Sunday, July 31, 2011

It's a bug, not a feature

Black Box, my trusty Compaq desktop has been running slow for some time. I had been thinking it was the network until youngest son complained the Black Box was slower than his laptop. So I started out on the traditional virus hunt. Ran Task Manager and saw an unknown process called jqs.exe. Some Googling on the name revealed that jqs stands for Java Quick Start, and the jqs process was loading up during boot time, downloading a good deal of java run time code, and constantly querying something to stay up to date. Unless you run Java programs every day (few of us do) you don’t want jqs sucking up your memory or your run time.
You gotta be careful what you see in Google. One Google reference gave a lengthy removal hand patch involving the always perilous Regedit, and then a download button that tried to sell me something called Spyware-Doctor. I backed out of that sales pitch and found another reference that suggested the Java Quick Start could be disabled thru Adminstrative Services.
Start->Settings->Control Panel
Click on “Administrative Tools
Click on “Services” (gear wheel shaped icon)
Find “Java Quick Starter” in the list of services.
Just to check things out, right click on the jqs service and select “Stop” . After a pause it should report jqs is stopped. This merely stops jqs from running right now, it will restart next time, and I do this just to make sure that the gear wheels are meshed and working right.
Now right click on jqs and select “Properties”.
Select the “General” tab and then set the “startup type” to “manual” There are three start up types, Automatic, Manual and Disabled. Automatic means load at boot time, every time. Manual means only load when needed, and disabled means never load no matter what.
When you reboot, you should no longer see jqs in task manager. On Black Box the improvement in Web surfing speed is very noticeable.

Words of the Weasel P 20

Heard on Meet the Press this morning. "a balanced deficit reduction package" really means "a tax hike".
"Compromise" really means "vote my way".

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Republicans voted a debt hike thru

Now it's the democrats turn. Despite a lot of democratic whining, the House bill doesn't cut much, the cuts are fake cuts, and the balanced budget requirement is popular with all the voters. If the democratic Senate and the democratic president shut the government down, the bade vibes ought to accrue to the democrats.
Also amusing is seeing Barney Frank, the man who gave us Great Depression 2.0, arguing that a downgrade of US debt by the Wall St rating firms doesn't mean anything.

Friday, July 29, 2011

They vote their districts

Elected officials, US reps, State reps, Senators, selectmen, usually vote the way their district wants them too. These guys all want to get re-elected, and the way to do that is to vote the way their district wants.
On issues where the the district doesn't care, the rep can vote the way he likes, or trade his vote. On issues where the district cares, the rep has much less freedom. For instance, my district (Northern NH) doesn't care much about Gulf of Mexico oil drilling, immigration, or farm subsidies. This means our US rep, good old Charlie Bass, can, on these issues, trade his vote pretty much at will and we voters back in the district don't care much. On the other hand this district cares a lot about taxes, fuel prices, and jobs. On these issues Charlie has no discretion at all. Should he deviate from the district line, it will cost him in November and he knows it. We all have email and Cornerstone, the Tea Party and a bunch of others make sure we get the word about how Charlie voted on the stuff we care about.
Recently as the US economy has worsened and more voters find them selves out of work, the districts begin to care about a lot of things that they didn't use to give a hoot about. Which restricts the liberty of their reps to wheel and deal. Which makes it harder to get things like tonight's debt limit bill thru the Congress. Speaker Boehner is to be commended for lining up the votes to pass his debt limit hike bill this evening, it must have been hard.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Credit default swaps not saving Greek investors

The infamous credit default swap is not saving "investors" (aka speculators) in Greek debt. The Greeks are broke and will not be able to pay off their debts. Everyone knows this, and has known it for a long time. Desperate Greeks are offering 8,9,10 percent interest, which is a helova lot more then you get for investing in US treasuries. So a number of gullible Euro banks have been buying Greek debt and hedging the risk by purchasing "credit default swaps" (CDS) on the Greek debt. A "credit default swap" is like insurance, an equally gullible bank or insurance company offers a CDS which works like this. You pay me a hefty premium up front, and if the Greeks default, I'll pay you what the Greeks owe you.
With connivance of the EU central bank, the Greek debt holders are being coerced into "extending" the maturity of their Greek bonds and accepting less interest. In short, the Greeks don't pay, and they cut the interest rate. The lucky gullible investors find that the CDS won't pay off until the rating agencies (Standard & Poor and Moody) declares the Greeks in default. So far, the rating agencies are claiming the Greeks aren't defaulting, so the CDS's aren't paying off even as the investors are getting a haircut.
All is not bad. Investors should not be pouring valuable capital down the drain by investing in Greek debt, they ought to be investing in things that make money and provide jobs. Having the gullible investors who thought they could reap high interest risk free get skinned will wise up the rest of the bunch.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Debt limit crisis is mostly smoke & mirrors

