Saturday, December 31, 2016

Traveling for Christmas

This year, a breakthru in family Christmas tradition.  Instead of all the children coming home to my place, I went down to spend the holidays with daughter Karen in DC.  Due to the load of Christmas presents, including a cradle for the coming child, dislike for air travel, and desire to have the car with us in DC, we drove down from NH. 
   Looks to me like the infrastructure between here and DC is a pretty good shape.  Even clapped out New York has down some work on the Cross Bronx expressway (I95) and the potholes are filled.  Looks like they resurfaced it.  Still a lot of medium bad chuckholes between the Connecticut border and the Bronx.  New York is still the infrastructure fail in the North East.  I'm thinking all the happy infrastructure talk on TV is coming from New Yorkers like Trump, who only see New York roads.  And maybe DC roads, DC has a fine herd of chuckholes and waterbars so bad I feared for my suspension.  Fortunately the Buick is pretty tough and nothing broke.   NJ has finished widening out the NH Turnpike.  The twelve lane wide part now is usable all the way to Philadelphia. 
   And the NJ tolls are fierce.  The GW bridge toll is now $15.  The NJ Turnpike toll from the bridge to Philadelphia was $11.80.  Then with the Del Mem bridge ($4), the Del TP toll ($4), the Maryland TP toll ($4) and the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel Toll ($8)  toll money is getting up closer to gas money. 
   Noticed a whole bunch of new pricey electric signs flashing harmless platitudes.  More infrastructure money at work.  And the shiny new mile markers, every 0.2 miles are spreading, like kudzu.  Wanna bet each one of those mile markers costs us taxpayers $100 to buy and plant? 
   Daughter's DC neighbor hood is coming up.  New condo's for yuppies under construction.  They finally got the trendy H Street trolley car to run.  Took 'em five profitable years. Everybody loves it, it's quaint, and it's free since they haven't figured out how to collect fares in cars with front and back doors.  At least so says Daughter.  The new cars have TWO, not one but TWO hinges in them to allow the car to handle tight curves.  That's two hinged sections to leak rainwater.  When the Boston T, with the sharpest curves in the nation, bought new cars from Boeing Vertol, they only needed one hinged section.  And the hinge has leaked rainwater onto passengers for 20-30 years now.  By the Way, the H Street trolley line runs straight as an arrow, no curves at all. 

Monday, December 26, 2016

Rogue One, The New Star Wars movie

Saw it today in the Smithsonian Air & Space museum Imax theater.  Nice big screen , good sound system, good seats.  It was in an  annoying three D, glasses required.  This three D system had a terrible depth of field problem.  Everything in the foreground or background was really blurry, only the middle ground was sharp.  PITA.  Camera work was only fair, too many superquick shots, cut too fast.  Too many scenes poorly lit.
   Other than that, it was a decent flick,  Better than the last one, far better than the three followon movies.  The story is set before the time of the first Star Wars (A New Hope) and has a whole new set of characters, no reviving of the old traditional cast,except Darth Vader.  The story line is the Rebel Alliance obtaining the Death Star plans that Luke and Leia will deliver in A New Hope.  We have a dynamic and pretty heroine, Jinn sonething-or-other  who has a good role and plays it well.  We have a handsome hero, whose name escapes me, (whole flick was weak on names) who has a good role but Jinn has a better one.  We have a blind and somewhat crazy Jedi master who is into whacking down Storm Troopers with a staff. We have a big ugly mercenary, with a heart of gold and a taste for heavy weapons.  And a big long armed long legged Droid with a sense of humor.   Lots of  booms amd blasts and space combat and special effects, all nicely done.  The flick keeps things moving and isn't too long. 
   A good Christmas flick. 

Friday, December 23, 2016

On the road for Christmas

Posting may be a little thin, perhaps nonexistent for Christmas week.  I am going to spend the holidays with my children, and may not get around to posting til I get back.

Rehashing Ancient History on NHPR

Way back in 1953, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were tried, convicted and executed for passing the secret of the atomic bomb to the Russians.  As far as the judge and the jury were concerned, the Rosenbergs had given the secret of the ultimate weapon to our mortal enemies.  The Left (we called them communists back then) in those days called the Rosenbergs innocent victims of a judicial murder.   In later years declassification of the "Venoma Papers", intercepted communications between the Soviet embassy and Moscow, showed the Rosenbergs guilt.
   And so, better than 60 years later, NHPR ran a lengthy piece, rehashing the whole affair.  Apparently there are two Rosenburg children, still alive, who are petitioning Obama to posthumously  pardon Ethel Rosenberg, their mother.  They feel she is innocent, and apparently, since they are only asking in her name, they finally think Julius, their father, was guilty as charged.
   I'm so glad NHPR brought this bit of ancient history back to life, and as befits NHPR's rather lefty stance, they give the Rosenbergs a very sympathetic treatment. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Executive Action by Tom Clancy

I wonder if Donald Trump has read it?  In this novel, Tom Clancy's hero,  Jack Ryan, becomes President of the US.   Ryan receives plenty of sage advice on how the Presidency works,  and the good guys win in the end.   Plenty of US political ideas get tossed around, and in some cases nailed to the carpet.  It's a fun read.

Should you warm up your car engine in winter?

Popular Mechanics and Road & Track are saying "NO!"   I say yes.  In proper cold weather, say below zero, your engine oil gets stiff and sticky.  The oil pump may be be able to force enough thick and sticky cold oil thru the engine bearings to prevent damage to the engine.  And, the defroster won't throw any heat til the engine warms up. 
   What you ought to do, is give the engine 20-30 seconds at idle to get the deep chill off it.  Then drive away gently, no foot to the floor acceleration, until the temp gauge gets up somewhere near normal, or the defroster starts throwing a little heat.   Takes a few minutes and then all is well. 
   There is no need to leave the car idling for 10-20-30 minutes before driving it, but you do want to keep your foot out of it until the engine is warm. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The NRA counts coup

The new American Rifleman magazine, the NRA house organ, got to me today.  In it, the NRA leadership spent several pages patting themselves on the back for Donald Trump's win.  NRA backed Trump from the very beginning and are overjoyed at his win. 
   Aside from a few Democrats bad mouthing the NRA,  the MSM hasn't let out a peep about how effective they were.  Actually, the NRA has several million dues paying members,  mostly single issue, support of second amendment voters.  The NRA magazine goes to all of them.  Every election American Rifleman will have a two page center spread, listing every office in each state, from US senator down to dogcatcher, and naming all the candidates, and giving each candidate a grade, A thru F, on where they stand on the second amendment.  The membership reads the magazine and finds it highly credible, much more so than any of the MSM. 
   I'm thinking that several million motivated single issue voters swung more weight in the election than anything the Russians could even think of doing.  Funny that the MSM never writes about it.  Probably the MSM writers are all city boys who don't like guns. 

How "Identity Politics" failed Clinton

"Identity Politics" as played by Hillary, amounted to identifying some group[s], blacks, women, Hispanics, LGBT, and others, naming them, and asking them to vote for Hillary.   Some did, just being named is powerful, but many did not, because Hillary never addressed their wants and grievances.  She just asked  for the votes.  No quid pro quo.  No campaign promises. 
   In some cases, the "identity group" wants something repellent to the rest of the country.  Hispanics want easier immigration and a path to citizenship for the illegals allready in the country.  This is anathema to large number of  regular voters.  Women want free contraceptives and abortion on demand which is anathema to large numbers of voters. 
   To do "indentity politics" well, you need some genuine members of the group, leaders, come out and campaign for you.  Hillary didn't have any prominent blacks, hispanics or LGBTs on TV, calling for Hillary's election.  Actually The Donald did better in this respect.  He had Ben Carson, a highly respected black man, come out and publicly support him.
   My advice to the Democrats in the aftermath of this year's election, is to go back to political basics, come up with a party platform, that states issues, that actually mean something real to voters.   This requires some head banging within the party to accept some controversial issues.  What to do about pipelines and transmission lines, oil exploration, charter schools, taxes,  law enforcement, and more are all controversial inside the Democratic party.  One reason Hillary never campaigned on any of them is that doing so would have brought a storm of criticism down on her from the numerous opponents of each and every issue. 

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Companies need to train their employees

Companies are wailing that they cannot find workers with the right skills to fill some 5 million job openings.  Stop wailing.  Hire some likely young guys (and girls).  Run 'em thru a training course, on company time and on payroll.  Flunk out a few losers, and in a few months you have all the new skilled workers you might need. 
   But, after we spend money on training them, they quit and go to work for our competitors.  That mean you aren't treating them right, not enough pay and benefits, or an unpleasant work environment (dirty dingy shop, nasty foremen, crummy hours, and other things) 
    The public schools need to teach the three Rs, reading riting, and 'rithmetic.  It's unreasonable to expect them to teach CNC machining, vapor reflow soldering, digital signal processing, use of logic analyzers, operation of bulldozers and backhoes.  This sort of specialized state of the art technology must be taught by industry, not public high school.  Let the schools teach fundamental things of use anywhere and let companies teach their special technologies. 
   Judging by the corporate whining about lack of suitably trained workers, I don't think many American companies understand this. 

Saturday, December 17, 2016

What does CIA know about hacks and hacking?

