Monday, August 31, 2015

Fantasy Naval War

This article makes-a-case/discusses  bringing back the battleship.  It's a fun idea, battleships were cool, cooler than aircraft carriers, so cool that the US Navy was still operating WWII Iowa class battleships as late as the 1980's.  The writer stresses the ruggedness, due to foot thick armor plate, of the battleship which would allow it to survive hits that sink aircraft carriers and modern surface combatants. 
   All that is cool, but the writer apparently does not understand why battleships existed and why they were so big.  The purpose of a battle ship was to bring the biggest possible guns into action.  The big guns were heavy and needed a big ship simply to float them.  The huge caliber guns were extremely lethal, a single hit would sink just about anything.  And they had range.  By WWII, the battleship guns could reach out 20 miles, and the mechanical analog fire control computers of the 1940's could even get hits at that range.
   But, a carrier's aircraft can reach out 200 miles or more, and even in the 1920's  biplane bombers could carry bombs heavy enough to penetrate decks and sink battle ships.  Ostfresland, Bismark, Prince of Wales, Repulse, Yamato, the US fleet at Pearl Harbor, the Italian fleet at Taranto , all demonstrated the power of carrier aircraft and the vulnerability of battleships. 
   Since carrier aircraft outclass the heavy gun, if I am going to spend the money for a big warship, I'm going to equip it with aircraft rather than big guns.   Plus, I can put missiles on much smaller vessels that have plenty of punch, maybe not as much as 16 inch guns, but enough punch to deal with anything afloat today.  
   All things being equal, I'd druther have a fleet of smaller cheaper vessels than one big expensive vessel.  With a fleet, I'm likely to have some combat power left after taking battle damage.  With one big ship, if the enemy gets lucky, I loose the war. 
   So, I am not ready to build 21st century battleships, even if the idea is cool. 

Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Donald is fun to watch on TV

I enjoy watching him put on a show.  He's a good showman, he has an audience, and he is going to town.  He is way ahead in the polls.  Even if he fails to get the nomination, he will still be the best known billionaire in the entire world. 
   The Donald is coming out of the business community, in fact, out of the in-your-face New York City business community.  In business the saying is "The customer is always right."  Doesn't matter that the customer offends you personally, has bad breath, bad manners, and holds with the wrong ideas.  You will take his money anyhow.   Somehow I don't think this works in politics like it does in business.  If the voters dislike you, they won't vote for you no matter what you promise to do for them. 
   As president, The Donald would go exactly no where.  He shoots off his mouth too much.  He is a bull in a china shop.  It would only take him two days to anger everyone in the country, and another two days to anger everyone over seas.  And you cannot get much done if everyone dislikes you and wants to get even with you. 

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Nut Case Control Part II

This week's tragic shooting in West Virginia, on live TV, has brought the gun controllers out again in full cry.  It ain't the guns that need control, it's the nutcases.  This shooter was a homicidal maniac.  What should have happened, probably years ago, is someone, friend, family, physician, teacher, co-worker, clergyman, someone, should have noticed the shooter was acting crazy or saying crazy things.  He should have been examined by psychiatrists, who should have identified the shooter as a dangerous nutcase, and popped him into a mental hospital.
   Obviously that didn't happen.   And the gun controllers keep yacking about guns.  It isn't guns, it's loose nut cases. 

Un selling automobiles

Been out shopping for a car.  One thing I noticed, walking thru the dealer's lots.  The model name of the car is left off the front, only appears, very small, on the trunk lid in back.  Which makes it hard to figure out what you are looking at, since the last stylist died 20 years ago and the cars all look alike.  For that matter, they leave off the maker's name too.  You gotta know the icons, the Chevy bowtie, the Honda H the Ford blue oval, the Subaru constellation and so on.   I wonder how many car buyers know them all.  I have been a car buff since childhood, and I don't know them all.  
   Compare this with the power tool business.  I'm reading about routers, and the article has a picture of a router.  The maker's name (Porter Cable) is plastered all over the tool, once on the motor, once on the base casting, and once on the baseplate.  All three names show in the photograph. 
    Teaching customers the name of your product is half the battle in marketing.  Labeling your product is a good first step. 

Friday, August 28, 2015

Graphic Novels as College Reading??

A story made it onto NPR and the blogosphere about Duke University students unhappy with the contents of a reading assignment.  They were objecting to the gay marriage portrayed in the novel.  The work was described as a "graphic novel".  Which is same-same as comic book.  Since when were comic books assigned college reading assignments?  Or is it just Duke? 
   Or is it all over?  Certainly the reading assigned to my children in middle and high school varied between bad and worse.  Perhaps college is jumping on the terrible reading list bandwagon?  Certainly those decrying the decline of the liberal arts ought to look at the literature selected for college study.  Could it be that the selected literature is so bad as to drive students away? 

