Saturday, August 31, 2013

We were eyeball to eyeball and our guy just blinked

Probably not a bad idea.  Zapping Bashar Assad in Syria to teach him a lesson about the use of poison gas, actually amounts to tipping the civil war against Assad and in favor of Al Quada.  Which is not a good idea. 
Note:  The reason Obama hasn't gone to Congress yet is he fears he will loose, making him look stupider than ever.  And Congress is just as happy with that, they don't want to vote on anything, 'cause taking a stand on anything just looses you votes.  So Congress doesn't get called into special session. 

Is college worth it?

Depends.  For students who like their subjects and study 'em, it's a good deal.  For a lot of students coming out of 13 years of K-12 classrooms, who really could care less about the declination of Latin verbs, Shakespeare's literary devices, or when the battle of whatever was fought, college is another four years of drudgery, punctuated with parties.   These students would do better getting a job in the real economy (fast food, construction,  truck driving , retail sales) or enlisting in the military.  After a year or so of hard work for not much money, they will find their attitude toward academia much improved, leading to much better grades and the learning real life skills. 
   College is only worth it if you study real subjects.  Subjects with a job market other than becoming a college professor.  English, history,  foreign language, mathematics, chemistry, physics, biology, economics, computer science.  Art only pays off for artists.  Unless you have some artistic talent, study something else.  Same for music.  If you don't have any musical talent, don't study music.  You gotta have some talent to be an artist or a musician. 
   Avoid the fake subjects.  Black studies, gender studies, these are indoctrination subjects.  Sociology, political science, and journalism, the talky talk subjects.  Lots of fine ideas, no facts, anyone's opinion is as good as anyone else's.  And there is NO job market for these subjects. 
  If you cannot get interested in real subjects, college won't pay off for you.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Destroyers to the rescue?

According to the TV newsie, the US is massing destroyers off the coast of Syria to do a little 21sth century gunboat dipomacy. 
Destroyers?  The smallest warship that counts as a ship?  Smaller vessels are known as boats, not ships.  Either 21st century destroyers are a LOT bigger and meaner than 20th century destroyers, or the proposed strike on Syria is gonna be a lovepat.  I mean, we used to do this sort of thing with aircraft carriers, no destroyers need apply. 
    Actually, destroyers have gotten bigger and costlier over the years.  Used to be, a destroyer was only 2000 tons displacement.  Lately they have been pushing 5000-6000 tons.  Ships that big used to be called cruisers.  Now they are destroyers.  

Brits bail on Obama

They showed it on TV, the British Parliament in session, tight small room with everyone crammed in face to face.  Prime Minister on the front bench trying to talk the members into supporting the American plan to do something in Syria.  He tried hard, he thought he had the votes, but when the vote was taken, it was a vote to stay out and let the Americans dangle in the wind.
   This is the first time in a hundred years that the Brits and the Yankees haven't pulled together.  We were so tight during WWII that the rest of the world called us the "Anglo Americans".  Since WWII the Brits have stayed really close, Brit authors do best sellers, Brit singers hit the Top Forty, Savile Row tailors out swank NYC tailors, Britain is a top tourist destination, Brit sports cars have more class than Japanese.  The relationship is so close that the Brits could be the 51st state. 
   Could it be that repeated insults from Obama have finally turned off the Brits?  There was that business about returning a bust of Winston Churchill, failure to send anyone to Maggie Thatcher's funeral, and doubtless some other snubs that I don't remember but the Brits do.  Obama doesn't like the Brits and he lets it show.  It's payback time.  It's dumb to let people know you don't like 'em.  Makes it easier for them to dump on you.
   Anyhow, if we cannot get our closest ally, Britain, to go along with zapping Syria over poison gas use, good luck anywhere else.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

So they gave Nidal Hasan the death penalty

Took 'em long enough.  He killed 13 people and wounded many more way back in 2009.  That's four years ago, four years of welfare for lawyers. 
   Now they are talking about doing appeals, twice, and taking more years before offing Hasan.  It's a good bet that as the red tape unwinds, Hasan will be spared, to live a long life in jail, at our expense.  He should have faced a firing squad four years ago.
  Justice delayed is justice denied.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Goldie Oldie still competitive

South Korea is shopping for 60 new jet fighter planes.  There were gonna buy the brand new F35.  But the Boeing salesman have been active and for the last round of Korean competition, the trusty F15, which first flew in 1972, is in the competition.  The Korean purchasing board has disqualified the F35 as being too expensive ($96 million), and disqualified the Eurofighter Typhoon for "bidding irregularities."
    The purchasing commission decision will be reviewed by a top bracket committee chaired by the South Korean defense minister.  Korean news media say that the Korean Air Force is unhappy, they wanted the newer F35, but the finance minister is holding firm on the budget which was $7.4 billion.  Some explaining is due here, 60 F35's at $96 million apiece comes out to $5.7 billion, well with in a $7.4 budget.  Either the $7.4 billion has to pay for a few things besides new fighters, or Lockheed Martin did a LOT of marking up.
   The "bidding irregularities" is difficult to understand as well.  The Koreans had agreed with Eurofighter to bid 45 single seaters and 15 twin seat models.  The Korean's beef is that Eurofighter changed the deal to 54 single seat and only 6 single seat models, with out telling 'em.  This was supposed to save money.   Any salesman worth his salt would know that changing the customer's specs on a bid is suicide.  I guess Eurofighter has a death wish.  Granted 2 seaters are more expensive 'cause you have to build two cockpits, which costs twice as much as one cockpit, but when we a doing a deal for 60 planes,  the extra cost is too small to jeopardize the deal. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Syrian Intervention. For the credibility of Obama?

