging. Or cause they drink too much. No source in his right mind is going to confess to a crime. There are quite a few sources who aren't in their right minds but that's the way life is.
Then we have the nanny state FTC deciding to regulate us bloggers. We used to have free speech in this country, which means I can say anything I like about stocks, bonds, automobiles, computers, tools, schools, food and anything else on my blog. I can praise them or slam them, that's free speech, or freedom of the press, depending upon whether you call a blog writing or speaking. Doesn't matter, we were free to do it, up until the FTC decided it could regulate this sort of thing.
What constitutional freedom will they take away from us next?
Time for another Tea Party.

Brinks sinks

The TV just ran an ad for home security. The ad explained that new management had changed the name of the company from "Brinks" to "Broadmoor" (or was it "Broadtop"). Was to go. Brinks is a name that goes back to the 1930's or farther. They still talk about the 1950's "Brinks job" here in New England.
New management has decided to increase sales by dropping a household name for an instantly forgettable name. Probably a bunch of MBA's.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Susan Rice UN Ambassador, Master of evasion

Susan Rice was on Meet the Press with David Gregory this morning. The morning NY Times story saying that Iran had all the know how needed to build a bomb was the topic. Rice was talking about "serious" sanctions on Iran. "Such as" asked Gregory. "Very serious" replied Rice. Rice talked about important deadlines. "What date is that deadline" asked Gregory. "Soon, very soon" replied Rice.
All in all, Rice managed to fill up 15 minutes of air time without divulging a thing. Gregory asked all the right questions and Rice evaded each one.
Translation. The Obama administration doesn't know what to do about the Iranian bomb. Time is running out. Once they get the bomb, taking it away from them is dangerous. Much easier to deal with Iran BEFORE they get a bomb.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Congressman admits he never reads the bills

This congressman explains that they work with a plain language version of the health care bill and someone ( staffers? elves? brownies?) translate the plain language version into "legislative language" which is too opaque to be read.
If this is true, then the Congress critters have turned control of the legislation over to the brownies. He who translates something can make the translation come out any way he wants. Especially if he has 1100 pages to hide stuff in.
We should forbid Congressional passage of long long bills. Say what you mean and boil it down to 1000 words or less.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Wide Screen Monitors

Problem, new widescreen monitor everything looks stretched out sideways. Circles become ovals, people look chunky, text looks wider than normal. The old CRT monitor width to height ratio was only 4:3, the new LCD monitor is 16:9.
Fix. Click Start->Settings->Control Panel. Click on the "display" icon. Click the "Settings" tab. Adjust screen resolution up till it matches the resolution of the monitor, in my case 1440 by 900 pixels. Works on my middle aged Compaq with a Radeon 200 Xpress video chipset on the mother board.

Fixing Firefox

My Firefox has been acting up. It stopped remembering passwords and logging me into password protected sites like Facebook, Model Railroader, and this blog. Tried one thing and another thing. I just found a fix.
Firefox maintains for each user a "profile". Profile is a hard disk file folder that holds your bookmarks, your saved passwords, and a grunch of other stuff. Files in the profile can get corrupted and then Firefox starts doing weird things.
The Fix is to start up a pure clean profile. The only thing in your old profile that you care about is your book marks. So export your bookmarks to an html file and import that file into the new profile. Do this from within Firefox. Click on Bookmarks -> Organize Bookmarks and then click on "Import and Backup" tab. Select "export html" There is a "backup" option but that does something different and will not work here.
Exit Firefox and restart it from the "Run..." selection on the Start Menu. Enter
"firefox -ProfileManager" in the run box. This will present you with a little window with some choices in it. Pick "Create New Profile" and you are done. This starts up a new clean blank profile. All you need to do now, once you get back into Firefox proper, is import the bookmarks.html file that you created earlier.
The new clean profile lacks any saved passwords, so you will have to present your password to each website that needs a password. Keep a sharp eye on the Firefox window and you will see an inconspicuous gray bar appear briefly asking if you want to remember the just entered password. Click "yes" and Firefox will remember the password and present it automatically for you next time.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

47% of US citizens pay no income tax

Article is here. This is a scandal. Every citizen should pay some income tax. The poor shouldn't pay much, but they ought to pay something. How can anyone be a responsible voter if they cannot feel the bite of the taxman?