Thursday, December 31, 2015

Feel the Bern. Suppose Bernie wins the NH primary?

This is not impossible according to polls.  Bernie is the next door Senator, he has plenty of name recognition.  Who knows what it would do to the Democratic nomination race?

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Toasters, the last 65 years of progress

65 years ago my father brought home a new GE two slice pop up toaster.  It toasted  for my family, my grandmother's family, my brother's family, and was turning out beautiful golden brown toast up until last year.  At which point one heating element opened up and went dark.  I took it apart and spliced the nichrome wire with a bit of brass tubing crimped with vicegrips.  That kept her going for another year, when another heating element died.  I couldn't fix that one.  So ho, off to Wally Mart and a brand new Black and Decker toaster.
   Well, it came in a nice Ferrari Racing Red plastic case and it had bigger toast slots that could accept that big country white bread, and bagels.  Had a special button for bagels, and another for "frozen". Trouble is, the damn thing stopped toasting over Christmas, when I had five house guests up for Christmas.  Service life less than half a year, as opposed to the GE which lasted 65 years. 
   Since it was still shiny and new, I took it apart.  Problem was the toaster tray hold down.  Magnetic it was, an electro magnet on a PC board pulled on a steel lug on the pop up mechanism.  One, just one toast crumb had fallen on, and stuck to, the magnet pole piece and prevented the magnet from sucking hard enough on the steel lug to keep the handle down.  A pass with the shop vac got the crumbs under control, and a wipe with a rag got the stickum off, and it worked on the bench.  It even worked after I replaced the cover.  We shall see how long it lasts.  It is in a benign environment, no small children, just me using it. 
   Wanna bet it doesn't last for 65 years?  GE never should have sold it's small appliance division to Black and Decker.

May be the Iraqi's can fight after all.

Looks like they took Ramadi, driving out a determined ISIS defense force.  That takes some doing, a built up area is just one solid mass of firing points and good cover.  When the defenders stick to their guns, advancing into a built up area is very tough.  So the Iraqi's did it, which says their Army is in better shape than this spring when ISIS drove them out of Ramadi. 
   The Iraqi's are giving some of the credit to effective close air support from USAF.  Certainly a few 750 pound smart bombs in the right places can make a lotta difference. 

Cannon Mountain Ski Weather

Not great.  We got some snow yesterday but after two inches down on my deck, it turned to sleet, freezing rain, and some just plain rain.  Temperature has dropped back below freezing and I can hear the snow guns running right now.  It will help, but the mountain needs a lot more snow to be really good.  Right now Cannon is open, just a few trails, and pretty much all manmade snow.  It's skiable, but we are all hoping for more snow. 

Pataki hangs it up.

About time.  I set up an event for him at the Littleton VFW, and NOBODY came.  He seems like a nice guy and all, but what ever it is that attracts presidential voters, he doesn't have.  Him pulling out does clear the underbrush a tiny bit. 

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Union Leader trashes The Donald

It got under The Donald's skin enough for him to go on a lengthy televised rant against Our Paper.  Last time I remember the Union Leader dumping on a candidate was way back with  William Loeb trashing Ed Muskie so hard that Muskie wept in public. Which was the end of Muskie's presidential run.  The Donald had it easy compared to that.
Welcome to New Hampshire Mr. Trump.

If you are going to Hell, you still have to change planes in Atlanta

Atlanta was bragging they had served (delayed and hassled) their 100 millionth passenger  this year.  That's a lotta people going to Hell. 

