Friday, July 31, 2015

Mark Steyn on The Donald

Mark Steyn was on Fox this afternoon.  He said Trump's appeal comes from failure of the Republican establishment.  The grass root republicans came out in 2010 and 2014 and elected a solid Republican majority in Congress.  But the Republicans haven't done anything now that they control both houses of Congress.  They haven't gotten Keystone XL thru.  They haven't taken any scalps at the IRS.  The EPA is still killing jobs from coast to coast. They haven't slammed the door on illegal immigration.  Plus a lot of other things.  Trump sounds like he will fix some or all of these failures.  The Republican base likes that.  They have little use for the RINO establishment. 
   Steyn makes a lot of sense here.  I think he is onto something. 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Dawn over Marblehead

According to this, the IMF has decided that a third bailout for Greece would be a waste of money.   Jeez, took 'em long enough to see the light.  The noise from Europe is when the IMF backs out, so does every one else.  All the Greek  bailout will do is finance the Greeks in paying off some of their fantastic international debt.  It would be cheaper just to stop bailing Greece, let the Greeks default on their loans, and learn to run a balanced budget.  All that debt was run up by Greeks spending more than they take in with taxes.  Time to stop subsidizing them, Greece can learn to cut spending and hike taxes just like a real country.  And the banking idiots who loaned the money deserve to take a good solid loss.  Maybe that will learn 'em. 

Ant Man

It was hot last night, so I decided to beat the heat with an air conditioned movie.  It's new, it's getting good box office sales.  It's a Marvel comic book movie.  It has a handsome superhero, a slightly mad scientist (Michael Douglas), and the scientist's beautiful daughter.  It has a lot of CGI, explosions, and deeds of derring do.   The beautiful daughter spends a good deal of time attempting to straighten out her father (guess how that works out) and beat some sense into handsome hero AntMan.  This works out better for her, and by the last reel they are on the verge of proposing marriage, or maybe they do propose, I might have missed that part.  Handsome hero is a divorcee, with a little daughter who adores him, even if mom has custody and is being sticky about visitation.  It's cute.   Antman comics came out long after I stopped reading comic books, so I cannot said how well the movie tracks the books.
Good movie for kids, at least kids of 6 or 7 years or more.  Younger kids may not "get it". 
    And it is NOT three D, a blessing.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Is Trump Legit?

Even Fox News was asking if Trump should allowed to run.  All kinds of Republicans are wringing their hands and deploring The Donald.  They say he is hurting the party.
    Heh, the country is supposed to be a democracy.  Citizens can say pretty much anything they please in public.  Trump is sounding good to a lot of voters.  We ought to listen to what he is saying, partly to figure out what to say to appeal to voters, partly to catch him saying things that cost him, like trashing John McCain.
   I haven't quite figured Trump out myself.  I cannot put my finger on his appeal.  But appeal he has, look at the polls.  Part of Trump's appeal is he uses numbers and concrete examples in his speeches, unlike every one else in the presidential race who speak in vague generalities.  But the way things are going, Trump could go places.
   I am not ready to vote for Trump.  He shoots his mouth off too readily to be president.   I can see him kicking off an international trade war, like we did with the Smoot Hawley tariff in the 1930's. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Isolationism caused WWII

The immediate cause of WWII was Adolf Hitler.  He wanted to refight WWI and win instead of losing.  Nobody else in Europe was that crazy, and nobody believed Hitler was that crazy.  Hitler started throwing Germany's weight around in the 1930s  If the two surviving great powers, Britain and France, had exerted them selves,  Hitler could have been stopped, deposed, brought before an international trial and executed in the 1930's.   They didn't, their voter's didn't want to, nobody wanted to risk getting sucked into another WWI, and Germany looked like a pretty tough nut.  If the British and the French had had solid American backing, they might have found the stones to act. 
   But the Americans were into "isolationism".  "Let Europe stew in it's own juice."  This pusillanimous attitude got started during WWI.  After the WWI, there was a great peace treaty, the treaty of Versailles. To enforce Versailles, the American president Wilson wanted to set up the League of Nations.  But when he brought the League of Nations treaty to the US senate, the isolationists opposed it and defeated it.  Later on, conspiracy theories of WWI were circulated, things like the war was instigated by arms makers ("the merchants of death") as a way to increase sales.   Needless to say, a lot of people were unsatisfied by the deals cut at Versailles.  The British and the French scarfed up a lot of loose colonial territory.  The Germans thought they had been shafted.  The British had promised Palestine to both the Jews and the Arabs. 
   Net result, America withdrew from world affairs.  When Hitler started throwing his weight around we did nothing.  The French and the British lacked the will and the strength to do anything.  We should have said "We won't stand for any backchat out of this two bit dictator.  If he steps one inch out of line, we plan to clobber him good."  But the political strength of the isolationists was so great that we did nothing, we let Hitler grow in strength until he brought the world down in flames. 
   This political season you can hear the isolationists rising up again in America.  "No boots on the ground."  The Iranian nuke deal.  "Leading from behind."   We need to oppose this, lest it touch off WWIII.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Product Differentiation

