Friday, February 27, 2015

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times

We have John Kerry, secretary of state, saying that times have never been better, casualties from terrorism are down, everything is hunky dory.  We have James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, saying the terrorism problem is the worst it has been since they started keeping records.  On the same day we have these two summaries.  Both given in front of Congress. 
   So who is right?  Well Kerry is an airhead, been one for a long time.  Dunno much about Clapper.  But neither of them look back very far. 
   For a real existential threat to our country, look back to the 1930's.  The Nazi's , with the Japanese for side kicks, were a real threat.  It took the longest, bloodiest, deadliest war in all of history to stop them.  We might have lost WWII if the enemy hadn't made so many mistakes.  The Nazi's could have beaten us to the bomb, and that would have been that.  Hitler would have nuked London and then New York, and kept on doing it till we had nothing left. 
   And, then there was the cold war.  The Soviets had plenty of nukes, enough to turn our country into a coast-to-coast slagheap.  One misstep,  say in Berlin, or Cuba, and boom, no more US of A.
   Compared to those two, now extinct threats,  the IS/ISIS/ISIL thing, while a pain in the tush, is just not that deadly, yet. 
   Of course we aren't doing anything about the IS/ISIS/ISIL threat.  We can't even figure out what to call them, let along how to squash them. 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Will the courts save the Internet?

Three appointed democrats on the FCC decided to apply 323 pages of secret regulation to the Internet today.  They claim it's just "net neutrality"  which sounds benign even though nobody really knows what it is.  They are keeping the new regulations secret because they are so benign. But 323 pages of regulations have enough fine print to allow the FCC to do anything it wants.  Want to bet they define all conservative web sites as "hate speech" and close them? 
   The ISP's are planning to sue.  They won the last two times the FCC attempted this power grab.  If the courts have the stones, they ought to throw this one out too. 
   Too bad the Congress isn't doing squat.  Real democracy that is. 

Fairpoint Communications Strike settles

Fairpoint Communications, our telephone company, was struck by its union back in October.  According to NHPR and the Union Leader, they settled the strike today. 
   Funny thing, neither NHPR or the Union Leader would disclose any terms of the settlement.  Fairpoint has been losing money over the years, actually since it bought the business off of Verizon, quite a few years ago.  And surely the rise of cell phones is eating into Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS for short) sales.  For instance none of my three children have POTS, they all use cell phones.   I under stand the Fairpoint workers all have "defined benefit" pensions, which require the company to stay in business in order to pay off.  If the union presses Fairpoint too hard, it could go under. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Nation Building is not optional.

The "nations" that the US has imposed regime change upon, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and others, aren't much in the way of nations.  Once the US deposed the dictator, there was nothing to hold the place together.  No law enforcement,. no courts, no legislature, no accepted code of law, no telephone system, little to no civil government.  Without doing some, in fact quite a bit, of "nation building" the place goes to pieces.  Warlords and terrorists take over, and the land becomes a breeding ground for crazies. 
   Afghanistan is a classic example.  In the 1980's the Soviets invaded.  A native resistance, the Mujahadin, took up arms against the Soviets and with substantial American assistance (plenty of Stinger back pack anti aircraft missiles) drove the Soviets out of the country.  At which point, we Americans washed our hands of the place and went home.  The Afghans were unable to create a national government and in an uncontrolled patch of Afghan ground, Osama bin Ladin set up shop and launched 9/11 on us. 
   Lesson that should be learned.  Never allow wild lands without a responsible national government to emerge.  Bad things like 9/11 come out of wild lands.  We must do enough nation building to create a national government that can exert control over the national territory.  
   For instance, the US claims to be fighting against IS/ISIS/ISIL.  Good idea.  But, should we defeat IS/ISIS/ISIL what are we gonna do to set up and keep alive, a national government to maintain order in the land?  Last time we pulled out and the place, which we had sort of stuck together, fell apart in a year after the Americans left. 
   If we are going to intervene in third world armpits, we need to be willing to do enough nation building to establish a regime that can control to place after we blow the current dictator away.  If we ain't ready to shape the place up, we do better leaving the native dictator in charge. 

Whither Keystone XL?

