Saturday, October 31, 2015

Obama dispatches two platoons to Syria

Fifty men, allegedly all Special Forces, ain't much in any scheme of things.  It ain't enough to make a difference in Syria.  To hear to lefties and the isolationists wailing on TV,  you would think Obama had done something serious like declaring WWIII.
   I wish our men well.  I don't think 50 guys can accomplish anything much.  To do Syria right would take a full armored division, say 10,000 men, a lotta tanks and APC's, and air supremacy.   With that, we could depose Assad, push the Russians out, establish a decent government of our choosing. and destroy ISIS or drive them out of the country.
   To win WWII we mobilized a hundred divisions.  Seventy years later, we ought to be able to mobilize just one.

College Paperpushers should not be trying cases of rape.

First of all, let's talk rape, a serious crime, a felony.  It's not "sexual assault" which can be anything the girl doesn't like.  Rape used to be a capital offense, subject to the death penalty.  Crime doesn't get more serious than that
   Now let's look at college administrators.  No legal training, no practical experience outside the ivory tower, and most of them true believers in various weird ideologies.  Do you want your son's future, his career, at the mercy of this kind of loser? 
  No way.  The police and the courts are the proper place to try cases of rape.  The courts have safeguards for defendants, some of them going back in time to Richard the Lion Heart.  They have been in business longer than any college.  They are fairer than any kangaroo court run by college administrators. 
   A girl who has been raped should go to the police.  If she goes to college administrators, they should be required to send her to the police.  They ought to offer transportation to the police station as well

Friday, October 30, 2015

Where can I see the next Republican TV Debate?

Word is that Fox Business News gets the next debate in November, like maybe 10 November.   Time Warner Cable doesn't carry Fox Business News up here in the wildlands.  Hell, they don't even carry CSpan up here.  Anyone know how I can watch the next debate?  I have cable, and broadband.  Any ideas?

Cyber Security Law, just passed Senate

After the horrible hacks lately the Congresscritters have decided to DO SOMETHING.  It is unclear just what they are doing, the newsies haven't talked much about it, but it sounds like a deal to allow companies and the government to cooperate, share information about hacks and attacks with out fear of prosecution for collaboration and price fixing.  We now have a House version, and a Senate version in need of "reconciliation" (quick rewrite to make them both the same) and Obama says he will sign it. 
   I suppose it's worthy, although I'd like to know what it really says, how many pages, and what damaging little clauses got tucked into the darker corners. 
   It isn't what we need.
   We need to close the gaping holes in Windows that allow any hacker, even grade school hackers, to take over Windows computers, remotely from the Internet, and suck every thing off them.  Microsoft deliberately created these vulnerabilities with the idea of increasing sales.  We need somebody or some organization to publicize these gaping holes and create public pressure on Microsoft to close them.
   Number one gaping hole is a Windows feature (bug?) called autorun.  Autorun has been causing trouble since Windows 95.  Autorun makes music CD's inserted in the drive start to play, automatically, hands off, no keystrokes or mouse clicks needed.  That part isn't too dangerous, but the dark side of Autorun loads and starts any code found on the CD.  When USB and flashdrives came along, autorun was extended to load and run any code found on a flash drive.  Just insert a flashdrive into a USB port, and zap, the machine is infected.  Autorun spread the Stuxnet virus in Iran.  Agents merely tossed a few flashdrives into the parking lots at Iranian nuclear facilities.  Iranian workers saw them, picked them up, took them into work, plugged them into their computers, and Zap Bang, the Stuxnet virus started blowing up Iranian centrifuges.  Set the Iranian nuclear program back a year or more. 
  Number 2 gaping hole is the Basic interpreters built into all the Micosoft Office products.  Basic is a full powered computer language.  Malicious Basic programs can be inserted into Office documents (Word .doc and Excel .xls files) and Word or Excel will execute them.  Worse, if you click on such an Office document attached to an email, Windows starts up Word or Excel and passes the attachment in.  Bam you are infected.
   Until we force Microsoft to close these two gaping security holes, we will continue to get hacked.  These aren't the only holes in Windows, but they are the worst ones that I know of.  And Microsoft can close them, in an afternoon.  All Microsoft needs is some incentive to pull up its socks. 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Had a debate watch party last night.

Well, nobody self destructed.  Everybody did well except the CNBC moderators who were terrible, half way thru the candidates started chewing out the CNBC people.  The opening question "What is your biggest weakness" is an old goofy job interview question intended to shake up a less than quick thinking applicant.  These guys are all pretty quick thinking and smoothly sequed into what ever they wanted to say.  Everyone made a clear distinction between them and the Dems. 
   Having people over makes the thing more watchable, keeps you awake, Need to do that more often. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Bambi overload

Some town in Oregon is over run with deer.  The deer are bullying pedestrians, intimidating dogs, and eating everything green, hedges, ornamental shrubs, gardens, lawn, you name it.  The residents were on TV whining about how terrible things are.
   Obvious solution, have deer hunt.  Low cost, hunters bring their own guns, and will even pay for the privilege.
   Nooo, can't do that.  It's killing Bambi, and that's evil. It's murder. 
   So suffer until you wise up, Oregon town.  We don't have that problem in NH, we have a deer season.