Long ago, you bought RAID, and it would kill about any kinda bug.  So I stop in at Mac's to get another can.  Their had RAID for ants, RAID for roaches, RAID for wasps and hornets, and a couple of other things I forget.  They did not have plain old RAID for flying insects, which is what I wanted.  Give a housefly a whiff of that and their wings stop moving and the bug falls to the floor.  They may twitch a little bit, but pretty soon they are dead. 
   So much for product differentiation. 

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Trashing Hillary

Fox News has been on Hillary's case about emails.  They accuse her of putting classified information in her emails, and doing her email on a private server at her New York home. 
   Well, as a republican, I am always happy to see Hillary get trashed.  But let's be real about it.  Every email from the American secretary of state is of intense interest to every country in the world, friends, enemies, they all want to know what the Americans are thinking.
    And, compared to Office of Personnel Management, Hillary's private email server is probably more secure.  
    A better question:  Given the overall insecurity of email, should American officials use email at all?  

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Pentagon paperpushers outnumber the armed forces

According to the Friday Wall St Journal, the Pentagon has 1.4 million civilians working for it, split about even steven between snivel servants and beltway bandits.  The armed forces number only 1.3 million.  That is a scandal beyond words. 
   And I certainly will not believe Pentagon whining about budget cuts while they waste money on so many useless mouths.  For the salaries and benefits of 1.4 million  paperpushers, we could afford 1.4 million more soldiers. 

Friday, July 24, 2015

F35 gets shellacked by an F16

They held a  "basic fighter maneuvering exercise" aka mock dogfight between the just going into service F35 and a twenty year old F16.  The F16 out flew the F35 and was able to gain missile launch position and gun fire position repeatedly.  The F35 pilot's report somehow leaked out of Lockheed Martin and got posted on the "War is Boring" website a week or so ago.  Aviation Week, highly respected industry trade journal, ran the story this week.  According to the pilot, the F35's flying qualities are "not intuitive or favorable".   The F35  has "inferior energy management" which is jargon for lack of engine power.  And the stability augmentation system  limited motion of the flight control surfaces reducing turn rate and maneuverability. 
   Stability Augmentation ("Stab Aug for short") goes back to the ancient F101 Voodoo fighter of the 1950's.  Voodoo was fast, supersonic in fact, by virtue of a pair of J57 engines, the best of Pratt and Whitney for that year.  It was designed before the area rule of supersonic streamlining was discovered and suffered for it.  It was marginally stable in flight. If the pilot pulled back on the stick too hard, Voodoo would "pitchup"  flip up vertically to the airstream and then fall off into a flat spin, for which recovery was impossible.   After loosing a number of Voodoos to pitchup, stability augmentation system was added. Stab Aug was a few black boxes with gyros that monitored pitch rate and first gave the pilot a warning horn, and then grabbed the stick and pushed it forward if the pilot failed to heed the warning horn.  Stab aug on the Voodoo was a red X failure, the plane was too dangerous to fly if stab aug was broken.  Pilots were required to switch stab aug off at low altitude (like coming in to land) lest stab aug push the stick forward and auger the Voodoo into the ground.
    Apparently the F35 is even less stable than the old Voodoo and requires stab aug on all axis, roll, pitch, and yaw.  The microprocessor[s] stand between the pilot's stick and the flight control surfaces, and flat out change the pilot's commands as it suits them.  The microprocessors are very conservative and don't allow much in the way of high G maneuvers.   
   Lockheed Martin said that the F35 was supposed to finger targets at long range with radar and missile them.  Sounds good, but usually higher headquarters will forbid firing on targets that cannot be seen and positively identified.  We had this in Viet Nam. By the time you get close enough to positively identify your target, you are so close that a good old fashioned dog fight is going to happen. 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Saint Gaudens, Cornish NH

Saint Gaudens, "Aspet"  The artist and his family summered here, and had studios.  Massive tree was planted in the 1880's and is presently tearing up the front steps into the house.  US Park service is working on the problem.

