Sunday, June 30, 2013

FISA court upset by negative publicity

According to WAPO, the poor overworked judges of the FISA rubberstamp court are unhappy about their press treatment.  This is the court that OK'ed  all but 10 of 2000 requests to snoop. 
I feel so sorry for them.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Taking the Fifth, Lois Lerner

Nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.  They had Lois Lerner of the IRS up in front of a Congressional investigating committee.  She said " I didn't do anything wrong.  And I'm taking the fifth".
   Same committee has just decided that Lois's "I didn't do anything wrong" statement  prevents her from taking the fifth, and they plan to grill her some more.
  I don't approve.  The fifth amendment is intended to prevent judges and prosecutors from forcing defendants to confess.  As in "Sign this confession and we won't use this rubber hose on you any more."  That's an important safeguard for us plain citizens against the criminal justice system.  I'd rather let Lois Lerner slide by than give up on the fifth amendment.
   In Lois's case, we ought to fire her and cancel her pension and her government health care.  That would put the fear of God into that building full of bureaucrats.  And her sidekick, Rose-something-or-other, ought to be fired too.  That's well within the power of Congress.  And it's constitutional too.

Friday, June 28, 2013

A break in the weather

Yesterday dawned bright and sunny, and I decided to get on with a couple of household tasks that had been on hold, 'cause of days and days of rain.  I stained the deck and mowed the lawn.  Got both jobs done before sundown. 
   This morning I woke up to the sound of rain pattering on the roof.  But I felt real good about the deck and the lawn.  Rainwater is beading up nicely on the deck,  and the lawn is cut too short to assault the house, at least for a few more days.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

From The Economist. Can Iran be stopped?

The Economist doesn't have a clue.  They spend a lot of time discussing an Israeli air strike.  They sort of conclude the because the Israelis have not laid down a "red line", they don't plan a strike.  That's not how the Israelis do things.
   The Israelis understand something that any parent learns pretty quick.  Namely, never make idle threats.  If you make a threat, you gotta be ready to carry it out.  If you make a threat and then back down at crunch time, things get worse for you.  One day Obama may learn this.
   As far as carrying out an air strike on Iranian nuclear facilities, there is reason to doubt the Israeli Air Force has the capability to do an effective strike.  Iran has a lot of sites,  some of them are buried really really deep, no one knows if the Israelis know which sites are critical, and which are dummies.  Iran has air defenses, and a suite of hot new Russian SAM's on order.  I don't know how many aircraft the Israelis have, if they have the range and payload needed to do the job.  I'm sure the Israelis have worked the numbers on an air strike, and  the answer is probably, "We would have to be awfully lucky to carry it off". 
  As long as that's the answer, the Israelis aren't gonna make threats, 'cause they aren't sure they can make good on them.  They may decide to throw the dice if things get sticky, but they won't make threats or announce their plans in advance. 
   There is one equalizer that doesn't get talked about much.  The Israelis are believed to have nuclear weapons, although they have never made any such claim and are not known to have conducted a bomb test.  If the Israeli's made the first strike on Iran with nukes, their odds go way up for them, you only need one hit with a nuke to take out damn near anything.  However, the big boys (Russia and the US) have made it abundantly clear that they disapprove of use of nukes by anybody.  Nobody knows just what the big boys might do, but nobody wants to find out either.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Voter Fraud and same day registration

Used to be, much voter fraud was prevented by registration.  On election day, they asked your name and looked you up on the voter registration list.  If your name was on the list, you got to vote.  Fairly airtight.  Then in New Hampshire we put in same day registration, show up at the polls on election day, and vote whether you are on the list or not.   The college kids at Dartmouth, UNH, and even humble Plymouth State loved it, didn't matter if you were an out of state student, you get to vote in NH elections.  The real citizens of Hanover, Plymouth and  Durham are completely swamped by hordes of college students on election day. 
So now we are wrangling over various voter ID requirements. 
   So I asked a couple of local politicos about the chance of just repealing same day registration.  They both said, "No can do, Federal law requires same day registration."
   Is that right?  Anyone know for sure?


Stainless Steel is so dated.

There have been repeated rants in the home decorating, Martha Stewart, kind of press declaring stainless steel kitchen appliances to be dead, as dead as avacado green.  This morning I saw a TV ad, showing a young couple, shopping for an icebox.  They are in a store aisle, completely surrounded by stainless steel iceboxes.  Like 20 of 'em.  Reports of the death of stainless have been exaggerated. 

