Sunday, March 31, 2013

Robo Disk Jockey is broken

The Notch, FM 106.something is a strange FM station.  It plays decent pop music with very few commercials or station breaks They don't do news, best we get is an occasional weather report.  I don't know what their business plan is, they don't run nearly enough ads to pay their electric bill.  To cut costs they don't have a disk jockey, they have some kind of robo player that keeps the music coming.
 Only, robo player broke down yesterday.  The music is shutting off at random, in the middle of a tune.  After some minutes of dead air, the next tune begins to play.  They apparently don't have maintenance people.  I'm wondering how long they will last.  Is someone trying to fix it, or have they gone out of business except someone forgot to turn off their transmitter? 

Polarization, (political type)

Been reading " The Second  Civil War, How Extreme Partisanship has paralysed Washington and Polarized American"  by Ronald Brownstein  The title pretty much sums up the book.  It was published in 2007, just before Great Depression 2.0   It treats the situation as a Washington DC problem, a problem caused by Congressmen who are no longer interested in forging legislation acceptable to both sides and passing it.  Brownstein complains that modern Congressmen are more interested in sticking it to the other side than forming a concensus.  All of this is interesting, but Brownstein misses the point.
   Congressmen vote their districts.  When the district has the bit in its teeth and is running in one direction, the Congressman must vote that way, if he wants to remain a Congressman.  Congressmen are only free to cut deals on issues that their district doesn't care about.
   The reason Congress is more polarized is that the voters are more polarized.  The country is evenly split between liberals and conservatives (alternate names for Democrats and Republicans)  Neither side has enough votes to push their legislation thru, so nothing gets done.  Brownstein's book would have been more interesting if he had investigated the causes of this vast split in American voters.  Why are the voters more partisan than they used to be?  The last election was a close one.  The Democrats didn't win enough House seats to give the sort of control that FDR enjoyed.  Until there is a sea change voter's attitudes about  taxes, spending, abortion, and immigration, which elects a solid majority in favor of one course of action,  little will get done.
   These things take time.  If you believe the polls, we are  seeing such a change in attitudes about gay marriage right now.  I don't really expect that kind of movement across the board.  So we will have to bumble along with Washington deadlocked for quite a few more years.  This ain't all bad,  a lot of destructive legislation won't get passed. 

Saturday, March 30, 2013

$4 gasoline, its coming soon

Governor Maggie the Hassan wants another 12 cents a gallon for the state.  She and the democrats claim it is needed for "infrastructure maintenance".   Actually they want to use it to finish widening I93 south of Manchester.  Then Obama's EPA announces new rules reducing the amount of sulfur in gasoline.  The bureaucrats claim it will only cost an additional penny per gallon.  The oil industry says it will cost more like 9 cents a gallon.  I know which numbers I trust more. 
   So between Maggie and Barry, 12 cents plus 9 cents is 21 cents a gallon price hike.  When the price of crude goes up again it will be even worse.

Friday, March 29, 2013

The Economist admits Global Warming Ends

Breakthough.  The Economist has been strong for Global Warming for years.  They like cap and trade, carbon taxes, alternate energy, CAFE and all that politically correct stuff.  In this week's issue they finally admit that global temperatures have been flat since 1998.  Seas ain't gonna rise, we will have snow for skiing and enough cold weather to make the sap rise so we can make maple syrup.  They show some graphs of world temperatures with a flat top for the last 15 years. 
   They have no idea why this is happening.  All the computer models predict warming.  Measured atmospheric CO2 is up, reflective aerosols are down.  But the decline cannot be hidden any longer.
   The global warming skeptics have been soap boxing about the lack of warming for some time now.  To have a pro warmist magazine like the Economist pick up on it means the data is fairly convincing.
  However, we must not let our guard down says the Economist.  That nasty warming might come back.  We need to keep inflicting economic pain upon ourselves just is case. 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

How secure is secure?

The TV is full of talk about "securing the border" before doing an immigration bill.  Sounds good, but what do we mean by "secure".  No matter what we do, the occasional lucky alien will get across now and then.  And, those that do, won't tell anyone that they made it.  So there is no way to actually measure the security of the border, in terms of how many aliens got thru or didn't get thru.
   More reasonable is to talk about a level of effort.  How much effort should be expended on border security?  For me, I'd settle for a good chain link fence running all the way from the Pacific to the Gulf of Mexico, paralleled with a road to permit jeep borne patrols all along the border.  And enough Border Patrolmen to run a patrol about once an hour.  Do this much, and I'd call the border secure even if a few illegal aliens did slip across from time to time. 
   Others might call for more or less security.
   If  "a secure border" is necessary to more forward on an immigration bill, then we need to agree on just how secure is secure enough.  That is, if we honestly want to negotiate an immigration bill.
   We have plenty of dishonest politicians who talk the talk but actually won't walk the walk. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