Statue of Civil War admiral David Farragut.  The original stands in New York City. This is a half size copy.  Not sure how the size is reduced.  I suspect someone just carved a new statute, keeping his eye on the original. 

Formal garden behind "Aspet".  I didn't get the name of the artist who did the gold sculpture at the back.
The all black 54th Massachusetts regiment under Colonel Robert Gould Shaw marches off to war.  The original is in front of the Massachusetts state house.  Saint Gaudens was never fully satisfied with his work and he keep on modifying and improving it long after it was delivered to Boston.  This a a casting made in 1993 from the original's plaster.  It was undergoing conservation yesterday which accounts for the scaffolding and tarps.  
Greek goddess Diana.  The original is atop Madison Square Gardens in New York City.  This one is half size.
Abraham Lincoln by Saint Gaudens. 
The Auguste Saint Gaudens historical site is in Cornish, maybe 15 miles south of Lebanon on the Connecticut River.  I have known of it for years and years, and yesterday I finally drove down to see it.  I shook hands with Governor Maggie Hassan, who was there, with the executive council for some affair or other.  It's a beautiful place, nicely kept.   The statuary is inspiring.  Too bad we don't have any artists as good as this anymore. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Scary. Hacker takes over a new Chrysler wirelessly.

Slashdot posted this.  The perp claims to have gained control of most of the Chrysler's systems, including the brakes, remotely by wireless. 
    I was thinking about getting a new car, as my 2003 Mercury is rusting out.  Do I want to buy something that hackers can take over remotely?  All the hacker has to do is give a playful little touch of the gas or the brakes while I'm going up three mile hill in a snowstorm to put me in the ditch.  PITA. 
   Actually, this points to atrociously bad design on Chrysler's part.  They have forgotten the principle of modularity.  Each module of the system (brakes, steering, suspension, engine etc) should be modular, stand alone, so that should other systems fail, it will keep on working, because it is not connected.  Clearly the designers of this car were hooking stuff together just for the fun of it.   There is no reason for the car computers to have any connections to the brakes.  I want my brakes to go on when I press the brake pedal, and for no other reason.  I don't want to give a malfunctioning microprocessor under the hood a chance to screw up my brakes. 

Monday, July 20, 2015

Terrorism or a Nutcase running around loose ?

The horrible shootings in Chattanooga are still on the top of the TV news.  Most of the commentary is aimed at convincing people that the shootings are Islamic terrorism.  Strongest evidence for this view is the shooter's thoroughly Islamic name.  
Question:   Suppose the shooter is just another nutcase who should have been in a booby hatch? Like the Charleston shooter.  Is the problem ISIS terror or our lack of mental health facilities? 

Sunday, July 19, 2015


I was assigned to a F-105 fighter bomber wing flying out of Korat Thailand during the Viet Nam war.  The day I arrived on base, we lost a Thud in combat.  For the next 90 days, my wing lost a plane every single day.  We saved some of the pilots, (never enough, but better than nothing).  Despite the risks from AAA, SAM, MIGS, and the unreliability of late 1950's jets, twice a day the pilots climbed into the cockpits and took off for North Viet Nam (route pack 6 we called it).  That took real guts.
  John McCain was shot down in the year I was over there.  He was flying off aircraft carriers which is even more dangerous than operating off the 10,000 foot concrete runway we had at Korat.
  I heard The Donald had spoken disparagingly of John McCain the other day.  I don't approve.  In fact, it makes me think that the The Donald shoots off his mouth too much to be President of the US. 

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Cloudy, with a chance of greenies

