Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Next Gen succumbs to budget cuts.

Next Gen is the FAA's plan to completely redo the national air traffic control system.  Under Next Gen, each aircraft would be required to carry a GPS receiver, and upon interrogation from ground radar the aircraft would report it's position according to GPS.
  Next Gen would require every aircraft to be equipped with a $25,000 GPS box, at the owner's expense.  Benefit is better accuracy.  GPS is accurate to a few feet.  Ground radar is accurate to only a few miles.  Knowing that the radar positions are only accurate to a few miles, air traffic controllers keep planes spaced apart in the sky by ten miles or more.  It is claimed that Next Gen would permit closer spacing, making more room in the sky to absorb the ever increasing load of air traffic.  And the equipment manufacturers are more than pleased with the thought of selling all those expensive GPS boxes.
   And now, according to Aviation Week, all this goodness is on hold because Congressional austerity programs won't pay for Next Gen.  Oh woe.
   In actual fact, there is plenty of sky for  any amount of aircraft using today's tried and true radars.  The bottleneck is at the airports.  We only have about 50 big airports into which ALL the scheduled air traffic goes.  These airports can only handle 60 planes an hour.  That limit is set by common sense.  You want the plane that landed to slow down and turn off the active runway before you allow the plane behind him to land.  Just in case the landing aircraft blows a tire, skids off  the runway, or worse (Asiana 214 anyone?) .  That takes about a minute.
  Likewise you want the plane taking off to make it safely into the air before you allow the plane behind to start his takeoff roll.  This takes about a minute.  So the airports are the limit to air traffic, not a lack of sky to hold the planes.  No amount of pricey Next Gen GPS will do anything to let the airports handle more traffic than they do now. 

Car Hacking

NPR and Fox have been running stories about car hackers.  The hackers claim to be able  to take control of the victim automobile, blow the horn, work the steering, work the brakes and accelerator, change stations on the radio, just about everything.
   This is the stuff of Hollywood movies.  I can see it now, black clad villain, laughing maniacally, fingers a radio control box and causes the hero's car to dive off the cliff, pull out in front of a freight train, swerve into a bridge abutment.
    For this to work, the victim car has to cooperate.  It has to have motors or actuators to move the steering, the brakes, the throttle.  And, no decent car ought to have that kind of automation.  The trusty '57 Chevy drove just fine without any of this junk.  It wouldn't parallel park itself, but I learned how to parallel park a long long time ago and I still do it by hand.
   There might be a market for cars proof against hacking.  As it is, I plan to keep my trusty Mercury Grand Marquis running as long as I can, just in case.
   While they are at it, they could market a car without that black box speed recorder that can ruin your day in court after the accident.


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Why the Democratic establishment wants Weiner to resign

The TV has been cluttered with top national democrats urging Anthony, can't-keep-it-zipped Weiner to pull out of the NYC mayoral race.  Apparently they don't trust the voters to reject Wiener.  Maybe they have something there, after all the voters re-elected Obama after four years of wrecking the economy and throwing them out of work. 

Monday, July 29, 2013

Thought Crimes and uniform regulations

According to the TV news the case against Bradley Manning, the Wikileaks leaker, revolves around Manning's intent.  If Manning meant to harm the US, long jail term.  If he thought he was a whistle blower he gets off.
   This isn't right.  Manning revealed classified documents to people who lacked clearances, who lacked a need to know, and who were not service members, who were not even US citizens.  That's illegal and ought to be enough to punish him good and hard.  The case should not revolve around intent.   Intent is thought.  We should not be trying thought crimes, where the defendant can be found guilty for thinking the wrong thoughts.  Crime must consist of actions, not thoughts.
  Watching Manning of TV, I see that the Army has revised the Class A uniform.  It's now dark, almost black, with silver piping on the epaulets, like the Nazis used to do.  Goes with the retro Civil War style shoulder straps on the officer's uniforms. 

Who killed the Western?

The Atlantic runs a long sad commentary here that doesn't say much.  They never mention the real Western killer, Mel Brooks' Blazing Saddles.  That came out in 1974, when the Western was getting long in the tooth, and many of us figured Westerns were for kids.  Blazing Saddles drove this point home so hard, that no Westerns were attempted for 10 years, and the couple that were tried 10 years later flopped despite decent casts and screen writing. 
   I liked Westerns,  the good guys won, the bad guys were beaten, the scenery was cool, tough guys acting tough,  lots of action, what's not to like?  But after Blazing Saddles trashed the genre so thoroughly, it was impossible to take them seriously ever again. 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Intent and the right to vote.

A bunch of NH political types were discussing Voter ID on WMUR this morning.  Much of the discussion revolved around the"intent" of voters, namely do they "intend" to live in NH.  That's what you get when you get a bunch of lawyers together.  All talk, no sense.
   Intent is what a person thinks, and we don't have telepathy, so no one knows what another person thinks.  Law that takes thought into account creates thought crimes, where merely thinking the wrong thoughts is a violation of the law.   We should not have thought crime laws.
  In regard to the matter of who is entitled to vote in New Hampshire, we need to speak of objective, real things, things that can be seen and touched and photographed.  As a general rule, a New Hampshire voter needs New Hampshire plates on the car and a New Hampshire drivers license.  In fact, those two items are enough in my book.   Voters lacking a car upon which to have NH plates, need to explain how they got to the town offices, since most NH town offices can only be reached by car.  If a friend drove them to the office, the friend's car needs NH plates. 
   Voters lacking a car and a drivers license (very suspicious, everyone has a drivers license) must show evidence (lease, utility bill, mortgage stub) of a home in NH, something a little more permanent than a motel room, and a year round residence, not just a ski chalet. And they need to show a decent photo ID.  NH drivers license, passport, Armed Forces ID card, birth certificate, something solid.  College ID's don't count. 
   But what ever we do, let's do something real.  Let's not create thought crimes.