We don't oppose it 'cause it's malarkey

Instead we oppose it 'cause it is vaguely associated with religion.  An Arizona high school was teaching from materials supplied by United Scholastic.  United Scholastic is associated in some way with the Church of Scientology.  They didn't say just what the association was (ownership? historical? shared board of directors?).  And they went on at length complaining that using United Scholastics stuff was a violation of the first amendment (establishment of religion)
  They didn't say anything about whether the United Scholastics material was any good or not.  That apparently doesn't matter.
  L Ron Hubbard started writing science fiction back in the 1950's.  He was only middling good as a writer but he did get some stories published in Astounding Science Fiction (Later Analog Science Fiction) the premier SF mag.  His paperbacks stayed in print into the 1980's.  In the later 1950's he invented the "science" of Dianetics.  From there he went on to found the Church of Scientology, a cult which has been in and out of trouble with the law, here and overseas, for many many years.
   With that background, I would be intensely suspicious of anything associated with the Church of Scientology.  Because everything else L Ron Hubbard had a hand in was pure malarkey. 
   However our crusaders from NPR cannot be troubled with evaluating the worth of the United Scholastic material.  It's far more important to trash it for being "religion". 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Background check or blacklist?

The gun control folks are calling for yet more background checks.  Like background checks for sales between family members, friends, and private individuals.  So someone picks up the phone, calls a magic phone number and asks if it is OK to sell a gun to so and so.  At the far end of the phone, some bureaucrat checks the name against a list.  If the name isn't on the list he says "OK sell it to him". 
  In short we have the government running a blacklist.  Once your name goes on the list, you cannot purchase firearms.  Since this list is so damaging, ethical doctors are reluctant to mess up their patient's lives by calling the government and saying " I was just treating so an so and I think he is a danger to society and you ought to put him on the gun blacklist." 
   If the government is going to run a gun blacklist, there ought to be clear rules about how much evidence is needed to blacklist a citizen, rules for getting off the black list, and strict rules keeping the black list secret.  Amid all the happy talk about more background checks I haven't heard any talk about fair and just procedures for operating the black list. 

Ford's admen ride again

A week or so ago I twitted Ford over their ineffectual TV ad for an SUV.  This morning comes word via NPR that Ford India had done worse.  They chartered the JWT agency to do some ads.  JWT came up with an ad to show how big the trunk was.  The ad showed three women, bound and gagged, being loaded into the trunk.  Apparently Ford never actually ran this ad, but copies of it leaked out to the public and caused a furor.  It got so bad that Ford is publicly  apologizing for the ad. 
   Great thinking Ford.  Sell cars by showing them used for crime.  Even though V8 Fords were Bonnie and Clyde's favorite getaway cars, Ford never mentioned this in ads.  Let's be charitable and put this down to Indian Ford executives who presumable are less sensitive to public values than American ones. 
  Mulally ought to schedule all his execs for remedial ad creation 101.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Pricey Corporate Jet

The new version of the Gulfstream bizjet retails for a mere $64.5 million.  Nice plane and all, but how do I explain to my stockholders why I blew $64 million on a bizjet instead of paying it out as dividends?  Especially as IRS will make me capitalize it so I cannot even deduct the cost from earnings. 

Vikings on History Channel

I think I am going to stop watching this one.  Too much looting and murdering and general crime.  Too many bad looking guys with strange haircuts and shaggy beards.  Everyone is a bad guy, no good guys.  Terrible lighting, every indoor scene is too damn dark.  Color is poor.  Too many actors mumble their lines. 
  Too bad.  The title was attractive. 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Republican Post Mortem Report

