Friday, November 30, 2012

More Topic Changing

NPR is still pushing for an immigration bill.  They have a new twist this morning.  We just give them green cards without a "path to citizenship".  Translation: we let them in to work but we don't give them the vote.  Sounds like we make them second class citizens, eligible to pay taxes and work long hours, but not eligible to vote.  That's good old liberal NPR's idea, not mine. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

HIstory Channel, Mankind, Story of Us

Mankind, The Story of Us, now playing on the History Channel, which I get on cable.  It's one of those re enactment shows, actors in period costumes waving swords and such.  It has some problems with production values.  Such as a show lamenting the terrible death toll of the 14th century plague.  Lots of gruesome shots of awful skin lesions, corpses tossed into the river, mass graves and other such gruesome stuff..  But the background score, instead of being something solemn and slow, is this perky little dance number with a  strong drumbeat to it.  While the voice over is saying how awful, the score is saying, show me some more of this.
   The don't use maps much.  They keep mentioning interesting stuff happening at out of the way places that I never heard of before.  They never bother to cut to a map and show where that out of the way place is.  They do a lot of talking about the Mongols, all with shots of Mongol horsemen in full costume galloping across the plain.  They show a map of the Mongol empire at it's peak, but then it's back to those same horsemen galloping.  Then don't talk about how long the empire lasted.  There is no mention of the conquests of Russia and India.  No mention of Subotai's invasion of Western Europe, aborted only because of Genghis Khan's death, and the recall of all senior Mongols to the Gobi to select his successor.  Harold Lamb feels that Subotai's army might well have reached the English Channel if Subotai had not been recalled on account of Genghis Khan's death. 
   They did another episode spent trashing the Crusaders.  No mention of the Byzantine Emperor's appeal to Pope Urban for a Frankish army to save his empire.  No mention of the extra ordinary projection of military power across a thousand miles by a pre industrial society.  No mention of Muslims roughing up Christian pilgrims headed for Jerusalem.  No mention that Palestine was a Christian land recently conquered by Islam. No mention of the extraordinary feats of arms where by a handful of Christian knights, at the end of a thousand mile supply line, beat vastly superior Muslim armies.  The producers wanted to trash the Crusaders and they proceeded to do so.
A low grade TV show.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Topic Changing

With the "fiscal cliff" only one month away, you would think the lame duck session of Congress would concentrate on doing something about it.
  This morning I hear NPR pushing for an immigration bill in the lame duck session.  Nice idea, but the immigration bill doesn't have a 1 January deadline.  Plus its a controversial issue, which will soak up more time and hot air than we have between now and 1 January.  Unless its a ploy to drive us over the fiscal cliff, we ought to do immigration after New Year.
   And, the presenter was taking the opportunity to push the "Dream Act" (green cards for college grads and veterans) which failed to pass a little while ago. 
   How about some lesser steps that might have a chance of passing?  Such as awarding full citizen ship to anyone who serves honorably in the armed forces.  Such as awarding green cards to college graduates in science, engineering or mathematics?  Such as clearing up the current logjam of immigration applications.  It's fair to give each applicant a yes or no answer within two months of putting it their paperwork. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tax and Spend

Obama is doing a full court press for a soak-the-rich income tax hike.  Not a peep about spending cuts.  Obama clearly hopes to get himself a nice little tax hike to stave off bankruptcy for a little while.  The Republicans aren't saying boo.  They ought to be saying, "Do some real spending cuts and THEN and only then will we talk tax hikes." 
  As things are going, Obama will get his tax hike.  And no spending cuts will happen. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Legalize Downloading