Probably very little.  CIA's history is not encouraging.  They failed to predict the breakup of the Soviet Union in the late 1980s.  They spent eight years attempting to destabilize the Bush administration with embarrassing leaks and the Valery Plame affair.  They  claimed the Iranians had closed down their nuclear weapons program. They failed to warn of 9/11. They still have their agents working out of US embassies.  Not an impressive record.
   Today CIA is claiming the hacks against the Democrats were done by the Russians.  Maybe.  Maybe not.  Granted the Russians have the capacity, but so do a bunch of others, ranging from individuals, small groups, large groups and plenty of nation-states.   China and the NORKs have the capability and they don't like us much.  ISIS has the capability and they really don't like us.  Plus the democrats were a pretty soft target.  Word has it that Podesta was so clueless as to fall for a phish email, you know the ones that claim there is a problem with your account and you need to give us your password to make it right.  According to the Wall St Journal, the Republicans had tighter security and the hacker[s] failed to penetrate them. 
   I'd give more crediblity to the Russian theory if I heard it from some truly competent people, like Microsoft, Kaspersky, Malwarebytes or even NSA.  I used to do contract work for NSA, and NSA did have people who knew what they were doing.  I cannot say that about CIA. 

Friday, December 16, 2016

That Russian Hacking

The MSM are still talking it up.  Spreading the narrative that Hillary would have won, except for the Russians.  Sounds better than Hillary lost because of her nasty background going back 30-40 years, and she didn't promise to get the country back on the right track.  Polls from before the election showed everyone thought the country was on the wrong track.  Hillary never addressed this issue (and a lot of other issues) whereas The Donald promised to get the country back on the right track.  The voters found both candidates to be equally personally distasteful, but they all knew the country was on the wrong track, so they voted for the candidate who promised to fix things, rather than the candidate who kept saying that everything was just peachy.
   Hillary's secret server, FBI directory Comey's statements, and the leaked Podesta emails all hurt Hillary, but I don't think any of those things were decisive.  It was Hillary's frequently stated belief that the country was on the right track that convinced voters that she wasn't living in the real world. 
   But no Democrat, from Hillary on down wants to admit that, so they are puffing up the Russians were hacking story. 

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Fall of Aleppo

The fall of Aleppo to the forces of Bashar Assad and Vladimir Putin is the culmination of Obama's Syria policy.  It is a horrible human catastrophe.  But it's what Obama brought us.  It's a good thing it happened on Obama's watch, since he is fully responsible for it. 

So what happens to Dylan Roof?

Roof is the homicidal maniac who killed nine people in cold blood at a church bible reading session.  MSM is reporting that the jury has found him guilty.  But guilty of what?  This is federal court with charges of hate crimes and other mopery and dopery.  The feds don't do murder.  Question for you MSM, just what did they find Roof guilty of, and does it carry the death penalty? 
   Far as I am concerned, they should have put Roof up in state court on just nine charges of first degree murder.  Which carries the death penalty. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

New York Times. 80 years of disinformation

All the news that fits we print.  The Times got started in the 1930's with their man Walter Duranty, who sent back years of glowing stories from Stalin's Soviet Union.  According to Duranty everything was sweetness and light in Russia.  He never wrote a word about the great famines, the purges, and the secret police.  Duranty was so bad that even the NY Times finally admitted that his Pulitizer prizes were undeserved.  Of course they didn't come clean until the 1990's, but the Times did admit (then) that Duranty's reporting was not on the up and up.
   Then the Times had a love affair with Fidel Castro in the late 1950's when Fidel was just a revolutionary hiding out in the Cuban woods.  They ran a long series of stories, flattering to Fidel, condemning Batista.   They helped Fidel immensely, the Times had all of America convinced that Fidel was a good guy.  Which helped Fidel a lot.  He was running guns and stuff into Cuba from Florida.  Since everyone knew, 'cause the Times had told them, that Fidel was a good guy, we never cracked down on his smuggling into Cuba.  This wasn't the only reason Fidel won, but it was a big help.  It wasn't until Fidel had been in power for six months and made a bunch of rabidly anti American speeches that the Times finally admitted that well, yes, Fidel was a communist.
    Then in the late 1960's the Times sent their man Harrison Salisbury to North Viet Nam, where he sent back a flock of stories sympathizing with the Viet Cong.  Harrison wrote about this remote village, where the village chief kept a big written log of all the American air raids going back for years.  Horrors, four innocent villagers had been  wantonly killed by Yankee Air Pirate bombs.   Well, I was in South East Asia that year, and my unit, the 388 Tactical Fighter Wing, had flown missions to that little ville in North Viet Nam.  The biggest railroad yard you ever did see was smack dab in the middle of that little ville.  And we had raided it, heavily, several times.  If  "collateral damage" was limited to only four civilian casualties, I call that damn good bombing on our part.
   After that, I never paid much attention to the NY Times, since they had proven themselves unreliable.  They were back in fine form for this year's election, plugging for Hillary and trashing The Donald at every turn.
   An example of American journalism at it's finest.  

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

What's good for General Motors is good for the country

So said "Engine Charlie" Wilson, secretary of defense back in the Eisenhower administration.  The statement caused a furor at the time.  Democrats went into a tizzy.  But in real life, things that helped GM, the largest corporation in the world in those days, were good for the country.  When things were good for GM, they hired workers and spent money on supplies, parts, and new construction.  All of which is good. 
   Trump's many enterprises are reasonably important to the country, not quite as big a deal as GM was back in the good old days, but big enough.  It could be said that what's good for the Trump operations is good for the country.  Democrats would howl, again, but it's true.  President Trump's actions that help the Trump business empire will help plenty of other businesses.  The newsies are yelping for Trump to do something, anything, to separate himself from the business empire he built.  I don't see this as a real necessity.   He has tweeted that he will turn the business[s] over to sons Eric and Donald.  Both of whom have expressed love, loyalty, and respect for their old man during the campaign.  I think both sons see the world about the same way The Donald does, and will run the Trump empire about the way The Donald would.  And would listen to anything The Donald might suggest to them.  After all they are immediate family and any President is entitled to talk to his immediate family, in confidence for that matter.  I'm OK with that. 

Monday, December 12, 2016

SpyHunter 4

A virus got onto my desktop.  It started putting a bunch of files with the extension .osiris on the harddrive.  Googling on osiris  informed me that Malwarebytes (which I have and use and trust) and something called Spyhunter (which I had never heard of before) would settle osiris's hash.  So, I gave malwarebytes a run, and sure enough, it reported some viruses, and zapped them.  So just to make sure, and to see what would happen, I ran Spyhunter.  Not so good.  It crashed once.  Then it ran and found a list of stuff it didn't like.  So when Spyhunter finished scanning, I clicked to make it zap the stuff it found.  Instead of doing what it was told, Spyhunter demanded I pay $40 for the fancier version of the program.
   No way would I do that.  I  used Windows Explorer and Regedit to search for the objects Spyhunter was objecting to.  No soap,  I could find neither disk files nor registry keys to match anything Spyhunter reported.  So, I uninstalled Spyhunter.  I cannot recommend that program to anyone.
   I still have a bunch of .osiris files on disk.  And a file demanding ransom to decrypt them.  I'll do some more research tomorrow. 

The Russians are hacking, the Russians are hacking!!

Yeah right.  We know someone hacked the democrats, 'cause their stuff turned up on Wikileaks.  That's about all we know.  We have no way of knowing who dunnit.  The hacker causes disk files to be copied out to somewhere on the internet.  For looking at the disk files afterward, you cannot tell if they were copied or not.  The only way we know the hack occurred is that stuff turned up on Wikileaks.  Even if we can find the Internet address (URL)  to which stuff was sent, that could be anyone.  Any hacker will sent hot stuff thru an internet anonymizer site that  keeps no records and forwards stuff tracelessly. 
   No matter what the MSM or CIA or FBI or other pundits say, we cannot know who did the hack.  We can have suspicions, but we cannot know.  The world has plenty of individuals, small groups, large groups, and countries capable of doing the DNC and Podesta hacks.  Especially as it didn't take much to do the hack.  From what I hear Podesta was clueless enough to fall for a phishing email.   Which is incredibly clueless of him.  
   The folks we hear saying the Russians did it don't know that.  They are saying so because they think it will help their political position.   Which is hard to understand actually.   Getting hacked shows the victims (hackees) as sloppy, ignorant, and clueless. 

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Black Viper seems to be off the air

Black Viper, most useful and knowledgble  computer geek, the goto web source for taming Windows, seems to be off the air.  I get that "Sorry cannot find" message when I try his URL. 
   Anyone know anything? 

