Thursday, January 31, 2013

Where has all the Gas Mileage Gone?

Wall St Journal was explaining about the differences between EPA fuel mileage and actual fuel mileage.  For instance Ford Fusion was EPA rated at 28 mpg, but Consumer Reports, and owners, reported actual mileage of 24 mpg.
   Talk about puny fuel mileage.  My '99 Cadillac DeVille (V8 boat) could do 32 mpg highway and 27 overall.  Why cannot a teeny weeny econocar with a wimpy motor do better than a full size Caddy with a real engine?  
    Ford could take lessons from Caddy.  I finally replaced the beloved '99 Caddy with a 2005 Mercury Grand Marquis.  Last of the Detroit V8 boats.  With exactly the same size engine, the Mercury can only do 23 mpg and has a lot less power than the Caddy had. 

Immigration policy for Republicans

America needs immigrants.  We as a nation are not bearing enough children to maintain our population.  This is bad.  It takes a large population to continue to be the superpower.  We need young workers to keep the economy running as the senior generation retires.  And to support all those retirees.  China and Japan are showing what happens to a nation's demographics when birthrates decline.
   Immigrants fill in for the lack of native born children, and once inside the US, they tend to have more children than native born so they keep the birthrate up. Immigrants make the most loyal US citizens, they know how good things are in the US and how much better off they are as US citizens than as citizens of where ever they came from.   
  Since we have created something pretty good here in America, everybody in the world would like to live here.  So we can afford to be choosy about who we let in.  We want young immigrants who will take jobs, pay taxes, raise families, stay out of trouble and contribute to the American society.  We want immigrants with skills and advanced education; technicians, plumbers, electricians, medical doctors, engineers and scientists.  We don't want so many immigrants that they swamp the native born and change the character of the country.
  Our population is 300 million last time I checked.  We could surely admit a mere one million immigrants a year without diluting the essence of America.  Each would be immigrant is ranked, so many points for a STEM degree, so many points for being young, for being married, for speaking English, for having minor children, for having a company job offer, and so on.  We admit the top scoring one million applicants, every one else waits til next year. 
   Then we need to do something about the 10 or 11 million illegal immigrants inside the country.  Right now these people are outlaws.  They don't dare go to the police when they are robbed, assaulted, swindled, or cheated.  They don't even dare take out a public library card.  Each time they drive they are in fear of a minor traffic stop getting them fired and deported.   Most of 'em work hard, stay out of trouble and out of sight.  They would make fine hard working citizens.  Keeping them outlaws certainly doesn't accord with Jefferson's notion that all men are created equal. 
  I don't have the heart to deport them all.   Keeping them on as outlaws is offensive to my sense of right and wrong.
  Which gets around to the business of legalizing them.  Was it me, I'd give anyone who has stayed out of trouble a green card, permission to work and live in the US.  I'd offer real citizenship (right to vote, eligibility for social security and medicare) to  anyone willing to jump thru a few more hoops. 

Cannon Mt ski weather.

More woe.  It stayed at 50 all day yesterday and last night.  It rained a lot overnight.  It's still warm and rainy this morning.  The lawn is all green again. 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Cannon Mt. Ski weather

Woe to the snow.  It's 50 degrees and raining lightly.  Forecasts are for more of the same.  They canceled snow making last night on account of warmth.

Rustling amid the Grass Roots

This morning I sent the following e-mail to both my Senators, Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte.

Dear Senator,  

   Please vote against any “assault weapons” law.  There are no objective differences between deer rifles and “assault rifles”.  An “assault weapons ban” in real life is an attempt to ban everything that shoots. 

   Please vote against making the current background checks more onerous.  Background checks are a way for bureaucrats to deny citizens the right to purchase firearms.  Background checks are a way for creating a government list of guns and gun owners.  Such a list can be used to confiscate citizen’s guns or target them for harassment. 

   America remains one of the last countries of freedom and liberty on Earth.  We prize that and want to keep it that way.  Since colonial times armed citizens have defended the land against Indian raiders, Caribbean pirates, and Redcoats, to name a few.  As late as 1940, Japanese Admiral Yamamoto said “To invade the United States is impossible.  There would be a rifleman behind every blade of grass.”

   Armed citizens stop a great amount of crime.  Criminals know that citizens will shoot to kill in self defense.  They also know that many citizens have arms.  A large number of would be criminals are unwilling to risk their lives for small gains.