Monday, December 28, 2015

Helova Fine Christmas

All three of my children came home for this one, along with a son-in-law, a daughter-in-law and a very nice girlfriend.  We had a trim the tree party, we had a massive Christmas dinner (20 people, two tables, three ovens). We had a show-old-home-movies party. We did a lot of sitting up late around the fireplace, drinking, and telling stories.  I put the last children on planes home Sunday. 
  It was a trying time for Stupid Beast.  She is a fraidy cat, used to having the house to herself and just one trusted human (me) around.  Having a house full of medium strangers, who petted her, and even picked her up, was hard for her to bear.  I gotta word for you, cat.  Get used to it.
   Lotta drivers never did learn about dimming headlights.  They come up behind you, hi beams full on shining in the rear window.  PITA.  I would click on my hi beams after they passed me in the rain. Just to let 'em know.
   Today I did a bit of recovery. Ran a wash, washed the last dishes, vacuumed the living room, make up a bed with fresh sheets. made a dump run.  Between the empty bottles, and the Christmas wrappings, and stuff, it filled up the trunk of the Buick. And when I got down there, the town dump was pretty full.  Santa brought a lotta stuff to Franconia.  The glass recycle bin was as full as I have ever seen it, all beer and wine bottles.  Whiskey mostly comes in plastic bottles these days   Merry Christmas. 
    Dunno if I have the energy to deal with New Years on Friday.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

We saw the new Star Wars movie last night

Went to the Jax Jr in Littleton.  Theater was full by the time the movie started, every seat filled.  It was 3D which I am only luke warm about.  It was much better than the previous three Star Wars flicks.  New characters, played well by new actors, some old characters, played well by some familiar actors.  Costumes and sets were good, the soundman did his job, all the dialogue was audible.  Lots of action, light saber duels, gun fights, TIE fighter air combat.  The special effects were spectacular.  Good show. 

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

JEB comes to :Littleton NH

JEB came to Littleton last night.  Spoke at the VFW.  Place was pretty full, lots of professional video cameras, the kind with tripods and lenses a foot long.  Bush turned up right on time, he spoke well, spoke from the heart.  He wants to destroy ISIS, cut red tape, reform immigration making it easier to let in working age adults rather than everyone's retired parents, wants more charter schools, is luke warm on legalizing pot butr says it is a state affair, wants to tighten border security.  He took questions for an hour and handled this well. 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The only polls worth watching

Are the polls for New Hampshire and Iowa.  Because, after New Hampshire and Iowa everything will change.  Losers will be gone, and the loser's voters will go somewhere else, where, no body can tell.  And the winners, and even the runners up will be immensely strengthened, which again changes everything.  The nation wide polls right now, before New Hampshire and Iowa don't mean anything, because the results of New Hampshire and Iowa will change everything.
  The newsies don't seem to understand this, they keep reporting the nationwide poll numbers.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Strange Lament

I'm reading today's Wall St Journal.  In the letters to the editor, we have an old NASA hand, so old he joined the outfil before it was NASA.  He talks about the old old days when we all kept engineering notebooks, in which we recorded the results of lab work.  Then he explains how like everyone else, we started keeping records like that on personal computers. 
  Then he veers off on a strange track.  He claims that his new laptop cannot real his old files anymore.  Obsolescence he claims.  This never happened to me.  In the early days I kept my records in plain ASCII text files on MS-DOS.  I have stuff going back to the 80's that Windows 8 has no trouble reading.  Later when Windows 3.1 cam in, I used Word.  My current Word has no trouble reading my oldest Word documents. 
  Either this guy was using a strange OS, or some strange word processor.  Or he gives up easily.  Wanna bet you can download just about any old obsolete word processing program from somewhere if you do some looking?

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Feeling the Bern. Hillary kisses and makes up

We watched the Democratic debate last night.  It's still Bernie, Hillary, and that O'Malley troop from Maryland.  They opened up with Hillary and Bernie kissing and making up over the DNC database kerfuffle. No real explaination as to what went down, but they pledged to stop what ever it was, and Bernie regains access to the data. 
   All three of 'em are four square for tax hikes.

Friday, December 18, 2015

No Creditable Threat

Yeah, Right.  There was no threat, creditable or otherwise,  before San Bernardino.  I figure ISIS will try that again, just as soon as they can find the shooters to do it. The San Brnardino shooters were unusual in that they gave no warning, aroused no suspicion of them selves before they struck, and were willing to give up their lives for their cause.  You don't find shooters like that just everyday.  But I figure ISIS will come up with some and send them out to kill, any day now.  
   Hold onto your hats, the party is gonna get rough.