You can never have too many clamps

This is a small glue up.  Biggest ones need more clamps.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Mortises by Router

The traditional methods of cutting mortises require fancy tools, or a lot of hand work with chisels and mallets.   Routers will cut nearly anything, but they are grabby.  Freehand router work is beyond my skills. Freehand, in my hands, the router wavers back and forth, cutting wavy lines.  I need  a guide for the router to cut straight lines.  To guide the router I fit a "template guide" aka schnozzle.   The schzozzle is big enough to pass the router bit clean thru itself, should the router bit contact the schozzle, bad things happen.  The outside of the schozzle  follows a wooden template.
This is a brass Porter Cable style template guide bushing (schozzle) mounted on my elderly Craftsman 1/4" router.  This clear acrylic base plate holding the guide bushing is shop made.  A 1/2" straight cutter pokes thru the schnozzle.   Here is the shop made template to guide the router in making a nice square mortise.
This is my shop made template.   The rectangular guide guide hole must be the size of the mortise, plus an allowance for the size of the schnozzle.  In this case the schnozzle is 0.75: in diameter covering a 0.50 inch cutter, so the template needs be 0.25 inches larger than the desired mortise size in both directions.  And, the template need be as thick as, or thicker than the schozzle is deep.  In this case I had to shim up my template to 5/8" to prevent the 5/8" schnozzle from getting stuck on the surface of the workpiece.  Rule: your template HAS to be thicker than the schnozzle is deep.  The bits of wood nailed to the template made a 1/2 plywood template thicker than the 5/8" schnozzle. 
And here is the final routed mortise.  Nice straight sidewalls, flat bottom.  I wanted a 0.50 inch deep mortise but settled for 0.47 inch, mostly because I didn't dare pull the cutter any further out of the chuck, lest it fly out and do evil things. 


That first hit. Why do addicts take it?

We have been having a sad increase in heroin addicts in NH.  I can understand how hard it can be to give it up once hooked.  The part I don't understand is why people take that first hit.  Surely every sentient creature on planet earth knows that a heroin habit is a life wrecker.  Everyone must have heard that word by now.  And they must believe it.  
  You would think that fear of sinking to the absolute muddy bottom of society, would make people resist taking that first step down the drain.  Surely they would stick with weed or booze before tossing their lives away with heroin addiction.  Apparently they do, but I don't understand why. 
   If we are to have effective public policies against heroin use, they need to focus on preventing people taking that first hit.  Unless we understand why people take that first hit, we won't be able to do much about preventing it.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

CCleaner works good on Windows 8.1

CCleaner  (Crap Cleaner) has been around for a long time and is quite dependable.  I've been using it since Windows 2000.   This morning  Avast anti virus perked up and gave me the "optimize your PC" pitch.  So I tried it, and Avast reported all sorts of things to fix up, but then wanted money before it would do anything. 
   So I downloaded the latest version of CCleaner (v5.09) from File Hippo and let er rip.  Took awhile but it found and zapped 6.5 Gigs of  unneeded files.  
   I ran the registry clean feature and it found and zapped a bunch of unneeded registry keys. 
Not bad.  And, FlatBeast is noticeably more lively than before, so something good happened.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Splat Splat. Market falls further

Today it looked like the NYSE might recover from Monday's 588 point fall.  About lunch time the Dow was up 350 points from opening.  Then something happened, and most of the 350 points went away, leaving the Dow about where it was Monday night (in deep doo-doo).  Shepherd Smith on Fox said a rumor of Chinese troop movements swept across the trading floor about 3 PM causing a wave of selling.  Shep said the rumor was totally unconfirmed, but it did a job on the Dow before close at 4PM.
   Wall St Journal said the overall price/earnings ratio was 25 on Thursday before the s*** hit the fan on Friday.  As of Tuesday the price earning ratio was down but only to 23 which is still high.  Historically, going back to the Civil War, price earning was about 11.  Rule of thumb used to be buy stocks with a P/E less than 12, and sell anything with a P/E above 24.   It may be that this market disaster happened when all the computer programs decided to sell 'cause the P/E was as high as it could go, why not cash in? 
   Anyhow, with an average P/E of 23, the market can go down a long long way before it gets to 11.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Legion d'Honneur for Americans suppressing Train Terrorists.

TV shows the three Americans and one Brit  accepting France's highest honor, the Legion d'Honneur from the president of France.  The Americans are wearing knit polo shirts and khaki slacks.  To my way of  thinking, they should have been wearing coat and tie for such a ceremony.  We were required to wear coat and tie merely to go to dinner at my old prep school, let alone receive the Legion d'Honneur.  Oh well, they are heroes, and they make me proud to be an American. 