Obama did have the stones to veto the pipeline project, despite solid popular support, solid union support, solid financial support.   They ought to attempt a veto override in Congress, but the smoke signals I see don't give much hope.  But might as well try it, just 'cause it will cause Obama some more pain. 
   As I understand it, pipe is going into the ground on the US side of the border.  They ought to keep laying it.  Run it right up to the Canadian border.  Then shuttle the oil over the border by rail and into the pipeline. 
   In the meantime, be sure to emphasize Obama's role in raising fuel prices, increasing US entanglement in the Middle East, and destroying jobs and economic opportunity. 
    Obama thinks that we can operate off sunlight and wind, instead of fossil fuel.  He's wrong on this, I cannot put sunlight or wind into my car, my oil burner, an airliner, or even a railroad locomotive.   I cannot use solar electricity after sundown, which is when I need to run my lights and my oil burner. And with the temperature forecast to go down to ten below tonight,  I NEED that oil burner.  And, all the greenie wailing about CO2 in the atmosphere is moonshine.  CO2 is 400 parts per million, plain old water vapor is like 100,000 parts per million or more, and water vapor is as strong a green house gas as CO2.  The whole CO2 thing is a tempest in a teapot.  The controlling green house gas is water vapor, 'cause water vapor is ten, a hundred or a thousand times more plentiful than CO2.  Which might account for the halt in global warming since the 1990's.  And with the two thirds of the world covered with open water oceans, nothing is gonna reduce the water vapor levels. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

What Walker should have said.

The msm tossed a gotcha question at Scott Walker, "Is president Obama a Christian", or words to that effect.  Walker should have said, "Why ask me?  How the Hell should I know?  Ask Obama."

Scumbagi's threaten Mall of America

It's been on the TV news.  Jeh Johnson, secretary of homeland security, was on TV saying that we ought to take the threat seriously.  I'm sure Mall of America loved that one, although it doesn't seem to have scared off their customers over the weekend.  Johnson went on to say that all citizens ought to take care and do something to prevent terrorist action.
   Well, I think that means anyone who has a concealed carry permit, ought to carry when they go to the mall.  And the mall owners ought to post signs welcoming the carry of firearms.  And if you don't have a concealed carry permit you ought to apply for one. Even just having a piece in the glove compartment can make a difference, has made a difference in the past. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

It's easier for the guys, Follow on

They did a roundup of democratic party presidential possibles.   One of those "whose on first" stories. For Hillary, they had some lady guru discuss her hair style.  They showed every do Hillary has ever worn, going back to when she was working on Watergate in the '70s.  She critized  Hillary's color choices, her pants suits, and I forget what else. 
   None of the guy candidates had their wardrobe and hair styles trashed.  It's easier for guys, we have a uniform we are expected to wear, and it takes no fashion sense to figure that out. 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Greeks blinked

After a lot of big talk from the new Syriza government of Greece,  the Greeks agreed to keep  the cost cutting measures ("austerity") that previous Greek governments had agreed to (agreed to under pressure, but agreed to) in return for four months more of EU bailout payments.  Apparently the EU had the stones to tell the Greeks, "Do it our way if you want any more of our money."  Since the Greek government is totally stoney broke, it listened to reason.  Now all it has to do is sell the deal back home in Greece. 

Homeland Security Funding

We have Jeh Johnson, secretary on Homeland Security on Meet the Press and Face the Nation,  bewailing the lack of funding, and all the horrible things that will cause.
   Congress could, make itself look better, by funding those parts of Homeland Security that do a good job and make sense, like the Coast Guard, and perhaps the Secret Service.  Defund  the TSA and the federal flood insurance program.  Leave the restrictions on amnesty on Customs and Immigration. 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Crop dusting in four engine Lockheed Constellation?

The story on Fox, is that an old Air Force Constellation, which had carried president Eisenhower, making it the first Air Force 1, is sitting in the boneyard at Davis Montham, hoping for someone to fix it up and make it a museum piece.  According to the news, the Air Force retired the Connie from service in the 1970's and it got sold to some enterpreneur who planned to use it for crop dusting.
  That I want to see.  The Constellation is a big four engine airliner.  The thought of swooping across a cornfield at 50 feet spraying insecticide is daunting. 

Real jobs and Government Jobs

Real jobs produce salable goods, valuable intellectual property, entertainment that people will pay to enjoy, transportation, or communication.  The more people we have working real jobs, the more wealth our society has. 
   Government jobs consume wealth, they don't create it.  Government workers pay comes from funds taken away from people who earned it at real jobs. 
   Moral of the story.  You cannot solve unemployment by giving people government jobs.  You have to stimulate the real economy to create more real jobs. 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Rudi Guiliani

I don't believe I would have trashed Obama quite so hard myself, but now that Rudi has, I cannot disagree with him all that much.

Add Grated Cheese

Those frozen french bread pizza's.  The best of the frozen pizza breed, which ain't saying much.  I added a good hand full of grated cheese before sticking it in the oven for 30 minutes at 350F.  Improved it a good deal.  Still not anywhere close to real pizzeria pizza, but better.  Especially when it's 5 below zero and a half an hour drive to Gold House Pizza in Littleton, NH.

