Sunday, August 31, 2014

Obama complains about social media

Obama wants the good old days to come back.  Where the few media outlets could suppress stories they didn't like, and in general slant the news in a democratic party direction.  Now with blogs and Instapundit  Drudge and twitter, and Facebook the stories get out.  And that stirs up the voters and makes them harder to bamboozle. 

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Oil your Panther's steering.

Panther (car buff name for Ford  Crown Victoria/Mercury Gran Marquis/ Lincoln)  has a tricky steering column with two U-joints under the hood between the steering box and the column proper.  Steering had been getting sticky on mine, sticky moving toward un drivable.  Gave the U-joints a good shot of WD-40, and finished them off with 3-1 oil.  Vast improvement.
   WD-40 is very thin and isn't much of a lubricant, it's more a rust proofer. It softens up the crud and soaks into the joints.  The 3-1 oil follows the WD-40 and gives some lubrication. 

MEK saves a paint brush

Somehow I forgot to clean the paint brush after the last trim and shutters touchup.  It was an oil based primer and it hardened, rendering the brush unusable.  Thinking back, to an accident where spilled MEK had dissolved the linoleum floor tile, I tried putting some MEK into an empty coffee can and soaking the brush in it.  Worked like a charm.  Brush came out cleaner than when I started the paint job.  Note to self, this probably only works on oil based paint. 
MEK, short for Methyl Ethyl Ketone.  I normally keep it in the shop for use as a plastic cement.  I buy it in the paint section of Home Despot. 

New York Times wants $1099

For a one year subscription no less.  That's about $3 an issue.  Which is totally ridiculous for any paper, let along the New York Times with it's well earned reputation for slanting the news and out right lying.  I used to take the Wall St Journal when it was $250 a year.  I dropped it when it wanted $430 a year.  And the Wall St Journal is a real newspaper with real and dependable news, unlike the Times. 

Friday, August 29, 2014

Screw top Champagne bottles

It's just a low end champagne, Andre to be specific, but it came with a screw top.   Arrgh. 

The candidates are all no good

So I am not gonna vote for any of them.
I hear this a lot. 
And it's wrong.  The candidates may not be all that great.  But one is better than the other.  No two pols are exactly equal.  And if you want to call yourself a citizen, it is your job to figure out which one is better and vote for him/her.
   Up here, you can get to see the candidates face-to-face.  And it is amazing how much you can learn in just a few minutes face-to-face.   This election year, the candidates are out looking to meet voters.  I was at the Lancaster county fair just yesterday.  Seems like you couldn't turn around without bumping into candidates or incumbents.  I saw Maggie Hassan, Andrew Hemingway, Jim Reubin, and Larry Rappaport,  all within an hour. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Objectives, Strategy, and Tactics

The TV newsies are babbling on about Obama's strategy.  It seems to be in flux, I think I heard Obama confess that he was still working on his strategy.
   That's perverse.  Obama's job is define objectives, what we want to achieve.  In regards to ISIS there are a number of objectives we could pursue.  We could attempt to just stay out of it, avoid getting sucked back into a middle east war. We could attempt to prevent ISIS from grabbing any more land.  We could attempt to destroy ISIS and hand control back to the new Baghdad government.  We could attempt to destroy ISIS and set up three states, Sunni, Shia and Kurd.   Those are all the possibilities that occur to me, although I daresay someone might think of others.  But to have any effect, the US has to define it's objectives.  We have to decide what we want to do. And Obama then has to sell the objectives to the Congress and the voters.  Selling is not Obama's strong point.  The Congress is split.  The leftie greenies  want to stay out completely.  Some hawks want to destroy ISIS.  Nobody has thought about what we want after ISIS is gone.  The vast bulk of Congress (and their constituents) don't know what they want. 
   Only after we have settled upon an objective does it make sense to discuss "strategy".  Strategy is concerned with means to obtain our objectives.  Strategy  picks options,  such as invade the place from the sea, nuke 'em from the air, subvert their government by aiding domestic dissenters, blockade 'em, crash their infrastructure by cyber attack,  cut off their access to the international banking system and credit, crash their currency, and doubtless many other things.  But until you have decided upon your objectives,  discussion of methods and means is worthless. 
   And Obama (or any administration) should not making strategy.  Leave that to experts, the Joint Chiefs, with maybe CIA.  Leave the State Department out of strategic discussions, they are just messengers, and they ought to carry the message, not make it up.
  Way down at the bottom, is tactics.  Tactics are methods of winning battles, after strategy has decided where to fight.  Most of the talk I hear on the TV is really about tactics, specifically air strikes. 
   So far I haven't heard a peep out of the Obama administration about objectives.  They don't have a clue.

Good thing my sons have survived college

It's getting harder.  They have invented a new crime "Sexual Assault" which can be anything the girl says it is, and the college bureaucrats have the right to punish the guy, anyway they see fit.  The guy doesn't even get a kangaroo court, he is guilty as soon as the girl complains about him.  
   Bunch of guys are gonna get zapped badly  for attending college.
   I'm glad my boys managed to graduate before things got this bad.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Soldiering is easier than Policing

When soldiers encounter resistance, they get on the horn and call in the artillery or an air strike and level the place.  Easy. 
  When police encounter resistance, they are required to negotiate, preserve evidence, and arrest the perps, alive, for trial.  Citizens demand strict limits to what cops may do to them.  Professional police forces prevent rioting by maintaining communications with all segments of their town/city and try to head off trouble by appealing to various community leaders to cool it for a while.  This works best if someone of the force has a personal relationship with community leadership.  Such as they both did high school together. 
   All this is hard. 
   When we offer the cops the opportunity to turn into soldiers, they are all in favor.  Blowing the perps away is SO much easier than taking 'em alive.  So handing out surplus automatic weapons, body armor, grenades, helicopters and armored vehicles to police forces encourages the cops to turn into soldiers. 

