Sunday, November 29, 2015

Tis the Season To be Jolly

This is the Grinch posting here.  Christmas season, and decorations, and music on the radio should NOT start until AFTER Thanksgiving.
   I know the retailers want to get a jump start on the Christmas selling, but there is a limit.  If you stretch Christmas shopping season all the way back to March, you don't actually sell more stuff, you just spend more time doing the selling. 

Mouse and Mouse pad beats Win8 touchscreen

Taking Flat Beast (my laptop) on the road for the first time.  Some things work good, like Flat Beast detected and logged onto daughter's WIFI router automatically.  Email comes thru and everything.  What with lack of deskspace and such I am working the laptop from the lap.  And I miss the real mouse, which don't work so good on a overstuffed couch.  The built in touch pad is flakey and jumpy, and it lacks left and right buttons to click.  And the whole touchy feelie screen is ineffectual.  The slider thumbnails don't slide under a finger touch, the icons are too small for my full sized fingers, and the whole screen is more touchy flaky than touchy feelie. 
   Tomorrow I drive home, and day after that I can get back to web surfing from a real desk with a real mouse. 

Thursday, November 26, 2015

War on Coal presses forward

The US Senate just passed two "resolutions" one disapproving EPA regulation about to be applied to working coal fired power plants, and a second one disappoving EPA regulations of new and modified coal fired power plants. 
   Our noble NH Senators, Shaheen and Ayotte, vote against both resolutions.  Thanks guys.  I'm paying 25 cents a kilowatt hour and you voted to increase the price of my electricity.
   And "resolutions" are pretty weak tea.  You want to get EPA's attention? You cut off their taxpayer funding, all of it.  A "resolution" of disapproval doesn't mean anything. 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Why are drug prices so damn high?

Answer: Because the drug companies spend to damn much on marketing.    The biggies all have armies of salesmen, with sample kits, company cars, and expense accounts.  The salesmen visit every doctor in the land at least once a month.  They take the doctor out to lunch, and they buy pizza for his staff.   At lunch they push their company's line of pills. 
   This is the most expensive way to market a product imaginable.  It works, and if everyone in the industry does it, everyone has to keep up.   Paying all those salesmen takes a big pot of money, and the drug company has to get the money from somewhere.  Guess where it comes from?
   Economical marketing is to merely offer the product on the Web and get some articles placed in the medical trade journals.  A step up from that is to open brick and mortar stores.  The special sales call is as expense as it gets. 
   Not sure what we can do about it, other than taxing it.  Right now, sales expenses are a legitimate business expense and can be deducted from income.   Not sure if I like the idea of the IRS telling companies how much they can spend on various business activities.  Maybe some public interest group could lookup and publicize how much the drug companies spend pushing drugs to doctors.

Lion's Gate disappointed in box office for Hunger Games Part II

Wall St Journal had this.  The opening weekend box office was $101 million, the lowest of any of the Hunger Games movies.  The was in the Business & Tech section which just writes about money matters. 
   Funny, they didn't say a word about the quality of  Hunger Games Part 1.  It was nothing like as good as the first one back in 2012. And I'm pretty sure every fan who went to Part I was disappointed as well, especially as the first one was one of the best movies Hollywood released that year.   So naturally the box office is down.  Make a poor movie and you don't make as much money. 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Surveillance at Mosques

Dunno if I am ready for mounting video cameras on mosques, but I see nothing wrong with undercover agents going to a mosque, mixing with people, talking to people, finding out what is going down.  They are places of public worship after all. Terror plots are discovered and defeated mostly when someone gives the cops a tip.  To get tips you have to have connections, you gotta know people, they gotta know who to call or talk to. 
   BTW,  you don't want to close mosques, no matter how rabid they get.  As long as the mosque is open, it's easier to keep an eye on suspicious individuals.  Close the place and they just go underground, which makes it harder to keep track of  'em.
   You deal with rabid imams with informal pressure.  You find some community leaders, other clerics, parishioners, local businessmen.  If your police force is on the ball they will know who these people are.  You explain to this group that the imam is going over the line, that he is stirring up trouble, and you give them some good quotes from the Koran that counter the imam's rants.  Put your community leaders group together with the problem imam and have them apply some pressure.  

Saturday, November 21, 2015

What makes the Greenback Green?

The United States enjoys the best currency in the world.  You can spend US dollars anywhere.  People will buy our debt, US treasury bills, eagerly, even though they don't pay much interest.  It's a great deal, they give us hard cash, we give them paper.  If things get tight, we can simply print more greenbacks to make expenses, or redeem T-bills, and everyone will accept them.  US dollars are a pure fiat currency, we don't promise to redeem them for precious metals.
  The Russians would kill to have the ruble treated like the dollar.  Right now nobody will accept rubles in payment if there is anyway to avoid them.  Reason?  The Russians don't have anything to sell.  Rubles are only good to buy stuff from Russia, and who wants Russian made goods?  Driven a Russian built car lately?  The Russian airlines advertise that they fly only Western built airliners (Boeing or Airbus) rather than Russian ones, which have a nasty reputation for crashing.
   Whereas the holder of US dollars can buy top quality US made products, as much as they can afford.  We have the product to sell.  US dollars may not be backed by gold, but they are backed by the productive capacity of the US economy.  You need just about anything, you can buy it in the US,
  With one exception.  There is a US law preventing the sale of crude oil, something which we now have in quantity, thanks to fracking.  We ought to repeal that law, just in the interest of keeping the currency strong.  The greenies want to keep the prohibition on sale of crude oil, mostly 'cause they want to discourage oil production of any sort.   Well, even greenies gotta pay the bills.  We import a lot of stuff, and we gotta pay for it somehow.  And with Obama borrowing the country into who knows what, we need to keep the greenback green.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Let's change the name to confuse the ignorant

We used to call 'em ISIS or ISIL.  Now Obama and the newsies are calling them Daesh.  Wonder why that happened?  Has ISIS been so successful that they want to stop talking about 'em?  So change the name and who is the wiser.  Good work Obama. 

Where do I stand on Republican Presidential Candidates?