Some things to keep in mind as the posturing goes on.
1. All the numbers are for 10 year savings. Which means they are malarkey. Even if this year's Congress cuts something down, next year's Congress can push it right back up where it used to be. And if the cut was to a juicy piece of pork, you can bet it will be added back in next year. Plus, predictions of the Federal budget for the next ten years cannot take into account wars, economic depressions, and technological change. In the last ten years we had 9/11, Afghanistan, Iraq, the Prius, fracking, and Great Depression 2.0. What bad news lies in wait for us in the next ten years? The debate would be more honest if we kept the projections to just next year.
2. The budget cuts are likely to be fake cuts. A real cut occurs when the agency gets less money than it got last year. A fake cut occurs when the agency gets less money than it asked for. Our well educated and un biased newsies cannot tell the difference between a fake cut and a real cut.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Norway shooter

I hear attempts from left and right wing nutcases to blame the Norway shooter on political ideology. This is revolting.
The Norway shooter was a homicidal maniac (by definition) who took out his internal devils on 68 young people at a summer camp. Politics has nothing to do with it. Homicidal maniacs don't have politics, they have psychoses.


FAA authorization?

Lost in the sound and fury over the debt limit is an interesting sidelight. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) authorization ran out last Friday. There was a dispute over $16 million in funding for "rural airports" and unionization of federal workers. The TV newsies did not say just who was in favor of what, but we can guess. Any how no compromise was reached and the authorization ran out.
So the FAA furloughed 4000 bureaucrats. The air traffic controllers were classified as "essential personnel" so they are on the job and the planes are flying. The Newshour had Ray Lahood, transportation secretary on last night. When asked what the 4000 laid off bureaucrats used to do, he mumbled "nextgen" and "improve the FAA". In short, they drew their pay but were not doing anything essential. Four thousand bureaucrats cost $400 billion a year, or $4 trillion over 10 years. Jeeze, just leaving them laid of would give a enough spending reduction to satisfy demands for spending cuts to cover a debt limit increase.

And the authorization to collect a 10% tax on tickets expired, which is a windfall to the airlines. They pocketed the money and didn't reduce air fares at all.

All and all, let's leave the FAA un authorized.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Is Washington broken ?

Subject of the talk session on Meet the Press this morning. Translating pundit speak into plain English, we don't have the votes to pass our pet programs. And that's terrible.
We lack bipartisanship in Congress. Translation, those nasty Republicans won't vote for our programs.
Everyone is so ideological now. Translation, they are voting their districts and the districts are up in arms. Few Congressmen dare to vote for more taxes or a debt limit increase lest their districts vote them out of office.
Nobody will compromise and compromise has become a bad word. Translation, those nasty Republicans won't vote for our programs.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Debt limit?

Saturday TV claims a total break down of negotiations between Obama and Speaker of the House John Bohner. Maneuvering to place the blame for a government shut down continues.
A failure to raise the debt limit will be confusing. Some people will not get paid, and it's Obama who chooses who to pay and who to stiff. Unless Obama is totally out of his mind he will make payments on the national debt, pay the troops, and pay social security. Remember even under Obama, 60% of federal spending still comes from taxes, so the feds can pay 60% of their bills.
The Wall St credit raters like Standard and Poor are going apeshit and threatening to reduce the credit rating of the US government. However this is a sideshow, after rating all those worthless mortgage backed securities AAA nobody takes them seriously any more.
Republicans need to find a way to shift the blame to Obama, the real issue is winning in 2012 as opposed to gaining some mostly worthless promises to reduce spending in the future. All spending bills have to pass the Republican house and they can cut and trim the pork as desired, and they have until 2013 to keep doing so. In fact they ought to retain control of the House past the 2012 elections, giving plenty of time to reduce spending the old fashioned way.