Somewhere a village is missing its idiot

Jack Lew, Obama's new Treasury Secretary was on Meet the Press this morning.  Oh boy, are we in trouble now with this guy running Treasury.  He starts off by saying that Congress needs to fund things the Middle Class needs.  Right.  The middle class doesn't need "programs", doesn't use "programs" .  The middle class needs jobs, not programs. 
  Then Jack talked about all the good work Obama has done reducing the deficit.  Right.  Deficit is still $1 trillion dollars, which is too damn high by a factor of 10. 
  Than Jack talked about economic growth, and how good it is.  Right.  The economy hit bottom back in 2008 and is still there on the bottom.  Obama declared that recovery had begun when things stopped falling, but things are still on the bottom it hit back in 2008.  Can you say dead cat bounce?  Growth this year is in the 1 percent range, which translates out as invisible.
  Finally Jack urged that we "stay on the path to growth." Right.  Since 2008 the path has not led to growth.  But Obama is bound and determined to keep the country on it.
   Either Jack believes this stuff, which makes him a total idiot, or he has no qualms about peddling snake oil on national TV.  Which isn't a good thing either.   So glad Obama appointed this loser.


Saturday, July 27, 2013

Eddie the Markey rides again.

I used to live in Ed Markey's district.  He was an amiable idiot, always campaigning for regulation of something.  He started out campaigning for federal regulation of cable TV rates.  That was way back when we still had over the air TV.  Instead of allowing customers who felt they were being overcharged to cancel their cable service, he wanted to slap a rate cap on what was a luxury service. 
   Now that he has become a US senator, thanks to the ever so wise voters of Massachusetts, he wants to set up Federal regulation of amusement park rides.  Ostensibly this is in reaction to the horrible accident at Six Flags over Texas.  We couldn't leave it up to the insurance companies or the states, oh no, we need to create a vast new Federal bureaucracy, well staffed and well paid, with excellent benefits, to do something that other agencies have been doing nicely for many years. 
  Anyhow the Fox TV newsies have been expressing surprise at Markey's call for action.  They should not be surprised, Markey has been doing this kind of stuff for 30 years.  Anybody with experience in Massachusetts knows Markey's style by now.

Grassroots politicking at the Haverill Fair

Haverill puts on an old fashioned fair.  A midway, rides, cotton candy, horse pulls, the works.  We put up a booth for the Grafton Republican Party, and manned it with politicians and party workers.  We had Ray Burton, Jeanne Forrester and  Jim Reubins for pols, and a bunch of party workers.  You get to see real voters, lots of 'em, having a good time. 
   After all the TV whining about obesity, there wasn't much in evidence among fairgoers.  Kids and teenagers were all thin as rails, decently dressed, well behaved, and happy.  Haircuts for boys varied from the 1/2 inch buzz cut to shoulder length.  As people got older, they put on some weight, the 40 year olds were uniformly heavier than the 18 year olds, but that's nature.  I think the TV obesity whiners have over played their hand.  Among the crowd were a lot of couples, of all ages, many holding hands, as they strolled about the exhibits.  Clearly the couples were enjoying each others company as much as the delights of the county fair. 
   We managed to engage the politically active in discussion, but most voters merely gave a friendly nod as they strolled by. 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Wanna bet they were running Windows?

Fox news is bleating about the biggest cyber crime ever.  Couple hundred thousand credit card numbers compromised, couple hundred thousand dollars stolen. Betcha all the victimized companies were running Microsoft Windows. 

Asiana 214 crash. The autothrottle did it

The 777 auto throttle has a lot of modes.  Push buttons on the mode control panel are labeled "Auto Throttle", "Vertical Nav" and "Flight Level Change".  Experts on the 777 are saying that the "Flight Level Change" mode actually pulls the throttles back to flight idle and leaves them there.  And they think the Asiana crew somehow selected Flight Level Change instead of "Auto Throttle".  What the Vertical Nav mode might do is unmentioned.  Apparently Flight Level Change is actually a strange kind of standby, I cannot think why a pilot would use the "Flight Level Change".  The situation is so bad that 777 pilots refer to the problem as the "Flight Level Change trap". 
   Sounds like some human factors work wasn't done right when the 777 was designed.  On the other hand, the plane has been flying for 20 years accident free, so it cannot be all wrong.   Certainly the crew failed to monitor airspeed during the landing.  