Splat. Market falls

The Dow Jones took a 500 point drop on Friday.  The market opened this morning and it dropped another 900 points in the first 10 minutes of trading. 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Securing the Border

Everybody is in favor.  Nobody has spelled out just what they mean.  The Donald wants Mexico to pay for it.  Nobody has estimated the cost.  
   Let's ignore the problem of people who just drive up to a border checkpoint, show some paper work and drive on thru.  And neglect to go home.   That's another problem for another day.  I'm talking about preventing people walking or driving across the 1900 mile border that stretches from San Diego to Brownsville. 
   For me, I'd settle for a regulation chain link fence from sea to shining sea, backed up with a dirt road on our side of the fence, a few hundred yards back, to allow for jeep patrols.  And air surveillance, by two place light aircraft, say Cessna 172's.  No trendy but pricey drones, helicopters, electronics, camera's, and other welfare for contractors.  The fence stops vehicles, or at least the hole in the fence tells you someone crashed thru it.  The air reconnaissance spots people on the move and calls for agents to drive out and arrest them. 
  Costs for fence.  We need 1900 miles of chain link fence.  That's 10 million feet.  I haven't priced fence lately, but I bet you could put it up for $10 a foot.  So $100 million for the fence.  Guess that the road (dirt, just good enough to get thru with a jeep) might cost the same.   Buy twenty light aircraft at $100,000 apiece ($2 million)  and you could fly over every part of the fence every hour.   Let's assume the current ICE force can handle the arresting and patroling with their current appropriation. 
   So, we are talking  maybe $202 million startup costs.  Lets assume the ICE budget can handle manpower and maintenance. 
   Gee, we haven't every gotten to a $ billion yet.  "A billion here, a billion there and pretty soon you are talking about real money" said Everett Dirksen a long time ago.  So far we only have a fifth of a billion.  Long way to go before we are talking real money. 

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Warming Weirdness

Long discussion on my Facebook page about global warming and what causes it.  Two theories were advanced.  First theory is the Sun causes it. Second theory was "Chemtrails" .  Neither theory is worth a hoot.
  First let's talk about the Sun.  It's a huge fusion reactor, and it's perfectly conceivable that the reaction sometimes runs fast and sometimes runs slow.  From the ground it's hard to measure solar output, because your instruments are looking up thru clouds and air and stuff which comes and goes.  About forty years ago the first satellite equipped to measure solar output ("the solar constant") was launched. That first satellite wore out years ago, but others were launched.  Out on the Internet you can find plots of solar output from all the satellites going right back to the very first one.  The Sun is putting 1350 watts per square meter onto the top of the atmosphere.  And, that number hasn't changed over forty years.  The instruments are quite sensitive, you can actually eyeball the plots and see the 11 year sunspot cycle.  Solar output varies by maybe 10 watts (out of 1350)  from sunspot minumum to sunspot maximum.  But, try as you might, you cannot see any long term slope to the curves, they run flat across the graph, with only a little 11 year ripple from the sunspots. 
    Granted, if we keep watching for a much longer time, 400 or 4000 years, instead of the mere 40 years, we might be able to see a rise or fall in solar output.  But using the best measurements we have this year, we can say the solar output is very steady.  Unless we can measure a change in solar output (which we cannot) I cannot believe the sun as anything to do with global warming. 
   And then we come to "chemtrails"  Those long white streaks that trail behind jet airliners.  Flyers call them condensation trails or contrails for short.  You have all seen them.  Apparently some people think the streaks are mysterious chemicals deliberately sprayed into the air for nefarious purposes.  Actually, they are just water vapor formed when kerosine is burned in the engines.  Burn kerosine in air, and you get water vapor and carbon dioxide.  When the air temperature is right, the water vapor condenses and you can see it.
   Some years ago, Bob Guida, an airline pilot of my  acquaintance was campaigning for public office up here.  Someone asked him about "chemtrails" at a meeting.  The questioner said the chemtrails were deliberately produced.  "Not on my airline." was Bob's answer.
   I spent six years in the Air Force, working on the flight line, and I can assure you that no Air Force aircraft ever had any equipment for production of "chemtrails" anywhere on board.  The "chemtrail" idea is a joke, on a par with flying saucers. 
    So, the solar theory and the "chemtrail" theory are wrong.  If global warming is still happening (global temperature has been steady for the last 19 years)  something else is causing it. 