A Marvel Comics Superhero movie

Captain America. It was pretty good if you like that kind of movie. Better than Ironman, better than the last Spiderman. Once the movie gets past the origin story, it settles down to steady ass kicking and that's fun to watch. There is a girl friend, who has an impressive upper cut and a government model 45. She spends most of the movie making Capt America pay for an incautious office smooch with a passing blonde clerk-typist.
The whole thing is set in the 1940's and WWII. The vintage scenes are well done, I was unable to spot any anachronisms. It's in 3 D, 'cause every one is doing three D. I wish the 3 D thing would go away. The effects aren't that eye catching, the glasses are annoying and the theatre charges extra for 3D movies.
For opening night, the crowd wasn't that big, there were a lot more people last week for the third night of Harry Potter.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Security, computer style, small business

Wall St Journal reports that hackers are having a field day hacking small business computer systems. Smaller operations lack a big well trained IT department dedicated to keeping hackers out.
For small business men, I offer the following advice to keep your business information confidential. Worry about the security of plans and drawings, the CAD files that control the making of your product. And the software, both source code and executable that make the product run. Email, customer lists, human resources material such as employee reviews, and especially payroll. You don't want your competitor hiring away your best people, and going after your customers.
Remember that Windows computers have no security, any high school kid can break in and do anything he likes, tracelessly. Windows computers connected to the internet are even more vulnerable. An unpatched Windows computer will be infected by a virus within 10 minutes of connecting it to the net.
In light of this, step one means don't keep anything on a Windows computer that you don't absolutely have to have there. Let ADP do your payroll on their machines. Back the plans, drawings and software up to CD's and store them in file cabinets. Review all those reports each department makes and keeps, with an eye to weeding out the deadwood and backing up the historical stuff. If you ever get sued or investigated it's stuff from your files they will use to hang you. Less is better.
Don't allow dialup connections to your company machines. A dialup user is most likely a hacker.
Disconnect from the network all machines that don't absolutely have to have live internet access. Those dedicated machines down in production that burn proms, and test product don't need to be on the internet.
Brief your people that anything they put in email is public, just as if they posted it on the cafeteria bulletin board. Discussion of issues of interest to your competitors should be down face to face, not by email.
There are no silver bullets, your company computer network is vulnerable. Your only chance is to remove stuff you don't want your competitors to see.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Today's WSJ had an article bewailing the poor showing of American school children on a geography test.
They taught geography when I was in third grade. By the time I reached sixth grade, they stopped teaching geography, in stead we had "social studies" None of my children had a geography book or class.
If you don't teach it, don't expect children to know it.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Corporate Income Tax reform

Corporate income tax (at least for publicly traded corporations) should be a straight 20% (down from 35%) of the yearly profit from the corporation's annual report, the SEC approved, and audited report they show to Wall St investors. No allowances for domestic production, use of ethanol, purchase of electrical vehicles, green goodness or anything else. No loss carryover, loosing money last year is no reason to get a tax break this year.
Rationale. Accounting is so slippery that clever and crooked accountants can and do turn losses into profits, loans into income, phone bills into capital investments, and similar trickery that we might as well take advantage of all the rules and paperwork that attempts to limit accounting swindles for tax assessment. Plus companies are less likely to declare purely imaginary profits when they have to pay taxes on them.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Three D in the movies

I forgot to mention the last Harry Potter movie was in Three D, and we now have three D up here, unlike a few years ago when we had to watch Avatar in two D.
The effect was pretty good. At least everything looked three d, and the color was good, the focus was acceptable, and there were no artifacts. But it didn't really add much to the flick. The three-D glasses are uncomfortable, especially over eye glasses and they show odd reflections from theater lighting.
The director mostly refrained from having things fly out of the screen into the audience's lap. Showing mature restraint on his part.

The Last Harry Potter Movie

So of course we went to see it. This is the third night it has been playing in Littleton, and apparently a good many townspeople had yet to see it. The Jax Jr was pretty full.
It was a good Potter movie, better than the last one. More action and less standing around thinking gloomy thoughts. The principles, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint did their usual competent acting. Plot continuity sucked, as is usual in Potter movies. If you haven't read the book, it's meaningless whirl of special effects. I have read the book, and the two hour movie manages to cover most of the book's plot. The ending is the same. There are some great scenes, like when the dragon rises up thru the floor of Gringotts bank, scattering Goblin tellers left and right and bringing down the biggest crystal chandelier in the world. Or when the underground rail car at Gringott's stops on a bridge, sets out anti collision flashers and then dumps all the passengers into the deep gorge below the bridge.