Feeling the Bern. DNC cuts Sanders campaign off from "data base"

The present kefuffle over the Sanders campaign is obscure.  WashPost claims that a single software vendor selected by the DNC, maintains a data base for the party AND all the candidates.  Sander's campaign is accused of accessing thru the database, information (type unspecified) that belonged to Hillary's campaign, not the Sanders campaign.
  Weird.  On our side, the RNC maintains "Voter Vault" a list of registered republican voters and makes it available to any Republican candidate or committee.  Voter Vault is built up from town voter registration lists, which are public records available to all.  When phone banking, a good phone list, where the phone numbers actually answer, and are answered by Republicans, as opposed to by Democrats, is the breath of life.  Over the years, the Republican Voter Vault has been pretty good in that respect.  When I am phone banking, the Voter Vault phone numbers have been good. 
   But Voter Vault is available to all Republicans.  It just has names phone numbers, and how many years each name has registered Republican.  Which is all you need or want for phone banking.  Nothing that belongs to a candidate.  The names come from town voter registration lists.  I don't know where the phone numbers come from.  I don't remember giving my phone number in order to register to vote.  But nothing in Voter Vault would kick off the current rumble in the democratic jungle. 
   Unless of course, it is a straight forward "Dump Bernie" maneuver by the DNC.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Do you believe in Anti Gravity??

Well I do.  A strong anti gravity field exists around the mouth of every trash can and waste basket in this world.  Try it.  Pitch anything into the trash, and watch the anti gravity field repel it onto the floor.  Pitch something clean into an empty trash can and watch the anti gravity field bounce it out of the trash and onto the floor. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

TV Debate Watch Party

We had one for the 15 December Republican debate.  It was sorta fun, watching politicians bad mouth each other is entertaining.  I don't think the debate changed many voters minds.  The Donald was there, of course, but he didn't make any new news generating things.  Everybody ragged on The Donald over his "ban all Muslim immigration idea".  Lotta talk about "boots on the ground", but no talk about what said boots were supposed to achieve on said ground.  Nobody talked about invading and occupying the ISIS lands, rounding up the ISIS people living there, punishing them, and establishing a just and stable government in the area.  Nobody advanced plans to get the US economy growing again. 
   The net result, the majority of Republicans who don't want the The Donald, 'cause we think he would loose big time, are still faced with nearly a dozen competitors, and we didn't hear anything last night that would help us settle on one. There are plenty of votes to defeat Trump, but those votes are scattered over all the other candidates giving none of them enough votes to beat anyone, not Trump, not even Rand Paul. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

New York is tougher than Lalaland

New York and Los Angeles both received terrorist threats by email this morning.  LA bought into the threat and closed all the schools in LA.  New York decided the threat was BS, and pressed on with an ordinary school day. 
   Lalaland needs to toughen up.

Obama's gun control

Obama wants to prohibit gun sales to anyone on the "no-fly" list or the "terror watch list".  Bad idea.  Both lists are operated by bureaucrats, probably Obama voting bureaucrats.  They can put anyone they like on a list, for any reason they like, or no reason at all.  They won't take anyone off a list.  Denying the right to purchase firearms to anyone on a list means giving Obama the power to deny firearms to anyone he dislikes.  How much do you trust Obama, or his bureaucrats?
   Obama wants to "close the gun show loophole".  He, and the rest of the lefties, never define just what here.  Presumable it means requiring everyone who sells a weapon to anyone to go thru the back ground check hassle. Right now only real gun stores and holders of the federal firearms dealer license are required to do the background check stuff.  Obama wants to force everyone, for instance a father selling a gun to his son, to do the bureaucratic dance.  Which doesn't do any of us any good, but it keeps the bureaucrats on the payroll.
   Then Obama has been trashing the long guns used at San Bernardino as "assault rifles".  Ohhh, scary.  Trouble is, there are no objective differences between deer rifles and "assault rifles".  The San Bernardino rifles were ordinary Armalite style .223 self loading rifles.  My antique Marlin 30-30 lever action throws a heavier slug than .223 and hits harder.  And the lever action can reload faster than the eye can pick a new target.  "Assault rifle" is really a styling term, if it has a black plastic stock it's an "assault rifle".  Walnut stock makes it a deer rifle. 