This is the youth vote issue par excellance.  Republicans could take it up and attract just about everyone who owns an Ipod.  Not a peep out of Republicans or Democrats on this issue last election.  It's like they never heard of it.
  That probably comes from two reasons.  Pols are mostly old fuds in their 60's who don't even do email, and have lost contact with the college age generation.  They don't understand.  And the labels have given lots of money to keep downloading illegal.  Money talks to most pols.  Money may not vote, but it does talk.
   Just making downloading legal would be a fairly drastic step, it would mean the end of copyright.  Authors depend upon copyright for their livings, many of them would stop writing if copyright went away.  Movies need big money to make.  Without copyright protection they could not raise that big money, so we would be reduced to watching things like the Blair Witch Project.
   A decent  halfway step, would be to reduce the length of copyright.  Used to be copyright and patents ran for 14 years.  The last copyright law revision, aided by Disney and the labels, jacked copyright up to life of the author plus 70 years, halfway to forever.
  With copyright set to 17 years, most of the music sloshing around the internet would be legal.  The young are playing and downloading mostly stuff that was popular when I was in college, and that was more than 17 years ago. 
   Trouble is, making a policy of "17 year copyright" meaningful to the young would take a heap of doing.  Most of them would have difficulty connecting "17 year copyright" with "most of my music would be out of copyright" and "downloading out of copyright music is legal".

Sunday, November 25, 2012

War for Women, Part 3

Daughter visited for Thanksgiving.  We did some political talking.  She sees the Republican loss as due to no free contraception.  Jobs, the economy, cuts little ice with her.  Even with an unemployed boy friend and unemployed brother, it was lack of free contraception that got her turned on, even shouting.  Discussion of jobs and the economy held no interest for her.  She is employed and that's good enough for her.  She doesn't see Great Depression 2.0 as anything much.
   If her viewpoint is typical, the US of A has some serious trouble in store. 

Walmart's on light gray Sunday

Time to refill my prescriptions, so off to Walmart on Sunday.  Place is busy, but not really crowded.  Run into my niece and her two daughters in the toy aisle.  Passed bins of low price DVD's.  Mostly Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter.  Looks like those are the last decent movies out of Hollywood, and that was quite some time ago. 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Bookstores in Concord NH

Discovered two very nice bookstores in Concord today.
 Liberty Book & Comic 75 Allison St.  Just off South St.  Shows up in Google maps if you need more directions.  Has a good stock of modern (in print) comics, a lot of good classic young adult books, used paperbacks, survival stuff, and interesting political works.  If you are homeschooling, you will find good material here.  I spent a pleasant hour browsing and came away with four books.  Good stock, fun to browse.
  Then I hit Annie's Bookstore, 132 Loudon Road.  It also will show in Google maps if you need more directions.  It's bigger on the inside than it looks on the outside.  It's a used paperback place, heavy on romances.  But a lot of stock, a good browsing place.
  What with the dying off of bookstores up in the North country, we need places like this.
  I was going to post a comment about these two stores on Google maps, but Google demanded that I sign up for GooglePlus, which I don't want to do. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Looks like there is political opposition in Eygpt

According to this, the headquarters of  the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, the party of president Morsi, were torched by a mob.  Sounds like Morsi has a bit of an opposition.  Question, are we in touch with the opposition?  Even if we like Morsi better than the opposition, we will find Morsi easier to deal with if he has to watch his back. We ought to be giving the opposition a little friendly support. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Hope. Lots and lots of hope

Today's junk mail included one from the New York Times.  A one year subscription for ONLY $797.90.  How can I resist this opportunity to read half truths, lies, the democratic party line, and slander for only $2.55 an issue?
Hell, I get the Wall St Journal, for only $125 a year.  And the Journal is ten times the paper the Times will ever be.
 The Times is hoping for revenue.  Lots of hope , little revenue.

Argh. The Endless Campaign.