I'm gonna miss the yearly Harry Potter movie. Too bad we have reached the end of the line.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

What do Republicans do now?

The Republicans hoped to tie some spending cuts or even entitlement revision to the debt limit increase. It isn't working, Obama said no deal. In fact he is asking for tax hikes.
If the Republicans hang tough, let the money run out and shut the US government down, will it help them win in 2012? With the ever helpful main stream media blaming the republicans full time? Something like this happened back in Gingrich/Clinton time and it didn't work out for the GOP. That's why Gingrich is no longer Republican Speaker of the House, or even a Congressman.
Or, the Republicans can say, "Here is a $2.5 trillion hike to the national credit limit." Humiliating, but perhaps better than losing the blame game. And then spend the time to election refusing to pass porky spending bills. McConnell in the Senate is proposing just that policy.
What comes next? Film at 11.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Speaking of chargers

Would not it be wonderful if all the chargers would intermate? So one charger could run your Kindle, laptop, cellphone, Ipad, and camera.
This is technologically possible, all these devices use DC, at some where between 5 and 12 volts. Define a standard plug and receptacle and spec 'em all to work on 12 volts.
The electrical industry managed this trick 100 years ago, which is why light bulbs all fit the same socket and all appliance plugs fit the wall outlets.

Sign of the times

Neighbor comes over to borrow a Kindle charger. She is on the last 70 pages of a Robert Ludlum thriller and the Kindle battery dies on her. She forgot to pack the charger.
Sorry, I tell her, I don't have a Kindle and neither does my son.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Some Spending Cuts we should all agree to

1. Shut down the TSA. All they do is hassle passengers and molest small children. They have never caught a terrorist. It is passengers who keep airliners un hijacked. After 9/11 passengers know that it is death to permit hijackers to take control of an aircraft. They have taken decisive action (once involving a fire axe applied to a perp's head) several times since then.
2. Shut down BATFE. Before they started facilitating guns to Mexican drug lords, they brought us Ruby Ridge and the Waco tragedy.
3. Cut funding for CIA. They predicted that Saddam had nukes (weapons of mass destruction). They failed to predict the breakup of the the Soviet Union. They didn't have any agents inside Saddam's Iraq. They still work out of embassies. They claimed that Iran stopped building nukes. They attempted to destabilize the Bush Administration. With a record like that who in their right mind would believe any intelligence they furnish? Besides the NSA codebreakers and the recon satellites furnish the real intelligence.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Chicken is a high stakes game

And that is what Obama is playing on the debt ceiling. He wants a tax hike. The Republicans want spending cuts. Obama thinks the Republicans will cave if he stands tough. The House Republicans are thinking the same. Head on collision anyone?
When a top level meeting at the White House breaks up after only 90 minutes, they are not doing serious bargaining.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Media Matters vs the NRA

Long discussion of "media mattters"(a liberal anti fox news website). The liberal member of the panel kept comparing media matters to the NRA.
Not a good comparison. The NRA represents some 2 million dues paying members. Media matters represents a dozen or so lefty bloggers.

Windows 7 takes a step backward toward DOS

Back in the bad old days when a program locked up, you could reboot (control-alt-delete) or cycle power to regain control. Windows NT, ancestor of today's windows fixed that. Control-alt-delete brought up Task Manager which allowed you to select the errant program with the mouse and shut it down.
Windows 7 seems to have broken this handy feature. Task Manager still come up, but the mouse doesn't work, which makes it nearly impossible to do anything useful with Task Manager.
"Nearly" means there are some keyboard short cuts that allow the user to do mouse things with keystrokes but few people remember what those short cuts are. I surely don't.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE)

Obama thinks Detroit can achieve 52 mile per gallon. In fact they are making regulations right now that will require 52 mpg in a few years. The only way to do this for real is to stop making pickup trucks, SUV's, full size sedans, and minivans, and make nothing but tiny four seat econoboxes. In the real world, the only way to increase gas mileage is make the car lighter and the engine smaller. So get ready for a lot of plastic, less sound deadening, and little tiny engines that have to wind up to 10,000 rpm just to pull up a steep driveway. And wait for the turbo to spool up before you get much power.
If you have a family to move and a house to maintain, your only hope is to find a used minivan surviving from the 2010's and restore it.