The greenie's argument for global warming is based on computer models.  We know how much energy the Sun pours onto the earth. (1345 Watts/sqm * area of the earth = 1.78 *10 **17 Watts)  We know that the earth's temperature has remained reasonable steady thruout geological time.  That means the earth has to throw off, by infrared radiation, or reflection the same amount of energy.  If it didn't, the temperature would go up (or down).  
   Clouds are an important factor.  Anyone who has stood on the beach in a bathing suit and felt the chill when a cloud goes in front of the  Sun will have no problem believing that clouds cool the earth, by reflecting sunlight back into space.  Less well known, unless you live in the north, clouds warm the earth.  A clear winter night will get extremely cold, (-20 F) whereas a cloudy night will stay at +20F.  On clear nights, the earth will emit infra red radiation, which travels up and away to interstellar space.  This energy loss cools the world.  On cloudy nights, the same infrared radiation strikes the cloud, warming it, and the air it floats in, and conserving the heat.
   Which effect is stronger?  I have never seen any discussion of that. I don't think anyone knows.  What's more, it is generally assumed that a rise in global temperature will increase evaporation of water, increasing cloud coverage.  If increasing clouds cool the earth, fine, that will limit the temperature rise.  If increasing clouds warm the earth, hang onto your hats, as the earth warms, the clouds increase,which increases the warming.  Bad. 
   But, until the effect of clouds is understood, and programmed into the computer models, they are worthless.  Without an accurate treatment of cloudiness, the model's results will bear no resemblance to reality.
    And those claiming "the science is settled" are peddling ideology, not science.  

Friday, July 17, 2015

Trump calls for arming our armed services

After the horrible massacre in Charlestown SC yesterday, Donald Trump called for the issue of firearms to the stateside military.  As far back as when I was in uniform, service policy was to keep guns off base unless locked securely in the gunroom.  We did not carry firearms, even in South East Asia during the Viet Nam war.  Reason for the policy is accident prevention.  If you have 400,000 troops carrying guns, you are gonna have some accidental discharges, and some people are gonna get themselves shot.  And it only takes one bad accident to create career ending bad press coverage.  So the Pentagon plays it safe and keeps guns out of the hands of the troops as much as possible. 
   Now that we have ISIS crazies gunning for our troops. Think Fort Hood and Charleston.  It is time to stiffen the Pentagon's backbone, and make sure that when on duty, the troops have ready access to firearms.  If not carried in a holster, at least a gun locker on the same floor in the workplace.  Especial at small detachments, like recruiting stations, as well as big installations like the Washington Navy Yard.  If just one soldier had had a gun at Fort Hood, they could have saved a dozen lives.  

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Saved by Autobackup

I had a long spreadsheet open in Excel.  Spent an hour working on it.  Then catastrophe struck, the electric power failed before I saved it.  Lights just blinked, the Sony TV kept right on playing, but trusty old Compaq Presario desktop shut right down. 
   But wait, all was not lost. I booted up, clicked on Excel, and lo and behold, there was a nice backup to the lost spreadsheet, right out on disk.  Ancient Excel 2002 managed this feat.  Best thing a piece of Microsoft software has done for me in a long time. 

About that nuclear deal with Iran

Some Questions:
1.   Could we scrap the deal and keep the sanctions on?  The sanctions are an international matter, to bite, all countries have to apply them.  If a few big countries decide to drop sanctions, the Iranians can do business with them and everything works for Iran.  How does the rest of the world feel about keeping sanctions going?  Remembering that every country is full of business people who want to do business with an oil rich country that can afford to pay its bills. 
2.   Given some softness in the mood for sanctions, does "snap back"  work?   Who decides when they are cheating?  Us?  Some ad hoc committee?  With Iranians on the committee?  If  whoever calls for snap back, will it happen?
3.   The Iranians really really want a bomb.  Probably they view it as insurance against us doing regime change on them.  Does a "treaty" make much difference in the face of such a threat to the regime's very existence?  Can anything short of ground invasion and occupation stop their drive for the bomb?
4.  International treaties require the advice and consent of the senate to go into effect.  How can Obama threaten to veto advice and consent?  Some newsies are saying that this deal isn't a treaty, how does that work really?  If it's something magical and not-a-treaty, does it really bind the US to anything?  Cannot a future administration  repudiate it? 
   It would be nice if the newsies could enlighten us on any of this. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Hammacher Schlemmer catalog came today

I been getting more and more mail order catalogs over the years.  Today I got the creme de la creme Hammacher Schlemmer catalog.  This is the catalog for the 1%.  Everything is really pricey, and they carry some extreme stuff for extreme prices.  Like a $4500 Dutch bicycle.  A $125,000 Mini Monster truck (for kids).  A $185,000 most realistic motor racing simulator. 
It's cool to read, but does anyone buy this stuff?