Monday, December 14, 2015

A brokered Convention???

By which, the newsies mean a Republican convention where no candidate has enough votes from primary elections to say, "I got the votes, I'm it, let's get on to the balloon drop".  Newsies love the idea.  It would have the Republican convention generate real news, that they could cover, live and in real time.  It would be a giant step backward to the old times, before primaries, where presidential candidates were actually selected at the conventions. 
  Don't hold your breath.   We haven't had Iowa or New Hampshire primaries yet. Both events will narrow the field significantly, and  the followers of the drop out candidates will float around and settle behind someone else.  Chances are excellent that someone will go the the convention with an unbeatable lead.  We just don't know who that might be. 
    The newsies are talking it up 'cause they would love to cover it, but I don't think it will happen.

Power for Kitty Hawk

The Wright Bros wanted an engine that developed 8 horsepower and weighed less than 200 pounds.  They quickly discovered that no one made such an engine in 1903.  They would have to make their own, from scratch.  They cast their own engine block in aluminum. According to later reminiscences by Charles Taylor, the Wright's "mechanician" who built the engine, there were no drawings, it was all built from sketches.  Contrary to modern practice, the pistons were cast iron rather than aluminum.  It had no carburetor, and no throttle.  Gasoline ran out of a tube into the intake manifold where engine heat vaporized it.  Lacking a throttle, the engine ran at full power all the time.  It had a chain driven camshaft that worked the exhaust valves and the ignition points.  Intake valves were held closed with springs, and opened from the suction of the piston going down, no cam drive as is normal today.  The hand built engine exceeded spec, producing 12 horsepower and only weighing 180 pounds.
   All this from this week's Aviation Week, which is celebrating their 100th anniversary. 

Sunday, December 13, 2015

I've been hacked, courtesy of Uncle Sam

Letter came in yesterday from Office of Personnel Management (OPM).  My records got hacked in the great OPM hack a little while ago.
   OPM was probably running Windows, did not insist on strong passwords changed every 30 days, kept everything on line instead of off line, and gave Internet access to every computer in the building, did not run firewalls, and allowed contractors access to the data. 
    I suppose my Air Force service records from long ago were on the system as well as the secret clearance I held up until I retired.  I wonder where OPM got my current address which they used to address the letter.  That address would not have been in any of my records at OPM since I did not live here in those days.  Maybe they got it off my federal income tax return?  To which no one is supposed to have access except IRS?
  I did notice the letter was signed "Acting Director".  Apparently the previous director, the one responsible for the hack, was relieved of duty.  Should have been boiled in oil. 
   "I'm from the government and I am here to screw you"

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Words of the Weasel Part 41

"Progressive".  That's what liberals now call themselves since liberal has become a bad word.

Friday, December 11, 2015

The Mystique of America vs that of ISIS

ISIS has a strong mystique, strong enough to get young people from Europe and even America to travel to Syria and take up arms with them.  Strong enough to get a couple of fanatics in San Bernardino to shoot down 14 of their co workers in cold blood and then die in a gun battle with police. 
   Well, America has a strong mystique too. America where the streets are paved with gold. America from where hot pop music comes from. America land of the Hollywood movie and the Wild West. America the land of fine big powerful cars and flawless thruways.  America where obstacles are over come with miraculous new technology.  America that flies to the Moon. America where all men are created equal. America where any man can become rich.  America which has millions of people yearning to get in.  America which has taken in millions of immigrants over the last century and turned them into hardworking loyal citizens.
   I'll bet that we can take in 10,000  or even more Syrian refugees, settle them, employ them, and turn them into hardworking loyal citizens just like we have done with millions of immigrants in the past.  Even if a few ISIS crazies slip in with them, the bulk of them will buy into America, and tip the cops off to any terrorists hiding in their midst. 
   It's worked before, and I bet it will work again. 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Strategy, as opposed to tactics.