After the 2012 wipeout, the Republican National Committee has issued a "What went wrong and how do we fix it" (aka Growth and Opportunity) report.  It came to me yesterday.  I skimmed it.  It's wordy.  It's full of nice sounding but non specific verbiage, repeated over and over again.  It fails to grapple with the key issues.
   Number One key issue is the women's vote.  We lost the woman's vote to Obama by a margin of 10%.  Right there is the whole election.  Ten percent of half the population is more the all the Hispanics, and all the gays put together.  Republicans have to figure out what has to be done to regain the woman's vote.  Does the party have to drop it's anti abortion stance?  Does it have to offer free contraceptives to all?  How many women care about charter schools?  Do we need to support charter schools?  Teachers (mostly women) are dead set against charter schools.  Are there enough mothers who care about charters to offset all those unionized teachers?  How many women care about an opportunity to join the infantry?  Does maternity leave (or paternity leave)  have any resonance with woman voters?  Do women want the right to carry concealed or do they want to take the guns away from the bad guys? 
  Grow and Opportunity report simply doesn't deal with woman's issues. Probably too controversial.
  Number Two key issue is the youth vote, youth being everyone under 30.  Youth care deeply about the internet, specifically the ability to download neat stuff, music, and movies.  They hate the Digital Millenium Copyright Act.  They hate the current copyright law that extends copyright forever.  They don't like taxing sales over the internet.
   Young folk are universally in favor of gay marriage.  They see it as a fundamental right, and opposition is seen like racial prejudice or antisemitism.  And,  most young folk see nothing wrong with abortion.  
   And where does the Republican Party stand on any of these issues?  Who knows, Growth and Opportunity report is silent.  Again, probably too controversial.
   Until the Republicans debate these real issues and come to some conclusions, the Democrats will win to next election.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Evolution of domestic dogs

Interesting article here about discovery of a dog 33,000 years old.  That's a long time ago.  The article talks a lot about "morphology"  (size and shape) and DNA analysis.  The author argues that  this isn't really the beginning of domestication of dogs, the "morphology" is pretty much pure wolf and the DNA matching is more wolf than dog.  He speculates that this specimen represents an early attempt at domestication that didn't work out, or the harshness of the last ice age which started maybe 20,000 years ago,  aborted the domestication. 
    In actual fact, the difference between domestic dogs and wolves is psychological, more than anything else.  Dogs have a much better attitude about humans than wolves do.  Dogs will accept petting, food, affection, and even obey orders.  Wolves, not so much.  Modern German Shepherds and Huskies look a lot like wolves but aren't.  It's not clear to me that this psychological difference would make much difference in the DNA or in the shape of bones. 
    It's a good bet that wolves were domesticates when some human children came upon orphan wolf pups in the wild.  When young, pups are cute, humans are attracted to cute, and surely the children carried the pup[s] home and made pets of them.  Some wolf pups so adopted must have carried the genes needed to bond with humans.  Probably other orphan pups lacked these genes and ran away when they grew old enough or were driven off when they did something wolflike such as threatening small children.    Some how, an adopted wolf cub who hung with the humans must have found a mate somewhere, and gave birth to a litter of pups while living with humans.  It would only take a couple of dog generations to establish a domestic strain of dogs that were breeding while living with humans.  Dogs are pretty useful in the hunt and in guarding the camp.  The humans would have taken to them.  Despite the harshness of the coming ice age, it's hard to see that breaking up the domestication of dogs once begun. 

Continuing Resolution is real, Budget is show

The TV news had been full of budget talk, the Ryan budget, the Senate budget, the White House budget, and who passed what.  They are threatening to withhold Senate salaries unless the Senate gets its act together and passes a budget.  The newsies love this story and give it a lot of air play. 
  The budget story, while entertaining, isn't all that important.  A budget just expresses hopes.  Budgets do NOT allocate money, authorize spending,  authorize programs or hiring or retention of federal employees.  The budget just says "We want spending to be so much, taxes to be hiked so much, and we will only run a deficit so big."  Worthy thoughts, but  of no real effect.
   Taxes will be what they were last year unless Obama musters enough votes for a tax hike.  Spending on "entitlements"  (Medicare, Medicaid, social security, pensions,and some other stuff)  will be what it will be.  Social Security will write checks  to all those eligible, Medicare and Medicare will cover the medical bills of all those who go to their doctors, pensions will get paid.   This happens automatically, or at least til the money runs out.  The rest of federal spending is "discretionary"  meaning Congress must pass a law authorizing the spending of tax payer money.  Discretionary is Defense, Justice, State,  HUD, Homeland Security, Energy, EPA, Agriculture, FAA, FCC, Highway Trust Fund, and a bunch more.
   In the old days, Congress would pass a  separate law (appropriation bill) for each discretionary organization.  This process was bogging down even back in the 1960's.  Appropriations bills were always late.  USAF in those days never knew what it could spend until the very last day of the fiscal year.  Each year the start of the new fiscal year was rolled back a month to give Congress more time to wrangle over appropriation bills.  Eventually Congress got so late that they skipped an entire fiscal year.
  It got so bad that the new fiscal year would start but Congress hadn't passed any appropriation bills at all.  In order to prevent a total shutdown, Congress passed a "Continuing Resolution" that year which said "All you agencies can spend what you spent last year, with a few little changes here and there. "
  Continuing Resolutions have the advantage of being filibuster proof.  While hard core senators could hold up appropriations for this department or that department, they never had the stones to hold up the entire federal government.   And, it's very difficult to figure out just how much money is going where.  You have to know what the appropriations were when the last appropriations bill was passed, (ancient history) and work in all the ups and downs from all the subsequent continuing resolutions.  Doing this is a life's work.  Congressmen just vote to pass the thing.  They don't really know where the money is going.
   Anyhow, the last continuing resolution expires at the end of March.  A few WashPo articles claim that Congress passed another continuing resolution that carries us forward to September.  Fox News said (once) that the continuing resolution includes the famous "sequester" budget cuts.  Let's hope so.
  September will be here, real soon, and they will have to pass yet another continuing resolution.  "Cuts" only take effect if they get included in the continuing resolution.   