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Nose Gear

   Tricycle landing gear, two mains and a nose gear, came into service in the 1940's.  That's when concrete runways became common.  Grass runways have potholes and soft spots that can catch a nose wheel and snap the nose gear clean off.   Planes designed to land on grass fields had tailwheels. 
   The major attraction of a nose gear is you can use the brakes as hard as you please without standing the aircraft on it's nose.  For pilots who have coped with short runways, wet and slippery runways, obstructions in the runway, and who have landed a bit long, the ability to use the brakes good and hard is compelling. 
  Of course, as happened to Southwest at LaGuardia the other day, the nose gear can fail.  Something like that happened back in the 436 Military Airlift Wing in the late 1960's.  A C-141 jet transport, returning to Dover AFB from a mission reported that the nose gear would not go down.  They had plenty of fuel, and so they circled the field while radioing the tower for advice.  On the ground, the Technical Orders for the C141 were hastily consulted, and there was an emergency procedure to lower the nose gear.  On the C141 the gear was held retracted in the wheel well with a hook.  The crew was directed to go into the main cargo hold, take up some floor panels and gain access to the nose wheel well.  Then with a long pry bar, the hook could be levered back and the gear would go down.  The crew found the pry bar, got into the wheel well, and started fumbling around with the hook.  Unfortunately, in real life things didn't work as neatly as the tech order directions said they would.  The damn hook just would not let go.  After a lot of fumbling in the dark, and a lot of bad language, something went wrong.  The pry bar slipped out of someone's sweaty hands, and fell, fell clean out of the aircraft.  And that was the only pry bar on board. 
   So there was nothing left to do but foam the runway and bring her in.  The pilot used elevator to keep the nose up as long as possible.  The plane slowed to about a jogger's pace before the nose plunked onto the concrete.  We were standing by with jacks, a dolly, and a Coleman tractor and had the plane off the runway in under an hour. 
  Damage was surprisingly light.  Just a scuffed up patch on the bottom of the fuselage, less than two feet across.  The sheet metal shop had it fixed good as new in a couple of days. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Body and fender work, in fiberglass.

That 787 that caught fire at Heathrow.  The fire started when the emergency locator beacon caught fire.  This gadget transmits distress calls on 121.5, 243, and 406 Mhz in the event of a crash.  It was intended to guide searchers to the crash site, in the rare event that the crash of a big twin aisle jetliner isn't perfectly obvious from the air. Perhaps to guide rescuers to survivors floating around in liferafts after a mid ocean crash.  The ones we had on the C-133 transport would detach from the aircraft and float, so they would not go down with the sinking aircraft.  The C-133 model also had the annoying habit of going off accidentally while parked on the ramp.  When this happened we had a real Chinese fire drill, we had to go out to each and every C-133 to see which one jamming the Guard frequency with beep-beep noises.
  The emergency beacons on the 787 are Honeywell Rescu 406AFN . The cute spelling of the name is a Honeywell marketing idea. The aircraft carries two of them, one above the forward lavatory, and one above the galley.  The one above the galley started the fire. The device was FAA certified  back in 2005 and is in service on a variety of aircraft types.  As might be expected, they are battery powered, and being right up to date, they use lithium batteries.  It was not clear whether a short circuit inside the beacon started the fire or the batteries spontaneously combusted. 
  Which leaves Boeing with a huge burned spot in the carbon fiber fuselage in need of repair.  There was a good deal of discussion in Aviation Week about just how such a repair might be made.  Presumably they lay a big piece of carbon fiber mat over the hole and paint it up with resin.  Like repairing a Corvette's crash damage. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Fixing Detroit, the NHPR way

NHPR did a long piece on the Detroit bankruptcy Sunday morning.  According to them, the bankruptcy is a blessing in disguise.  It creates vacant lots, in which the Detroit survivors can raise vegetables.  Locally grown food.  They didn't quite have the chutzpah to claim they would be organic.  This was far better use of the land than homes and businesses.  They didn't say how many vegetables you would have to sell to make as much as a welfare check. 
   Then the listed all the veggies you could grow.  Okra, fiddleheads, and collard greens mostly.  And other southern stuff that I have never eaten, and don't ever plan to eat.  Never mentioned green peas or beans, carrots, potatoes, beets, lettuce, tomatoes, or cabbage, you know, real veggies. 
   The authors wanted Detroiters to give up well paid production line work and go back to dirt farming, southern style. They were serious too, not doing an April Fool's day piece.  And April is long time ago. 
   I'm not in favor. 

Congratulations to William & Kate

According to the TV hanging in McDonald's, the baby is a boy, 8 pounds 6 ounces, born at 4:24 PM.  British time we can assume?  That's 10:24 AM Eastern Daylight Savings Time, or maybe an hour later, depends upon British time.  The Brits used to have "double summer time" two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time.  In that case it's 11:24 our time, otherwise 10:24 our time. 
   Congratulations to the happy parents and to all their countrymen.  And all the honorary Brits all over the world, of which there are a lot. 
   Good Show. 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Infrastructure in NH

Democrats did a lot of whining about lack of infrastructure maintenance in NH.  It was so bad they wanted to hike the gas tax for it.  Jeeze to hear the democrats talk, you'd think we were going back to dirt roads.
Yesterday they started resurfacing Streeter Pond road.  I'll grant that Streeter Pond was in pretty bad shape, but it's so low down on the totem pole, it isn't even a second class road, it's third class or fourth class, as low as a road can go.  I only use it to get to Varney & Smith's lumber yard from Franconia.  Other than that, only the few farmers who live on it, care.
  They had a big ole yellow road grader taking up the old pavement, right down to the dirt.  Plain old brown dirt, none of your pricey gravel fill up here.  This is more than the usual slap on another coat of asphalt quickie repair. And they didn't have to hike the gas tax to get 'er done.