Friday, July 8, 2011

A balanced budget amendment

The Congress critters are talking this up. But does it really do anything? A balanced budget occurs when authorized spending is less than estimated revenues. An ancient method of "balancing" a budget is simply to estimate more revenue. Presto, chango, look we have a balanced budget, on paper.
Then there is the "off-budget" scam. Like the post office. USPS is really a government operation, but since it was "privatized" it doesn't show up on the federal budget. Lots of other things could be moved off budget too.
And then there is the emergency escape hatch. In times of dire emergency it will be OK to go in the red. And somehow every year has a dire emergency, and therefore we can spend more than we take in for "just that year".
Polls show that 72% of voters are in favor of a balanced budget amendment. But the same polls show that only 30% of voters are in favor of a balanced budget amendment if it cut their benefits or raised their taxes.
Translation, the voters are in favor of reduced spending, but they don't want to talk about bad things like cuts and tax hikes. Understandable.
Politicians can curry favor with voter by talking about balanced budget amendments rather than bad things like cuts and tax hikes.
We will go down the same drain the Greeks are going down if politicians won't talk about cuts and tax hikes.

Private sector jobs create wealth

And government jobs consume it. NHPR was talking about employment this morning, after a dismal jobs report for last month. The economist doing the talking was full of gloom and doom, there is no sector of the economy with any hiring going on. He thought it was just dreadful that 400,000 government employees had been laid off.
In actual fact, private sector workers, farmers, miners, factory workers, truck drivers, telephone linemen, loggers, salesmen, create real wealth which pays for all the government workers. Government workers don't produce wealth. In fact those 400,000 government workers were costing $400 million in pay and benefits, all if which comes from taxes on the private sector workers.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Lying to the cops is a crime?

Didn't used to be. But it is now. As everyone in the universe must know, the jury refused to convict Casey Anthony on the charges of murder and child abuse. They did convict her on charges of lying to the cops. In short, the prosecution lacked enough evidence to convict on the serious charges, but after three years of investigation and interrogation they found some inconsistencies in her answers and heh presto, we got something we can pin on her.
If, God forbid, the prosecutors came after me and grilled me for three years, and kept notes, they would be able to catch me on something I said. As a defendant, your best bet is never to say anything to the cops. With or without your lawyer present.
If the prosecutors cannot get the jury to convict on serious charges, the defendant ought to go free.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

All teachers are education majors.

And education is the belief that there is an art or science of education, and more over, that art or science is teachable. And that teachers need to be taught it.
I don't believe in the art or science of education. Any competent adult can teach effectively. I saw that in the Air Force. We would take 20 year old sergeants right off the flight line and put them into the Field Training Detachment teaching classes of teen age airmen. I went thru a number of these training sessions. These instant teachers were good, as good as any of the teachers I ever had in grade school, high school or college. The subject matter, jet engines, radar, instruments, auto pilot, hydraulics, missiles, radio, nav aids, was complex and difficult. The sergeants, who knew their subject matter cold, had no trouble teaching it, and teaching it to classes of teen aged boys. Who paid attention, took notes, and asked questions. It helped that the subject matter was interesting and relevant, all the students knew that mastery of the material was key to peer group respect and official promotion.
Given this, I think we would do better hiring teachers who majored in English, US history, mathematics, foreign languages, chemistry, physics, biology, and music rather than education majors. The secret to teaching well is a solid knowledge of your subject.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Making a super power