Well, actually I am still standing on the fence.  I have some problems with some of them, others are still pretty much a blank slate.
1. The Donald.  Fun to watch on TV, a great showman putting on a good show.  But he is a bull in a China shop and his mouth runs faster than his brain.  He has already offended a lot of people, and I figure if elected he would alienate everyone in the US in about two days, and everyone overseas in another few days.  How can a US president get anything done when everyone in the world is scheming how to get even with him?  The president's bully pulpit is one of the strongest things a US president has going for him.  It doesn't work so well when everyone is all mad at him.  Plus, early (not too reliable) polls show him loosing to Hillary. 
2. Rand Paul.  He is an isolationist.  He plans to pull back to North America and let the rest of the world go to hell in a handbasket.  This didn't work last time, in the 1930's the isolationists prevented us from dealing with Hitler while he was small enough to slap down.  That caused WWII.  Once is enough.
2.  Ben Carson.  Helova nice guy.  I'd go with him except he is so soft spoken I have trouble seeing a President Carson telling a Bashar Assad where to get off, let alone a real tough nut like Putin.  And he occasionally says things that make him look ignorant or naive. 
4. Ted Cruz.  Good talker.  Made a good impression at the Grafton County Lincoln Reagan dinner up here this spring.  Kimberly Strassel at the Wall St Journal thinks he is a opportunistic flip flopper.  She claims he is trying to woo Rand Paul isolationist voters by talking up isolationism.  She calls him a grandstander, who worked for a government shutdown over Obamacare, tried for a filibuster in defense of gun rights, and holding the Senate in session to protest Obama's immigration orders.  He has voted against defense authorization bills and voted to shut down NSA metadata collection.  Kimberley follows this stuff more closely than I do.
5. Marco Rubio.  Not bad.  Good talker.  Kinda young, but that might be OK
6. JEB Bush.   I'm not ready for a third President Bush no matter how meritorious JEB may be.  Seemed kinda lackadaisical on the campaign trail up here. 
7.  Carly Fiorina.  Made a fine impression speaking at the Littleton VFW in Sept.  She is smart, well informed, dresses appropriately (especially important for women), and knows her audience.  She was saying want the voters wanted to hear in Littleton.  Impressive resume, running Hewlett Packard puts her in the big leagues.
8.  All the rest of 'em.  Who knows?

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Can you read my code?

True Allele is a computer program that separates mixed up DNA samples.  For example a blood sample from a crime scene where both the victim and a suspect were cut and bled in a struggle.  Now we have defense attorneys, a disreputable bunch, claiming that True Allele is falsely pointing the finger at their clients. 
   To fix this, the attorneys want to look at the source code of the program.  The program's developer, Mark Perlin, says "No way.  It's a trade secret". 
   This is a baloney argument on the attorney's part.  My day job for 40 years was looking at other guy's computer code and fixing the bugs in it.  It's tough.  And there is no way an outsider can look at the C source code and know anything.  Computer code is opaque to the point of unreadable, and there is no way any number of lawyers and their  hired computer scientists can tell anything by reading the code of the program.
   Mark Perlin has brought the program's test suite, and the test results into court, and he, correctly, says that tests and test results are the only way to know that the program works as advertised. 
   Far as I am concerned, the attorneys want to look at the code as a way to delay justice being done on their clients. 

John Kerry is a total disgrace. Rationale for Charlie Hebdo??

John Kerry let his real thinking slip out the other day.  He said the Paris massacre is different from the Charlie Hebdo massacre because there was a "rationale" for the Charlie Hebdo murders.
  He is saying that people who publish stuff that ISIS doesn't like are fair game for ISIS.  And this turkey is an American secretary of state.  And we have a president who appointed him and who has not fired him for the "rationale" remark.  Kiss freedom of speech goodbye.

How to stop ISIS

ISIS is a movement, an ideology, trying to become a nation state.  It's strength is ideological.  ISIS is strong enough to draw young people from Europe and the US to travel to Syria and take up arms with them.  It's strong enough to get Western useful idiots to cover for them.  It's ideals and motivation are unspeakably vile.  Stopping ISIS is not only a military problem. We have to name  their ideals, their ideology, and motives as anathema thru out the world. 
   For openers, people who travel to ISIS lands and take up arms with ISIS are levying war against the United States, adhering to our enemies, and giving them aid and comfort.  That's treason, Article III Section 3 US constitution.  We should at least lift their US passports,  put them on the no-fly list, revoke any security clearances they might have, or hope to obtain, and put their names on a public traitor's list.  Or anything else that the law allows.
   We need a good comedy movie, making the ISIS people look like uncouth barbarians, and stupid to boot. Not to say ugly and gross.  Some TV episodes on the same vein would be good.
   We need to get Muslim clerics of some seniority to publicly condemn ISIS.  And repeat for each new ISIS atrocity.  And we need to apply some heat to our own intellectuals when they make excuses for ISIS.  
    We need to clear them off the Internet.  I've mentioned this before.
    We need to cut off their access to banks, credit cards, time payments, traveler's checks, wire transfers.  And embargo them.  And prevent them from selling oil.
    We need to put a no fly zone over any friends or allies in the ISIS lands.  Enforced by USAF and Patriot missiles.
   We need to have Christian clerics preach the words of Jesus after each ISIS atrocity.   Make the points about thou shalt not kill, love thy enemies, and contrast it with ISIS brutality.
   We need to close down madrassa's, world wide.  Madrassa's don't teach reading, writing, and arithmetic, they teach hatred.
   Then we need to do the military things, invade the ISIS lands, depose the ISIS government structures, prosecute and punish ISIS criminals,  set up a decent system of elementary education, set up honest and fair courts, set up a humane police force, do land reform so the peasants who work the land have good title to it.  Establish a democratic free enterprise capitalist government.  We vet the candidates and select for honesty, at least a high school education,  a clean record in regards to ISIS activity, drug running, smuggling, and protection racketeering.   We write the constitution and we enforce it when necessary.  We include strict term limits on all officeholders. We count the votes in elections.
   To do the military things we need US forces, and we need local allies.  Just having troops from Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, carrying their national flags, will do a lot to quell ISIS resistance.  Skip Turkey or Israel, too many hard feelings from past times.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Reuters doesn't know the difference between mirrors and lenses

Telescopes are getting bigger.  Back in the day (1940's), the 200 inch Mt Palomar telescope was the absolute last word.  Today, under construction in Chile, is the Giant Magellan Telescope,  (GMT) with 327 inch mirrors, seven of them ganged together, yielding a combined aperture of 981 inches.   That's really really big. 
   Funny, the Reuters people, in this article , describe the GMT as using lenses.  That's not right.  Big telescopes have used mirrors for better than the last 100 years.  Reason, chromatic aberration.  Mirrors reflect light of all colors the same way.  Lenses don't, red light bends differently than blue light, causing color fringes in the image.  The extreme case is the rainbow of colors you get when sunlight shines thru a glass prism.  Just to double check, I googled up the GMT website, and as I knew, GMT uses mirrors. 
  Translation, the Reuters people don't know the difference between mirrors and lenses, and are ignorant of the development of telescope art over the centuries.  This is fairly typical of newsies,  a profound ignorance of everything technical. 

