Friday, August 31, 2012

Clint Eastwood is getting old.

Watched Clint at the Republican National Convention last night.  He is looking old (he is 82) and his voice was getting shaky.  His speech was good, and the audience ate it up.  Me too.  I have been enjoying Clint's movies since A Fistful of Dollars came out, nearly 50 years ago.  It's good fun to watch Dirty Harry Calahan dissing democrats.
   The sad part, is that I now fear for Clint's health.  He may not be with us for much longer.  He will be missed.

JSOW, Smart Pigs

Actually JSOW is "Joint Standoff Weapon".  It's getting smarter.  Aviation Week has a picture of the thing plunging into a container laden container ship.  Lots of text about net work centric weapons and the coolness thereof.  Seems like this JSOW was launched off an F/A 18 aimed at one target ship from 50 miles away.  A second F/A 18 took over control of the glide bomb in flight and retargeted it onto the containership. 
   Do we really want this?  I like missiles that hit the target they are aimed at.  If we can retarget the thing in flight, so can the enemy.  If  you have two targets, bring two missiles and get 'em both.
   Looks like yet another program that could be sequestered without hurting anything (except the contractor, Raytheon in this case).

Thursday, August 30, 2012

54.5 Miles per Gallon. Oh Really

Obama just announced the final mpg rule.  Sometime in the future (after 2016) new cars will have to obtain 54.5 miles per gallon fuel economy.
  Does anything think this is real?  Motor cycles might get to 55 mpg, but no kind of car anyone would like to drive will ever get that sort of fuel mileage.  And attempts to get there are expensive.  Like hybrids.  A hybrid costs $10,000 more than the same car with just a plain old gasoline engine.  And hybrids don't get 54.5 mpg either. 
  I see two possibilities here.  Either they soften up the rules to permit continued manufacture of usable cars, OR they load the cars up with so much expensive stuff that people cannot afford them.  In which case, the car business becomes the used car business.  Sorta like Castro's Cuba where they keep a fleet of 1950's Detroit iron running. 
   Technological progress isn't gonna give us a breakthru on the gas mileage front.  The miles per gallon is set by laws of thermodynamics which won't change just cause we want them to.  We know these laws, and there is no way around them. 

Secret Serviceman leaves his gun in the lavatory.

On Mitt Romney's chartered campaign plane no less. 
I have NEVER left a gun anywhere it doesn't belong.  Where does Secret Service find idiots like that?  I used to think Secret Service was fairly competent.  Apparently they have been taking lessons from BATF.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Ann Romney at the convention

I stayed up to watch the convention last night.  Ann Romney gave a moving speech.  She was posed; I mean speaking in front of a stadium full of people on national television is not easy.  She looked good, wore a good red dress and little jewelry.  She spoke with a carrying voice, enunciated her words clearly, and came across as a forceful hardworking decent woman.  She spoke of her husband, from her heart.  Since the Romney's have been married 43 years, her words carried conviction.  She spoke of her husband's love, and decency, and competence in an utterly convincing way.  I think she did Mitt a lot of good last night.  She impressed me. It makes me think more of Mitt to know that he is able to win and keep the love of  this fine woman. 
    Chris Christy spoke next, he was good, inspiring, and got a lot of applause.  But I think Ann's speech was more effective.  She done good for an amateur going up against a professional. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Get the lead out

Aviation gasoline still contains lead.  Older engines need lead in the fuel to extend the life of the valves.  Lead does something magical to valve seats allowing better heat transfer from the hot valve to the cooler valve seat.  Detroit did something to automobile engines to cope when lead was banned from motor gas.  Aviation engine makers have not, as yet. 
  And leaded avgas is running short.  Some places are charging $22 a gallon for it. So Cessna is now offering a diesel engine in their Skylane 182.  Which works, but the price seems high.  The standard Cessna 182 lists for $398,100 with full avionics.  The diesel Cessna will cost $515,000   Which is a lot for an ordinary four place light plane that has been in production since 1956.  I suppose the full avionics, auto pilot, and GPS run the bill up some, and you can probably wheel and deal and get some kind of discount, sort of like buying a new car where nobody pays sticker price, but still a lot of money.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Polarized. Really?

