Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Dowsing lives

The town water department was out looking for a leak. They walked up and down, located everyone's shutoff valve, and left the street covered with blue graffiti, obscure symbology to locate stuff. Then they pulled out two or three fancy electronic instruments that made funny noises when they detected underground pipes.
After a lot of high tech stuff, one of the workers pulled a pair of dowsing rods off the truck and sure enough, the dowsing rods detected pipe about where the fancy instruments did. These guys clearly believed it worked. And they are not new age hippies, they are just plain middle aged working stiffs.
Told my daughter this story, and she came back with a long tale about how dowsing is a con game, and only the superstitious believe in it. That may be. There is certainly no explanation of how dowsing might work to be found in physics, geology, or chemistry. Be that as it may, the Franconia water department uses dowsing and believes in it. Long as they keep the water running to my place I ain't gonna say anything about their methods.

52% of companies cannot find qualified workers

Fox News ran this piece three times yesterday. Companies belly aching that they just cannot fill job openings for lack of qualified people. The scene shows an ultra modern light manufacturing facility, brand new Butler building, tiled floor, suspended ceiling, rows and rows of sleek modern machines, mostly electronic. And they cannot hire anyone checked out on all this stuff.
Sounds like Fox was talking to someone in HR. The HR droids think they control hiring, but they don't. They know zip about the company business, the manufacturing technology, or any thing else. They ask for qualifications that nobody will have, like 5 years experience on a technology that has only been on the market for 6 months. Or two masters degrees and 20 years experience. When they fail to find candidates with impossible qualifications at entry level wages, they blame the public schools. They sold the Fox newsies on this fairy tale.
In the real world, companies have to train up their employees. Hire guys right of of high school as apprentices, and train them up to be journeymen. Treat them right so that they stay with you rather than joining your competitor after they learn the trade. If the public schools have taught them reading, writing, and rithmetic, plus perhaps algebra, they are doing OK. For extra credit the schools could give them high school physics, chemistry, and biology. The decent public high schools can do this right now. Industry needs to do it's own training in specific technology on the job.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

V/Stol version of F-35 fighter faces cancellation

The so-new-it-isn't-in-service yet F35 fighter was supposed to come in three models, "A" standard for the Air Force, "B" Vertical/Short Takeoff and landing for the Marines, and "C" carrier equipped for the Navy. The B model is in trouble. Important pieces of the lift fan need to be redesigned, it's late, and it's getting expensive. The Pentagon (or someone) floated the idea of cancelling the B model to save money in Aviation Week.
The Marines wanted the B model, probably 'cause they could operate it off the big helicopter ships. These ships are built to carry and support Marine landing parties. They have a big flight deck for helicopter operations but it isn't big enough to fly fighters. The F-35B would be able to operate, giving the Marines fighter support flying off their own ships. Marine Corps institutional memory reaches back to WWII when the Navy would dump the Marines on a beach and then pull their precious aircraft carriers back out of danger, leaving the Marines to tough it out without Navy air support. The though of having Marine Corps fighters to support Marine infantry must be very appealing.
Actually, they could probably save money by merging the A models and the C models. The only real difference between a carrier fighter and a land based fighter is the carrier fighter needs a tail hook and must be more stoutly built to withstand the tail hook yank, the catapult heave, and the carrier deck whack. No reason the Air Force cannot fly the same plane. Granted, a special model that doesn't have to do carrier landings could have a little more range and payload, but the difference is small and the savings in having just ONE version of the fighter are huge.

Monday, August 29, 2011

TV from your laptop.

What with TV programmng moving to the Internet, you want any new computer to be able to hookup to your TV set. Unless you like watching TV programs on your laptop's screen. Me, I prefer to get my couch potato fix sitting in my recliner in the living room. For this to happen the computer needs to drive a signal down a cable into the TV and both computer and TV need a connection (a port) compatible with each other. There are at least four common types of ports, trouble is, not all computers or TV's come with all four types.
Composite video. This is the single prong RCA type connector (phono plug we used to call them). All VCR's (remember them?) came with a composite video output jack, and all TV's made since the VCR age have one. There aren't all that many TV's still running from pre VCR times. Composite video is pure analog, and works reasonably well. Some but not all computers have composite video outputs.