Tchaikovsky's Nut Cracker Suite

They put it on in Littleton NH last night.   It was the local dance school doing it.  The venue was the old Littleton Opera House, a groovy old building from the 1880's, newly restored to it's original glory, period woodwork,  nice paint, and at the insistence of the state building department, structurally beefed up to prevent it from sliding into the Ammonusuc River.   The real reason I, and youngest son, got out on a cold dark night was  that my grand niece Amelie, age 7, had a part in it.  It was a big hit.  At least 300 people in the audience, a lot of small children, undoubtedly younger siblings of cast kids.    The audience completely parked up the Opera House lot and the town lot behind the Jax Jr movie theater.  A bid deal for a smallish up country town.
    And it was a nice show for an amateur cast.  Fair number of grown up cast members, who had the bigger parts.  There were tutus and point shoes, and most of 'em could dance en pointe.  Costumes were colorful. All the kids got parts.  Music was recorded but they had a pair of very decent speakers that nicely filled the house.  Minor drawback, the portable dance floor wasn't very solid, and the grownup dancers made really loud thumping noises dancing upon it.  Kinda spoiled the lightness and bounciness of the dance when you could hear the floor complaining of the weight.
   Classical music isn't dead yet.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Trump picks military officers for cabinet

Because only the best go into the military.  I did a six year tour in the Air Force.  The airmen I served with were absolutely top notch people, intelligent, motivated, loyal, hard working, dependable.  After my Air Force tour, I worked in civilian industry for forty years.   Working in the high tech companies out on Rte 128,  I never had a workforce as good as I had enjoyed in the Air Force.  I had a lot of good people in industry, but the Air Force had better.
   I see Trump picking the best people he can find.  Of course many of them are military people, because only the best go into the military.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Remember Pearl Harbor

It changed the course of history.  Up until Pearl Harbor, isolationists in America had succeeded in keeping the US out of WWII, despite the unanimous opinion of the American establishment.  In December 1941 the Nazis were well on their way to conquering the world.  They had invaded and occupied Norway Denmark, Holland, Poland, Belgium, and France.  Britain was on the ropes, they had fended off the Nazi air attack in the summer of 1940 by the skin of their teeth, but were in no shape to do much more.  The vast Red army, locked in combat with the Wehrmacht, had suffered defeat after defeat, loosing hundreds of thousands of men in German encirclements.     By Pearl Harbor time the Germans had reached the suburbs of Moscow.  Had Moscow fallen, Russian resistance would have collapsed and Adolf Hitler would rule all of Europe from the Channel to the Urals. Had the isolationists kept America out of the war for another year or two, Hitler might have won.  It was a close run thing.
    Isolationism disappeared in the smoke of Pearl Harbor.  Americans were outraged and to a man demanded their government do something about it.  Which the Roosevelt administration pr0ceeded to do. 
    The Japanese, with the exception of Admiral Yamamoto, totally misread the situation and
American intentions.  The Japanese war aim was to conquer China, plus a few other things, but China mostly.  The Japanese economy was dependent upon American exports of gasoline and crude oil and scrap metal.  The Americans disapproved of the China invasion and embargoed those crucial exports.  The Japanese were faced with collapse of their economy (production of warships, war material, aircraft and all the rest needed to maintain a war), or backing off, with the intolerable loss of face that would entail.  They never thought about going elsewhere for raw materials.  Sumatra, not far away, had enough high quality crude oil production  to run Japan thruout WWII.  They could have just muscled their way into Sumatra, acquired the needed oil.  The Americans would send diplomatic nastygrams to Tokyo, but the US isolationists would not have permitted anything more. 
   Instead, Japan thought that a devastating attack, one that knocked out the US fleet, would cow the Americans into making terms.  Partly this mistake came from a  Japanese leadership had no conception of the resources at America's disposal.  In Japan, things were so tight that building a single new battleship required contributions from school children (lunch money) and years of scrimping and struggle.  In America Roosevelt could pick up the phone and say " We need ten new battleships as soon as possible.   The contract will be cost plus.  Start work now".  And ten new battleships, plus carriers, destroyers, liberty ships, submarines, and everything else would slide down the launching ways and join the US fleet.  Japanese leadership simply did not understand this.  They thought that sinking all the Pacific Fleet battleships would cripple the Americans forever. 
    It didn't.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Replacement for Air Force 1. The Donald weighs in

The United States owns two (just two) operational Air Force 1s.  They are Boeing 747's with a fancy paint job, and every imaginable electronic device and defensive system.  Cost was no object back then.  The primary reason for Air Force 1 is to impress everybody in the world.  We are the only country rich enough to furnish a custom widebody jet liner to fly the president around.  All the other heads of state fly commercial. The current two  aircraft have been flying since the 1970's if memory serves, and you can make a case that it's time to replace them.
   On the other hand, aircraft last forever.  Every thing that wears out gets replaced.  Maintenance (I used to be a maintenance officer) has to fix everything, soon as it breaks.  If it ain't fixed, the crew won't accept the aircraft, causing all sorts of bad things, late departures, late arrivals, nasty phone calls, the works.  Engines and other machinery have to to replaced every so many hours.  So after 25 years of service, the current two Air Force 1s are as sound as when they left the factory, maybe better.
   Somehow during the Obama administration, the Air Force got funding to buy two replacements.  The new birds will be the same Boeing 747s with a sticker price of $352 million, each.   That would accomplish the primary mission of Air Force 1, namely to impress everybody.  Throw in some bucks for the fancy paint job.  Let the passengers communicate with their smart phones.  
   That's not gonna fly in the Air Force I remember.  I'm sure the Air Force contract calls for installing all the fancy electronics that the current models have, plus a bunch of new stuff that's been invented in the last 25 years.   And thousands of hours of flight testing, of a highly reliable airliner that has been flying for nearly 60 years.  Maybe the Air Force will pull the KC-46 tanker cost enhancement trick, demanding all the aircraft wiring be redesigned and rerouted "to meet Air Force standards".  Boeing knows as much or more than the Air Force about the right way to wire an aircraft.  What with one frill or another, the price tag is up to $4 billion for two aircraft.  Which is too damn much. 
   With a bit more pressure from The Donald, they might be able to reduce the fancy electronics load and cost.  I'm sure there is a bunch of stuff that the plane could jolly well do without.  Or, just cancel the whole project and keep on flying the current, very safe, very impressive aircraft.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Taiwan is a real country, no matter what Mainland China says

The NY Times, echoing the lace panty leftie peaceniks from the State Dept,  is bashing Trump for accepting a phone call from the President of Taiwan.  Let's be real about it, Taiwan is a real country that we, the United States, have promised to defend from invasion by the mainland.  That is a serious commitment, to go to war with a whacking big industrialized  country like China.  And Taiwan is a significant economy, well worth our time.  Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) is one of the largest silicon foundries in the world.  If it disappeared, there would be a serious worldwide shortage of semiconductors.  Analog Devices, with its own foundry in Wilmington MA,  sent their digital designs to TSMC, half a world away.  The Wilmington foundry was at capacity, and it could make higher value analog parts, where as TSMC was a strictly digital house.  And they did good work.
   Anyhow, despite what the mainland Chinese say, Taiwan is a real country, with industry, armed forces, a sizable population, friendly to the United States.   For the NY Times to get its panties in a twist because Trump took a friendly phone call from the president of a friendly country, is outrageous.  

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Is the "Alt Right" just 50 internet trolls?

Been hearing a lotta talk about the evils of the "Alt Right".  I never heard of 'em before the last election when all of a sudden they were evil incarnate, snatching victory from the lips of Hillary Clinton.  I don't know the names of any alt-rightists, I don't know of any books they have published, any blogs, any websites, any magazine articles.  For a group that is credited with so much, they are pretty near invisible. 

Is the USA really divided??

Watched the Sunday pundits this morning.  One of 'em, Meet the Press, showed a post election Donald Trump speech.  Over laid upon The Donald's blonde hairdo were three lines, red for Republicans, yellow for independents, and blue for Democrats.  For most of the speech, the Republican line was at, or over, the top of the chart.  The independents weren't quite so enthusiastic but still a solid 80-90 percent.  The democrats stayed down at 20 percent. 
   I call that a serious split.  Let's call the two groups Republicans or Democrats.  There are other names we could use (conservative or liberal, progressive or stick-in-the-mud, etc) but  Republican and Democrat are the names we use in politics and elections. 
   So what is the difference between these two groups?  Some of it is just partisan ship, the same kind of thing that motivates fans of the Yankees and the Red Sox.  Some of it is distaste for this year's candidates.   But let's focus on things that  the incoming Trump administration could do something about.  That's issues.  Like the economy, tariffs, immigration, taxes, "the social issues", and other stuff that can be expressed in concrete terms, rather than the feelgood means nothing talk so beloved of politicians, especially when they are on TV.  The media didn't talk issues, probably because they are too ignorant to recognize an issue if they should trip over one.   It's so much easier to just read the polls over the air.
   Going from stuff I read in the Economist, the Wall St Journal, and the TV I see things this way.
   Republicans like tax cuts,  keeping immigrants out,  keeping foreign made goods from competing with American goods (tariffs),  repealing Obamacare.  Republicans see American corporations as job providers and want to encourage them. 
   Democrats want tax hikes.  They say they are OK with immigration, although I wonder if the rank and file Democrats agree with the leadership on this. They seem to  be OK on tariffs, they want to keep Obamacare.  Democrats see American corporations as robber barons in need of more good harsh regulation.

I93 widening finish in 2020???