Anti Gravity

You don't believe in anti gravity?   Then what is it that pops the piece of trash right back up out of the trash basket?  The trash does a trampoline act and bounces out on the rug, sneering at you to bend over and pick it up?  I say it's antigravity.

The Black Community is mad about the Zimmerman verdict

I can understand where they are coming from.  Teen aged boy is shot dead.  They don't believe Zimmerman's story of self defense, even though the jury did believe it.  They just want revenge.  That's natural.  They used to declare blood feuds over less. 
  The purpose of courts and the justice system is to prevent just that.  The blood feud was still alive as recently as the Hatfields and the McCoys.   Responsible public officials are supposed to talk about the progress that has been made and to discourage violence.  
  The black community has things that anger them that go way back, back before the Civil War.  Things like slavery, poverty, lack of respect, rotten schools, and others.  A lot of these issues trotted out and attached themselves to Trayvon Martin.  Yesterday's demonstrations are partly about Zimmerman's acquittal and largely about those other issues. 
  The civil rights movement of fifty years ago addressed the legal and political side of this.  The movement had concrete policies, desegregation and voter registration that had concrete remedies in laws.  Those laws got passed, and are still in place. This ground was well covered by the end of the sixties.  Today's black leadership cannot think of anything else that could be addressed by law.  So instead they talk about "having a discussion on race", which is a code phrase meaning, "We don't have any ideas to fix things, but we are still unhappy."

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Words of the Weasel Part 29

Revenue.  That is Democrat speak for "taxes".   "We need more revenue" sounds better than "Let's hike taxes."
Investment.  Democrat speak for "spending".   "Let's invest in our schools" sounds better than "Lets spend more money on schools."

On the Cover of the Rollin' Stone

We always knew that Rolling Stone was low life, and this week they proved it again.  They put a glamorous picture of Boston bomber Tsarnaev on the cover.  I gotta admit, he is cute, plenty of girls would like to take home a boy toy like that.  Betcha he wouldn't be on the cover if he wasn't so cute. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

This oughta teach 'em

Detroit is declaring bankruptcy.  A whole bunch of banks, and other money places loaned Detroit billions of dollars over the years to meet operating expenses.  Now they ought to loose all their money, just to make a point.
  The point?  It is irresponsible to waste precious capital lending to dead beats who won't be able pay it back.  It was perfectly clear to anyone with an IQ above room temperature, that Detroit was in a death spiral and would never be able to repay the humungous loans it took out.  The banks should not have made those loans.  Since they were stuck on stupid, and made dumbass loans, they oughta hurt for it.
   Capitalism works if capital is used constructively, to finance new factories, new products, and business operations.  If precious capital is pissed away on see-thru office buildings, Ninja mortgages,  Solyndra, mortgage backed securities, dirivatives, and credit default swaps, ethanol, and electric cars, we all get poorer.
  Let's hope the loan officers responsible for lending to Detroit get fired.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Distractions. Nutrition labels on booze

The Feds are talking up a plan to require nutrition labels on booze, (beer, wine, liquor).  Right, that will solve the obesity crisis.  Everyone knows that alcohol is fattening, and not nutritious.  Beer is beer, wine is wine, and liquor is liquor.   There is no difference between brands, it's the alcohol that does the fattening.  Alcohol is a fine fuel, lots of calories. Tasty too.
   I figure this is a ploy to distract the newsies from things like IRS and Benghazi. 

Whitey Bulger.

A witness in the Whitey Bulger trial turned up dead out in Lincoln.  What is a Southie guy doing out in Lincoln?  Lincoln is a tony, pricey, white bread suburb far outside Rte 128.  The T doesn't run there.  You gotta drive to get to Lincoln.  Mobsters don't retire to Lincoln after they have made their pile.  They settle in places like Melrose and Malden. 
   So if this stiff drove out to Lincoln and died of natural causes, or suicide, where is his car?  If he drove out to Lincoln in a friend's car, surely a friend would not just dump the body by the side of the road.  At least anyone who would do that ain't much of a friend. 
   One the other hand,  friends of Whitey's might take the dead man for a ride, and  Lincoln is as good a place to dump a body as anywhere. 
  Color this death highly suspicious. 

House Fly Day

Dunno why, but the house flies have been popping up all over the house.  They are big and fat, and slow enough to hand swat.  But it got so bad I resorted to chemical warfare.  This resulted in a shower of dead flies all across the kitchen floor.  I swept up a whole dust pan worth of flies, and an hour later I had to sweep the kitchen floor a second time and filled the dust pan again. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Asiana 214 Has Automation Trumped Airmanship?

Asiana 214,  the 777 that crashed at San Francisco last week, came in too low and too slow, and hit the seawall at the end of the runway.  Apparently the crew had set the autothrottle to hold the proper airspeed (137 knots) and for some reason the autothrottle allowed the airspeed to slack off too much.   The crew didn't notice until it was too late.
    They haven't said if the autothrottle failed, or wasn't set correctly, or for some software reason decided not to hold the setting.  The Aviation Week article goes into some detail about the various modes of the autothrottle, in some modes, it doesn't work the throttles, and it can change modes on its own without notifying the pilot.
   Autothrottle is a new fangled luxury.  Back in my day, only the C141 jet transport had autothrottle, and that was part of the All Weather Landing System, unique to the C141.  All the other aircraft had a plain old throttle lever, the engine power stayed where it was set by hand.  And they all managed to land in one piece.

