Monday, October 31, 2011

There is a shortage of truck drivers

Truth. I heard this on NPR this morning. Better than 120,000 long haul truck driving jobs are going begging. NPR even explained that only a high school diploma and a little practical training (like backing up a semi) was needed. There were at a loss to explain the shortage of truckers.
Somehow I think the NPR "reporters" must have been talking to some human resource droids at a trucking company.
I cannot imagine not being able to fill up a class of trainees by advertizing "Good jobs, good wages, no experience necessary."

Why are the years of the 21st century numbered 20?

A long time confusion factor for me. When presented with "umpteenth century" in the text I always had a mental hangup. Why are the years of the umpteenth century always numbered umpteen minus one? E.G. the years of the tenth century are numbered 900 to 999, the years of the twentieth century are numbered 1900 to 1999.
It's because we don't have a zeroth century. The year and century numbering system goes back before the invention of zero, and even today we have trouble with the notion of a zeroth anything.
In the case of century dating, it got started early. It was natural to refer to the years between the birth of Christ and the year 99 AD as the first century. It still does, only computer programmers would dare call it the zeroth century. Once you call years 1 to 99 the first century, then you HAVE to call the years 100 thru 199 the second century. And there we go, and the confusion persists into the twenty-first century (years 2000 thru 2099)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

We got 8 inches

Second snow of the season, this one is for real. The over achieving town plow came by at 7 AM, Ken King had my driveway plowed out by 8 AM. Electricity stayed on all night. But the lawn is gonna suffer. We did not have the leaves raked off, and unless we get a big meltout, those leaves will stay there until spring. Cannon now has enough snow to open. Opening for Halloween hasn't happened for 20 years or more. I remember the last time it happened, they opened the top of the mountain, there wasn't enough snow to ski all the way to the bottom. This is better, we have 8 inches at the bottom and more up higher.
Bottom picture is a foot rule stuck in the snow on my porch railing. Top pix is my mailbox, looking cold and lonely. Street has already been plowed.
I wonder how much snow fell on the Occupy Wall St folks. And how many of them have adequate winter clothing.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Batten down the hatches

The radio has been using the S word in the weather forecasts. The sky has clouded over and now is threatening real snow.
So. Get youngest son's "stuff" off the garage floor so I can get the car into the garage and out of the snow. Take down the deck sun unbrella and stow it for the winter. Get the new-to-me Weber grill, and the charcoal, and the lighter/chimney into the garage. Roll up the American flag and take it indoors. Take in the garden hose.
Matter of fact I just saw the first flakes fluttering down.
Now that all is stowed safely for winter, I can light the fire and read the Wall St Journal.

Unwritten Constitution to become written?

New Hampshire has a thing against income tax. It goes back many years. It's so strong that you could call it part of the unwritten NH constitution.
Now the Republicans have proposed a constitutional amendment to outlaw state income taxes in NH. Sort of making the unwritten constitution into a written on. The Democrats are objecting loudly.
These is a real good chance that the Republicans have the votes in both houses to pass it, and that the voters will approve it in November.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Security chief caused Upper Big Branch disaster?

A year ago, the Upper Big Branch coal mine in West Virginia suffered a catastrophic explosion that killed 29 miners and wrecked the mine. It was the worst mine accident in decades.
At the time, the miner's union blamed management, and management blamed an act of God. Inspection records revealed a number of safety writeups, but those of us with practical experience know that inspectors always write up something, it's their job. The seriousness of the safety writeups was never discussed in the public press or the internet, at least not at a level that rose above partisan fingerpointing.
After a year of investigation, the government finally prosecuted and obtained a conviction yesterday. Trouble is, Hughie Elbert Stover, the convicted defendant, was the mine security chief. They convicted him on charges of destroying paperwork, and being obstructionist.
The SECURITY CHIEF caused this disaster? Security chiefs supervise the guards on the gate, the night watchmen, and issuance of security badges and parking stickers.
The mine explosion might have been caused by a lack of ventilation, broken gas detectors, inoperative fire extinguishers or failure to wet down coal dust. None of these things is under the control of the security chief.
Sounds like the Feds were unable to find or prove negligence on the part of mine management. But after all the furore, the Feds had to bring home a scalp. Well, they have one. Maybe Mr Stover didn't preserve all the paperwork, or maybe he just called the prosecutor a Yankee carpetbagger, but his job didn't give him the power to cause the disaster.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Even green projects get protesters.

Vermont just finished up a wind farm project. The guv'nor spoke movingly about rolling back global warming, and putting an end to the evils of fossil fuels. Outside the plant gate they were protesting.
God help us if we ever tried to build something useful around here, something that made products and employed people. Like an automobile plant.

First Snow.

It's light, but it's sticking in places. Winter is coming.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Day of Reckoning?

Could the European debt crisis really be the European welfare state running out of other people's money?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Perry's 20 % flat tax.