I93, the stretch from Manchester down to the MA line, was built, back in the 70s as a four lane divided highway.  Over the years it has become the Number 1 commuter road to Boston.  With horrible traffic from Manchester to the MA line.  MA built their section of I93 six lanes and eight lanes.   Everyone noticed that the traffic jam broke up after crossing the MA border.  
   Better than five years ago NH started to widen I93 out to six lanes.  They still haven't finished it.  Channel 9 (WMUR) had the NH commissioner of transportation, Victoria Sheehan on TV this morning.  She opined that I93 might be finished by 2020.  FOUR YEARS from NOW.  Arghhh!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Tucker Carlson's 7PM news show

It's Fox, natch.  Tucker now has the hour after Brett Bair's news hour.  Tucker is pretty good.  First week or so he had a number of liberal guests on, who he proceeded to disembowel right in front of the cameras.  Fun to watch.  But the amount of blood spilled has scared off the game.  At this point, nobody who is even a little bit left of center, and has two brain cells still functioning, is going to be on Tucker's show.  Nobody wants to be red meat, eaten raw, on national TV. 

Friday, December 2, 2016

Risk vs Regulation

The objective is (or ought to be) preventing banks (and their ilk like brokerage houses) from losing wads of money and kicking off Great Depression 3.0.  The way a bank looses money is to make bad loans that default and don't pay off. 
    Democrats think you prevent this by setting up federal bureaucrats to watch the banks, check their books, and meddle in their deal making.  Hence the Sarbanes Oxley law and the Dodd Frank law.   Many think the terrible economy during the Obama adminstration was caused by these two laws. 
   I think you prevent undue risk taking by banks by insuring that the bankers who lead their banks into disaster should be made to smart for it.  First we make very very clear that Uncle Sam will never ever bailout any failing bank.  If we have any bank "too big to fail"  it's time for anti trust action to break that bank up into smaller parts.   Bankers need to know that if they screw up, they are out of business, right then and there.  Bank officers loose their pensions, and deferred compensation, and their company health insurance. FDIC can pay off the depositors, but bank investors, officers, employees, and stock holders loose everything.  Which ought to produce some pressure on the suits to avoid stupid plays, like Greek loans.  Or mortgage backed securities, or credit default swaps.  And we encourage every blood sucking lawyer in the land to sue the management of failed banks for gross negligence.  

Vintage Cary Grant and Sophia Loren Romantic Comedies

Just finished watching two of them.  Houseboat, where Washington lawyer and widower, with three small cute children, meets up with Sophia Loren, who first charms the children, and then wins Cary Grant's heart.  With a few amusing mishaps, like when moving a house, they get it stuck in a grade crossing, and then a diesel powered express train roars thru, blowing the house to splinters.  Which results in the family moving into a beat up house boat on the Potomac. 
   Then there is The Pride and the Passion, a movie set in Napoleonic war Spain.  Spanish guerrillas come into possession of an absolutely humongous cannon.  They set about dragging the mountain of metal clear across Spain to the siege of some-where-or-other.  Sophia Loren is the BFF of the guerrilla leader  (Frank Sinatra).  Cary Grant is the English naval officer who is the only man with the guerrilla army who actually knows how to work the gun. 
   Heartwarming movies the likes of which they don't make anymore.  Houseboat is the better of the two, Sophia Loren gets a better role.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

New Buzzword, WWC

Stands for "White Working Class"  They started using it late in this election.  Prior to this election I had not heard it anywhere.  Strange.  Back when I was growing up, every kid's father  worked, at the Dennison plant, at the GM assembly plant, at the Roxbury carpet company, at truck farming, at auto repair.  None of them had a college degree.   No blacks lived in  Framingham MA in those days.  I went to public school and I don't remember a single black kid in any of my classes. I didn't meet any blacks until I joined the Air Force.   So,  back then, everyone in town was white, and worked and so the white working class was everybody. 
   The other thing I don't like about the buzzword is the "working class" part of it.  Has an unpleasant Marxist sound to it.  Or is it an attempt to revive the idea of Communist class war? 

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Words of the Weasel Part 49

Bipartisan  (n) or bipartisanship (adj).   Noun or adjective.   Generally perceived as a "good thing"  or at least the pol using the word hopes that is what the voters perceive.  At it's strongest, bipartisan is a code word meaning vote for my bill.  A weaker form of the word means I will talk compromise with my political opponents rather that just yelling at them.  
   If a pol has nothing better to offer than bipartisanship,  you ought to vote for the other guy.

Secretary of State

I hope who ever Trump picks can manage the State Dept, a goofy bureaucracy stuffed full of democrats, know-it-alls, and peaceniks.  They all have snivel service protection against firing.  Many of them are scattered all over the world where it is harder to keep track of, and ride herd on them.   Flinty old John Bolton might be able to handle them, but  I'm doubtful of Romney, Guiliani, and Corker.  Petraeius might be tough enough.
  As it is, a lot of 'em are getting ready make leaks embarrassing to the incoming Trump administration,  and the MSM are sitting up, wagging heir tails,  and begging for some dirt to print.
   Although the secretary of state cannot fire them, he could announce a policy of unaccompanied overseas tours in unpleasant places for State Dept leakers.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Do we really need a law against flag burning??

Burn a flag in most places and you WILL get punched out.  Which is one reason why flags don't get burned very often.  Why make life more complicated by passing laws? 
   And for the Supremes who have opined that flag burning is free speech.  It ain't speech, it's action.   Some how we have nine lawyers, men of pure speech, who don't understand the simple things in life, like the difference between talk and action. 

Publicity for vote recounts

  I doubt very much that any number of recounts will change the election results.  But one of the minor losing candidates is calling for them, and the MSM are giving her, and the recounts, as much publicity as The Donald ever got on campaign.  (And The Donald got a lot of publicity from the MSM) 
   I wonder why the MSM is pushing this issue.  Do they think it will weaken the Donald after inauguration?  They are all so locked in to doing election stories that they want to stretch the election out some more?  They are all so brainwashed that election stories are the only kind of story they know how to write?

Who to send to Fidel Castro's funeral?

How about Al Sharpton and that football player Colin K-something-or-other?

Monday, November 28, 2016

Dark History: Vikings by Martin J. Dougherty

It's almost a coffee table book,  nicely printed, nicely illustrated, if it was a few inches bigger it would make the coffee table class.  The author is, or is writing for, Viking re-enactors or gamers, he doesn't write like an ordinary historian.  It reads well, and tells the story of the Vikings the way most histories tell it, you can quote from the book and nobody is going to challenge your ideas.  He talks about the famous names, Ragnar Lodbrog, Sven Forkbeard, Hrolf Ganger, Lief Ericsson, Harald Hardrada, Eric Bloodaxe.  Nice discussion of things like clothing, farming, the gods of Asgard.  I am enough of an amateur historian to have heard of most of the things in the book, but it's a fine introduction for folks unfamiliar with the Viking age.
   Dougherty introduces us to the modern Russian historical controversies without taking sides.  Viking traders on the way to Constantinople penetrated most of what is now European Russia.  It's clear that the Viking culture had influence upon the lands and peoples of Russia.  Modern Russian historians are reluctant to allow that Vikings are the founders of Russia.  They like to emphasis the native slavic genius and downplay the influence of the Vikings.  Since the relevant sites are all deep inside Russia, only available to Russian archeologists, there is little that Western writers can say with much authority. 
   All in all, a good read.  It would be better if they gave some provenance to the numerous and lovely illustrations.  They range from photos of ancient rune stones to a nice color illustration that I recognized from National Geographic magazine years ago.  Giving the name of the illustrator and a date would add interest to the illustrations. 

Who will become Secretary of the Air Force?

USAF has a bunch of  problem areas right now, pure Air Force issues that a new Tramp administration Air Force secretary will need to cope with.  The on going and worsening cost overruns and schedule slippage on the F-35 fighter program.  It's gotten so bad that Canada recently bailed out and will buy F-18's instead.  There is more slippage and over runs on the KC-46 tanker program.  ust starting up is a new strategic bomber (B-21) program.  And a new air launched ground attack missile to serve as a penetration aid for that bomber.  And the fighter pilot mafia keeps trying to kill off the A-10 program over the protests of the Army and the Marines.  The creeping paralysis overtaking all new programs.  In WWII we could move a new fighter from paper spec to mass production and into combat inside of a year.  The F-35 program has been running for twenty years and the plane still isn't combat ready.  Right now the gun won't fire, and the engines catch fire if the plane pulls more than 5.6 G. 
   New Air Force secretary has his work cut out for him.

I wonder how long it will take for the MSM

To find something, anything, to talk about besides the election.  It's been two weeks and all they can talk about  is the election.  Will this last til New Years?  til next Christmas?  Who knows? 
   Part of the problem is the newsies know so little about anything, so they find it hard to write about just about anything.  The election is simple to cover.  All they have to do is read to polls over the air and then do some pontificating about the meaning of it all.  They don't have to get out of their cushy offices, talk to people, take notes, find stuff out.  That's hard work.  Easier to just pontificate about the polls.
   Could it be that nobody is left in the MSM  who can write a story about anything except the election?

