Tuesday, July 31, 2012

"A Fire Brand Departs From GM"

Headline in yesterday's Wall St Journal.  From the headline one can see that the Journal is not in favor.  The firebrand in question, Joel Ewanick, was GM's global marketing chief.   He had a $4.5 billion dollar ad buying budget at GM, which is not chicken feed.  According to a GM press release, he "resigned".  GM claims that Mr. Ewanick "failed to properly vet financial details of a European soccer sponsorship deal."
   Sounds like office politics stabs again.  Mr. Ewanick was lured to join GM only two years ago.  GM managed to hire him away from top marketing job with Nissan North America, a job he held for only 6 weeks.
    Looks like bankruptcy hasn't taught GM's suits much.  They still don't have any cars that people want to buy, customers deride them as "Govt Motors",  their sales are down, and  their stock is in the tank  But they have plenty of time for back biting.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

WMUR is back on Time Warner cable

Apparently the suits got their act together and I can now watch channel 9 on cable.  Only took 'em a couple of weeks to figure out that carrying WMUR is beneficial to both parties, the TV station and the cable company. 

Mists of Avalon

It's an Arthurian fantasy, with the title from a novel of the same name by Marion Zimmer Bradley, a well known science fiction and fantasy author.  It tells the story thru the eyes of Morgen le Fay, who is Arthur's sister in this version of the King Arthur tale.  The priestesses of Avalon, supporters of an ancient goddess, are dueling with the Christians for control of Britain's destiny.  Arthur is but one tool in their tool kit.  We see a lot of Vivienne (high priestess) Igraine, (Arthur's mother) Morgause (all purpose troublemaker) all thru the viewpoint character Morgen.    Poor Morgen is merely carried from scene to scene like a TV camera on a dolly, she never gets to do much under her own power.  Lot of nice camera work, galloping horses, small boats pushing thru the mists of Avalon.  The plot is complex and not really understandable.  None of the cast are familiar to me. 

Face the Nation foot in mouth

Face the Nation was stirring the Penn State pot yet again.  They were fricasseeing the University president over the Jerry Sandusky affair.  The moderator asks the Penn State guy "Do you think this whole affair was the fault of to great an emphasis on football?" 
   Well, actual no I don't.  Penn State hired a child molester, that was mistake #1.  And when the crimes came to light, the molester's boss (Joe Paterno) didn't report them to the police and covered things up.  That was mistake #2.  These mistakes could have been made in every department of Penn State, or any other university.  It happened that the athletic department is guilty this time, but that's just bad luck, it could have been any other department.   

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Olympic Uniforms

The opening ceremonies went on so long that I went to bed before all the athletics marched in. So this morning I looked at still pix on the USAToday site.   The US uniforms, berets and all, were excessively undistinguished.  So was the rest of the outfit.  However there were worse.  The Brits turned up with the girls wearing Mother Hubbards...  The US Olympic committee needs to find a fashion designer with a sense of fashion. 

Class Action suit against NetFlix

Someone sent me an email about this.  According to the email, Netflix was keeping records of who watched what movies.  Didn't say Netflix was selling said records to telemarketers (yet) but surely that was coming.  Assuming this is real, and not a scam to get me to click on virus spreading  URL's,  it's breaking news to me.  I'll have to check around the web to see what's what. 
    If someone has huge amounts of time, and nothing better to do, and they review my movie watching habits, I should be OK.  Other than a taste for children's movies, my movie picks are depressingly ordinary, westerns, soap opera's, action and adventure, plain old Hollywood flicks.  I did watch a couple of Shakespeare plays this year.
   The email didn't say what happened to Netflix  "suggest a movie" features, which were supposed to suggest movies to watch based upon your stated preferences and viewing history, not that it ever worked very well.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Photos from WWII

I'm looking thru the photos in a coffee table book "The DC-3".  I'm struck by the number of photos from WWII, showing DC-3's at a variety of Podunk airports, loading or discharging passengers.  Somehow, in the depths of an existential war, the American economy can produce civilian air service into tiny burgs way out in the Great Plains. And do it with modern state-of-the-art aircraft too.  No beat up biplanes or wrinkly Ford tri-motors,  the Douglas DC-3 was top of the line in 1942.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Thunder & Lightning harmful to cats

At least that's what my cat thinks. We had a really spectacular thunderstorm last night.  Continuous lightning flashes, rolling thunder, heavy rain.   Cat burrowed under the bed covers, deep under, and stayed there all night.  Apparently being under the covers is superior to being under the bed.