Today internet websites started running stories about 2016 presidential candidates. Don't we deserve even a one month break from the endless campaign?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Silence gives assent

Democrats ran anti Romney attack ads for months.  They accused Romney of being a vulture capitalist who bought up companies and closed them down, throwing the employees out of work
Romney should have said something like this "At Bain we financed this successful company, that successful company, some other companies, who are employing a fantastic number of workers, full time  with benefits."   Romney didn't say that, or anything else. He was silent.
   And voters like me begin to think the attack ads might be right.  If Romney doesn't deny these really awful accusations, maybe they are true.
Rule of thumb, you have to answer attacks.  Ignoring attacks doesn't make them go away.  Some political "consultants" will say that denying an attack just spreads it.  Not true.  Lack of a denial hurts Romney, and the democratic newsies will spread it no matter what you do.  So deny all attacks.  ASAP.
  That's not the only reason Romney lost, but it's a big one. 
  Dukakis could have told him about Willie Horton.

Maybe Obama wants to go over the fiscal cliff?

It would give him a solid broadbased tax hike.  He thinks tax hikes will solve the deficit problem. Obama is not one to believe a big tax hike will hurt anything. It will take a solid whack at military spending, and Obama doesn't like our military much.  The other cuts don't hit Obama's sacred cows much, if at all.  Best of all, he won't have to sit across a table from John Boehner and negotiate, without his teleprompter telling him what to say. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Feds holding hearing on Patent Trolls

And about time.  In the industry you have to budget substantial money for lawyers.  Any thing your company makes will draw a troll, waving some obscure patent that should never have been granted, and demanding money or he will sue.  The biggest score by trolls so far is $600 million extorted at lawyer point from the Blackberry makers back in 2006. 
   Trolls feed armies of lawyers, a noxious life form, and raise the price of everything. 
   This could be fixed.  Change the law to allow challenging the validity of the patent at patent infringement trials.  Most of the infamous patent cases revolved around truely awful patents, ones which were well known ideas (prior art) or so obvious that anyone "skilled in the art" would immediately do things that way 'cause its the obvious way to do things.  We ought to clamp down on the patent office and insist that patents not be issued unless the idea is really new, really clever, and non obvious.  We should stop "business methods" patents, and software patents.  It is unreasonable to have lawyers quibbling over a patent on using one click to make a purchase on a website. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Trip to Boston via Manchester

Daughter Karen flew up for Thanksgiving.  We picked her up at Manchester airport and 9:45 in the morning, and seeing as how Manchester is better than half way to Boston, we pressed on the to big city.  I93 was still under construction south of Manchester and little progress was to be seen.  The plan is to widen it to 6 lanes to handle the morning commuter rush.  The state highway department has been whining about lack of money.
   We did Quincy Market.  Took I93 right over fancy bridge and got off underground and came up right at the entrance to a parking garage.  I had looked for that exit on Google maps without success, I was pretty sure it was there, but not finding it on Google was a surprise.  The garage was $35 for any stay over 80 minutes.  Ouch.  But we are tourists from NH now, rather than the wily locals that we used to be. 
   Quincy was full of pedestrians, not too full, and on a fine sunny Saturday.  The central food court is as good as ever and all the storefronts are rented out and doing business.  No boarded up shop windows.  The Big Dig is fully dug and the rusty old central artery is gone, and Boston now has a beautiful green park running right thru downtown and the financial district.  It ought to be nice, it cost taxpayers plenty.
   Shopping is OK, but most of the shops are clothing stores, less than interesting to the male of the species. No book stores, no gadget stores.  They did have a Newbury Comics store at which we found a new model Tarzan comic.  Cover art shows Tarzan, in his customary garb (loincloth) but with a Thompson sub machine gun tucked under his arm.  This is revolutionary for Tarzan.  Tarzan never used firearms.  He specialized in lying on a tree branch, waiting for Numa the lion to pass beneath, at which point Tarzan would drop onto the lion's back and stab it to death with his long hunting knife, inherited from his long dead father.  Needless to say we bought it. 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Technology marches on.