S-video This has a 5 pin DIN connector, and is less common. But it gives a much nice looking picture than composite video, the colors are clearer and the video is crisper. The presence of a S-video connector on either the computer or the TV is a plus.

VGA A 15 pin three row DB style connector used on computer monitors. Many computers, including laptops, have a VGA output, and new TV sets often have one too. Gives VERY good video.

RGB "Red-Green-Blue" three RCA connectors and three cables DVD players often have RGB outputs. Few computers have them. New TV sets will have RGB inputs. Gives VERY good video.

Bottom line? If shopping for a computer, take a look to see what it has for video outputs. Some laptops have no video out at all, which means you will never be able to use it to show Internet TV on the TV. If your TV has one of the better inputs, like S-Video, or VGA it would be nice if the computer had a matching jack. If all your TV has is composite video input, your want your new computer to have a composite output.
Remember computers get replaced fairly often, and the brand new laptop you buy today, may well be your #2 machine demoted to living room TV watching duties in few years. Remember also that your children will grow dissatisfied with their current laptops, upgrade to something newer to run their games faster, and leave the old laptop with parents. My three children have gifted me with as many castoff laptops. The laptop you buy your child today may be a castoff left at the old family home sooner than you think. It would be nice if said castoff were at least useful for watching TV.

Teach Languages in Public School

A Wall St Journal letter to the editor suggested that computer programming languages be taught in the public schools, just like we no teach foreign languages. This actually is a very good idea. In addition to the obvious employment benefits, knowing how to program gives great insight into how computers work and what they can and cannot do. A citizen today has to interact with computers in daily life. Knowing programming gives the citizen an useful edge in navigating the murky currents of cyberspace. Now that most students own computers, the school would be spared the the expense of setting up a computer lab.
Un fortunately the public school faculty, ed majors, are incapable of teaching programming, and few of them are capable of learning. So it won't happen unless enormous pressure is brought to bear upon the school systems. I don't see much sign of that happening.

All we got was a barograph trace

My barograph shows a dramatic dip, bottoming out a full inch down, around 6 PM last night. Other than a lot of rain, that was it, no wind, no lightening, zippo. We did have some flooding on rivers, but I'm up a thousand feet in Franconia Notch, so the rain all runs down hill away from my house. Except for the Cannon Cloud I'd have sunshine this morning. Electricity stayed on, not even a blip all night. I can tell, when the power goes blip, my clock radio forgets everything, clock setting, alarm setting and station settings. Clock radio was right at it, only at 6:55 the NHPR station in Lebanon 91.3Mhz, was off the air. They recovered and were back on the air by 7:30.
Bottom line, Irene was more TV news hype than hurricane.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

More Weather signs

As I write this, the eye of hurricane Irene is inside the city limits of New York, some 300 miles away. Up here we have steady heavy rain which started around midnight. No wind. Barometer dropped from 29.2 inches of mercury to 28.5 over the last 12 hours. Rainwater is pouring off the roof and down the driveway gutter. The Cannon Cloud is down to the top of Gremlin.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

So much for weather signs

All day yesterday, a perfectly clear blue sky, gentle breezes, just the right amount of warm. Really nice day. Except for the TV you would never know a hurricane is coming. The TV has the projected storm track coming right up the Connecticut River valley and going over our heads on Sunday. This mornings Wall St Journal has about the same track, maybe a few miles to the west, and maybe not til Sunday night.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Your Tax Dollars at work.