We had our biggest and best Tea Party meeting

There is life in the old Tea Party up here.  Lots of people showed up.  There will be some heavy duty political action this fall. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Government Issue Zip Gun

  It was 1942, a low point in WWII  for us.  Following pleas for arms from European resistance movements, the Americans designed and manufactured a million zip guns.  They were incredibly crude, single shot, made of sheet stampings by the GM Guidelamp division.  The barrel was a piece of steel tubing, unrifled.  It was built to fire 45 caliber pistol rounds, which gave it some punch.  The pistol only cost $2.10 in WWII money.
    Contract for 1 million pistols was let in May, Guidelamp tooled up and started production in June and delivered the 1 millionth pistol in late August.  That's lightning quick.
    Reception of the "Liberator" pistol by Army field commanders (Eisenhower, MacArthur, and Stilwell) was chilly.  They were opposed to airdropping the weapons to the resistance.  Reasons were not given, but can be imagined.  No Army general is going to like the idea of  firearms in the hands of civilians, for fear of friendly fire accidents during invasion, and fear of Nazi reprisals against resistance fighters.  Only a few reached European hands.  The guns sat piled up in warehouses until the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), forerunner of CIA, got a hold of them.  The weapons were shipped to the Pacific theater passed out to Chinese and Filipino resistance groups fighting the Japanese.
    Although the Liberator was nothing much, when viewed as a firearm, it did work, and it was a better arm than a switchblade knife or a walking stick.  The design was ingenious to get the price down so low and manufacture so simple as to permit  stamping out a million of 'em in merely ten weeks. 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Luxury Pizzeria?

Real Estate ad in the Economist.  "A Tuscan Dream, 800 Years in the making.. Beautiful apartments, traditional farmhouses, new build villas... 27 hole golf course...boutique hotel... restaurants... pizzeria...
They may be high class in Italy, but Jeez, we got pizza just about everywhere here in the US.  They even deliver. 

Dark Knight Rises

Went to see it last night.  It opened at the Jax Jr last midnight, so Friday night was the first showing for ordinary people, as opposed to true fans who stayed up to see it at midnight.  Place was full.  There was a line at the ticket window an hour before showtime. 
   It's long (2.5 hours).  It's loud, Dolby 7.1.  The villain's voice was amped up and reached every corner of the theater.  Lots of explosions, car chases, fist fights and fireworks.  Poor Batman, a lot of very bad things happen to him during the movie.  Lot of bad things happen to Gotham too.  The movie is a duel to the death between Batman and Bane, a big beefy weight lifter type villain who carries automatic weapons and does little other than straight forward violence against every body and every thing.   No subtle plots or clever humor in Bane, he is into bashing, pure and simple.  He is so dangerous that it looks like he is winning, right up to the very end, despite the strong comic book tradition of  "the good guys win in the end"
   The movie picks up where the last one (the one with Heath Ledger as the Joker)  left off.  Harvey Dent has been made into a hero, Batman is blamed for Harvey's crimes.  We have a very nice Catwoman, an attractive New York cop named Blake, some adorable orphans.  Michael Caine is back as Alfred. 
  It was OK, but unless you are a true fan, like my children, you could wait for it to come out on DVD.  The awful things that happen to Batman and Gotham are depressing downers.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Obama writes Wall St Journal Op-Ed

And, having found this extra bully pulpit, what does Obama have to say?  Does he reveal the secret to end Great  Depression 2.0?  Pay the nation's bills? Heal the sick?  Reboot the housing market?  Prevent California from sliding into the sea? Save the Euro? Fend off the Rapture?  Prevent cellulite?
   No.  He goes on and on about Cybersecurity and the need to pass another Cybersecurity act.  That's worthy, I suppose, but pretty far down on my list of priorities.  Where is it on yours?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Adult Fiction Ebooks outsell hardcovers

Reuters had this piece.  But what does Reuters (the Brits) mean by "adult fiction"  Over here adult fiction means porn.  But it outsells hardcovers?  Do they have hardcover porn in the UK?  Or does Reuters mean fiction aimed at grownups as opposed to children and "young adults"?   And what about paperbacks?  Seldom do I pay hardback prices when I can wait a while and get it for paperback prices.  And even paperback prices are outrageous. 