The Bashar Assad regime in Syria has used poison gas ("chemical weapons" is the nicey nicey name for it) on their own people.  Some time ago, Obama made a threat to do unspecified bad things to Assad if he used poison gas.  Well, Assad went ahead and gassed his rebels.  Now Obama is under pressure to make good on his idle threats.  New secretary of state, old Viet Nam war veteran, "Swift Boat John" Kerry is beating the drum for action against Assad. 
   Syria has a nasty dictator, Bashar Assad, under attack from Al Quada.  We don't own Assad a thing, and Al Quada is Al Quada.  Getting mixed up in the Syrian civil war is a choice between two repulsive sides.  Most Americans are would just as soon let the two sides fight it out, without absorbing any more US casualties in Mid East peace keeping actions. 
   Now, that Assad has crossed Obama's red line, Obama is finding that he doesn't have political support for military action in Syria. 
   This is something that most parents learn early.  If you make a threat to the kids, you gotta make good on it.  Obama has two daughters, he shoulda learned by now.  Or maybe he is a slow learner.

Eric Holder is racist

Poor Louisiana, still recovering from years of terrible schools and  Hurricane Katrina.  Louisiana set up a voucher program to allow kids from terrible schools or destroyed schools to attend  charter or private schools.  Now Eric is suing Louisiana to kill the program, despite the fact the 90% of the kids getting vouchers are black.
   His lawyers sited a single case where some five white kids used the program.  Holder claimed that allowing just five white kids to get  vouchers made some public school more black.  For this, Holder's people want to deny all the black kids the vouchers they need to get out of horrible public schools and get a decent education in a decent school.
   Say "Teacher's Union" to your self.  Holder is more loyal to teachers unions than to black kids.  Shame.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Whither the F-35 (Joint Strike Fighter)?

Budget cutting and sequestering is sniffing around the massive F-35 program.  F-35 is supposed to be THE jet fighter for the entire free world, for the next 25 years.  It's computerized, it's stealthy, it's almost operational.  And it costs like crazy.
   F-35 has three versions, F35A is the regular air force version, designed to operate off concrete runways.  F35B is the vertical takeoff version for the Marine Corps, and F35C is the carrier version for the Navy, essentially the Air Force version beefed up to survive carrier landings and catapulting.
   Aviation Week suggests saving money by cancelling the Marine Corps and Navy versions, and concentrating on the Air Force version.  The Navy could get by using  the F/A 18 Hornet (currently in service) and the Marines could keep flying their Harrier VTOL fighter.  In short, new fighters for the Air Force and let the Navy and Marines suck hind teat. 
   I don't know how this will fly in Congress, but the Navy and Marine viewpoint is not hard to imagine.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Things you learn on the TV news

According to Fox, parents are using a diet suppliment called melitonin, available at health food stores with out a prescription as a sleeping pill for small children.  Kid doesn't want to go to bed at 8 on a school night? Slip it a pill. 
   I'd never heard of the stuff before the Fox news piece on it.  It never occurred to me, (or to my mother) that the way to get kids to go to bed was to drug 'em.  Our family method was simple, "Bedtime, now.  Lights out, No talking".  Worked every time for two generations.

Friday, August 23, 2013

News for the Gun Controllers

The Christopher Lane killing in Oklahoma has provoked wide spread outrage.  As well it should.  The gun controllers are now using it as justification for taking guns away from the rest of the population.
   News Flash.  Oklahoma law a;ready bans minors from possessing hand guns.  So the 22 pistol used in the Lane killing was already illegal.  Not that being illegal means much. 
   Some newsies have expressed surprise that the killers had 50 rounds with them.  News Flash #2.  Fifty rounds is a single regular box of 22 ammunition.  The box is pretty small,  it will fit in your shirt pocket.
And 50 rounds ain't much.  I have shot off 50 rounds in no  time at all at the range.
   Other newsies have expressed surprise that "kids" could be so bad.  Those newsies must have led a sheltered life.  I grew up in a respectable Boston suburb.  There were kids that would get into plenty of trouble all by themselves anytime they weren't under a grownup's eye.  Hanging around with those kids was a quick ticket to juvenile court.  Part of surviving childhood was learning to identify and avoid those kids. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Egyptians let Mubarak out of jail