Strategy is the highest level of planning and directing a war.  Tactics is concerned with how to win an engagement with the enemy.  For instance, at the Casablanca conference in WWII, President Roosevelt announced that the allied war aim was "Unconditional Surrender".  That was strategic.  It surprised our allies the British, and it shocked the German enemy.  But it told the American voters, whose unflinching support for the war was essential, that the administration was not fooling around, and that we would not settle for the sort of half measures that followed WWI.  Other strategic decisions of WWII were the decision to do Germany first, and the decision to invade North Africa. 
    Tactical decisions, are of a lower level.  For instance, George Washington when he crossed the Delaware, fearing that his colonial militiamen might not be able to stand up to Hessian regulars, brought eighteen guns across the river with his infantry.  When battle was joined  American artillery superiority quickly decided things.  That is an example of a tactical decision. 
   By my way of thinking, current day discussions about boots on the ground, is a tactical discussion, it is not strategic.  The strategic discussion, which we have not had,  is what should we do about ISIS and middle east insurgency under any name they select.  We could ignore them and hope they go away or die out. We could embargo them, cut off their oil sales, access to the banking system, commercial air transport, and all imports.  We could bomb them, either lightly, or back to stone age.  We could infiltrate political operatives, or a modern day Lawrence of Arabia, and attempt to raise a revolution against ISIS.  We could invade and occupy the ISIS lands.  Or some other option that has not occured to me.  These are strategic issues. 
   Whether to deploy American troops is a tactical decision.  I only see American troops necessary if we decide to invade and occupy the ISIS lands.  The lesser strategic options could be done without US troops.
   Our country would be better off by first deciding upon a strategy, rounding up the political support for the  strategy, and executing it.  So far, nobody, Obama, the media, the Congress, the pundits, not even Rush Limbaugh, has said a word about strategy. We don't have one.   

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Adventures in Oven Cleaning

I put the evil day off as long as possible.  But with all the children coming home for Christmas I wanted to show the kids that the old man was capable of keeping a decent house and enjoying his retirement.  So I started at 11 AM.  Didn't finish till 4 PM.  Arrgh.
   Cleaning this oven is not for the faint hearted.  It needs spintites, pliers, a trouble light, in addition to Easy Off, Brillo, lots of old newpapers to mop up the sludge, a sacrificial sponge. This oven has a heating element floating on spacers an inch above the oven floor.  I's gotta come out if you want to get the bottom of the oven clean.  Takes spintites to get it loose.  This time there was a scary zorch as I pulled the heating element out.  That didn't happen last time.  So I tripped gaily down to the cellar and pulled the two forty amp stove breakers.
    Lotta Easy Off.  Give it an hour to bite into the crud.   Mop up with old newspapers, then give it a shot of FantasTic and wipe down with a sponge that you will never use again. Uggh.  Easy Off the broiler, the burner pans, the oven grilles.
   It's done.  I pushed the oven breakers in.  Haven't had the guts to turn the stove on yet.
   Post script.  Stove works, but there is a POWERFUL odor of Easy Off when the oven heats up.  Hopefully that will fade away with time. 

Feudalism and the Stirrup thesis

This is a thesis in medieval history.  The stirrup, invented somewhere out east, India perhaps, the steppes perhaps, came to Western Europe in the 700's.  We have contemporary painting, carvings and such, some show riders without stirrups, some show riders with stirrups.  Which makes us think the stirrup came into wide spread use after 700AD and before 800AD. 
   In case you have never ridden a horse, I can tell you that stirrups on your saddle make all the difference in the world.  With stirrups your seat is firm, firm enough to rope cows and drag them to a halt, firm enough to wield a sword, and especially firm enough to couch a lance, and stay on your horse after you hit the other guy.  Without stirrups you are riding bareback, and all the rider's attention is devoted to staying on the horse.  Wielding edged weapons or even shooting arrows bareback is just not practical. 
   Which is why cavalry was a minor force, used mostly for scouting up until the time of Charlemagne.  Charlemagne's cavalry were the first equipped with stirrups, and they conquered all of Western Europe.  Armored cavalry dominated European warfare up until the infantry were issued muskets sometime in the 1500's.  Frankish knights on the First Crusade easily swept Muslim opponents from the field.  When the Franks lowered their lances and spurred their horses into a charge, look out, nothing could stop them.
   Armored cavalry are far more expensive to equip than infantry.  The horse is costly, so is the armor, and other gear. So expensive that  the land of Western Europe was divided into fiefs, each big enough to support a cavalry man, who was planted  on the land as a nobleman.  Which lead to the nobility of Europe, who called the shots and ran things up until the French revolution, and in some countries far later.  This was called the feudal system.
   The feudal system was standard thinking among medieval historians, until the  1970's.  They were teaching it to my daughter at John's Hopkins only a few years ago. 
   Now the bulk of medievalists no longer believe in the feudal explanation of European history.  They have a new thesis, which I do not understand, but they are all very set on it.
   And so, on a medieval history mailing list, we have the following topic getting discussed, "Can educators really affect willful ignorance?"  The gist of this thread is plenty of students come into the class believing in feudalism as a thesis, and still believe in it at the end of the class.  Teaching of the alternate thesis doesn't take.  And this is just dreadful.  I'd be more sympathetic if I even knew the name of the alternate thesis, even more if I had read a good explanation of it, in a hard back book.  I'm a history buff, and had such a book come to my attention I would have read it.  