Political pundits keep referring to our current situation as "polarized".  Usually after some bill they favor is defeated in Congress.  But is "polarized" the right word? 
   In electronics (my old day job) a part was "polarized" if it only went into the circuit one way round.  When a polarized part was inserted backward bad things happened, up to and including fire and explosion.  By analogy, taking the word from the electronics world to the pundit world, a "polarized" Congress ought to mean a Congress all pointed in the same direction.  Like wise for  an electorate.
   In real life, the Congress and the electorate are split, 50-50 on a lot of important issues (president to elect, taxes, spending, wedge issues).  When the pundits wail about nothing getting done, it because neither side has the votes to ram their policy down the throats of the other side. 
   "Divided" is a better description of the current state of affairs than "polarized".

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Eleanor Clift on the McLaughlin Shouting Match

They were discussing matters in Mexico, the drug wars, immigration, and the new president-elect.  Eleanor mentioned  "The recent discovery of oil has helped Mexico."  Recent?  The Mexicans have been pumping oil for the last hundred years.  They created Pemex in 1938.  That's recent?
   Of course Eleanor works for Newsweek magazine, which is doing so well that they decided to stop printing the magazine, merge with The Daily Beast and become a pure web site.  Real commercial success that is.  I wonder how much Eleanor's learned writing had to do with that.

Anne Kuster on WMUR this morning

She is telling whoppers on TV.  She says seniors are repelled by the Ryan medicare plan.  Really?  Especially as the Ryan plan calls for seniors, (55 and up) to receive current medicare, no changes.  Where as Obamacare takes $716 billion away from medicare and gives it to newly entitled Obamacare recipients.
  Then she slams her Republican opponent, Charlie Bass, for accepting oil company money and voting in an oil company tax break.  Of course she never mentions just which oil companies are doing the contributing and never mentions just what act of Congress gave the oil companies their tax break.  Come to think of it, somebody has been running the same attack ad on the Internet.
   The WMUR host never did ask Kuster about out of state PAC money paying for those attack ads on Charlie Bass. 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Pill prices decline

Went down to Walmart's yesterday to refill my various prescriptions.  Best news, Plavex is down to $7.68 for 90 days worth.  A year ago it was $150.  Let's hear it for coming off patent. 

The Economist doesn't like Romney much

Just finished this week's Economist.  They have a couple of full page articles on Romney where they explain how he has flip flopped on issues, failed to express himself clearly, and is having trouble collecting the conservative Republicans.  Then they do an electoral vote projection with a map.   Their projections are based on polls, or the Real Clear Politics average of polls.  And they call states for Obama or for Romney with a lead in the polls of only a couple of percent.  To me, a couple of percent in August polls really means "too close to call".   And, I think the Gallup and Rasmussen polls by them selves are better than the Real Clear Politics average of all the polls. 
  At least they call New Hampshire "dead even", whereas other pundits think we are "strongly Obama".

Friday, August 24, 2012

Why does the FBI have its own Air Force?

Republicans are bashing Attorney General Holder over taking joy rides in FBI aircraft.  Which is a a legitimate zinger, but more interesting is the fact that the FBI has its own aircraft.  Why?  Why cannot FBI agents fly commercial, stand in security lines and get groped by TSA just like the rest of us?   Aircraft are ultra expensive to own and operate.  Corporations are thinning out their aircraft under stock holder pressure.  As far as stockholders are concerned, corporate aircraft just suck up money that could otherwise go to dividends.  As far as this tax payer is concerned, FBI aircraft just suck up money, they don't stop crime.   Yet another place to do a little sequestration. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

What's good for General Motors?