I wonder why.  If you are gonna be a military junta, and you want to keep your job, you don't do controversial things unless it benefits you.  At least that's what the intelligent junta does.
So what is the benefit of letting Mubarak out?  Does he still command a faction in Egypt, who will do something nice for the  junta if the junta does something nice for them?  Is there some personal connection between the junta and Mubarak?  Like a blood relationship, a marriage between families, some mighty favor done by Mubarak back when he was running the place?   The guy is 85 and in poor health, odds are he will be dead in a couple of years. 
   Or maybe this isn't so controversial in Egypt?  After a year of the Muslim Brotherhood in charge perhaps old Mubarak is looking better to the average Egyptian in the street?
   Who knows?  Surely not the US media.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


The breakout James Bond movie.  It was the third one out, Dr No and From Russia with Love preceeded it, but Goldfinger was the movie that made Bond into the bigtime.  Last night I popped my DVD of Goldfinger into the player and enjoyed it. 
   For a movie nearly 50 years old, it has worn well. Except for the vintage cars, everything else looked reasonable.  The aircraft, the costumes, the sets, the firearms, even the industrial laser, all look right up to date even when they are actually a half century old.  Bond's one liners are still funny, and so are Goldfinger's.  Bond's snappy wardrobe still looks snappy.  The CIA guys both wear hats, (fedoras ) which nobody wears anymore, but their black suits would look right in style for Men In Black. Nobody said anything objectionable by the standards of 2013.  Everybody smoked in the movie, but then everybody smoked in real life in those days.
   I remember seeing Goldfinger back in 1964 at the Keesler Air Force Base outdoor theatre.  The place was packed with GI's, who hugely enjoyed the movie.  There is one technical slip, a supposed Army NCO was wearing Air Force sergeant's stripes. That brought the house down fifty years ago. 
   There was one other slip up.  After crushing the Lincoln with the mobster inside it, Oddjob has the bundle of metal dropped into the bed of a Ford Falcon pickup truck.  That wouldn't have worked in real life.  The Lincoln weighs two tons (crushed or uncrushed) and the Falcon pickup truck was super light duty that bottomed out the springs around half a ton.   Should have used something bigger like a Dodge Powerwagon.
   Then there was the neat little tracker built into the Aston Martin.  The one that displayed a map with a bright blinking light indicating the target location (usually Goldfinger was the target).  At the time I saw the flick, I thought it was cool but a little advanced for current (1964) technology.  A few months later, after reporting in to my duty unit, I saw the Tactical Situation Display (TSD) in the F106 fighter.  Damn, the TSD worked exactly like Bond's tracker. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

What do we do about NSA?

They have been around for a long time.  NSA is descended from the World War II codebreakers who contributed so mightily to victory in that war.  Back in the 1940's they merely tuned in enemy radio messages and then decrypted them.  Back then we civilians were happy if the government didn't read our mail and got a warrent to tap our telephone.
   Times move on.  NSA is now obtaining and storing all the telephone bills in the land.  "metadata" they call it, but it is just the information on your telephone bill, each number you called and how long you stayed on the line. NSA has direct taps into the phone company computers to suck off the "metadata" and store it, forever. 
  Question.  Should we allow this?  On the security side, when they finger one terrorist, they go into the "metadata" and find everyone he ever telephoned.  Very handy, no doubt about it.  Tidier than interrogation or waterboarding the suspect, and they can do it even if they haven't caught 'em yet.
   On the defense lawyer side,  all they have to do is find just once, that my client telephoned some  unsavory character, and he is convicted.  If they want to hang my client for income tax (like happened to Al Capone), insider trading (Martha Stewart), campaign finance offenses,  or walking on the grass,  talk to every one on his phone list and you are bound to find some dirt to bring to court.  Scary.

  NSA claims that they only look at  their store of "metadata" to solve terrorist cases.  Even if this is true, today, pretty soon cops will want to use it on other "worthy" causes.  Like kidnapping cases, or school shooter cases, or drug cases.  Pretty soon they will be using it in child support cases. Or divorce cases.
   After thinking about it for some time, I think the dangers of innocent citizens getting railroaded out weigh the chances of catching terrorists.  
   We ought to pass a law forbidding NSA to access, read, copy or store "metadata" of any kind.  Companies should be forbidden to allow snoopers to see customer data without a court order.  Court orders to be limited to ONE suspect at a time, no court orders for "all single black men 18 to 24 years old" stuff.
   NSA is also snooping email.  Scanning it by computer, and reading it if it is from someone on the watch list or the scanner picks up on some suspicious keywords.  We  ought to forbid that too.  And  pass a law requiring Gmail and the internet service providers to keep customer email secret.  