John Bolton for Secretary of State

If we can elect a Republican president in 2016, I recommend he appoint John Bolton as Secretary of State. 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Let's call 'em scumbagi's

Obama has gone to great lengths to avoid tagging the enemy as "Islamic".  He gave two wordy speeches on the subject, today and yesterday, stressing the notion that we don't want to offend the one billion Islamics in the world.
   OK, Obama, but we gotta call 'em something.  You cannot run a war against nothing, you have to give it a name.  This thing that needs a name, is the ideology of terrorists who burn captives alive and behead Christians.  We might call it Wahabism, although that would frighten the bejesus out of the Saudis.  We might call it Jehadism although that doesn't sound bad enough.  Calling them ISIS/ISIL/IS is naming the political organization that gives the greatest offensive today.  It isn't their ideology.  Tomorrow these same religious crazies will form another organization with another name.  We need to focus on the thing that makes the crazies crazy, their beliefs and ideology.  We could call them scumbagi's but it's a new word that needs to be given some meaning.
    We are at war with the scumbagis because they kill people, burn people alive, kidnap school girls, blow up our skyscrapers, shoot newsmen, kill aid workers, bomb trains and subways, enslave women, and they think all these atrocities perfectly are all right to do.   Well we don't think this violence is all right to do. 

Cannon Mountain Ski Weather

Good news.  We got 6 inches of nice fresh powder over night.  More is forecast.  It's warmed up to 20, which is balmy for Cannon.  No wind, so the snow is still on the trails rather than blown into the woods.  Barometer has been falling steadily for two days now, and is still falling.  Which is the traditional warning of a storm, another storm.  The mountain was in beautiful shape yesterday, and six inches will make it even better.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Obama on terrorism, 45 MInutes of airtime

Obama is having a conference on terrorism.  The TV gave him 45 minutes of airtime to pontificate.  He managed to avoid all the real issues.  Like who is the enemy, what is it's name?  Like what to do about Islamist terrorists in the Middle East.  He talked a lot about reaching out to Muslim communities in the US, but the real problem is in Iraq and Syria.  Like what do we wish to achieve?  What is victory?  How do we discredit the ISIS/ISIL/AlQuada ideology?  He talked about creating jobs and economic opportunity in the Middle East to give young men over there something to do besides join  ISIS.  Which doesn't work, because you have to establish civil order before you can do economic development.  When ISIS thugs can walk into any business establishment, steal all the stock, conscript all the men into the militia, enslave all the women, and wreck the place just for grins, you ain't gonna get any job growth. 

Constituent service by Anne Kuster

Anne Kuster, our democrat US Rep, just voted for higher furnace oil prices and higher gasoline prices. And voted to import oil from hostile countries in the middle east, as opposed to friendly Canada. She cast a vote against the Keystone XL pipeline.  Why or why did we re elect her instead of Marilinda Garcia?

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Oil Tanker train derails and burns in WV.

Dramatic photos on Drudge.  They mention that all the tank cars involved were brand new, built to tougher standards than the cars built up until 2010.  They do not mention the state of the track.  Nor do they mention how fast the train was going.  There is plenty of track in this country so old and rotten as to be unsafe at any speed.  Around here a lot of ties are so rotted out that you can pick the spikes out of the track by hand.  And Amtrak was running passengers over that track.   I wonder what shape the track was in WV. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

I wonder what their constituents think

The Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netenyahu, has been invited to address the US House of Representatives.  Recently certain democratic Congressmen have announced that they will not attend the Prime Minister's remarks, probably because Obama detests Mr. Netenyahu, and has asked his democratic supporters to snub him. 
   Many Americans, both Jewish and Gentile,  have great respect, admiration, even love, for  Israel.  They admire the Israeli's courage,  resource, and dedication in the face of implacable Arab hatred. 
   Speaking for myself, a Gentile, I would be offended if my Congressional representatives were to snub the leader of a smaller, friendly, allied, and threatened country.  I wonder  how many voters share my thinking on this. 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Beware Computer Fixer Upper Programs