Ouch. Over all the years I worked and made good money and filed my own income tax, I never paid more than 17% real tax. Real tax is 100 * (what you paid Uncle/what you made). That calculation takes into account all the wonderful deductions that I worked so hard to take advantage of.
Perry offers a 20% sorta flat tax ( he still has various deductions). Tax payers get to chose between current law, and the new 20% tax. That's easy, most of us will take existing law, tiresome as it may be 'cause it's cheaper, like 17% or less. The "rich" (any one paying more than 20% under current law) will take the new Perry tax and save money. This doesn't sound like much of a budget balancer to me.
Was it me, I'd scrap the existing income tax law, all of it. Declare it repealed completely. Then pass a brand new law that has just three tax rates, one for the poor, one for the middle class, and one for the wealthy. No deductions for anything, except charitable donations, in CASH, with receipts. Everyone pays something. No tax credits, no dependents, no mortgage interest, no state&local tax deduction, no married/single/head or household. you make it you pay tax on it.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Optimistic or Pessimistic about America's Future

Title of a longish article in this month's Commentary magazine. The editors collected 41 essays by "leading American writers and thinkers" on the subject. I skipped thru them, only reading essays by people I had heard of before. Max Boot, David Brooks, Hugh Hewitt, William Krystal and some others.
With the exception of David Brooks, they were all optimistic. Brooks writes for the New York Times, and doubles as a talking head going up against Mark Shields on the Newshour. Not a good background. The rest of them think America can pull out of Great Depression 2.0 and go on to enjoy a second American century.
I'm all in favor.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

What's up with Iraq withdrawal?

Obama has agreed to withdraw ALL US troops from Iraq, leaving only an Embassy guard. The original plan was to leave a few thousand men to train the Iraqi forces and deter an invasion from Iran. The Iranians know that we would like to stop their nuclear weapons program and do a little catchup for the embassy invasion of 20 years ago. They would think twice, maybe three times before marching into Iraq and getting in a shooting incident with the Americans. 'Cause for all they know the Americans are looking for a good excuse to bomb their nuclear program to bits.
Anyhow, the Iraqi's are on their own now. And they don't have any reliable American troops to take care of any little domestic problems, like Moctadar Al-Sadr, who might need dealing with. And once out, it will take another 9-11 to get the US to send troops back there.
Was it me, I would have bargained a little harder with the Iraqis about an acceptable status of forces agreement. But Obama doesn't listen to anyone, let alone little old me.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

So what's an Infrastructure Bank?

The phrase has been floated by democrats recently, with no description of what it is. Presumably an infrastructure bank would loan money to cities and states for infrastructure projects. Roads, high speed rail, bridges, broadband, Big Dig style tunnels, maybe even electric power plants. It would get the money to loan by selling bonds on Wall St. It would be a "government sponsored entity" (GSE) like Fannie and Freddy are. As such, investors would be willing to buy its bonds cheaply because the full faith and credit of the United States stands behind them. That's how Fannie and Freddy worked. Infrastucture Bank could borrow at 3 and a skosh percent, much lower than cities and states can borrow, and loan out at 4 or 5 percent, still better than cities and states can do.
Infrastructure Bank would have a large, well paid, staff with full benefits, and members of Congress get to hand out these plum jobs to friends, relatives, and supporters. Always a good thing for incumbents.
Infrastructure Bank borrowing would not show up in the Federal deficit. It could borrow as much as it liked and not make the official deficit worse. At least not until it went broke like Fannie and Freddy did a couple of years ago. Then all of Infrastructure Bank's debts become US taxpayer debts.
Infrastructure Bank gets to say which (or whose) infrastructure projects get funded. Projects for friends and supporters get loans. Projects in political enemy's districts don't.
All in all, it's a way to run up the public debt, hand out cushy jobs to the well connected, and centralize control of infrastructure spending in Washington.
What's not to like?

Friday, October 21, 2011

UNH does a bear survey

It came in the mail, big 8x11 envelope, full of a survey about wild bears. Questions like do you see bears on your property? (yes) and should fish and game shoot them, or chase them away with noise makers. The survey was aimed at classifying responders as pro-bear, tolerant of bears or anti-bear.
Pro-bear means feeding bears.
Tolerant means bears are OK to have around but don't feed them, don't leave unlocked trashcans or dumpsters for them, and keep your distance.
Anti-bear means seeing a bear is scary and disturbing and bears ought to be relocated or shot.

It is amazing how the bears have come back. We have a lot of 'em now and I see 'em walking on town roads several times a month. Didn't used to be that way. Back in the 50's and 60's bears were extinct in these parts.

So what's up with European Banks?

BNP Paribas, a big France bank, owns 198 billion Euro's worth of Greek bonds. Which will become officially worthless real soon now. The same bank says that it has increased its capital reserves to 57 billion Euros.
So when ever BNP Paribas faces reality, they will find themselves underwater by 141 billion Euro's. Reality being that the 198 billion Euros worth of Greek bonds are really worthless.
They aren't the only European bank stupid enough to buy Greek bonds.