Federal agents raided Gibson Guitar in Memphis and Nashville. They claimed that some rare wood purchased by Gibson to make guitars didn't have enough paperwork. Gibson did have paperwork but the Feds claimed it wasn't good enough. The Feds seized pallets of wood, electronic files, and guitars.
I'm sure that helped Gibson maintain their production schedules, what with raw materials, and finished goods swiped. This is part of Obama's plan to get the economy moving again.
Plus, musicians now worry that taking a wood instrument to a concert will get it seized. The Feds will seize an antique instrument made with protected species of wood unless the owner has paperwork proving that the instrument was made before the wood became protected.
Your tax dollars at work.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Tending to your knitting, Bankers version

American Home Mortgage files suit against Lender Processing Services, a paper pusher for hire. AHM charges that Lender Processing improperly signed mortgage documents in its behalf and triggered millions of dollars of lawsuits as a result. AHM said that it incorrectly processed 30,000 mortgages in all 50 states, causing a failure in the foreclosure[s].
Wow. Talk about farming out the core of your business to the lowest bidder. Mortgage is their middle name. Mortgaging means paying out large amounts of cash in return for the legal right to seize the property if the borrower doesn't pay up. Legal right is slippery and the paper work must be done just so or it doesn't work when you need it.
The suits at AHM were dumb enough to farm out this crucial part of the business to a third party, giving up control of the process to a hired gun. Dumb and Dumber. The key parts of your business ought to be done in house so you can make sure it is done right.
The suits probably laid off a few AHM back office workers and thought they were saving money. But it cost them foreclosure on 30,000 houses, worth $30 billion at a guess. I'm sure AHM is so glad they hired some MBA's to foul things up. Laying off those few back office workers didn't save them $30 billion.

Is it coming? Hurricane signs

Sky in Franconia Notch was crystal clear and blue yesterday morning. By evening a high thin cloud layer, and some cirrus clouds had moved in. Wind picked up so much I had to furl the sun umbrella on the deck lest it be blown away, and take in the flag. Today we have a solid overcast (the good old Cannon Cloud is back) and it's getting warmer and moister.
So much for junior Maine Guide weather signs. The TV shows a blizzard of computer predicted tracks making landfall any where from the Carolinas to Cape Cod. We are 150 miles inland from Long Island Sound, the most likely hurricane track to hit up here. After that much overland travel, it ought to be nothing more than a lot of rain.
So I took stock and went to the store. Hit the State Liquor Store and then Mac's Market, got enough to go til Sunday in case the weather gets really ugly. It's nice to sit back and watch the rain fall knowing you don't have to go out food shopping in it.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Taxes and Spending

The US of A is spending 40% more than it takes in by taxes. This cannot go on forever. Something has to be done. The Republicans want to cut spending, the Democrats want to raise taxes. The Republicans know that any tax hike will be used to postpone the day that spending gets cut. All of those on the public dole will rise in wrath to defend their share of the taxpayer spending. It takes the threat of bankruptcy to force recipients out of the public trough. Any tax hike will postpone bankruptcy and thus make spending cuts impossible. The Republicans are (finally) wise enough to refuse any kind of tax hike until we get some real spending reductions.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

How to make 54 mpg Corp. Avg Fuel Economy?`

Simple. Build hybrid pickup trucks. Uncle Sam will give you a 20 mpg credit for each hybrid pickup truck you sell. So you build a hybrid pickup that gets 35 mpg. Add the 20 mpg credit and you have 55 mpg pickup trucks. Wow.

Uncle wants us driving hybrids rather than diesel.

Anyone know how long the batteries in Prius's last? And how much a new one costs?

19877 Sorties flown by NATO

According to the Wall St Journal, only 7505 of those sorties were offensive strikes on Libya. That's about one third. Presumably the bulk of the two thirds non-offensive sorties were tanker missions. Sorties are expensive, it takes just as much work, fuel, maintenance, and expensive aircraft to fly a tanker sortie as an offensive sortie.

It's 400 miles from Sicily to Benghazi in Libya which is a bit of a stretch for modern fighters. 400 miles one way, or 800 miles round trip. Back in the day the old F106 could fly from Duluth MI to Tyndall AFB in FL non stop, about 1600 miles. It could do the 800 mile round trip to Benghazi and have a decent loiter time over target without tanking. Apparently the current fighters (all one or two generations more advanced than the totally obsolete F106) don't have the range to cross the Mediterranean and return. You could save a lot of sorties if the fighters had the range to get to Libya and back without tanking.