Northrup Grumman awarded the Long Range Strike Bomber (LRS-B) contract

100 aircraft at $550 million each, $80 billion overall contract.  It's broken down somewhat.  Phase 1 pays $21.4 billion and Northrup will deliver 21 aircraft.  Then subsequent phases will buy another 79 aircraft.  Looking at the over all contract for 100 aircraft they estimate the cost at $511 million each, and there is a cap of $550 million.  Assume cost enhancements push the cost right up to the cap.  That looks like $55 billion for deliverable aircraft and $25 billion for non-recurring engineering.  That's best case.  Aircraft to become operational in 2025.  Let's see if USAF has pulled up its socks enough to award a contract and not have it disputed in court.  Lockheed Martin was the other bidder, they have plenty of lawyers to challenge a contract award.
   This comes from the Wall St Journal, and it also made NPR.  No discussion of LRS-B performance, range, speed, payload, radar cross section.  The Journal suggested that the LRS-B mission would be strategic nuclear strike against Russia or China. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

So what's wrong with the the Ex-Im Bank?

Ex-Im has been around since the Roosevelt administration.  It borrowed money on the good credit of the United States, , and loaned the money to foreigners to buy US built products.  It returned a modest profit on each deal to the US treasury.  It surely boosted exports at no cost to the taxpayer.  Export mean jobs.
   Granted, the main beneficiaries were big companies like Boeing and Caterpillar.
    So?  They are US companies, employing US union labor.  All that is good.  I see no reason why the US government should not support US industry.  Industry creates jobs, and that deserves support.

Camelot, The TV series

It came out on Starz back in 2011.  I don't pay for payTV channels, so I saw it for for first time from a Netflix disc last night.  Which makes it a little old.  Being an old King Arthur fan, I had high hopes for this one. 
   Disappointing.  First it suffers from the curse of the soundman.  Much of the dialogue is inaudible, lost under the score, or the actors mumble, or the mike isn't placed right. Then it's hard to tell the characters apart, they all wear the same hairdo's and the same clothes.  I failed to distinguish Morgan Le Faye (villain) from Ygraine (goodguy) several times.  King Lot (villain) looks pretty much like Sir Kay (goodguy).  Arthur, the only blonde guy in this thing, is at least distinct in appearance.   
   The story starts around the end of "The Sword in the Stone" with a young Arthur pulling the sword from the stone and being acclaimed King of the Britons.  Jamie Bower is an unsatisfactory Arthur.  Although he looks the right age for the part, he isn't very handsome, he doesn't get any memorable lines (thanks scriptwriters),  his costume doesn't help him (huge fur trimmed cape with broaches the size of saucers), and he never does anything very heroic. Even in the climatic scene pulling the sword from the stone he never looks heroic.  He never displays the commanding presence that makes knights and warlords do his bidding.  In most scenes Merlin is obviously pushing Arthur into position on stage, and giving him his lines to say.

Monday, October 26, 2015

WHO goes there!

WHO == World Health Organization, although the TV newsies didn't say so.  WHO announced that processed meat causes cancer.  Actually they were not that straight forward, they said that eating processed meat increases your risk of cancer.  By-by hot dogs, bacon, ham, breakfast sausage, BLT's, bacon and eggs, bangers and mash, lotta good comfort food. 
Of course, the TV newsies did not bother to say HOW MUCH your cancer risk was increased  by eating stuff that has been part of our diet since prehistoric times.  Nor did they give any evidence, studies, biochemistry, anything of substance.  We peasants are expected to believe anything the TV newsies dish out to us without proof.  Like global warming. 

War is Hell, Combat is worse.

Apparently the Obama people are having trouble with the word :"combat".  Master Sgt Wheeler was killed in action against an armed enemy of the United States.  This is a Master Sgt, nearly 20 years in the Army, kind of guy who knows all the answers, an old pro, it's not some 18 year old private who doesn't know enough to come in out of the rain. Sgt Wheeler knew what he was doing. 
   Let the Dem pencil necks quibble about words.  I mourn the loss of an American fighting man. 

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Tactical lessons from the US Civil War

Defense always wins.  That's the lesson.  In most of the great battles of the Civil War, Fredricksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Antietam, Chickamauga, one side got there first, dug in, and awaited assault.  The offensive side would give enemy lines as much artillery fire as possible, and then send the infantry forward.  The new rifle-muskets of that year could reach out a couple of hundred yards and get hits.  The assaulting infantry had to cover the last two hundred yards under accurate fire.  In all cases, the defenders shot so many attackers down that they no longer had the numbers to win the hand-to-hand bayonet struggle for possession of the trench line.  Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg is the classic example, but there were plenty of others. 
   Grant was the only Civil War general who seemed to understand this.  Grant's decisive victories, Island Number 10, Shiloh, and Vicksburg were all won by maneuver, rather than bloody frontal assault.
    This tactical lesson held true thruout WWI.  Few European generals had read much about the US Civil War. 

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Does Government funded R&D pay off?

Matt Ridley, writing in the Wall St Journal today says "No it doesn't."  As a retired engineer, who spent forty years gainfully employed in private industry, doing R&D, I can relate to this.  I created, either in part or in whole, an medical ultrasonic imager, a portable Holter monitor, a data acquisition system running off an IBM PC, a digital oscilloscope,  a cardiac Xray system, a video compression chip, and an overfill protection system for fuel tank trucks.  All of 'em privately funded, half of 'em made it to market.  Government funding is not required for technological advance.  Nor was basic scientific research in to basic scientific principles needed.  In fact, the one time I picked up some basic research from a scientific journal for a project, it turned out to be wrong, it worked, but at only one half the performance claimed in the journal article.  I looked up the author and telephoned him. After a lengthy conversation, the author admitted that yes, he had exaggerated his claims a little bit.
   On the other hand, during the existential struggle that was World War II, government funded R&D produced nuclear weapons, jet aircraft,  radar, airborne magnetometers, proximity fuses, handheld two way voice radios, and effective back pack anti tank weapons.  In the following Cold War, government funded projects took us to the Moon and launched the Internet.
   Much university research is funded by government grants.  On the other hand you have all seen the video of a shrimp on a treadmill, government funded all the way. As long as corporations are allowed to deduct R&D expenses for tax purposes, progress will be made.  