Monday, July 13, 2015

Forget about CO2, Water Vapor is in charge

The greenies have been beating the drum for years about CO2 as a green house gas in the earth's atmosphere.  A green house gas blocks Infra Red (heat) radiation from escaping from the earth into outer space.  Burning of wood, coal, oil, and natural gas releases vast amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere.  The CO2 level has increased since the industrial revolution, from some 300 parts per million to nearly 400 parts per million today.  The greenies believe that this is cause of  "global warming" and are pushing for expensive economy wrecking measures to reduce the CO2 level.
   Trouble is, ordinary water vapor is just a strong a greenhouse gas as CO2.  And there is a LOT more water vapor out there than CO2.  According to this, water vapor is 2 to 3  percent of the atmosphere, call it 20,000 to 30,000 parts per million.  300 or 400 parts million of CO2 just doesn't matter compared to that.
   Since the earth's surface is 3/4 ocean, the water vapor isn't going away.
   The greenies claim that water vapor is different, as the global warming comes on, more water evaporates and the water vapor content of the atmosphere goes up.  But this is just another way of saying that water vapor is  a stronger greenhouse gas than  CO2, which means that CO2 matters even LESS, all things being equal.
    Needless to say, I don't hold with poverty enhancers like "cap and trade", the "war on coal", bans on fracking, Corporate Average Fuel Economy, handouts for battery cars, regulation of wood stove emissions, or the alcohol mandate for motor fuel.  These things make life more expensive for us plain citizens and don't cool the world.  To say nothing of the power handed to bureaucrats to jerk us around.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Sun Spottiness

It's all around the Internet, a new story about a sun spot catastrophy will bring back the ice ages by 2030.  Or maybe more global warming.  The story claims that two cyclical patterns with in the Sun have been discovered. They didn't say how this amazing detection was performed.  The two patterns will coincide in 2030 causing a Maunder Minimum, a lack of sun spots.
   Trouble is, sunspots do not effect earth weather.  Sun spots have been known since the 1600's, and counted.  They come and go on an 11 year cycle which has been observed for hundreds of years.  Sun spots effect earthly radio propagation in the HF band and so are closely observed by the radio community.  At sun sport maximum propagation is good and modest radio equipment can work clean around the world.  At sun spot minimum even the powerful equipment has trouble working to the horizon.  But, no one has ever found an 11 year cycle in earth weather.
   Sunspots don't change the sun's output much.  Solar output (the solar constant) is hard to observe from the ground because of clouds and weather.  To get a good reading, satellites were launched 40 years ago, and their decendants are still in orbit today.  The satellites report the Sun furnishes 1300 and some change Watts per square meter at the top of the atmosphere.  1300 Watts is about the power of a two slice toaster.  Graphs of the solar constant going back to the first satellite are on the internet.  The instruments are quite sensitive, you can actually see the 11 year sun spot cycle in the graphs, but it is very weak, a few Watts out of 1300 and some.    
    Given that the 0.1% variation in the solar constant is too small to matter, AND no one has found an 11 year cycle in anything other than radio propagation, I say this "ice age in 2030" internet story is pure scare mongering, and bull manure to boot. 

O'Malley on NH TV Channel 9

Josh McElway was interviewing O'Malley on TV this morning.  O'Malley wants free college for everyone.  Didn't bother to explain who would get stuck with the bill.  Offered a few wonky policy improvements, but they aren't gonna be nearly enough.  Did NOT say anything about the herds of college administrators drawing their pay but not instructing students.  Then he wants 100% alternative energy "non-carbon energy".  He spoke as if this would work.  Did not explain how my lights stay on after the Sun goes down, or when the wind stops blowing.  Did not utter the word "nuclear".  Note to self, buy a generator if O'Malley gets elected.  Wants to hike the minimum wage.  Wants to hike taxes.  Does not believe in spending cuts.
   At least O'Malley talked a little substance.  But he managed to convince me that he is a loon.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Lending to marginal borrowers wrecks economies

Lenders often lend to marginal borrowers just because they can charge a high rate of interest.  Very profitable, IF the lender makes his payments.  If the borrower declares bankruptcy or undergoes a revolution, the lender looses him money.  Which is why greedy banks did sub prime mortgages in the 00's  causing great depression 2.0, which we are still in.  Which is why the same banks loaned a mountain of money to Greece which is never going to be paid off.  Which is why the same banks loaned $82 billion to Puerto Rico, which isn't going to get paid off  either.  And has put both Greece and Puerto Rico pretty much out of business.
    Bank stock holders need to shape up and dump the managements making these destructive loans.   They wreck the borrower's economy which is immoral, and they wreck the bank's bottom line, which is worse.  The MSM could help by publicizing the names of the banks doing dumb ass loans, and the names of their senior management. 