You must have seen the ads (PCMatic for example)  The ad promises to increase your computer's speed by "cleaning" the Registry, the hard drive, and other less mentionable parts of your computer. 
   Beware.  Most, if not all,  of these programs are malware, especially the free ones.  Before downloading any such program, Google for reviews of then program's name.  See what the rest of the Internet thinks of them.  Usually you will hit some reviews that call the program a virus.  I don't run freebie programs of any kind unless I find solid and unanimous good words on the net about them.
   Plus, you can do it yourself, which is safer.  Running a little known program on your faithful computer is hazardous to its health. 
    Keep things clean.  Your computer came from the store with a bunch of games and craplets that you never use.  Zap them.  Do "settings" then "Control Panel" and then "Add and Remove Programs".  Remove anything you know you don't use.  Be careful about things you don't know about, programs with important sounding names that you don't recognize.  Some of them are vital parts of Windows.  Some of them might be virii.  Google these programs, but interpret the answers with care.  There are a bunch of websites out there that will respond with a means nothing answer to any program name, and then attempt to sell you on their Computer Fixer Upper program.  Ignore those.  Look for answers that come from people, not programs. 
Make a list of the questionable programs, and keep it to hand.
   Run Task Manager.  It comes with Windows, and pops up when you hit control-alt-delete.   Look at "applications".   That's programs that are running and showing a window on your desktop.  You should recognize all of them.  Any application that you don't recognize is very suspicious. 
  Check the "Process" window.  Processes are all running programs, most of which don't show windows on your desktop.  Programs in the Applications window will also show up in the Process window.  Any live virus on your machine will show up in the process window, probably under an assumed name.  Processes claiming unusual amounts of RAM or CPU time are suspicious.  It's usual to have 30 odd processes running, but  much more than that is suspicious. 
   Questionable programs from the Add and Remove programs applet that DO show in the Process window are more likely to be a necessary part of Windows.  Questionable programs that DO NOT show in the process window are more likely to be junk you don't need. 
   Once you are sure you have identified something as virus or just plain junk, get rid of it.  Start house cleaning with Add & Remove programs.  If that works, it usually does a better job than anything else, it can remove the programs Registry entries and it's disc files.  If Add and Remove programs doesn't work, go after the offensive program's disc files with Windows explorer.  And then go after the program's Registry entries with Regedit.  Delete all registry keys containing the offensive program's name. 
   Secret.  The name the program shows in Task Manager may not be the program's disc file name.  In which case, a search of the Registry with Regedit, looking for the offending name in Task Manager, will often turn up a key that gives the program's disc file name.
  Be careful.  It's is quite easy to zap a necessary part of Windows which is a catastrophe.   
  Good luck.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

So how hot is the F-35 today?

Not very hot.  It's pricey, but not too hot.  Top speed is a sluggish Mach 1.2.  The poor old F-102 of 50 years ago was that fast.  Max altitude is 40,000 feet, again, not much.  the U-2s of the 1950's could do 70,000 feet.  Peak maneuver load is limited to 5.6 G.  The long obsolete F-106 could pull 8 G back in the 1960's.  Figures come from Aviation Week.  Oh yeah, and the internal gun won't work until the next software upgrade, sometime in the future. And it can only handle two air to air missiles.  The old F-106 carried five. 
   The F-35 people claim these restrictions will go away after the next software upgrade.  They are currently flying software block 2B.  Block 3F, promised sometime in the future, will at least make the gun work.  The G limitation is caused by weakness in the engines.  Pull more than 5.6 G and the engine flexes under the G load enough to let the compressor blades rub on the engine casing, with disastrous results, like engine fires.
   And, to add insult to injury, the Russians have developed a new radar said to pick up F-35's despite the stealth design of the aircraft. 
   From the sounds of it, we might do better going back to the old Viet Nam war F-4 Phantom.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Is this what killed top 40 radio?

According to this, the labels rammed thru a law that prohibits playing anything later than 1972 without paying copyright.  If true, that accounts for hearing nothing but goldie oldies on the radio.
   Which is why the CD business is going to pot.  Used to be, air play drove record sales.  The labels used to bribe DJ's to spin their singles.  Payola it was called.  Now that we have no airplay, we have no CD sales. 
  The entire music business would be better off going back to the old system, radio stations can play any thing over the air copy right free. 
   Sounds like the kinda idea a buncha suits would have. 

Legacy Weapons Systems

The Economist, at the end of a piece commenting upon Ashton Carter as new US defense secretary, said this.  "To fund new weapons and technology Mr. Carter will need to axe legacy weapons systems (such as the A10 tankbusting aircraft). "
The A10 is old enough to be bought and paid for.  It works.  Should we desire to push the Russian tanks out of Ukraine, a couple of squadrons of A10's could do the job handily.  Keeping the A10 flying is a bargain compared to the pricey, new, not-paid-for  F35.  The Air Force, run by a fighter pilot mafia, wants to dump the A10, largely because it is no match for a real jet fighter.  They see themselves at the stick of an A10, and helpless against a MIG.  The answer, is to create US air superiority over the battle field, and make sure the A10 squadrons have fighter escort.   To be a good ground attack aircraft, the A10 has to fly low and slow so the pilot can see his targets and get close enough to hit them.  You cannot fly between the trees and under power lines at Mach 2. 
  Plenty of potential US enemies have lots of tanks.  Few of them have jet fighters that compete with ours.

Cannon Mt Ski Weather. 8 Below this morning

Mountain is is fine shape.  We got a sprinkling of new snow yesterday.  Sun is out this morning, and it's COLD.  Snow is forecast for the weekend. 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

How do you combat a Littoral?