So who is our best candidate against Hillary?

The Dems are weeding out their field.  Jim Webb, Joe Biden, Lincoln Chaffee have all pulled out, leaving just Hillary and Bernie Sanders.  To me, a Republican, there is little to chose between them. Hillary is a liar who throws people under the bus, running on Wall St money.  Bernie is a Commie nutcase, locked in a time warp back to the 1960's, promising free stuff for all.  The pundits all say Hillary is gonna be the Dem candidate, and that's believeable.
   So who should we pick to maximize our chances next November?  Can Trump beat Hillary? Can Ben Carson? What about Cruz, Rubio, Carly, Kaisich, JEB, and the rest of 'em?  Right now, I got my doubts about The Donald, I think his negatives are too high.  Carson is polling well these last couple of days, but is he too soft spoken to make a decent president?  The rest of 'em are a tossup.  Carly was looking good, but then she said there is no need for entitlement reform, which I don't believe.  Either she is totally clueless, or she is lying. 

Friday, October 23, 2015


The other damaging revelation from yesterday's hearing.  An email from Hillary to Chelsea, the night of Benghazi, where in Hillary states that Benghazi was a terrorist attack.  She also emailed the same to the President of Egypt.  Only the next day did she put forth the "anti-Muslim video provoked mob violence" idea.  She allowed Susan Rice to go on five Sunday talk shows peddling this falsehood, which pretty much ruined Susan Rice's career when the truth came out.  In short, Hillary is a liar, and she is perfectly willing to throw a co worker under the bus. 
   Put that together with Hillary's admission that she allowed bureaucrats at State to short stop messages from Ambassador Stevens says to me that Hillary would be a terrible president. 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Obama vetoes $600 billion defense spending bill

Dunno what for.  Fox reported that Obama didn't like some unexplainable technicality.  Whoop Whoop.  There has gotta be a juicier reason than that.  Obama doesn't care about technicalities.  Maybe he likes continuing resolutions 'cause they give the bureacracy more leeway to spend as much as they like?
   Congress ought to say to Obama "This is the defense spending bill. If you don't sign it, you shut the armed forces down.  We ain't changing it."

Hillary on the stand

Hillary admitted that security requests from Libya were handled by lower level staffers and never came to her desk.
   This is wrong, 100% wrong, and a good reason not to elect Hillary next year.  When the top man, the ambassador, to a country in which we are doing regime change, wants to get top level attention at State, his messages should NOT get short stopped by mid level bureaucrats. 
   As a rule ALL messages from ambassadors should go to the Secretary of State.

Mockingjay Part 1

I paid money to see the first two Hunger Games flicks down at the Jax Jr.  They were very good.  This one, by mail from Netflix, not so much.  Katniss Everdean is no longer a combat heroine fighting thru the games.  She is now reduced to a spokesman (woman) for the resistance.  She is being manipulated some what against her will, by a couple of old resistance fuds.  Peeta has been taken by President Snow's republic and is speaking on TV to support the Republic.  Just how this attitude reversal happens is never made clear.  Peeta and Katniss never meet face to face in this movie.  Katniss seldom takes any action of her own volition, mostly she is maneuvered here and there. 
   The movie runs slow, long periods of Katniss looking moody but not doing anything.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Questions about Benghazi

1.  Why were pleas for more security in Benghazi ignored?  If Hillary claims she never saw the request, do this followup question:  What kind of a state department were you running when emails from ambassadors in war zones get lost?
2.  Why were no aircraft sent to Benghazi that night?  A couple of F-16s orbiting the consulate down low would have been very effective.
3. Why did Obama fire General Carter Ham, head of Africom? And he fired Rear Admiral Charles M. Gaouette from his command of the powerful Carrier Strike Group Three (CSG-3) currently located in the Middle East . General Ham was fired right in the middle of the Benghazi attack, and Admiral Gaoutte was fired shortly afterwards. Service rumor has it that both officers were re leaved of command because they were sending re inforcements to Benghazi against Obama's orders to let the consulate be overwhelmed
4.  What was that Benghazi installation anyhow?  US consulate? or CIA weapons warehouse?  And what was the ambassador doing at the consulate/warehouse that night?  Ambassadors don't usually visit the lower level consulates, especially when there is no consul in residence.  Speaking of which, who was that Benghazi consul anyhow.  
5.  How long would it have taken to dispatch a rescue force? 
6.  Why did you blame the attacks upon an obscure piece of video?

That's my questions.  I'm sure there are more. 

I wish Paul Ryan every sort of luck

He is gonna need it.  If he becomes speaker, he has to deal with a badly splintered Republican party, and the Speaker doesn't have many carrots or sticks to bring low speed Congress Critters into line.  A lot of reps are doing their own thing, putting sticks in the wheels of progress and getting away with it.  Too many Republican reps like to fight just for the sake of fighting.  They want to pick fights they will never win, just for the publicity they get from picking a fight.  Others, RINOs, are entirely too willing to give Obama what he wants with out even charging him a price.  
   Hopefully Ryan has demanded some party loyalty from the obstreperous Republican cabals as a price for accepting the Speakership.   
  Ryan ought to make a good speaker, he is intelligent, well informed, fair, and a nice guy to boot.  If Republicans cannot give a guy like Ryan their support in Congress, the party is doomed. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Neil Cavuto on Fox trashes Star Wars

Neil, a nice guy, I watch his show regularly.  He ranted against the coming Star Wars flick, said he just didn't understand why everyone loves Star Wars.  Neil it's real simple. The first Star Wars, back in the 1970's, was so good, that everyone has loved them ever since. 
   The first Star Wars came out when I was full grown, graduated from college, back from Viet Nam, married, home owner.  Took the wife and caught it in the theater on opening night.  I had seen the ad in the Boston Globe, but other than that, I hadn't heard a word about it.  Typical studio effective publicity. It was so good, we went back to see it all over again a few nights later.  Saw it a third time with my mother, who liked it.  No other movie was that cool, to make me pay to see it three times.  The two sequels were nearly as good. 
   I will admit, that the three "prequels" released 20 years later were not up to the standard of the original three.  But they weren't bad enough to spoil the property.  Of course I will go see the new Star Wars coming out shortly.  So will everyone else. 