Friday, August 21, 2015

Carly Fiorina impresses

She gave a town hall event in Littleton last night.  The place was full, standing room only, 150-200 people.  Carly is a really good speaker, and the audience was behind all her words.  A lotta of NH professional politicians showed up.  I would call it a successful event for Carly.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Electronic is insecure

We had the Target Stores hack a couple of years ago.  We had the Bradley Manning hack of the Army and State Dept also a couple of years ago. We had the Edmund Snowdow hack of CIA.   We had the Office of Personnel Management hack last month.  We have the IRS hack this week.   We have the Ashley Madison hack this week.  The lesson to me is that electronic data bases are insecure.  Either a hacker coming in over the net, or a disloyal employee, and everything fits into a thumbdrive and and gets posted on the net. 
   Thanks Obama for ordering my medical records made electronic.  I'm sure they will be hacked in a year or two.  If they haven't already been. 
   As for email, that's so insecure that classified matter should never be emailed.  For that matter, high government officials (like Hillary) should never use email.  Every intelligence agency in the world wants to know what the Americans are thinking about, planning, doing.  Take a clue from Osama bin Laden who gave up on phones and high tech and ran his operations by couriered messages, which is what kept him alive for so many years. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Bernie Sanders

He is making waves with democrats.  If Hillary flames out, Bernie might get the democratic nomination.  With luck, a Republican will be able to beat Bernie in the general election.  But don't count on it.  Last two times the democrats ran a far left screwball and he won.
  Trouble with Bernie, is he is a socialist (we used to call 'em communists).  He dislikes business and corporations, and he sees his duty to raise their taxes, regulate them more, and support unions.   Bernie stands for a war on business. 
   Which is shooting the country in the foot.  Business generates all the wealth that we enjoy.  Business employs most Americans, pays their health insurance, and pours forth a flood of product to fill the shelves of every store in the land.  Making life harder for business (an Obama specialty) just makes us all poorer.   Presidents should be thinking up ways to make things better for business, not worse. 
   Bernie does not understand that government is a drag on the economy.  Government spends a lot of money, money taken from citizens, but does not create any wealth.  Every dollar sucked into government makes us all poorer.  Dollars that should have been spent by individuals to improve their lives, or by business for economic growth.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Robert A Heinlein vs Andre Norton

There is a brouhaha going in the science fiction community, surrounding the Hugo awards.  The Hugo is a top award, given to the truly top drawer authors.  According to the flak coming out of the combat zone, the Hugo's used to be controlled by a New York publishing house,  Baen Books if I remember aright.  A movement in fandom arose to take over control of the Hugos and cut the Baen people out of it.  Sides were taken, flames were posted.  I am far enough from ground zero that I don't really know who is who and what is what, and the merits of either side.  But the fireworks are fun to watch.
   A long internet ramble got diverted into comparing Robert A. Heinlein with Andre Norton as writers.  I'm familiar with both writers, having encountered both of them them in grade school.  Liked both, have read all, or nearly all the books they ever published.  I was a little surprised to see all the comparisons.  I always thought Heinlein was the better writer of the two.  Heinlein's stories were always new and different, he seldom repeated a story, where Norton's stories were pretty much all coming of age stories with very young protagonists.  Heinlein invented strong new characters for each story and seldom reused them in later stories.  Friday, Oscar Gordon, Johnny Rico, Podkayne, Manny Davis, Michael Valentine Smith, and many others were all unique, interesting, but only appeared in one book and were replaced by other characters in later books.  Andre's character was pretty much the same book after book.  She gave him/her a new name in the new book, but as a reader I knew this character pretty well, he/she never did anything to surprise me. 
   And, a lot of people sign their Internet posts with Heinlein quotes.  I don't remember seeing any Norton quotes out there.
   Thus endeth today's bit of trivia.  

Monday, August 17, 2015

Obama's Iran nuclear deal

So what does the United States get out of this deal?  The Iranians get a lot, they get $150billion in assets unfrozen, they get to sell oil on the world market, and use the global banking system to pay for stuff they buy and sell.   They get the US and its allies to lift other economic sanctions. 
  What do we get out of the deal?   I haven't even heard the Iranians promise not to build a bomb.  They still hold American hostages.   The IAEC gets to inspect some sites, after a 24 day warning period. 
   This deal is not a treaty.  If it's not a treaty, then we are not bound by it, the next administration could denounce it.  I assume that same thing applies to the  Iranians.  Since it is not a treaty, they are not bound by it either. 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Reduce income inequality, Get the Economy growing again.