Beats me, but the US Navy has been messing around with something they call a "Littoral Combat Ship" for some years now.  It's gotten beyond the paper study phase and we actually have two or three of them at sea right now.  They are smallish surface vessels, with claims to awesome top speed, something in excess of 30 knots.
   According to Aviation Week the Navy is not satisfied with the program so far and wants to redesigate the class as "frigates".  That's an old and honorable name for a warship class, going way back into the days of sail.  The name died out in the sail to steam conversion, the steam warships that picked up the sailing frigate duties were called cruisers.  The name fell out of use in navies until WWII when it was applied to a new class of small anti submarine vessels.  Since then frigate has meant a mini-destroyer.  Looks like a destroyer but is smaller and cheaper. 
   The Littoral Combat Ship idea was born after a number of nasty confrontations with small fast missile boats in the Persian Gulf.  The idea was a very fast ship that could run the pesky missile boats down and blow them out of the water.  This works in the Persian Gulf where the water is calm and smooth enough to get up to speed.  It does not work offshore where you have surf and swell.  Trying to drive thru even moderate waves at 45 knots will smash the ship apart in a few minutes. 
   So, the Navy is talking about dropping the high speed requirement on the new Frigate/ex Littoral Combat Ship class.  It reduces the size and weight of the engines,  leaving more room on board for all the stuff every captain wants to have more of (rations, ammo, fuel, weapons, etc).  Aviation Week speculates that the development of small very effective auto cannon systems has solved the missile boat problem.  I doubt that.  Was I skippering a Navy ship and the missile boats came after me, I'd order up my helicopter.  Chopper is twice as fast as anything on water, and carries 5 inch rockets that will turn anything afloat into kindling wood.
  The other discouraging thing in the Aviation Week article, is the total lack of any discussion of mission.  What is the frigate/ex littoral combat ship supposed to do?  Show the flag?  Chase subs? Provide gunfire support to an amphibious landing? Missile aircraft?  Escort carriers?   Just be cheap enough so we can have a lot of 'em? Not a word about any of this. 

Internet is working fine

So why does Obama want to take it  over?  Lotta reasons come to mind, none of 'em good.  The can squeeze "campaign contributions/bribes" out of internet providers.  They can shut down talk that they don't like.  They can raise rates and reduce service.  They can reward their friends and punish their enemies. They can lay taxes on it.  Crony capitalists love it. 
  The "net neutrality" argument the Administration uses is a smoke screen.  Nobody knows what "net neutrality" actually means.  So they can take over the Internet and  do pretty much anything they like, and it's all for "net neutrality".
I'm positive that government takeover will raise my rates, degrade my service, and threaten me for stuff I post on my blog. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF)

Obama wants one to deal with ISIS/ISIL/IS what ever you want to call them.  It's the modern declaration of war, only it allows a lot of hedging, like no ground troops, quit fighting after 3 years.  The good old fashioned declaration of war, like we used on the Japanese in 1941, doesn't allow hedging.  Which was a good thing.  War is so terrible, so costly, that you want to get it over with quickly.  Which means hitting the enemy as hard as you can to knock him out as soon as possible.  Diddling around just gets more people killed.
  We ought to just declare war.  If we can't bring ourselves to do that, then the AUMF ought to say "all means, including ground troops and nuclear weapons may be employed at the commander in chief's discretion.  Military force will continue to be applied until victory is achieved."
  And we need language to define the enemy.  Otherwise ISIS/ISIL/IS just changes it's name again and the  AUMF is useless.  Something like "All armed groups in the Middle East and North Africa who are not part of a UN recognized government, and, any UN recognized governments that fails to comply with UN Security Council resolutions. "
  Frankly, I think Obama wants restrictions in the AUMF, so he can blame Congress when he fails to win to war.  Obama doesn't want to deal with Islamist extremists in the Middle East.  He knows he has to do something lest he get impeached or loose all credibility with the voters.  He hopes that having the Air Force put on a fire works display will satisfy his critics. 

NASA fudged global temperature records

Some time ago I down loaded the complete worldwide temperature files from the Goddard Institute of Space Studies (GISS).  The file format is ASCII, 80 characters per line, which means the file started out on IBM punch cards, which makes it OLD, and was later moved to a disc file.  The records go back to 1700.  In 1700 there are only 7 stations reporting.  The number of reporting stations grows over the years, reaching 100,000 by 1979. 
   In 1980 the great purge was started, and by 1983 the number of reporting stations was down to 30,000, two thirds of the reporting stations had been thrown away.  NASA has never offered an explanation for the great purge.
   Had a warmist (and NASA is full of warmists) done the purging, by dumping stations with colder than average readings he could easily create Mann's "hockey stick" warming trend. 
  For that matter, NASA never explained their "corrections".  The GISS site offered two files, one of raw temperature readings and one of "corrected" temperature readings.  The raw file plotted out in a convincing manner, a smooth curve, no spikes or jumps.  The "corrected" file would not plot properly.  Just looking at the plot you could see hops, jumps, skips, spikes, and stretches of pure random trash.  All the data before 1860 was total trash. Perhaps a bug in NASA's correction program?
   There can be tremendous various between stations just a few miles apart.  At my place in Mittersill, temperatures run 5 degrees F warmer in winter, and 5F cooler in summer than they do at Mac's Market, which is only 4 miles away. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Remind me NOT to buy a new TV

Internet posting accuse the new voice controlled Samsung TV of listening in on everything said within its hearing and forwarding it all the "an undisclosed third party" for analysis and snooping. 
   When Uncle wants to snoop on you, all they have to do is force Samsung to disclose the undisclosed third party, and then force said third party to let them snoop everything the TV heard you say, going back to when that smart ass TV first darkened your door. 
Lets hope my older, all solid state, Sony keeps on running. 