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

I hate push buttons. Let me have controls I can feel in the dark

New car can be annoying that way.  The radio, black push buttons on a black panel is a prime example.  The markings on the push buttons are faint, don't glow bright enough in the dark,  and many of 'em lead to menus going a couple of levels deep.  Which are unreadable in the dark.  Working the radio is so difficult that Buick installed a complete second set of radio controls on the steering wheel.  The steering wheel buttons have larger legends than the on ones on the radio.
   In real cars, headlamps were controled by a real knob on the dash, a knob you could feel for in the dark.  Pull it full out and headlamps came on.  Push it halfway in and parking lamps come one.  Twist it to adjust the brightness of the dash board indicators. 
   In this car, they give you two small buttons next to each other.  No legends, just some obscure icons, a gear wheel is headlamps, a wispy looking P with branches growing out of it is parking lamps.  You can't feel for them, you have to take your eyes off the road and look at the dash should you want to turn headlamps on.  Dash board brightness is a slider, next to another slider, which looks just the same as the first slider.  Quick, is it the left hand or the right hand slider that dims the dash?
   This car has four real gauges that are perfectly readable.  Tach (you really need a tach on a slush box car) speedo, gas, and temperature.  Everything else, oil pressure, battery voltage, regular odometer, two trip odometers, gas mileage, oil life, tire pressure, all comes up on ONE dim LED display.  You get a set of four push buttons to select which parameter gets shown on the single hard to read digital display. 

Free Speech. It's Wonderful

So I'm driving home from DC, passing thru NYC.  Signal seek on the car radio gets me a nice strong NYC FM station, which is running a "Vaccines cause Autism" talk.  The speaker is smooth,  cites examples and studies, and if you hadn't heard a lot of respectable websites and newspapers saying the opposite, you might be taken in.  Or if you are a committed anti-vaxer this stuff is music to your ears. 
   So I punch signal seek again.  The next station is doing a long talk about how Hollywood is being mean to Muslims by not giving them heroic parts in the movies.  Where as just the day before I had been thinking to myself that we need a few good comedy movies making fun of ISIS. 
  This is not some benighted backwater in the rural South, this is New York City, supposedly the capital of right think in the United States. 

Monday, December 7, 2015

Feeling the Bern

NHPR gave Bernie Sanders a good long interview on the radio this morning.  Let's see here.  Bernie said he had two litmus tests for any Supreme Court nomination.  The nominee must be against the Heller decision (campaign finance) and for Row vs Wade (abortion).  And the nominee must believe in the Constitution as a "living document", which is a code word for bending the law to support your politics.  Bernie than ranted on about rich people buying elections via campaign contributions.  He didn't mention that George Soros puts five times as much money behind Democrats as the Koch brothers put behind Republicans. 
   Bernie came out four square for a $15 minimum wage.  And free health care for all.  He didn't mention that a $15 minimum wage locks teenagers out of the labor market.  Unions like that.  I don't.  Then he went on about income inequality, a terrible thing Bernie opined.  He never did mention that  people on unemployment widen income inequality.  He never did say anything about getting the US economy growing again, which would do good things for income inequality.  Bernie doesn't seem to understand that private enterprise creates all the wealth in the country, wealth to feed, house, clothe, employ, doctor, defend, and educate our citizens.  One of government's jobs is to encourage private enterprise so it will spread its benefits over the land.  Our population grows every year.  If our economy doesn't grow to match it, everyone gets poorer.
   Bernie didn't say anything coherent about ISIS.  He was real firm about no US boots on the ground, but other than that, he had no plan to destroy ISIS. 
   I'm voting in the Republican primary.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