Friday, July 10, 2015

So what really happened in San Francisco?

The Mexican illegal immigrant who killed a young woman, Jose Lopez -Sanchez has a long record.  According to the Daily Beast, the San Francisco Sheriff's office asked the Feds to  send Lopez-Sanchez to San Francisco to answer a 20 year old San Francisco warrant for selling $20 worth of pot to a city narc.  Apparently the sheriff's office never heard of statute of limitations.  Also apparently suffers from terminal stupidity.  As might be expected, all the evidence on this 20 year old charge was gone and the judge tossed the case out.   And so, the sheriff's office turned Lopez-Sanchez loose, rather than give him back to ICE. 
   The sheriff just gave a news conference on TV.  He is a weasel, spoke to confuse.  Did not say anything about requesting the Feds to turn Lopez-Sanchez over to him.  Far as the sheriff was concerned Lopez-Sanchez just appeared as if by magic. 
   The newsies are on the sheriff's case for turning Lopez-Sanchez loose.  The Feds wanted him back to deport him a sixth time.  The sheriff claims the feds gave him the wrong paperwork and the San Francisco sanctuary city law didn't let him give Lopez-Sanchez back to ICE. 
   That sheriff ought to be canned.  If the Daily Beast story is right, they ought to can him for terminal stupidity in requesting Lopez-Sanchez be turned over to him on a 20 year old minor drug arrest.   Any sheriff's department has better things to do than rake up 20 year old low level offenses.  Then he ought to canned for turning a five time loser loose on city streets instead of turning him over to ICE. 

Law enforcement whines about robust encryption

They claim that once suspects start encrypting, they cannot read their mail, or their disks.  Thus bad guys can get away with it.  Too bad.  If they actually had some evidence of wrong doing they could prosecute.  Maybe they ought to get out of their padded swivel chairs and do some investigating. 
As for myself, should I go to the trouble of encrypting my email or my disk, I'd like to to stay secret from everyone.  I don't encrypt right now, but the way the Obama administration has been acting maybe I ought to start. 

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Product Champion, Steve Jobs

So just what did Steve Jobs do for Apple?  Youngest son claims, noisily, that Jobs was not an inventor. Which is probably true, even in the early days, the key technology of the Apple II was the Mostek 6502 processor that powered it.  This clever and low cost chip was designed by Chuck Peddle, originally of Motorola and later of Mostek.  So what did Jobs do?
   Jobs saw a market for a low cost home computer.  The Apple I was so primitive as to lack case work, the product was just a bare PC board with a QWERTY keyboard.   The smash hit Apple II computer was the Apple I PC board inclosed a molded plastic case.   Jobs got this product to market, and it managed to beat out the competitors, Radio Shack and Commodore, and a few others that I no longer remember. 
   After the Apple II, Jobs went on to do Lisa, an advanced computer that didn't sell well, the Macintosh which sold very well, in fact is still on the market.  Then he did the Ipod, the Iphone, and the Ipad.  Each of these products were new, nothing like them on the market, they all sold like hotcakes.  What Jobs did was define the product, giving it features that people would pay for.  He understood the technology and the products took the technology as far as it could go, but not so far as to become unbuildable.  And he pushed the product development thru to a successful product.  
   New product development is tricky.  There are innumerable hurdles the product jump, any of which will bring the product to an untimely end.  It takes firm upper management support to keep the product moving ahead towards market.  Jobs supplied that support.  It also takes real judgement and feel for the market to determine what product will be a winner and which will be a loser.  Jobs got this delicate balance right most of the time.  Lisa was the only Steve Jobs product that didn't really work out.  All the others did, which is a remarkable record. 
   So, here's to a remarkable product champion.  We need more of them. 

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Seven Year Car Loans, On used cars?

I'm beginning to read those "buy a car from us" flyers since my poor old Mercury is rusting out.  Today's was offering mostly econo boxes for $12K and pickup trucks for $20K.  And offering seven year car loans.  Damn, that loan will last longer than the car. 
   Used to be three years was standard and four years was considered flaky.   Times are a changing.  Not sure I like this particular change.  It means the car prices are so high that people can't afford 'em unless they stretch the payments out over seven years.

No, we were not hacked

So says United Airlines, New York Stock Exchange, and the Wall St Journal.  All had their computer systems crash this morning.  United stopped flying, NYSE stopped trading, dunno what happened at the Journal.
  Noo, this was not malicious hackers.
  You can believe as much of that as you like.  