The Supremes rule in favor of Gays today.

The Supremes overturned California Prop 8 which forbids gay marriage in the state of California.  They did it on a technicality rather that come right out and say "The US Constitution Article such-an-such means gay marriage is legal".  Probably they couldn't agree among then selves on such an interpretation.  Instead they decided that the plaintiffs lacked "standing", a lawyer's way of throwing out lawsuits.  And doing it this way, the ruling only affects California, it doesn't impose gay marriage on the non-gay marriage states, which would cause  political outrage. 
    It also supports judge made law.  It was a lower court that overturned Prop 8.  That ruling is what got appealed all the way to the Supremes.  The Supremes have said, "Doesn't matter what the voters say, we judges can make our own laws to suit ourselves."  Real democracy that is. 
    On the real issue, I'm neutral,  we have gay marriage here in New Hampshire, the legislature voted it in.  There has been some grumbling, but the bulk of the citizens are going along with a state law passed by majority vote in the state legislature.  The sky has not fallen. 
  While they were at it, in a separate case,  the Supremes overturned most of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)  Here at least, they ruled that DOMA violated the equal protection clause of the Constitution.  They didn't  mention that DOMA was as hard on lesbians as it was on gays. Far as I am concerned, that's equal protection, or at least equal prosecution. 
   But heh, they are the Supremes and we are stuck with 'em.

Monday, June 24, 2013

So What is a "Registered Provisional Immigrant"?

I first saw this phrase in an Email from my US Senator supporting the 1200 page Corker-What's-his-face amendment.
    Sounds like all those 11 million or so illegals currently in the country become "registered provisional immigrants" (RPI for short) as soon as the bill is passed.  Or as soon as they file a form down at the Post Office.  Wanna bet all those instant RPI's gain the right to stay in the US and the right to work in the US?  Once they have that, who needs a green card?   I mean a lot of perfectly decent folk just want to hold a job, raise their families, and pursue a little happiness.  Gaining US citizenship is of less importance to them, just as long as they can stay in the country and maintain a low profile.
    So, after declaring everyone an RPI, why do we need E-verify or employer sanctions?  I mean now that everybody is legal, sort of, why do we need by bang on employers about who they hire?  Especially since we are still in the grip of Great Depression 2.0 and want to get unemployment down?

Saturday, June 22, 2013

He must be guilty of something

Snowdon was indicted on NPR this morning for swiping government property and espionage.  Well they gotta charge him with something in order to ask the Chinese to extradite him.  Surely revealing top secret stuff to the newspapers is against the law.  At least back when I had a top secret clearance we all believed that  revealing classified stuff was illegal. I don't know what lawyers would call such a crime, but there ought to be a name for it.
   I don't quite go along with Dick Cheney and calling Snowdon a traitor.  "Treason against the United States shall consist only of levying War against them or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them aid and comfort."  Article III, section 3.  The founders put this in the Constitution to forbid the British crown's practice of declaring anything that angered the King to be treason.
   Snowdon's actions so far, although disloyal, don't quite rise to levying war, and the Chinese aren't exactly enemies of the United States.  Competitors, critics, pains in the tail, no good nicks, but not enemies. 
  The radio went on to describe the Snowdon situation as "a beginning epic legal battle".  Well, before that matters much, we have to  get Snowdon into US custody.  Somehow I don't think the Chinese are going to cooperate in that.  And there isn't all that much we can do to pressure them. 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Farm Bill killed in House

The House voted down the 2013 US Farm bill by 234 to 195.  Hurrah.  The Farm Bill is the purest kind of pork.  It takes my tax money and hands it out to farmers, most of whom are big corporations.  The suits bought out the family farmers long ago.  What money doesn't go to corporations goes to funding Food Stamps.  Preliminary news reports are sketchy, but it sounds like this was a $ 1 trillion dollars over ten years bill. 
   Don't celebrate just yet.  There is a good chance the combination of farm state votes and urban food stamps votes will pass a continuing resolution to keep the current farm program spending alive. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Guns at Last Light