There is hope for the ink on paper kind. With some assistance from youngest son, I downloaded a .pdf of the latest George R.R. Martin fantasy novel and I'm reading it on my ordinary laptop. The experience isn't as nice as reading a real book, even a mere paperback. Seated in my favorite reclining chair, the laptop is heavy and hot in the lap. Page turning is awkward. And the pages are not numbered, so finding your place is problematical. So far I have avoided shutting the laptop off, for fear of loosing my place.
All in all, I'd druther have a tradition hardback.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Hitler's biggest mistake.

Which was? Hitler made a lot of big mistakes. He attacked the Russians, who were so terrified of Germany that they were never going to cause him any trouble what so ever. He failed to crush Britain. He ordered his revolutionary jet fighters to be converted into bombers. He refused von Paulus permission to withdraw from Stalingrad. He ordered the fateful counterattack at Mortain, and then refused to allow his generals to withdraw German forces from the Falaise pocket. He abandoned Rommel's army to capture in North Africa. He failed to develop nuclear weapons.
With a list like that, what's left to screw up?
His biggest mistake was to declare war on the United States. He didn't have too. He had no formal or informal agreements with Japan. At the time Germany was locked in mortal combat with the Russians and the British, he didn't need to add to his enemies list.
At the time, the week after Pearl Harbor, the infuriated Americans were about to go after Japan with every thing in the shot locker. Although the American high command and the Roosevelt administration knew that Germany was the more dangerous enemy and they wanted to "Do Germany First", public opinion might have forced a "Do Japan Now" strategy on the administration. Hitler's declaration of war solved that problem for Roosevelt.
With Hitler's declaration of war, Roosevelt was free to do what he wanted to do, namely defeat Germany before flattening Japan.

The Ascent of Money

Most irritating TV show. It's on PBS, has a British narrator, and it talks about high finance, stock markets and banks and such. The irritating part is the lack of causes. Every thing in life has cause and effect. This TV show talks only about effects, totally avoids causes.
I caught it where they are talking about an economic Renaissance in Chile after the overthrow of Allende. According to the show, Milton Freidman of the University of Chicago went to Chile after the revolution and talked economics to the new strongman, Pinochet. Freidman sold the Chileans on a new pension scheme, essentially the "individual retirement accounts" they talk about up here, and the economy boomed. Irritating part of program, I don't believe that a new pension scheme alone is enough to turn an economy around. Betcha there was other stuff at work too. And they never showed any numbers about the boom. I wanted a nice line graph showing GNP over ten years, some numbers. All they showed was shots of shiny skyscrapers down town. So how good was this Chilean boom anyhow?
Then we move up to Great Depression 2.0 They do talk about a "disturbance in the American housing market" started the trouble. Well, so what? We all know that. Not a word about Fannie and Freddie's role, not a word about mortgage backed securities and credit default swaps. Not a word about the role of Barney Frank and Chris Dodd. No discussion of the secondary mortgage market, when and how it got started, and it's role in promoting "NINJA" mortgages (No Income, No Job, No Assets). They talked a lot about the evils of red lining, racial discrimination in housing but nothing about government pressure to do sub prime mortgages.
Essentially this show takes us to the scene of a disaster, and does a lot of handwringing about how horrible the disaster is, but doesn't tell us what caused it.
Irritating. I finally turned it off and went to bed.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Hand Cannon

From the American Rifleman. Taurus introduces the Model 405, a 2 inch snub nose revolver. The quintessential American hideout gun, Small, dependable, and powerful. Usually chambered for .38 Special.
Only this snubbie is chambered for .40 Smith and Wesson, an automatic pistol cartridge. Revolver cartridges have a rim that seats on the cylinder and holds the cartridge in place against the blow of the hammer, and gives the extractor something to grab onto. Automatic pistol cartridges are rimless, to make them seat nicely in the magazine and feed smoothly. The maker sells the gun with half moon clips, a steel disk with cutouts to grab onto the .40 S&W rounds extractor groove. One half moon clip accepts 5 rounds, ready to drop into the cylinder.
The .40 S&W round is hot, the 405 achieves 900 to 1000 foot per second with a 180 grain slug out of a 2 inch barrel. This compares favorable with the .45 ACP round which does 850 foot per second with a 230 grain slug out of a 4 inch barrel. In short, the tiny Taurus 405 hits nearly as hard as the big Government Model .45 automatic.
Was it me, if I wanted a belly gun that hits harder than .38 Special, I'd look for one in .44 Special, or .44 Magnum, both of which are revolver cartridges with rims, so I don't have to mess around with half moon clips.
The Taurus is a throwback to the old Smith & Wesson .45 cal model of 1917. The Smith was an ordinary service revolver chambered for .45 ACP. The idea was an Army revolver that could fire the standard Army pistol cartridge, .45 ACP. It made partly for Army officers who didn't like the new fangled .45 automatic, and partly 'cause Smith could make revolvers all day when the makers of the .45 automatic were falling behind wartime demand.