Words of the Weasel Part 44

Heard on National Progessive Radio this morning.  "sufferers from substance abuse disorder"   We used to call 'em druggies. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The Economist is Late: And Clueless

The Economist is supposed to get here on Fridays.  Didn't get here until today, Tuesday.  Cover story is about Greece.  "Europe's Future is Greeces Hands".   Real title" "We don't have a clue.  They went to press before Sunday's Greek referendum but they reported some Friday poll results hinting that the Greeks might vote yes.  Well, now it's Tuesday and we know the Greeks voted a big NO. 
   They go on to speculate that the big NO means Greece will leave/get kicked out of the Euro zone and this will bring the whole Euro zone down.  They don't say how or why.
   What might happen, is countries that need to do a little money printing to meet payroll, might bail out of the euro.  Right now the Euro is a hard currency, they don't let countries print Euro's to cover budget deficits.  The only thing a Euro zone government can do to cover budget deficits is to borrow on the Euro wide money market.  But when a country does a Greece the market stops lending to them.  Greece is demonstrating what happens when the lenders cut you off.  The banks close, the store shelves go empty, merchants stop accepting credit cards, tourists stop coming, and the economy grinds to a halt throwing everybody out of work.
   Some of the other soft countries may decide to ditch the Euro and run their own currencies.  

Monday, July 6, 2015

The Law and the Supremes

Social glue underlying Western civilization is a belief that Law exists, a body of rules to point to righteous action, and to forbid sinful action.  And the law is the same for every citizen and cannot be changed to benefit the wealthy, the powerful, and the well connected.  Except for a few criminals, people obey the law because they believe in it.  Courts and judges exist to fit the law to the specific  case before them, and to clarify vague passages. 
   In America, the first chief justice of the Supreme Court, John Marshall in the famous case of Marbury vs Madison, decided that he and his court had the right to cancel Congressional laws if they contradicted the Constitution.  We let Marshall get away with this arrogation of power,  judicial review is NOT in the Constitution. 
   This session of the Supremes has seen the concept of judicial review expanded to the creation of nationwide gay marriage, and the rewriting of Obamacare to make it more palatable.  Nowhere in the Constitution does the word marriage even appear.  Changing the plain wording of a law is a new one.  Clearly the Supremes have demonstrated that the Law is merely what they (5 of them) say it is.  This is a big step down from Moses bringing stone tablets down from Sinai, just a few unelected lawyers can now engrave anything they like on the stone tablets.
    As voters, we ought to be looking for a president who will appoint better justices than the flakes we have now.
    The other thing we ought to do, is insist that all Supreme court rulings be unanimous.  Right now we have 5 to 4 decisions, where four of the nine top lawyers in the country write dissenting opinions calling their colleagues kooks.  We would have fewer outrageous decisions if we required all nine justices put their names to them. 
    We should also remember those disastrous Supreme Court decisions.  Dred Scott triggered the Civil War.  Plessy vs Ferguson was a disgrace that dishonored Jefferson's words "All men are created equal".   The Supremes have done some good over the years, but they have also done some bad.  To see them arrogating yet more power to themselves is scary.  

Sunday, July 5, 2015

US foreign policy: No More Failed States

Most of the world's land is divided into countries. which maintain order, suppress piracy, terrorism, banditry, drug running and the operations of serious criminals.  In some places the country has failed and then really bad people set up shop and do crime.
  For example, Afghanistan.  The Russians invaded in the last 1970's which screwed the place up badly.  With US support the mujahdin fighters finally drove the Russians out in the later 1980's.  After this astounding victory, things fell apart.  The victorious mujahadin split into factions and were unable to form a government.  We Americans, now that the Russians had been bloodied, went home.  Washington lacked the stones to straighten the place out.  Civil order disintegrated, Islamic terrorists, the Taliban, took over most of the land, and Osama Bin Ladin cut a deal with the Taliban that allowed him the set up shop in the Afghan backwoods.  From this secure base, Bin Ladin planned and executed 9/11.
   Moral of the story, when the country becomes a failed state, a wild land, bad guys move in and do bad.  The East African pirates operate out of Somalia, a failed state.  ISIS operates out of the ruins of Syria and Iraq.  Conclusion: we cannot allow failed states to fester.  We have to do some thing to straighten them out before we loose more skyscrapers full of people. 