Tim Horton Burger King Tax deal

According to the TV news Burger King is doing some kind of deal with Canadian fast food operator Tim Horton which will turn Burger Kind into a Canadian company, and lower their tax rate from the American 35% to the Canadian 15%.  Obama is outraged.
   Tough cookies Obama.  If you want to keep companies home in the US of A,  you can lower the corporate tax rate to 15%.  While you are at it, you can close a zillion loopholes and wind up collecting the same amount of money. 
   Despite Obama's efforts to the contrary, it's still a free country.  Corporations are free to leave any time.  So are citizens. 
   Are Burger King and Tim Horton's gonna change their signage?  Horton Burger anyone?  Timmy King?  The Tim Horton name is well known and wide spread in Canada,  changing it  would probably loose them business, especially as Canadians always hate to see Americans taking over anything up there. 
   Just what kind of deal did they do?  A buyout? a merger?  a paperwash?  And what is Warren Buffet doing in the deal?  Newsies say that Buffet will be making 9% on his "investment".  That's darn high.  Burger King could have sold bonds or printed stock or gone to a bank, which surely would have done a loan for about 5%.  And, was it a merger?  Mergers don't require the kind of money that buyouts do. 
  Was it a paperwash?  Those don't require much money either.  The newsies say that the Burger King headquarters in Florida will stay put.  Are they just doing something akin to incorporating in Delaware? 
   The TV newsies aren't saying.  Probably 'cause they don't understand what's going down. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Airpower can turn things around

Example, Afghanistan before 9/11.  The Taliban was beating the Northern Alliance at every turn.  Their territory was squeezed down to a small patch on the northern border.  Immediately after 9/11 the Northern Alliance received American air support.  It was decisive.  The Alliance won every battle now that a radio call would bring a smart bomb down on any obstacle.  The Taliban was driven out of the country.
    This could work against ISIS.  The Kurds are tough fighters, willing to sign up with America.  Give them the kind of air support we gave the Northern Alliance and great things might be accomplished.  

Monday, August 25, 2014

NH Primary is coming. Sept 9

The long awaited state primary is almost here.  NH runs two primaries, the well known presidential primary, presidential years only, in January.  First in the nation, and we're gonna keep it that way.  January is way too early considering the election isn't until November, nearly a year in the future.  Then we have the real primary to select US Senate, US house, governor, state reps, and state senators coming up second week in September.  Way too late IMHO.  That only gives 7 weeks to patch up relations with the defeated candidate's supporters, raise some money, run some ads.  We would be better off holding the state primary in June. 
   Anyhow we have a real crop of candidates to choose from.  For US senate we have Scott Brown, front runner, Jim Reubin, and Bob Smith, and a couple of minor candidates so obscure I can' remember who they are.  Scott Brown is 15 points ahead of everyone, and the polls show him in a dead heat with the democratic incumbent, Jeanne Shaheen.   Scott seems to be overcoming the "carpetbagger" tag, and his opponents, although of purer NH lineage than Scott, have demonstrated some flaky views that ought to turn off voters.  It would be very nice to send a Republican senator to DC, and Scott looks like the best chance.  Polls show Jeanne Shaheen beating every republican EXCEPT Scott Brown.
   My house race, Annie Kuster (incumbent Dem) is less clear.  Gary Lambert is the leading Republican challenger, but the polls don't show him beating Kuster, yet.  The other house race is out of my territory and I know less about it. 
   For governor, the democratic incumbent Maggie Hassan will be hard to beat.  She is a nice person, not particularly competent, but likeable, and except for a desire to raise taxes and spend money, she is OK.  We have Walt Havenstein, an experienced business man, and Andrew Hemmingway, a real young guy with some entrepreneurial experience.  I think Walt can beat Andrew in the primary.  Maybe he can beat Maggie in the general. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Presidential leadership

Or lack thereof.  The TV news is calling for "presidential leadership" on the matter of ISIS/ISIL/Islamic State. By which they mean Obama coming on TV and explaining to the voters why we need to kick some ass in ISIS.
    The newsies have a point.  The voters are anti war, and won't change their minds without the president  expressing a need and a reason for going back to Iraq.  Until he does, the electorate isn't going to go along. 
    And, I think it is safe to predict that Obama is never going to call for military action in Iraq.  Neither is the Congress.  The Republicans and Democrats in Congress are having so much fun trashing each other, they couldn't get behind a single resolution on Iraq or on anything else for that matter. 
   Even worse, there is some doubt in my mind that the voters would  follow Obama's leadership.  His standing in the polls is abysmal.  He has given so many speeches full of motherhood and apple pie, but totally lacking in substance, that few people bother to listen to him anymore.  His constant output of  Pablum is boring. 

Baby, it's cold up here

Mid August.  It's so cold my furnace has been cutting in late at night.  In August.  Helova lotta rain.  No burmuda shorts warm days.  It's so cold I am wearing a fleece inside the house.  Coldest August I can remember, and I can remember a long ways back.  Must be global warming. 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

So what should we do about ISIS/ISIL/Islamic State?