According to a Wall St Journal op-ed, retreating from the car market and specializing in SUV's and pickup trucks is the way to go.  Going head to head with Toyota, Honda, and Ford with the Chevy Malibu is a bad idea.  Or so says Holman W. Jenkins Jr in a Wednesday op-ed.
  I disagree.  GM is a huge company; it once commanded better than 50% of the entire US car market.  To remain a big company, you have to make a mass market product, selling in the millions, to stay in business.  Right now the high volume car product is a smallish four door sedan.  GM cannot survive on niche products like Corvette.  There simply are not enough guys with Corvette money to keep the lights on at a behemoth like GM.  There are more enough people who just need a plain old car to get to work, bring home the groceries and take the kids to school.  Like a Malibu, or (the competition) a Camry, an Accord, or a Fusion. 
   GM needs to make a Malibu that is just plain better than the competition.  They can do it.  They did it in the good old days.  In the '50s and '60s GM owned 50% of the market because their cars were better looking, better handling, and more dependable than Ford, Chrysler, or American Motors.
   They could start with better styling.  The 2012 Malibu is bland, with bulbous front and rear ends.  Then they could find a car salesman to redo the marketing on the web site.  To attract customers GM lists desirable features of the Malibu.  These turn out to be 33 mpg (fair), fancy sound  system (do I care when I have an Ipod?) , a computerized backseat driver with "Turn by turn" voice navigation, and Bluetooth.  None of which I care about either.
  What about engine power, trunk room, interior size (how many kids can I fit into the back seat?) brakes, cornering, roof racks for skis and bikes, transmission options, miles between oil changes, front or rear wheel drive, you know, those car things.  GM is trying to sell the car on MPG and vehicle electronics alone.  They don't seem to care about making a decent car, which can take the curse off a day long drive with kids on board.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Apple Computer is biggest company in history

As measured by market capitalization, the number of shares outstanding times the price per share.  Apple is worth $623.52 billion on Monday.  That's way ahead of Microsoft, Exxon Mobil, IBM, GE, and all others.  It's  a long way from Wozniak and Jobs making the Apple I (just a mother board, no casework) in a garage.  A lot of that growth comes from Mackintoshes, Ipods, and Ipads, new products created by Steve Jobs.
   With a few more guys like Steve Jobs doing new product development, and we could grow our way out of Great Depression 2.0.

Friday, August 17, 2012

You know Detroit is dead

When your college age offspring cannot tell the difference between a Mercury and a Mercedes.

Where have all the giblets gone?

Beats me.  But the last two whole chickens I bought didn't have giblets.  Remember them?  The liver, the neck the gizzard and the heart, all packed in a little paper bag inside the bird?  The liver, sauted, did good things for the stuffing.  The rest of it made the gravy.  Boil them all for as long as the chicken needs to oven roast with some Bell's Poultry seasoning added to the water.  Pick the neck meat, chop the others, and add 'em to the gravy.  Use the broth in the gravy too.
   Cannot understand what's happened here.  Packing the giblets with the bird allows the store to sell offal at chicken prices.  I cannot imagine anyone else who would pay $1.29 a pound for chicken necks and gizzards.

Social Security stocks up on Ammo

According to CBS news, the Social Security Administration placed an order for 174,000 rounds of .357 pistol ammunition.  Damn, that's a lot.
The article goes on to say that Social Security employs 295 special agents who have arrest powers and work armed.
   Social Security should not have armed agents.  If they need to have someone arrested, they can call the cops, just like everyone (nearly everyone) else does. 
   Looks like another good place for a little sequestration to happen. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012


A 2012 movie.  Three American high school boys are featured.  They are an unattractive lot when the movie opens.  Loud, rude, given to hooting like chimpanzees.  Somehow (pure magic?) they are endowed with real Superman type superpowers.  They can fly, leap tall buildings with a single bound, are bullet proof, everything.  Way cool.
   But nothing comes of it. They remain unattractive anti social jerks. They fail to rise to the occasion and slay dragons, rescue pretty maidens, save the world, or even get a decent suit of clothing. 
  Depressing movie.  Clearly the gift of superpowers does not uplift jerks into defenders of truth justice and the American way.  Which may be true, but I like the DC comics legend better.
    None of the names in the cast mean anything to me.  Camera work is mediocre to poor.  Lots of "shake-the-camera" shots.  Sound is adequate, you can understand most of the dialogue.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Ballast shipped all the way to Mars