Jim Webb drops out of the Democratic race

Too bad.  Of all the democrats at their debate a week ago, he was the most rational sounding speaker there,  a man who actually understands how the country works and how it feels.  No flaky socialist stuff, no free stuff giveaways, no domestic enemies list.    I thought Webb was the best candidate the democrats had.  Sorry to see him go. 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Milestone: 100,000 page views reached today.

Somebody is reading this.  Glad to see that. 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Where did all the industry go?

The Boston and Maine historical society presented a talk and slide show in Plymouth NH yesterday.  I drove down to see it, the sun was out, the leaves were bright.  Pleasant drive.  The presentation was in the former B&M passenger station in Plymouth, now a senior center.  Presenter was Dwight Smith, serious railfan and long time B&M employee, with slides going back to the late 1930's.  Subject was rail operations in northern New England.  Lots of slides, diesels, steam, stations.  Long freight trains, mostly boxcars, going to all sorts of places that no longer have rail service at all.  Berlin, Lancaster, Colebrook.  At each vanished rail line Dwight would mention the names of the industries and the traffic they used to produce.  For instance Berlin used to generate 11000 carloads of freight a year. 
   Thinking about those long trains of boxcars, made me think of all the jobs needed to create the product to fill them.  For some reason,  our northlands has de industrialized since the 1950's.  The paper mills are closed, the bobbin mills are gone, the furniture factories are gone and nothing has replaced them.  Some of the business has gone to trucks, milk for example, but most of it has just gone up in smoke.  Teenagers growing up today look to leaving the state to find work when they graduate high school. 
   New Hampshire needs to work on getting more industry.  Right to work would help a lot.  So would reducing the business tax. 

Need to tame the wildlands

Wildlands are places lacking effective government, where terrorists like the late Osama Bin Laden can set up shop, and pull off a 9/11.  We, the United States, cannot permit wildlands to exist.  If you don't believe this, I can show you a couple big holes in the ground in Manhattan.  And 3000 American dead, worse than Pearl Harbor.
   Any government that  cannot control who operates on their territory needs something done.  Sometimes assistance, arms, helicopters, advisers, or money is enough.  Sometimes regime change is in order.  For example Al Quada, ISIS, and the Taliban are hostile, they live to destroy us, no amount of diplomacy or bribery is going to change that, they need to be destroyed, ASAP.
   Once we get into a place and do regime change, Syria for example, we gotta carry it thru.  We need to find some decent locals to hold office, we have to back them up with US armed forces, we need to get their economies working and growing.  In a lot of places we need to do land reform, break up the big plantations and give out forty acre plots to the tenant farmers and sharecroppers.  Most terrorists start out being unemployed, then they get radicalized 'cause they got nothing better to do.  Make the local economy grow, create jobs, and potential ISIS recruits will stay on their jobs rather than sign up with ISIS.
   The new regimes we establish don't have to be very democratic.  They need to gain effective control of their national territory.  For which they need a decent rapport with their citizens, other wise they loose effective control.  The citizens have to be reasonably happy with the new regime.  Otherwise it won't work.  If a new regime doesn't work out, we have to be prepared to depose it, and put in a better one.   
   All this can take time, years, especially in uncivilized places like Syria and Afghanistan.  But it is essential work that must be done, or we will have more big craters in our cities.
   The democrats, and some Republicans on the weird wing dispute this.  They call it "nation building", expensive and unnecessary.  They want the United States to pull back, retreat, to North America and let the rest of the world go down the tubes.  They don't seem to realize, even after 9/11, that terrorists operating out of wildlands can do us enormous harm.  They will have nukes next time. 

Saturday, October 17, 2015

What is "Democratic Socialism"?

It's Bernie Sanders ideology, I guess.  Used to be, socialism and communism wanted to run the entire economy by owning all the "means of production" to use Marx's phrase.  With a benevolent government running everything, the workers would get better wages and the evil capitalists would get fleeced.  There wasn't much difference between socialism and communism, except socialists felt they could come to power thru the ballot box, communists wanted to come to power via a violent revolution.  Once in power, there wasn't much to choose from.
  The Russians had a communist revolution take power in 1917 and it lasted about 70 years before the Russians dumped it.  The Germans and the Italians tried socialism in the 1930's and it only lasted until overthrown by force of arms in 1945.  There is nothing in historical socialism to recommend it.
   So, here comes Bernie, touting his "democratic socialism".  He isn't talking about a government takeover of the "means of production" because that won't fly in America, and advocating it would make him sound like a nutcase.  What he might do if elected is unknown. 
  What he does talk about is putting in a bunch of soak-the-rich taxes.  Is there any more to Bernie?