Friday, July 3, 2015

Greek Debt vs American Debt

We have one thing going for us that the Greeks don't.  We can print as much US currency as we please.  We can always pay off our creditors, we just print enough currency and hand it to them.  The Greeks cannot print Euros.  They have to find the money the old fashioned way, from taxes.  I was in Europe some years ago, back when the Euro was being invented.  Chatting with European businessmen on the train, I learned that none of them understood the power of a central bank.  When they talked about the Euro, they all liked the ability to do business across national borders, without the risks and hassles of currency exchange rates.  In the time between striking the deal, and delivery of product and getting paid, a change in the exchange rates could turn a good deal into a loosing deal, zap, just that easy.  When the deals could be done in Euro's  the currency exchange rate risk is gone.  Everyone agreed that this was a good thing.  And they all agreed that getting the Germans to run the bank was a good thing too, every European thought the Germans were good hard money men who would avoid inflating the currency. 
   None of them seemed to understand the power to print your own money, should things be a little tight around payday is awesome.  And now the Greeks are finding out, they don't have enough money to meet payroll, or make their debt payments on time, and the rest of Europe is tired of bailing them out.
   We are seeing the hurt getting laid on the citizens of Greece.  We don't know how much hurt gets laid on the rest of the EU.  The Europeans fear a massive financial meltdown.  The Americans don't see a problem.  Greece is a small fraction of the EU's GNP,  and even if they default on all their loans, it's pretty much chickenfeed compared to the total EU GNP.  The TV newsies are talking up the crisis because that's what TV newsies do. 

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Smithsonian unfair to house cats

A Smithsonian website ran this article about presence/absence of house cats and coyotes.  The gist of it is, coyotes act as a predator of house cats, and in woodland with a coyote population you don't find house cats out catching birds.  The survey is based on placing numerous camera traps in DC area parks like Rock Creek.  A real wilderness situation that. They go one to mourn about the predation by cats upon birds, which they deem as terrible.  The site links to several more anti-cat pro-bird articles.  As a cat person I am appalled.   Far as I am concerned, any bird so slow and unwary as to be caught by a cat deserves to get eaten. 
    More interesting questions, totally un addressed by the article:  How do coyotes keep the cats out of Rock Creek Park?  Do they catch them and kill them?  Do cats sense the presence of coyotes (smell perhaps?) and stay away?   Does a house cat have a chance against a coyote, perhaps by climbing trees?  For that matter did their camera traps look up at likely spots in trees?  
    Anyhow, it is clear where the Smithsonian's sympathies lie.  Good objective scientific attitude there.  Probably took their science training from the global warmists. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Economist Cover Story: "The right to die"

Sub title:" Why assisted suicide should be legal"  Must be  a slow news week.  You would think that Grexit would make a better cover story this week.  Clearly The Economist is in favor of assisted suicide.  I remember debating this topic back in high school, and that was a LONG time ago.  The arguments, pro and con, haven't changed much over all that time.  No dramatic case has been in the news lately.  I wonder what brought this well worn topic to the top of the Economist's stack this week?
   The Economist reports that things are going well in the few places that do have legal assisted suicide.  Although "well" is a somewhat subjective term.  In actual fact, assisted suicide will become legal if and when the legislatures or activist judges make it legal. 

Department of Environmental Services

Lowering water quality for fun and profit.  They been at it for years.
Yesterday Marsha Graham, our volunteer water commissioner, was going house to house, on foot, in the hot sun, delivering a two page DES nastygram.  Apparently someone detected some amount of lead in the Mittersill water some time ago.  DES was too innumerate to mention the amount of lead detected, nor the permissible amount of lead.  Like most bureaucrats, DES is offended by numbers.  They also failed to mention the name of the laboratory that performed the test, and when their equipment was last calibrated against NIST national standards. 
    Mittersill water was quite good up until a couple of years ago when DES insisted that we replace our pumphouse.  The old pumphouse had been working well for 40 years, but that wasn't good enough for DES.  They forced us to build a new pumphouse, only a couple of hundred feet from the old one.  The contractor screwed up something in building the new pumphouse, and it throws enormous amounts of plain old mud into our water, so much so that the  water runs brown from the tap.  Two years later and the water still runs brown.  It wouldn't surprise me to find that amount of mud in the water makes the test for parts per million of lead read high. 
   Other indications of scientific ignorance at DES.  They think that pH and alkalinity are different things.  They aren't, pH is an objective measurement both acidity and alkalinity. 
   Thanks again DES for all your help and support over the years.