  The massacre in Connecticut was horrible.  It was committed by a homicidal maniac.  Depriving honest citizens of access to firearms won’t stop homicidal maniacs in the future; in fact it will encourage them.

David J. Starr

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Bombing the Syrian reactor

Elliot Abrams, long time man about the state department, writing in Commentary about the Syrian reactor.  Way back in 2007, the Israelis asked the Bush administration to receive Meir Dagan, chief of Mossad, at the White House.  The Bush people asked  Dagan to make his presentation to the National Security Adviser, Stephan Hadley, Elliot Abrams, and Dick Cheney. 
   Dagan's presentation was explosive.  The Syrians were building a nuclear reactor from North Korean plans, with North Korean technical assistance. 
   Revelation of this hot potato led to a series of joint US-Israeli meeting on what to do. Options were military (air raid)  or diplomatic (UN security council).  Somehow Washington managed to keep this super juicy secret secret.  Finally Bush decided to go the diplomatic route.  The Israelis told Bush that going to the UN was unacceptable to them and they would have to act. 
     A couple of months later, the Israeli Air Force blew the reactor to bits.  Afterwards Bush told the Israelis that he understood.  Both the Americans and the Israelis said nothing about a reactor as the target of the Israeli air strike.  Neither did the Syrians.  The Syrians just bulldozed the bomb craters and the wreckage flat and pretended that nothing had happened. 
   I wonder if the Israeli's will dare to share such intelligence with the Obama administration when Iran's turn comes up.  Or will they figure Obama will leak it to the press?
Come to think of it, there was a mysterious explosion at an Iranian nuclear facility a few days ago.  Wonder who knew about that one.

Monday, January 28, 2013

787 battery fires

A front page piece in the Wall St Journal on the 787 battery problems.  After three weeks of investigating they haven't been able (or willing) to point a finger at the problem.  "Laboratory tests have not produced any 'significant findings'". 
  There is one interesting fact that has not been published.  There were battery chargers aboard those two 787s.  Did they survive the fires?  If so, are they working properly now?  When bench tested, did they pass all requirements properly?
The battery charger takes electricity from the aircraft generators and charges the batteries at the right rate and stops charging when the batteries reach full charge. Failure of the battery charger can overcharge the batteries which can cause the fires.  If the battery chargers are OK, then it points a finger at the battery itself.  If the battery charger is defective, then that points the finger elsewhere.
   Meanwhile Boeing and Boeing's customers are loosing money.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Join the Infantry

Back when all guys were subject to the draft, nobody wanted to get drafted into the Army.  Everybody wanted the Air Force first of all.  If they couldn't get into the Air Force, they tried for the Navy.  Only after all else was exhausted would anyone consider the Army.  Nobody wanted to be issued a rifle and assigned to the infantry.  Too much hard work, and dangerous to boot. 
  The other day I watched the cute newshens  on Fox announce how wonderful it was that 250,000 positions have been opened up to women.  At least guys are smart enough to know that joining the infantry can be hazardous to their health.  Apparently chicks don't understand that yet.

Annual NH Republican Party meeting

It was zero outdoors when I started up the car to drive down to Bedford.  Sun was just coming up, little traffic at 7 AM and trusty Mercury hummed down I93 at 80 mph.  Smooth and quiet, not a Statie to be seen.
   The meeting started up at 10 AM with speeches.  Endless speeches.  All pleading for party unity, motherhood and apple pie.  Nothing substantive, just happy talk.  By noon we moved onto amendments to the party bylaws.  The only useful amendment called for making a readable party platform, overall length of one typewritten page, planks less than a dozen words.  That was voted down resoundingly. 
   Lunch break at 1:30.  Note to self, next year, brown bag it.  The party lunch was a $10 sandwich and chips.  Pretty low speed sandwich, no where near as tasty as the Gold House or Porfido's. 
  It was 4 PM before we got to the only matter of substance, electing a new state party chairperson.  Jennifer Horne defeated Andrew Hemingway, thank goodness.  After that, I drove home, getting in after dark.  A long day. 

Friday, January 25, 2013

Whither the 787?