Long Range Strike Bomber (LRS-B)

Aviation week had two opinion pieces (Commentary) on the LRS-B.  Neither of them breathed so much as a word about the contract challenge that they emailed to magazine subscriber's last week.  The two commentary pieces called the program well managed, the bids reasonable.  Nothing about the contract award.  They did say that the costing was based upon "Average Procurement Unit Cost" as opposed to "Unit Recurring Flyaway Cost".   Av Week says  the Average Procurement Unit Cost includes spares, support equipment and other essential stuff, which the Unit Flyaway did not.  Spares can cost.  Engines make up roughly a quarter of the cost of an aircraft.  Back in the day, we had four spare J75 engines on base to support 20 single engine fighters.   If  LRS-B is spared to the same level, that increases the price of the engine buy by maybe 20% over the life of the program.   Spare gyros, spare radars, spare landing gear, all that is expensive.  Support equipment, we used to call that "ground power",  air compressors, generator sets, hydraulic mules, tractors, bomb lifts, cockpit ladders, air conditioning sets, tow bars, it all adds up. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Taking Syrian Refugees to the US

You know, in that tidal wave of Syrian refugees, there has gotta be some good people, hard workers, people who want to become Americans and who would make good ones.  We oughta skim the cream of the crop.  Obama wants to take 10,000? Go for it. 
   Go to the biggest refugee camp, the one closest to Syria.  Pitch a big tent.  Raise the American flag outside.  In side have cold CocaCola and hot coffee, courtesy of the house.  Have a bunch of Syrian Americans, who speak Arabic do the interviewing.  Ask for their family names, parents, siblings, cousins, uncles, aunts, nieces, and nephews.  Run family names against US blacklists.  Reject those with Islamist terrorist family.  Accept the obvious winners, medical doctors, engineers, technicians, businessmen.  Accept married men (they must have wife and kids with them) Accept unaccompanied minors who look like they could get themselves adopted in America.  Accept single young men who express a desire to become US citizens, and/or enlist in the US armed forces.  Accept Christians, Yazidis, Druze, Jews and any other non Muslims that there might be.
   Reject anyone suspected of ISIS leanings, or activity.  Reject anyone who admits to criminal activity, drug running, and the like.   Reject anyone educated in a madrassa.  Reject anyone who looks, acts, talks, or dresses suspiciously.  Reject anyone on US blacklists.
   Issue a temporary US passport and air tickets to the accepted.  Tell them we are offering them a chance to become Americans. Tell them if they show disloyalty to the United States, get caught communicating with Islamic terrorists, or get in trouble with the law, they will be shipped right back here, in handcuffs.
   Wanna bet we could fill our quota of refugees with  good useful citizens?  And let the Europeans cope with the dregs we leave behind?  And we could make some heart warming propaganda video showing happy refugees debarking on US soil, finding jobs and housing, sending their children to US public schools. 

Zap the Islamic Terrorist websites

According to Internet chatter and some input from the newsies,  a lot of dangerous ISIS terrorists are recruited, motivated, and launched, via Islamist websites.  For example that Major Nedal sp? who did the Fort Hood shooting, Richard Reed  the shoe bomber, and others.  The flow of young people to Syria to join ISIS is blamed upon Internet recruiting. 
   If this is so, we ought to shut these sites down.  We can do it.  The big backbone carriers that power the Internet are all US (last time I looked anyhow) and it would be simple for them to simply drop all traffic to or from Islamic websites into the bit bucket. Poof, no more Islamist website.  All that is needed is to have the URL of the Islamic website and it's gone.
   This will take some organization but it's doable.  Best and nicest would be a court, to which evidence would be presented, condemning the website as Islamist terrorist.  Then a court order to the Internet backbone carriers to black hole the website would follow.
   The Islamist websites would change their names, or start up new ones as a counter measure.  Even if the same offensive website pops up a day later using a different URL, a couple of such moves and they loose their audience.  When the fruitcake's favorite hate site stops existing, how do they find it's new address?
    And we ought to speak to the search engines.  Tell 'em to never display anything from Islamic terrorist websites.  

Monday, November 16, 2015

Massive air strikes.

The French  flew a mission to Rakka, some burb in Syria that ISIS calls its capital, today.  As retaliation for the Paris massacre on Friday, an air strike on Monday ain't too shabby.  Ten fighters dropped twenty bombs.  Massive this is not.  Even if some Fox newsies call it massive.
   In the old days, I would stand on the flight line in the early morning at Korat RTAFB as we launched the morning strike on Hanoi, always 60 F-105's loaded with six 750 pounders apiece.  And I always watched the afternoon strike, another 60 aircraft with six bombs apiece take off around 1 o'clock.   I'm not gonna call 10 sorties and 20 bombs "massive". 

Obama stays eloquent for 45 minutes on TV

The question all the reporters asked was "What are you gonna do about the Paris massacre?"  Obama evaded gracefully, evaded the followup questions, and managed to spend 45 minutes on live TV saying that he isn't going to do anything on account of the Paris massacre.  He still wants to bring in a LOT of Syrian refugees to the US.  He isn't going to take any action, military or otherwise against ISIS.
   Obama claimed that Syrian refugees would be "vetted" before they are allowed into the US.  Hah.  Tell me about how you gonna do that.  Pick up the phone and call Baghdad?  And ask if Mohammed so-and-so is an ISIS terrorist?  Who's gonna answer that phone?  Assad's flunkies? ISIS, the other rebel groups?  And  even if they wanted to, can they check public records in a country undergoing a civil war?  I don't think so.
   Syrian refugees are a gamble.  Most of 'em are probably harmless refugees, some of 'em are ISIS, some of 'em are Al Quada, some of 'em are other bad things.  And they all look alike.