    Speed on landing approach is critical.  You want to come in as slow as possible.  Slow makes it easier to get the wheels on the runway (as opposed to in the weeds), easier to get the plane stopped before running off the far end of the runway, and  lessens the shock on gear and airframe.  Too much shock breaks things and blows tires.
  On the other hand, go too slow and the wing stalls, stops producing lift, and the aircraft falls like a stone.  All control is lost.  There is little difference between proper landing speed and stall speed.
   It's hard to understand how the crew failed to check their approach speed, and notice that the autothrottle was playing them false.  For that matter it's hard to understand why they used autothrottle at all.  Was it me, with few hours in the 777, I'd  tend to do things by hand, the old fashioned way, rather than find out what nasty bugs might lurk in a tricky newfangled autothrottle.

Stand your ground protects us against criminal justice crazies

Eric Holder is on a tear about stand your ground laws in the aftermath of the dreadful Martin-Zimmerman case.  He is claiming they promote violence.
Not true.  Stand your ground laws were enacted to curb abusive prosecutors, like Holder.  When they started to prosecute home owners who shot home invaders, motorists who shot car jackers, and store keepers who shot robbers,  the public took alarm and passed stand your ground laws to put a stop to this atrocious behavior by the criminal justice system. 
  The laws usually read something like this.  Use of deadly force is legitimate in defense of your home, your motor vehicle, your place of business, and any other place your have a right to be.  The last clause was added to prevent weasel lawyers from  twisting words and limiting the definition of home to exclude such things as rental property.  You know how it is with weasels.
  Stand your ground had nothing to do with the Martin-Zimmerman trial.  When your opponent has you flat on your back and is pounding your head into the cement, retreat is impossible. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Senate Comprehensive Immigration Bill

The newsies have been going out of their way to avoid talking about what's in this bill.  They are mostly in favor of it, but they ain't telling us what's in it.  Here is my understanding of the contents.

1.  Those 11 million or so illegal immigrants inside the country all become "Registered Provisional Immigrants" right off the bat.  Before any border security measures.  Nobody is talking about just what "registered provisional immigrant" means, but it probably gives them the right to stay in the country and the right to hold a job.  And if you have that, who needs a green card?  Let alone US citizenship?
   Secondary issue, there will be a cut off date.  You have to be inside the US before the cutoff date to become a registered provisional immigrant.  Expect a huge rush into the country before the cutoff date.  Expect everyone who comes in after the cutoff date to claim that they got in before the cutoff date.

2.  Registered provisional immigrants can become real US citizens if they are willing pay serious money and put up with a lot of paperwork and mickey mouse over a lot of years.  This is the "path to citizenship".   It sounds sufficiently obnoxious as to discourage all but the most motivated.  Besides, being a plain registered provisional immigrant is probably good enough for a lot of them.

3.  We let in a lot more computer programmers and engineers on the "H1B"  visas.  High tech companies like this.  We let in a lot more temporary unskilled workers to pick crops.  Agri business likes this. 

4.  We hammer employers harder for hiring illegals.  Unions like this.  Unresolved issue, if every one inside the country is now a "registered provisional immigrant"  will not the E-verify system say they are OK to hire?

5.  We appropriate a wad of money for border fences, more border patrolmen, and some high tech welfare for surveillance camera's and drones.  Maybe Obama spends the money on security and maybe he doesn't.

6.  Maybe we revise the legal immigration system to favor the  well educated, the young, over aged grandparents.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Poor Boeing

After the notorious lithium battery fires in the 787,  trouble struck again.  A parked 787 at Heathrow started smoking and the fire department was called to put it out.  Nobody was on board at the time.  Nobody has been talking about the cause of the fire.  There is now a scorch mark on the top of the fuselage back toward the tail.   The notorious lithium batteries are located elsewhere in the plane.  This unfortunate accident was largely ignored by the US media in favor of covering the verdict on the Trayvon Martin trial.
   Boeing is surely hoping that it turns out to be human error, such as the crew left the galley stove running after the last flight.  The Brits are cooperating by not making any statements to the media.  Rolls Royce makes the engines.   Clearly everyone wants the 787 to succeed and they are doing the best they can to help the plane along in the face of terrible publicity.

Double Jeopardy

Amendment V.  "Nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb."

They put this in the Bill of Rights to even things up.  The government has the money to keep on trying for a conviction, long after any citizen has been driven into bankruptcy.  So the Bill of Rights limits the government's efforts to ONE try.  If the defendant gets off, then the government is forbidden to try again.

The Trayvon Martin partisans are soap boxing to hit Zimmerman with federal civil rights violations now that he has been acquitted.  That's double jeopardy, pure and simple. 