Friday, March 22, 2013

Pope Francis, I wish him well

I will admit that I never heard of him before they made him pope.  I wish him, and the Catholic Church, and the whole of Christendom well.  We all need it. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Cannon Mt. Ski Weather

We got another inch of powder last night and it stayed cold.  What with the 6 inches we got yesterday and this dusting we are in good shape. 

Whither the aircraft carrier?

Wired had a piece here.  It make some good points.  The United States (richest nation on earth) can only afford 10 or 11  full sized carriers.  Should enemy subs or missiles or mines or land based aircraft get lucky, then the US is out of seapower for all the years it takes to build new carriers.  There is much to be said for cheaper vessels, of which we can afford lots of. 
   The Wired writer doesn't understand a number of things.  Steam catapults need a steam power plant to furnish the necessary steam.  It takes a lot of steam to hurl a 20 ton loaded aircraft fast enough to make it fly.  Smaller lower cost ships tend to have gas turbines or even diesels rather than expensive steam plants.  A low cost carrier cannot have a steam catapult and remain low cost. 
   In addition to the catapult, aircraft carriers must steam at full speed into the wind when launching aircraft to generate enough wind over the deck to get heavily loaded aircraft into the air.  The big carriers can all do better than 30 knots which takes a huge engine plant.  Again, a low cost carrier (they called them escort carriers in WWII) cannot have that kind of engines and remain low cost. 
  So, the low cost carrier cannot support the high performance jet fighters needed to keep enemy aircraft away.  They will be limited to helicopters, jump jets, and some yet-to-be built propeller aircraft.  They will depend upon land based air or full sized carriers, or missiles for protection against enemy air attack.  Still, such a ship can be very useful.  In fact the Navy has built a number of them, they are called helicopter carriers. 
  One other thing the Wired writer doesn't understand.  Subs, especially nuclear subs, are terribly expensive.  A sub costs five to ten times what a surface vessel costs.  Building subs just to carry Tomahawk cruise missiles is expensive.  The US Navy only has such subs because it found itself with a bunch of big ballistic missile subs left over from the Cold War.  They weren't needed anymore to deter the Soviets, they were too new and too expensive to just scrap, so they loaded them up with Tomahawks.   They did this because they had the subs, all built and paid for, not because it was economical.  In fact, Tomahawk missiles cost $1 million apiece, there are few targets out there worth $1 million. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Old Winter Driving Trick

Which seems to be forgotten these days.  
In winter, always BACK into the driveway.
Why you ask?
Simple, when it snows and you get plowed in, your odds of ramming out thru the snowdrift are much better going forward as opposed to backing up. 
Secondary reason.  Should your car fail to start, and need a jump start, it's a whole bunch easier then the hood is on the street side.

First we had the electric wheelchairs

   You must have seen the TV ads showing a happy grandmother whirring around the kitchen, while the voiceover claims the "Medicare and your insurance will pay for this goodie".
   Now we have electric breast milk pumps.  Obamacare, that all purpose tax hike/medical insurance/death panel law requires health insurers support breast feeding.  Which means supplying breast milk pumps for free to nursing mothers.
   Now, someone has invented an electric breast milk pump.  The simple $35 all plastic manual type, is no longer good enough.  Obamacare will pay for the $300 electric models. 
   Helping to push health care costs ever higher. 
   Ex wife breast fed all three of our children using the manual model.  If she could do it, so can anyone else. 