Loosing your job makes your income as unequal as it can get.  Get the economy to grow again, and hiring will pick up.  Just giving jobs to the unemployed will do more to reduce income inequality than anything else anyone can do. 
   Bernie Saunders is whining about income inequality but doesn't say what he plans to do about it.  I bet Bernie wants to pass a soak the rich tax.  It will punish people he dislikes, and give him more money to spend on free stuff.
   I think we would do more good by getting the economy growing again.  Build Keystone XL pipeline.  Reform corporate taxes to complete with the rest of the world.  Right now US tax is far higher than places like Britain, Mexico, Canada, and others.  US companies are just picking up stakes and moving overseas to get themselves a solid tax break.  Permit export of US crude oil, and in fact everything except maybe nuclear weapons.  Lease federal land for oil exploration.  Stop raiding places like Gibson Guitar on trumped up charges.  Drop the war on coal.  Sort out Wall St deals between investment for economic growth and plain old gambling.  Tax the bejesus out of the gambling deals. Repeal all federal regulations passed over the last few years. 

Scary Sharp works good

Doing woodwork as I do, I do quite a bit of sharpening of chisels and plane irons and the like.  For years, I did the obvious thing, use an oil stone, with a drop of 3 in 1 oil on it.  It's a synthetic silicon carbide stone with a coarse side and a fine side.   I never got into the mystic of natural Arkansas stones or Japanese waterstones  or Tormek machines, all of which get a lot of coverage in the enthusiast press.
    I just did pick up on the Scary Sharp technique.  This does away with stones and recommends using sandpaper, stuck down on a piece of glass.  And it works.  You can get some really fine sandpaper, 600 grit and finer, often from an auto parts store.  I stuck a piece of 600 grit down on a piece of glass and gave it a whirl.  I lubricated the sand paper with a few drops of water.  A little polishing takes all the scratches off the edge and gives it a nice shine.  And the tools do cut better. 
   I now make three passes on a tool, once on the coarse side of the oilstone, one on the fine side of the  oilstone, and the last pass on the 600 grit sandpaper.  I suppose I could use a few more grades of sand paper and omit the stones completely, but I don't see the point.  The 600 grit is close to stropping, which requires a thick leather pad or strop, charged with some really fine grit abrasive.  Local stores up here don't carry strops or the abrasive, but they do carry sandpaper.

   I have a bench grinder but I only use that for really heavy duty blade reshaping, say grinding out a nick.  Or on lathe chisels which get really worn down doing lathe work. 

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Extraordinarily ugly fashion ad.

The Saturday WSJ comes in extra thick, due to a huge slick paper fashion magazine tucked inside.  It's 3/8 inch thick and weighs about a pound.  Hefty it is.  Back cover has a really truly ugly ad.  The model is one of those rail thin stick figures.  She is modeling a skirt suit, jacket plus mini skirt, made from a "super tweed" synthetic fabric in brown and black, extra nubbly.  Her face is OK but her expression  is off putting.  Her stance is weird, and awkward.  She has her legs spread wide, and her hands are clasped in front of her crotch. And she is wearing black combat boots.  And her handbag is a cartoon.   Louis Vuitton "Series 3"
   What sort of woman would buy that outfit, let alone appear in public wearing it?

Friday, August 14, 2015

Buying a laptop with the WSJ

It was one of those Wall St Journal lifestyle articles.  Mentioned favorite laptop brands.  The mac books got top rating at $2000 or so.  After nattering on for half a page, the closing advice was to pay at least $600 for a laptop to avoid unspecified problems.   I chuckled to myself.  I got my HP Pavilion for $300 down at Staples 6 months ago.  Works fine, keyboard has decent touch and feel.  Bags of room on hard drive, runs Firefox, Office, Picassa, Orcad, C++ compiler, and other stuff just fine.  I'm not a gamer so I don't stress the processor much.
   Anyhow, I'm thinking that particular WSJ column was more sales pitch for pricey laptops than real practical advice

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Environmental Pollution Agency Spill

I hear the EPA administrator wringing her hands on TV about the spill.  Not a word about finding the person[s] responsible and firing them. 
    According to the Wall St Journal all that soup had been sitting in that mine, not hurting anything for better than 100 years.  EPA brought in a backhoe to clear away the opening to the mine, and knocked down a dam that have been holding the soup inside the abandoned mine, letting it flood into the river.