No where to put violent madmen

They dropped him off at a Manchester hospital, Friday.  A decision to commit him to the state mental hospital involuntarily was made.  But the state hospital was full.  So they left him in the ER.  All night, all weekend.  By Monday he was good and mad and assaulted an ER worker, breaking his jaw and knocking out four teeth. He them slugged a nurse hard enough to break her cheek bone. 
   In short, New Hampshire is so short on state hospital beds that dangerous nut cases are parked in hospital ER, awaiting a bed to open up. 
   Here we had a violent case who was bad enough to get committed, and NH didn't have anywhere to put him.  They left him hanging around until he injured two people.
   What chance do we have of committing a school shooter before he kills children?

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The View from the Ivory Tower

" No one now doubts the what the Arab public wants is elected constitutional government."  So says this week's Economist magazine.
 Is that right?  Or does the Arab public just want life to suck less?  The two worst cases, Egypt and Syria are running out of food, have run out of jobs, and feature armed terrorists running around loose.  Both countries have failed to feed themselves, the only thing preventing mass famine is food imports, which they lack the money to pay for.
   Has the Arab public given up on imposing Sharia law, driving the Jews into the sea, and exterminating the Shia (or the Sunni depending upon which side they are on)?
   Me thinks the Economist is merely passing on the bloviations of  properly raised young upper class Brits.  I doubt any of their writers speak Arabic and has lived on the economy in say Cairo. 

Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Fat Lady Sings

Jury just acquitted George Zimmerman.  Maybe we can put this distasteful case behind us, now?  Please.

Dawn over Marblehead

The clock radio came on, as usual this morning, and they are running a piece on a miraculous new educational concept.  Radical it is.  They  mix athletics with class room teaching.  I listened to a long learned discussion of the wonderful neurological effects, and how much more ready to learn to children are after exercise.  They made it sound like the greatest innovation since Socrates.
   Of course this is something any parent knows.  Children are full of bounce and energy and you have to get 'em out of doors and run off steam if you want 'em to sit still indoors.   I used to take 'em out down hill skiing.  After even a half a day skiing Cannon, they would be so tired that they would fall asleep on the living room rug in front of the TV.
   I wonder if the ed majors running our school still do recess.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Child Abuse ???

The prosecution in the Trayvon Martin trial is beginning to doubt that they can make second degree murder stick.  So they are adding some lesser charges that the jury might find easier to convict upon.  The prosecutors are now charging Zimmerman with child abuse, 'cause Martin was under 18.
  Child Abuse?  Shoot a stranger dead out of doors and it's child abuse?  Is this sort of crime that the good legislators of Florida had in mind when they passed the state child abuse law?  
Ham sandwich nation. 

Bye-bye manufacturing jobs.

Sturm Ruger, a noted old line American firearms maker,  announced that they will open a new factory in North Carolina, rather than expand their existing plant in New Hampshire.  The company cited the lack of a right to work law in NH as one strong reason for building else where.
   Damn.  We nearly had right to work up here.  It passed the house and senate only to be vetoed by former governor Lynch.  We had enough votes to override Lynch's veto in the senate, and were only a dozen votes short in the house.  Every union in New Hampshire, and a whole bunch for out of state, opposed right to work with every breath in their bodies.  It would have passed without  that die hard opposition.
  Thanks, unions, for sending all those good manufacturing jobs off to North Carolina.

Must be 'cause of Global Warming

We now have alligators in New Hampshire.   A three footer was captured yesterday in the Lamprey River near Portsmouth NH.  A town police officer, assisted by a state fish and game warden captured the reptile alive.  And a good thing for the alligator, summer may be nourishing up here, but I don't believe alligators can take it when the river freezes over in winter.  Global warming hasn't gone that far, yet.  This story made the front page of the Manchester Union Leader. 
   Up here we aren't that used to alligators yet.  A three footer took two men to deal with it, and caused a front page story.  Down in real alligator country, Florida, a nine foot gator showed up at an elementary school.  The school resource officer, a strapping young blonde woman,  all by her self, got a rope around its neck, flipped it upside down, and duct taped its jaws shut.  We need some practice before we get that good at dealing with gators.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

A Mailing from Annie Kuster

Annie is my democratic US rep.  She did a constituent mailing, a duo-fold color post card.  Had artwork showing Main St Littleton (my home town, close enough) the State house, the Ammonusuc River, the covered bridge up by the Flume. 
Open it up and Annie promises to go to bat with federal agencies for you, expedite your grant requests, obtain service academy appointments for your children,  obtain a greeting card from Obama, expedite your passport applications, offer internships in her office[s], issue official attaboys, and get high school students into the Artistic Discovery Contest.   Lots of nice giveaways to voters.
   Not a word about taxes, Obamacare, IRS, Benghazi, jobs, war on coal, cutting off subsidies to the Egyptian army, Keystone XL, sequester, Northern Pass, or any other reason to vote for her.
On the back page it says "This mailing was prepared, published, and mailed at taxpayer expense."
Way to go Annie.   

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


The Daily Mail reports on a new blood test that will indicate how long you have to live.  Robert A. Heinlein wrote a short story about this very idea, way back in 1939.   In the story a fictional Dr. Hugo Pinero invented the technique.  The story opens with Dr. Pinero invited to a scientific convention and getting trashed by disbelieving scientists.  Pinero's invention plays hob with the life insurance business, who hire hitmen to do away with him and make the world safe for life insurance salesmen.
   Science fiction comes to life, again. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Trayvon Martin/George Zimmermann trial

The TV newsies are giving it wall to wall coverage, they put up a breaking news alert everytime the trial breaks for lunch.  Then we have to suffer thru hours of opining about who is ahead, Florida law, judges instructions to the jury and other legal gobble-de-gook.
  In actual fact, it's purely up to the jury.  If they think Zimmermann was in fear of his life then it's self defense.  If they think Zimmermann was stalking Martin, then it's murder.  It's all about what you think.  So we won't know until the case goes to the jury. 