Curiosity depended upon dropping ballast weights to maintain it's attitude during re-entry (entry?) to the Martian atmosphere.  The amount of ballast is surprising.   Two heavier weights were dropped to bring the nose up and allow aerodynamic maneuvering.  Then six more 55 pound ballast weights were dropped to level the craft off.  Six times 55 pounds is 330 pounds of ballast.  That's a lot, considering the entire lander only weighed 1924 pounds. 
   I hate to Monday morning quarterback a successful mission, but you would think they would have used some kind of steering fins sticking out in the airstream.  That's a lot of dead weight to blast all the way to Mars.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Words of the Weasel Part 27

"The fiscal effort becomes more difficult because the cyclical contraction is more challenging compared with the base line macro economic scenario of the second [bailout] program."  said Nikos Magginas, an economist at the Nation Bank of Greece.
And this means  what, exactly?


Financial world shorthand for "Greek exit from the Euro".  The Economist was doing a long piece about this, listing pros and cons.  They point out that the Greek have borrowed hundreds of billions of Euros and in the event of Grexit, the lenders won't get paid back. And so it might be worth giving the Greeks another 100 billion Euro's or so to keep them running a while longer, and prevent (or stave off for a while) realizing those hefty losses.  True enough.
    What the Economist fails to talk about is the simple fact that the Greeks cannot and will not pay off those loans.  They just don't have the money, and no way they can they get the money,  not before Hell freezes over.
   So we are really talking about when the lenders to Greece have to admit how much money they lost (how stupid they have been).  Surely the lenders (banks mostly)  would like to put off that day of reckoning as long as possible, but aside from some bank officials having to reveal their stupidity in public, it doesn't make much difference.  The money is gone and won't be coming back.  


I received a two page spread from the Mittersill water dept about the purity of my tap water.  There are ten different contaminants listed, levels thereof, limits, and "goals".   Goals are apparently an opening gambit to lower the limits.  My tap water meets all the limits, and in fact, all the goals.  Lotta fancy lab work measuring a few micrograms per liter, or parts per billion.  Paid for with my water bill.  Welfare for somebody or other.
   Then some things, copper and lead, are "calculated" by NHDES whatever that means.  I believe in measurements made using properly calibrated instruments. I don't believe calculations and computer models. They tell you what ever the calculator or modeler wants them to say.  Apparently NHDES thinks we don't have a problem with lead or copper.  I wonder why they think that way.
   My tap water comes from the same place it has for the last fifty years.  Wells, located up the side of a mountain, in uninhabited national forest.  They haven't changed much since the house was built fifty years ago.  Only real change in water quality is the water dept is now adding enough chlorine to make the coffee taste bad.  But money is spent every year for lab work to confirm what we have known for fifty years.
    Dunno how the Pilgrims survived over here, drinking plain old water without all these fancy tests. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Coop is so hippy dippy I can hardly stand it

I had to cycle around the veggie section twice to find plain old carrots, as opposed to organic carrots for $5 a bag.  Plain old Molson's Canadian beer is $8 a sixpack, as opposed to $5.50 at Mac's market. Aisles filled with groovy products I've never heard of, all making health claims I have trouble believing. 

Brits fighting above their weight

The Olympics are over, and the scorekeepers are counting medals won, and which nations are ahead.  Seems like us Americans came away with the most medals, followed by the Chinese, then the Russians.  The superpowers.  Britain came in number four, right behind the Russians.  Damn good.  Britain is much smaller than the three biggies, giving it a smaller talent pool to draw upon. Granted they did have a home field advantage, but still, coming in ahead of nearly every other country in the whole world is a damn good show. Rule Britannia. 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Sunday Pundit