Rick Atkinson.  This third history book carries the story from D-Day to defeat of Germany.  It's thick, it's well written and reads nicely.  It is the story of the US Army in WWII.  Allies, air forces, navies, Soviets, war production, Ultra, etc you have to go somewhere else.  It covers all the side shows in the European theater that most histories ignore.  Here is the story of the second landing in France, the Colmar pocket, Market Garden, and the Huertzgen Forest.  Now that all the participants are safely dead, it is possible to explore the political wrangling that was kept quiet for so long.  As Atkinson tells it, Montgomery spent the war being insufferable, and Eisenhower spent the war suffering him in the interests of keeping the Allies allied.  Also impressive is the sheer size of the war effort.  The number of men sent into combat and the mountains of materiel (stuff) produced and shipped overseas to sustain the massive forces in the field is incredible even by the standards of 70 years later.   It's a good read, right up there with Samuel Elliot Morison. 
   An Army and Dawn and Day of Battle, Atkinson's  first two books are also good. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Suits never learn

Aviation Week interviewed Boeing CEO Jim McNerney. 

Aviation Week:  "In retrospect, was the amount of weight you saved with Lithium Ion batteries a case of too much risk for too little reward?"

McNerney:  "It's not as simple as a weight-reduction-gone-awry conclusion because we get added capability from this battery, such as its capacity to quickly charge. In an all electric airplane, its a more capable battery. 

Yeah right.  Added capability is bafflegab.  All a battery can do is supply electricity.  As far "quick charging"  and "all electric airplane", all the battery has to do is get the engines started.  Then the aircraft runs off generator power.  As long as the battery recharges before the engines shut down at the end of the flight, all is well.

   In actual fact, some one at Boeing got carried away with the coolness of lithium batteries and did not bother to consider the fire hazard, which might not have been clear when the 787 was first conceived back in the late 1990's, but was pretty obvious by 2003 or 4.   Everyone else in the industry dropped lithium battery plans after they started catching fire in the 787.

Back to the Future, Obama style

NPR the morning announced that Obama wanted to negotiate a nuclear weapons reduction treaty with the Russians.  Cool, but so 1970's.  I mean nuclear deals with the Soviets were all the rage back in the 60's and 70's.  But the Cold War is over,  neither we nor the Russians have made an Dr. Strangelove noises for 20 years or more.
   Did Obama decide to resurrect this bit of Cold War nostalgia 'cause he cannot think of anything better to do, what with scandals nipping at his heels?

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Congressional Testimony on NSA snooping

They had the head of NSA and his top assistants up in front of a Congressional investigating committee today.  The NSA guys looked and sounded professional and honest, unlike some the the witnesses in recent days.  They pretty much confirmed that NSA gathers all the telephone billing information in the entire world and keeps it plenty long enough.  The NSA guys explained that they just gather the info up and store it on their computers and don't actually look at it except after jumping thru a lot of administrative hoops, largely NSA hoops, no FISA court.  They went on to explain that they only keep overseas calls, not inside the US calls.
   It all sounds good, and these individuals looked trustworthy.  I wonder if they will look so trustworthy after some Obama appointments. Once the data is in NSA computers, they will look at it if they care enough.
  And this is legal.  The Supremes held some years ago that looking at telephone company business records is not a search or a seizure.   Fourth Amendment does not apply, thus saith the Supremes.

   Bottom line, if you make a phone call, NSA knows about it.  They claimed they don't tap the calls, they just record the fact that the call was made.  That's probably true, for now.
   This effort costs plenty.  I wonder if we wouldn't score more good intel by taking terrorists alive and grilling them, rather than killing them to avoid putting more terrorists into Guantanamo?  And not shooting people dead after the phone number monitoring.  fingers them.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Aviation Week flies the A400M

After a long and troubled development history, reaching back to 1982, the A400M has received a European type certificate, which makes it legal to sell it and fly it.  They program manager feels good enough about the aircraft to let journalists fly it.  Aviation Week liked it.  Easy to fly,  quieter than existing transports even at takeoff power, big, fast as a jet liner,  decent short field landings. It's bigger than the C-130 (which makes it a BIG airplane) but not as big as a C-17.
   Thing that caught my eye was the high propeller RPM's.  The old C-133 kept prop revs down to 100-200 RPM even at takeoff power.  A400M has odd looking props (lots of short scimitar shaped blades)  that rev up to 850 RPM.  This probably eases the load on the gearboxes.  The engines rev up to 10,000 RPM and the gear boxes have to stand up to 11,000 horsepower without breaking.  The A400M gearboxes only need a 10:1 gear ratio.  The old C-133 gearboxes, which gave a lot trouble, had to have a 100:1 gear reduction which is harder to do. 
   The Europeans are committed to buying A400Ms.  The maker, Airbus, is naturally hoping for more export sales to cover the staggering development costs.  According to Aviation Week, if you divide total program costs by the number of firm orders, it comes out to $170 million per aircraft, twice the cost of a C130. 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

What do we know about NSA snooping?