So did they set the parking brake?

Just north of here, the Canadians suffered a dreadful train wreck.  Tank cars loaded with crude oil derailed in the center of town and burst into flames.  Five are known dead, 40 are missing, and it's a good bet the missing are actually dead, but the fire was so fierce nobody got close enough to check.  Center of town is burned out.
   The railroad (Canadian National? Canadian Pacific? the TV didn't bother to say) says that the train was parked, the crew was catching up on sleep in a motel.  It was claimed that "all safety devices were set". But somehow the train got loose and rolled into town.
There are a few questions unanswered.  Unasked by clueful newsies. 
Were the train brakes set, or just the engine brakes?  Every car in a train has air brakes as well as a separate set of brakes on the engine.  For ordinary operations (flat terrain, expected station stop) it's customary to use just the engine brakes.  Train brakes are reserved for tougher situations like decending mountain grades.  If the brakes on every car were set to park the train it is hard to understand how it could run away. If just the engine brakes were set, a run away is more likely.
   Brakes are fail safe.  Air pressure holds the brakes off.  Should the train line leak, or worse, separate, the air runs out and the brakes go on.  
   Were the diesel engines left running?  It's standard practice around here to leave them running, especially in winter, 'cause they might not start when cold.  A runaway is more likely if the diesels are running, with nobody on board.
   Oher interesting bit.  The train was loaded with North Dakota crude headed for an Irving refinery in New Brunswick.  Accident would not have happened if that North Dakota crude had been headed for a US gulf refinery thru the Keystone XL pipeline.  

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Wall Warts multiplying like rabbits

Dunno where they all come from but, today's shop cleanup yielded 6 old wall warts, left over from forgotten gadgets I suppose.  But perhaps they mate in the dark and multiply?  Did I really have six wall wart powered gadgets?  Even with gadget loving children to help?
  Anyhow they are useful.  One spare wall wart got my cable modem back on line a year ago, several others are powering the HO railroad.  So I won't pitch 'em. 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Innumeracy at San Francisco

The TV news has been going berserk about the 777 crash in San Francisco today.  They had the San Francisco lady fire chief up in front of the TV.  The question we all want answered, How many people made it off the plane alive?  She didn't answer that question, and none of the newsies were smart enough to ask it. She did say that the airline reported 307 souls on board.  She allowed as how 48 survivors were hospitalized and 192 turned up at the airport.  That's only 240 people.  What happened to the other 67?  Did they fail to get off and burn to death when the plane caught fire? Did they wander off the airport in the confusion and take taxis to where ever they were going?  Are they still wandering around in the tall grass off Runway 28L?  Are they stuck in customs?
   I expected a fire chief to know how to count.  This one clearly didn't.  Probably never did learn the new math. 
   Also kinda disgusting, all the officials called it "an incident".  Here they have a burned out airliner still smoking on the runway, debris all over the runway, and they can't come right out and say "accident"?  What's wrong with this picture?

Does John McCain know anything?

John McCain was on NHPR this morning calling for cancellation of US aid to Egypt.  I don't  agree.  Egypt's population decided they had had enough of the Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi, they staged protest demonstrations bigger than the ones that deposed Mubarak, the Egyptian Army took the hint and showed Morsi the door.  Morsi and the Brotherhood had managed to throw most Egyptians out of work, ruin the tourist trade, and were getting ready to provoke a war with the Israelis.  
   And, you gotta understand who the Muslim Brotherhood is.  They are an underground Islamist revolutionary movement that got started in the 1920's, with the objective of throwing the British out of Egypt.  They were so violent that the British, Nasser, Sadat, and Mubarak had all outlawed the party and threw every brother they caught into jail.  They are the best organized political party in Egypt, having had the last hundred years to get organized .  The Brotherhood founded Al Quada, Abu Nadal, and the Palestinian Liberation Organization.  The Brotherhood killed Anwat Sadat.  Osama bin Laden started his political career with the Brotherhood. They are dangerous and they want us dead.  There is no way we are gonna change their minds, we cannot kiss and make up, we have to oppose them.
    After the "Arab Spring" demos last year, Obama helped throw Mubarak out of power.  The Brotherhood moved right into the vacuum thus created and managed to  gain a majority in the legislature and elect one of their own to the presidency.  They have spend the last year driving the county underwater. Good work Obama.
   Last week we had a stroke of pure unadulerated luck,  the second Arab Spring, and the Egyptian Army has removed Morsi and the Brotherhood from power.  The army was able to do this because it have been receiving sizable American money ever since the Camp David Accords back in the Carter Administration.  This enabled the Army to pay the troops, buy rations, ammunition, spare parts and fuel, without having to pay off the Egyptian politicians.  We made training spaces available in all the US military schools so most of the Egyptian officer corps has done schooling in the US.  Some of our ideals have rubbed off on them.  In short we have built the Egyptian Army up into the most powerful institution in the country, an institution that has the respect of their citizens and is sympathetic to the American point of view.  It wasn't cheap, but right now, it looks like money well spent.
  And the ever clueful John McCain wants to screw all this up by cutting of the money.   Good work McCain.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Too young for fireworks