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Alcohol Mandate

Carl Icahn wrote an op ed in the Wall St Journal decrying the use a and abuse of Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs).  These are some kinda chits that concern the addition of alcohol to gasoline before it is sold at the pump.  I didn't fully understand Icahn's explanation of how the scam on RINs worked, but he claimed it was driving the smaller refineries out of business and leaving gasoline production to the majors and the big service station chains.  Icahn is in the business and probably has it right.
   More to the point, the entire alcohol in gasoline program is a scam.  Beloved of greenies, who think it  saves the planet, and of farmers who see a huge market for their corn, in actual fact, the program just raises the price of gasoline.  Growing the corn and distilling it into alcohol consumes more gasoline and diesel (energy)  than the alcohol provides.  We would get more gasoline for less drilling if we just refined crude into gasoline and sold it. 
   Back when the alcohol in gasoline scam got started, the greenies were told that raising corn and distilling alcohol would save on crude oil production.  So all the greenies, and Congresscritters who thought they could snare some greenie votes fell in line.  And all the farmers who correctly saw that massive alcohol production would skyrocket the price of corn got on board, and between the two they had enough votes to slide the mandatory alcohol in gasoline program thru Congress.  That was years ago. 
   The truth is, making alcohol consumes more gasoline and diesel than the alcohol conserves.  And the bulk of us motorists  (in America everyone is a motorist)  are stuck with a program that raises the cost of gasoline.  We ought to abolish the whole thing, RINs and all.   Maybe the Trump administration will do something about it. 

Monday, November 21, 2016

All the News that Fits we Print

The media doesn't admit this, but they really blew their credibility in this election.  The bulk of the real citizens no longer believe what they see in the MSM anymore.   And, the media wants to keep it up.  I hear the word "normalization" passed around.  Apparently this means getting off Trump's case for at least a day or two.  I hear voices decrying "normalization" by which they mean staying on Trump's case, trashing him, and causing him as much trouble as they can.   Somehow, I don't think this is going to rebuild the media's credibility with voters and citizens.  At this point, the only media I believe in much are the Wall St Journal and Fox News.  
   Newest anti Trump tactic seems to be finding offensive ideas on social media, or just inventing them out of thin air,  attributing them  to the Trump administration, and then running a story about them, or asking Trump or Reince Preibus if they support said offensive idea.  The 21st century version of  "Have you stopped beating your wife?" question.  Let's hope the voters and citizens are intelligent enough to detect the malice in these stories and discount them. 
   The purpose of a free press is to inform the citizens so they can vote intelligently.   Now that the media have discredited themselves with the public, the public is turning to Facebook, the water cooler, and just plain rumor.  Not good.
   Part of the media's problem comes from the sheer incompetence and ignorance of their staff.  They are all journalism school majors, the sort of people who cannot change a light bulb.   

The Fake News campaign drives the fake Obits off my Facebook

I haven't seen a fake obit (famous celebrity has died) posting to my Facebook page for nearly a week now.  They used to pop up everyday.  Has the anti Fake News push scared them away or what?

Sunday, November 20, 2016

The Bern and Chucky the Schumer

New democratic Congressional leadership.  They were on TV news today.  Saying that they would cooperate with the GOP on issues they believe in.  As opposed to bucking everything in Congress on general principles.   Which makes sense.  They gotta pass a federal funding bill shortly or the whole government shuts down. Some time in early December. That will take some Democratic votes. 

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Electoral College

Democrats have been complaining about the electoral college system since last Tuesday night when Trump pulled ahead of Hillary.  It's in the Constitution, right up front, unlike some of the other things judges have invented from the bench.  It's the way things have been done since George Washington's time which makes it legitimate in the eyes of most.  It works like this, each state gets votes (electors) equal to its Congressional representation, one vote for each rep. and one for each senator.  Voters get to choose the electoral college votes (electors) for their state.   After the election (sometime in December) the electors get together and vote on who shall be president.   The founders originally thought that the electors would be solid citizens who be free to vote for the most worthy candidate.  But the parties came up with dependable party men who believe in their party and have always voted a straight party ticket to stand as electors.  Which makes the selection of president more democratic than the founders had planned upon.  
 The other effect of the electoral college is to level the playing field between big states and small states.  As a citizen of New Hampshire, I like the electoral college system.  It gives my small state more influence in national politics than it would otherwise have.  Without the electoral college, the hordes of democrats in California would out vote the rest of the country.  I'm not ready to be californicated.  

Friday, November 18, 2016

The Demographic Imperative for immigration

To be a superpower, you have to have a large population.  The reason the United States surpassed the British Empire during WWII is fairly simple.  The US boasted a population in those days of 100 and some million, compared to Britain's 40 million.  That turnover was peaceful due to close historical ties between the two countries and Winston Churchill who clearly saw that an Anglo American alliance, which he succeeded in creating, could win the war and impose a Pax Americana on the world. 
   Lesson to be digested.  To remain a superpower we have to have a large population.  Especially today when we have 320 odd million as opposed to China with a billion, and India with nearly as many.  To maintain our position in the world, we must maintain and grow our population.   And natural increase is failing.  To just maintain a population, to say nothing of growing it, each woman needs to bear 2.1 children in her lifetime.  As of today, America's women are just breaking even, and it looks like they will fall further behind in the coming years.  Continental Europe and Russia are already far behind,  in Russia the figure is down to 1.4 children per woman, and the population of Russia will sink by half in a generation.  Which might explain Vladimir's rambunctiousness on the world stage today.  He wants to get his licks in while Russia still has the population to do it with. 
   America has an advantage here.  We have created the freest, wealthiest, and most pleasant to live in country in the world.  Everyone would like to move here.     We have a tradition of welcoming and assimilating newcomers, the old melting pot idea.  And, immigrants coming from our south are good Catholics and hard workers. Compare with France and Germany, where the immigrants are low grade Islamics who have not  assimilated at all, they are trying to make Europe over into the Middle East. 
   To maintain our population we ought to admit each year, immigrants equal to 1 or 2 percent of the current population.  Say 3 to 6 million immigrants a year.  And since everyone wants to come, we can be picky and admit people who will do the country good.  Young, healthy, loyal, educated, and law abiding we need.  We don't need more elderly, more unemployed, more gang members. 
   We already have a lot (10 million?) of illegal immigrants in the country.  They are picking crops, roofing buildings, waiting tables, probably all for cash under the table.  But, many of them, most of them perhaps, are fitting in, finding work, raising their children to speak English, staying out of trouble with the law, paying taxes.  Which kinda defines a good citizen in my book.  I'm ready to grant to legal papers to good citizens cause we need more good citizens, and in these cases we know who has been good and who hasn't.  I don't really care if they slipped into the country illegally.  Given their circumstances I probably would do the same thing if I had the guts. 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Thank You Paul Ryan

For killing the attempted revival of earmarks.  Congressional "earmarks" were a shadowy system that allowed Congresscritters to direct spending into their own districts.   For worthy purposes like getting themselves reelected.
    Republicans killed the earmark scam when they took control of the House back in 2010.  Caused a lot of squealing from the democrats and RINO's.
    Somehow the Congresscritters thought they could slip earmarks back in during the lame duck session.  By all accounts they had the votes to open up the earmark black hole again.  But Paul Ryan, Speaker of the House, somehow managed to stop the stampede to the feeding trough.  The whole matter will be put off until the next Congress in 2017.
  Thank you Paul Ryan for saving us taxpayers from yet another money sink.  There is a least one honest man serving in Congress.  

Words of the Weasel Part 48

Racist:   That's what progressives (democrats) call anyone who disagrees with them.  Its gotten to the point that the word is loosing its insult value. 
Sexist:  Same as above. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Fake News on Google, Twitter and Facebook

The Wall St Journal has run stories about fake news on page 4 and page 1 of the business section for two days in a row.  They deplore it. 
   My Facebook has been running fake celebrity obits for a week now.  I have been informed of the death of Clint Eastwood, Angelina Joli and three or four others.   All fake.  Which has pretty much destroyed my confidence in anything else I might see on Facebook.  I use Facebook to post snapshots for my widely scattered children and friends.  Nothing more serious than a seven year old's birthday party, or autumn leaves in NH.  But after all the fake obits,  I don't trust anything more serious from Facebook.   Dunno about twitter, I don't do twitter, although maybe I ought to start to catch some of the Donald's rants.  Haven't seen anything fake on Google, yet. 
   Was I running any of these web sites, I'd clamp down on fake news, just to retain the ordinary user's confidence in the site. 

The Economist really doesn't like The Donald

For the November 12 edition, they ran 10 pages about Trump.  They repeat all the nasty things the democrats said during the election.   A ten page hit piece.  Let's hope this rant lets off their rancours and they can go back to reporting, as opposed to flaming. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Infrastructure, useless frills or needed engineering?