Well, listening to the TV we don't know much.  Here is what they could do, especially after spending $1 billion on a fancy data center in Utah.
  They can capture and save the billing records of every phone call on the planet.  They call it "metadata", but it's the stuff of your phone bill, what numbers you called, how long you talked.  This allows the feds or other snoopers to go into the system with your phone number and learn all the other phone numbers you have called, going back a long time.  They claim it's just phone numbers, but that doesn't matter.  Put your own phone number into Google and Google will return your name and address.  You might have to pay a little money, but heh, the Feds have lots of money.   If the Feds have a phone number, they can get the name without much trouble.   I believe they used the system on the Boston bombers.  It fingered an old associate of Tamerlan Tsarnaev.  The FBI interviewed the associate and shot him dead during the interview.  The FBI claimed self defense, the associate pulled a knife on them, they say.
    Speaking of the Boston Bombers, the FBI had a solid tip from the Russians that the older brother was a terrorist.  FBI claims to have interviewed Tamerlan Tsarnaev, but they didn't bother to pass the tip on to the local police, who usually have better local connections than Washington based FBI guys.  Nor did they bother to put Tamerlan on a no-fly list, and they let him fly to Russia and back, and hobnob with Chechen terrorists without tipping off the Russians.
   The Feds can read all your email, see what websites you visit, how often and how long, and see all your Facebook, Myspace and where ever postings.  If you post anything on suspicious websites, that makes you suspicious too.   
  I don't think they can tap (listen to conversations) on every phone on the planet, yet.
  NSA must have direct electronic connections into the phone system computers, as well as all the internet backbone companies.  I heard the back bone companies on TV deny this, but I don't believe them. 
   This "FISA" court which is supposed to be "overseeing" NSA, approved all but 10 of 1824 snooping requests. That isn't a court, that's a rubber stamp.
  I don't know where I stand on the NSA thing.  One on hand, being able to drop Osama bin Laden's phone number into the system and see every one he phoned is clearly useful.  On the other hand,  dropping the phone numbers of  anyone the administration dislikes, or conservative bloggers like me, into the system is scary.  Plus Osama Bin Ladin gave up using phones after the ever patriotic New York Times revealed that NSA was tapping his satellite phone.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Sequestering the STEM

Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics (STEM).   Due to the sequester, Obama wants to consolidate 226 separate federal STEM programs into a mere 110.  These programs are scattered out between DoD, DHS, and NASA.  Obama claims that overall funding would be hiked 6% after culling out half the programs. 
   Wow.  All these cuts and we spend more money.  And on such a worthy idea.  Oh yes, the new program will increase participation by women and minorities in the STEM programs.  How uplifting.
   Too bad it won't do much to increase the number of US students taking STEM courses.  Students decide which educational track they are going to take way down in middle school.  Most of 'em decide to avoid STEM courses after being subject to a terrible one, taught by an ed major with no understanding or love for the subject.  The ed major reduces the science course to memorization of fancy scientific vocabulary and the math course to tedious solving of equations.   It doesn't take much of this kind of abuse to convince middle schoolers that math and science are hard and should be avoided. 
   No amount of federal STEM programs are going to repair the damage done to students by horrible middle school math and science teaching. 

Friday, June 14, 2013

Lease or Buy?