My nice Panasonic DVD player croaked the other day.  It had been getting fussy, and rejecting certain disks as unplayble, but it would play some.  Finally died by announcing that all my disks were unplayable.  It ran well for seven years, longer than a big Samsung TV (which died after four years) and a Mitsubishi VHS player (5 years).  They don't make consumer electronics the way the used to.  I remember a couple of Sony TVs that ran for 20 years, Radio Shack stereo receivers running for 30.
   And you cannot fix consumer electronics anymore.  The chips are all surface mount which requires an artist to change, with pins spaced so close you cannot get a scope probe on them.  When the TV, and later the Mitsubishi VHS died, I did some calling around, looking for anyone who might try fixing them.  No luck.  I didn't even bother looking for someone to fix the DVD player.  
  So down to Walmart.  They had Sony, Magnevox, Lucky Goldstar and Samsung.  The DVD versions were all cheap ($35) , about a third of what I paid for the dear departed Panasonic.  They all had Blue Ray versions for double that, but since I don't own any Blue Ray discs, I didn't care.
   Bought the Magnevox.  It was much smaller than the old Panasonic, and it has digital output, HDMI they call it.  One thick cable with funny 8 pin connecters (not included with the player) and bingo, the digital bits coming off the disc get shipped right to the digital TV, skipping the analog-to-digital conversion in the DVD player and the inverse analog-to-digital conversion in the TV.  My day job used to be care and feeding, design and sales of  AtoD and DtoA converter, and believe me, there are a zillion ways a converter can mess up the signal. 
   Anyhow, the direct digital connection gives even nicer video.  DVD video has always been good, but the HDMI connection made it even better,  crisp, clean, fine textures visible. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

1500 hours = $150,000

FAA is going to demand pilots have 1500 flying hours in order to fly airliners, even as a co pilot.  That's a lot of time.  That's 38 weeks of flying 40 hours every week.  Operating or renting a light plane costs better than $100 an hour.   So 1500 hours will cost $150,000.  Few people have that kind of money.
   Used to be, guys would get a job flying co pilot and build up their hours without having to pay for the plane and fuel.  FAA is shutting that off.
   The airlines are wondering where pilots are gonna come from.

Email is a public record, open to anyone

If the CIA director cannot keep his email secure from FBI snoopers, no one else can either.   Your life will have fewer nasty surprises if you never ever write anything in emails or online that you wouldn't post on the bulletin board down at the supermarket. Because the world is full of snoops who will post anything juicy they find on line.  And if it's online, they can find it.
   I would have thought an old hand like Petraeus would have known this.  And if he didn't know, CIA should have told him. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The War for Women, Part 2

In theWall St Journal Op  page, we have Andy Kohut, old liner pollster, commenting upon the Republican loss last week.  He gives some figures, 59% of voters believe abortion ought to be legal.    So, on the wedgiest of wedge issues, it's now 59% pro abortion (pro choice) , 41%  anti abortion (pro life).  That's a big change.  Not so long ago the numbers were 50-50. 
   Right now, the Republican party is pro-life.  And, each time the issue comes up,  it costs the party two votes for every vote it gains.  This is a surefire path to defeat. 
   And there isn't all that much the party can do about it.  The 41% anti abortion are probably 100% Republicans.  That makes the Republican party vastly inhabited by anti abortion voters, and to win a Republican primary, and become a Republican candidate,  you have to be anti abortion.  And, it's a democracy, those 41% are free to vote the way they please in primary elections.  So there ain't much a Republican candidate can do, if he wants to be a Republican candidate. 
   So either the Democrats win next time, and the next, and the next.  Or candidates who care about jobs and the economy will run as third party or independents.  Or some miraculous change of heart sweeps over the 41% and they decide abortion is a private matter, and not a matter for government interference.
   Things don't look good for the future.  The Democrats will take us down the drain with Greece.

Tax and Spend, or Spend and Tax

Fiscal Cliff.  Let's cut spending first.  Go for a big cut, a real cut, not fake cuts like last time.  After getting some spending cuts on the books, then, maybe, we could think about a tax hike.  But unless the cuts are nailed down first, the tax hike will just be spent, and the deficit will be just as bad.  There is a farm bill, a highway bill, an energy bill, the entire Dept of Education, the TSA, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, SEC and the federal flood insurance program, all of which could be zeroed out and the budget would be balanced.  And nobody except bureaucrats would miss any of them.
Hint.  Every time Obama says "balanced" he really means "Tax Hike".