Improving Display readability in Windows 8,1

Windows 8 specializes in hard to read displays.  The text is faint and low contrast, and hard to read even until ideal lighting.  Micro$oft in its wisdom decided to omit a display contrast control, or at least hide it so deep that I haven't found it yet.
   Some inprovement can be had in an obscure place.  Go to control panel.  Select "Display". Select Calibrate Color.  Go thru the song and dance.  At the end select "Text Tuner.  Go thru the Text Tuner song and dance.  And the end I found my text a little darker and clearer, a worthwhile improvement.  Nearly as good a good old Trusty Desktop running XP. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Lack of women in tech caused by lack of math

This article claims that girls don't take enough math in middle school and high school to take a STEM major in college.  I can believe this.  The Science Technology Engineering Math (STEM) fields all require calculus.  You cannot understand the STEM courses unless you know calculus, the homework problems are calculus based,  the explanations of how things work and what's going on won't make sense to you unless you have taken integral calculus first semester of your freshman college year. 
   To take calculus in college , you need a fair amount of math before you get to college.  You must have algebra, probably two years of algebra, and a year of trigonometry.  A year of plane geometry is very helpful although not mandatory. 
   If you get to college without the necessary algebra and trig, it will take you two years (four semesters) to pick it up, by which time you are a junior.  Which is too late usually to take a STEM major, most of which start in sophomore year. 
   The big attraction of STEM majors, is they make you truly employable,  upon graduation, and for the rest of your life, unlike majors in political science, art history, sociology, and any kind of  ethnic or gender "studies".   STEM majors are fun, the subjects  have right answers that can be proven to be right, and not subject to the political whims of the professor.  They offer understanding of the real world, as opposed to the ivory tower world of academia.   You don't want to lock your self out of a STEM major at age 15, before you have clue as to what you want to be when you grow up. 
   So take the necessary math in high school and middle school.  Keep your options open. 
   Back when I was in high school, the girls were always ahead of the boys in math classes.  There is no gender based math incapacity.  Math is not hard, and you don't have to memorize very much to do well in it. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Hillary has a plan to make college affordable

Hillary wants to have tax payers subsidize college education even more heavily than they do now.   Maybe another $350 billion.  To be paid for with by a soak-the-rich tax. 
I got a better plan.
First.  Lay off all college administrators except perhaps one (1) college president per college.  The administrators don't  contribute to student education, they just collect their pay.
Second.  Lay off all the janitors and buildings and grounds workers.  Students can sweep the halls, set the tables, clear the tables, wash the dishes, mow the grass, shovel the snow, sweep the gym, clean the lavatories, and do any campus chores that don't require a professional engineer license.  Students do this in return for getting an education, they don't get paid in cash.
Third.  Colleges are  required to pay off the student loans of any and all students who fail to graduate.  The admissions office should not admit students who won't be able to hack the curriculum just to take their student loan money.  No degree, no tuition money. 

Do US military officers need college degrees?

Op Ed piece in today's Wall St Journal.  Probably not, the author says.  Mostly because a 2015 college degree isn't worth much he says.  He goes on to reccomend promoting successful enlisted men to officer rank.
   I did ROTC in college and then put in six years on active duty in USAF.  In those days we had a fair number of "mustang" officers, guys who started out as enlisted men and then went thru OCS and got commissioned.   It was generally accepted that a mustang officer was as good as any and better than most, and we needed more of them.  
  Of course, after achieving a commission, the mustangs mostly started working on a college degree via correspondence courses and night school.  The WSJ writer may have his doubts about the need for a college degree, but the mustang officers had no such doubts.
   The real and effective leadership of the troops came from the non-commissioned officers, the sergeants.  These men were all senior enlisted men, who had decided they liked the service, and after re enlisting, they had the experience gained on their first hitch, they knew their jobs, and knew the mission better than anyone else on base.  As a company grade officer,  I had to win the confidence of the unit NCO's to get any thing done.  This was not unduly difficult, the NCO's were always overjoyed to find a company grade officer who they could trust, and who would go to bat for them in hassles with other base organizations, (supply, base civil engineering, personnel, maintenance control, etc).   Success as a company grade officer was largely based on interpersonal skills.  In my case I drew more heavily upon things learned at Quaker prep school than upon things learned at college.  The benefit of doing college before going in the service was simply that as a 22 year old college graduate I was more effective than I had been as an 18 year old high school graduate. 

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Alternate Energy hikes my electric bill