In a slow moment, I read thru the car ads delivered to my mailbox.  The Chrysler dealer wasn't mentioning price in his ads, just monthly lease payments.  Then in the fine print it said "Current Chrysler lease holders and other major makers lease holders only".  Translation, no deal unless you already lease a car.  Which lets out most people.   But, the dealer must think people like to lease cars, otherwise why advertise lease terms that most people won't be eligible for?  He could have advertised monthly payments, or even (shudder) the scary asking price. 
   In fact, why do dealers want to lease instead of sell?  On a lease deal the dealer has to find the loan to pay the car company for the car.  That's trouble and money.  Why not just sell the car outright? Then the customer is on the hook for financing the deal. 
   One reason might be the lease terms are better for the dealer.  I looked at one deal, a 39 month lease with 25 cents a mile for all miles over 25,000.  Figure most people rack up 20,000 miles a year, 60,000 over three years.  Between the lease payments and the extra mileage charges, that lease deal would pay off the asking price of the car (pickup truck in this case) in 39 months and the dealer still owns the truck.  Nice dealer markup on that deal. 
   My car buyers advice.  1. Buy a late model used car. 2. Buy it outright, run it til it drops. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Grass Attack. Adventures in Lawncare

The rain finally let up today after four solid days.  The grass was on the warpath.  Once it gets too tall, the mower won't cut it, and then, Katie bar the door.  So I took advantage of the break in the weather to get in a quick mow.  The grass wasn't really dry enough, but my nice new mostly plastic Husqvarna reel mower was up to the challenge. When wet, the grass bends over and mats down instead of standing proud and getting cut off at the neck.  And it sticks the the mower, everywhere.  But I made it to the end, it doesn't look too raggedy, and we can survive more rain, which is forecast, starting this afternoon. 
  Dandelion control is still holding up.  I only found two to pluck this morning.  Getting 'em early did the trick this season. 
  Then we gotta keep mowing back the Wild Wood.  Weeds, saplings, briars, raspberries and who knows what else, keep trying to invade the lawn, grow up tall, shade out the grass, and bring the woods up to the house.  Mow those infiltrators right down to the ground.

If the Republicans are this stupid they deserve to die

I swiped the title from this article by Ann Coulter.  Ann can get a bit hard core, but here she makes a certain amount of sense.  Ann is saying that the Hispanic vote isn't all that large, and Republican efforts to pass an immigration bill to woo the Hispanic vote are counterproductive.  At least she has her numbers right.  The Hispanic vote is perhaps 5%.  The women's vote is 50%, and the Republicans lost women voters to Obama by a margin of 10%.   If Romney had carried the women's vote he would be president right now. 
   If Republicans are looking for an ethic group to woo, women outnumber Hispanics by 10:1.  And half of the Hispanics are women.  We need some intelligent polling to figure out why women went for Obama and what would bring them back to voting Republican.  I've heard a lot of talk about abortion and contraception and gun control and other wedge issues, but I'm not convinced that this talk means anything. Much of it comes from advocates who will say anything to advance their pet cause. 
   As for immigration, there are some things that ought to be done.  Right now Congresscritters are trying to sell us a pig in a poke.  I have no idea what is hidden inside that immigration bill.  They plan to vote it thru and then we are stuck with it. 
   Things that ought to be done.
1.  Honorable service in the US armed forces should grant citizenship.
2.  We should favor immigrants who will contribute to the economy and pay their way over elderly parents of  citizens. 
3.  The United States has plenty of room for more citizens, and a declining birthrate.  We need immigration to keep our population up.  Population decline, like much of the rest of the first world is undergoing, makes everyone poorer. 
4.  We don't want to fingerprint foreigners on the way in and the way out.  It's degrading.  That is hidden inside the pig-in-a-poke immigration bill.  Checking their passports is enough.
5.  Illegals currently inside the country are outlaws.  They don't dare call fire or police at need lest they get deported.  Employers pay them like dirt, when they hire them, which a lot of them don't.  This situation is dreadful and we should be ashamed of it.  I have nothing against legalizing the bulk of them who are just raising their families, holding down jobs, obeying the law and staying out of trouble.  

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Somebody loves Patent Trolls

Over at the Hoover Institute we have some lawyers  defending patent trolls.  They make the argument that patent trolling is merely specialization of labor.  Some companies specialize in making steel, others specialize in flying passengers, patent trolls specialize in maximizing patent income for patent holders.  Yeah Right.
   In actual fact we have scary amounts of money sucked out of productive companies and poured down the maws of lawyers. 

Nice Immigration bill they got there. Wonder what's in it

Immigration bill is on the TV news.  There was one shot of a Congressman picking up a state of paper 6 inches high.  If they pass it, what will it do to us?  Anyone know? 
  I'd feel better about it if it was limited to about 20 pages, double spaced and doubled sided, so I could read it and know what we were getting into.  No way am I (or anyone else) is gonna read thru a 6 inch high pile of paper.  