Sword of Summer, by Rick Riordan

It's out, it has made the WSJ best selling hardback fiction.  Subtitled "Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard".  I enjoyed it.  Rick Riordan started writing about Percy Jackson, a teen aged New York kid who gets mixed up with the gods of Greek mythology.  Those were good enough to get the first two books made into fairly decent movies.  This book has a teen aged Boston street kid get mixed up with the gods of Norse mythology.  As a long time resident of Boston, I enjoyed the various local references, Longfellow Bridge, Charles St, Boston Aquarium, Bunker Hill, all places I have been to and know fairly well. 
   It's a "young adult" book but I liked it, even if I am no longer a young adult.  The protagonist is a decent teenager, who is given (stuck with) a horrible problem, he rises to the occasion, and with some help from his friends, wins thru in the end.  There is a gutsy girl friend,  some strange relatives, and some difficult to handle gods.  Good fun.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Picking a College

College is VERY expensive.   Too expensive to waste.  You go to college to improve your prospects of a good job after graduation, to learn something of value, and to graduate, actually get that degree.
   You want to avoid colleges like Mizzou, which made nationwide headlines after it's president resigned under pressure from black radicals.  No teaching or learning is gonna happen there, not for months, and a showing a Mizzou degree to an employer will get you laughed at now. 
   So how do you weed out the crazy places?  Well, first off, visit their website.  What activities do they take pride in?  Opening a new laboratory or running off a climate change demo?  Check the student groups on campus.  Chapters of things like the American Physical Association or IEEE are good signs, chapters of ACLU or SDS are bad signs.  Count the faculty, tenured professors and part timer "adjunct" professors.  Count the student body.  Divide students by faculty members to find the student faculty ratio.  Count the number of courses offered.  Sort the courses between real learning (English, physics, history, math, etc) and talky talky courses (gender studies, sociology, anthropology, ethnic studies,art history, etc.).  Remember that professors of talky-talk courses are apt to egg students on to doing political demos with non negotiable demands. 
   Visit the campus and talk to students and faculty.  Get the students to talk about the faculty.  If the students are contemptuous of the faculty, that's a bad sign.  If the faculty are contemptuous of students, free market capitalism, American exceptionalism, and first amendment freedoms, that's a bad sign.  Read the posters on the bulletin boards.  Find some college blogs and read them when you get home. 
   You are looking for a place with a reasonable campus attitude, like we are all here to learn stuff, and we understand that as American college students we have it pretty good in life.  You want to avoid a place full of grievances, racism, class envy, and spite.   If everyone is mad at something or somebody, the place may blow up either while you are there, or after you graduate, reducing the value of your expensive degree.

Democratic TV Debate last night

It came on late, 9 PM.  We are down to Hillary, Bernie, and O'Malley.  Due to the Paris massacre, they opened up with foreign policy.  All three tried to sound tough without talking about sending US forces to deal with ISIS.  No one mentioned Obama's troop withdrawal from Iraq that turned the place over to ISIS. O'Malley wanted more and better intelligence.  He failed to mention that intelligence does us little good without the will to act on it, to strike the enemy.  All three were four square for doing something, but they all avoided promising real action.  Everyone was in favor of having the locals, Turks, Sunnis, Saudis, Egyptians, anybody except Israel,  get in the fight.
  After the first commercial break, they changed the subject to free stuff, how much each candidate would furnish, how high they would set the federal minimum wage ($15 vs $12), and how a few harmless soak-the-rich taxes would pay for it all without raising the national debt.  Right.
  I went to bed before it was over.  God help the United States if any one of those turkeys becomes president.   

Saturday, November 14, 2015


First, my sincere sympathies for the victims of this unprovoked terrorism.  To loose a loved one to terrorism is a greatest sadness I can think of. 
The only thing for us to do, is get them before they get us.  Obama is worthless for this, he lacks the stones to even call them Islamic extremists.  Maybe the French can lead the way, they are a second rank industrialized power, with an army.  They could whip a third world insurgency.  If they wanted to, they could send a decent sized force to Syria to clean house. 

Washing Windows 8

The Micro$ofties stuffed Windows 8 chock a block full of crapware,  programs that suck up RAM and CPU time but don't actually do anything for you.   Every so often I go out on a crapware hunt, and I always find something.  Today I scored three kills.  First off is a program "DasHost.exe".  It is supposed to alert you to incoming email, sometimes.  My email client, Thunderbird, has been successfully detecting incoming email for years with out it.   After a net check, the consensus of opinion was "worthless", so I went after it.  It's a service.  Services are little (and some times not so little) programs that Windows runs behind your back. They all suck up precious RAM, and hog CPU time. They show up in Task Manager as processes and there is a special Windows program to manage them.  Go to Control Panel.  Pick Admin. Tools. Pick "Services".   Find "Device Association Service.   First STOP the Device Association Service.  This shuts down the copy running in RAM at that moment.  Then hit "properties" and change the startup type to "disabled".  That preventsWindows from starting it up on the next boot.
   While you are in there, find service "Themes" and give it the same treatment.  Themes suppores the fancy Aeroglass look in the display.  It sucks up a lot of CPU time and I don't like the look, I prefer the standard old Windows look. 
   My last kill today was "Power2Go Gadget".  This is not a Micro$oft program, and several websites called it useless.  It is NOT a service, so you cannot zap it thru the Services program, like Dashost and Themes.  I found it with Task Manager, and the Windows 8 Task Manager can stop it, and prevent it from reloading (disable it).  I'll double check tomorrow to see if it stays dead, but it's stopped now.
   For doing all this, laptop feels livelier, it can keep up with my typing now. 
   Be careful messing with services.  Back in XP, there were a couple of services, Remote Job Entry for one, that were essential to Windows.  If you disabled Remote Job Entry in XP, Windows would never boot again.  The only fix was to reinstall Windows from scratch, a tedious task, especially if you lacked the install CD-ROM discs.  I suspect the Micro$ofties have planted similar booby traps in Win 8, but I don't know what they are.  So don't disable anything unless you are sure, or have searched the internet and found an authoritative site like Black Viper to say that you can disable it without a disaster. 