Monday, August 19, 2013

Juan Williams finally makes some sense

Juan Williams, a liberal commentator who was driven from NPR to Fox News a few years ago, was on the 6 PM Fox news roundtable.  They were discussing Egypt and what should be done.  Juan said that of the two sides in the Egyptian "disturbances" we ought to be backing the Egyptian Army against the Muslim Brotherhood.  Juan got that 100 % right.
  The Army may be a little heavy handed, but the Muslim Brotherhood are Islamist crazies.  The Army has majority support of the Egyptian people in turning out Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood government.
  All we can do in Egypt is pick a side.  The Army, which we have been training and paying for 20 years, is much more sympathetic to our point of view than the Brotherhood, who assassinated Anwat Sadat.  

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Practice or Process?

Attorney General Eric Holder announced that US attorneys had be instructed to sidestep the mandatory minimum sentencing rules in regard to "low level drug offenders".  Not a bad idea,  Users and guys who deal just enough to support their own habits aren't that dangerous.  But I don't like the process Holder used. 
   Those mandatory minimum laws were passed by Congress.  The right way to change 'em  is to go to Congress and get Congress to change the law.  Doing it on just Eric's say-so ain't democratic, that's what dictators do. 

Al Quada will never win at the ballot box

Thus spake US senator Lindsey Graham on Face the Nation this morning.   Well I got news for the senator.  The Muslim Brotherhood, parent organization to Al Quada, did in fact win control of Egypt at the ballot box only a year or two ago.  If the Muslim Brotherhood can win elections in Eqypt, Al Quada, a spin off terrorist organization, can win just about anywhere. 
   Too bad Senator Graham appears to be influential inside the brain damaged US Senate. 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

How to prevent a Government Shutdown

Simple.  Pass some appropriation bills.  They way it ought to be, and the way it used to be, Congress would pass bills appropriating money for each department of the executive, State, Defense, Treasury, NASA, Energy, Commerce, and so on.  If  appropriations for one department failed to pass, the rest of the government could keep on running.
   In the last 10-15 years Congress has been unable to pass appropriation bills.  At the 11th hour Congress will pass one single humungous bill that funds everything.  This trick neuters Congressional power of the purse.  You can't refuse to fund objectionable programs because the only way to do it is shut the entire government down, which is perilous.  Last time Newt Gengrich tried it, he was blamed for intransigence and driven from the speakership and from the House.  We don't have anyone in Congress anymore with the kind of stones Newt Gengrich had.  Newt was something of a loose cannon, but he had guts.  Congress won't do a government shutdown over Obama Care this time.  No guts.
    What they ought to do is pass appropriation bills for every department EXCEPT Obama care.  The house has the votes.  The Senate could be wooed into passing reasonable appropriation bills, especially if they were skillfully larded with pork.  If Obama vetoes them, then he looks intransigent.   Then we could keep the government alive, and Obamacare unfunded.

Friday, August 16, 2013

We don't want a democracy in Eygpt

In stead we want a stable, decent, humane government that will restore order so that the tourists will come back, protect minorities like Christians, Jews, Shia, and who ever else there might be, from prosecution by the Sunni majority, and have enough support to stay in power.  If such a government is less than democratic, so be it.
   And we don't really get our choice in the matter.   Egypt will be governed by who ever can gain the backing of the Egyptian people, the Egyptian establishment, the Army, and what ever other important power blocks there might be. Or if not backing, at least acquiescence.  The best we can do is pick sides and give the side we like what support we can.  If we pick the losing side, the penalty is lasting enmity from the winners.   
   There are two sides in Egypt.  One is the Muslim Brotherhood.  The other is the Army.  Both sides are powerful.  The Army side was able to stage massive street demonstrations that brought down the Muslim Brotherhood president, Morsi.  The Muslim Brotherhood is staging massive demonstrations today to reinstate Morsi.  Both sides are two big to ignore.  Nobody knows which side is stronger. 
   One thing we do know.  We don't want the Muslim Brotherhood to win.
  The Muslim Brotherhood was formed in the 1920's as an anti British underground.  The were outlawed by every Egyptian government from that day to last year.  The British, Nasser, Sadat, and Mubarak each outlawed the Brotherhood and jailed it's members.  The Brotherhood assassinated Anwar Sadat.  They stand for imposing Sharia law, forcing women into burkas,  cutting women's genitals, and killing all non Muslims.  They want to drive the Israelis into the sea. Al Quada, Abu Nudal, Hezballah, Osama Bin Laden, and a bunch of other nasties learned the terrorist business in the Brotherhood. 
   Obama seems to like the Brotherhood. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

First Amendment for Rodeo Clowns

Just so long as they don't mock Obama that is.  I'm of mixed minds on this one.  First amendment was put in to allow political opposition, which from that day to this includes mockery. 
  On the other hand, the president represents MY country (even a president I didn't vote for) and mocking the President is about the same thing as mocking my country, which makes me uncomfortable.  But not so uncomfortable as to forbid it.   