Microsoft Office 2013, fatter than ever

According to Slashdot, the new release of Microsoft Office won't run on Windows XP, and will require 1 Gbyte of RAM and 3 Gbytes of hard drive space.  Oink Oink. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


The knives were getting dull, so I pulled out the oilstone (a two sided, two grit silicon carbide stone, none of this Arkansas or waterstone stuff for me) and a bottle of 3 in 1 oil and set to it.  Started with an 8 inch stainless chef's knife from J.A. Henkel which I got maybe ten years ago.  It was so dull it wouldn't cut a tomato. Set to work with the coarse side of the stone until I could see bright metal going right out to the edge on both sides.  Then followed up with the fine side of the stone to flatten the scratches left by the coarse grit.  When done, it would slice a piece of newspaper, a mark of decently sharp, but not as sharp as a razor.  I don't do the "shave the hair off your arm test"
   Moved on to old reliable, an 8 inch carbon steel chef's knife I bought new at a restaurant supply house in Duluth Minnesota nearly 50 years ago for $3.25.  Over the years the dishwasher destroyed the wooden handle and I bought the special brass rivets and made a new handle from poplar.  The carbon steel will take an edge and hold it better than stainless and old reliable was still sharp enough to slice paper.  I touched him up with the fine side of t he stone on general principles. 
   Then we get to my pair of Gerber knives that I picked up at a yard sale a few years ago.  They look like Gerber knives, they are marked as Gerber knives,  but some times I wonder if they are not counterfeit.  Both steel blades are flawed.  On the ground edge you can see little pits and  fissures in the steel.  They don't hold an edge long, and the edge rusts.  Stainless ain't supposed to do that.
   Then I tried to put an edge on a little Japanese stainless paring knife that must have come from my mother.  It had never been more than butter knife sharp.  Look at the edge and I could see a long flat strip of metal rather than a knife edge.  So much work on the coarse side and it's a little better, but it is never gonna be  my favorite knife. 
  Finished up doing my Swiss Army pocket knife and a little folding knife, both of which are mostly used to open junk mail.  When sharp, they slice the envelope open in one smooth swish. 
  So there we are, seven sharp knives laid out on the kitchen table.  Time for Happy Hour.

Bob Beckel, my favorite punching bag

Old Bob was sounding off on Fox New's "Five" last night, displaying his deep ignorance. Bob was defending Obama's claim that government support was behind every successful enterpreneur.  So he says "Bill Gates claimed the space program made the first micro computer possible." 
  Not true Bob.  What made the microcomputer, the Altairs, the Ithaca Intersysterms, the Cromemcos, the Commodore PETs, the Apple IIs and the Radio Shack TRS-80s possible was the microprocessor, a single 40 pin dual inline package  that does the thinking that makes a computer compute. 
   The first micro processor was designed by Intel, for a Japanese customer making desktop calculating machines.  The Japanese company, BubCom, wanted to make an exceptionally powerful product that could do square roots.  The Intel designers were inspired by the PDP-8, the first minicomputer, which had an elegantly simple design and astonishing power.  Intel designed a CPU chip for BubCom which became the Intel 4004.  To make the CPU become a desktop calculator Intel wrote a program, stored in a ROM chip to make the CPU recognize the keys in the keyboard, do the arithmetic and drive the display. The 4004 was nearly as powerful as the much bigger contemporary PDP-8 minicomputer.
   The PDP-8 motherboard, designed before microprocessors existed, used ordinary TTL logic gates to do it's thinking.  That mother board was some 17 inches square, contained some 200 odd chips.  The entire PDP-8 machine cost $7000 in 1969, weighed 50 pounds, and mounted in a 19 inch relay rack.  Took up a foot of rack space.  The Intel 4004 chip was nearly as powerful, cost $20 (then)  and didn't weigh an ounce.  This microprocessor chip made the microcomputers possible. 
   No government funds, projects, spinoffs, regulators, tax men involved.  It was a straight commercial deal brought to us by Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, no government involvement what so ever.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Beat the heat

The morning radio was predicting 100 degree temps in southern NH and 90 degrees up here.  Well, we dodged that bullet.  The good ole Cannon Cloud was right out there bring us a gentle cooling rain.  Temp was 71 all morning.  Good old Ken King's crew kept right on mowing the grass in the rain.  Sun finally burned off  the cloud and it's up to 80, but that beats 90 any day. Plus we have some breeze.