Why such concern for teachers

Obama is on tour, promising a bright future of more jobs for teachers. Sounds OK, but why do teachers get all the jobs? What about jobs for factory workers, truck drivers, construction workers, retail salespeople and all the other folk who actually create wealth in this country? Why does Obama care more about teachers? Is it because teachers always vote Democratic?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Martin Luther King memorial

I don't like it. The statue has Dr. King standing there, arms folded across his chest, and a "Shape up or ship out" expression on his face. A hardcore father getting ready to chastise his children.
I don't remember Dr. King that way. I remember a warm smile, a resonant and ringing voice, a warm man who offered sympathy, comfort, support, and leadership. Not a USMC drill instructor getting ready to put the fear of God into a squad of recruits.

The Eagle.

The 2010 movie, I just got it from NetFlix. I read the book ("The Eagle of the 9th" by Rosemary Sutcliff) back in middle school, so naturally I wanted to see the movie version.
If you haven't seen it you haven't missed much. Young Roman legionary officer Marcus Flavius Aquila, serving in Britain, sets out to redeem his family's honor. The 9th Legion under the command of Marcus's father, had set off into the wilds of Scotland some 20 years before and never returned. Marcus sets off north of Hadrian's Wall to recover the Legion's standard, one of the famous golden eagles of Rome. His only companion is Esca, a British slave of Marcus's.
It's a dreadful trip. It rains all the time, their rations run out. On the way up they pick up clues to the location of the lost eagle. The way back is worse, with angry Picts chasing them all the way on foot. The have to eat their game raw lest a fire give them away. Their horses wear out and in the last reel they are on foot, still pursued by war painted Picts. The Picts go in for olive drab warpaint from head to toe, that dehumanizes them completely. Marcus and Esca work out a number of personal differences on the trip. In the end Marcus and Esca return to civilization alive, unwounded, with the Eagle, and good friends.
My objection to the movie is it is a long, uncomfortable, dangerous, rainy trek thru the wilderness. Never a dry campsite, a good meal, it's just endless misery. It's not a trip I care to make, ever. The sets and costumes are good, the score is acceptable, the camera work is up to standard. Acting is OK, characterization is decent considering that the book was a Young Adult book with no girl friends or love interests.

Monday, October 17, 2011

I have a bridge to sell you

Today's Wall St Journal Op-ed page title. "How Billionaires Can Build Bridges to the Middle Class". The author's quote billionaire William Conway of the Carlyle Group lamenting that he just cannot find a good way to put $1 billion of his money to work creating jobs.
So helpfully they suggest that Mr Conway could fund "infrastructure" namely he could use his money to finance building a bridge somewhere. Cool. Let's suppose Mr. Conway takes them up on it.
Next paragraph they suggest all sorts of government regulations that should be created to make sure Mr. Conway does the right thing with his money. A public something-or-other would create a list of eligible projects and Mr. Conway would be allowed to pick one.
Wow! Here we have a public spirited billionaire, who has decided to spend his own money on a public project, and we have the chutzpah to tell this guy what projects he is allowed to finance and which ones he is not allowed? Methinks Mr. Conway would put his checkbook back in his pocket and go away, mad.
Clearly the authors have been smoking controlled substances. And spend too much time in academia.

Occupy Wherever?

What ever they are, they are getting plenty of press. Just finished watching a U tube clip that makes them look like hippies at a "be in". Passing a joint from hand to hand and making very mellow speak.
Lot of MSM and more serious newspeople have mentioned the lack of a "program". As in "what do they want", a set of political or economic demands. Apparently they don't have one. At least not yet.
Not surprising. I expect they are out of work, or still in college, and they don't like the prospect of unemployment or taking a job at the Golden Arches. Understandable. It's also understandable that they really don't know what they want, other than to end Great Depression 2.0, and return to plentiful jobs at good wages. We all want that.
Trouble is, no one really knows how to achieve that desirable end. So it's understandable that the Occupy Wherever folks don't have a clue either.

Sunday, October 16, 2011


Will Herman Cain's 999 tax plan work? That's a 9% income tax, a 9% Corporate income tax and a 9% national sales tax. How much money would we raise with 999? Would it pay Uncle Sam's bills?
Just for fun, I did a little surfing and got to the US Bureau of Economic Analysis. There I find that total US income is $12.8 trillion. So 9% of that is $1.152 trillion
Corporate Profits before taxes is $1.8 trillion So 9% of that is a measly $0.162 trillion.
National sales is not given, so let's guess that one half of people's income gets spent on taxable stuff. That's fair, rent and mortgage payments suck up about half of most folks income and they aren't taxable. So let's estimate the 9% sales tax brings 9% of half of total income. That's %0.576 trillion.

Add it up. $1.152 + $0.162 + $0.576 = $1.89 trillion raised by the 999 tax plan.

Is this enough? No.

Current US govt expenditures are $5.4 trillion. Of that $1.3 trillion is borrowed.
Under 999 we would have to borrow $3.51 trillion to add to the $1.89 trillion of 999 tax revenues to raise the $5.4 trillion we are spending.

Even an 18-18-18 tax plan wouldn't be enough to cover today's federal spending.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Federal law requires USAF to have 316 transports?

According to Kelly Ayotte, my US senator, there is a federal law that requires the Air Force to maintain no less than 316 "transports" on active duty. She has introduced a bill to repeal this law.
Why do we have such a law on the books in the first place? Surely the defense department and the Air Force have a far better idea than Congress of how many transports are needed to defend the country. This sounds like something dreamed up by the senators from Lockheed (C-130) and Boeing (C17).