I'm talking wind and solar here.  Solar stops every day when the sun goes down.  Wind stops when the wind stops blowing, something that happens a lot around here.  Both solar and wind only work when the utilities are forced by law to pay the producers top rates for any juice they may generate, when the sun is up or the wind is blowing.  When the sun goes down, or the wind stops blowing, the utility has to have enough real power plants to carry the entire electrical load on their system.
   The major cost to the utility is paying off the bonds used to build the power plant in the first place.  Consider a new nuclear plant.  Those cost about $6 billion to construct.  The utility has to float $6 billion in 20 year bonds.  Suppose the interest rate is 6%.  That means the utility has to make $480 million a year debt service payments on their shiny new plant.  That's a lot of money.  And they have to make debt payments whether to plant is running or not. 
   A plant like that will produce a gigawatt of electricity, which can be sold for 8 cents a kilowatt hour.  Which works out to $ 700,800,000 a year income.   So, assuming the plant runs 24/7,  and debt service is paid, the plant owners have only $220,800,000 per year to pay all other costs, labor, maintenance, fuel rod changes, compliance with government paperwork, everything.  In short, the debt service is the major cost of producing electricity.  And debt service has to be paid whether the plant is running or not.  Harry Homeowner's generation may save a little fuel, but that's chicken feed compared to the debt service.
   So when Harry Homeowner puts his solar cells on the grid, and gets paid top dollar by the utility, he doesn't save the utility any money.  He doesn't reduce the major cost, debt service by so much as a nickel.  In fact, he costs the utility.  Which raises my electric bill.  Which is too damn high already.  Which is why New Hampshire has a cap on the number of home alternate energy "net metering" permits allowed.
  NHPR was on this the other morning.  Most of the net metering permits have been issued.  Which means new alternate energy installations won't get paid by the utility.  Which means they are pure money losers to Harry Homeowner.  So the alternate energy companies are lobbying the legislature to raise the net metering cap.  Do that enough and you can drive more industry out of the state. 

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Chris Christy vs Rand Paul

They got into a shouting match on the Thursday night TV debate over cell phone surveillance.   Rand Paul insisted that investigators need to get a court issued search warrant before the telephone company would turn over  phone records.  Christy wants to continue current practice by which NSA scarfs up all the phone records of every one and keeps them for ever.  Christy claimed the current system is crucial for security. 
   On this issue I find myself siding with Rand Paul, even though I have serious reservations about a lot of things Paul says.  When I think of a future Lois Lerner going over my telephone records, identifying those I called, and scheduling them for IRS audits, I get very scared.  I am an extremely low level Republican party official, I serve on a town committee in a small town, which is as close to the bottom as you can get.  That future Lois Lerner would have to be out of her head to bother about me and my friends, 'cause we are too small to be worth it, especially when there are bigger and more important targets to be hit.  Like my US rep, my senator, my governor. 
  But, I don't like the idea of democrats getting access to phone records.  They could easily find and harass every Republican in the state.  They may say that NSA would never let the democrats into the phone records.  And you can believe as much of that as you like.  I would feel a lot safer if the phone records were not kept on everyone.
   Investigators ought to go before a judge, a real judge not that rubber stamp  Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA), and show a real cause to snoop the phone records.  If the judge goes along with the investigators, he issues a search warrant, the investigators take the warrant to the phone company, and the phone company causes its computer to print out the suspects phone records.  We stop the NSA bulk collection of every phone call made in the USA (and over most of the world as well)  This matter is currently before the courts, lower courts have ruled one way, appeals courts have ruled the other way, and the matter has yet to make it to the Supremes. 

Friday, August 7, 2015

Good Show

I watched it.  Started at 5 with the lower tier.  They done good.  Watched the varsity at 9.  They done good.  The Fox crew had good questions, did followup, and were a helova lot more professional than the major network newsies were last time.  Give Fox one attaboy. 
   They opened the major event asking everyone if they would support the party nominee and not go third party.   The Donald said no.  That drew boos from the audience.  Upon cross examination, The Donald stood by his words.  That might have been the biggest bombshell of the night.  And it forbodes trouble in the general election.  There is a good chance The Donald won't get the nomination.  If he runs as a third party it will most likely tip the election to the democrats.  That's what third party runs have done in the past, starting with Teddy Roosevelt's Bull Moose effort that put Woodrow Wilson into the White House.
    Carly Fiorina, although relegated to the minor league, really really looked and sounded good.  She had a doozy of a zinger for The Donald.  She speaks well, speaks of substance rather than vagueness, comes across as sharp, balanced, and fair.   

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Foreign Policy experience, or lack theref

You hear it every day.  "So and so has not foreign policy experience."  This slam is most often leveled at domestic politicians, governors say, as a way of saying "He can't be a good president".    Usually it's a newsie using this slam on a Republican. 
   Actually, a president of the US can call upon every experienced person in the entire country to be in his cabinet, give him advice, or join his administration.  Eisenhower had John Foster Dulles for secretary of state, Nixon had Henry Kissinger.  Truman had John Marshall.  George W. Bush had Colin Powell.  FDR had Cordell Hull.
   First of all, foreign policy is very similar to domestic politics.  Deal cutting, figuring out what they really want, and what they might settle for.  Assessing foreign leaders, is this guy trustworthy or will he stab me in the back just for grins?  These considerations are the same for domestic politics as for foreign relations.  Anyone with the political skills to get elected president will be pretty sound on this sort of thing. 
   The real question:  Does this presidential candidate have the necessary people skills to pick good cabinet officers and advisers?  Can this candidate tell the Henry Kissingers (who knew what he was doing) from the John Kerrys (who really doesn't know what he is doing). Does the presidential candidate have the managerial savvy to avoid micromanaging everything, and get out of the way and let the secretary of state and/or the national security adviser do his job without being nitpicked to death?
   So, when I hear a newsie (democrat with byline) slamming a Republican for lack of foreign policy experience  (or any other kind of experience) I don't take him seriously