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Airbus ready for first flight of A350

The brand new Airbus A350 is ready to fly.  Should take off on it's first flight within the week.  This is the Airbus answer to the long delayed Boeing 787.  Although the 787 is entering service now, they only have about a year before Airbus finishes up flight testing, gets the plane certified, and sends their salesmen out on the road. 

Lets Not Go There Dept.

Out at Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland the Army and DHS have a collection of airliner fuselages.  For bomb testing.   Where can a terrorist's bomb explode with the best chance of the aircraft surviving the event?  Plans are to issue airline crews instructions, if a bomb is found, move it here, the Least Risk  Bomb Location (LRBL for short) and maybe you won't crash when it goes off.  So they are going to explode test bombs inside old junked airliners to see what happens. 
    Your guv'mint is concerned about the bad PR such testing might be for airlines.  Seeing a Southwest or American fuselage go poof has got to bad for the airline image.  The requests for proposals to aircraft junkyards the Army requested that "Distinctive paint schemes or logos on the fuselages must be removed before testing to eliminate any public recognition that aircraft was previously owned or operated".  How very thoughtful. 
   The whole project is chilling to think about. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

"Obama goes Troll Hunting " says the Economist

Medium length article in the Economist saying that Obama is cracking down on patent trolls.  But is he really?  They mention the "America Invents Act" passed  back in 2011.  Now the Economist says new anti troll policies will allow courts to zap the filers of "frivolous" patent suits, demand that the name of the real owner of the patent be revealed in court, and to demand more documentation from plaintiffs upon filing suit.
    Obama can do some of this by executive order, but he will need some acts of Congress (which he doesn't have) to impliment most of it.
  Plus, this isn't going to work.  The patent problem is caused by a patent office that allows incredible numbers of  things that should never be eligible for a patent to obtain one.  They allow patents upon "business methods" which has created a massive lawsuit over "one-click or two-click".  They allowed someone to patent the idea of putting a web purchase into a web shopping cart with a single mouse click.  Which is ridiculous.  It is an obvious idea that will come immediately to the mind of anyone "skilled in the art".  They allow patents on software, which they didn't use to do.  They allow patents on arbitrary arrangements of information, such as the QWERTY  keyboard layout, and the ASCII code.  Yesterday's patent fight between Apple and Samsung revolved around patents upon arbitrary codes and protocols used in wireless networking.  In order for devices to talk to each other, there has to be some agreement about codes, languages and protocols,  Without such agreement, the devices won't understand each other . Right now we allow trolls to rip off companies for using the agreed upon codes, languages and protocols.
   Right now the patent troll situation is so bad that companies assume they will be sued by a troll as soon as they make enough money to be worth suing.  They estimate the legal costs in right along with research and development costs and marketing costs.  This tax upon the creative by the lawyers slows the pace of innovation and only makes the lawyers rich. It doesn't help inventors.  It punishes startups and favors the big companies.
  We need to make it harder to get patents.  Before granting a patent there should be a comment period where anyone can submit objections to granting it.  There ought to be a review board that can toss out BS patents.  We should no longer allow business methods patents or software patents, and we should invalidate all such patents currently standing.  Patents should only be granted to individuals, never companies.

The big Seven Oh

Did a bang up 70th birthday party up here.  All three children flew in from all over the country.  Weather was acceptable (no rain) for doing some grilling on the deck.  A dozen birthday cards were received, lots of friends came, a good time was had by all.  What with house guests all weekend, blogging has been a little light.  Stupid Beast is still in shock from having all those strangers is the house, to say nothing of That Beagle and all Those Toddlers. 
   With luck I can do this again in ten years. 

Friday, June 7, 2013

787's all fixed and flying

Boeing announced that the fireproof battery box modification has been accomplished on all 50 787's and that they are all flying. 

Kathleen Sibelius, wicked witch of the west

You gotta wonder about Sibelius.  We have a 10 year old child dying of cystic fibrosis.  The parents appeal to Sibelius to get the 10 year old a lung transplant.  She brushes the parents off with some bureaucratic baffle gab.  Which convinces everyone in the country that she is a hard hearted nogoodnick who runs a death panel.  She has to be dumber than a stone not to see that. 
  The parents don't give up, they get a court order to put the kid on the list  for a transplant.  Which makes Sibelius look incompetent as well as a hard hearted nogoodnick.
  She is clearly spending too much time shaking down companies for Obama care money that Congress has refused to authorize.
  Typical Obama appointee.