They report hitting a lot of stuff including 555 tanks and armored vehicles. That's a lot. Erwin Rommel at his best, campaigning in the same area, never had 400 tanks to call his own. Either Qaddaffi has a huge tank fleet, or the pilots are making a lot of far fetched claims.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Anti Trust is the answer for Too Big To Fail

We passed the Sherman Anti Trust Act back in the 1890's. It was used to break up Standard Oil in the early 20th century, and last used to break up the telephone company in the 1960's. The Sherman act gives the US government the right to break up big companies that are deemed monoplistic, or just too damn big. It's still on the books and the US Justice Dept has a whole division of lawyers to enforce it. Too bad they haven't been earning their pay.
At the beginning of Great Depression 2.0 it was decided to drop Lehman Brothers on the floor as a warning to others. Not a bad idea, but the breakage scared everybody. Soon after, Sec of Treasury Paulson and Chairman of the Fed Bernanke, both thoroughly frightened, went to Congress and got the $800 billion TARP bill passed to shore up the rest of the Wall St to avoid more breakage. Then the perpetrators of Great Depression 2.0, Congress critters Barney Frank and Chris Dodd, got the 2000 page Dodd Frank bill passed to guarantee US taxpayer bailout of "too big to fail" financial institutions.
Where are the anti trust lawyers? Any firm "Too Big To Fail" is clearly big enough to break up under the Sherman Anti Trust act.
Plus, big firms lack competition to keep their pricing honest. We consumers get robbed anytime a company is so big it is the only game in town.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Indian Giver

Among the various European countries lining up to bail out Greece, we have Finland. The Finns promises to "loan" 700 and some change million Euros to Greece. But to make sure they get paid back, the Finns demanded "collateral". The Greeks agreed to deposit 500 million Euros in an escrow account in Finland. The the Greeks default, the Finns keep the 500 million Euros.
Big deal, to get a 700 million loan they put up 500 million, so that in effect the Finns are only loaning 200 million Euros. The rest of the Europeans are waits to see how this plays out.
I saw a European TV pundit on the internet explaining how a movement to "tighten European economic integration" was running into trouble. Under "tight" integration, the Germans would pick up the losses in Greece. The Greeks like the idea, and the Eurocrats love it. The German taxpayers are against it.

Hewlett Packard Stock drops 23%

Yesterday Hewlett Packard announce plans to get out of the computer business by spinning off or selling off the computer division. The suits complained that manufacturing computers was a low margin business and they wanted to move into software and services. No matter that they are the #1 computer maker since they bought up Compaq some years ago. Then they announced plans to buy a British software company for $10 billion.

Today HP stock dropped 23% as investors decided that the HP suits were out of their minds.
HP did something like this ten years ago. The company got started and had been a powerhouse in the electronic test equipment business. In 2000, HP spun off the test equipment group and "Agilent Technology" a new firm that has down fairly well.

Friday, August 19, 2011


Yesterday's Wall St Journal reported the existence of "super cookies", bits of malware planted on your computer and used to track your web surfing. This sounded pretty bad. I googled "supercookie" and lo and behold, an avalanche of information.
Apparently one type of cookie hides out in your "flash" plugin. Another type had something to do with Windows Media Player.
I found a website that claimed to switch off the Flash cookies and another that explained the Windows media player cookies were fixed in version 10 of Windows Media Player.
The other thing I did was weed out my ordinary browser cookies. Upon looking, I found that years of use had accumulated a vast number of cookies, kinda like barnacles. Cleaning them out sped up my web surfing noticeably.
You can wipe ALL cookies, the only penalty is you may have to log in to some of your favorite websites again. The websites that keep you logged in permanently do it with cookies, they make note of your log in inside the cookie.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Samuelson and stimulus