You can't keep 'em out, ya gotta catch 'em

The United States has a 3000 mile long northern land border.  A great deal of it runs thru primeval forest, un roaded, un settled, un patrolled.  Anyone can hike across the border for little more than a decent pair of boots.  We have two long coasts, 2000-3000 miles each.  Each coast is covered with harbors, ports, boat launch ramps, marinas, gas docks, shore restaurants, you name it.  Come in from the sea in a small craft and you are just another fisherman or sailor, or boater coming in at end of day.  No papers needed.  It doesn't take much cash to rent a slip at a marina to leave the boat.  Light aircraft can fly across the border and land at any of thousands of tiny town airports, the kind that doesn't even man the tower, let alone a customs and immigration post.  So, the terrorists who want in, can get in, even if they don't have the paperwork to fly in by commercial airline.  And, we cannot subject every tourist to the sort of background investigation that we use on personnel cleared to handle nuclear weapons.  It just costs too much. 
   So anyone from a reasonable country, a place like France or Germany or Britain, who has a passport, can just fly over here.  And people from crazy places like Syria, there is little a US passport agent can do other than interview the traveler and take a hard look at his/her passport, make sure the picture matches the face in front of him, look for signs of forgery.   Sometimes that works and some times it doesn't.
    We have to catch them here.  That takes tips to the cops, wiretaps (or the internet equivalent thereof), and checks for papers (aka stop and frisk) as often as legally permissible.  The cops would get more tips if they were more careful about gunning down innocent citizens.  And us loyal citizens ought to make it a point to always have some ID on us.  

We need more concealed carry, not more gun control

Had anyone been carrying at San Bernardino they could have shot both terrorists long before they killed 14 people and wounded 21.  Far as I am concerned one answer to terrorist shooters (and any other kind of shooter) is to have a gun on you, and return fire.   The other answer is to have enough intelligence to detect and arrest them before they strike.
   Speaking of which, the TV news this morning claims the San Bernardino shooter was in contact with "a known ISIS recruiter" located in Minnesota.  My question is, why is a "known ISIS recruiter" running around loose?  He ought to be in jail, ASAP.  Why wasn't he? 

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Strange things about San Bernadino massacre

The shooters don't appear to be nutcases, they seemed to have a rational plan to do a lot of killing.  Unlike the school shooters who appear to be taking out their personal mental hangups on innocent bystanders. 
     They say the man, Farook, was an employee of the department doing the Christmas party, that he attended the party and left early.  So he drove back to his house, changed into tactical garb, picked up his wife, picked up rifles and pistols, drove back to the party and started shooting.  How far away from the party site was the shooter's house?  How long to drive to and fro?  Seems odd.
    The shooters had a plan to hit the party, but their get away plan didn't work so well.  Seems like they left the shooting site and went home, and were still at home when the cops turned up a few hours later to check things out.  Why did they not immediately put that SUV on the road heading out of state at 65 mph? 
    Why such a low profile target?  They could have hit a church congregation, a sporting event, a mall, a government facility,  an airport, lots of high profile stuff. 
    From what I see on TV, it looks like the wife might be the real terrorist who radicalized her fairly new husband.  They had a child, so there must have been some feeling between them.  Did they really meet on line? Or was the marriage arranged by the families?  Just where do those families stand on the matter of ISIS?
   The cops haven't been telling the newsies much, probably 'cause the cops don't trust newsies.  Don't blame them, we learned not to trust US newsies way back in Viet Nam.  The word was, don't talk to the press, no matter what you say, they will twist it to make you look bad, make your unit look bad, and make your branch of service look bad.  