Obama is talking about "containment".  He hasn't explained what he means by that, but he probably means doing as little as possible,  drop a few bombs on 'em when they take the offensive, otherwise do little or nothing. 
  ISIS  has made their plans clear.  Take over the entire Middle East, turn it into an Islamic caliphate, drive out or exterminate Jews, Christians, Shia, Yazidi, anyone who doesn't buy their particular flavor of Islam. 
  I don't think "containment" is gonna cut it.  I think we need to put an end to ISIS.  This could be expensive.   I did a combat tour with USAF in SouthEast Asia during the Viet Nam war.  Both my younger brothers did combat tours with the Marines in South Viet Nam.  My family knows how expensive and deadly a war against ISIS will be.   We don't look forward to doing it. 
  If we don't do ISIS now, they will do us as soon as they get their act together.  If we are gonna do a war with ISIS, druther do it in the Middle East than in Brooklyn.  I don't know just what they will do, the airplane trick probably won't work for 'em a second time, but they will think of something.  They might get nukes from the Iranians, or the Russkis, they might think of something brand new. 
    Right now, a couple of US divisions could wipe out ISIS.  That's nothing.  We raised 100 divisions to do WWII. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Words of the Weasel Part 36

Degrade.  As is "we degraded the Taliban/ISIS/Al Quada/whoever".   It means we flew some air strikes, we saw the bombs detonate, we put on a good fireworks show.  But we didn't really hurt them. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Samuel Elliot Morison

A remarkable historian.  He, and Henry Steele Commager wrote "Growth of the American Republic", the standard college textbook of American history.  Morison knew nearly everybody, from Wilson, to Roosevelt, Ernie King, Douglas McArthur, many more.  He was a reserve Navy officer.  During WWII he was aboard a carrier at Midway, aboard the Torch invasion fleet, and a lot of other places too.  After the war he single handedly wrote the US Navy official war history (in a dozen volumes).  The Navy was so pleased with the work that they promoted him to Rear Admiral, a very high rank for a reservist. He also wrote "The Oxford History of the American People, one volume of 1100 pages.  A copy turned up at a local yard sale, and I bought it. 
   It reads remarkably well.  It goes all the way, unlike the US history taught in public school which always quit right after the civil war. Morison takes it right up to 1963 (Kennedy's assassination) which was current events at the time he was writing (1965).  Morison knows and tells all the great stories, and there are a lot of 'em.  He also doesn't hesitate to editorialize.  You learn that he was a New Deal democrat, from his favorable treatment of the New Deal, and his fair, but somewhat disparaging treatment of the Eisenhower administration.  If you like history, anything by Morison is a good read.
  They don't make Harvard professors like that anymore. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Westinghouse automatic air brakes

NPR reported on the Quebec crude oil train wreck of last year.  In that one, the single crewman running the train, pulled into a siding, left the locomotive running, and went off to catch 8 hours sleep at a motel.  While he was sleeping, the train rolled down hill of the siding, into town, derailed, and the crude oil catch fire burning down every building in town. 
   According to NPR,  the locomotive caught fire idling on the siding, the local fire department responded, shut the engine down, releasing the air brakes, which let the train get away. 
   That part is bogus.  Every car on a train has an air cylinder to apply the car brakes, and a tank of compressed air to drive the air cylinder.  Upon a signal from the locomotive, the car brakes go on, and stay on until signaled to release. 
   The signal is air pressure.  There is a long pipe, the trainline, running the length of the train, kept pressurized by an air compressor on the locomotive.  Those rubber hoses coupled between cars  carry the trainline from car to car right to the very end of the train.  The system is fail safe.  Safe means brakes applied.  Fail when talking about pipe means a leak or a blockage.  So the signal to apply the brakes is to lower the pressure in the trainline.  This is especially good in the case of train separation, some coupler fails and the train breaks in two.  In that case, the rubber hoses break, the air rushes out of the trainline and the brakes go on all up and down the length of the train.  That's safe. 
   So, no matter what those firemen did, shut down the locomotive, spray water on it,  what ever,  won't let the brakes off.   NPR got that part wrong.
   More likely, the locomotive engineer failed to set the air brakes before leaving the train to take some crew rest.  He probably wanted to save time in the morning.  It may take the locomotive half an hour to pump up a flat trainline.  A 100 car trainline needs a lot of air, and any cars needing air for their tanks will take it out of the trainline, slowing the pump up process.  

Whither Ferguson?

Michael Brown is dead, shot by a town police officer.  Micheal's family and friends want that police officer indicted, tried, and sent to jail.  They are convinced Micheal's death was murder and they want blood.  Can't say as I blame them. No way are these people gonna change their minds, now.   They won't go away until the shooter is in jail.  I expect the town police force and the town establishment wants "justice" i.e. let him off unless some really strong evidence of murder turns up.  From what evidence I have seen on TV, the cop could plead self defense and be let off.  In that case he would probably want to leave town and move far far away. 
   Ferguson seems to lack a mayor.  At least, if they have one, I haven't seen him on the TV news.  A mayor should be out front, urging calm,  trying to explain the tragedy, offering comfort to the bereaved family.  Apparently they don't have a mayor in Ferguson. 
   The shooter, Darren Something-or-other hasn't appeared on TV either.  No statement, no expressions of regret,  and I assume he has left town and gone into hiding.  I can guess what the shooter will testify when they get him to a hearing.  I would like to hear about why he fired six shots.  You would think a single shot would get the message across.  How many rounds did his gun hold?  Six? 
   I expect the next town election in Ferguson (November?) to happen while the Micheal Brown case is still hot.  If the population of the town is 60-70% black, as suggested by the TV news, then there might be a power shift in town government.  Of course the Ferguson black community needs some candidates, and they need to get out the vote.  If they have some local black leaders I haven't seen them on TV yet. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Primary Sources, or What can you Trust?