We had David Axelrod, Obama's adviser, on Meet the Press with David Gregory this morning.  Axelrod said "We need policies that help the middle class."   I beg to disagree, we need policies that help the economy as a whole.  And the citizens as a whole, not just special classes of the citizens.
  Then Axelrod waxed indignant about Romney ads accusing Obama of cutting the work requirements from welfare. Claimed that Obama had done no such thing.  Trouble is, it was widely reported in both sides of media  that Obama had done exactly that. 
   The Clinton welfare reform had fairly stiff work requirements.  That was passed 20 odd years ago, and worked wonderfully well, number of people on welfare dropped a lot, and the entire divisive welfare issue solved itself and dropped out of normal political discourse.  Obama is messing with success, and given his reverse Midas touch, that's a bad thing.
  Anyhow, Axelrod was saying it never happened, when we all know it did.  Gregory let  him get  away with it, too.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Are Yard Sales over?

Did my usual Saturday morning circuit looking for yard sales.  Up US 3 to to US 302, take a left thru Bethlehem, down the Brooks Road, into Littleton on Union St, and back thru Franconia.  One, just one yard sale, way back off the main road and very small.  Used to be I'd hit a round dozen yard sales on the circuit, at least any day it wasn't pouring down rain. 
   One thing that slowed yard sales down.  The local paper (Littleton Courier) used to run free classified ads for local yard sales.  Then they started charging $35 and people stopped advertising in the Courier.  And I stopped buying it regular. 
   Any how the yard sales are getting scarcer.

Picking Ryan sends us a message

Romney's pick of Paul Ryan for VP tells us something good.  Ryan stands for balancing the budget by cutting spending.  He even has a plan to cut Medicare spending.  By picking Ryan, Romney is telling us that he wants to cut spending and balance the budget.  Which is a good thing, that up until now, Romney had not been really clear about.  Romney is a nice guy, and his election will be 100% better for the country than Obama, but he hasn't been very clear about just what a  Romney administration will do if elected.  Now we have a better idea.  With Paul Ryan in the administration, there will be spending cuts, medicare reform, and budget balancing.   I'm all in favor.  We cannot get the economy growing again until we get the federal budget balanced.  Right now Uncle borrows 40 cents of every dollar spent.  Our yearly deficit is better than 10% of GNP.  We may not truly balance the budget (get the deficit down to zero) but getting it down to 1% of GNP would be a tremendous improvement.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Free pills more important than jobs?

That's what Obama thinks.  He's offering free contraception pills.  He is hoping that women voters will vote for him to get free pills, at the risk of losing their jobs, and the risk of their husbands losing their jobs.  Is this gonna work for Obama?  I'd like to think American women are too smart to fall for a simple ploy like that.

Gallup says 54% of Americans are OK with TSA

I saw this one both Instapundit and Slashdot.  Why do I have trouble believing it?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

100 Best YA novels according to NPR

There is a long list, some good, some I never heard of.  Some old favorites are missing.  Like the C.S. Lewis Narnia stories. Nothing by Andre Norton. No Montgomery Atwater stories.  No Poul Anderson.  The Borrowers are missing. Nothing by Edgar Rice Burroughs. No Jules Verne.  No Three Musketeers. 
   Then it does have some awful distopias, Lord of the Flies and The Giver.  I suppose they made it in because English teachers like distopias and assign them as required reading. 
   Then the ranking is odd.  Harry Potter comes in as #1, with Lord of the Rings pushed down to #7.  Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 is #8, but his much better Martian Chronicles is missing all together.   Just how the list was put together is not given, apparently there was some editorial weeding out, and some listener voting, but just how good a list it is, is unclear.  It might reflect the likings of NPR staff, or just NPR listeners, or it might be more broadbased. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Life Extension Program for Nuclear Weapons