Made the news last night. US will send combat troops to Uganda. According to the TV news, it's only 100 special forces troops. Jeeze. That's hardly more than the embassy guard. Any embassy has three military attaches, each with 3 or 4 NCO's to run the office, and a 20 man Marine guard force. There you have 32 troops just hanging around the embassy.
I'm sure the US has 100 man units active in dozens of countries. Why did Obama announce this 100 man unit going to Uganda? Why not just send the troops and say nothing? A 100 man operation is small enough to keep secret. Especially as anyone knows announcing ground forces going into Africa is going to put the press into orbit with predictions of "another Viet Nam".
Or does Obama fear leaks from the military? And figures he is better off with a public announcement? He shouldn't. The US military is very loyal. Besides they learned never to talk to the press back in Viet Nam.


Why does USPS give junk mail a cheaper rate? Why should not junk mailers pay the same rate I pay to mail my bills? The junk mail travels the same routes, gets delivered by the same mail carrier and travel just as fast, which means it costs USPS just as much to deliver junk mail as first class mail. So why should junk mail get a nice cheap rate? Why should my first class stamps subsidize junk mail that just goes into the fireplace.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Franconia Notch Parkway

The NHDOT called a meeting about the Franconia Notch Parkway last night. A couple of dozen folks showed up at Peabody Slopes base lodge, most of them fire and rescue team people, along with some police and sheriff’s deputies. All of whom have vivid memories of trying to reach the sites of automobile crashes at night during blizzards and whiteouts. The DOT people all regret that the Parkway is not built to Interstate Highway standards, but were under instruction by the legislature to stick with the agreement hammered out thirty years ago between the DOT and the hikers, campers, conservationists and environmentalists back when the current parkway was built.
The outdoors people look on Franconia Notch as a beautiful and well loved wilderness area for hiking and camping. If they had their way there would be no road at all, and no ski resort at Cannon. The highway people and the rescue first responders want four lanes and a good big shoulder so they can get thru to an accident scene with a fire truck.
Thirty years ago the hikers and campers forced a the current deal, a two lane road. It took years of fighting to resolve the issue and memories linger. Nobody wants to re open that particular can of worms.
Making life difficult is the centerline barrier. Thirty years ago when the road was widened, there was no centerline barrier. Old US Route 3 thru the Notch was just an ordinary two lane blacktop country road. When the new road was blasted thru, it had no centerline barrier. Then they had a number of horrific crashes, and the existing centerline barrier was installed to prevent them. Trouble is, with the barrier there is no way to get a rescue vehicle turned around. Franconia rescue vehicles can only reach accidents in the southbound lane, North Woodstock can only reach accidents in the northbound lane, and there is no way to get past the line of cars that back up behind a bad accident scene.
There was a lot of discussion about snow removal. Someone asked about getting a big snow blower to toss the snow well clear of the road and keep the snowdrifts from encroaching upon the road. The guy from DOT replied that snow blowers were high maintenance. Everytime they suck up a rock or an unlucky road sign they break.
After a lot of discussion the meeting broke up with nothing decided or revealed. The DOT’s plans for the Franconia Notch Parkway are known only to DOT.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Ron Paul and the Gold Standard

Ron is still into the gold standard. He talked about it last night. After quite a bit of discussion it seems that a lot of folk need a quick refresher on monetary thinking. Consider the modern economy. Technological improvements allow it to create more "stuff" every year. Compare the number of automobiles, stereos, computers, foodstuffs, alcoholic beverages, books, etc, etc produced in this year 2011 with the quantities produced back in say 1945. Obviously the the amount of stuff to available buy increases every year.
Consider that money is easily printed, how much money should we have in circulation today. Should we keep the amount of money fixed? Suppose there was no more money around today than there was in 1945. In that case, a fixed amount of money would be spread over more goods and services, so less money would be available to buy any one of them. Put another way, prices fall and money becomes more valuable.
Bankers love this. It means their loans get paid off with more valuable money. Borrowers (most of us) hate this. It means we have to work harder to pay off mortgages and car loans contracted in the past when money was cheaper.
Ron Paul's gold standard, means the amount of money is fixed, because the amount of gold in the world is not large, and ain't getting larger. Gold never wears out, humans have valued it and searched for it since First Dynasty Egyptian times. Most of the gold in the world has been discovered. If we make a rule that the amount of money in circulation is fixed by the amount of gold in Fort Knox, we are saying that the amount of money in circulation will never change. That's good for bankers and bad-to-terrible for the rest of us, industry, jobs, and just about everything.
Have you looked at Mitt Romney or Herman Cain?