Back when I was doing a history major I learned about who to trust.  For history, the best sources are those written at the time, and even better, by participants.  These are called "primary sources" and are valued above "secondary sources"  histories written long afterward.  For instance, Winston Churchill wrote "The Second World War" (six volumes)  shortly after WWII ended.  This makes Churchill a primary source on WWII.  Whereas Rick Atkinson's fine "Army at Dawn",  copyright 2002, is a secondary source.  In cases of conflict between primary and secondary sources,  greater weight is accorded the primary source, on the theory that people who were there at the time are more likely to get it right.
   This sort of thinking can readily be applied to internet sources.  Putting stuff on the internet is so cheap anyone can do it.  No one approves internet postings, and you can find internet postings that support literally anything.  Some very good information is published on the net, and a whole lot of really awful stuff is too.  How to tell the good stuff from the awful stuff?  If you can't tell, the internet can feed you that awful stuff.
   Check for an author.  If there is no named author, (anonymous) that's a down check right there.  It means the author feared retaliation if his name became known.  If the author is some one you have heard of or know something about, that's an up check.  Does the writer have his facts straight?  You aren't an expert in his field, so you cannot judge everything, but there is always the little stuff, that you do know.  Dates, names, places, does the writer get them right?  If the small stuff is in error, it casts doubt upon everything else.  Does the writer support his main thesis with concrete examples, real experiments, real historical examples, surveys, photographs, things with time and date and place and names?  Or does the author engage in handwaving?  Has the author written other stuff?  Google ought to find it for you, even if it's obscure.  Do other writers comment upon your author?  If no one mentions your author, one way or another, that means they all thought he was not worth a comment.      

Monday, August 18, 2014

Alternate Energy hikes your electric rates

The cost of  providing electricity to your home is largely paying off the poles, wires, and generators. The cost of wages and fuel is small compared to the monthly mortgage payments on the electric company's plant and equipment.  As demand increases, electric companies build more generating plants to carry the load.  These facilities are expected to last 40 years, and the financing arrangements reflect this.  They build a small excess capacity to carry the load after a single plant breaks down, or a surge in demand from a sudden heat wave or cold snap.  Since the main cost of providing electricity is paying down the mortgage on the electric plants,  the utilities are careful not to build more plants than are needed.   And the only thing that saves the utilities money, is a reduction in needed generating capacity.  They have to pay the mortgage on the electric plants whether the plants generate electricity or not. 
   And so, along come enthusiastic greenies, offering solar electric power to the utilities for inflated cost, typically twice the retail cost.  Only, the solar electricity is not available while the sun is down, for obvious reasons.  So, the utility has to build and pay for just as much generating capacity as before, to keep the lights on after dark.  In short, buying "alternate" energy merely raises the utilities costs, it doesn't save them money, it costs them more money.  Solar is never going to generate anything after sundown. 
  Same goes for wind.  We have known this since sailing ship days.  Some times the wind goes away and stays away.  Which means the utility still has to pay for the generating capacity to carry the load when the wind doesn't blow.  Again the wind people sell juice at about twice the retail rate.  The utilities are forced to buy it by law. (They wouldn't touch it otherwise).  The "alternate energy" costs the utility money that it wouldn't ordinarily spend. 
   In short, "alternate" energy merely raises the cost of electricity.  If the greenies get their way, capacity will be reduced to the point where blackouts become common.  Us ratepayers will have to purchase home generators ($1000 for enough capacity to keep the furnace running) to avoid having the pipes freeze during a winter blackout.   Up here, that's maybe ten months worth of electric bills. 
  In a nutshell, the greenie push for "alternate energy" is hiking electric rates nationwide.  One reason Great Depression 2.0 is still with us, is high electric rates drive companies to move offshore where the juice is cheaper.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Federal Judge does not believe the Lois Lerner story

The judge refused to accept the IRS baloney about how a single desktop hard drive crash destroyed Lois's incriminating emails.
   Good for the judge.   The "hard drive crash" excuse is totally bogus and the IRS should not be allowed to get away with it. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Black Flag

Lately TV has been showing Islamist terrorists waving a black flag with Arabic inscriptions.  When did the flag go black?  Used to be, the flag of Islam  was green with Arabic inscriptions. 
Here in the west, a black flag is an ill omen.  The Jolly Roger was a skull and crossbones on an all black field.  Black Flag used to be a brand of insecticide.  I don't think the Islamists consulted a PR expert when they adopted a black flag. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Michael Brown shooting.

The death of Michael Brown is terrible.  By all accounts he was unarmed, a decent boy, had been admitted to college, was looking forward to starting his freshman year next month.  His death has angered his neighbors, the residents of Furguson MO, resulting in several nights of rioting and violence. 
   I'd like to get into this tragedy deeper.  Trouble is, I am a thousand miles away, I've never been to Furguson, I don't know anyone in Furguson, or for that matter in the entire state of Missouri.  All I know is what the media tells me. And, I don't really trust anything the media tells me.  I fear they are either ignorant, or biased, or stupid, and always looking to tell the most sensational story to sell newspapers or TV time. 
   The local newspaper just asked for comments and thoughts about the Furguson situation on Facebook.  I didn't answer, but if I had, I would have said, "I don't know what to think, 'cause I don't know what's going on.  You are the newspaper, you ought to be telling me what happened, rather than asking me what I feel about it." 
   My sincerest sympathy to the family of Michael Brown.  To loose a  boy/young man is the most painful loss I can imagine. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Personal Income Tax Reform