The B-61 nuclear weapon, a plain old gravity bomb, entered service in the early 1970's.  A large number (hundreds for sure, perhaps thousands, its classified) were built and are still in service.  B-61 featured "dial-a-yield" by which the bomb can be adjusted from city-smashing size down to a nuclear cherry bomb. 
Although it has never been used in action, some forty years in service  ought to indicate that it is fairly satisfactory, and they are all built and paid for.
   In Washington there is a move afoot to spend another $10 billion dollars on the B-61's.  The Air Force wants to add a guidance system to improve accuracy.  We really need that.  These are nukes, with a total destruction radius measured in miles.  Get the bomb with a mile or so of the aim point, and that target is vaporized.  World War II mechanical bomb sights were good enough for that. 
   Then they want to "consolidate" the various flavors of the B-61.  Naturally over a production run of forty years, changes were introduced, and the experts recognize half a dozen varients of the B-61.  Money would be spent to make them all the same.  Not a bad idea mind you, but hardly necessary. 
   Anyhow they want to spent $10 billion on modifications to a perfectly serviceable weapon.  Sounds like a good place to do a little sequestration. 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Apple goes after Samsung

Apple is suing Samsung for patent infringement; they are claiming that the Samsung smart phone infringes on patented features of the Iphone.  They are in court now, and getting solid coverage in the Wall St Journal.  Lots of chit and chat about the lawyers on each side, and revelations on the Apple product development process, including marketing budgets at Apple.
  No talk at all about what was patented, and where Samsung's phone infringed it.
  Your patent office at work, making it easier for high tech businesses.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Re-Arranging deck chairs on the Titanic

In DC we have Congresscritters re arranging statues in town.   Eleanor Holmes Norton (the non voting DC representative in the House)  wants to move a statue of Frederick Douglass from it's current location (1 Judiciary  Square) to some place inside the Capitol. 
   Douglass is an inspiring American from the Civil War era, and fully deserves a statue.  I'm not knocking Douglass.  But I'd just as soon have his statue out in the open where I can see it, rather than stuck away inside the Capitol where I cannot.  They don't let citizens inside the Capitol building  anymore. 
  Plus, we have lots of serious issues that Congress is neglecting.  But they have time to re arrange the statues while headed full speed for that iceberg.

Revenge of the Nerds

Small Wall St stock brokerage Knight Capital  turned on their brand new computer trading program Wednesday.  Something went wrong and the computer managed to loose $440 million dollars by quitting time.  This nearly put Knight out of business.  They only had $365 million cash on hand.  According to the Wall St Journal, Knight did a lot of telephoning and a lot of hands and knees work and Goldman Sachs bailed them out.  Sort of.  As of Friday night Knight was still scrambling to borrow enough money to stay in business.
   Wow!  Pretty good work for a mere computer program.  And what are those programmers doing right now? They ought to be going underground and fleeing the country.  There has gotta be one humungous lawsuit coming out of this fiasco.
   It's not clear just what the program was doing.  The Journal describes the program as something cooked up by, or at least with the support of, the New York Stock Exchange.  It was supposed to allow trades to be executed with prices in fractions of a penny.   Just why anyone would want to do that is unclear.  A penny ain't worth much and a fraction of a penny is pretty close to worthless.  Unless you are trading millions of shares.
   The program probably was doing, and bungling, "high speed trading".  This exercise in capital allocation looks at stock prices and buys rising stocks and sells falling stocks.  It's fast enough to detect the instant a rising stock starts to fall and bang out sell orders faster than a plain old human broker.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Cyber Security thru lawyers

Bloomberg has a long article on a cyber security bill before Congress.  It appears the bill won't pass, or will be so watered down as to be useless.  On the other hand this bill proposed giving federal bureaucrats significant power over utility companies.  Power to decide how much security  must be paid for is the power to wreck a utility.  I don't believe federal bureaucrats are wise enough to be intrusted with that kind of power.
    Cyber attack means hostile hackers gain control of the computers that run our electric generators, our gas holders, our transformer banks, our transmission lines, and the rest of our physical plant and make them do bad things, such as another great blackout, fires and explosions. 
   Better would be to let the utility companies know that we have an army of hungry nasty tort lawyers just looking for work.  If the utilities let the lights go out, we start a class action suit for gross negligence and triple damages and legal fees and court costs.  And the scalps of the CEO and all the directors.
   Back this up with insurance companies.  All utilities carry insurance  to pay off that  army of tort lawyers.  Pretty soon the insurance company inspectors will be saying things like "If you don't fix this gaping loophole and that horrible weakness, we won't insure you."  
   The dickering over cyber security requirements between professionals, insurance men, utility engineers and lawyers will get more protection for less cost than empowering federal bureaucrats.  Federal bureaucrats are all liberal arts majors who have difficulty changing a light bulb and who work for politicians.  They certainly cannot improve reliability of  utility company operations, they are too ignorant and too politically motivated.