It's pretty clear now that lithium batteries are molotov cocktails waiting to light off.  The anode and the cathode are separated by merely a sheet of plastic.  Any flaw, crack, or pin hole in the plastic and the electrodes touch, a dead short, and they get hot.  The lithium melts at only 350 some degrees, and molten lithium is as reactive as sodium.  Sodium is so reactive that it will burn underwater. 
  So what to do?  In the real world, the fix is straightforward, replace the lithium batteries with Nicads or nickel metal hydride, or even plain old lead acid.  And replace the battery charging unit with one designed for the new battery chemistry.  A few days of design work, run off some CAD drawings, write up change instructions, email them out to the field. 
  In the FAA and airline world, nothing is that simple.  At a guess,  the FAA paperwork, reviews, design studies, test procedures, parts lists, and plain old stuff, could take half a year.  Leaving the 787's,. Boeing's world beating new product, grounded for half a year.  It's already years behind schedule, and another 6 months delay might be more than Boeing and Boeing's customers can stand.  Watch for cancellations in Boeing's 800 airplane backlog.  And watch for new orders for the Airbus 350, which competes with the 787 even thought it hasn't flown yet. 
   Clearly FAA is hoping that something will turn up that will allow the 787 to keep flying with the existing lithium batteries.  Could be anything, a defect in the battery charger, a manufacturing flaw at the battery maker, an extra inspection every flight, some extra insulation installed somewhere, anything.  Otherwise, FAA will be under intense pressure to  get the paperwork done and let the plane fly again.  FAA (any any other bureaucrats)  hate that.  Plus remember that FAA is the outfit that OK'ed use of the lithium batteries in the first place, and nobody likes to admit they made a mistake. 


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Hillary dodges a bullet

"We had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest, or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they'd go kill some Americans.  What difference at this point, does it make?"

Well Hillary, if they are Al Quada terrorists you shoot them as they climb over the embassy wall.  If they are just teen age protesters you use tear gas on 'em.  I know that.  Do you know that?

And if Washington doesn't know who they are at this point,  it's a good bet they didn't know the night it happened.  Which might account for Washington abandoning our diplomats to an Al Quada mob who killed them. 

Questions not asked that should have been.
1. Where was air support for the consolate?  We could have had fighters overhead within an hour.  We could have had helicopters there inside of two or three.  Where were they?
2.  Where were the Marine guards?  Benghazi was so dangerous the British Consolate closed up and left town.  And we stayed put, leading with our chin, without a guard force.  A dozen US Marines probably could have held the place against any number of raghead terrorists.
3. Why were two US general officers relieved of duty right afterwards?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

British to vote on leaving the EU

Hmm, getting serious.  The Economist had a cover story on this some weeks ago.  Now the Prime Minister, David Cameron, has announced he will hold a referendum, sometime in 2014 to 2017, if his Conservative party stays in power that long.  The EU is not popular with the average Briton on the street, and everyone expects the referendum will be a massive vote to leave. 
    Trouble is, the bulk of British trade is with the rest of the EU.  As an EU member, it's all tariff free.  After Britain leaves the EU, it will have to pay tariff on exports to the EU.  And the EU is just chock full of underemployed farms and factories who will  be all too happy to offer tariff free goods. 
   And, scheduling this referendum so far in the future creates uncertainty which discourages investment.  Not exactly the best way to pull the economy out of Great Depression 2.0 
   I suppose we shouldn't criticize our British friends, but is sure looks like they are stuck on stupid with this one.

Ten degrees below zero this morning

No snow to speak of. Sun is out this morning.  Poor little furnace is working hard, on $4 a gallon oil. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Kids get school buses in NewYork City?

Apparently the school bus drivers are on strike.  Long article on the issue here.
Question.  Why not have the kids ride the subway to school?  I rode public transportation to grade school in Framingham MA.  Surely street smart NY kids can manage the subway.   Settle the strike by eliminating the school bus service. 

Striking fear into Third World Sweatshops

Walmart suffered public relations disaster some months ago.  A fire in a Bangladeshi clothing factory killed 112 workers last November.  Piles of garments with Walmart labels were found in the burned out ruins.  Walmart had stopped doing business with that factory, but other companies that Walmart was doing business with subcontracted Walmart work out to the sweatshop that Walmart had cut off. 
  So, in today's Wall St Journal Walmart announced that it was posting a list of firms that it will not do business with on the Walmart corporate website.
  Wow.  Screw up and get yourself on the Walmart blacklist.  Worldwide no less.  Have the world's largest retailer publically blacklist your firm.  That ought to kill a lot of sales, in fact kill enough sales to put just about anyone out of business. 
   Lesson to be learned.  Stay on Walmart's good side. 
   Later in the article it is mentioned that "labor activists" don't think this is enough to curb bad behavior by third world suppliers.  What do they want?  Walmart can't nuke 'em.  Telling the world that the So-and-So Company is too sleazy for Walmart to buy from isn't enough? 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Blowing in the the Wind.