Monday, July 16, 2012


Been following, and chuckling about the US Olympic team uniform fracas.  Chuckie the Schumer is outraged that the uniforms are made in China.
  As for me, I just don't like the style.  Americans walking in the opening parade ought to be wearing something really American, like cowboy hats and blue jeans.  Every other country sends their athletics out wearing native dress, why not us too?
  AND,  berets are not American.  They are French.  Or Special Forces.   Sending our athletes out in berets is too close to sending them out wearing Army helmets.  Wrong image. 

Silence gives assent

If you don't reply to an attack, but remain silent, the voters begin to think it's true.  Obama is attacking Romney's record at Bain capital, accusing him of being an asset stripping corporate raider.  Romney ain't replying.  Romney ought to be saying "We put money into these winning companies, and today they employ umpteen zillion people".  I haven't heard him say that yet. 
  Us voters just watch TV.  If Obama's accusations are false, we expect Romney to tell us so.  If he remains silent, when he ought to defend himself, we begin to think  there might be something in the accusations.
  Dukakis demonstrated this to perfection many years ago.  The Bush campaign ran a series of TV attack ads accusing Dukakis of endangering public safety by releasing dangerous murderer and sex offender ,Willie Horton, on parole.  Dukakis never replied and the mud stuck to him. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Amtrak: $151 billion for NE Corridor

Hmm . $151 billion to create a High Speed Rail line running Boston to Washington.  Nice, but $151 billion is a lot of money.  Actually, when my family travels Boston to New York, they take the Fung Wah bus, $15 one way, four hours.  Amtrak's Acela is closer to $100, and takes nearly as long.  I've taken Acela, it's cool, but only when traveling on a company expense account.  It's too pricey for what it offers for me to ride it on my own time and my own money.  Go Fung Wah bus. 
   When we talk about the full Boston- Washington run, Southwest Airlines is only $75 one way, and flight time is only one hour. 
   And, if I need a car while in New York or DC,  I drive.  Four hours to NYC (fast as Acela) and 7 hours to DC, (again, fast as Acela). 
    I'm a long time train buff, I love train travel, but is this a wise use of $151 billion?

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Bye-Bye WMUR (Channel 9)

Time Warner cable dropped WMUR, the voice of New Hampshire.  It's just another ABC channel, but it's been transmitting from Manchester since the 1950's  and always had good local (NH) news and stuff.  Apparently the blackout comes from a price squabble between Time Warner and ABC.   I'm north of Franconia Notch which means no way will an antenna bring in channel 9 , too much granite mountain between me and the transmitter.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Das Boote

Untersee Boote (U-boat) that is.  Watched it the other night.  Opened the DVD box.  Found TWO discs inside.  Labeled Disc 1 and Disc 2.  So we loaded Disc 1 and watched.  It went on and on and very little happened.  We saw how miserable conditions aboard were, wet and drippy, crowded, raging seas breaking over the conning tower, air attacks and a depth charging. They did a lot of griping.   Never got to see them launch torpedoes at anything.  They were still at sea when it became time to load Disc 2.  We decided that it was so sluggish that we didn't bother. 
  Would have been a much better movie with some rigorous editing. 


Been doing some political phone banking.  People's minds are made up, they know who they are voting for, nobody is undecided.  And there are a LOT of ardent Democrats out there who are gonna vote Obama no matter what.  You can tell from the tone of voice.  Romney has to keep working hard, it might not go the right way, no matter how bad the economy is.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Captain Sir B. H. Liddell-Hart