Friday, November 13, 2015

Doing National Hari-Kari

World War II was a total disaster for Japan.  They suffered enormous casualties, we sank their navy, we sank their merchant marine, we nuked their cities, and the ones we didn't nuke, we firebombed.  Then we occupied the Home Islands, hauled Japanese leaders up in front of a War Crimes Trial, imposed a new constitution, and rewrote a lot of Japanese law to make it favorable to free market capitalism and democracy.  We ran the place until the 1950's. 
   A worse outcome to a war is hard to imagine. 
   And the leadership that took Japan to war with the United States knew they would loose. And they did it anyhow.  There was an independent staff study by top Japanese academics predicting total disaster.  There was Admiral Yamamoto who had spent a lot of time in the US, spoke English well, and he said "For the first six months we shall run wild, but I have absolutely no confidence after that."  There was Matsuota, the foreign minister who had grown up as a foster child in California.  The Japanese knew that America had a huge population, a vast national territory, highly industrialized, blessed with abundant natural resources, and out weighed and outclassed Japan in every category. They knew war with the US would lead to defeat.
   And, they should have known that they didn't need to go to war with the US.  Japan's national goal in those days was to take over China. They had made a good start, and there was no reason to beleive that they could not finish the job.  Japan was depending upon imports of iron and steel and crude oil from the Unitied States.  And we did not approve of a Japanese takeover of China.  We finally imposed an embargo (traditional American action) upon Japan.
    This put a bind upon the Japanese.  They all knew that they would run out of steel and oil in a matter of months.  But, there was plenty of oil in Dutch Indonesia, not far away.  Hitler had invaded and occupied Holland, which left the Dutch colonial regime in Indonesia kind of blowing in the wind.  Japan could have obtained plenty of oil from Indonesia, either by trade or by force.
   We, the Americans, would not have approved, but we had Nazi Germany to deal with.  The entire American establishment, political, military, business, the papers, all agreed that proper US strategy was to do Germany first.  Germany was bigger, stronger, more advanced, and closer than Japan. Plus the isolationists made life difficult for the Roosevelt administration to do anything internationally.   The Japanese should have known that they could do pretty much anything they wanted on their side of the Pacific, and all the Americans would do about it is write diplomatic nasty grams.  
   But, the Japanese plowed ahead and attacked Pearl Harbor.  They didn't have to do it, it led to a disastrous military defeat, they knew it would, but they did it anyhow.  

Hoot, the movie

A heart warming flick about three decent kids, who manage to do some good.  Came out a long time ago, 2006, low budget ($16 million) didn't make the nut.  Too bad.
Logan Lerman has the starring role.  In 2006 he was only 13 years old.  He plays the role well, at least as well as Daniel Radcliffe played Harry Potter at age 12.  A couple of other child actors who I never heard of before play the other members his gang.
   Enjoyable.  More so than the average new flick today. Netflix has it.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Long Range Strike Bomber (LRS-B) program halted.

The losers (Lockheed Martin and Boeing) filed a protest of the contract award to Northrup Grumman.  GAO ordered a stop work for 100 days while they sort thru the paperwork.  Take a 3 month schedule hit right there.  GAO might, after the 100 day hangup, approve the contract award or order the contract rebid, which will take a year. 
   The losers objections are unclear, and mostly unpublished.  What has come out is the Air Force looked at the bidder's re recurring engineering bids and using a lot of bad past experience doubled  all the bids.  Not a bad idea,  contractors typically bid low to get a foot in the door, thinking that they will be able to get their profit margins back up when the Government orders changes, which it always does.  But, what ought to happen when the contractor's underbid, is the government holds them to the original contract.  Fifty years ago, Lockheed under bid on the C-5 job.  USAF made them eat the difference between what Lockheed spent and what Lockheed bid. 
   Fifty years later, USAF lacks that kind of stones.  And, the last big program USAF put out for bid, the KC-46 tanker job, was a disaster.  Boeing protested the award to Airbus, got the contract rebid, and walked away with it.  And Boeing is doing cost overruns and schedule slippages right now. 
   It's hard to tell from where I live want the real story is.  Could be, GAO is allowing a frivolous protest to slow the program down.  Could be USAF did another KC-46 style bungle.  Could be Pentagon procurement regulations are so screwed up that nothing works.  Any way, the program is delayed by the bureaucrats, and delays always raise the cost to the taxpayer. 

20 Best Handguns

Washington Times internet posting here.  They show nice big pictures of 20 different handguns, nineteen of 'em automatic pistols, and one snub nosed revolver chambered for a ridiculous load.  The automatics are a mix of full sized service pistols and tiny belly guns.  Most of 'em were just under $500, which is significant money for most of us.
   First time buyers should be aware that it is extremely difficult to hit anything with a pistol.  If you can find a pistol that fits your hand properly, you can vastly improve your chances of hitting the bad guy.  A story.  Back in USAF they issued us .38 revolvers for target practice and qualification.  The issue revolvers were in miserable shape.  All the checkering was worn off the wooden grips, the grips had been marinated in gun oil for 20 years and they were slippery.   Each shot made the grip twist in the hand, throwing your aim off for the next shot.  The grips were too small to get all your fingers around, my pinkie finger either waved free in air, or  slipped underneath the butt and damn near dislocated with each shot.  My target shooting was miserable with the issue .38
  Later, on a sandpit shooting afternoon, a friend let me shoot his commercial .38 revolver.  It had nice big wood grips, good sharp checkering, nice and dry, good smooth trigger, shot like a dream.
   Before you shell out $500 for a handgun, you want to shoot the thing, say twenty rounds, and see if it agrees with you.  Then think about revolvers.  A home defense gun  might spend 20 years in a night table drawer, loaded, unloved, unlubricated, but that one time something bad happens, you want it to work.  A double action (pulling the trigger cocks the hammer) revolver is good for this.  You just pull the trigger and the gun goes bang.  No safeties, no slide to work, no magazine releases to avoid.  And it stores loaded, and un cocked, all the springs uncompressed.  In automatics, the magazine spring is fully compressed when the magazine is loaded and the hammer or striker is cocked.  Over the years, compressed springs can weaken, or even break. 
   Pistols come in various sizes, too damn big (Dirty Harry's .44), service pistol (cop's holster gun) and pocket pistols.  Service pistols shoot best, they have enough weight to soak up the recoil of a decent load, a long enough sight radius to be easy to aim, big enough grips.  Unless you are planning to carry the gun in your pocket, there is no reason to mess around with pocket pistols.   They are harder to shoot, harder to get a hit with, and are often chambered for wimpy little loads that won't stop a bad guy, but just make him mad.
     You want a handgun chambered for a standard, widely available load.  These are .38 Special, 9 mm Luger, and .45 ACP.   There are a lot of other loads out there.  Any thing less than .38 special isn't big enough, anything more than .45 ACP is too damn big.   The lighter the gun, the harder it will kick, which throws your accuracy off.  The shorter the barrel, the fiercer the report.  For example, the classic 1911 .45 government model automatic pistol weighs 39 ounces, has a 5 inch barrel, and handles the big .45 ACP load reasonably well. I have seen ads for little pocket pistols weighing only 14 ounces, with 3 inch barrels chambered for .45.  I would not care to shoot one, too much kick, too loud a report. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Debate Watch Party