Bradley Manning vs the Rosenburgs

Discussion in Pajamas Media about differences between the case of Julius and Ethel Rosenburg, who got the chair, and Bradley Manning.  I hadn't heard that Manning had actually been sentenced, but it's a good bet he gets off with a jail sentence. 
   The article begs the question of why the difference in sentence for essentially the same crime.  Well, I can answer that.  The Rosenburgs passed the secret of making atomic bombs to Stalin.  They gave a ruthless dictator the ultimate weapon.  No country can risk its cities to atomic destruction, no terrain feature can be held against nuclear bombardment.  Two atomic bombs ended Japanese resistance and brought an end to WWII, the most destructive war in history.   In 1945 the United States alone possessed atomic weapons.  Things might have stayed that way for decades, but for the Rosenburgs.  Thanks to their information the Soviets detonated their first bomb in 1949.  This made the Cold War, which lasted forty years, possible.  Forty years of tyranny, bloodshed, and misery for  all trapped behind the Iron Curtain.
   In short, the Rosenburgs caused incredible damage to world peace, US security, and caused  untold human suffering. 
   Bradly Manning, not so much.  The material Manning released was embarrassing, but compared to the Rosenburgs, fairly small potatoes.  In fact, the Manning case is more embarrassing because it revealed US document security was non existant.  No way should an Army private be able to access State Dept classified.  The way you keep secrets secret is you don't reveal them to anyone you don't absolutely have to. The rest of the world, both our friends and our enemies, now knows that you don't tell the Americans anything that you don't want to appear on Wiki Leaks and the front page of the New York Times.  And that isn't Manning's fault, it's the fault of who ever set up the system that allowed a private such wide ranging access to US secret information.  That guilty bureaucrat hasn't even been named in the press. He, who ever it is, gets off free, when he ought to get the chair.    

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Hacking the nanny cams

A couple reported that someone had hacked into their nanny cam, taken control of it, scanned around the room, and picked up the audio. 
  Technically possible for sure.  You can tap into the radio link from the camera to the modem, or you can come in thru the internet and defeat the password protection. 
   Best defense?  Turn off the nanny cam.  Children have been successfully raised without nanny cams for thousands of years.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Missing the point of voter ID

They were talking about  Voter ID this morning.  The black guys damned voter ID as just more red tape to keep blacks from voting.  The  Voter ID guys keep saying that if you need to show ID to buy cold medicine, you ought to show ID to vote.  It all sounds so thoughtful and democratic, but that is not why we put in voter ID. 
   We put in voter ID to keep the out of state college students from voting in New Hampshire.  College students are young and stupid and vote Democratic.  They also vote for more free stuff,  which we residents then have to pay for with our taxes.  Our own college student votes mess things up enough, we should not have to suffer out of state college students.
  The talking heads on TV don't talk about this.

No Racial Overtones

Three black kids punch out a white kid on a school bus.  You have seen the surveillance camera video on Fox TV.   Talking heads are discussing it this morning.  One talking head says "No racial overtones".   Yeah Right.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Tales of the Toaster

It was a GE toaster that came into my family in the early 1950's.  It was a two slice toaster, replacing a one slice Toastmaster.  There were three of us children (me and two siblings) and a two slice toaster meant that two kids got a hot crisp slice of toast and only one kid had to wait for the second batch.  Breakfast became more eating and less waiting on the toaster.  Progress.
  In time, trusty GE went to my Grandmother in Montreal, replacing an antique toast incinerator, the real old fashioned kind that did not pop up.  It kept Grandmother from incinerating her toast until her death in 1962.  Then it came back to us, and from that day to this it toasted bread and English muffins at the Mittersill chalet.  All three of my children grew up doing ski morning breakfast with toast from the now elderly GE. 
   Last week, trusty antique toaster stopped working.  I should have just pitched it, after 60 years it didn't owe me anything, but it had been around long enough for me, and my children to become sentimental about it.  An appliance of love. 
   So, can it be fixed? The failure was straight forward, one of the heating elements had gone dark, resulting in three sided toast, three sides browned and one side white.  And it stopped popping up.  They built toasters right back then, it disassembled with nothing more than a Phillips screw driver and a couple of nut drivers.  Shop vac dealt with pounds and pounds of ancient toast crumbs. The failure was obvious to the eye,  the nichrome heater wire had burned in two on the dark heating element.
    Repair.  I used a piece of tiny brass tubing to make a butt splice.  Buffed the nichrome wire bright with a Dremel tool, slipped the brass butt splice on,  and crimped it with a pair of Vicegrip pliers.  Reassembled toaster, and lo and behold, it heated up.  Popped up too.  I  inserted a couple of pieces of test Italian bread and it toasted them nice and golden brown and popped them up automatically.
  We will see how long the butt splice continues to conduct electricity.