This is a name I have known of for many years.  He is a British writer on military affairs, widely read, and mentioned by nearly every writer on the Second World War.  So when I saw his " History of the Second World War" at the town yard sale I picked it up. 
     Interesting reading, as much for the quirks of the author, as anything else.  In his descriptions of battles he pays good attention to the numbers of men and tanks deployed by each side.  Men are just men, but all the tanks are described as "gun-tanks".  This odd phrase suggests the existence of "no-gun-tanks" but who in their right mind would bring such a vehicle to a battle?  He might be an old artillery man, to whom only pieces with long barrels are "guns", anything with a short barrel is a "howitzer".  There were a lot of tanks armed with really stubby sawed off main guns in those days.  He might be attempting to discount a large number of very light armored vehicles that only carried machine guns.  But "gun-tank" is a Liddell-Hart phrase, I never encountered it elsewhere.  Nor does he ever explain why he uses the phrase.
   He also is a great believer in establishments.  Every unit in an army has a piece of paper (the establishment) which lists the number of men, tanks, guns, and other equipment the unit is supposed to have.   After some hard fighting few units retained their "establishment', t hey took casulties and were under strength.  It's clear that Liddell-Hart thought committing a unit to battle without it's full establishment was military malpractice.  Well, when push comes to shove, units are ordered out to fight whether they are up to strength on not. 
   Quirky he may be, but it's worth reading him just to know what he said, rather than what his detractors (which are many) had to say about him.

I'd LIKE to believe this, but is it real?

Article in "Nature Climate Change" (who ever they may be, I never heard of 'em before) claims that tree ring width measurements from present day back to Roman times show a persistent global cooling has been going on for the last two thousand years.  I'd like to believe this.
   Trouble is, tree ring width is determined by rainfall.  Trees love moisture and on wet years they lay down thicker layers of new wood. Temperature doesn't effect ring growth much. 
  The authors attempt to meet this criticism by comparing tree ring widths to measured temperatures in modern (post-thermometer-invention) times.  They claim a correlation of 0.77 which is better than random, but far short of the standards used in the real sciences.  For instance the Higgs Boson discoverers demanded a correlation of 0.999 or better before they made their claim.  So I am not sold on tree ring width as a proxy measurement of temperature. 
   The title of the article suggests that the temperature changes are a result of  changes in Earth's orbit.  It has been known for hundreds of years that earth's orbit is not a perfect circle, is it a plump elipse, close to a circle but there is a perihelion (closest to the sun point) and aphelion (farthest from the sun point).  The differences are not great, a percent or so.  Plus the earth's axial tilt (which causes seasons) drifts around some, which means some times Northern Hemisphere summer happens at perihelion, giving warmer summers.  Some times Northern summer happens at aphelion giving cooler summers.  The whole effect cycles around with a period of 25,000 years.  The cycle is called the Drayson cycle, it has been known for centuries, and numerous attempts have been made to connect Draysonianism with the coming and going of the ice ages.  None of these attempts have convinced the bulk of the scientific community to believe them.
    The title suggests another attempt at selling Draysonianism as a cause for global cooling is under way.  Trouble is, they don't have the data to make the case.  Their tree-ring/temperature data only covers 2000 years, a Drayson cycle is 25000 years. To show that we have a 25000 year global cooling cycle driven by the 25000 year Drayson cycle, you need 25000 years worth of temperature data, which they don't have.
   So , a nice article, which I want to believe, but  their case is shaky, at best.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Tax Hikes. Political Death Wish?

We got Obama and NPR (the Diane Whines show) plumping federal income tax hikes "on the millionaires and billionaires only."  Do they really think this is a winning strategy in this election year?  I mean who likes tax hikes?  Independents?  
   They are talking about how we just have to have the extra revenue to balance the budget.  Me, and a lot of voters say, "Cut the spending first, just to prove that you can do it.  AFTER some real spending cuts, and we get the economy working again, then MAYBE we can talk tax hikes.  But if we do a tax hike first we won't ever get any spending cuts."

Clever new junk mail

Most junk mail goes into the fireplace unopened.  But then every so often some so attention begging turns up.  This was a plain white business sized envelope with an tony script return address printed on it.  And a bulge.  Something of substance, or at least thickness.  So I opened it.  The bulge was a plastic keychain sort of gizmo stuck to the pitch letter with stickum.  "Pull tab to win a new 2012 Suzuki".  So I pulled the tab and the magic number lit up and glowed in purple. Cool.  And it matched the winning number !!  Wow. 
  So I pitched everything except the glowing number goodie.  That's still glowing on my desk.  I want to see how much battery it has.  Will it glow all day?  Over night? Who knows?