We had another one.  Not bad.  Chris Christy came on strong on the junior debate.  Fox and WSJ did a highly professional job with the questions and with the moderation, far far superior to those CNBC clowns last month.  In the main event,  everybody looked pretty good.  I didn't see a clear cut winner, everyone looked pretty good.  No body choked up. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Headlights, auto turn off

Used to be, headlights were on a switch on the dash. They came on when you pulled a knob out, and went off when you pushed the knob in.
    Simple days, long gone.  Now the car's microprocessor leaves the headlights on to give you some light to get to the door and find the front door key. 
   Except, the microprocessor doesn't get it right.  Either the headlights go off too soon, leaving you fumbling in the dark, or they stay on too long, leaving you standing out in the rain, watching to make sure the microprocessor does finally turn the headlights off, to avoid running down the battery.  Most of us have experienced a car with a flat battery after someone failed to turn ALL the lights off.  And we don't trust microprocessors to get it right.
   Mostly  the microprocessors start timing the head light turnoff time from when the ignition is turned off.  Bad idea.  Better results would be had by starting the turnoff timer when the driver's door opens and closes. The driver may have some packages on the passenger's seat he needs to bring into the house.  Which requires some fumbling around in the dark.   For that matter, the microprocessor should check for other door openings and closings.  The driver may have some groceries in the back seat, and the headlamp timeout should start when the last door is closed. 
   It will take Detroit about 50 years to get this right.

Specter, the movie

It's a Bond movie.  I'd rate it medium good against all the other Bond movies.  We don't watch Bond movies to see character development, true love, political points made, conventional tragedy, or Shakespearean eloquence.  We go to Bond movies for the action, the pretty Bond-girl, the evil Bond-villain, Q's lethal gadgets, the car chases, the fighting, and the shooting.  In this vein, Spectre delivers.
   Daniel Craig delivers a satisfying Bond.  He plays a taciturn, driven Bond, with some scores to settle, and some lost loves to mourn.  He has an icy stare.  And a good right hook.  He needs a better tailor, his suits don't fit him very well.  Bond has no sense of humor, never cracks a joke or uses a pun.  This is one serious and scary dud
   Lea Seydoux makes a decent Bond girl.  She is plenty good looking enough, and has some of her own issues.  We see her standing up to 007 and making it work for her and for Bond.
    The movie suffers from some poor technical work.  The soundman doesn't capture all the dialog.  It could be worse, but a fair number of bits of dialog were unintelligible.  It was not a full fledged curse of the soundman, but more like just bad wishes from the soundman.  And the camera man was into under exposure.  A lot of scenes were just annoyingly DARK, the only thing you could see was the actor's face, and sometimes not even that.  I'd find myself saying, "Open up your damn lens" to the screen.  When the camera man did set the exposure properly, he would introduce a misty soft focus effect similar to filling the set with smoke.  Also annoying.  At least we didn't have to put up with 3-D goggles.
   The car chase didn't seem very real, not real the way Steve McQueen's Mustang blasting thru San Francisco did in Bullitt..   The cars sort of floated and pulled off some unbelievably sharp turns into alleys at speed, to the point where I figured I  was watching CGI.
   A lot of plot holes.  For openers, Bond manages to get from London to Rome, with his car (Q's hottest newest Aston Martin) in one quick cut-to-black.  You'd think at least a shot of driving the Aston onto a Channel car ferry would be in order.  Bond manages to collapse an entire 6 story masonry building with a few rifle shots.  There is a lot of travel, but it is never clear where they are going to, coming from or traveling thru.  The Bond-villain goes from fairly handsome, to horribly scarred and I never knew how.  There is some high level skullduggery between the new M, and a snivel service weasel dubbed C which is unclear.  Bond confronts the father of the Bond-girl with a lot of snarling back and forth which was unclear to me, and the resolution of the face-off  is brutal and weird and unexplained.  Ah well, it's a Bond movie and it don't have to make sense.    
   Anyhow, if you like Bond movies,  this one is pretty good.  The critics panned it, but the critics don't like Bond movies, they like Shakespeare, which Bond movies are not. 

Monday, November 9, 2015


Obama has been trying to close the place since he was elected.  Seems to be very firm on it.  Has not had much luck.  The thugs still in Gitmo are really bad people who will go back to waging guerrilla war on the middle east if we turn 'em loose. 
   These guys are in Gitmo for waging war on the US.  They were captured on foriegn battlefields.  They aren't regular criminals, in stir for murder, rape, arson, and drug dealing.  They are in stir for fighting against the US armed forces.  Under the laws of war, we are entitled to hold them prisoners until the war is over.  Which isn't gonna happen anytime soon.  It's more humane than what used to happen in the bad old days.
   The intense opposition to closing Gitmo and moving the prisoners to stateside lockups comes from the public distrust of US judges.  The public fears judges will turn these guys loose inside the country because they have not been accused, let alone convicted of a crime in court.  The normal civilian law of the United States, based on the 13th amendment, requires conviction of a crime in order to hold people in jail.  These guys haven't committed crimes in the ordinary civilian sense of the word.  They are Islamist fighters, who will burn, bomb, and kill if let out.  It's preventative detention, but US law doesn't allow preventative detention. 
  And US judges, cut from fairly stupid cloth, might well turn them loose.

Sunday, November 8, 2015


Syria a smallish wartorn middle east country just to the north of Israel.  Has been run by the Assad family and the Alawite sect for decades, maybe more.  Dunno just how the Alawites differ from Sunni or Shia, but its enough to matter somehow.  Could be the Sunni and or the Shia detest the Alawites.  Could be the Sunni  would rather have the Alawites running things than the Shia.  Or vice versa.  I don't know, and our clueless newsies have no idea either.
   The current Assad running Syria, a certain Bashar, fairly recent heir to the throne, has not been doing well. He has angered a sizable portion of his population to the point of armed rebellion against his regime.  ISIS has set up shop and controls a big slice of Syria.  Other "moderate" non-ISIS but anti Assad rebel groups are active, but probably not as active as ISIS.  By now, Assad's control of the country is shaky, ISIS is as strong (or stronger) than he is.  The Russians have decided to back Assad, probably in return for basing rights in Syria. Assad needs all the support he can get.
   US policy, such as it is, favors dumping Bashar Assad.  Not a a bad idea, but for it to work, we have to have someone to replace him with.  We need a name, and we don't have one.  ISIS has a name, Allah.  The "moderate" rebels must have some leaders, but who ever they are, they haven't made it onto US TV news.  Until we find a Syrian leader with some name recognition, at least inside Syria, and some popularity, our anti Assad, anti ISIS operations are going exactly nowhere.
   We should be talking to the Israeli's about Syria.  They have agents in Syria, who actually speak the language, and a much better idea of who is who, and which end is up, than CIA ever will. To bad Obama has been dissing Netanyahu.  The Israelis are less likely to level with Obama than with someone who has supported Israel over the years.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Flak for Ben Carson