I unloaded my thoughts on the corporate income tax a few days ago.  Might as well have a go at personal income tax too.  America is unique in that her citizens voluntarily pay their income tax.  We grumble, but we fill out our form 1040 to the best of our ability and write our checks to Uncle.  Or, since the rules have become impenetrable, we lug everything down to H&R Block, pay Block, and then pay Uncle.   In Europe, tax evasion is a national sport, and so the Europeans have to use a harder to evade Value Added Tax.  VAT is a national sales tax so it hits lower income taxpayers harder than the wealthy, but it can be collected by enforcement upon the nation's shop keepers, easier to target than the entire population.  
   A major beef with our personal income tax is it is so extremely difficult to comply with.  Every year I had to devote an entire weekend in March to doing my taxes.  When I started figuring my taxes, all I had for tools was a #2 pencil, they hadn't invented hand calculators yet.  As time went on, we got calculators and spread sheets and Turbo Tax but the IRS complicated the tax laws faster than computer assistance could help us out.  It still takes a whole weekend of cruel and unusual punishment to get my taxes done. 
    Let's go for a system where income is income, now matter where it comes from.  Income from sale of stock is just plain income.  Eliminate the concept of "capital gains".   Every one, man or woman, married or single, files their own tax return.  One single tax rate, or maybe three (one for most of us, one for the really wealthy, one for the really poor).  No deductions, exemptions,  kickbacks, mortgage interest deductions, solar panel subsidies, earned income tax credit.  Doesn't matter what you spend it on, you pay income on your income, at the same rate. Make life simpler, no loopholes in return for a lower tax rate. 
   Everybody has to pay something, especially the poor.  Rates for the poor should be quite low,  say 4%, but it is important that everybody pays something, just so everyone understands that Uncle's money comes out of everybody's hide. The wealthy ought to pay twice what regular people pay.
    Remove the IRS power to grab money out of taxpayer's bank accounts.  Let the IRS go to court and win an jury verdict against the tax payer.  And have the court handle fining the taxpayer. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

NTSB disagrees on Asiana Flt 214 Crash last year

Asiana Flt 214, a Boeing 777, hit short of the runway coming into San Francisco last year.  The pilots attempted to go around at the last minute, but it was too late.  They hit the seawall at the approach end of the runway, ripping off the landing gear, and sending the aircraft skittering down the runway on its belly.  Due to good luck and a very rugged airframe, the plane did not catch fire, and nearly all the passengers and crew survived the accident.
   The accident was caused on the approach, when the crew assumed the autothrottle system would maintain a commanded airspeed, hands off.  The autothrottle decided it had been turned off, and allowed airspeed to decay, leading to a higher sink rate, and coming in too low.  The three man crew failed to notice the loss of airspeed (no one looked at the airspeed indicator).  This was kinda surprising.  Back in the 1960's, the first autothrottle system in the C-141 transport was hardly ever used.  The crew preferred to hand fly the C-141 into a landing.  After an exciting six hour flight on autopilot, the pilot and co-pilot used to squabble over the only bit of real flying they got to do on the whole trip,  making the landing.  They weren't about the give the autothrottle a share of the fun.
   Boeing, maintained that the autothrottle was supposed to go off line because of some very complicated mode changes that had taken place a few minutes before.  They pointed to obscure instructions in the autothrottle manual.  It's not a bug, it's a feature, saith Boeing.  I read the explanation and it made little sense to me.  It's too complicated to repeat here.
   NTSB staff wrote the accident investigation report, which just got published.   Staff wanted an investigation of how the autothrottles were supposed to work, and a complete redesign to make it more goof proof.  One board member supported this viewpoint.  Another NTSB member dissented, arguing that the existing 777 autothrottle has been flying for 30 years, with an excellent safety record. The entire board voted 3-1 not to require Boeing to redesign the autothrottle, over ruling staff recommendations, a very unusual event.
   The majority clearly felt that the crew was on the flight deck to land the plane especially if the autothrottle broke, and the real cause of the accident was a crew that placed too muich reliance on automation.  The crew essentially let the autopilot make the landing while they supervised.  They supervision wasn't good enough to keep the plane safe when the autothrottle dropped off line. 

Robin Williams, Farewell

Wonderful actor.  I will miss him. 

Are experimental drugs ethical for treating Ebola?

Believe it or not, I heard this discussion on NPR this morning.  Some international outfit (not our FDA) was questioning the use of experimental untested drugs in Ebola cases.  Wow.
   A patient has a disease with a 90% death rate.  Nothing anyone can do can make the patient's chances worse than that.  It's always ethical to do anything short of euthanasia to try and cure a patient who is that gravely ill.  It is indeed possible that experimental untested treatments have side effects and risks.  But compared with the 90% chance of dying of Ebola, nobody cares about side effects or risks of experimental treatments. Certainly not the patients.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Americans never want to go to war.