Friday, October 16, 2015

Let's cut a deal

Democrats want to hike the debt ceiling, so they can keep on spending.  Republicans want to do some cuts.
Here's the deal.  We pass proper appropriation bills for each executive department.  AFTER, all the appropriations are passed, AND signed by the president,  THEN we will hike the debt ceiling just enough to get thru the next fiscal year.
    With proper appropriation bills, we can have some control, we can cut wasteful pork, and beef up programs that actually help the economy.  Right now the government is running on a "continuing resolution" a bill which says, "OK, you bureaucrats can keep on spending like you spent last year."  All the waste keeps on pouring down the drain.
   We want that open check book closed, and no money spent except by lawful appropriations. 

Dawn over Marblehead

President Obama has finally figured out that withdrawing US troops from Afghanistan amounts to handing the place over to the Taliban. Just like the US withdrawal from Iraq handed the place over to ISIS.  He will leave 10,000 troops in country to the end of this year and 5,000 troops for next year.  Did anyone catch Giuliani's comment on this?  Giuliani pointed out that he had 35,000 cops in New York City, and you would think you would need more to keep order in an entire country, a country inhabited by less law abiding and more warlike people than the New Yorkers.
   Took long enough for common sense to penetrate to the oval office.

Karate Kid, the remake

It's a bit old, 2010, and I cannot remember just how Netflix got it to my mailbox.  I had expected the 1984 original, and was mildly surprised to learn that there even was a remake.  It told the same story as the original, with some updates.  Young Dre Carter and his mother, who are black, pick up stakes from Detroit, rather than New Jersey, and go farther than California, all the way to China. There are a lot of picturesque shots of Chinese scenery, the Great Wall, swoopy roofed buildings, and so on. Jackie Chan plays the apartment complex handyman who teaches young Dre Carter Kung Fu.  The school bullies, the rival dojo's, and the tournament follow  just like in the original.
    It wasn't til the middle of the movie, reading the English subtitles for the Chinese language dialogue that I figured out that Dre Carter was a boy rather than a girl.  Dre, played by Jadeen Smith, son of William Smith, wears a long shaggy dreadlocks haircut,  is a young skinny kid, and kind of cute looking.  It's a boy who waves goodbye to him in Detroit, and the first kid he meets in China is a blonde boy, who looks cute but fades out of the story pretty quickly. 
    I never did hear about this movie back in 2010 when it was released.  Chalk that up to miserable studio publicity efforts.  I don't remember any comment on the blogs and websites I cruise regularly. 
    The remake ain't nearly as good as the original.  Jackie Chan didn't play his part nearly as well as Pat Morita did 25 years ago.  He didn't have the good punch lines in his dialogue, and he didn't do the inscrutable Oriental bit as well as Pat Morita did.  Jadeen Smith didn't develop the warm father-son relationship with Mr Hung (Jackie Chan) that Ralph Macchio did with Mr. Miyagi in the original.  My other complaint, is Jadeen Smith's opponent in the tournament was a lot bigger, taller, and heavier than Jadeen, to the point where the "willing suspension of disbelief" became unwilling.  I'm watching the match saying to myself, "No way does a kid that skinny, and that short, has a chance to beat that much bigger, taller, heavier kid."  The climax fight scene would have been more exciting to watch had the opponents been more evenly matched.
   Hollywood does a lot of remakes.  Some of them come out pretty good, The Prisoner of Zenda in the 1950's was better than it's predecessor from the 1930's.  The True Grit remake was pretty good, especially going up again John Wayne's version which many call the Duke's best movie.  The suits in Hollywood and New York like remakes, they figure all the people who liked the original will come to see the remake.  Doing a new movie from the ground up (new characters, new story, new sets) is always risky, the audience may not like the movie, and it looses money.  This remake did make serious money, although the original made somewhat more. 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Words of the Weasel Part 48

"a temporary glitch" is what Fox News called the failure of the TSA computer system.  I'd call that a crash myself.  And a program that is buggy enough to crash probably has other bugs that cause it to give the wrong answers.

The Parties should not let TV people control the debates.

The Republican and Democrat parties should control who gets into the debate, who is the moderator[s], when and where the debates are held, and what the questions will be.  They should not allow the TV newsies to control any thing of importance. 
   The newsies are hugely partisan, and they rig things to help their candidates and hurt the other sides candidates.  I see no reason why such poorly educated, biased, and  ignorant people should be allowed to influence the elections. 
  The parties could easily say to the candidates, "You won't appear on any debates that we, the party, do not approve of.  Anyone who steps out of line will be denied the nomination."

Leaves are at peak now

Speaking of Franconia Notch.  They are as bright as they are gonna get.  From here on in, it's more brown, and fallen.  Considering that we have not had a frost up here, things look pretty bright.

Words of the Weasel Part 47

"Passed away" or now just "passed".  A euphemism for die. When some one dies, lets just say he died, like real people do.  To use "passed" is to soften the dreadfulness of death.  

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

So I watched the Dem debates to the end

Nobody self destructed on stage.  They all think alike.  They all want to hike taxes.  They try to soften this by claiming to favor soak-the-rich taxes and they all talk about "income inequality" as an excuse for soak-the-rich taxes.  They all want to take our guns away.  They all want $15 minimum wage.  They are all doves on foreign policy. They all like mandatory maternal leave.  They all think you can get thru a New Hampshire winter on "alternate energy", rather than furnace oil and gasoline.  Most of 'em favor "comprehensive immigration reform", what ever that might be. They all believe in "climate change".  They are all in favor of free college for all.  None of 'em said a word about charter schools. Bernie wants free health care for all too.  Soak-the-rich taxes will pay for all this.  Right.
   Hillary looked pretty good.  So did Bernie Sanders.  Jim Webb impressed me as the most rational person on the stage.  Lincoln Chaffee looked old, querulous, and out of touch.  Former Maryland governor whats-his-name  didn't make much of an impression.
   Moderator questions were OK.  They asked each candidate about some embarrassing incident or saying in their past. They did not ask anyone what they might do to fix the economy.
    If the democrats win next year, we are doomed.  Vote a straight Republican ticket.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Dems think Iraq is worse than Viet Nam