Drove out Tenny Mountain Highway (NH Rt 25 going west from Plymouth).  The wind farmers have been active, we now have shiny new windmills all along the ridge.  This is new, so new that not all of them are turning yet.  They are eye catching.  Probably not as ugly as a power line, but I wouldn't say they improve the view.
  And they raise my electric rate.  PSNH pays outrageous prices for "renewable energy".  And they get serious tax breaks.  And since you cannot count on the wind blowing, PSNH has to build real power plants to handle their load.  Which is the major cost of electricity, the cost of the generating plant.  Fuel cost is small compared to paying off the generators. 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Lying on TV

NY senator Chuckie the Schumer was on Meet the Press this morning.  Chuckie claimed credit for $1.4 trillion in "cuts".   In actual fact the Feds plan to spend more money this coming year than they spent last year  That's not a cut, that's a hike.  To have a US senator call it a cut on national TV is an outright lie. How can voters make intelligent choices amid a thicket of lies?

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Talking the talk. Not walking much

The talk is about getting the president to "reduce spending"  and the Senate to "pass a budget".  Neither of these activities means much to us taxpayers.   Congress used to pass appropriations bills, one for each major department.  Such a bill  reads "the so-and-so department may spend so many billion dollars in this fiscal year".  The way to "reduce spending" is to appropriate less money.  So far no talk about appropriations bills at all, let alone reducing their size. 
  In fact, passing appropriations bills got so difficult in years past that Congress gave up attempting it.  Each bill would trigger a big time fight between those who wanted more money for their pet programs and those who wanted to cut spending.  The fights got so bad that the fiscal year would be over and no appropriations bills passed. 
   In order the keep the government running, it became customary to pass "continuing resolutions", bills reading "Your department may continue spending at last year's level." 
   In order to actually cut spending, Congress, not the president, must pass appropriations bills or continuing resolutions reading "your depart gets less money that it got last year".  That's the walk.  So far it's all talk, no walk.
  The Republicans in Congress are as bad as the Democrats in just talking the talk
  Think about voting a straight Tea Party ticket.

Friday, January 18, 2013

787 batteries smaller than my car battery

Wall St Journal showed a picture of a well toasted 787 battery out of the 787 that had a fire sitting on the ramp at Logan.  Case was warped out of shape, top was gone, insides were all black.  Looked plenty capable of setting the entire plane on fire.  Not good. 
   Physically the battery looked to be less than one half the size of my car battery.  The Journal said it had an electrical rating of "63 amperes per hour".  Sounds like the Journal reporter knows nothing about batteries.  That should have been "63 ampere-hours" which means the battery can furnish 63 amperes for one hour or one ampere for 63 hours  or any thing in between.  That's not much.  My Mercury Gran Marquis battery is rated at 80 ampere-hours.  You would think a big jetliner would need more than a Detroit sedan.  The plane needs enough battery energy to keep the cockpit instruments and the radio alive  long enough for the crew to do an emergency landing in the event of total generator failure, or both engines failing.  I wonder if the 787 has an emergency ram air turbine generator like we had on Air Force fighters.   

Cannon Mountain Ski Weather

It's very cold today, bright sun, no snow.  They are making snow.  The radio is forecasting snow for tomorrow but it's just a plain forecast, no "winter storm watch" stuff. 

Thursday, January 17, 2013


I didn't bother to see it in theaters a couple of years ago, so when it came on cable the other night I had to watch it.  It's a shoot-em-up that never stops shooting.  It would have been better if the sound man had been better.  Much of the dialog was lost thru mumbling by the actors, or letting the score and the sound effects over ride the dialog, which is totally under control of the sound man.  And there was too damn much pointless yelling as the sh-- hit the fan, which it did in every scene. 
   The camera man wasn't much better.  He seldom gave you a good look at the actor's faces.  There was too much of guys sneaking around in the dark and the audience wondering who that guy was, good guy or bad guy.   Lots of car chases, explosions, gun fights, swinging thru the air on ropes, and suchlike eye candy.  Toward the end of the movie I totally lost track of the plot, who was on first, and who was a bad guy.  I just watched the bang-bang. 
   Too bad, it could have been a good fun action flick. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Lithium Ion batteries setting 787's on fire

Lithium ion, stores lots of juice, very high voltage, great batteries.  Boeing used them on the 787 to save weight and space.  Looks like Boeing didn't see that U-Tube video of a laptop bursting into flame right on a conference room table.  Now they have customer's grounding their brand new 787's 'cause the lithium ion batteries are bursting into flame.  Aircrew and passengers take a dim view of in flight fires.