A civilized and rational viewpoint.  It goes back to our Civil War, which was so terrible that the survivors swore "Never again".  That attitude has been passed down to the present day.  America stayed out of WWI for three years.  It took a sneak attack at Pearl Harbor to get us into WWII.  Korea, Viet Nam, Iraq and Afghanistan did nothing to make war seem useful, practical, moral, or desirable.  Americans are against war.
   Obama keeps saying that Americans won't support action in Iraq (or anywhere else) as an excuse for doing nothing.  In actual fact, while no American is real happy about getting into anything, we will do it, if we perceive our cause is right, and the enemy is despicable. Perceive is the key word here.  Public perceptions are strongly shaped by the President, and the media.  We have a President who doesn't want to act, backed up by a media that supports the President no matter what.  If we had a President who wanted to save Iraq, and a media that supported him with atrocity stories about ISIS, things would be different.  Using American reluctance to go to war as an excuse for turning Iraq over to Islamic terrorists is shameful. 
    It takes a lot to get Americans to mix it up in "military action",  "police action", "peace keeping" or plain old war.  Last time we went to war with a will was after Pearl Harbor.  When we did finally get into WWII, within two years we turned that war around.  The Axis was on a roll in 1942.  By 1944 we were rolling 'em back. 
  In recent history, it takes presidential leadership to get American to go to war.  Korea, Viet Nam, Iraq and Afghanistan happened because Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, and Bush decided these wars had to be fought.  Without those presidents leading, we would not have fought any of them.  And there was significant political opposition to all four of those wars.  Those presidents were able to overcome said political opposition.  Lacking presidential leadership, modern America will not go to war.  When Obama says public opinion will not support action in the Middle East, he is really saying that he does not support action. 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Let's fly it in.

I'm hearing that the Kurdish Peshmerga has been losing to the IS terrorists cause they run out of ammunition.  We oughta fix that.  The Kurds still control some decent airports, big enough to take a C17.  One C17 can fly in 85 tons of cargo.  Make that all rifle ammunition and you bring in 4.7 million rounds in a single flight.  That oughta hold 'em for a few days. 
   We could easily make 10 flights a day.  

Community Organizer never learned Poker

Poker,  an old American card game, which everyone used to know.  One of the things you learn in poker is a poker face.  You don't let the other players know what your cards are.  If they think your cards are weak, they will bet heavily, and when your strong hand wins, it will win real money, rather than just penny antes.  You never smile as bets are going down.
   "Negotiation" with the IS terrorists is like poker.  Never show your cards.  When they don't know, they will worry about what might happen to them.  You never say "No boots on the ground".  That merely weakens your bargaining position.  Most Iraqi's have painful experience with American soldiers who could kick their asses in every engagement.  There is some useful fear there.  As soon as our President says " No boots on the ground" that useful fear is canceled out.
   Obama is saying "no boots on the ground" to please his left wing US voters, not to help negotiations.  He clearly puts domestic politics above asserting American power abroad. He would clearly rather let the terrorists win in Iraq than offend his left wing base at home.   And that is shameful. 

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Tax Reform

The IRS regulations, that tax payers are supposed to know, and the IRS uses to prosecute them, are 75,000 pages long.  Nobody can read or understand that much legal gobble-de-gook.  It's time for a complete change. 
Step 1.  Revoke every single IRS rule, and all the court rulings.  Repeal all existing income tax laws. Start with a clean slate.
Step 2.  Break the income tax into two taxes, personal income tax and corporate income tax. Write a separate law for each tax.
Step 3.  Corporate income will be taxed at 20% of corporate profits.  Period.  No exception, loopholes, depletion allowances, or special deals favoring one kind of corporation.  Profits are computed by subtracting legitimate expenses from corporate revenue.  Revenue is all money from sales, fees, investments, tax rebates, everything.  Legitimate expenses are:
1. wages
2. raw material 
3. repayments and interest on corporate debt
4. state and local taxes
5. salesman's commissions
6. advertising
7. tools, jigs, molds, and machinery,
8. utilities, electricity, water, telecommunications services
9. insurance (including employees health insurance)
10. dividends
11. contributions to charity
12. Other expenses necessary for producing the corporate product.
13. research and development 
The following are not legitimate expenses and must be paid out of after tax profits.
1.  Bribes
2.  political contributions
3.  company cars
4.  company aircraft (unless the company is an air carrier).
5.  bonuses
6.  stock purchases.
7.  Excessive wages.  Wages greater than 50 times the lowest yearly wage at the company are excessive. 

Small corporations, those with profits of less than $500,000 a year are exempt. Buildings and production equipment with a service life greater than 5 years must be capitalized and depreciated over the expected service life.  Land may not be depreciated.
Step 4.  Pass a personal income tax law.
Step 5.  Disband the Tax Court.  The government can sue taxpayers in regular federal court.  The Tax Court knows too much about taxes and too little about real law.  Repeal the IRS power to seize money out of bank accounts.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Drain fishing

After the place slides down the drain, attempts to fish some part of it back up.  We pulled our troops out of Iraq, the place slide down the drain, and now we are trying to fish out some refugees starving on the site of Noah's ark. 

Miracle cleaning fluid, Alcohol

Good stuff.  Cuts any kind of grease.  They sell it in the paint department in quart cans.  Denatured alcohol which is ethanol (drinking alcohol) spiked with something to make it undrinkable.  That way they can sell it for home and industrial uses without paying the $10.50 a gallon federal booze tax.  It used as stove fuel and shellac thinner.  
   Around the house, it cut thru some stubborn film on my kitchen floor.  A combination of dirt, spills, and too much Mop-n-Glow formed a grungy film that Pine-Sol won't touch.  Alcohol cut right thru it.  Ancient Formica table top had acquired a stickiness that 409 wouldn't touch.  Alcohol cut right thru it. 
   And for a tour de force, it fixed the mouse.  Older mechanical mouse, with the rubber mouse ball inside it.  It was getting flakey, cursor would get stuck, fail to move, PITA.  Wiped down the little rollers inside with a rag soaked in alcohol.  That cut the greasy crud buildup and now the mouse is smooth as new. 
  Alcohol is safe on nearly every thing found in the home.  Paint, plastics, fabrics and wood, EXCEPT wood finished in shellac.  The stuff is shellac thinner, and it will dissolve a hardened shellac surface, making the shellac go all soft and sticky, like when it was first brushed on.  Not good.  Fortunately all factory (store bought) furniture is done in lacquer.  The only shellac finished items in the typical home are antiques, or home refinish projects.  I have a single straight chair that I refinished in shellac, but if you don't do your own refinishing, you probably don't have anything finished in shellac.  Not to worry. 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Three year Medical School?