I buy my acetone by the quart

TV News is reporting a movement to limit sales of nail polish remover in drug stores.  The stuff will be put behind the counter and customers will have to sign for it. Like Suda Fed.   The excuse given is that nail polish contains acetone, useful in making crystal meth.
  Wow.  Nail polish remover comes in ounce bottles, and has glycerin and perfumes added to make it a little nicer on the hands.  How much crystal meth can be made with a couple of ounces of nail polish remover?
  I buy my acetone by the quart in the paint department of Wallymart, Home Despot, Lowes, or Franconia Hardware.  It will debond super glue, (useful in the case of accidental spills) take off lacquer, remove grease, thin lacquer, clean brushes, weld plastic, lots of things.  The quart can sits in my shop, next to the paint thinner, the denatured alcohol, the lacquer thinner, the methyl ethyl ketone, and the charcoal lighter. 
   May I better stock up in case the Feds take it off the hardware store shelves?
   Making the world safe for crystal meth heads, one bottle at a time.

NH Supremes get one thing right

The NH Supreme Court just ruled that "loaded gun" means a gun with ammunition inside it.  Good thinking. And a stand in favor of proper meaning of the language, as opposed to lawyer meaning.  The Manchester police stopped Oriol Dor and searched his car.  They found a pistol in the glove compartment, along with a charged magazine for that pistol.  The pistol's magazine well was empty and so was the chamber.
   Despite this Dor was charged with concealed carry of a loaded gun without a license.  In court the prosecutor argued that ammunition within a few inches of the gun made it a "loaded gun". 
   Dor had to appeal to the state supreme court before he could get justice on a clear cut law violation by police and prosecutors.  I'm glad he had the money for the lawyers. 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Words of the Weasel Part 31

"Sexual Assault" .  Is that newspeak meaning rape?  And is it becoming popular because the TV newsies find " rape" too crude a word to pass their lips?  This morning's Meet the Press had a lot of bloviating about "Sexual Assault in the Military". Do they really mean rape?
   Or is it some lesser offenses against women?  Mayor Filner stuff?  forced kissing? Has it gone down to the level of provocative pinups and crude language in the work place? 

Is Russia Friend or Foe ?

This week's stupid question on Meet the Press.  Anyone with an IQ above room temperature knows that the answer is "Neither".  Friends are countries like Britain or Canada, or Australia.  The Russians aren't in that league and probably never will be.  They don't speak our language, they are still "unhappy" about being demoted from world superpower to ordinary country,  and they are still working out internal differences with Chechens and Uzbeks and others in ways that we find appalling. 
   Back in the cold war, they were foes.  But the cold war has been over for twenty years, and there is no sign that the Russians want to start it up again.  They have some serious policy differences with us over things like which side to back in Syria, NATO expansion, Georgia and some others.  Their leader has sized up Obama as a large slow target and has enjoyed some zingers such as the Snowden affair.
   But that doesn't make 'em foes.  Unfriendly perhaps, but foe means the other side in a real war.  I see no signs that the Russians want to have a real war with America. 

Friday, August 9, 2013

The Economist, Dispensing bad advice for 100 years

The Economist has been printing "news" for a long time.  Apparently age does not bring wisdom.  Donald Kagan ("On the Origins of War") quotes the 1910 Economist thus:  "the German fleet which has struck such panic is largely imaginary, and the supposed danger is  entirely due to the fact that the [British] Admiralty invented the Dreadnought and fostered the impression that this type of ship superseded all others."
  This is writing a mere six years before the climactic show down between the Royal Navy and the Imperial High Seas Fleet at Jutland.  Had the Germans had a bit more combat luck they might have sunk the Royal Navy that afternoon.  They came close enough for the Kaiser to claim a great victory for German arms.  Real victory would have put the High Seas Fleet in the Atlantic, breaking the British blockade of Germany and sinking Allied merchantmen bound for England.  Which would have won the war for Germany in a matter of weeks. 
   Dreadnought was a break thru design, so effective that after her launch all battleships were described as "Dreadnoughts" or "Pre dreadnoughts".  She had new technology steam turbine engines that made her the faster ship afloat.  No enemy vessel could get away from Dreadnought if she wished to fight, and no enemy vessel could catch her should she decide to flee.  Her big guns were all the same caliber, which improves the the chances of a hit when gunnery is a matter of firing a salvo and watching for the splashes.  Dreadnought's gunnery officer did not have to sort out splashes from various sizes of guns to correct his aim.  He knew that all Dreadnought's splashes were from the 12 inch main battery, and aiming corrections would bring the 12 inch fire onto the target. 
   Dreadnought was launched in 1905, five years before the Economist's rant quoted above.  She fought in Jellicoe's battle line at Jutland in 1916. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Aviation Week Sold

Aviation Week and Space Technology, the long time industry bible was sold by McGraw Hill to Penton Media.  Penton is an aviation publisher with mags such as Air Transport World, Aircraft Bluebook, and Air Charter Guide.  Let's hope this works out better than the Washington Post or Boston Globe sales. 
  Aviation Week is important because of it's savvy staff, who know aircraft, know flying, and know who to talk to in the Pentagon, in Congress, and in industry.  No journalism majors at Aviation Week.  They have an enviable record of revealing what's going on long before anyone else.  It's read in the Air Force, in the airlines, at FAA,  at intelligence agencies world wide, and in the airframe builders.  It's a weekly magazine that costs real money ($375 a year) to subscribe to. 
    Gregory Hamilton, current head of Aviation Week will take over Penton's Aviation Group.  It was an all cash deal, price not disclosed, and should have closed by the first of August.
    I guess Mcgraw Hill's business magazine people just didn't understand  anything that couldn't be expressed in an Excel spread sheet.