Cannon Mt Ski Weather

We got maybe two inches of nice powder today.  Unfortunately the thaw earlier this week did a lot of damage to the snow cover. They been making snow, but the thaw hurt. 

NPR pushes gun control

They (FM 91.9) have been on it all day.  Just one advocate for more gun control after another.  All day long.  Impartial they are.  Public funded they are. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Russians discover socks.

According to the Wall St. Journal, the Russian army will issue socks to the troops for the first time.  Peter the Great's army began to issue portyanki,  squares of cloth, to the soldiers, who wrapped their feet in them before pulling on their boots.  Portyanki remained standard Russian Army issue thru the Napoleonic wars, the Crimean War, and the World Wars.
   Only now, as the number of city bred recruits, used to socks, rises and the number of country boys declines,  complaints about the lack of socks has caused the army to start up a sock issue.
    You gotta wonder about an outfit that only discovered socks in the 21st century.

Monday, January 14, 2013

How about a Republican Immigration Bill?

TV news reports that Obama wants to pass a "comprehensive" immigration bill.  Comprehensive means a huge stack of paper with all sorts of pork and special favors buried inside.  Britt Hume says the White House figures it's a win-win situation for them.  If  it passes the Hispanics will love them.  If it doesn't pass they can blame it on the Republicans. 
   Republicans ought to offer one or more short and sweet immigration bills of the sort no one can dislike.  For instance, anyone who served in the armed forces should receive US citizenship.  This ought to pass no sweat.  Or, anyone who was brought into the country as a child should be eligible for citizenship.  Who can be against children? 
   You get as much political credit for passing something small and limited as you do for passing something vast and "comprehensive".

Ya just can't win

On NPR this morning a piece telling that coffee drinking is up among college students.  Coffee houses are packed in the evenings.
  But then, they switch to the dark side, the evils of coffee.  It ruins your sleep, turning good virtuous hivalue REM sleep into unhealthy Starbucks sleep.  Coffee drinking leads to sleep deprivation, a serious problem among college students.  NPR raved along on this line for several minutes. 
  Damn.  We have college students drinking something fairly innocuous, and NPR is nagging about it.  Coffee won't get you into the kind of trouble that beer or pot can. 
Then for an encore, NPR switches to a piece about how the University of Vermont is saving the planet by banning bottled water. 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

How to balance the NH budget

We do it the old fashioned way, we estimate more revenue than we are gonna collect.  That way we can spend more.  All it takes is estimates, not real money, just estimated money. 
   The state Democrats are pushing to put estimated revenues from gambling into the budget.  Doesn't matter that we haven't passed the necessary laws to open the casino's. It doesn't matter that last time they tried, the law failed to pass the House and the Senate.  It doesn't matter that the estimated revenue from gambling is about ten times what is likely to happen.  Only thing that is different this time is new governor Maggie Hassan says she will sign an expanded gambling bill.  Previous governor Lynch had promised to veto it. 
   But the Democrats want to include hypothetical revenue from as yet illegal gambling operations in this year's revenue estimate. 
   Can you say deficit spending disorder?

Friday, January 11, 2013

Men's clothing styles

Nice fashion section in the Wall St. Journal.  Showing really fancy shoes at $6K a pair and "bespoke"suits at $7K.  Shirts for $500.  Clearly the well dressed Wall Streeter can blow $15K on a decent outfit.  Groovy.
   Then I think of Steve Jobs, appearing at Comdex, pushing Apple's latest products dressed in T shirt and jeans. Real business men don't blow $15K on clothes.