We need more infrastructure is the cry resonating from media to legislatures and back.  The pols like infrastructure because it means money spend in their districts.  Motorists (most of the population are motorists) want potholes, bottlenecks, narrow and bumpy streets to be fixed, to make their drive to work faster and easier.  The clueless media cheers for infrastructure. 
   Except when the money is spent on frills.  The drive up to my place is I93, running from Boston to St Johnsbury.  I have been driving this stretch of road for 60 years to go skiing, I know it well.  New Hampshire has maintained the roadway in pretty good condition over the years,  much better than anywhere in New York state for example.  But over the years, we have wasted money on mileposts.  They put in  shiny new mile post signs every 0.2 miles.  They are so close together you can see from one to another.   We drove I93 safely for 50 years without all those expensive little signs.  Then they funded a bunch of very fancy electric signs that just stand there flashing cute slogans like "Arrive Alive" and "One for the road gets trooper for chaser".  Really necessary those are.   And then there was the great rock blasting of the 1980s.  As you can imagine a New Hampshire highway needs a lot of rock cuts to get the road thru the granite hills.  When I93 was first built, back in the 1960s, all the rock cuts were made, of a generous width (interstate standards).  And traffic flowed nicely for twenty years.  Then in the 1980's they decided to spend a lot of money and widen every single rock cut, from the original generous width, to really ridiculously wide.  Years of drilling and blasting and well paid contractors ensued.   When the work was finally done, and the last "Construction" sign taken down,  the road worked just as well as it had before.  Mega money was spent to accomplish nothing, except giving a lot of well paid work to contractors. 
    Each one of these boondoggles was a 90% Federal 10% State money deal.  If the Feds are paying for 90%  of it, who cares how much money is spent/invested/wasted?  Betcha that bunch of thrifty Yankee state legislators in Concord would never have approved these boondoggles if they had to scrape up the money for them. 
   Principle.  He who spends the money should have to raise the money.  This business of the feds pay for it and the staties spend it is just asking for waste fraud and abuse.  To straighten things out, we ought to shut down the entire federal highway fund.  The states will raise the money for truly needed infrastructure, and they won't find the money for boondoggles. 

Monday, November 14, 2016

Went to the dump today.

Got rid of an entire Buick trunk full of campaign yard signs.  All in good shape.  Used only once.  Seems a shame to chuck 'em, but who has the space to keep 'em?

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Pre existing conditions and 26 year olds on their parents health insurance.

Trump was talking about "modifying"  Obamacare repeal to preserve these two Obamacare benefits.  I'm not agin the idea, but Trump ought to do it this way.
1.  Have Congress pass, and he sign,  a simple one page bill repealing Obamacare root and branch.  Just to make a point.
2.  Promise to sign a preexisting conditions law and a separate 26 year old children law, should Congress get its act together and pass them some time in the future.

If Trump allows "modification" of Obamacare, the special interests come out of the woodwork, all bets are off, all sorts of "stuff" will get packed into the "modification".  Better to kill the whole thing, and require Congress to pass new legislation from scratch to pass out any goodies to the voters.  Make sure to record the names of Congresscritters proposing and voting for such laws.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Post Mortem, which minority group tipped the election to The Donald?

The American Pundit Class has been crying in their beer since Tuesday night.  They didn't want The Donald to win, and they had predicted that he wouldn't.  Now,  they are upset to find The Donald will be President of the US in a couple of months, and they are scrabbling around for an excuse for their failed predictions.
   They talk about the Hispanic vote, the black vote, the LGBT vote, the college educated vote, the White Working Class (now sporting a new acronym, the WWC) vote, the millennium vote (was that the name of a Star Wars spaceship?), and every other minority group they can invent.  Or they are blaming the pollsters.
   Little to no talk about the women's vote.  Women are half the population, vastly larger than all the "minority groups" put together.  A couple of internet postings mention in passing that Hillary got 54% of the women's vote.  They didn't give The Donald's share of the women's vote, but let's just assume any women who didn't vote Hillary voted Trump, which would give Trump 46%.  And a difference of 8%.   From a  women voting population of 123 million, 8% is 9.84 million more women's votes for Hillary than for Trump.  Are there that many Hispanics or blacks in the whole country?  Given The Donald's crude remarks about women that came out in the campaign,  that 8% margin for Hillary is understandable.  The Donald can be very offensive when he sets his mind to it.
  The real question about the election results is how The Donald managed to squeak out his victory over that 9.84 million women's votes against him.  He did, somehow, and that's impressive.
  Next time, the Republicans need to think about doing something about that ginormous number of women who didn't/won't vote Trump.  Next time the Democrats will have stronger candidate, nearly anyone with a pulse would be a stronger candidate than Hillary was.
   I wonder why the pundits aren't talking about the women's vote?  

Trump ought to do Income Tax Reform ASAP

The income tax, both personal and corporate, is killing the economy.  Taxes are too high, highest in the world for corporations.  No wonder American corporations are leaving for overseas, the taxes are lower overseas.  And too damn complicated.  Ever since income tax was invented way back in 1913, every special interest has been adding little loopholes to the tax code to let them skate free.  Big companies and rich people who can afford enough lawyers can figure out ways to avoid taxes. Ordinary people just get soaked. 
    Carly Fiorina had the right idea.  "Close every loophole, lower every rate."   Gaping loopholes needing closure:  Mortgage interest deductions, depreciation of real estate, capital gains, loss carry forward, carried interest, electric car subsidies.  And lots more.  I only know the income tax code well enough to do my own taxes, with an assist from Excel.  The real tax dodger lawyers, and for that matter The Donald himself, know of plenty more.  Loopholes favor the big and the wealthy, finding them or making new ones gives big money to the lawyer class, and  it makes people and companies pour money into things that don't produce wealth, they just dodge taxes.  We would be better off without loopholes.   I'd trade my loopholes for a couple of percent lower tax rate any day ( or any tax year).
   We ought to have just three tax rates, one for the very wealthy, one for ordinary citizens, and one for the truly poor.  I do believe the truly poor ought to pay a little something, just so they feel some hurt every time a new handout is voted in.  The "breakpoints" between truly poor, ordinary citizen and very wealthy ought to be indexed for inflation.  Otherwise Uncle Sam gets an automatic tax hike every year as inflation pushes everyone up into the next higher tax bracket.
   Ignore the Democrats who will claim that tax cuts are "for the rich".  Right now half the population pays no income tax.  Tax cuts only help those who pay taxes.  The way Democrats say it, if you pay taxes you are a member of the evil rich.  Ignore this malarkey.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Facebook and Fake News

Facebook has been running a series of fake news articles.  Each one announces the death of a celebrity (Clint Eastwood, Angelina Joli, and the like).  In actual fact, all these "victims" as still alive and well.  Facebook really ought to shut this down. It ruins the Facebook reputation. 
   Right now, I don't believe any news posted on Facebook.  If in doubt, I go to good old reliable InstaPundit or Drudge.  If it ain't on either of those, then it didn't really happen. 

Does the Pentagon Need an Acquisition Chief??

Title of an article in Aviation Week.  They have one now.  The incumbent, Frank Kendall, claims that cost overruns were 51% before his time and he has reduced them to 5%.  His job is on the line, latest Senate defense authorization bill would remove it and replace it with two lower ranking slots, one for R&D and one for "management and support"  what ever that might be.  Pure paperwork perhaps?
  Acquisition is a serious problem at the Pentagon.  Look at the F35 program, a decade late and zillions over budget.  There was a new Marine One helicopter program that got so far out of line that Obama had it canceled.  The KC-46 tanker is years late and under attack by nit pickers.  I don't follow the new programs as closely as I used to back when I was a serving Air Force officer.  So there has got to be more grief out there.
   Success or failure (cost overruns and delays) rest with program management.  Take F-35 for example.  It's problems can be laid at the feet of F35 program management.  Extra layers of Pentagon paper pushers have nothing to do with it.  
   Every military officer in program management needs to know that his Officer Efficiency Report (his future promotion chances)  rest upon program success.  Bring the program in on time and under budget and you get ranked at the top.  If the program is late or overbudget, you get ranked at the bottom.
   Program management needs to have input to the specification writing.  Many program disasters result from ridiculous specifications, spec that called for unobtainium, or faster than light, or other things impossible to actually make.  Or, gold plating the project with nice-to-have but not really necessary expensive gadgets.  I'm thinking of the Tactical Situation Display in the old F106.  It never worked, and the plane flew and fought successfully without it. Or the C-5 program which sank under the weight of impossible to make requirements.  Or the F35 burdened with an airborne digital networking system, and Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance (ISR) systems neither of which are needed in a fighter.  Fighter planes are expensive and should concentrate on air superiority, shooting down enemy aircraft and attacking enemy ground troops.  We have recon aircraft, drones, and satellites for ISR.
   Then program management has to iron out the myriad boggles and whoopsies that come up during the program. Specifications almost but not quite met.  Subsystems that just don't work.  Program management must be prepared to accept small shortcomings when the cost of fixing them is high.  And be prepared to just dump subsystems that aren't working.  And accept cost reduction suggestions from the contractor. 
    Trump needs a good, intelligent defense secretary to sort this stuff out.  The current secdef, Ash Carter isn't bad.  John McCain would be good, he at least knows the issues and knows which end is up. 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Trump ought to cancel Obamacare ASAP

Obamacare is going broke, insurers are bailing out, and it is a terrific drag on the economy, plus most of the voters don't like it.  First we need to get a simple one page bill  thru Congress that completely puts away the present 5000 page law.  Democrats in the Senate will try to block it, but we ought to be able to stir up public opinion to undermine them.
   After the present law is scrapped pass a few things to help out.  Most (75%) Americans get very decent health insurance thru their jobs.  Obamacare only effected the self employed, and the unemployed.  The big companies have lawyers and experts and they drive a hard bargain with the insurance companies.  Any insurance company will bend over backward for a customer like GM or Walmart.  This makes the company insurance policies the best and cheapest it is possible to write.  All that is necessary is to pass a law requiring insurance companies to sell their best policy to the general public at the same price their big company customers pay for it.  This will let the self employed get insurance at a reasonable rate. 
   Then a little competition is good for pricing.  Pass a law that allows any American insurance company to sell insurance in all fifty states of the Union.   Right now, to sell insurance in a state, the insurance company has to go to the various state insurance commissions, do a thousand pounds of paperwork, kneel on the floor and bang there heads against the bureaucrat's desk.  This is such a drag, that for small or thinly populated states, they just don't bother.  And so, the citizen's of such states (like New Hampshire!) only have one insurance company to buy from.  And ripped off they get.  We could fix that easily.  The insurance companies won't like it, but they don't vote.
   Then we could cut drug prices with a law that allows duty free import of medicine to the US from reasonable first world countries (Canada, Britain, Japan and so forth).  Whether or not said medicine has FDA approval.  If the authorities in reasonable first world countries have OKed the drug for their citizens, then it's good enough for American citizens.  The drug companies and the FDA will hate this idea, but again, they don't vote.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Stock Futures? Investment or Gambling?