The secret of becoming a superpower is simple, be big, big in population, big in land area. In this respect the United States has done well. In population we are one of the biggest, only China and India are in our class. Every other country is smaller. In land area we are also in the top, only Russia is decisively larger. Canada, China, Brazil and Australia are in our class, followed by India.
The secret of reaching large size, also simple, it takes a political cultural and economic system that makes the population want to become and stay citizens. The United States had two historical turning points that set us on the road to superpower status.
One was right after the Revolution. The 13 colonies came out of the Revolutionary War as mini-nations, with governments, court systems, colony employees, armies and navies, and populations loyal to, and enthusiastic about, their home colony. The 13 colonies might never have come together to form the Union. An alternate history would have North America divided into 50 independent sovereign nations, much like Europe is today. Fortunately, the American establishment of the time, the Founding Fathers, were able to create the Constitution and get it ratified. This was a near run thing, it might have failed.
The second was the Civil War in 1860. The south could have won, or the bitterness could have split the nation. Neither happened, the north put forth incredible military effort, and accepted the terrible costs of a four year war. After Appomattox, the Union offered reasonable peace terms which the south accepted.
Had either of these historical turning points gone the other way, there would be no American superpower today.
In short, the road to super power lies in a political system that can unite and keep united vast territories. The United States appears to have mastered this trick.
Other countries are not on board yet. The Soviet Union broke up, and the surviving Russia is a third smaller than the old USSR was. Czechoslovakia broke in two. Yugoslavia broke into half a dozen pieces. Canada came close to having Quebec secede.
So on this, the fourth Independence Day into Great Depression 2.0, let us hope that we Americans have not lost the the ability to pull together, cut the necessary deals, and keep things moving forward.

Sunday, July 3, 2011


The Wall St Journal ran an article critical of the design of the Fukushima reactors. According to the journal, the oldest reactors (first one installed in 1962) consisted of two buildings, a very rugged one to house the reactor, and a lesser building to house the steam turbines. In the oldest reactors, a crucial electrical panel, and the backup diesel generators were housed in the less rugged turbine building. Those reactors lost electrical power when the backup generators and electrical panels were drowned in seawater by the tsunami. Without electrical power for the coolant pumps, those reactors melted down.
The later Fukushima reactors had both the electrical panel and the backup generators inside the more rugged reactor building. The juice stayed on, the coolant pumps ran, and those reactors didn't leak radioactive materials into the local area.
The Journal criticizes the owners (TEPCO) for failing to upgrade the earlier reactors to the later design standard. A valid point methinks, although it takes advantage of 20-20 hindsight.
Just in case a reactor looses electric power, would it not be nice to have reliable gasoline or diesel engines next to each crucial coolant pump? With a clutch to couple the engine to the pump? When the juice goes out, plant operators walk down the plant floor and start each pump engine, and the reactor stays cool.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

What's Fourth of July without a Parade?

I dunno. Franconia ran off a Fourth of July parade today. Heh, it's Saturday. We had floats, antique cars, WWII veterans marching, bands not marching (they ride on trailers), Ray Burton and his yellow 60's convertible, and a horde of little kids wearing orange T-shirts and carrying Stop Northern Pass signs. There will be a duck race this afternoon, a tuba concert on the Dow Academy field and fireworks when the sun goes down.
The fire trucks are enormous. All built on ten ton Mack or International Harvester truck chassis, they tower over the one story buildings along Franconia's main drag. And there are a lot of 'em. Like ten, from Franconia, Sugar Hill, Easton, and Bethlehem. All glittering in good paint, freshly waxed. In the up country, we are prepared, perhaps overprepared, for Armageddon.
A good time was had by all, Contrary to recent items on Fox News, Democrats were out in force and enjoyed the festivities.

Plastic Corks

Arrgh. Some are too slippery, and the corkscrew just make's 'em turn round and round in the neck of the bottle. The other sort let the corkscrew pierce the cork but the piercing doesn't heal, so wine dribble out the hole in the cork when you put the bottle on it's side in the fridge.
If they can't afford real cork for the cork, they are better off with (gasp) metal screw tops on wine.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Speaking of tax loopholes

Loss carry forward. If you loose money, you can apply the loss you had last year to this year's taxes. You say to the IRS "Yes, I made $47 million dollars this year, but I lost $99 million dollars last year, so I own no taxes at all." This is how GE managed to pay no federal income tax this year.
Loss carry forward subsides losers. If you subsidize it, you get more of it. Why do we want to do this?
Eliminating tax loss carry forward won't hurt the vast bulk of taxpayers, both individuals and corporations, 'cause most taxpayers don't loose money, they make money. It will certainly simplify tax filing.

Youngest son vs Windows 7

Youngest son bought a new laptop. UPS delivered yesterday, and he spent last evening tinkering with it. He reports that Windows 7 comes with 86 "processes" sucking up RAM and CPU time. (Windows XP gets by on 15 "processes"). It's slow. And fat. And power management comes set to automatically turn the machine off after 15 minutes without a keystroke, even running on AC power. He noticed this feature after setting the machine up to download a raft of stuff over night.
Youngest son is about to reload with Windows XP.