Friday, December 4, 2015

Windows 8 forgot the ABC's

Back on the last decent Windows to come out of Redmond, you could right click on your desktop, click on "sort by name" and all your desktop icons would be arranged in alphabetical order.  Convenient.  On this year's Windows 8.Flake  the right click on the desktop is still there, and the "sort by name" is still there, and the icons get moved around when you click on it but they don't get moved into alphabetical order.  In fact the order seems purely random, although repeatable, you get the same strange order each time. 
   Micro$oft managed to spend untold amounts of programming time but all they get is a fatter slower product with broken features.  Stuff that used to work, doesn't anymore.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Cannon Mountain Ski Weather

I have four inches of fresh new snow on my deck.  From my deck it is an easy walk to the Peabody slopes chairlifts.  It started snowing sometime before sunrise and is just tapering off now, a little before three in the afternoon.  It's just above freezing, so the snow is heavy and wet, with a bit of cold it will freeze hard making an excellent base.  The wind isn't blowing so the snow fell on the trails and stayed there. 

San Bernadino

The shootings at San Bernadino yesterday were horrible.  My deepest sympathies to the victims and their families. 

Academic Deathwish

Some college student demonstrators are calling for more "ethnic (black) studies" programs.  Talk about self destructive impulses.  Although a black studies course may make blacks feel better about being black, they won't do a bit of good when it comes to finding a job. 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Congress can't just pass a bill anymore

They gotta stick onto a "must pass" bill.  This morning Fox was talking about a bill to offer medical benefits and other stuff to the 9/11 first responders who are said to be having silicosis of the lungs from working in the cloud of cement dust raised up when the Twin Towers fell.   Sounds like a worthy bill.  They ought to just vote it thru.  But, the Fox newsies were taking the Congressional leadership to task because they did not "attach" this bill to the highway bill, and how bills that are not attached to "must pass" legislation don't stand a chance.
   This ain't right.  If the bill is good, Congress ought to pass it.  They shouldn't be playing "You don't get your bill unless I get my bill." games.  That's childish. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Driving down to Washington

Decided to spend Thanksgiving with daughter and her fairly new husband down in DC.  I drove just to avoid giving TSA a chance to hassle me at the airport.  Had a fine holiday, fine turkey dinner, good time. 
   Daughter owns a house in Washington NE, not far from H St.  The H St trolley project is still sucking taxpayer money after five years.  They have the track laid, the over head wire strung, and the trolley cars running, empty.  After five profitable years for the contractors, they still won't carry passengers, they just run empty trolleys up and down H St.
   The neighbor hood is mostly black.  I was impressed with how nice the neighbors were, friendly, cheerful, helpful, really nice.  Perhaps DC is far enough south that the southern charm is still alive.  
   The car, new to me, even if it is a 2003 Buick, ran like a top all the way down and back.  Burned maybe a half a qt of oil, got 26-27 mpg.  Lot of trucks hauling lots of product over the road.  Even if some of 'em are empties, they wouldn't be on the road unless they were headed somewhere to pick up a load.  So even with Great Depression 2.0 still on, a lotta product is being made, then shipped, and paid for.  The truckers and the bus drivers are still polite and professional.  They stay in lane, they signal, they drive straight, good safe drivers.  I took the scenic route on the way down, crossed the Hudson on the Newburg bridge (60 miles north of Manhattan)  then took old US 202 at Flemington NJ for West Chester PA.   Avoided a pile of tolls.  It's scenic and maybe a couple of hours longer.  On the way back I took the toll route, I95, Delaware Mem. Bridge, I290, Jersey Pike, GW Bridge.  Managed to get off the GW Bridge onto the Henry Hudson Parkway up the west side of Manhattan, nice views of the Hudson.  Picked up the Cross County Parkway to the Hutchinson River Parkway to the  Merritt Parkway, to the Wilbur Cross Parkway, all the way to I91.  made the whole trip, including a quick stop at Mac's Market in Franconia in 9 1/2 hours.