NPR was waxing enthusiastic about some three year med school programs.  They claimed to have AMA approval, and it was giving student doctors more hands on work on real live patients.  NPR loved the whole idea.
   It ought to work.  The armed services train medical corpsmen in a lot less than three years, and the corpsmen have established an enviable record over the years. 

Potatoes on the Grill

Faster than the old wrap-in-foil baked potato method.  Wash potato[s] and scrub any grit off the skin[s].  Quarter it lengthwise.  Rub oil (any kinda oil, veggie, canola, olive etc) all over the spud quarters.  Pop onto grill.  Turn every 5 minutes or so.  They will come out nice and brown.  They are done when a fork sinks into them. Takes 15-20 minutes on my Weber grill.  Leave the Weber cover on to hold the heat and cook 'em faster. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Inversions, Corporate type, jawboning against

Obama is jawboning American companies to stay in America and pay American taxes.  He calls this "patriotic".   His people have been bad mouthing companies for leaving the US. 
  Got news for you Mr. President.  The management of corporations is under legal and moral imperatives to maximize the return of the company to stakeholders (workers, customers, investors, suppliers).  This means they must relocate if it saves the company money.  To do otherwise is immoral, not to say illegal. 
  If you want American companies to stay in America, you must lower American taxes (all of them, not just a favorite few) and repeal obnoxious regulation. 
  We voters are watching what you do and say.

Stuff flows downhill, swiftly

Lessons from history.  Hitler came to power in Germany in 1933.  In 1936 he re occupies the Rhineland.  This was a stretch of German territory bordering Belgium and Holland.  The treaty of Versailles, which ended WWI, declared that the Rhineland must be demilitarized, no soldiers, fortifications, no so much as a foxhole.  A mere three years after taking power, Hitler felt strong enough to defy the Versailles treaty and send the German army into the Rhineland. 
   What should have happened,  didn't.  The British and the French had ten times Hitler's troop strength in 1936.  They should have moved troops into the Rhineland, arrested or shot any German in uniform, and restored order, the Versailles way.  If the Americans had supported the British and French (which we did not) it would have worked.  Hitler would have lost enormous amounts of prestige, and might well have lost his office and his life.  And that would have prevented WWII.  But we did nothing, the British and the French did nothing, and WWII broke out 3 years later.
   In 1938, Hitler "absorbed" Austria. A sizable territorial gain, Austria is maybe 10% the size of Grmany, kind of like California is to the rest of the United States.  Austria was the Germany speaking part of the old Austro Hungarian empire, the part that used to run said empire.  They had been trimmed back from Great Power status to third class European power status and they wanted to join the successful Nazi juggernaut, rather than be a footnote to history.  With this kind of popular support for Anschluss, there wasn't much anyone could have done.  But if the Rhineland reoccupation had been crushed two years before, the Anschluss probably would not have happened. 
  Later the same year, Hitler demanded the German speaking parts of Czechoslovakia be turned over to him.  Hitler threatened war if he didn't get his way.  The British and the French came to the infamous Munich conference, and joined hands with Hitler in browbeating the Czechoslovakians into yielding to Hitler's demands.  The Americans stayed out of Munich.  What should have happened.  The British and the French declare war on Germany then and there and launch an invasion thru Germany's western border.  This would have been trickier than the Rhineland, 'cause the German army was a lot stronger in 1938 than in 1936.  But it wasn't yet strong enough to grab Czechoslovakia and fend off an Anglo French invasion at the same time. 
  Next year, 1939, Hitler managed to start up a Czechoslovakia Nazi party and take over the rest of the country by "legal" political subversion.  By summer of 1939 Hitler decided to take over Poland.  To his surprise, the British and the French had grown a pair between them and told the Poles they were 1000% behind them.  Poland refused Hitler's demands. Hitler invaded in September of 1939, France and  Britain declared war on Germany and WWII was off and running. 
   Moral of the story.  Let a bad guy get away with just one little thing, and the whole world can slide down the tubes. 
   So far we have let Assad stay in power in Syria, let Libya dissolve into chaos, pulled our troops out of Iraq  letting ISIS take over, let Putin grab big chunks of Ukraine. For our next smooth move we pull our troops out of Afghanistan.   That's more than just one little thing.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

This is America

We take care of our own. We do not allow fellow Americans to die in African jungles of a loathsome disease.  We bring them home, care for them, and pray for their recovery. 
  Voices have been heard saying Ebola is so dangerous that we dare not bring the victims home.  To hell with that.  America will take care of its own.  We will bring them home, care for them, and with God's help, cure them.  That's the way America does things. 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy. Good Flick

Saw it last night.  It's doing well, the Jax was pretty full and it's been playing up here for 3 days already.  It's a pure space opera. Think of the first Star Wars.  That kinda good.  Best flick out of Hollywood this year.  The cast are all new names to me. 
   It's live action (with a fair amount of CGI) rather than a cartoon.  We have a handsome hero, a deadly fast samurai chick, a three foot tall raccoon who plans jailbreaks, Grout, a strange half plant half man who doesn't talk much, and a big beefy bruiser with a bald head and a big grudge.  Over the course of the movie they go from wanting to kill each other to that good old three musketeers "One for all, all for one" spirit.  Lots of combat.  Nasty villains.  Decent score, old but good pop music from the '90s.  There is a plot, the action mostly follows it, I could mostly follow it.  It's too complicated to explain here.  The good guys win in the end. 
   You oughta go see it.  Take the kids, they will love it. 