Back when I went to college, we all took one course in economics and the textbook was a thick brown volume by Samuelson. That text covered a lot of stuff, starting with the law of supply and demand and then the famous "multiplier effect". Samuelson stated that money spent in an economy doesn't stop with the first payment, he claimed that the recipient of the money went on to spend it, and those recipients would spend it yet another time. He claimed that a single dollar spent, would be multiplied as it rippled across the economy.
Of course Samuelson never wrote about the numerical value of the "multiplier". Was it 1.1? 2.3? or larger? We never learned that.
Now, all those college students exposed to Samuelson and his multiplier effect are grown up and running the government, and they all believe that spending is good for the economy, and the way to spend is to borrow, spend, and pay it back later.
Now I can see the multiplier effect for something like the purchase of airplanes for the Air Force. Boeing gets the contract and then turns around and orders parts. Probably 90% of the cost of a new Boeing goes into parts that Boeing buys from suppliers. This is how we got out of the Great Depression. World War II started and massive orders for everything from B17's to army bunk beds made the US economy perk right up. Paul Krugman said as much when he suggested in the NYT that an invasion of space aliens would be good for the economy. I think Krugman was speaking in jest, but you never know.
So, money given to corporations to make things probably does multiple some. But money given to individuals is different. People use money to pay down their credit cards and pay their mortgages and pay their taxes, none of which multiples at all. Sure people buy groceries and clothing, but that's a much smaller percent than Boeing shells out for parts.
Now take Obama's Porkulus, $ 1 trillion in "stimulus" money. Did it go for buying things? No, it went to state governments who used it to meet payroll and make unemployment payments as their taxes dried up and their unemployment rolls grew.
Very little multiplier effect. It did consume the credit of the United States, so we cannot borrow that much again. The Porkulus didn't work and we are still stuck in Great Depression 2.0. Obama and his friends are now reduced to saying that the Porkulus would have worked if it hard been bigger. Right. We drop $ 1 trillion into the economy and nothing happens. Do you really think $2 trillion would be much different, if we could lay out hands on $2 trillion?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Romney Campaigning in New Hampshire

The event was at the Littleton Diner, as nostalgic a piece of up country color as you can ask for. It's been there for 60 years that I know of, and looks like it will be in business for another 60. It's was raining. This picture was taken a hour before anyone arrived. By the end of the event the rain had dried up and there was a crowd filling the sidewalk.

Romney left the suit coat behind and dressed for the occasion. We don't wear suits to the Littleton diner much. Romney merely called for each voter present to tell a little bit about himself, state concerns and ask questions. It was a Republican crowd and they had a lot of concerns about jobs and the economy, very few about wedge issues. Romney spoke well and connected with the voters. Everyone agreed that Romney would make a fine president, a real improvement over the incumbent.

Parents brought children. All the local Republicans showed up, including yours truly.

Romney drew a decent crowd. There were as many voters present as press and the place was packed. It 's not a very big place, but it is the traditional place to campaign in Littleton.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

My stove is web surfing when it ought to be cooking

Hewlett Packard is peddling operating system software for kitchen appliances to makers thereof. Not sure just why I as a customer would want my kitchen range to be internet enabled, but HP marketeers are hard at work, developing the concept.

Down with family vehicles

Obama is crusading against the evils of SUVs and pickup trucks, again. Does Obama think this is job creation?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Windows Sales slow as iPad Gains

Headline from the Wall St Journal. The author thinks iPad is the Windows killer. Me, I think Vista (and Windows 7 is little better) killed Windows. We stopped buying PC's when we could no longer get Windows XP on them. We buy iPads to avoid Windows 7.
Windows is a walking flapping security hole, takes forever to boot up, runs slow, eats up too damn much RAM and disk space. Which accounts for the popularity of non Windows things like iPad.

What does the Ames Straw Poll mean?