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Pageview spikes

Every so often I look at the page view counts (traffic counts or hits) on this blog.  Naturally I get a good warm feeling as traffic increases over time.   Right now I get maybe 70 hits on an ordinary day.  Then there are extraordinary days where I get a spike of 250 hits, all in a short period of time.  I'm guessing that the spikes are not real readers, but computer programs sampling my blog perhaps to index my posts into search engines or perhaps some unknown reason. 

WaPo declares colesterol OK to eat

Attention grabbing headline in WaPo, seen on the internet.   Sounds good to me, I like my fried eggs and bacon same as anybody else.  Fairly long article.  But, they don't describe any evidence in favor of their brand new view on diet.  I expect claims like this to came from patient studies or biochemical experiments or statistical work or something.  Some numbers would be nice.  The lengthy WaPo article fails to offer any solid evidence for their position.  They quote a lot of people saying it is so, but nothing to back the sayers up.  Opinions are fine, everyone has one, but opinions ain't science. 
   Does this lack of science in the article reflect the real world (like there is no evidence) or does it reflect the ignorance of WaPo reporters?

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

New Hampshire TV debate

So I watched it.  This one was organized by the Union Leader.  One Union Leader reporter did all the interviewing.  He called each candidate up on stage, one by one, and asked a few questions.  The questions weren't bad, better than back in 2012.  The candidates did not get a chance to speak to each other, it was strictly one on newsie interviewing. 
   Trump didn't come. 
   Nobody made a gaffe.  They all looked good, sounded good, gave perfectly reasonable answers.  Nobody looked much different from all the others.  Nobody announced any substantive policy. 
   Actually, the reason we watch these things is the same reason people go to bullfights.  If someone is going to get gored, we don't want to miss it.  Well, nobody got gored last night, so much for seeing blood flow. 
   On to Fox on Thursday night. 

Monday, August 3, 2015

Everything takes forever to do

Happy home hobby crafting to you.   I had a sticky closet door.  Been sticky for years.  But under my New Year's resolution to do something nice for the house everyday, I figured it was time to fix this sticky door.
    Right.  Plan A, take the hinge pins out, carry the door down to the shop and plane it down to fit. Keeps the sawdust and plane shavings in the shop, rather than all over the bedroom.  So, I took a punch and a hammer to drive out the hinge pins.   Surprise, the damn hinge pins would not budge.  I broke the punch trying to drive them out. 
   Right, move on to Plan B,  use my ancient belt sander to sand down the door in place, spreading sanding dust far and wide across the bedroom. 
  Step 1, change the sanding belt from a fine grit, used to sharpen knives, to a coarse grit to cut rapidly thru softwood.  OK, I remembered the trick to loosen to belt, push hard on the front roller and it will lock into a retracted position and the old belt comes off.
 Step 2.  Could not for the life of me remember the trick to unlock the front roller and tension the belt for use.   Got on the internet and wasted an hour looking for the manualon the sander.  No joy.  But I did stumble across some one who said the trick to unlock the roller was to whack it with  a hammer.  That actually worked. 
Step 3.  Get a kitchen chair to stand on to hold the sander to the top of the door.  Give it some juice, and lo and behold, it cuts.  And  the door actually closes for the first time in many years. 
Step the last.  Return all the tools to the shop.  Vacuum up the sawdust.  Vacuum down all the cobwebs in the corners of the room.  And so, another home project is done.  Damn this is tiresome.  

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Words of the Weasel Part 44

"Holistic"   nice sounding but meaningless adjective applied to all sorts of things.  "A holistic approach" is a favorite usage.   Figure that user's of "holistic" don't really know what they are talking about. 

Saturday, August 1, 2015

The gun doesn't work, but the F35 is combat ready

The Marines announced that the first 12 aircraft F35 squadron is now combat ready.   There is a long list of technical problems, needed software upgrades, but the Marines say that what they have is good enough to fly combat.  Nothing was said about the engine flex problem.  When the F35 pulls Gs the whole engine flexes, allowing the compressor blades to rub on the engine casing.  One F35 was destroyed in the resulting engine fire.  They didn't say, but I suspect they have limited the amount of G the aircraft can pull.  The gun is supposed to start working after some more software upgrades.