Cannon Mt Ski Weather

It started snowing yesterday afternoon and kept at it all night.  We got a good six inches of nice light powder.  It stayed cold, it's 25 right now.   Skiing is excellent and barring a rainstorm, oughta stay that way for the weekend.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

NHPR celebrates 10th anniversery of Iraq War

Perhaps celebrate is too strong.  They ran pieces about how tough women soldiers had it on deployment, especially the single mothers.  Heartbreaking story about heartless teen age kids giving Mom a hard time over her deployment.  Followed up with other stories explaining why we should not have gone to Iraq and how little the war achieved.  Good heartwarming stuff, just what I like to hear in the morning.  Thanks NHPR. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

787 versus lithium batteries

Boeing has submitted paperwork for a fix to FAA.  They are improving the battery assembly and enclosing the battery assembly inside a fireproof battery box with over board vents, so that should the "improved" battery catch fire again the fire will be contained inside the battery box and the smoke vented overboard.
  The "improved" battery is only medium convincing.  This is a replaceable cell battery.  Eight separate cells, each yielding a little less than four volts are packed inside a metal box.  Wired in series this gives a 28 volt battery, the standard aircraft battery voltage for the last 70 years or more.  There is a battery monitor, an electronic black box that checks each cell, jumper straps to tie the cells together in series, a wiring harness for the battery monitor.  Changes involve wrapping each cell in tape,  lock washers on the terminal straps, more shrink tubing to insulate the wiring harness.  The battery monitor will be reprogrammed to alarm more readily.  These are quality control measures that are a good idea in general, but don't sound like a real fix.  The real problem is that for some reason battery cells now and then decide to catch fire.  Once a single cell catches fire, it will light off its neighbor cells since they are all packed cheek by jowl inside the battery assembly.
    In going over all the paperwork generated, it was revealed that Securiplane, the maker of the 787 battery charger, never tested their charger on a real battery.  Due to a previous battery fire in their lab, they decided testing with real batteries was too dangerous.  All testing of the charger circuitry was done on simulated batteries instead of the real thing.  That's surprising.  Anyone with real flight line experience will tell you that simulators are never exactly like the real thing. 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Cruises from Hell

Been a lot of stories of cruise ship breakdowns.  Carnivale Cruise lines makes the news most often.  The worst was one ship that lost all engine power at sea.  They had to get  towed back to port.  With no electric power, the galley was in trouble, no refrigerators, no stoves.  Cuisine suffered, passengers were fed on MRE's.  Running water stopped running and toilets stopped flushing.  No one was hurt, but that was pure luck.  Passengers and TV news told horror stories for days.  There have been several others resulting in cruises cut short.
  A ship without engine power full of passengers is a disaster waiting to happen.  A little bad weather and a powerless ship will sink.  The weather in the Caribbean isn't as nasty as the North Atlantic, but, they do get hurricanes from time to time.  In the interests of passenger safety we need to insist on cruise ships that never loose power at sea.   
  The real problem is unseaworthy cruise ships.  Any ship of that size ought to have twin screws, twin engines, twin engine rooms so that if one breaks the other keeps the ship moving and the electricity flowing. Everything ought to be duplicate and redundant.    Engine rooms ought to have sprinklers in case of fire.  No single failure should disable the ship.  There are insurance company and government regulations on ship construction.  Are these regulations stiff enough?  And do they apply to cruise ships registered in Panama or other third world sinkholes?     Building ships right costs more than just slapping them together any old which way.  Cruise lines are competitive.  They have an obligation to their stock holders to make a profit. They will take short cuts compromising passenger safety unless there are regulations and inspectors enforcing those regulations. 
   We had senator Chuckie the Schumer on TV calling for a "passenger bill of rights".   Such as the right to a refund, and the right to have the toilets flush.  A lawyer's solution to everything.  That isn't the problem.

Why do I still watch Meet the Press?

Can't be 'cause I want to find out what's going on.  This morning we had democrat Charles Van Hoolen claim that Obama had made $1.5 trillion in cuts.  In actual fact, Obama is going to spend more this year than he did last year, even after the "drastic" sequester.  You cannot claim a cut when spending goes up.  Chalk up Mr. Van Hoolen as another democrat who doesn't tell the truth.  Oh well, last week democrat Kasini Reed claimed $2.5 trillion in cuts.  So this week they cut their cuts by a cool $1 trillion.
   Then we had moderator David Gregory talk about an acceptable ratio of spending cuts to tax hikes.  Right now that ratio is $600 billion to zero.  And we all remember what divide by zero yields.
   Switch subjects to gay marriage (important topic) .  We find out that it's now called "marriage equality" 'cause that sounds better than "gay marriage".
   Chris Matthews goes off on a rant about the necessity to think of gay marriage as a right.  Chris omits mentioning the "right" of gay marriage ought to be decided the same way every thing else in a democracy is decided, by the ballot box.  Gay marriage becomes a right when there are enough votes to pass it into law.  If you don't have the votes, it ain't a right. 