The TV newsies love it, it's a straight forward, simple opinion poll that can be easily comprehended by uneducated journalists. It pops Michelle Bachmann up to the top and drove out Tim Pawlenty. It brought in Rick Perry so we cannot say it limited the field much.
It doesn't really solve the Republican's candidate problem. Michelle Bachmann is too much into wedge issues (aka "social conservatism") to appeal to the independents. Up here in the Northwoods independents are 30% or more of the registrations and control the election. Independents are very accommodating to Tea Party ideas but either don't want to get mixed up in wedge issues, or they approve of gay marriage and are pro choice. Either way, Bachmann is unlikely to attract them. Most NH Republicans just want some one to beat Obama, and that means someone who can attract the independent vote.
So far Romney, despite some baggage, looks like a good bet. We don't know much about Perry except that he has created a lot of jobs in Texas. That sounds good. The Wall St Journal ran an uncomplimentary-to-Perry op-ed on Saturday. The Journal describes a Texas state economic development fund that made a lot of grants to contributors to the Perry campaign. Clearly the Journal wishes Perry would go back to Texas.

Friday, August 12, 2011

So what is the Tea Party

So far, the Tea Party is not a tradiditional American political party. It does not have ballot access like the Republicans and Democrats have, and it does not run candidates. The best description of the Tea Party is an effective political pressure group. This may change, but as of right now, that's how it is.
The Tea Party is most concerned about taxes and spending. Specifically the US budget is un sustainable, we cannot borrow 40% of Federal spending for ever, there isn't that much money in the world. In fact the only reason the US can still sell Treasury bonds is that investors don't think the US will default on them, and all the other places to invest (stock market!) look worse. As soon as Great Depression 2.0 clears up, treasuries will compete with other investments at a disadvantage. The Tea Party was created to oppose this flushing of the American dollar and economy down the drain. I receive constant emails urging the Tea Party members to stick to their guns, (taxes and spending) and avoid wedge issues like gay marriage and abortion.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Hot Landing Zones (LZ) are very dangerous

My condolences to the families of the men killed in the Afghanistan chopper crash over the weekend. They gave their lives defending the country and deserve all honor.
We learned in Viet Nam that landing a chopper under enemy fire is very dangerous, helicopters are not bullet proof. Ordinary rifle fire will penetrate every part of the fuselage, and every part of passengers and crew. According to the TV news, the Chinook was hit with an anti-tank rocket. Such a rocket can kill an armored tank. An all aluminum chopper is no contest.
Helicopter air assault is very dangerous. We should be thankful to have soldiers brave enough to take part in it.

Federal regulation cost enhancement

Aviation Week reports that Boeing has made 1200 test flights with five aircraft to meet 1700 FAA certification requirements. This is for a new version of the venerable 747, which has been flying passengers for nearly 40 years.
1200 flights is one hell of a lot of flying. My old Air Force fighter squadron needed a year to rack up that many sorties. And this is a minor modification of a well proven and highly reliable aircraft with a magnificent safety record.
Could this be yet another case of government desk weenies making a company jump thru expensive hoops just because they can?
Each test flight burns up $40,000 worth of jet fuel. To say nothing of paying the flight crew, and the maintenance effect.

Gold now priced like Platinum

The price of gold has risen so much that it is now as costly as platinum.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Lots of hand wringing, but no calls for action

Fox news and the WSJ have been wringing their hands over the debt down grade from AAA to AA+. Lots of unhappy talk about who is to blame, how bad or not bad it will be. No calls to do something about it. Let's get the economy growing again, that will put people back to work, paying taxes rather than collecting unemployment, companies making money, that's what will fix the debt crises.
If half the hot air devoted to finger pointing and post morteming would go into advocating fixes we would be home free.
By the way, it ain't the Tea Party's fault. We have been spending more than we take in taxes for a long time, digging a deep hole. The Tea Party understands the first rule of holes. When you are in a hole, stop digging.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Dems don't compromise either

The Dems, who complain about lack of compromise from Tea Partiers and Republicans, have shown how intransigent they can be. They shut down the FAA, furloughing 4000 bureaucrats, shutting down airport construction projects, laying off a bunch of construction workers, all over a measly $16.5 million in pork which the Republicans wanted to trim.
To be fair, there was one other issue. The Obama appointed FAA had issued a rule making it easier to unionize a company and the Republicans wanted to repeal it, putting things back the way they have been since the 1930's. But still, it was a minor issue, abet one dear to the hearts of labor unions.
As an observer on the side lines, it is incredible that the dems refused to give the Republicans $16.5 million in cuts and a union issue. $16.5 million is chicken feed and any company under FAA jurisdiction that isn't union now is unlikely to go union under any rule. But the dems dug in their heels and refused to compromise (aka give the Republicans what they wanted in return for keeping all those good democratic voting bureaucrats on the payroll).