Is there a liberal tone of voice?

Hmm. When the clock radio comes on in the AM,  I can tell the political slant of the NPR pieces by the tone of the announcers voice before I wake up enough to actually comprehend what is being said. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

LIBOR for fun and profit

Barclay's Bank is in hot water over attempts to manipulate the "London Interbank Offered Rate" (LIBOR) to their advantage.  US and Brit regulators got the goods on Barclay's strong enough to make them cough up nearly $500 million in fines, and have their three top officers resign.  Apparently the published LIBOR is put together by averaging reports from all the big banks on how much interest they had to pay to borrow money from other banks.  LIBOR is used to set interest rates on all sort of loans.
  L:IBOR is a new comer.  Back in the day we used the "prime rate", which was alleged to be the interest rate big banks charged their best customers.  Back then General Motors was considered a best customer, so we are talking about a long time ago.  Somehow the financial world stopped using (and reporting on the news) the prime rate in favor of LIBOR.  I have no idea how  that transition happened. 
  Of course you have to wonder about LIBOR.  It's an interest rate one bank charges another bank on a loan between two banks.
  Banks are supposed to raise money and make loans to finance business and construction.  That makes economies grow.  Making loans to other banks just swaps the money around but doesn't  do a thing for economic development.  At least the "prime rate" was a measure of how well banks were doing at their primary job.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Old Home Day / 4th of July

Franconia put on the usual parade.  Old Home Day is always on Saturday, the Saturday closest to the 4th of July.  Every body comes to the event.
Here we have Ray Burton, North Country politician extraordinaire arriving in his trade mark Olds Delta 88. Ray is executive councilor and country commissioner.  It's said that where ever three people get together in Grafton County one of them will be Ray Burton.
Then we have all sorts of classic cars.  Like this baby.  They don't make 'em like this anymore.
The Tea Party is still boiling mad up here.
 Marching down Main St.  That's Mt Lafayette in the background.  The weather held up, we didn't get rained upon.  When the whole thing was over, the political people all  went to a big GOP phone banking event at the Littleton GOP headquarters. 

Friday, July 6, 2012

Who cares if it's a tax?

It's money out of my pocket, I don't care if you call it a tax or a penalty, it's still money taken away from me.  I don't like that no matter what you call it.
  Newsies and other twitterati get all excited about "precedent", claiming that a "precedent" might win a future court case.  Yeah right, but we lost this one now and we lost it big.  No amount of "precedent" can make up for that.  Plus the courts rule any old way they want to.  They don't pay attention to "precedent" in real life, although they claim they do.
  So let's drop the "is it a tax or is it a penalty" talk.  Every time I hear the TV start in on it again, I reach for the remote control. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

F-35 fighters sold to Japan for $129 Million apiece

Nice plane and all, but $129 million for a single seat fighter?  The Japanese could only afford four of them.

Jackie Cilley ad. Stop the Pledge

Jackie Cilley is a democratic candidate for governor of NH.  "The Pledge" in full reads "I Pledge to never ever allow a state income tax in NH".  The pledge has been required of all politicians in NH for decades.  Ms Cilley's ad popped up on my facebook page this morning.  I hope this rather lame ad means Ms Cilley is defeatable by Republicans.
   I would not run an election ad that reads "I want to sock you with an income tax." even phrased in north country code words, if I was looking to attract votes around here.  Maybe she thinks it will work down south along the border where Massachusetts democrats have been infiltrating New Hampshire.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Disney/Pixar Bride

Went to see it last night at the Jax Jr.  Enjoyable.  The tale is set in McBeth-land with a touch of Viking (sort of medieval Scotland with Scandinavian touches).  Gloomy stone castle on a commanding height, deep woods.  Beautiful tomboy daughter of the local king is being groomed for a dynastic marriage by her mother.  She has very impressive long red wavy hair which the computers lovingly render strand by strand and frame by frame.  Needless to say she is deeply into archery and horseback riding, and given the set of clods for suitors that Pixar gives her, no wonder. 
   The Pixar animation is up to it's usual standards.  Sound is good.  It's in 3-D which is something of a pain and doesn't help the movie at all.  There are some holes in the plot and the characterizations, but it remains a good flick.  Go see it if you haven't already. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

So how much per truck?