Phone Banking, Then and Now

Years ago we did phone banking up here.  We did cold calls on friendly voters to urge them to get out and vote.  Back in the good old days, say 5 years ago,  most voters were happy to receive such a call.  Many of them were slightly flattered that the party cared enough to call.  The would pick up the phone and  answer our questions and chat. 
Not any more.  Last time I phone banked, the voters were hostile to the entire idea of getting called.  Most of 'em just hung up.  All of 'em indicated displeasure with the call. 
  I would normally attribute this change of attitude to telemarketers  fouling the nest.  But over the same 5 years the telemarketers have disappeared.  The "Do Not Call" lists have been effective.  Five years ago,  I would get two or three telemarketer calls a day.  Today, I don't get any.  I get calls from politicians and political parties, but no telemarketers. 
   Why the change in voter response to phone bank calls?  Beats me, but it's for real. 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Fighting Islamic Extremism

It's not all military.  Propaganda is very effective.  We ought to create an Arabic language TV news channel.  Broadcast it from satellites and stream it on the Internet.  Feature stories of IS brutality, what it's like to be a Nigerian school girl carried off by Boko Haram.  Some nice gun camera shots of smart bombs hitting right on target.  Human interest stories of Muslim families doing well in the United States. Some interviews with Muslim soldiers fighting on our side.  Other stories that help our cause.
    Take a good look at the old WWII BBC broadcasts.  The wartime BBC managed to establish a solid reputation even among the enemy for honesty and truth telling.  While remaining an effective pro allied slant.  We ought to be able to do as well today. 
   Then we ought to get Hollywood to do some useful movies.  If they can make Kim Jung Un look like an idiot,  they ought to be able to do the same to the Ayatollahs.  
   The medium is the message. 

It's easier for the guys

To look sharp that is.  Poor Hillary, usually looks terrible on TV.  Her hairdo needs work, her complexion shows her age, her choice of color is questionable (did you see the radioactive green suit she wore?) and her figure is also showing her age. 
  It's easier for guys.  Shave and haircut (standard short guy's haircut) dark suit, white shirt, and red tie with regimental stripes.  Well shined shoes.  That is all it takes.  The suit looks good in spite of figure defects ( look at Chris Christie), the color choice is limited to dark wool, so the guys don't get a chance to display their poor color sense.  And, guys get pockets to carry their wallets, car keys, eyeglasses, and house keys. 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

First Crusade

We had our peerless, and clueless, leader bad mouthing the Crusades the other day.  He left out a few things.  The Crusade was preached in response to a plea for help from the Emperor in Constantinople.  The Emperor inherited the prestige of the Roman Emperors, and was held in much reverence thruout Western Europe. Another reason for launching the Crusade was the Islamic conquest of Jerusalem, followed by harsh treatment of Christian pilgrims who merely wished to visit the holy places.  This was kinda dumb on the part of the Muslims,  pilgrims don't cause trouble, and they often spend money.  Beating up on pilgrims is like beating up on tourists today. 
   There were other reasons for Crusading, some of them religious, but then religion, the Church, was involved in everything in those days.  The Church anointed the European kings, provided clerks and teachers, in fact operated all the schools, did all the marriages, did all the funerals, baptized all infants.  The threat of Interdict, (shutting down all church operators) was enough to strike terror into the hearts of the Church's enemies. 
   Sure, the Crusades were religious wars, but so was everything else back then.  The Crusades were not that much more religious than other medieval wars.  Tough old William the Conqueror carried a Papal blessing, and a Papal banner across the channel on his invasion of Saxon England. 
   The First Crusade was a military success, due to incredible bravery of the Crusaders, combined with political disarray among the Muslim foe.  The Muslims still remember that, and don't like to be reminded of the shellacking they took.  Bad feelings have lasted for 900 years.   The Geneva convention hadn't been invented yet, and military practices were much harsher back then than we would allow today.  But even 900 years ago, Crusaders didn't burn captives alive.  And Western European society and culture has made tremendous progress since the Crusading time, 900 years ago. 
   We should be proud of the bravery our ancestors displayed upon Crusade.  We wouldn't do that sort of thing today, but back then it was pretty cool. 

Exit Strategies

There are only two exit strategies from war.  Victory or defeat.  Take your pick.  Last time, in Viet Nam, we chose defeat.  It still smarts, forty years later. 

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Cutting a deal after calling him crazy.