The MSM, democrats to a man, are shooting at Ben Carson.  They been getting plenty of coverage on TV. They have been checking out Carson's autobiography, published years and years ago, and claiming that Carson claims things that they cannot verify, or uses more enthusiast language than they can approve of.  This morning's Wall St Journal did not defend Carson much, but they did pooh pooh some of the nastier slams on Carson. 
    As far as the West Point scholarship thing goes, Carson, was top ROTC cadet, black, with excellent grades.  I'm sure someone said "Son, you ought to go to West Point, you are a natural, put your name in and they will accept you".   Was I Carson, writing my autobiography fifty years later, I could easily write that I was offered a scholarship to West Point, even if I never put in my paperwork to attend.   I'm not going to get excited about this smear from the likes of the MSM.  Especially as I like Carson. 
    Carson does understand that dirt sticks.  He has been on TV, calling his harassers to be liars.  That's good.  Mud sticks, if he doesn't call the MSM on this, we voters will begin to think that maybe there is something to the stories.   Romney didn't understand this, and it lost him the presidency. 

Too Damn Long. Vote it down

Trans Pacific Trade that is.  It is 2 million words, 2000 pages, and that's too much.  It would take months to figure out what it will do.  Passing it just gives to bureaucrats the power to do any thing they want.  In that much verbiage  a bureaucrat can always find a paragraph to justify what ever he is doing or wants to do. Passing another super-obfusticator bill is Congress abdicating to the bureaucracy.
   Congress ought to have a policy, never pass any bill, treaty, whatever that is longer than the US constitution. 

Friday, November 6, 2015

Drug Overdoses

It's getting bad.  This year death's from drug overdoses exceed deaths from car accidents.  Car accidents have been running around 50,000 deaths a year, for a long time.  By way of comparison, total deaths from the entire Viet Nam war are only 50,000.  Ten years of war in the jungle didn't kill as many as car accidents killed in a single year.  And now deaths from drug overdoses have risen to the same appalling level. 
   The MSM don't talk about why the increase in drug deaths.  Could it be, Obama's Great Depression 2.0 threw a lot of men out of work?  And the depression and poverty caused by unemployment drives a lot of guys to drugs and suicide?  You don't hear the MSM talking about that.  Doesn't fit The Narrative.
    You do hear a lot of talk in the MSM about setting up "drug courts".  Dunno about that.  Seems like we need drug treatment programs more than courts.  We got plenty of plain old courts.  Most judges are intelligent enough to sentence first offenders, even if they been doing a little dealing to feed their habit, to drug rehab rather than jail.  Everybody knows that jail is bad for people.  First offenders come out of jail in worse shape than they went in. 

No bailouts, Let 'em sink. Nobody too big to fail

Dear old Uncle Sam has gotten into the habit of bailing out big companies that get into trouble.  GM, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and AIG are the most flagrant examples.  The usual excuse is that allowing a big boy to go belly up will scare the market, causing a lot of other big boys to croak.  Causing a lot of money to be lost. 
   And, we passed a law, Dodd-Frank, which makes bailouts policy.  Dodd-Frank  sets up which companies will get bailouts, how much.
   The real problem with bailouts, is they urge on crazy behavior.  In no-bailout world, company management is pretty careful about the risks it runs.  If they do something really risky, and it fails, the company is toast, they and everyone in the company are out of work, the investors loose everything.  All around badness.
   But when Uncle Sam says he will bailout companies, all bets are off.   Now management can do all those crazy things, and if they fail, the company survives, they keep their jobs, and the investors are untouched (mostly).  No pain.  And without pain, nobody learns anything.  No pain, no gain.
    We ought to repeal Dodd-Frank.  We ought to make it real clear world wide that we don't bail out nobody, and we need to carry thru, and actually flush some loser down the drain, just to make the point.
     To run a capitalist society, which has made us all rich, you need capital.  We cannot afford to flush capital down the drain doing mortgage backed securities, credit default swaps,  futures trading, derivatives trading, and all those other risky gambling games they run on Wall St.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

New Canadian government drops F-35

The new government in Canada, with whats-his-name Trudeau has fulfilled a campaign promise to drop out of the F-35 program.  Canada was going to buy 65 fighters at something like $80-90 million a piece.  That's going away.  The F-35 program people are smiling and saying the program is still on track.  Right.  And every air framer in the world is hustling salesman to Toronto peddling fighters. 

More on Long Range Strike Bomber LRS-B

According to Aviation Week, it is going to be another flying wing, like the B2, only about half the size of the B2 to get the costs down.  They say the rather short range (2500 miles) comes from the "Tank on the way in, Tank on the way out" tactic.  Tankers to stay 500 miles off the enemy coast to be safe from SAMs and fighters.  Aviation Week has a map showing the LRS-B being able to reach everywhere inside China.  And they think Northrup Grumman got the job 'cause of their B2 experience, and that Lockheed Martin has the F35 contract, and Boeing has the KC-46 contract. 


As in cis-gendered.  New one on me.  First ran across the term/prefix while web surfing.  Finally looked it up and apparently it means "not trans" as in "not trans gendered"  The trans gender activists felt the need for a word to apply to everyone who is not in their group, i.e. regular people.  If you are doing a culture war, it helps to have a word for the enemy.
   In the real world then cis-gendered means girls who think they are girls and want to grow up to be women, and boys who think they are boys and want to grow up to be men.  In short,  kids who lack psychological hangups about their sexuality. 
   Why does the invention of this new trendy word bother me?

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Dune, Frank Herbert, the 2000 miniseries

This miniseries was the second attempt to bring Frank Herbert's huge novel to the screen.  It's not bad, it's at least as good as the 1984 movie.  The the long three episodes allows a fuller development of Herbert's long and complex novel. Sets and costumes are good, which can be expensive in a science fiction movie.  Casting is metza metza.
   William Hurt gives a fine performance as planetary Duke Leto Atreides.  Too bad Frank Herbert killed him off early in the book.  Alex Newman is less satisfying as Paul Muad'dib.  He is too old, too tall, and too burly.  Paul Atreides was written as a teen age boy, somewhat small for his age, and lightly built.  Which gave a tug on the heartstrings as his beloved father is killed and Paul must pick up the load of being a planetary Duke before he is fully grown.  And Paul has to meet both fremen and imperial enemies, hand to hand in gladiatorial duels, and prevail by speed and cunning.  Reading the book, you root for the smaller younger lighter Paul to survive each deadly encounter.  Watching the miniseries there is no doubt that Alex Newman is taller, stronger, and buffer than his opponents.  You know he is going to win the knife fight just by looking at him.  In the book, young Paul Atreides does an enormous amount of coming of age.  In the miniseries he enters the action fully come of age. 