Cannon Mountain Ski weather

The mountain is in good shape.  We have been getting an inch or so a night sifting down, but haven't had a real snow this week.  Right now the temperature is  hovering right around freezing. It's overcast and no wind is blowing. 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Power Grows out of the Barrel of a Gun

Mao Tse-Tung said that.  In the United States today the citizens have power (guns).  This power is used to support and defend the Constitution and to suppress crime.  Obama wants to take that power away.  He doesn't want to waste the crisis of the horrible massacre in Connecticut, so he is pushing  for "gun control".  A phrase that means what ever you want it to mean. Taking guns away from citizens takes power away from citizens, leaving them defenseless against government force and criminals.
   Obama is talking about an "assault weapons" ban.  Trouble is, there are no objective differences between "assault weapons" and pretty much any kind of gun.  So banning "assault weapons" really means banning nearly everything that shoots.  And that's what Obama wants to do.
   It is not true that some guns are more deadly than other guns.  All guns are deadly.  The Connecticut shooter would have killed as many no matter what kind of gun he used.  We cannot improve public safety by banning the more deadly kind of guns, because all guns are deadly.
  I am not prepared to give up the power that arms represent merely because the "gun control" people are dancing in the blood shed in Connecticut.   

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

NYC Ferry Crash

First amusing comment by a TV newsie.  "The ferry is parked."   Right.  Anyone knows that vessels are docked, not parked. 
   The ferry crashed into its dock, hard enough to bash a big hole in the bow and injure a lot of passengers who were standing up to disembark.  The ferry probably isn't as well equipped with grab irons as a subway car is.
   A likely cause of such an accident is failure of the engines to provide reverse power.  The vessel approaches the dock at a fair rate of speed and the skipper depends upon reverse thrust from the engines to slow her down.  If the engines stall, fail, or refuse to go into reverse, the vessel will crash into the dock.  Our ever clue-full (or is is low information) newsies have not asked anyone if the engines were working and providing reverse power. 

Voting for Warming

NPR has been going overboard on hot-button topics.  In one morning they advocated "organic" food, the nomination of Chuck Hagel for defense secretary, and Global Warming.  A Trifecta of liberal hot-buttons.
One young lady said "Of course Global Warming is happening, 90% of scientists say it's happening."
  She must be a liberal arts major.   Competent people know that scientific controversies are settled by measurements, observations, reproducible experiments, not by counting people's opinions.
  Nor is she aware that a good deal of evidence put forth by the Global Warmers is fake.  I went thru the great Hadley CRU document leak.  I saw with my own eyes where the programs were jacking up temperature in modern times.  

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Hardworking defense attorney

They brought James Holmes, the Aurora Colorado theater shooter, into court today.  He was wearing bright orange hair, either a wig or a dye job.  Sitting next to him is a lady attorney, presumably his public defender.
And did she council her client about that orange hair?  Showing up in court like that is a good way to convince everyone in the room that you are a nut case.
 Perhaps that's the plan, an insanity defense.

Obama's new Security appointments

First we have Chuck Hagel for defense.  He is at least a Viet Nam veteran with combat experience.  That's a good thing.  The Wall St Journal  is unimpressed, citing a number of opportunistic votes  Hagel cast back in the day. 
   Then we have John Kerry for defense.  Kerry went to Viet Nam as a junior Navy officer about the same time I was over there.  I served the regular one year tour.  Kerry managed to get home after only 8 months in country.  He  must have been some kind of jerk.  Years later when he ran for president, men who had served with him were still mad enough to form the Swift Boat Veterans lobby and torpedo Mr Kerry. 
  And finally we have this guy John Brennan for CIA.  That's a new name to me.  He spent twenty years at CIA doing this and that,  did some outside consulting, and finally joined Obama's campaign in 2008.  I know little about him, but I'm suspicious of old CIA hands.  CIA is a snake pit of  intelligence agents who want to make policy, they made major mistakes, and spend much of their time attempting the destabilize Republican administrations.  Not a good background.  Certainly not a man to clean house at CIA.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Winter Weasel

I saw one today, right in my front yard.  All white, really slender, moving fast.  Dunno what it lives on up here, I haven't seen a tasty chipmunk running around in months.  I didn't know there were any weasels, white or otherwise, left around here.  Apparently there are. 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Better than the Debt Ceiling

Newt Gengrich was on Meet the Press this morning, and he did toss out one good idea.  Newt is full of ideas, many of them bad, but this is a good one. 
   We have the federal debt ceiling coming up and the newsies are talking up a big fight along the lines of "Do spending cuts or we shut the government down".  They tried this two years ago, gained a lot of negative press and just a few fake cuts.
  Newt points out that we have a "Continuing Resolution" coming up.  The Republicans could refuse to pass that, and instead pass the proper spending bills, one for each department.  You want the cut spending?  Then cut the spending bill.  Works like right now.  Newt suggests that a spending cut fight centered around the continuing resolution and spending bills would be easier to win, less damaging, and very effective. 
    Could it be, that politicians like the debt ceiling 'cause it's just money, we aren't talking about cutting any interest group's program.  Whereas when you get into appropriations, you have to vote on real programs, each of which has people getting money thru it, and who will be angered if their gravy train stops running.