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Economist thinks Hamas is winning against Israel

The Economist thinks Hamas is gathering international support every time the MSM show another clip of wounded Gazans being hauled off to hospitals on US TV.  They call for Israel to enter into a ceasefire, because it will look good to world (actually European) public opinion.  According to the Economist Europe's anti Semitism is rising, and stands about where it did in 1938 (Kristallnacht). 
  There is probably something to this.  Even though the Palestinians have asked for it, time and time again, I cannot feel good about seeing crummy buildings blown to bits, and young people killed and wounded.  On the other hand, when Hamas violates a ceasefire only 90 minutes after it begins, it shows how tough it can be. Hamas clearly wants to keep on fighting.  We care more about casualties in Gaza than they do.
   I fear the best the Israelis can do is clear out some tunnels, blow up some rockets, and take some prisoners.  The Israelis ought to have a list of undesirables, Hamas people ought to be on that list, and they ought to be arresting them.  I don't think anything will change the minds of the people in Gaza.  They want to drive the Jews into the sea.  There ain't no compromise in that position.  No hardship that the Israelis can lay on Gaza is gonna change those minds.
   Bebi's choices seem to be, call it off, or keep on kicking ass.  I don't know which choice will be better for Israel.  The Economist may think they know it all, but I have my doubts.  

Congress didn't pass enough laws this year.

So said the newsies on Meet the Press this morning.  They thought it was terrible that Congress only passed 143 laws this year.  Gridlock was blamed.  None of 'em admitted that neither party has the votes to jam it's program thru. 
  Actually, I like gridlock.  Most laws Congress passes do bad things to me. They raise my taxes, they forbid me to do harmless things,  they give handouts to corporations,  they throw people out of work, they raise prices, and they waste money on boondoggles.  Bridges to nowhere, wind farms, resurfacing I93 again.  We citizens are better off when Congress doesn't pass more laws. 
  And, the Republican controlled House has passed all, or most, of the appropriations bills needed to fund the government next year.  The Democrat controlled Senate has passed none.  This will cause another one of those "continuing resolutions" to keep the government's doors open.  "Continuing resolutions" are bad for tax payers.  They read "You, government agency, may keep on spending as much as you did last year."   Facing a $5 trillion deficit, we ought to be making some cuts somewhere.  There ain't no cut in a "continuing resolution"  Democrats love that. 

Saturday, August 2, 2014

The Education Major

Departments of Education exist in the belief that there is some art or science or magic required to teach children, apart from a sound knowledge of the subject being taught.  A LOT of students take an Ed major.  I still remember registration at U of Delaware years ago.  The line to register for Ed courses ran around the gym a couple of times, whereas the lines for everything else (English, history, math, chemistry, physics etc) were only a dozen students or so. 
   Unfortunately, there is no art or science of teaching.  Effective teachers use interpersonal skills, such as leadership,  concern for their students, love of their subject, to maintain classroom order and get teaching accomplished.  As an example, some of the best teachers I ever had where in the Air Force.  We took sergeants right off the flight line and set them down to teach in the Field Training Detachments (FTD).  I took a number of FTD courses.  Those young sergeants were very good teachers, as good as any I'd ever had.  Their classes were all 19 year old airmen, full of energy and short on patience, ready to give the teacher a hard time.  No problem, these guys got their student's full attention, they even got them to do their home work, and they came out of the course knowing more than when they entered.  No ed courses required.
   Should you take an Ed major?  It does give you instant access to public school teaching positions.  The entire public school hierarchy is composed of Ed majors,  they only hand out teacher's certificates to fellow Ed majors.  It is possible to break into public school teaching without an Ed major, but it is very hard. 
   The down side to an Ed major is terminal boredom while in college.  The subject matter is zilch, and you have to suffer thru a dozen courses that hash over the same nothingness, over and over.  If you can stand the endless drivel, it's easy to ace an Ed course, all you have to do is stay awake in class and take a few notes. 
   For those who really do want to teach, major in English or history or mathematics.  Look for a job in private or parochial schools, they are less infested with Ed majors and are apt to hire you after a successful job interview.  After a couple of years teaching you can apply for a public school job (which usually pay better) and they will assume anyone who survived a couple of years of classroom teaching can teach.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Slick Willie tells a whopper

And the newsies fall for it, hook, line, and sinker.  A bit of elderly video came to light yesterday, where in Bill Clinton says "I could have bagged Osama Bin Laden in Kandahar except it would have caused 300 Afghan casualities." 
   The "300 casualties" is pure BS.   That's might happen if you had USAF carpet bomb the place.  Which is the wrong thing to do. You will likely miss him, and you never know if you got him or not. Instead load some infantry into helicopters, fly in, surround the place, and go thru it house by house.  The only casualties will be among the locals stupid enough to fire on the Americans.  Bring some interpreters, interrogate the locals, and you will get him.  In fact that's how we finally did nail him in Pakistan many years  later.
  The newsies, even Fox, lapped up the "300 casualties" line and never questioned it.