Wonderful new word

Ensuckification.   That's what Stephan Greene calls Facebook's new layout.  He's got a point.  And that's a great word, just looking for some more things to describe

Friday, August 3, 2012

Hang it out to dry

Here is The Plant, a birthday gift fresh from the nursery.  So far I have just watered it every day except on days when it rains a lot.  It takes a full pitcher of water (one quart) each time.  Which seems like a lot, but it all get soaked up somewhere and no water ever runs out the bottom of the pot.
Here it is 8 weeks later.  Not so lush but still alive.  It is currently attracting hummingbirds so it is in pretty good shape.  It had one bad night when high winds blew it off its nail and it feel on its head in the driveway some twenty feet below. 

NHPR can be really offensive

I'm listening to the Olympics on NHPR as I drive up to Whitefield.  An American girl has just won a gold medal.  But then NHPR has to tell me that she is black, (African-American is the word they used). Then they explain how being black makes her different and how she has all sorts of special responsibilities.  Then they  relate Facebook gossip criticizing her hairstyle.  Arrgh. 
   That girl is an American.  Winning an Olympic gold medal makes her the best in the world at what she does.   She had to work like a dog for years to get that good.  She makes me proud to be an American, and to know that our beloved country can produce citizens like her who are the best in the world.
   I'm offended to hear this American hero described by her skin color.  She's an American, plain and simple.


Thursday, August 2, 2012


Should taxes and spending be linked in Congress?   We hear endless talk about "offsets" and "pay as you go"  every time budgets and authorization bills come up.  Some favored constituencies get a tax dedicated to just one thing.  The gasoline tax is dedicated to (earmarked for) road building, so the road builders don't have to fight for funding every year. It's nice to be a road builder. 
   May it not be better to consider taxes and spending separately?  Taxes need to be low enough to keep the economy running and tamp down political unhappiness that leads to votings out, civil insurrection and other unpleasantness.  Most of the time this means that taxes cannot be raised much without serious consequences.  Certainly Obama's call for a tax hike on "millionaires and billionaires" isn't exciting the broader electorate.
   Expenditures rise to meet income  (Parkenson's law).  There is an infinite amount of worthy causes that can suck up all the money in the world.  But nobody is that rich.  Effective government spends money on the absolutely necessary things and stops after that.  Otherwise they go broke.  Witness Europe, Greece, Spain, Iceland, Ireland and the US.  
  So the common thing heard today "If we pass your appropriation, then you have to pass our tax hike to pay for it."  is just another way of saying "No". 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

How much Defense do we Have? Do we Need?

Sequester!  It's out there in the dark, waiting to take dollars away from defense.  Fox had Sen Lindsey Graham on this morning talking against sequester.  He harked back to the early days of WWII when our troops had to drill with broomsticks, before the country got tooled up for war. 
   I want to hear about how much real strength we have today and how much we really need.  Anyone know where I could find the number of combat soldiers, tanks, artillery pieces, Navy warships, fighter planes, aircraft carriers, helicopters and transport aircraft the US military owns today?   And how many it would own under sequester?
   Then we could have a public debate over how much we ought to have.   After fixing the amount of arms and armed men we ought to have, then appropriate enough money to pay for it. 
   The Congresscritters  are debating how many dollars to pour into defense, not how much defense we ought to have.  Many of them are thinking about how much nice defense money will fall into their districts.
   Dollars don't bear arms. 

Undecideds? Who is still undecided?

I'm listening to TV newsies talking about the huge number of undecided voters out there.  Yeah right.  All the voters I reach when phone banking are decided.  Mind is made up, and you can tell from tone of voice that they ain't gonna change their minds either. 
  When you hear a newsie talking about undecided voters  this year, you know he/she is clueless.