First I have heard that we even had a stock futures market.  During the long election night Fox mentioned that US stock futures had taken a serious dive, hundreds of points, as Trump's election victory became clearer and clearer as the night wore on.  But, in the morning when the real stock market opened, everything was hunky dory, the Dow went up a couple a hundred points over the day.
   Why do we have a futures market in stocks.   Futures markets were invented for agricultural commodities, crops, which are in oversupply right after harvest, and become scarcer and scarcer as the once a year harvest gets used up.  Used to be, if you were a farmer, you could get much better prices for your crop if you waited til well after harvest to sell it.  Which takes money for the farmer to do.  He has bills that have to be paid, and he needs the money from selling the crop.  If said farmer has some cash in his checking account, he can wait, but few farmets have that much money in their checking accounts. 
  So, they invented futures markets.  The producer makes a contract with the consumer to deliver a big load of crop, sometime in the future, at an agreed on price.  And these contracts can be traded or sold, along with the crops.  This smooths out crop prices over the year, which is a good thing for the producers.  And as crop prices move up and down, futures contracts offer a way to bet on price movements.  In fact the gambling angle proved so popular that futures markets in things that are not seasonal, like gasoline and jet fuel,  were created.  Southwest airlines was very good at playing the futures market in jet fuel and saved themselves a ton of money. 
   And, so, we now have a futures market in stocks. They are not seasonal, and the real stock market is open five days a week  every week.  Far as I can see, stock futures are just pure gambling.  We ought to tax the hell out it. 

Healing the wounds of the election. Let Hillary off.

I'm gonna offer advice to the incoming Trump Administration, while it is still incoming.  My first advice is to drop prosecution of Hillary Clinton over the emails or any other matter.  She lost the election.  She doesn't hold public office, she will be too old to run again in 2020.  She's harmless now.  Let her go.  You could probably gin up your Justice Dept to prosecute and even win a court case against her.  Don't.  She cannot do you any harm now.  And prosecuting her will really piss off  all her friends and supporters.  Of which there are a lot. People you want to win over to your side, not  kick in the head.  Don't be divisive when you don't need to be.

So what happened election night?

The pollsters had Hillary ahead by a little.  But Trump won.  What happened?
   The short of it is, we voters were given two unpalatable candidates.  One candidate promised to get the country back on the right track.  The other insisted that we were on the right track all along.    But we weren't, we still aren't, and everybody except newsies know it.
   Basically Wall St speculators crashed the world economy back in 2008.  And it has stayed crashed.  US GNP growth has been a measly 1% per year for the eight years of Obama.  It should be 3%.  Obamacare, the war on coal, 80,000 pages of new federal regulation, crazy federal tax policies and general federal meddling has combined to flatten US economic growth.  And people feel it, they cannot find jobs, their children cannot find jobs, they don't get raises, they loose their houses to foreclosure, and everything costs more.  The country is on the wrong track and everyone knows it.
   So, faced with two unpalatable candidates, voters went for the unpalatable candidate that promised to fix the economy, rather than the unpalatable candidate that claimed things were just peachy.
   The profession of economics did not help the situation.  Economist say a depression is over when things stop getting worse.  Great Depression 2.0 flattened out way back in 2008 but it hasn't gone away, the economy is still not growing.  Voters, workers, and citizens don't think a depression is over until things climb back up to where they used to be (ought to be).  So we had all the economists (a lefty lot) claiming Great Depression 2.0 was over back i9n 2009.  The Obama administration liked this myth, and spread it around, and the newsies (another lefty lot) picked it up and pushed it.
   But truth is stronger than fiction, and the voters knew things were bad and voted for a guy who said he would fix them, despite  that guy's big mouth. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Let's just charge him with nine counts of murder

Dylan Roof is headed to FEDERAL court first.  The Feds want to charge him with 50 counts of this and that.  This is malarkey.  Roof committed premeditated murder of nine completely innocent strangers.  In front of witnesses no less.  Murder is a state crime in the US.  There doesn't appear to be any controversy over the facts of the case.  Roof ought to be in state court facing nine counts of murder.  The law on murder is clear, and hasn't changed much since Moses brought the Ten Commandments down from Mt. Sinai.  And murder has always been a death penalty offense. 
   The feds are charging "thought crimes" (hate crimes) and weapons charges and welfare for lawyers.  This ain't justice.
   Justice is an atrocious criminal brought to trial and convicted of straight forward well understood crimes.  And executed for murder. 

Monday, November 7, 2016

Lamenting ( or cheering for) the death of democracy. NHPR

NHPR was on this depressing theme all day Saturday.  The were talking about "economical man" the theoretical man of the economics text books who does every thing for money.  The claimed that such a man would never bother to vote, because there is no money in it, and because his one vote won't count for much in the myriad of other votes.  They ragged on about this for a half an hour.  Depressing talk.
   Of course the entire concept is malarkey.  People don't vote 'cause there is money in it, they vote cause they believe in the cause.  It doesn't cost money to vote, and the trivial amount of time it takes is of little account.  I managed to vote for fifty years stopping at the polls on my way to work or on my way home from work.  Not a significant burden. People vote for either a candidate they like, for an ideology they like, or against a candidate or ideology they despise.  Except in the simple case of vote buying by party bosses, money is not the question.  Which means voting is not properly a subject of economics, or concepts like "economical man"
   And, American democracy has a good track record of selecting decent leadership.  For the great crises of American history, Revolution, Civil War, the two world wars,  our democracy  put forth good strong effective leaders, Washington, Lincoln, Wilson, Roosevelt. 
   We did better than Europe.  European leadership was monarchies, and the governments, even France and Britain, were staffed by the aristocracy.  They weren't very good at their jobs.  In the supreme crisis of 1914 they allowed events to drift into a terrible war, a war that wrecked all of Europe for good.  US democratically elected leadership knew enough to stay out of it, and once it became clear that we had to step in to prevent the bad guys from winning US leadership brought the united backing of a large industrialized country into battle, and in both world wars,  created the moral high ground, Wilson's 14 points, FDR's four freedoms.  "In war the moral is to the physical as three is to one," said Napoleon once upon a time.  US democratically elected leadership understood this where as European aristocratic leadership did not. 
   Churchill once said "Democracy is the worse form of government, except for all the others."   I like that.

FBI Director Comey says there is nothing in the Weiner computer emails

This is the 600,000 odd emails found on Anthony Weiner's computer.  How in the name of all that's holy can anyone, any gang of agents look at 600,000 emails in eight days?  That's 75000 emails a DAY.  Maybe the FBI had a computer program scan them looking for keywords?  That sounds sorta flaky.  Any how, the FBI director said he wasn't going to prosecute Hillary again last night. 

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Man vs Clocks Going back to Standard Time

So, this morning I  did the clock reset  thing.  First my wrist watch, that's easy, just turn the knob.  Then the clock radio.  Not too bad, has a button marked "clock set" and a couple of arrow buttons. Now things get sticky.  Antique Tiffany mantle clock, inherited from my long dead grandmother.  Gotta be a hundred years old.  I've been told you NEVER push the hands of such a clock backward, it breaks things and/or seriously confuses the hour striking mechanism.  So I stop the pendulum swinging with my fingers, wait an hour, and restart the pendulum.  And then we check the cell phone.  Wonderbar, cell phone has automatically gone to standard time, hands off, no tinkering required.  Wonder how cell phone managed that trick.  Does the internal program have the dates of Daylight time burned in it?  If so, does it still work after the Congresscritters change the dates again?  Or does the cell phone home base broadcast a "Change clock now" signal to every cell phone in the land? 
  Then the VCR.  Not that I use it much anymore, but it's still there.  I find it is showing standard time.  I guess I never bothered to set it on daylight time.  It's a yard sale machine, with a remote picked up at a different yard sale.  
   And desktop, still running old but fast and trusty XP, made the change automatically.
   Shortly I will go down to the garage and tangle with the car clock.  Last time I had to dig the car manual out of the glove compartment to figure out how to set the car clock.
   If I had my druthers, we would stay on Daylight time all year.  We don't have enough sunlight in winter to give us light for both the drive to work and the drive home.  Druther drive to work in the dark, when I am fairly rested, and have some coffee in me, and get a virtuous feeling of getting up early, than drive home in the dark, tired, and feeling like it's midnight cause it's black everywhere.  Depressing that is. 