Low Information Voters

What a great way to say "clueless". 

Saturday, January 5, 2013

So what do we Republicans want, REALLY?

The fiscal cliff bill, which kept income taxes the same for those making under $400K (most of us) was better than doing nothing and having everyone's income taxes go up.  Raising taxes in a depression is a downer leading to more Great Depression, more layoffs, and less hiring.  
  And 150 Republicans voted FOR doing a cliff dive.  What did they want?  And did their constituents agree with their vote?  Did they think going all the way over the fiscal cliff was better than a taking half-a-loaf?  Taking more money away from working stiffs and giving it to Obama to fritter away on Solyndra is better?  I haven't heard any of these fiscal cliff divers explain what they want to do. Possibly they don't know themselves.
   The Republicans need to figure out what they want and where they are going.  And then push laws thru the House getting what they want.  If they want Paul Ryan's plan for Medicare, they need to pass it thru the House.  If they don't have the votes to go that far, nobody will think they are serious.  You gotta vote your plan into law or you are just a bunch of whiners.
  "Negotiating" with Obama is a non starter.  Obama likes federal spending, wants more of it, and wants more taxes to pay for it.  He will spend any extra revenue he gets, he won't use it to pay down the US debt. And he is a lousy negotiator.  Obama's idea of negotiating is "my way or the highway".  Don't negotiate with this turkey, just vote your plan into law.  If you can't do that, then you don't have a plan worth talking about.
  We are bumping up against the federal debt ceiling.  If not raised, the US will be unable to borrow more money to keep federal spending going.  Which means a lot of feeders at the federal trough will go hungry.
   The Republicans are talking about playing chicken with Obama, give us our spending cuts or no debt ceiling hike.  Unless they get together and agree just how far they are willing to go, Obama will call their bluff and the wimpier RINO's will fold.  And unless they can vote their desires thru the House, nobody will believe they mean it.
  So what do we Republicans want?  How bad do we want it?  Are we willing to cut off borrowing and force a massive reduction in federal spending.  Like right now, not ten years from now?  How much metaphorical blood are we willing to spill?  How much do we dare spill?

Friday, January 4, 2013

Good Stuff Cheap

A digital camera program, for free, Picassa by name.  I came upon it after suffering thru the program that came with the camera ( a Kodak) .  The Kodak program was such a ramhog that I had to buy another memory stick to prevent lock up, it was slow, and it kept trying to put all my photos on the Kodak for-pay website. 
  Picassa does the down-load-from-camera part with grace and ease.  You plug your camera in to the USB and Picassa recognizes it.  Picassa keeps track of what you have already downloaded to hard disk, and only downloads stuff from the camera that is NOT on the hard disk.  Very handy for those of us that leave photos in the camera after we download them.  Prevents the build up of multiple copies of the same thing on the hard disk.
  Picassa allows grouping of photos into "albums" which you can name useful things like "Trip to Uncle Joe's" or "Christmas at Grandmothers".  It allows hierarchical album structures such as "Model Trains" with sub albums such as "Structures" and "Rolling Stock"  And the best thing about Picassa is the albums show up in Windows Explorer as file directories by the same names. Which makes working with your photos with other programs a lot more straight forward.  You can locate a photo to upload to the web, or burn to CD-ROM, or attach to an email using the same names you use inside Picassa.  All too many photo programs hide the photos out on disk in random number named files making it difficult-to-impossible to work with your photos with any ordinary Windows programs (browsers, CD-Rom burners or email).  Picassa got this one right.
   Picassa allows you to put a caption on each photo, and the captions stick.  I can upload a Picassa captioned photo to Facebook and the caption uploads with the picture and shows up in Facebook without me having to type it in again.  
  Picassa will retouch photos for you.  You can fix under exposure, bad color, red-eye, and a number of other things.  The red eye corrector is cute.  It uses face recognition to outline the subject's eyes and then it makes the red pixels go away.  Turns red eyed demons back into cute and adorable children. 
  The face recognition part of Picassa goes thru all your pictures matching up faces.  When you assign a name to one face, than all the other photos with that face get the name.  You get a list of all your named people and their photo's.  The face recognition is darn good, gets it right most of the time. 
  If you are into digital photography, Picassa is the way to go.  And it's free.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Nancy Pelosi, political animal