Friday, March 15, 2013

It's difficult to be Republican these days.

The hard part is creating a party platform that will attract voters.  After the disaster of Nov 2012, Republicans have been doing a lot of soul searching.  Practicing Republicans (selectmen, school board, State reps, party officials, party workers)  want the party to stand for jobs, tax cuts, spending cuts, and improving the economy.  They don't want to get mixed up in the wedge issues (abortion, contraception and gay marriage), cause they know these issues are losers.  They drive away more young voters, than the elderly voters they appeal too.  If the practical Republicans had their druthers, no Republican would ever mention a wedge issue, especially in primary elections. 
  Trouble is the abortion issue is huge and it really motivates a lot of voters.  Used to be the country was split 50-50 on it.  Recent polling suggests that  the pro abortion sentiment is now ahead maybe 55 to 45 percent.  That's huge.  Means every time the issue comes up, Republicans loose by 10 percent.  In American elections 10 percent is a landslide. 
   Guess which party the 45 percent anti abortion voters join?  I'll give you a clue, it ain't the democrats.
   So here we are with a load of gung ho anti abortion voters in the party.  It's a democratic party, we cannot kick them out or brainwash them.  And they vote in primaries.   So the Republicans have a LOT of wedge issue voters that won't go away.  And Republican candidates have to  come to the best terms they can make with them. 

Words of the Weasel Pt 30

"Balance" or "Balanced".  This is Obamaspeak meaning "Tax Hike".

Ford needs a better ad man

It's a maximally ineffective TV car ad.  It starts off with an animated cartoon of a SUV.  As the voice over explains that the SUV is too small to hold all the passengers.  The cartoon car shows bulges all of a sudden.  Then they melt down the cartoon car and redraw it. A happy voice over now explains how everyone fits inside, now.    That uses up half the ad time.
  Then we finally get to see a photo of the car they are trying to sell.  It bursts thru a big sheet of wallpaper.  The car is not on screen long enough to really see it.  It's painted mud color.  It has an odd name "C-Max" which is never spelled out on screen.   It has three grownups squeezed into the back seat looking squashed which kinda negates the point the cartoons tried to make.  Price is not given. 
   That ad ain't gonna sell cars.
   To sell a car on TV  you want to show the car,.early and all the way thru.  You want to show the car name prominently and early, 'cause cars all look alike these days.  Give the car a real pronounceable name rather than random strings of letters and numbers.Show people doing fun things in the car at interesting places.  For instance parked at a beach with surfboards on the roof.  Or with skis on the roof at a ski resort.  Or towing a boat trailer to a fishing spot. Or beside a tent at a scenic campground.  And paint the car a real color, not mud.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Facebook Privacy Probably does not exist

Monday's Wall St Journal had a piece headlined "Guide to Facebook's Privacy Options. I just spent half an hour checking my options. It's complicated and many options are so deeply hidden you are unlikely to find them without a road map. I think the wise facebooker considers all facebook posts public and refrains from posting anything embarrassing or that might turn off a future employer.

A Sweet Deal

The US Department of Agriculture is planning to buy 400,000 tons of sugar to prop up sugar prices.  That's $168 million worth of sugar, at the March price of 21.03 cents a pound.  Where is that sequester when you need it?
   According to the Wall St Journal, USDA is motivated by a desire to prevent bankruptcy among sugar producers who have borrowed $862 million from USDA this growing season.  If the producers go broke, Uncle doesn't get paid back, at least not in dollars.  Apparently the sugar borrowers pledge their crops as security for the loans.  If they don't have money, they give the sugar to Uncle Sam instead of dollars.  Last time this happened, 2000,  Uncle wound up the proud owner of  one million tons of sugar. At least sugar isn't perishable, that gives bureaucrats some years to figure out how to get rid of it.  The 2008 farm bill calls for this sugar to be made into ethanol and added to gasoline. 
   In addition to cheap loans and price supports, the sugar industry gets tariff protection.  World sugar prices are only 18 cents a pound, compared with 21 cents a pound inside the US.   The National Confectioners Association, big sugar consumers, claim the sugar producers have cost US consumers $14 billion in higher sugar prices since the 2008 farm bill passed.
  One bright spot.  Our democratic senator, Jeanne Shaheen calls this swindle  "unacceptable" and is sponsoring a bill to "give the USDA more flexibility in handling the sugar program".  More flexibility my foot, she ought to sponsor a bill to shut this scam down completely.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

World's most famous stove pipe comes out of storage

The Vatican's chimney, the one that puffs white smoke or black smoke to signal election or non election of a new pope was on TV the other day.  Vatican workers were shown installing it in the roof of the Sistine Chapel.  Damn.  You would think that the world famous chimney would be solid masonry, there all the time,  not a piece of stove pipe kept in some storage place except for papal elections.  If for no other reason, Vatican tout guides would love to be able to point out the famous chimney to tourists. 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

There oughta be law

Against telemarketers who ring your phone and then fail to answer when you pick up.  Penalties might include boiling in oil, keel hauling, and hanging from the nearest phone pole. 