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

What goes around, comes around

In 1937  German Field Marshall von Blomberg, Chief of Staff of the Wehrmacht, entered into a second marriage with his secretary, Erna Gruhn.  Shortly afterward a police report surfaced that showed Frau Gruhn was an ex prostitute.  Hitler fired him.
   Colonel General Freiherr Werner von Fritsch was second in command and the logical officer to succeed him.  Himmler's SS furnished paperwork showing that General Fritsch had entered a homosexual relationship with a man named Schmidt.  A subsequent German Army courtmartial ruled that the SS paperwork was a pure frameup.  Never the less, von Fritsch, and 16 other senior generals were retired.  Forty five other German generals were transferred to less important posts.
   This all comes from The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, William Shirer.
In 2012 two top American generals were re leaved of duty following mysterious and suspicious charges. 

Stone Age Genesis

Both the Economist and the Wall St Journal carried the story of really old stone tools.  Archaeologists excavating at Pinnacle Point in South Africa found "microlith"  (we used to call them "flake") tools.  Flake tools are harder to make than the older "core" tools.  The oldest stone tools found are merely pebbles that have been bashed hard enough to fracture them, yielding a sharp cutting edge.  They are so crude that some argue that they are merely random stones.  Next step in stone tools was the "core".  Start with a fist sized chunk of flint.  Whack at it to form two sharp edges, and you have the "hand axe".  It was probably used to butcher killed game, to slice off roasts and chops for grilling over the fire. 
  Next step was to work with "flakes"(now called "microliths").  Start with a chunk of flint,  Strike it just so and a "blade" a thin piece of flint with two razor sharp edges flakes off.  Just as is, a flake is as useful as a modern straight razor blade.  And it's a great starting place to make arrow heads, or the famous folsom points that tipped throwing spears. 
   The South African site that is getting all the press coverage yielded flakes about 1 and a quarter inches long.  A little big for arrow heads, and no where as neatly chipped as American Indian arrow heads.  They lack any sign of a retaining groove to lash them to a shaft.  They look about right for points to a throwing spear. 
   So what makes this find so exciting?  The date.  The archaeologists are claiming they are 71,000 years old, making them the oldest flake tools ever discovered.   Too bad the archaeologists don't tell us how they dated their find.  Surely no one counted 71,000 layers in the dirt wall of the excavation.  Radio carbon dating only works back maybe 15,000 years.  So how did they estimate 71,000 years?  As the oldest flake tools ever discovered, they are interesting.  Other wise they are just crude chipped stone. 
   Then the "journalists" at both publications segued off to speculating upon the birth of modern minds, capable of art and music, poetry and the finer thoughts.  Sounds great.  Me, I think flake tools come from superior small motor skills.  I could make a "core" hand axe, no problem.  But to strike a chunk of flint and get a 4 inch long sliver with razor edges to pop off, in one piece,  I could never do that.  The flint would shatter, fail to flake, and after days of flint knapping, I'd wind up with nothing useful.  But there are guys who can do it, and do it well.  

Monday, November 12, 2012

War for Women

There are a lot of reasons for last week's Republican defeat.  A big one, not the only one, but a big one, is loss of the women's vote.  Exit polling shows  women voted Obama by 55% to 45%.  That's a 10% hit.  And half the voters are women.  If the Republican party ever wants to thrive again, it's gotta  make itself acceptable to women.
   Far be it from me to claim to understand women.  The nature of the fair sex has been a matter of debate going back to Genesis, and I certainly ain't smart enough to improve upon four of five thousand years of learned writing.  But I do know this, women are against getting raped. 
   But this election saw two, not one but two, Republican senate candidates make totally repugnant public statements about rape.  Their remarks indicated a light hearted attitude toward this crime.  "Boys will be boys" and " They were just fooling around" and "It isn't all that serious, you won't get pregnant".  And somehow Republicans nominated these two chuckleheads for high office. 
   Republicans need to agree that rape is a horrible crime.  Perpetrators shall be prosecuted, convicted and punished.  Victims will receive all possible aid and succor, including abortion services, as some small mitigation of  their plight.
   If the party continues to harbor and nominate chuckleheads who think rape is sort of OK, and not too bad, it will disappear from the face of America.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Words of the Weasel, Part 31