Bean counters are loading the dice (beans)

The Pentagon has a problem.  Cost of the new F-35 fighter is so high that overseas customers are backing off.  It's a nice airplane everyone agrees, but they just cannot afford it.  One of the budget busters, after paying the list price for a new fighter, is the cost to fly it, Cost Per Flying Hour.
   Despite their best efforts at cooking the books, it looks like the F-35 will cost $24,000 per flying hour.  Which adds up quick. And you have to fly it if you want it to do any good.  Pilots need about 10 hours a month to stay competent in such a high performance, complicated machine.  Figure to have maybe two, maybe three pilots per aircraft, and you get to 360 flying hours a year, or $8.6 million dollars a year per airplane.  It doesn't take many years for operating costs to exceed the purchase price.  And any experienced person will figure the $24,000 per hour to be a lowball estimate.
  So, to make things look a little less bad,  the Pentagon is inflating the cost per flying hour of the current workhorse fighter, the F-16.  This is also a good airplane, everyone, including the cost-no-objective Americans, flies it.  The Aviation Week article did not give the before and after F-16 estimates, but they did quote several people expressing surprise that such a thing would be changed.  The F-16 has been flying for over 20 years, we have real numbers going back a long time, and altering them comes pretty close to lying. 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Why does the US media get the big stories wrong?

The Atlantic has a long sad story about it.  I have a simplier explaination.  The media is staffed with crusaders, zealous fanatics who see them selves as prophets come to save  the world.  Woodward and Burnstein "All the President's Men" is their self image.  They could care less about truth, informing their readers, all they want to do is win.  And they will do a lot a shady (not quite outright lying, but close) stuff to win. 
   These people float thru college doing journalism majors and learning nothing of substance.  No American history, no European history, no math, no physics, no chemistry, no statistics, no Shakespeare, no foreign language, no philosophy, no biology.  No practical skills such as carpentry, auto mechanics, hunting, fishing, farming, or even light bulb changing.  They come out of college shallow and ignorant.  They may be fairly good at slinging BS, but they don't know nothing.  Naturally the stories they write are largely a waste of the reader's time. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Blind to lead the blind

Obama is appointing Susan Rice to be National Security Adviser at this very minute.  Susan Rice is that clueless administration weenie who went on all the Sunday talk shows right after Benghazi to say Benghazi wasn't terrorism, it was just a spontaneous political demo that got a little out of hand.  Yeah right.  If she believed that, then I have a bridge to sell her. 
  National Security Adviser is a post invented in the Eisenhower administration, to sort out conflicts between the State and Defense departments (doves vs hawks)  It's a powerful post.  Nixon's national security adviser, Henry Kissinger, pretty much ran US foreign policy.  In fact Nixon wound up appointing Kissinger to be Secretary of State.  Anyhow, Obama is putting a clueless and ignorant party hack into the job.
   Obama could really use a good National Security Adviser.  He needs a lot of help.  So far, all Obama has managed is to subject the US to a torrent of scorn and abuse.  He offends our friends, and he makes nice to our enemies.  He is so dumb he cannot tell a friend from an enemy.  His new National Security Adviser isn't gonna make anything get better, not ever.  
   The clueless feel better when surrounded by the more clueless. 

Proper background and education

That's what Gina McCarthy has, according to a letter to the editor of the Manchester Union Leader.  The letter writer was bashing our two US senators for not pushing McCarthy into the job of EPA administrator.  McCarthy is a new name to me, an old news junkie who watches a lot of cable TV news. 
   McCarthy has a masters degree in "Environmental Engineering and Planning" from Tufts.  Tufts is OK, but it was my safety school way back when.  The "environmental engineering" degree is another new one on me.  Real engineering is either civil, mechanical, or electrical.  As holder of a real electrical engineering degree,  I  don't have much respect for something so trendy as "environmental engineering".  Does such a major require you to know anything?  Like integral calculus? Strength of materials?  Laplace transforms? Boolean algebra?  Or is it all touchy feely talk about how wonderful it is to live a Hiawatha livestyle?
   Since graduation McCarthy has held jobs in various state environmental pollution agencies.  In short a career bureaucrat.  No real world experience. 
   Somehow I don't feel so good about Gina at the EPA. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Civil Service reform to deal with IRS