Money Grows on Trees

Or at least that's what graduates of journalism school seem to think. The Economist, a London based weekly newsmag, castigates "European leaders" (without naming them) for failing to raise the EU bailout fund to 1 trillion Euros to bail out Italy.
Sounds good, but not a word about where those Euros will come from. Italy's government is spending more than it takes in by way of taxes. They have been skating by and borrowing the money. The sucker banks are wising up and refusing to lend to Italy except at 6 percent interest, and going higher real soon now. When the loans dry up the Italians will be unable to roll their debt over and bond holders will loose money, perhaps all their money. This is a bad thing, but who wants to spend their good money to bail the Italians out?
The J-school grads who write for The Economist don't even recognize raising money as a difficulty. Brussels bureaucrats can wave their hands and the money will appear.
The real long term fix is to balance the Italian budget, so that taxes pay for spending. This may take both time and a big hammer. Like not being able to borrow any more money. J school grads don't write about this either.
We should pay attention because this will happen to us, unless we cut the big money sinks, medicare, medicaid, and social security.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Other shoe dropped. S & P drops US to AA+

They have been threatening to do this for months now. The shoe dropped last night after the market closed, and it was all over NPR this morning. Fox has talked about little else all day.
There are two angles to this, financial and political. Financial means effect on saleability of US treasury bonds and the interest rate there of. We won't know much until the markets open on Monday. Political means its effect upon Obama's re election campaign. That's already started, and we can expect Republicans to make a big deal of this thruout the 2012 elections. At a guess, the financial effects will be small, especially compared to the stock market fall Thursday and Friday.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Out in California they may be broke, but the cops still have time for to do SWAT team raids on raw milk producers.

The evolution of the common TV set

The standard analog TV with a big CRT picture tube, which used to be the only type out there, still has a lot of market share. The flat screen digital TV's are coming on, it's the only type on sale at Walmart, and it offers wide screen and an number of digital goodies such as displaying the name of the program on screen to aid channel surfers. When you surf onto a commercial, (the usual case) you can see what program will come on, after the commercials.
The cable companies haven't figured out what type of TV to broadcast too. Some channels like Fox News broadcast in "Widescreen" mode, essentially the NTSC standard def format but they leave the top and bottom of the screen black. This looks poorly on a standard analog TV, but on a new digital TV you can push a button and stretch the picture both horizontally and vertically to fill the screen. It's a little fuzzy compared to real high def, but not bad. Clearly Fox is favoring viewers with the new widescreen TV's.
Then some channels don't bother to broadcast the program name fields. Since this helps the viewers with digital TV's and doesn't degrade the signal for analog TV's, failure to broadcast it means the suits at HQ are brain dead. The program name display is sure fire bait to attract channel surfers and raise their ratings. You would think even the most brain dead suits would catch on sooner or later.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Boeing to do something