From The Economist.  "Earlier this year private sector bond holders reduced their nominal claims by more than 50%".
How nice and cooperative that sounds.  In actual fact the Greeks gave lenders a 75% haircut.
The Economist went on to urge canceling more Greek debt and lending them more money.  After all ,  the poor things cannot improve their economy with out lots of foreign investment.   Wouldn't we all like to lend them more money?

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Grasping at Straws

Wall St Journal, back pages, "US Unit takes Permanent Posting In Poland".  A 10 man USAF detachment is assigned to Lask, Poland. The Poles are ecstatic to have a real US military detachment to their soil.  They hope that even the tiniest US deployment to their territory will ward off a Russian invasion.
   There is a color picture.  Shows ten of USAF enlisted men, commanded by a major standing around on a Polish air base.  Pretty small command for a major.  I commanded better than a hundred men as a second lieutenant. Good old USAF, a lot of the men have their hands in their pockets, only a few of them are wearing gloves. Most of them are wearing service caps (wheel hats) and wearing them poorly.  Others are wearing flight caps.  A couple of Polish officers are welcoming them.  The Poles are wearing insignia on their collars that look like American sergeant's stripes.  In the background we have a C-130 transport plane with "Polish Air Force" lettered on the fuselage, in big letters,  in English. 
    After a generation of Polish jokes in USAF, you would think the Poles would come up with something else to put on their planes.   "Air Force of Poland" would sound a lot better. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Demographics vs Republicans

The Wall St Journal ran some interesting numbers about the election yesterday.  Percentage of population for various politically interesting groups and the percent of Romney votes in each group.  Many of the groups have overlap, such as college graduates and women.  About half of all college graduates are women and so there is lot of overlap.  And we are missing some groups like blacks,Jews, and  veterans. 
But notice that the big groups like woman and whites contribute a lot more votes than the little groups like Hispanics, who have been getting a lot of attention from the chattering classes. If Romney had attracted 10% more women's votes like Obama did, he would be president today.
   Republicans are gonna do something to try and win next time.  They oughta do something to get more women to vote for them.  That's the way numbers point.  

Group Group Size Voted Romney Total Romney Vote

Whites 72% 61% 43.9%
Women 53% 45% 23.9%
College Grad 48% 50% 24.0%
Mid Income 32% 54% 17.3%
Independents 28% 55% 15.4%
The Young 19% 40% 7.6%
Union Homes 18% 42% 7.6%
Hispanics 10% 29% 2.9%

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Rough Neighborhoods

Aviation Week reports on a bombing raid outside of Khartoum, Sudan back on 24 October of this year.  Satellite photos in the article show before and after.  Before shows a bunch of containers (the ship carried sort) neatly stacked in a yard.  After shows a huge crater in the same yard, no sign of any containers.  Locals reported jet aircraft noises just before the place blew up around midnight.  Explosions and fires raged for hours.  The containers are believed to have held some 200 tons of munitions bound for Gaza or the Sinai peninsula.
   No comment from Israel.
   Rough neighborhood.  Back in 2007  the al- Kibar Syrian nuclear reactor was bombed flat.  In 2009 and Iranian truck convoy in Sudan met with a high explosive mishap while crossing the desert.  Stuxnet went to work back in 2007 and wasn't detected until 2010.  In 2011 a Hamas arms smuggler in Port Sudan was killed from the air. In 2012 electric power lines to Iran's nuclear facilities were bombed.
   No one has claimed credit for any of this.  No comments from Israel either.
   When your existance is threatened, take steps.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Impulse Drive under development in China