TV was playing some democrat explaining that Civil Service regulations prevented the firing of IRS bureaucrats who targeted conservative groups.  Unfortunately, he may not be lying.  It's just about impossible to fire a federal GS type.  Back in my Air Force days, you couldn't even speak harshly to them.  I remember the base supply officer, a nice guy named Fleming Cheek, tried to fire a GS worker for stealing out of the warehouse.  He couldn't do it. 
  Civil Service was invented in the 1880's to prevent newly elected politicians from laying everyone off and giving all the jobs to their supporters.  Since 1880, Civil Service has been inventing regulations to protect its people from layoff, overtime, discipline, and any every attempt by management to get them to do some work.  If management cannot fire the IRS offenders due to Civil Service red tape (which is management's story this morning), Congress ought to cut the red tape and throw the bums out.  
   The only way to prevent IRS from targeting taxpayers is to throw a serious scare into their little bureaucratic hearts.  Firing forty or so bureaucrats over the targeting of the Teaparty is a good way to start. 

Sunday, June 2, 2013

A leak in the NORK

Tom Clancy lives.  We have a source inside the North Korean government.  Clancy's Agent Cardinal comes back to life.  If true, this is fantastic, the stuff of spy stories, right up there with the Oleg Penkofski story.  US senator Chuckie the Schumer (D-NY) revealed this tantalizing bit of news this morning on national TV. 
    This might explain the Justice Dept snooping on AP and Fox reporters.  Leaking the NORK source is big enough to get usually sensible law enforcement people to do foolish things.  Law enforcement probably didn't have a clue as to who the leaker was.  So they decided to snoop reporters email and cell phones,  to find out who the reporters had been talking to.  This is strictly illegal.  Fourth Amendment says "No Warrents shall issue, but upon probable cause." 
  So they trumped up espionage charges against the Fox News reporter in order to get a judge to issue the search warrent.  And that is how Holder can say with a straight face that he had no intention of prosecuting reporters.  Well, no, he didn't plan to prosecute them, he just wanted to snoop their email and cell phones. 

Words of the Weasel Part 31

We have Senator Chuckie the Schumer on NBC saying "The IG cleared Eric Holder on the Fast and Furious matter."  Not true.  The guilty agency, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, works for Holder.  It's part of the Justice Department, of which Holder is the head.  Doesn't matter how much whitewash the Justice Department IG uses, Holder, as head of the department is responsible for the actions of all his subordinates.  Holder is personally responsible for what ever his department does.  His job is to insure that laws are not broken by his people.  He has plenty of Assistant Attorney Generals to keep track of every office.  If BATFE did it (which they did) it's Holder's fault.  By definition.
  It's so good the learn that a US senator doesn't understand this.  And it's so good that New York voters keep electing this turkey.

Words of the Weasel Part 30

Distraction.  David Gregory's word for the IRS scandal, used this morning on Meet the Press.  Lefties love it, distraction sounds so much nicer than scandal. 

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Support your constituents.

We have a Democratic US rep from New Hampshire, a far northern and rural state.  We are so far north we touch Canada.  Winter up here lasts into May.  We had four inches of fresh snow at my place just seven days ago.  We all heat with oil.  $4 a gallon oil.   One oil delivery can set us back $700.  
  We are a rural state.  We don't have mass transit, commuter rail, light rail, plain old diesel bus service or even taxis.  Up here we drive to work, every day.  At $3.70 a gallon.
   We are not addicted to oil.  We use as little as possible.  But we must get to work.  And we must heat our houses.
   We want lower prices for essential fuel.  Now we have a project to pipe vast amounts of crude oil to American refineries from a friendly neighboring country. That will be turned into gasoline and furnace oil, vastly increasing the supply.  We all know the law of supply and demand, increase the supply and the price goes down.  Plus building the pipeline will put a lot of unemployed people to work and increase demand for a zillion different industrial items. 
  And so how does our gallant Democratic US rep vote? 
  Annie Kuster voted to kill the pipeline.   Just to support all her constituents. 
  We better remember in November.  Or Kuster will have us all living a Hiawatha lifestyle.