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Green Eggs and Ham, #1 in hard cover fiction

It's been a week and Dr, Suess still dominates the Wall St Journal best sellers list.  Of the 10 entries in hard cover fiction, 6 of them are Dr. Suess.  Green Eggs and Ham is now the number 1 best seller. 

Friday, March 8, 2013

New York Times makes up new science

The Times ran an article about Shaun Marcott and his team at Oregon State University.   Marcott claims to have "read" earth's temperature going back 11 thousand years.  Naturally (for the NYT) Marcott's temperature "reading" shows temperature's were colder than today, for the last 11 thousand years.  Global warming rides again.
  Naturally the Times didn't both to explain just how Marcott was able to measure the temperate 10,000 years ago.  That's actually quite a trick.  Many global warmers have made mistakes, like claiming tree ring wide indicates temperate.  (It indicates rainfall).
  The Times also quotes the notorious Dr. Michael Mann of Penn State.  Mann was exposed in the great Hadley Climate Research Unit document leak as an very partisan warmist not above fudging his results to get the answers that he wants. 
  Finally, the Times declares a solution to the age old question of "what caused the ice ages".  This has been a topic of discussion for the last century or more.  There are dozens of theories kicking around, none of them convincing enough to become generally accepted.  But this doesn't stop our NYT warmists.  The Times boldy declares that variation in the heat of the Sun causes ice ages.  Sun gets colder and we have an ice age.
Trouble with this theory is that instrument readings don't support it.  We have solar output readings going back to the beginnings of artificial satellites.  The instruments are sensitive enough to show the 11 year sun spot cycle.  But they don't show any long term variation at all.  Solar output today is exactly the same as it was 40 years ago (date of earliest satellite observations).   Which suggests that the Sun burns at the same level all the time.   
  Glad to hear that the Times is so scientifically hep, throwing out new theories as if they were generally accepted.  I always believe what I read in the Times. 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Renaming the Washington Redskins.

The PC police are suing the Washington Redskins football team.  They claim "Redskin" is racist and derogatory and yadda yadda. The case is at the Supreme Court right now.
  If the court rules that "Redskins" is unacceptable, I think the team ought rename themselves as the Washington Rednecks.  

Bring back top 40 radio

Was watching Channel 6 (Vermont Public TV).  They had an hour long show (Hullabaloo) with just  good '60s groups playing good '60s hits.  It was great to hear.  Back in the day you could get music that good off the AM car radio.  Now a days, all the car radio (FM no less) has is elevator music. 
  And, despite 60 year old recordings, you could hear every single word of the lyrics.  Unlike many current movies. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Change of Blog Template.

Youngest son thought the default page color was boring and made my blog look moldy.  So I just changed it. 


Op Ed in today's Wall St Journal calling for new federal laws to harden up cybersecurity.  Author is a Texas Republican congressman on the Homeland Security Committee.  He talks about the risks, which are real.  Then he wants new laws.  Just what he wants to make law is less clear.  He mentions "necessary liability protections" and "streamlining processes" which don't mean much to me.  I am suspicious of "necessary liability protection".  Fear of tort lawyers suing the company down to its socks is a good motivator to tighten up security. 
   In the real world what cyber security means is the computer administrators all across the private and public sectors tightening up on passwords, disallowing login from the public internet, and paying real bucks to buy private lines to remote sites rather than passing everything over the wide open public internet.
  It means Microsoft has to close the gaping holes in Windows security.  Right now you can plug a CD or a flashdrive into a Windows computer and Windows will automatically and secretly load and execute what ever malware is on that media.  This is how the hard hitting Stuxnet worm was loaded onto Iranian computers.  Flash drives with Stuxnet in them were scattered about the parking lot and sharp eyed employees walking from their cars picked them up and took them into work.  There are dozens of other holes in Windows, it's like Swiss cheese.  Any high school kid can break into Windows  without working up a sweat. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Innumeracy on the Factor