Captain Kirk called it impulse drive.  Larry Niven's stories called it a reactionless thruster.   A device that makes thrust without throwing propellant out the rocket nozzle.  Pure science fiction.   Until Aviation Week ran a story this week about the "Emdrive".
   It started back in 2001 when a British inventor named Roger Shawyer set up a company to develop the drive aided by a grant from the British government.  Needless to say, a number of people denounced the concept as quackery.   Shawyer built a prototype that produced 85 milli newtons (1/4 ounce) of thrust from an input 300 watts of microwave power.  A Chinese research group claimed an improved model developed  720 milli newtons (2.5 ounces) of thrust from 2.5 KW of input microwave power.
    Boeing's "Phantom Works"  took a look at the device some years ago, but is no longer pursuing the approach and Shawyer's government funding has gone away.
   If it works, it's pure science fiction, and the door to interplanetary space craft.  Aviation Week is a sober industry magazine.
   Except for now and then.  Aviation Week ran a story about a secret US project that built a single stage ground to orbit space craft on their cover some ten years ago.
    Very Interesting.  Believe as much as you like. 

De Tocqueville can be really gloomy.

“A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world's greatest civilizations has been 200 years.”

Alexis de Tocqueville.  Democracy in America

Bummer, Four More Years

Every thing I might say has already been said, ad infinitum. I guess the voters want four more years of the same.  Too bad, I thought Americans were smarter than that.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Poll Standing

I was at the polls at 8 AM, opening time.  It was cold, 20F, below freezing.  Fortunately the sun was out and it wasn't raining or snowing.  Which has happened in the past.  Anyhow my long woolen underwear and SmartWool socks felt pretty good. At the Bethlehem polls we Republicans were the only ones there, no Democrats.  Turnout was decent. 
  At Franconia,  Bob Mead (long time town moderator) called the turnout heavy.  Bob oughta know.  We had 4  poll standers, and the Democrats had 2.  
  Gotta go back out to catch the evening crowd.  Then turn on the TV to find out what happened.  Might be a long night.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Wreckit Ralph

Good flick.  Funny enough to make me laugh out loud, something I don't do very often.  It's from Disney, the old Disney animation studio, which is nice.  They still can make a good animated movie.  The premise of the flick is those characters on the screens of computer games actually have a real life, after the arcade closes.  Wreckit Ralph is a big clumsy bad guy from one game who wants to become a good guy, just once.  After closing time, Ralph journeys to Game Central Station and thence to some other games in search of his dream.  Since it's a Disney flick, Ralph eventually triumphs and returns to his own home game a hero.
  The dialogue is very funny, even the puns are amusing.
  I enjoyed it.  It's one of the better movies to come out of Hollywood this year.  

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Second Snow of the season

Looks like winter is serious.  We got enough to stick.  The ground isn't frozen yet, so it's melting off the roads and lawns, but I still have nearly an inch on my deck railing. 

Words of the Weasel Part 30. Issues

Issue.  All purpose word used in place of failure, breakdown, bug, or problem.  Sounds much better.  Like something you can debate, rather than getting down to work and fixing it. 
As in "We have generator issues" from a lower Manhatten brokerage house explaining why they were not open for business on Wednesday after Hurricane Sandy. 
  Sounds much better than "Our generator is down".