In this week's Aviation Week it was announced that Boeing would do a re-engined 737. That is the ordinary jetliner that most of us fly in, a single aisle jet in the jargon of the airlines. It is the highest production plane Boeing has, and competes head to head with Airbus A320 and A330.
Airbus announced the A330NEO (New Engine Option) a few months ago. The A330 would be equipped with new highly efficient engines, the Pratt and Whitney Geared Turbofan if memory serves, and gain an 8 to 10 percent improvement in fuel burn. This sounded so good that Airbus garnered 400-500 orders, even thought the NEO won't be available for 3-4 years.
Boeing, loaded down with the 787 (all plastic mini-jumbo jet) which was supposed to deliver 3 years ago and is still awaiting FAA type certification, did not want to jump into yet another new aircraft project until the 787 was out of the woods and into production and bringing in money. But, with customers flocking to the competition, Boeing had to do something. So they announced a re engined 737 is in the works and will give 8 to 10 percent better fuel burn than current production 737's.
Aviation Week ran an editorial bewailing the loss of Boeing's New Small Aircraft concept, a single aisle jet redesigned from a clean sheet of paper. They feel that a total redesign would be far far superior to a plain jane engine swap. Perhaps. I just finished reading a photographic coffee table book on the DC-3, which went into production in the 1930's, flew revenue flights in the US for 50 years, and is still flying out in the boondocks. Could it be that the 737 is just as good a design, and just wants better engines to compete for another 25 years?

The Dow plunges 400 points

There has got to be a connection with the debt limit hassle earlier this week, but what is it?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Now that the debt limit is done,what is next?

How do we fix the economy?
First we have to understand the problem. Consumer spending (cars, houses, clothes, appliances, entertainment, sporting goods, and everything else) is down. Seventy percent of the US economy was consumer spending. When consumer spending goes down, farms, factories, and everything else has fewer sales, leading to layoffs. If sales go away, no company can retain all it's workers.
This feeds on itself. When people are laid off they start saving all the money they can. When one person is laid off, twenty people hear about it and begin to fear for their jobs too. People fearing for their jobs react much the same way as people who are actually laid off, they start saving as much as they can.
So how to fix?
One fix is to stimulate demand. That is best done by introducing new "must have" products that every one goes out and buys. Apple is one of the few companies still inventing new stuff. We need more people like Steve Jobs.
Another way of stimulating demand is to make stuff cheaper. We could scrap an ocean of cost enhancing laws. Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) raises the price of new cars. EPA's tighter ozone regulations raise the price of electricity. EPA's encouragement of boutique gasoline blends raises the price of gasoline. Real estate "closing costs" jack up the price of houses. The endangered species act makes projects more expensive. Building codes demanding handicapped access and sprinklers in new houses raise the cost of housing. Liability and lawyers raise the cost of everything.
Then we can lift some costs off companies. Repeal Sarbanes Oxley, repeal Dodd Frank, repeal Obamacare, shut down the SEC because it is ineffective, and simplify the corporate income tax.

Cramming on the phone bill

The Wall St Journal has run two articles on cramming in the last week. Cramming is the practice of the phone company to pin charges from third parties (porn sites, get rich quick schemes, telemarketers, etc) onto phone bills. In many cases the harried home owner, trying to get the bills paid, just writes a check covering the phoney third party charges. The Journal mentioned several regulatory actions in the works to slow it down.
The phone company should NEVER bill customers for anything except phone service. Third parties who want to get paid should submit a bill, on their letter head, with an self addressed return envelope inclosed. The phone company should not assist anyone in getting money out of their customers.
We can do something about this. The New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission regulates our phone company and can tell them to stop cramming.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

So what does it all mean?

Well, it has some minor , very minor cuts. It avoids a government shutdown. The cuts are not very big, nowhere near big enough to come anywhere close to balancing the US budget. And they are mostly fake cuts. And they don't come into effect until the "out years" (2021). Congress in 2021 isn't going to pay any attention to budget resolutions passed back in 2011. Just like today's Congress pays no attention to resolutions from 2001. Which is why discussing the US budget in terms of ten years is essentially deceptive. All and all I don't understand why the democrats are crying so loudly about the cuts. Cause there aren't any, really.
We don't do a tax hike. That's a goodness. Hiking taxes in the depths of Great Depression 2.0 is a bad idea.
We have made it clear to all the voters that the US is running on empty, money wise. That little fact has been concealed by the msm up to this time. Getting that truth out is worth a lot of hassle.
We have a lot of losers. Obama, Harry Reid, and the democrats look like losers. We don't have very many winners. John Boehner comes out looking pretty good, but that's about it.