I'm watching Bill O'Reilly on the Factor last night.  He has some blonde Hollywood woman on who is selling "Alternate Energy".  O'Reilly allows that he has a house on Long Island that needs to be heated.  The Alternate Energy Blonde then launched into a long spiel about how to heat with alcohol.  She is sincere, makes you want to run out and pour a fifth of Old Crow into the furnace. 
  But,  O'Reilly never asks her how much alcohol costs.  Furnace oil costs me $4 a gallon.  Whiskey costs  me $20 a gallon at the State Store.  Granted industrial alcohol for fuel is probably less, but is it cheaper than furnace oil? 
  Alternate energy is like alternate medicine.  Quackery.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Hide the menus. Fixing My Deskjet

So one fine day, I click on "print" to get hardcopy of a spread sheet.  The D4260 whirs and thrashes and out comes a nearly blank sheet of page.  One a single number prints, everything else is blank.  I futz around with Excel's format menu, thinking the maybe the text color had been changed to white-on-white or something. Finally I change the text color to blue, and lo and behold, it prints. 
  Ah, the black ink cartridge must have run out.  So, next trip to Wally Mart, I buy an new one.  Only the new one doesn't match the number on the old one exactly.  It's close and I think it ought to work, so I pay $19 for it. 
  Once back home I am happy to find the new cartridge clips right into the printer, so far so good.  I haven't totally wasted $19 on a cartridge that won't fit.  Then I think I might print a test page, just to make sure the new black ink cartridge works. 
  Used to be, you clicked on Start, Settings, Printer and Faxes, and obtained a list of all the printers and pseudo printers on your machine.  And, there was a check box to print a test page for each device. 
  Not any longer.  You have to right click on the printer, select "Printer Preferences" and then "Features" and then "Printer Services" and then "Device Services" to get to a menu offering to print a test page.  It takes a while to find my way this deep into the bowels of HP's user friendliness.  I hit "Test Page".  The printer whirres and thrashes and I get a test page that is all in color.  No black. 
   This has gotta mean that the new black cartridge ain't working.  Does it not?  I remove the cartridge to make sure I have removed the factory shipping seal over the ink holes.  No joy, the seal has been removed and there is even a little wet ink to blacken my finger.
  I decide not to trust the HP test page and open up Word for Windows and print a short document.  That works.  Hurrah. 
  Sometimes I get nostalgic for the good old Centronics 101 dot matrix printers. 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Gas Tax Hike, WMUR

WMUR had a couple of gas taxers on.  They want a $0.15 cent a gallon hike in the state gasoline tax,  The excuse given is that our roads and bridges are all falling down and in need of money.  The real reason is they want the money to finish widening I93 south of Manchester.  That project is pretty much at a stand still. 
  But we had money to replace a tiny little bridge on Three Mile Hill over the Gale River, to replace an elegant steel truss bridge over the Ammonusuc out by Lahout's with a boring  highway style I beam bridge, and we were able to repave US 302, I-93, and NH Rt 18.  All of this work in just in the last couple of seasons.  Far as I can see our roads and bridges are in decent shape up here.  Far better shape than anything around New York City.  
   Another downside, all the revenue dedicated to the highway fund, whether it needs it or not.  Give 'em money and they will spend it.  There is always something you can do.   We would save money if the highway department had to come to the legislature and justify each project they want to do.  Give our legislature a chance to veto some of the real pork projects. 
Everyone wants earmarked money, money they can count on getting, the schools, the highway, the police, all of 'em want guaranteed money that they don't have to justify to the legislature, the taxpayers, and the press. I don't see why they should get it.

Beat the Press

David Gregory was on air, harassing John Bohner about the sequester.  The usual things were said.   What Bohner did not say is sorta interesting.  Bohner did not say that the sequester was small and he did not say that the sequester was all about fake cuts, after sequester the US government will spend more than it spent last year.  In short, the sequester is about chicken feed.
   So John Bohner is perfectly happy to have a not-very-important issue taking up air time and the limited attention span of TV newsies.  Does this mean Bohner thinks he "won" on the sequester? 

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Dr. Suess revival

Saturday Wall St Journal, Best selling hard cover fiction.  We have Green Eggs and Ham, One Fish Two Fish Red Fish, Blue Fish, The Cat in the Hat, Fox in Sox, Dr .Suess's ABC, and Hop on Pop. These took places 2,3,5,7,8,10.   The good doctor took 6 out of 10 spots this weekend.  All of these are old favorites that I remember reading aloud to my children back in the day.  Dunno what this means in the larger scheme of things.  AS you might guess, no Dr. Suess books made in the Fiction E-books list.  Which figures, it's hard to imagine reading Dr. Suess to small children off a Kindle.