Business Administration Blather on NPR

NPR was interviewing some Brit business administration guru early this morning.  The Brit was discussing the American automobile market, and how Japanese imports rose from nothing to 25% market share.  He said the imports entered the low end of the market and then the domestic makers "retreated" from that end of the market.  He obviously thought the domestic makes should have stood their ground and fought the imports on the beaches, on the landing grounds, and never surrender.  He didn't quite say it like that, but you got the message.
    And this guru was spouting nonsense. Detroit never retreated from the low end of the car market.  They were never in it.  Detroit was building famously large cars, six passenger, eight cylinder, automatic transmission, land yachts.  The imports were way smaller cars, four passenger, four cylinder, manual transmission.  Detroit never made anything like that.  And these minimal cars sold for about two thirds of what Detroit was getting for baseline sedans.   And a whole lot of customers decided that a minimal car at a good price was all they needed to get to work and chauffeur the kids around in.
   The decision facing Detroit was not whether to defend the low end of the market, it was a decision to enter the low end with a totally new small car design, or just keep on making what was selling well.
   Only GM took the plunge and decided to produce a true low end car, Saturn.  Ford and  Chrysler punted.   Saturn could have worked out, but GM suits saddled the operation with too much expensive overhead.
   Our Brit guru doesn't understand that the importers created a new market for a new kind of car.  The imports didn't invade the existing market, their created a whole new market.  And did very well at it.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

First Snow of the Winter

It's falling up here.  It's light and it ain't sticking much, but it's snow.  Winter is coming. 

Firing Generals and Admirals over Benghazi

The TV news has mentioned this, but let it drop. Obama fired General Carter Ham, head of Africom. Then he fired Rear Admiral Charles M. Gaouette from his command of the powerful Carrier Strike Group Three (CSG-3) currently located in the Middle East . General Ham was fired right in the middle of the Benghazi attack, and Admiral Gaoutte was fired shortly afterwards. Service rumor has it that both officers were re leaved of command because they were sending re inforcements to Benghazi against Obama's orders to let the consulate be overwhelmed


Friday, November 2, 2012

Offshoring to the US.

Why Bizjet makers are going stateside.  Cover article in Aviation Week.   Embraer, a Brazilian aerospace firm, opened a $52 million assembly, completion, and painting facility in Melbourne Florida.  Honda has a 500,000 square foot facility in Greenboro, North Carolina employing 700 people.  France's Dassault has a plant in Little Rock, Arkansas to make Falcon jets employing 1600 workers. 
   All this investment went to right-to-work southern states, rather than old union strongholds in Wichita Kansas and Seattle Washington. 
   Said one executive "Why in the world would you go to Wichita and take all that trouble. You'd be nuts."

   And this is why we need to pass a right-to-work law here in New Hampshire.   Industry won't invest in states that are not right-to-work.

This is job growth?

Early this week they announced a mere 360,000 "new claims for unemployment" i.e. people out of a job.  This morning they announced a "job gain" of 171,000 jobs.  Boy that sure sounds like a net loss of  360,000 minus 171,000 equaling  189,000 jobs. 
  This is good economic news?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Federal regulation of Cell Phone Carriers?

Good old lefty NPR was calling for this today.  They claim the FCC wanted to require each and every cell phone tower have enough backup power to keep it on the air for 8 hours after the electricity failed.  The cell phone carriers successfully sued to block this regulation, some time ago, like right after Katrina.  NPR  is obviously in favor of this, and speculated that the issue might be revived after Sandy blacked out NYC. 
   Hmm.  What do I think?  You can always spend more money to harden the cell phone system more.  How much  money should be spent  to keep every one's cell phone working during a future Hurricane Sandy?  Every buck spent on backup power, secure land links,  tree trim back and such goes right onto your cell phone bill. 
   Who should decide how much money to spend?  The government or the cell phone carriers?  The carriers have some incentive to provide reliable service.  Certainly carriers who stayed on the air thru out Sandy will attract  subscribers from carriers that died at the first raindrop.  We could let market forces control the level of backup, which will result in a leveling off between reliability and cost.  The carriers will put enough money into disaster proofing to give them a competitive edge, but not so much as to drive off subscribers thru increased fees.  And, knowing the business a whole lot better than any bureaucrat, they will put the money where it will do the most good. 
   That FCC proposed eight hour backup power rule wouldn't do New York much good now.  Power has been off for a lot longer than eight hours, and it doesn't look like it will be back on any time soon. 
   People who really care about uninterrupted phone service can get a land line.