Graduates of "research universities" earn more than liberal arts colleges

This from today's Wall St Journal.  Well, we sorta knew this, graduates with real engineering degrees earn more than graduates with art history degrees.  It's been a cliche that engineers make good well paid husbands.  For numbers, liberal arts graduates pegged out a $50,000 a year ten years out of college where as "research university" graduates made $65-70K at the median.  All of them made more than $50K.
    The Journal article skated over a couple of key points.  The never did define what they mean by "research university".  That's a new one on me.  I assume they are thinking of places like MIT, Georgia Tech, and CalTech.  Place which mostly grant engineering degrees and have strong STEM programs.
   Then they didn't pin down liberal arts.  Do they group the talkie-talkie majors (gender studies, art history, ethnic studies) or the wannabe sciences (sociology, anthropology, psychology, etc) in with the traditional seven liberal arts (English, foreign languages, history, mathematics, music, art, philosophy). 
   The traditional seven liberal arts ought to lead to better jobs than the talkie-talk majors and the wannabe sciences. 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Questions they ought to ask and have not so far

1.  What would you do to get America's GNP growth up to 3.5% or better?
2.  Will you authorize the Keystone XL pipeline?
3.  Will you lease off shore parcels for oil exploration, on the east coast, and the west coast?
4.  Will you stop the EPA's war on coal?  and the new and very expensive ozone limits?
5.  How will you reform personal and corporate taxes?
6.  Will you authorize interstate sale of health insurance?
7.  Will you authorize duty free imports of drugs from any reasonable first world country?
8.   Explain your reforms of the Pentagon procurment bottle neck.
9.   Explain how large our armed forces need to be.How many soldiers, warships, warplanes?
10. Explain what you will do to increase the ratio of tooth to tail in our armed forces.
11. Explain how the Trans Pacific Partnership will increase US exports and jobs.
12. As president what will you do about ISIS?  Send them nastygrams? Use the armed forces to destroy them?
 13. Will you defend NATO countries from Russian aggression or invasion?
14.  Will you defend South Korea from Chinese or North Korean aggression?
15.  What will you do about dredged up Chinese islands in the South China Sea?
16.  Will you authorize oil exploration in the "Arctic National Wildlife Area"?

Anyone got any more?

Monday, November 2, 2015

$43 Million for an Afghan gas station?

Not only is$43 million a ripoff, but the gas station was not a gasoline station, it was a compressed natural gas (CNG) facility. 
  Who in their right mind would have a CNG vehicle in Afghanistan?   You cannot find CNG stations in America right now to keep a CNG vehicle running.  In a backwater like Afghanistan, there are even fewer.
   Aside from making the greenies feel all warm and fuzzy, a CNG station in Afghanistan is a total waste of money.  Even if we didn't get ripped off.

Getting ready for a trip

Pack the laptop, and its charger.  Pack the cell phone, and its charger. Pack the camera, and its charger.  That's three chargers just for a weekend trip. 

Cats have nine names, as well as lives.

This cat came to me bearing the name Hecate.  My daughter's choice, which I found a bit pretentious for a mere house cat.  After a few amusing mishaps, such as falling off a table, falling off the deck, I took to calling her Stupid Beast.  This worked, the cat would even come when I called Stooopid Beast from the deck.  As time went on, Stupid Beast spent more and more time racked out flat on the rug.  I began calling her Flat Beast.  I considered Flat Cat, but I feel Robert A. Heinlein has some ownership on that name.  Variations such as Her Flatness, just plain Flat, followed.  Also Round and Flat, abbreviated to RAF.
   This might be family tradition.  We had a family cat, a Siamese, who came into the family named Cleopatra.  This did not last, and we kids called her Puddy Tat.  Then after Puddy Tat put on weight, my Father started calling her BasketBall.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Flat or Graduated?

Tax that is. A lotta Republicans pitched a flat tax during the CNBC debate last week.  A lotta TV lefties claimed that a flat tax would never produce the revenue they want for all the lefties redistribution plans and free stuff.
  I been figuring and paying my own income tax for 50 years.  Each year, after doing all the crazy worksheets and capital gains and deductions and bulls--t on the 1040, I wound up paying 17%, every year, for the last fifty years.  If everyone paid 17%, Uncle would have plenty of money.  Especially when you consider that under the current system, about half the taxpayers pay nothing at all due to "Earned Income Tax Credit".  When half the population starts paying 17% instead of zip  that's not revenue neutral.
    So arguments against a flat tax based on lack of money are wrong.  The true argument against a flat tax is fairness,  the idea that the wealthy ought to pay more than the poor.  17% income tax when you are just scraping by hurts a lot more than it does for Donald Trump. As a matter of fairness, the wealthy ought to pay a higher rate than the poor.
   Which is what we have now a graduated tax.  We have seven or eight or maybe too many to count tax brackets.  Last time the wealthy paid a huge slice of tax money, far far more than the middle or poorer classes.  This is a graduated tax.  In my estimation, it's too graduated.  I strongly feel that everyone ought to pay something.  From the poor, a few percent, from the wealthy, a lot more, maybe 25%.  Everyone ought to feel the pain of taxes, so they understand that voting for more free stuff is gonna hurt them.  When we allow half the population to escape tax free, they will march right out and vote for more free stuff, 'cause it doesn't cost 'em anything.
   Then, we come to the issue of tax breaks aka loopholes.  There are a lot of 'em.  We get a tax break for having children, for paying a mortgage, for calling it capital gains instead of ordinary income, for health insurance some times, for buying professional books and equipment, for paying state and local taxes, for charitable contributions, for being over 65,  and a ship load of other stuff that I forget, but Turbo Tax can remember for me at tax time.
   I think I'd like to abolish every single one of 'em.  That would cause a mighty howl from parents, the real estate industry, H&R Block, and every other special interest group in the land.  If the howling is too great, maybe I'd compromise on charitable contributions and the tax break for having children.  Set the middle tax bracket to 17%. and revenue would stay about the same.