Hard to do.  The Obama administration released/leaked an intel document where in a buncha shrinks diagnosed Putin with Asperger's Syndrome, a form of autism.  They based the diagnosis on looking at pictures of Putin, which sounds a little flaky to me.  But they did it and they released it to the public press.
   Good luck trying to negotiate with Putin after calling him crazy in public.  Either Obama is too stupid to understand the insult, or he doesn't care cause he doesn't plan on doing any more negotiations. 

Friday, February 6, 2015

Avoid getting Hacked

I'm talking about home machines or small office machines.  Big company setups, like Sony, are a whole different kettle of fish.  But for us home users, there are some simple things that will improve your odds.
1.  Turn the machine off when not in use.  It cannot catch a virus off the internet if it is powered down. 
2.  Never, ever, click on an email attachment.  No matter who the email is from.  Your best friend may have been infected by a virus, and virii, will use the address book in the infected machine to email themselves far and wide.  Attachments can contain malicious code that executes as soon as you click.  If you just have to see what is in the attachment, save it to disk, and inspect it with a low speed text editor, like notepad, or wordpad.  Word itself contains a powerful BASIC interpreter that can do all kinds of damage when presented with malicious code in an attachment.
3. Run a virus scanner now and then.  There are a lot of 'em.  Avast is good, and so is malwarebytes.
4. Run Windows Task Manager now and then.  Check the "process" window.  Processes are programs running on your machine.  There should not be more than 30 processes running.  Check out strange processes, or processes that seem to be taking up too much CPU time or ram.  Click on the CPU or Memory Usage columns and Task manager will rearrange the display with greatest CPU or Memory Usage at the top.  Google on the names of ramhogs or CPU hogs to find out what they are.  When you get a solid ID, such as "well known virus" go after  it.  Find it on disk and zap it.  Find any references in the registry with Regedit, and zap them. 
5.  Music download sites are virus infected. 
Good luck.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Funding Homeland Security Dept

Part of the recent budget deal, that funded the Federal government until September, was to stiff arm the Dept of Homeland Security, over Obama's legalizing 4 million illegal immigrants by executive order.  Homeland Security needs to get more funding authorized by the end of February (this month) or shut down.  The idea was to defund Obama's massive amnesty program.  Obama went along with this, and signed the budget deal, probably figuring that Homeland Security would eventually get it's funding, after some political posturing in Congress. 
  Some parts of Homeland Security, the Coast Guard being the shining example, deserve  funding 'cause they do a lot of good.  Other  parts like the Secret Service need heavy duty reform.   Yet other parts, like the Science and Technology Directorate, we could probably do without.  And the Transportation Security Agency ought to be disbanded.  We don't need federally funded goons groping women as they board airliners. 
   And, Homeland Security does the federal flood insurance program, a terrible money sink, that  pays off landowners who build on flood plains.  They get flooded on a regular basis, paid off, they rebuild on the same site, get flooded again, get paid off again.  No commercial insurance companies will touch flood insurance because of the massive and predictable losses.  The government picked it up because of the wailing and crying from the real estate community, realtors, builders, and banks.
  Hopefully, Congress will fund the needed parts of Homeland Security and give the unneeded parts a severe haircut. 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

$250 million for Commuter Rail to Manchester

They are still talking about this down in Concord.  As late as the 1960's there was rail service to Manchester and Concord.  It was abandoned in the '60s 'cause nobody was riding the train.  Manchester is only about 25 miles from Nashua, so they are talking about $10 million a mile to fix up the abandoned right of ways.  That's pricey.  And that is just to get the track into useable shape.  Actually operating the trains is more money. 
The NHPR piece mentioned an estimate of 600,000 riders.  Which sounds like a lot, but one person riding the train to work daily for a week counts as 10 rides, five inbound in the morning, and five more outbound in the evening. There are about 200 working days in a year, so divide that 600,000 tickets sold by 400 and and you get about 1500 actual people who use the train every day.  That ain't many people to justify spending $250 million on trackwork. 
  No mention of schedules, how fast the train would go.  There is fairly decent bus service to Manchester and Concord right now.  No mention of  what the fares might be, or if the train trip would be faster than the bus.
  No mention of the fact that most of the commuters down I93 to MA are working out on 128, where the train doesn't go.  You need your car to get to the company parking lots off 128.  Not that many people have jobs in downtown Boston. 