Most of the five dems standing on the stage tonight believe (or said they believe) that the Iraq war was the worst mistake the US has made in modern times. 
   Viet Nam cost 50,000 casualties, lasted 10 years, and the Communist enemy drove us out of the country and conquered South Viet Nam and placed it under a Communist dictatorship in Hanoi.  That's about as bad as defeats get.
   Iraq cost only 5000 casualties, a lot, but only a tenth of the Viet Nam casualties.  It was successful, the enemy regime was deposed, and a new one installed.  Things were well in hand until Obama withdrew all our troops.  Without US support, the new regime collapsed, and ISIS took over most of the country. 
   I say Viet Nam was much much worse than Iraq.

Beer Monopoly

It's coming.  Inbev (#1 brewer worldwide) wants to buy SABMiller ( #2 brewer worldwide) for $104 billion.  Combine the #1 and #2  brewers and  you have a world wide monopoly.  They will be able to hike their prices without fear of competition, there is no competition. 
  The anti-trust division at Justice ought to fight this merger.  If anti trust means anything, it means the two top firms in any one market cannot merge.  The two top firms are supposed to compete, on price and on quality.  The merger just eliminates competition, so they can hike the price and lower the quality and get away with it.

Monday, October 12, 2015

I buy a car to drive it, not to compute in it

The new car ads on TV speak of Bluetooth connectivity, On-Site, satellite radio, GPS navigation, electronic gadget after electronic gadget. 
  I don't buy a car to get electronics.  I want to drive it.  The auto marketeers seem to have forgotten my segment of the market. 
  So what properties of car make it sell?  First off is a good low price.  There was a time when you could buy a brand new VW beetle for $1800.  That year a Chevy baseline sedan cost $2800. The Beetle wasn't very big, had sort of weird styling, didn't have much power, lacked automatic transmission, but it was well built, reliable, good paint job, good gas mileage, and it sold.  Even got to star in a Disney movie. 
   Then there is styling.  Good styling doesn't make the car more expensive.  The dies to press the sheet metal cost the same whether they press handsome fenders or ugly ones.  Detroit used to do good styling, just look at the movies and TV, all the good guys drive classic Detroit cars.  You never see a good guy driving a Chevy Avio.  For 2015, the best cars rise to the level of merely plain, nothing looks as sharp as say a 1959 Buick, or a '60s Pontiac GTO.   Lackluster styling is the fault of corporate suits.  The stylist's conceptions are all vetted by top management before going into production.  Top management is no longer real car people like Lee Iacocca, but miserable narrow gauge bean counters.  Who select the bland styling now universal.
   Then we have carrying capacity.  The minivans and SUV's  sell to people who have children to transport and stuff to bring home.  If you don't have children, you get a pickup truck.  The little econobox sedans cannot do either, and serve mostly to drive to work. 
   Over the years Detroit invented new body styles, the station wagon, the compact car, the pony car, the minivan, the SUV.  Each one of these made a ton of money.  Detroit needs to invent some more body styles.  For example, a real small car that can bring plywood and sheetrock home from the lumber yard, or a bureau home from the yard sale.  A clever roof rack, a removable top, something, to let you do some hauling without getting into an F150. 
   Right now Detroit is getting along by expanding into China.  But that won't last, the Chinese will take over their own auto production.  They need to work harder on the North American market.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Car radios get better every year

Way back when, when the radios were vacuum tube, the Boston FM stations faded out to static about the time we crossed Rt 128.  Then it was AM all the way to Cannon Mt, usually WBZ.  So yesterday I drove back from Boston with the FM in my new-to-me car playing WCRB, the Boston classical music station.  The radio pulled in good solid signal all the way to Concord NH.  That didn't used to happen. 
  It was a lovely day, leaves at peak all the way, sunny, blue sky, hint of fall in the air but not really cold.  My old North Shore model railroad club threw an open house and train show in Wakefield.  I found some stuff at the show, and admired all the work that had gone into the layout since I retired to NH 6-7 years ago.  Lot of old friends were still active, was glad to see them all. 

Who needs their own camera?

When you can Google images of nearly anything.  I'm making HO models of hopper cars.  So I Google "hoppers  Baltimore and Ohio" , and presto, a hundred photos of B&O hopper cars pop up, old ones, new ones, builder's broadsides, end views side views, three quarters views.  Then I can go for Hoppers, Chesapeake and Ohio, or hoppers Boston and Maine
   One thing to watch out for, half the photos on Google are of model hoppers.  Since I am modeling, I want photos of the real thing rather than some other modelers idea of what a hopper should look like.

Friday, October 9, 2015

So what ails the House Republicans, really?

The current Speaker of the House kerfuffle is fun to watch, but it means that House Republicans dislike each other too much to work together.  That much is clear from watching the TV news.  What is less clear is the why of the situation, and a description of the sides, (Two? Three? More?) and what the beefs are. Which side has which beef? 
  Is it some concrete issue or issues?  if so what are they?  Immigration?  taxes? Planned Parenthood? abortion? Syria? Ukraine? TPP?  Voter ID?  Gun control? all of the above?  Something else?  And if its issues, who is one which side[s]?   The TV newsies don't seem to know, which is not unusual, TV newsies know very little. 
  Is is personalities?  Some reps just cannot stand other reps?  If so, who cannot stand who?  How many are involved? 
  Is it pecking order?  Some reps want more influence, more juicy committee assignments, better office space? better parking spots?  some other perk that we don't know about?
  Is it strategy and tactics?  Such as shutting down the government vs cooperate and graduate?  Try to get some good legislation thru or just dig in your heels and oppose Obama at every turn on general principles?  Compromise with the Democrats or hold out for ideological purity even if it means you don't pass anything.