More about nose gear

The NSTB has been looking into that ground loop at La Guardia last month.  As in why did the nose gear collapse upon landing?  That ain't supposed to happen, and this is the first time I heard of it happening to a 737.  Or to Southwest, who is a pretty reliable operator.  About all they say is video from bystanders shows the nose gear contacting the runway BEFORE the mains.  That is unusual.  Normal practice is the ease the main wheels down on the runway, and then carefully lower the nose.  Carefully so as not to break anything.
  After the nose gear broke and the plane sat down on it, the gear was jammed up into the bottom of the fuselage, damaging an electronics bay.  Hmm.  Glad I don't have to fix that. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

So now I own a legacy newspaper

So what do I do now?  Both the Boston Globe and the Washington Post have a lotta name recognition, but they have been loosing money for years.  The owners let them go for really cheap, compared to what they sold for 10 years ago.  So what do the new owners do?  Surely they don't want to have their newly purchased toys die on them.
   Let's assume the proud new owners bought to gain social status and access to important people.  The owner of the Washington Post or even the Boston Globe gets invited to all the top notch Washington parties, and get even POTUS to accept their phone calls.  That's gotta be worth something, especially if you own Amazon which could get cut up real bad by federal regulators.  
   So what could be done now that we have owners with bags of money?  The Internet has torpedoed the legacy business mode, the sale of advertising.  Advertisers are going to the Web and doesn't look like they are coming back.  So what to do?   The newsrooms are still generating some decent content, but people don't pay to visit web sites.  So putting the paper on the Web doesn't make money.  The draw from the content isn't strong enough to pull in enough ad revenue to pay the salaries.  Besides, going on the Internet doesn't take much money, and the papers have famous names to draw customers. 
   Me, I think the papers will just continue to slide down the drain.  The new owners have enough money to cover the losses for quite a few years.  It will take a few years to see.                           


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Al Quada ain't dead yet.

Doesn't matter what Obama says, there is still too much life in Al Quada.  Any outfit that can pull off three big prison raids freeing their fighters, close down US embassies all across the middle east, bomb the Boston marathon, and destabilize the Assad regime in Syria, is still to be reckoned with. 
   We might have killed Osama bin Ladin, but  the organization is still alive and dangerous. 

They don't make teachers like they used to.

After the Connecticut school shooting this winter, suggestions were made to arm teachers.  This idea brought forth gallons of wails and tooth gnashings.  Some said that teachers could not properly handle firearms.  Other's wailed that teachers would never soil their hands by picking up a gun.  Training would be impossible.  and on and on.
   I wonder about this.  I think back on teachers I had years ago.  Miss Shirley, Miss Gaudette, Miss Percy, Mr Convery, Mrs Falby, Mrs Mclauglan.  It's been a lot of years since grade school but these teachers are still clear in my memory.  They were all competent, forceful, and dedicated grownups, in whom we kids stood  in awe.  Should a homicidal maniac turn up one one of their classrooms, they would cope,  a firearm in their hands would do the job nicely.  Since graduating grade school, and serving in USAF in Southeast Asia, and some other dodgy places, I cannot say I ever met anyone who would be a better person to have in a menaced classroom with a gun in hand.  Teachers in my day were calm, courageous and careful.  Much better material than your standard rent-a-cop.
   Any school committee ought to encourage teachers to carry.  For that matter they ought to provide good student proof gun safes in the classroom.    

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Economist thinks petroleum demand will fall.

Clearly the Economist has been quaffing from the Beyond Petroleum tap.  They argue that fracking has given us fantastic amounts of cheap natural gas.  Gas will replace gasoline and diesel to fuel the big stuff, buses, 18 wheelers, garbage trucks, big vehicles with room on board for bulky compressed natural gas tanks. 
   Then they wax eloquent about the improvement in gas mileage over the years.  I suppose.  On the other hand you could buy a diesel Rabbit that got 40 mpg back in the 1970's.  They don't sell those any more.  And a lot of the improvement is just on paper.  For instance the US EPA gives a substantial mpg boost to any vehicle that can run on alcohol. 
   Needless to say, none of the oil companies are forecasting a downturn in demand. 

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Sauce for the Goose is sauce for the Gander

TV News has some victims of Obamacare wailing loudly about it.  First we have the Congress and Congressional staffers.  Since they invented Obamacare, and voted it in, it's only fair that they should enjoy the higher costs and reduced care they inflicted on the rest of the country.  Then we have the IRS, so impartial, so fair, and getting a big boost in budget, authority and manpower to ram Obamacare down the throats of the rest of us.  It's only fair that they should be sticking it to themselves as well.