All the news that fits, we print

Good old unbiased NHPR this morning.  Reporting on a strike by United Steel Workers against some Louisiana oil refineries.  They did give a union spokesman air time.  They did not give the issues of the strike, as in how big a raise is the union asking for and how much do its members make right now.  Probably they are making pretty good money now, and are asking for a lot more, but revealing that might weaken the union's position with the public.  There was a mention of safety issues, by which they might mean overtime, but again NHPR didn't give any numbers.  Probably because their staff can't count beyond ten with out taking off their shoes. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

How to stop a Blitzkrieg

That's a chapter title in Paul Kennedy's WWII book "Engineers of Victory".  The German Army was all conquering at the beginning of WWII.  They smashed the Poles, the Norwegians, the Belgians, the French, the British and the Russians, bang, bang, bang. The Germans were unstoppable, they beat all comers, hands down.
   Clearly, one of the things the Allied had to do to win WWII was beat the German Army.  Kennedy goes on to some not very satisfactory explanations as to how the Allies finally managed to pull off victories at Stalingrad and El Alamein. 
   Looking at the problem with modern eyes, we would say that the answer to beating the Germans was to use combined arms.  Infantry with tank support, and artillery support and air support.  Not pushing a lone infantry or lone tank unit into action unsupported. 
   Rick Atkinson in his "Army at Dawn" gives examples.  He is telling the story of the US Army in North Africa.  The Americans had recognized the effectiveness of the German Panzer divisions and had organized their own army into well balanced divisions combining infantry, armor, and artillery under a single commander. 
   But in the early days of operations in North Africa, Atkinson tells of repeated disasters after a higher command (corps command usually) would order lone infantry regiments or tank regiments into action, unsupported by division, bypassing the division commanders.  Only later, after about a year's bad experiences like Kasserine pass, would US divisions be ordered into action as intact formations.  And the combined arms divisional operations were much more effective, i.e. they pushed the Germans back, rather than just getting shot up. 

Monday, February 2, 2015

Measles, vaccination against

Lot of talk about a tiny measles epidemic starting at Disney land.  Lot of alarmist talk, including from Obama.  Lots of TV newsies talking about it.
  They didn't have those vaccines when I was a kid.  All kids had a case of measles about the time they started public school.  We all survived it, along with chickenpox, mumps and whooping cough.  Part of growing up. 
If the vaccine is as good as they say it is, then if your kid is vaccinated, he/she won't catch measles from the few kids who are not vaccinated. Does not increase the risk to anyone except those grownups, who aren't vaccinated and who didn't catch the disease as a child.  In an adult, those childhood diseases are a lot more serious, in some cases fatal. 
  Far as I can see, those parents who don't vaccinate their kids only put their kids at risk. And it ain't much of a risk.  Used to be, we all ran the same risk, and we all survived.   I don't see how it affects or harms the general population.  So if people want to do stupid things that don't harm others, let 'em.  That's what a free country is all about. 

Superbowl XLIX

I'm a marginal fan of professional sports, but when I have the Patriots playing in the Superbowl, I gotta watch, 'cause everyone else does.  This game has grown over the years into a national spectacle.  Someone sang "America the Beautiful" and someone else sang the "Star Spangled Banner".  The camera traced over the faces of the players, who all had suitably reverent expressions.  They did a flyover by the Thunderbirds.  The game got under way.  Tom Brady was amazing.  Pass after pass, completed.  They were mostly short, enough for a first down, but it seemed like he never missed.  Everytime the Pats got the ball, Brady would march them down the field, like clockwork, until they scored a touchdown.  He played the whole game, didn't get injured, although he looked a bit tired by the end.  There were some fantastic plays.  Some of the players sported weird hairdos, with shaggy hair sticking out a foot from under their helmets.  The defense on both sides was amazing.  Every pass receiver was covered, all the time.  If the receiver caught the ball, he was tackled immediately and smashed into the turf.  The game was in doubt right down to the last couple of minutes.  No memorable commercials this year.
  All in all, a good show. 

Sunday, February 1, 2015


Jargon for Greek Exit from the Euro.  The Economist is highly concerned.   The new left wing Syriza government of Greece is making silly noises.  Economist has a good cartoon, showing the new Greek government barreling along a one lane mountain road in a steamroller, bearing a sign reading "Irresistible Force".  Coming the other way is a big 18 wheeler, filling the road from side to side, with Angela Merkel at the wheel.  Bearing a sign reading "Immovable Object".
   What will happen?  No one knows. 
   What ought to happen, is the EU tells the Greeks to keep sucking it up, or do without.  There is a multi billion Euro chunk of bailout money still due the Greeks.  The EU could, if it has the stones, with hold it if they don't like what the Greeks are doing. 
   The EU may not have the stones.  There are plenty of lefties all over Europe who dislike "austerity" (a balanced national budget).  The think if the Greeks drop austerity, it will be a signal to their own governments to crank up the welfare spending. 
  The other issue for Greeks is leaving the Euro.  This would enable them to print all the drachmas they need to pay for all the welfare they want.  At the stroke of a keyboard, all the Euro deposits in Greek banks would become drachma deposits.  And everyone expects the newly declared drachma to drop 50% or more against the Euro.  So every Greek with money, in the bank (maybe half of them?) is against Grexit.  Will their interests be strong enough to overcome the desire of the welfare staters to print all the money they want?