Nancy Peloisi gave an interview to NPR  (a friendly media).  It came on the radio this morning.  Nancy spoke at length about the fiscal cliff bill.  She discussed how it effected the fortunes of her party, the other party, and a little bit about the president.  She declared her undying love for public programs, public health, public schools, public roads, public this public that.  Her hopes for the democrats to retake the house.  Her support of the "middle class".
  She never spoke of the effect the the fiscal cliff bill might have upon the general welfare.  Whether it would create jobs, economic growth, end Great Depression 2.0.  She didn't say if it be good for the country as a whole.  She spoke entirely about inside-the-beltway political struggle, never about making things better for the country. 
Political animal.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The last 600 Megabytes comes hard.

I have been cleaning up the hard drive on AntiqueLaptop.  I gave this HP laptop to youngest son when he was in high school.  Since then youngest son has graduated college, and the high school laptop wasn't cool enough for him, so it came back to me.  It has plenty of punch to run all my programs, and  I can sit on the deck in summer and web surf with it.  When I got it back, the 40 Gig hard drive was full.
    Some obvious weeding of music and games, followed by passes with CCleaner, turning off System Restore freed up 10 Gigs or so, enough to install M$ Visual C, all my digital photos, all my back email, lotta stuff.
    Then I ran Windirstat.  That showed me 2.7 Gigs of  recycle bin files that the recycle bin didn't see and would not flush.  Some how a second Recycler directory had taken root in Program Files.  That's not supposed to happen, but with Windows all things are possible.  Explorer failed to delete it.  But Windirstat has a zap files feature that did 'em  just fine.   

Then I found that  hidden system C:\Windows\Installer directory had grown to 1.6 Gigabytes.  A real diskhog on a 40 Gig laptop.  I was able to recover 0.6 Gigabytes with Microsoft program MSIZAP.exe.  The Installer directory is a space waster invented to support uninstallation of Office.  It contains hundreds of fat files with random number names.  Some (but not all) files are obsolete, they belong to old products previously removed from the system, except the uninstaller leaves the fat files behind.  The MSIZAP.exe program is a DOS program that with command line switches ! and G will delete any files in the installer directory that are not referenced in the registry. 
Step 1 is to obtain MSIZAP.  This is non trivial because Microsoft has withdrawn it.  Apparently Windows 7 and 8 are less robust than XP, and MSIZAP was breaking something in the "new and improved" Windows versions..  I am still running trusty XP, so I don’t care about breaking Win 7  and 8.   Despite the M$ down check, the program is so useful that private websites still have it.     I found it at:  under the name “msicuu2.exe”  Actually msicuu2 is a fancier M$ installer cleaner upper.  The fancier part calls good old msizap to get the work done.  After downloading and installing the msicuu2 package you will find msizap.exe in the newly created Program Files/ Windows Installer Clean Up directory. 
Step 2 is to run it.  Do Start -> Run and then open a dos window by typing “” in the run box.  Use the DOS  CD command to set the current directory to c:Program File\ Windows Installer Clean Up.  Remember to inclose directory names containing spaces in double quote marks.  Such as
CD c:\”program files”
Followed by
CD “windows installer clean up”  to avoid typing a long filestring in one fell swoop. 
Then execute msizap with the following command line
Msizap !G 
Be sure to include the !G command line switches, otherwise the program may do bad things.  On my machine the msizap issued a couple of “Error 2”  messages and then reported removing about 20 files. 
Checking afterwards showed the Windows Installer directory had shrunk from 1.6 Gig down to 1 Gig. 
  That's a lot of work for a measly 600 Meg.  BTW,  I read a lot of web chit chat to the effect that MSIZAP does bad things to Win 7 and 8, and newer versions of Office so beware.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Article 1 Section 7

"All Bills for the raising of Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives;" 

Anyone know how the Senate can originate this morning's fiscal cliff bill?  Seem like they did, and the newsies haven't said anything about Article 1 Section 7.