Did the Fourth of July thing.  Barbeque burgers and hot dogs on the deck (Brother John's deck this time)  Chewed the fat, reminisced about old times, drank some beer, put on some weight.  The rain held off, just barely.  Children are small, less than 1, 2,and 4.  Grownups decided not to do fireworks, at least not this year.  Maybe next year. 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Egypt is more important than it looks

Egypt is one center of the Arab world.  (Iraq is the other).  Egypt became Moslem back in Mohammed's time.  To Moslems it is a holy land, not the holiest perhaps, but still holy.  The University of Cairo has been granting degrees since medieval times.  Arab fashion, art, literature, music, newspapers, all the cultural things are centered in Cairo.  The rest of the Arab world looks to Egypt for leadership, for ideology, for news.  Young Arabs are sent to Cairo for their education (at least those that are not sent to the United States).  Egypt is a trend setter, an example setter. 
   Yesterday's overthrow of the Islamist Morsi regime is very important.   It says, loud and clear, in an Arab voice, that Islamism is rejected by the mass of the Arab population.  This is the best thing we could have hoped for.  It may provide an example for the rest of the Middle East.  Turkey in particular.  
   Egypt now needs a decent regime, run by decent men, to bring some order out of chaos, get their economy working again, well enough to avert famine, and get the security situation in hand sufficiently to bring the tourists back. 
   I have no idea which Egyptians are presidential timber.  I don't read or speak Arabic, I have never been in the country.  But State Dept or CIA ought to have some idea.  At a minimum they should have a list of each Egyptian's standing, where he comes from, who supports him, where he was educated, what his political views are.  The US ought to quietly contact these people, at least the ones that we think would do Egypt some good, and assure them of our friendship, offer them help.  Lotta things we can help with, money, an internet presence, radio and TV broadcasting facilities, visas, air tickets, intelligence, arms and ammunition, economic development.  All we have to do is guarantee secrecy.
   Should it come out that El So-and-so is in the pay of the Americans, it's a death sentence for El So-and-so.  CIA has a terrible record in this regard, and State isn't much better.  Right now US military officers would be more convincing go betweens than anyone from the intelligence community.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Trip to Boston

The urge to shop rose up, and so I fired up the Mercury and drove down to Boston today.  Left at 7 AM, got to my first shopping stop by 9.  Talk about infrastructure.  I93 down thru NH was in good shape.  Not so in Mass. The  contractor who laid the last coat of asphalt on the Mass end of I93 and Rt 128 took some cheapcut and the whole asphalt layer was peeling up, creating suspension wrecking potholes.  Glad I'm retired and don't have to commute on that stuff anymore.  I hit the big Salvation Army thrift store on US 1 and scored four decent shirts, a drinking glass, a muffin pan and a pyrex measuring cup.  Then I got to Charles Ro, the Malden train store and scored a bunch of train stuff.  Hit the Lincoln paperback book store on the way back and scored six paperbacks.  All in all a reasonable day. 

Stand your ground.

The newsies have been talking up the Florida stand your ground law.  Zimmerman, who wanted to get into law enforcement, had taken a course in criminal law.  The prosecution dragged in George Zimmerman's old professor, who testified that Zimmerman had done well in class, gotten an A in the course, and was well versed in the Florida stand your ground law. 
   The prosecution went on to accuse Zimmerman of shooting Trayvon Martin 'cause he knew the stand you ground law would make it OK somehow.
   And they expect a jury to believe this? Zimmerman is flat on his back, with Martin beating his head against a cement sidewalk.  Zimmerman, in fear of his life shoots Martin.  Would anyone in Zimmerman's position be thinking about stand your ground, as opposed to save my life?  Would not even the most gullible juror understand that?
   What is the prosecution trying to do?

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Airlines used to be cool

Being an airline was once so cool that a Florida railroad renamed itself "Seaboard Air Line".  It's stock shot up.  This was back in the 1920's or 30's when the railroad was still steam powered.
  Aviation Week did a piece on "Top Performing Airlines".   In the short list of winners, we have such flight suggestive names as Copa Holdings, Ryanair Holdings, AMR Corp, Allegiant Travel Co. and Regional Express Holdings.
   I guess Wall St thinks better of a company name suggestive of stock and bond trading, rather than a name that forthrightly announces the company's real business, supplying air transportation. 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Children are dying

The Washingtonian has a long piece on the problem.  US manufacturers of trace elements essential to intervenous feeding are failing to keep up with demand.  Premature babies in neo natal intensive care are getting sick and dying for lack of proper IV nutrition.  Fingers are pointed in a number of directions, the drug makers, the FDA, the hospitals. 
One thing the FDA could do, right now, on it's own authority, is let hospitals purchase the needed nutrients over seas, where they are plentiful.  But this would upset US drug companies who fully support the FDA's ban on importing any kind of drugs or pharmaceuticals.
   Another thing that would help is to allow the price of the stuff to rise.  FDA and the insurance companies hammer down the price of drugs, to the point where there isn't any profit in making the stuff, so the drug companies stop making it.