Fox News reports that the US and Pakistan have patched up some differences.  In return for some kind of regrets about blowing a Paki border post away (with 20 odd troops inside it at the time) the Pakis will open up the Kyber Pass to US supply trucks, hauling supplies to US troops in Afghanistan.  Sounds good.  Fox failed to tell us about the baksheeh (money) involved.
  Before the Paki's shut down the Kyber Pass, about 6 months ago, they had been getting $100 a truck in bribes, tolls, squeeze, and payoffs.  We heard demands of $1000 a truck after the pass was to reopen.  The Fox piece made no mention whatsoever of baksheesh. How much are we paying the Pakis to get supplies thru to our men in Afghanistan?  Somebody knows, but they aren't telling us.

Care for the small lawn

The small lawn, what you get with a starter house, or perhaps a condo. Say 8000 square feet or less.  Actually, grass is easy to grow, tolerates sun, shade, cruddy soil, drought, benign neglect.  It will start from grass seed and be tall enough to mow in 4-5 weeks.  Unless you want that hayfield look, it does need to be mowed 'bout once a week during grass season.  If the mower whacks off too much it shocks the grass.  Cutting it down an inch or so is fine, whacking off a foot a a time will make the grass dizzy. I set the mower high, 3 of 4 inches up, to allow the grass a decent length of green to do the photosynthesis thing and feed the roots.  Let the clippings just fall into the lawn, they sift in and disappear, they help hold moisture, and help hold the soil against the rain.  Plus the grass takes something out of the soil to do all that growing; if you bag the clippings and haul 'em away, the soil will run out of that something.
    There is a lot to be said for a hand mower over a power mower.  The power mover is as hard to push as the hand type, it requires hearing protection, it will fling rocks out the discharge chute at bullet speeds.  Power mowers never start after wintering in the garage.  Remember, we are talking small lawns here, not the five acre spread.
    Normal grass grows so fast that it will crowd out the average low powered weed.  Hand pluckery will control the higher powered dandelions and plantains.  Plucking is easiest the day after a rain, the soil will be soft and the weeds will come up by the roots. I don't use herbicide or "weed & feed", 'cause the active ingredient is Agent Orange which has a nasty rep going back to the Viet Nam war. 
   For fertilizing, I rely upon the contents of my cat box.  Just walk about and spread the stuff widely,  That evil odor is ammonia (fixed nitrogen) which plants find tasty.  The Kitty Litter is fine and light and will improve  the quality of your soil.  If you don't have a pet, commercial nitrogen fertilizer works too.  Up here in New England, the soil is acid, pretty much everywhere, so a light spread of powdered lime will help sweeten it, which makes grass happy.  Fireplace ashes are good too, but make sure they are finely and  thinly spread.  A concentrated clump will burn the grass.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Creepy, Your ebook is reading you.

The Kindles and Nooks report back to their makers, things like what books you buy, how fast you read them, any marginal notes you might make.  All this goes to the publishers for data mining to help discover (or make) the next best seller.  And all this data can be used against you in court.  For instance, was I prosecuting an Islamic terrorist, I'd be sure the jury knows he reads about explosives and weapons. Used to be, libraries refused to divulge what books a person checked out.  Kindles and Nooks just squeal on you.
  I wonder if the "read-kindle-ebook-on-your-laptop" programs are as nosy.  

Sunday, July 1, 2012

News Domination

That Roberts court sure knows how to take over the news.  It's been nothing but talk about the Obamacare decision since Thursday.  Needless to say, I was disappointed that we are still stuck with Obamacare with just a slight watering down.  I had been hoping the Supremes would save us from our own folly.  No such luck.
  We will have to do it the old fashioned way, at the ballot box in November.  If that doesn't work, the US of A goes down the same drain Greece is going down today.  So far Obama care has jacked up everyone's insurance costs and  has kept un employment high thru classic FUD (fear uncertainty and doubt) tactics.
   All I can figure is Roberts feared the uproar that Obamacare repeal would cause, and rather than be subjected to the storm of criticism, he found a face saving out that leaves Obamacare still at large in the land.  Good courageous lawyering at work.