Closing an embassy protects it? or something?

Looks like our valiant State Dept is closing up shop all across the Arab world.  The evening TV news shows embassy closings from Morocco to Bangla Desh.  And "closing" is accomplishing what?
  I mean the embassy buildings are still standing.  The ambassador and his staff are still in residence.  The code room still has the codes.  Classified documents are piled to the ceilings.  A Benghazi style raid works whether the place is open or closed. 
  Or are we talking about evacuating personnel, equipment, classified and codes back to the US?  Which is about the same as breaking off diplomatic relations.
   To say nothing about the wimpy look it gives the US of A.

Twitter, Fair and Balanced?

Got another email from Twitter, urging me to follow some important tweeters.  They were pushing tweets from Obama, FLOTUS, Valerie Jarret, and Susan Rice.  All solid balanced tweeters.  To be fair, they did list Newt Gengrich, but even so, that's four raving lefties to one rightie. 

Friday, August 2, 2013

Viking River Cruise Brochure

I dunno just how I got on their mailing list, but I did.  They have great brochures, beautiful photographs of beautiful European locations.  They run one and two week river cruises in big (450 ft) brand new modern river boats.  Pricey too, $7K to $14K.  The new boats are advertised to have super green hybrid engines and even an organic herb garden. 
Before these brochures started popping up in my mailbox, I had no idea that Europe was so well watered.  They run these big cruise boats to nearly every city in Europe.  They run from Amsterdam to Bucharest, with stops along the way at Cologne, Nuremburg, Regensburg, Vienna, Budapest, and Belgrade.  As well as Basel in Switzerland.  And others.
   This good water communications must have had something to do with medieval Europe's progress into the most advanced place on Earth by 1700.  River transportation is as good as having a steam railroad, and a lot cheaper.  You don't have to buy iron rail and lay track.  That sort of bulk freight capacity has gotta be good for economic growth back in medieval times.

The Snowden Surprise?

The Russians gave NSA leaker Snowden a one year visa to stay in Russia, avoiding extradition to the US.  Which doesn't make the US or the Obama adminstration happy.  The Administration has been whining that the Russians gave them no warning.   It was obvious to the dimmest bulb in the house that the Russians were considering granting Snowden asylum ever since Snowden failed to make his plane to South America a couple of months ago.   He has been camping out in the Moscow Airport ever since. If that isn't enough warning, I don't know what is.
   Trouble is, there isn't much we can do about it.  The Russians don't buy much from us, we don't buy much from them.  We have no international interests in common.  Other than sending them nastygrams, we are pretty much stuck with it.  Russia isn't Pakistan, doing an Osama style helicopter raid won't work in Moscow. 

How the vacuum found its suck

I changed the dirt bag on my aging all plastic Hoover upright yesterday.  Put in a new bag from Lowes.  Man oh man what a difference.  With the new empty dirt bag the aging machine came back to life.  It sucked hard enough to lift the linoleum up off the kitchen floor.  I don't remember it sucking this hard when it was new, 10 years ago. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Arn, Knight Templar

A foreign flick.  Scandinavian actors.  The director was into language authenticity, the Swedes speak Swedish, the Saracens speak Arabic, all with subtitles.  Really good sets and costumes.  Handsome young Arn and beautiful Cecillia have an affair.  The parents, the village elders, the church and the aristocracy combine to sentence Arn to serve on Crusade in the Holy Land and Cecillia to a nasty convent.  In the Holy Land, Arn survives the disaster at the Horns of Hattin and makes his way home, just in time.  He and Cecillia are reunited, they settle down to homestead a nice farm in the Swedish backwoods.  At the last minute, Arn raises up a vast army of humble people to defend Sweden from rapicious neighbors.
   Strange flick.  It moves pretty slowly, and it telegraphs its punches.  You could tell what was gonna happen next, five minutes before it happened.  The movie didn't rely much on dialogue, which since it was largely in subtitles, was probably good.  Slowly as it moved, it was compelling, I was unable to turn it off, I had to see the ending.  
  Netflix is good.

Pipelines need few workers to operate

We have Barack Obama bad mouthing Keystone XL pipeline project because, once built, it won't employ all that many people to run it.  News Flash, that's why we lay pipelines.  They get the product to market cheaply.  Cheaply means a small number of workers.
   We need Keystone XL to furnish a generous supply of vital fuel and chemical feedstock to Gulf refineries.  With supplies from Keystone, those refineries will stay in production and their thousands of workers will remain employed.  With out the pipeline, they have only the dwindling Texas fields and the offshore gulf wells to supply crude.  When those run dry, bye-bye refineries, bye bye refinery jobs.  That's why we need that pipeline.  Obama apparently doesn't understand this.  Neither does our well educated, journalism majoring media.
   Looking past just refinery jobs, fuel and chemical feedstock form the basis of the US economy.  Without dependable supplies, industry dries up and blows away. 
   Every day that Obama holds up Keystone XL brings us one day closer to bankruptcy.