Steve Jobs, Product Champion

A lot of people, youngest son included, don't understand what Steve did that makes him important.  Steve was not an inventor.  His famous products, Apple II, Mac, Ipod-pad-phone used the standard technology of their times in straightforward ways.  There are few to no patentable ideas in these products.
   So what was Steve's role?  Steve was the guy who could tell a salable product from an also ran.  Long before prototypes were built, or market analysis done, Steve could look at the proposed product, when it was just a paper study, or a paper specification, and recognize the market beating products.  As executive, Steve was the guy who pushed the products he saw as successful thru research and development, into production, and marketed them successfully.  He didn't invent these products, he chose them , nurtured them and brought them to market.   And made Apple the wealthiest corporation in the world.
  I haven't seen the forthcoming movie about Steve, the reviews are unexciting, apparently the movie dwells on Steve's shortcomings and a father and family man.  That's regrettable, but a lot of men suffer simular failings.  Very few men have been as productive in business as Steve was.
  He is missed.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

We can do better than McCarthy for Speaker

US Rep Kevin McCarthy is currently running to succeed John Boehner as Speaker of the House.  McCarthy has some problems.  First and foremost is raging hoof in mouth disease.  He brags that the House committee on Benghazi has been instrumental in bringing Clinton down in the polls.  That's super dumb.  Benghazi  is about why military support was denied a US ambassador under fire.  It's about why two US general officers were relieved of command that night.  Chairman Trey Goudy has bent over backwards to keep the committee working on real stuff, rather than becoming a get-Hillary operation.  And in one short brag on TV, McCarthy has blown all that away.  Nobody is ever going to believe the Benghazi committee is anything but political retribution now.
  Plus, McCarthy is Boehner's right hand man.  Expect more of the same, only less effective.  Boehner didn't get all that much done, but he was respected by every one, his word was good, and if there was a chance of talking people around to his point of view, Boehner could do it.  McCarthy lacks that kind of respect, especially now that he opened his big mouth and torpedoed the Benghazi investigation.  And, he will continue Boehner's policies, he approves of them, if he didn't he wouldn't be Boehner's #2 man.
   We ought to do better than McCarthy.

TV doesn't advertise for consumerism

Consumerism, that evil denounced by lefties, Popes, and communists.  Supposedly too much love for consumer products, like cars, nice houses, color TV, clothing, laptops, i-pod-pad-phone, that sort of stuff.  True believers are supposed to love hair shirts, poverty, raising their own vegetables.
   So I'm watching a late night movie on TV, the cheapy kind where you get ten minutes of movie followed by ten minutes of commercials.  Funny thing, few to none of those irritating commercials were pushing consumer products.  Lots of ads for pills and medicine, nearly as many ads from lawyers looking for plaintiffs so they can sue pill companies, ads for fast food, insurance, financial deals and credit cards, just one ad for cars (Honda).  Those ads ain't pushing consumer products, at least not the kind of consumer products that I could get into buying.  I suppose fast food does get consumed, but can you imagine the reaction of your kid after you gave him/her a happy meal as a Christmas gift?
   Consumerism is pretty much a spent force here in the US.  Which might account for why the economy sucks, low demand for consumer goods.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Free market capitalism makes us all rich.

The United States is the richest country in the world.  Our poor live better than the middle class in most places.  Our store shelves bulge with products, fresh vegetables, fruits, meat.  TV sets, computers, automobiles, refrigerators, electric power, clean running water, flush toilets, oil heat, and telephone are commonplace.  We can buy fresh produce any time of year. 
    Private enterprise capitalism brings all these benefits to us.  For instance, all the zillions of different things we need, from food clothing and shelter, to repair parts for every automobile manufactured since Henry Ford's time, to semiconductors of a million different types, light bulbs, hand tools, appliances, furniture, there must be a billion different things  for sale in the US.  And somehow, our factories produce just the right quantity of of each and every thing we need.  You can always find what ever it is you need or want.  The stores have enough stuff on the shelves but not too much.  This miracle of organization and planning happens automatically, and the answers come out right every time.  Supply and demand takes care of it.  When something runs short, the price rises, which encourages producers to produce more of it.  Or new producers to enter the market.  Likewise when demand falls, the price falls, and producers make less of it, or switch to other lines of product.
   The Soviets tried to operate without supply and demand.  The communists fixed the prices of everything and set up a giant bureaucracy in Moscow to issue production quotas to every producer in the Soviet Union.  Somehow they never got it right, and the Russians bounced from shortage to shortage.   Just recently Russian coal miners went out on strike because they couldn't get soap to wash up with coming off shift. I mean soap is a very simple commodity, it's been in production since Roman times.  And coming off shift in a coal mine, you need soap to get the coal dirt off your body.