Ron Paul comes to town

Littleton to be precise. We only got advance notice on Monday of a Wednesday evening event. Nevertheless I summarized the poster and put it out to the Grafton Country Republican email list, the Tea Party list and the North Grafton Republican list. Word must have got around. By 6:30 the Littleton Opera House was pretty full. Ron Paul started speaking on time. He sounded good, spoke with substance, not fluff, unlike the average politician, and took questions from the floor. The crowd was supportive, no hecklers, and applauded repeatedly. Youngest son, who used to refer to Paul as "Crazypants", came away impressed.
We had reporters from the Union Leader and the Littleton Courier. I got interviewed by both of them. Dunno why me, except maybe my bright red ski parka and white hair. The Union Leader put the story on page A3. Byline of Sara Young-Knox, she quoted me and then misspelled my name. She also lowballed the crowd estimate at 80 people. I counted better than 200.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Glass Steagal lives

After the great stock market crash of 1929, Congress passed the Glass-Steagal Act which forbid banks from playing the stock market. FDIC deposit insurance had just been invented, and nobody wanted to see banks playing the market with tax payer guaranteed money.
Banks hated Glass Steagal, and they spend 50 years lobbying the Feds to repeal it. They finally succeeded under Clinton and starting in the 90's banks jumped back into the stock market. They made barrels of money out of the market, and lots of capital that should have been invested in economic expansion was frittered away playing the market.
Now after Great Depression 2.0, the Feds are pushing "The Volcker Rule." which is Glass-Steagal brought back to life. Banks may not play the stock market.
This time the proposed "rule" is 294 pages long, and they estimate it will take 6 million man hours on the part of banks to fill out the paper work. Each year.
Can you say "Welfare for lawyers"?
They could just re instate the Glass-Steagal act which worked fine for 50 years. But that would be to easy, and be a confession that repealing Glass-Steagal was a mistake.
By the way, our old buddies Barney Frank and Chris Dodd were cheerleaders in the repeal of Glass-Steagal 20 years ago.

Thr Great Debate

It wasn't on cable TV. My broadband isn't broad enough to watch it over the internet. Long irritating pauses while the compute makes excuses. Then I listened to it on internet radio for a while but that croaked too after 10 minutes. Apparently not much blood was shed, at least not enough to make it to the car radio as I drove into Littleton for a doctors appointment this morning. Nothing in this morning's Wall St Journal, probably because they must start printing before 8 PM in order to get it up here in time for the morning mail.
For tonight's political entertainment I am going to see Ron Paul, live at an Town Hall meeting in Littleton.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Terra Nova disappoints

Monday's show was dreadful. The outpost in the past is overwhelmed by a virus that gives everyone deep and serious amnesia. They don't remember being married, being in Terra Nova, nothing. It makes a bunch of characters do and say really dumb things.
Apparently all the Hollywood scriptwriters have died or gone on strike or moved to New Zealand to work for Peter Jackson. In Terra Nova we had a plot generating device nearly as good as the Starship Enterprise. We can hunt dinosaurs, open mines, start farms, fight the rebel Sixers, distill moonshine, race dirt bikes across the plains and have every sort of love affair. And yet, with all these possibilities for interesting plots, the scriptwriters decided to make everyone in the Terra Nova settlement do stupid things. Arrgh.
Plus, they need new camera's. The color is broken on the camera's they use. Everything comes out in black and white. Makes me think my TV set is failing. Which is irritating. And the actors mumble too much and I fail to catch the dialog.
Not sure if I will bother to watch it again.

Republican County Dinner last night

It was the annual County fund raiser. All the active Republicans in Grafton county were there, something close to one hundred. At this point I have been kicking around long enough that I know most of them. So we all did the chit and chat thing, shook hands, greeted newcomers, and generally socialized.
Then we got down to the business of the evening, fund raising and politicking. We managed to attract two real Republican presidential candidates, Huntsman and Fred Karger. Fred is a new name to me. Both men gave their stump speeches and received rounds of applause. Huntsman come across as a perfectly reasonable man, he spoke well and didn't express any crazy ideas like some have. If elected he would make a capable president. Whether he can overcome his rivals and gain the nomination is a good question.
For fundraising we did the traditional auction of celebrity ties. This started years ago with the auction of one of John Sununu's ties. Last night we had ties from Rick Perry, Ovid Lamontaigne, Fred Karger, Herman Cain, and a couple of others. Rick Perry's son Griffin told of asking his father for a tie to bring to the dinner. Some confusion resulted, with the Perry household left wondering what those crazy New Hampsters would think of next.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Thanks Florida

Thanks for moving your primary up to January. That means we in NH have to move up to December of this year. The presidential election season is too damn long right now. Instead of governing the country, presidents (and Congresspersons) spend all their time running in the permanent election. And you have taken a big step toward making it longer.
The newsies love presidential elections cause they are easily understood and easily reported upon, all you have to do is talk about who is in front. That doesn't require much brainpower, or education. So the newsies talk up presidential elections all the time 'cause even the dimmest of them know that much.
The other trouble with starting the primary race so early is we pick candidates on issues that are often moot by November. Last time we picked Hillary Clinton as out Democratic presidential candidate. How did that work out for us?

Frugal Forever

Title of a Wall St Journal piece. The gist of the story is that financially pressed Americans are buying more store brands and less national brands. Catchy and all, but as a regular buyer of store brands, I gotta say, they ain't THAT cheap. True, you save a few percent over a national brand, but somehow I don't think that small difference is going to swing the country into or out of Great Depression 2.0. Must have been a slow day at the Journal.
More to the point, consumer spending used to be 70% of the US GNP. Of that huge amount of spending, much of it is deferrable. Consumers worried about losing their jobs or layoffs, will defer buying new cars, appliances, clothing, lawn care, housewares, even Christmas gifts. About the only things people have to are groceries. And that's all most of us are buying. I can see this when I visit Home Depot or Lowes. The aisles are empty of customers.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Rahm Emmanual is one slick talker

Meet the Press (David Gregory) had Rahm Emmanual on this morning. Rahm said Obama saved Detroit and now every thing is better in the auto industry.
I don't buy that. Obama didn't "save" anything except the UAW. Ford, the only Detroit company with decent management, didn't accept government bailout money. All Obama did was interfere in the bankruptcy proceeding of GM and Chrysler, giving the companies away to the UAW and Fiat for zilch, and stiffing the bond holders, the banks and the stockholders. And preserving plush union contracts. GM and Chrysler would be in better shape today if they had gone thru regular bankruptcy, which would have junked their ultra plush union contracts and gotten their labor costs down to the Toyota-Honda level.
In short, Obama bailed out two losers. And made the UAW happy.
But, Rahm Emmanual sounded so positive on TV.

Words of the Weasel Part 21

"Edgy" as applied to TV shows. We used to call 'em raunchy.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Computer Virus infects USAF drone controllers

I saw this on Slashdot last night. Apparently the computers used to fly Predators over Afghanistan have picked up a virus. The article says it's "just a keylogger" and has done no harm, yet. The most amusing part of the story, Air Force IT has been unable to scrub the virus off. That will teach 'em not to use Windows for anything important. "They" believe the virus came in on an infected flash drive used to update imagery and target information. These ought to be classified computers, and there are regulations against connecting classified computers to the public internet.
I was gonna post a link, but blogger isn't doing links this morning.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Safer table saws? by regulation?

According to the Wall St Journal, the Obama administration is moving toward tougher safety standards for table saws. The table saw makers Stanley, Black & Decker, Bosch, and Ryobi have objected.
As well they might. Table saws are dangerous. A tool that can sever a 2 by 4, will sever any body part that comes in contact with the blade. It's a simple tool that hasn't changed much in the last century. I learned table saw use on my grandfather's 8 inch table saw manufactured back in the 1920's. The brand new saws on sale at Home Depot are the same. There is nothing that new regulations can do to make a safer table saw. New regulations will soak up time and money from the makers, which will be reflected in higher prices at Home Depot.
With one exception. There is a radical new technology that electronically senses flesh contacting the blade and stops blade rotation instantaneously, fast enough to save a finger pushed into the whirling blade. This technology is called Saw Stop, and is commercially available right now. It works, but it is costly, Saw Stop table saws cost hundreds of dollars more than ordinary tools. The price of safety is too high for most customers.
It could be that the Feds are planning to make Saw Stop mandatory on all table saws sold. The Wall St Journal article didn't say. This will push the price of a table saw from $150 up to $400, out of reach for many do-it-yourselfers.

Auto Makers Now Import Jobs

Wall St Journal headline. The new Ford-UAW contract allows Ford to hire new workers on at about $15 an hour. Ford is going to beef up production in Michigan and start assembly the new Fusion in Michigan. Up until now Fusions were only produced in Mexico. Another Ford plant in Kentucky will assemble vans which are currently assembled overseas. Ford also announced plans to manufacture a transmission currently purchased in Japan, and oil pumps currently made in China.
Could it be that the UAW managed to price itself out of business and is just coming back to its senses?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Obama gives a press conference

Just finished up on Fox. Disappointing. Obama called upon reporters by name, and was able to get a series of softball questions from the likes of the New York Times, ABC, NBC, and Reuters. Each question resulted in several minutes of meaningless blather from the President. "millionaires and billionaires", "Good of the American People", "Fair share", "economists agree that my jobs bill will create jobs" (without naming any of these economists). "Solyndria was one one of many green jobs companies financied by the Federal government" (without naming any of the others).
Never a number. Never a substantive statement. Obama, like most US pols, has mastered a language of vague nice sounding phrases, and he can just open his mouth and they spill forth, as meaningless this time as they were the last time. Arrgh.