    One of the things that makes the US dollar so strong, and so valued world wide, is US abundance.  An overseas holder of dollars knows that the Americans have plenty of every thing to sell.  And they sell it happily.  Show the money, and the product gets shipped.  Whereas a holder of Russian rubles is mostly out of luck The Russians don't have much to sell, and much of what they produce is so shoddy that no one really wants it.  They can do crude oil, vodka, and weapons, but that's about it. 
    So let's stop bashing capitalism, and stop talking up communism (aka socialism).  Capitalism makes us all rich.  Communism makes us all miserable. 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Sail a 700 foot container ship into a hurricane,

And then suffer engine failure.  The ship sinks and all on board are lost.  Lifeboats don't help in a Cat 4 hurricane. 
   Dumb and dumber.  The hurricane's location was on all the TV channels, it wasn't moving very fast, even a sluggish container ship could out run it.  You gotta be really really dumb to sail  any kind of ship into a hurricane, especially a top heavy unseaworthy container ship. 
   Dumb number two.  Leaving port with the ship's engines so messed up that they fail at sea.  Without engine power,  any ship will broach broadside to the wind and get battered til it sinks.  With engine power you can keep the ship's bow into the wind, taking the blows of the sea on the strongest part of the ship.

Words of the Weasel. Part 46

"Issue"  all purpose low meaning word that replaces all sorts of real words.  For instance computer programs don't have bugs, they have "issues".  Veterans suffering from traumatic head injuries have "memory issues" not memory loss.  When you hear people talking "issues" know that they are lying to you.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

DVD crashes DVD player

This happened last night.  Was playing a Netflix DVD in my plain Jane  Magnevox DVD player.  After some 20-25 minutes of playing the disc, the picture froze and the sound stopped.  And, the player refused to respond to the remote control or the front panel buttons.  The bad code read in from the disc crashed the microprocessor in the player so hard I had to unplug the player and plug it in again to regain control. 
   We know that the DVD structure includes player commands to move the read head, jump to another spot on the disc, freeze the video, disable fast forward and other things.  That's how those menus at the start of the DVD work.  Presumably some damage to the DVD mangled a player command.  And the player code has a bug in it too.  Properly coded players should examine all player commands read from disc and reject any unknown commands or improperly formatted commands.  Halt and catch fire is never a valid player command.  Looks like my player ain't properly coded. 

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Congress punts again.

Congress passed a "continuing resolution" last night.  Rather than perform its Constitutional role of  allocating Federal funds to needed programs, it punted.  The continuing resolution says in effect, "All you bureaucrats can keep on spending money the way you did last year."  
   No killing of wasteful and unneeded programs.  No new programs.  Stasis, nothing changes.  With the economy headed for the rocks,  Congress says "Steady as she goes.  Full steam ahead."
   In stead of passing departmental appropriation bills like its is supposed to, Congress has spent its time threatening to shut down the government, investigating Hillary's email, passing highway bills, and general purpose bloviating.
   Way to go Congress Critters.

Sunny Skies in NH

Sun is out, it's getting a little crispy, but not so crispy as to have frost.  TV is full of hurricane stories, but you would never know it from looking at the sky around here.

Friday, October 2, 2015

I oughta turn in my U of Delaware degree

I got my engineering degree from University of Delaware back in the early 1970's.  It was a decent place, with excellent faculty, and reasonable students.  Since then things seem to have gone downhill.
   Back some years ago, FIRE denounced Delaware for running an indoctrination program on the dorms.  The RA's  were holding mandatory meetings, advocating all sorts of lefty multi culti things, and quizzing students about their sexual activity, and sexual identity.  After the FIRE story broke, the alumni (myself included) sent in a blizzard of disapproval letters, emails, and phone calls.  It was enough, and the resident indoctrination policy stopped.
   Now we have a new story.  Students reported nooses hanging from a tree near campus.  Hate crime they cried.  Police investigated next day and found the "nooses" were actually the remains of paper lanterns from an event held on the premises months ago.  Students so wanted a hate crime to demonstrate against, that they totally ignored the police report and went on to hold demonstrations. 
   Back when I was a student at U of D, the students were better balanced, better informed, and not looking for a cause celebre to spark political activity. 
   Maybe I should turn in my degree.

Another Homicidal Maniac allowed to run loose

Flips out and kills six, seven, eight, or more college students in Oregon.  Before the bodies are cold, Obama is on TV bleating for gun control. 
  How about some nut case control?  Someone should have noticed that something wasn't right before he started killing.  Parents, teachers, relatives, friends, co workers, someone.  Some psychiatrists should have examined him, diagnosed him as a homicidal maniac, and committed him to a mental hospital. 
   Well that didn't happen.  Apparently it never does.  If someone else had been carrying, they might has stopped him.  Wanna bet the college forbade carrying on campus? 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

What to read for light reading?

Long ago I used to read "mainstream fiction" and science fiction.  The mainstream drifted off course, yielding immense thick tomes with wimpy protagonists who whined a lot but never did anything.  Science fiction especially back in the John W. Campbell era was more readable.  Likeable protagonists had missions, set out to accomplish them, and usually succeeded.  The stories had life, often had thought provoking future societies, and the story moved. 
   Well they don't right science fiction much any more.  The really great golden age authors are mostly dead by now, and the few survivors are getting too old to write anymore.  The newer authors mostly try to do Tolkien style fantasy because they never took physics, chemistry, and biology in high school and feel they are to ignorant to do science fiction.  Fantasy, especially when you can invoke magic, means you can dream up anything you like, you don't have to know anything.  Trouble is, none of the Tolkien wanna-be authors have written anything nearly as good as Tolkien.
   At this time, I have started reading what the trade calls "Young Adult" books, mostly fantasies.  At least they have likable teen age protagonists, who have a mission, go out and do it, and don't whine. Rick Riordan's  stories of classical gods and goddesses surviving into modern times (21st century) are fun.  Phillip Pullman's stories set in an alternate earth are good.  George R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones stuff is OK except he keeps killing of all the good guys and letting the bad guys flourish.