We are going to miss Steve Jobs

It was with sorrow that I heard of Steve's death last night. Steve was the man who conceived and brought to market, Apple II, Macintosh, Ipod, Iphone, Ipad. Today tens of thousands of people are gainfully employed making, selling and servicing these revolutionary products. Without Steve, all those people might well be out of work today.
We need more new products guys. The way out of Great Depression 2.0 lies thru new product introduction.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Nobel Prize in Chemistry for quasicrystals

NHPR announced the Nobel prize in chemistry was given to Daniel Schechtman of Technion in Israel for the discovery of quasicrystals.
I never heard of quasi crystals before so I did some research. Far as I can tell, quasi crystals are a form of solid matter in between regular crystals and glasses. Glass lacks any kind of order on the molecular level; glasses are more like a supercooled liquid than a crystalline solid.
Quasi crystals are somehow less ordered than ordinary crystals. When they refract X rays they don't show some of the symmetries that regular crystals do. Just what those symmetries are, and what they mean was not clear to me.
Since most of what we know about the crystal structure of matter comes from X ray diffraction experiments, discovery of a new structure is clearly very important in the field of X ray crystallography. Applications outside that field are less obvious right now, although we can expect it to lead to better insight into strength of materials, and possibly lead to stronger building materials or stronger metal alloys.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

NH revenues improving

After all the sturm and drang over the NH budget this spring, things are looking up. Tax receipts are up and we might even turn a slight surplus. If you remember back in June the MSM were wailing and gnashing their teeth over "cuts" to all sorts of worthy programs.
Looks like the fiscal blood letting has done some good. Tax revenue is up, estimated tax payments are up, and tax refunds are down. Maybe the New Hampshire Advantage is kicking in again.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Economic recovery means defeat Obama

After three years of Obama the private sector is shell shocked. They plan to dig deep holes and hibernate until Obama is gone. For example.

1. Shutting down oil exploration and voiding oil leases.
2. Repeated Federal financial crisis and lack of Federal budget.
3. Obamacare
4. Dodd Frank
5. Taking over GM and Chrysler
6. Calling for punitive taxes against oil companies and corporate aircraft. And against "the wealthy" who don't sound very wealthy, they sound like pretty much everyone.
7. Threatening Boeing's new North Carolina plant for 787 production
8. FCC taking over the internet via "net neutrality" regulations, despite a court order not to.
9. EPA running amok and trying to shut down everything that burns anything.
10.Gun running into Mexico (Fast and Furious)
11.$14 trillion federal debt.
12. 54 mpg CAFE.
13. Killing off Gibson Guitar. Obama's Feds have put Gibson out of business and thrown all the workers out on the street for no reason (other than Gibson has contributed money to Republicans.

After all this anti business action by the Obama administration, investors of all sizes have decided to bury their money in the backyard and wait for safer times. At this point there is nothing Obama can do to overcome the fear that the last three years reign of terror has created in the business community. With luck he will be gone in 2012. Too bad we have to wait that long to start putting people back to work.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Bashing the Tea Party

The Tea Party has spread fear and panic among professional politicians nationwide. Tea Party has a huge number of supporters, and last year showed some teeth in the elections. Some RINO's were slain in the primaries, and that was really scary.
Tea Party is so scary that the North Grafton DEMOCRATS have rented the Colonial Theater in Bethlehem and will put on an anti-Tea Party program this coming Thursday evening. Message of the show will be "The Tea Party is just AstroTurf, bought and paid for by the millionaire Koch brothers".
I have some association with the Tea Party, and the people are all New Hampshire citizens of long standing. They wish there were outside money (or inside money or any kind of money) to support them, but there isn't.
The Tea Party is more idea than Party. It stands for lower taxes, and lower spending to permit those lower taxes, less borrowing, and the limited Federal government that the US Constitution calls for. Those ideas are shared by all Americans. The Tea Party lacks ballot access, candidates, dues, membership cards, elected officers, regular meetings, and all those things that mark an ordinary political party.
But it does have a compelling idea and lots and lots of believers in that idea.

Is the Euro really doomed?

Probably not. The "United States of Europe" people want a more tightly integrated EU. They can get this by setting up a European Common Bank empowered to borrow money on the credit of the EU and use it to bail out Greece. So they are using the Greek debt crisis to push their pet hobbyhorse. Turning the EU into a United States of Europe would turn a lot of lack luster Brussels bureaucrats into officials of something big and powerful. And so they talk up economic doomsday scenarios to scare people into putting up the money.
The holdup of this plan is the German taxpayers. They correctly observe that an EU bailout of Greece will be done with their tax money, and under the control of Eurocrats rather than reliable German government officials and they see no reason to pony up that kind of money.
So sooner or later the Greeks will run out of other people's money and default. This will be tough on some stupid banks in Europe who loaned the Greeks wads and wads of Euros. Those banks won't get their money back. Some of them will probably go out of business on account of the humungous loss. Those banks are talking to their governments, and to the ECB, and saying "oh please don't make us loose all that money. Save us." And so, the EU keeps doling out money to Greece, and the Greeks give most of it back to the banks.
When the Germans cut off the money, Greece will default, and tell all those banks "Tough luck". Ought to happen inside of 6 months.
Question: Is this the end of the Euro? Probably not. It will be tough on Greece who will have to cut spending down to whatever they can raise by taxation. Or, Greece can drop the Euro, start up their own currency, and cover their deficit by printing fresh money.
But the biggies, France and Germany, want to stick with the Euro and so they will. All the other smaller countries on the Euro like Belgium and Holland will stick to enjoy the benefits of doing business with the biggies without the hassle and risk of currency swaps.
If they let three of four of the stupider banks go out of business, it will improve the competitiveness of the entire continent. Having stupid banks pour valuable capital down Greek drains does bad things for your economic growth.