Friday, November 4, 2016

Can we believe the polls?

Good question.  Especially as the wall-to-wall TV coverage of the election consists mostly of reading the latest poll over the air.  That's why newsies love elections, they are so easy to cover, you don't need to know anything, you don't have to get out of the office and talk to people, you just read the poll results over the air. 
   Longish piece in the Wall St Journal over the difficulties of the pollsters in this cell phone age.  The Journal says that a special law passed back in 1991 forbids the use of demon dialers on cell phone numbers.  For a pollster to call a cell phone number, he has to hand dial the number.  Which is slow.   So all the pollsters prefer to call real wired phones.  But, the Journal says that most of the people who answer the wired phones are over 65, which is not very representative.  I can believe this, none of my three grown children has a wired phone.  To add insult to injury, a large number of people just hang up the phone when they hear it is a pollster.  I can believe that too.  I have done a bit of political phone banking over the years.  Used to be, the voters were sort of pleased to receive a call from the party and would talk to you about politics and stuff.  Not any more.  Now a days, they just hang up as soon as they learn who you are.
   So the pollsters have trouble reaching a representative sample of voters.  They compensate by "weighting" the sample they do manage to get.  "Weighting" is adjusting the results based on past experience, or hunch, or voodoo.  Actually it is surprising that they do as well as they do.  And they have missed trends, like Brexit completely.
  So, it might be worthwhile watching the election results come in next Tuesday.  There might be a November Surprise for all of us. 

Thursday, November 3, 2016

NH Senate debate on WMUR

We have Republican incumbent Senator Kelly Ayotte going up against Democratic Governor Maggie Hassan.   First issue discussed was cyber security.  Both candidates managed to speak for several minutes on this issue without ever mentioning the name of the cyber security problem, namely Windows.  Any Windows computer connected to the internet can be secretly taken over, everything on its hard drive transferred to the attackers, malware emailed to every address in the victim's address book, keylogger installed to capture all the victim's passwords, and DDOS attack software installed.  Plus other bad stuff.
   Windows is so riddled with security holes as to be unfixable.  If you want any security at all, you must run something else, Linux or Apple. 
   Anyhow neither senatorial candidate seemed to be aware of this.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Obama is on TV trashing the Donald for not paying enough taxes

Obama, your IRS has audited the Donald every year of your administration.  They didn't find anything wrong with his tax returns.  If The Donald ain't paying enough taxes to suit you, your IRS was OK with it. 

Will this endless election actually end next week?

Lord I hope so.  But it might not.  The polls are very tight, the election could go either way, or worse,  deadlock.  That would throw the election into the US House of Representatives.  Where the current Republican majority ought to be able to elect Trump.  Even after they vote by states, one vote per state, as required by the 12th amendment, which was passed after the disputed Adams/Jefferson election of 1804.
  Or it goes to the Supremes.  Last time (2000) the Supremes had a 5 to 4 conservative majority.  This time, since the death of Justice Scalia, the court is split 4-4.  The Supremes are as partisan as all the other Washington pols, and so would be unable to reach a decision.  What happens after that is any one's guess. 
   The newsies like elections.  They are simple, horse races, and even the dimmest newsie can find things to saw that don't make him/her sound too dumb.  So they will do what they can to keep this one going.  That's essier for them than starting up the coverage of the 2020 election, which the newsies would otherwise do a couple of days after the polls close next week.  We will surely hear more about Hillary's email and the FBI, whether she wins or looses. If she wins, the constant harping on the emails won't help her.  If Trump wins, the newsies will settle down to harassing him for his entire term.
   And, the voters on the loosing side are going to be unhappy, and stay unhappy.  If you believe the polls, that's gonna be about half the country.  Can the winner find anything to do or say to ease that unhappiness?

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

WMUR (channel 9) TV NH governor's debate.

On one side we have Democrat Colin Van Ostern.  Colin is in favor of  building commuter rail, offering universal prekindergarten, funding alternate energy, signing up for Medicaid expansion.  He is against the Northern Pass power line project. When asked how he plans to pay for all this goodness Colin claimed that he could do cost savings in NH state government which would be enough.  Right. He did have enough political sense to say he would not put in a state income tax or state sales tax.  " He took the pledge" as we say up here.  Only smart thing he said all night.
   Chris Sununu talked about trying to bring more business into NH, something we need.  He is against commuter rail, pointing out that the $350 million for commuter rail would finish the widening of I93 and fix every worn out highway bridge in the state.  He said that "alternate energy" merely raises every one's electric bills. 
   They both agreed that NH needs better mental health and drug therapy facilities.
   None of the newsies on the panel had the stones to ask about right to work.  

Alley Cat Appreciation Month

We are in it.  Although "Alley cat" is non PC.  The PC word is feral cat.  Seen a couple of pieces in the Wall St Journal, lotta posts on the 'Net.  All saying nice things about alley cats.  I met my first real alley cats when youngest son went to college in Brooklyn.  They made me feel sorry for them.  Skinny, grubby, coats in poor condition, living outdoors in a New York winter, it was clear that house cats have a much better life than alley cats. 
   There was a piece in the Journal about keeping feral cats around the Jacob Javits center to keep the rats in check.  Nice color picture of a loading dock with a nice looking black and white cat on it.  Except, that cat looked more like a house cat than an alley cat.  It was well fed, it's coat was fine and glossy, it was sitting in the middle of the loading dock.  Alley cats remain in corners, under cars, outta sight, they don't plunk themselves down in the open to get their pictures taken. 
   Then a nice puff piece on alley cats made it onto my facebook page this morning. 

There has gotta be something wrong

With a national political party going thru TWO party chair women in just one election season.  First they had to dump Debbi Wasserman Schultz over her work against The Bern in the primaries.  Now they dump Donna Brazille for feeding debate questions to Hillary.  How do the Democrats select their chair persons? 

Monday, October 31, 2016

FBI shrinks from getting their hands dirty

According to Fox last night, the FBI got a search warrant for the Weiner/Adebin laptop.  I assume they were investigating the charges against Weiner for sexting a minor.  After a WEEK, the laptop was turned over.   Hell, give me just an hour and every single bit on the hard drive goes bye-bye for good.  After looking thru the laptop the FBI discovered a deep pool of really ugly mud.  To avoid going for a swim in filth, the FBI decided they needed another search warrant to look into it.  They must have been hoping the courts would be slow.  Well the second search warrant turned up in time for the election.
   For me, the take out is :  ONE search warrant is all you need to search ONE laptop.  The FBI was stalling, hoping the matter would go away. 

   Afterthought:  They are now saying the laptop has 650,000 emails on it.  Best I can think, they backed up Hillary's server onto the laptop.  And that's a lot of emails.  That's 445 emails a DAY, for the four years Hillary was Secretary of State.   

Sunday, October 30, 2016

The economy is most important issue.

Why?  Because with a strong economy all other things become possible.  With a strong economy everyone can find a job, and the 10% of the working age population that doesn't have a job, or can't find full time work, or is on the official unemployment rate will all have jobs.  And they will pay taxes instead of absorbing welfare bennies.  Boosting tax revenue by 10% would do good things for the deficit, and provide money for all sorts of social bennies, better schools, more infrastructure, maternity leave, you name it, money makes it all possible.  A strong growing economy throws off money like a tree shedding its leaves in the fall. 
   A strong economy reduces crime.   It employs people.  The unemployed have the time and motivation to do a little burglary, deal some drugs, steal a few cars.  Put 'em to work and we will have less crime. 
   A strong economy improves civilian morale.  When the economy is strong people feel better about life in general 'cause they no longer worry about loosing their jobs.
   A strong economy gives the muscle needed to deal with Islamic crazies,  Vladimir Putin, the NORKS, and the rest of them.  Remember WWII, our economy won that one.  Starting from scratch the American economy poured forth the war material, aircraft, tanks, rifles, av gas, rations, army trucks, and nuclear weapons that doomed the enemy. American av gas fueled the RAF for the Battle of Britain.  Dodge army trucks and LL Bean shoepaks made the Red Army mobile.  British troops drove American Sherman tanks to victory at El Alamain.  Our economy was efficient and strong enough to keep running at the wartime pace even after 10 million men were taken out the economy and enlisted in the armed forces. 
   The economy has to grow 3% a year just to keep up with population growth.  It has to grow to offer jobs to each year's crop of new high school and college grads.  Obama has failed in this.  Under Obama economic growth has been 1.5% instead of 3%.  That's why so many new grads are still living at home and playing video games, they can't find jobs.
   We need a new president who will make the economy grow.  Open up all federal lands, and offshore waters to oil exploration.  Restrain the NIMBYs and BANANAs who are stopping every sort of construction.  Close tax loopholes and reduce the rates to keep business from fleeing the country.  Shut down the patent trolls.  Repeal Obamacare.  Repeal most of Obama's business killing regulations.  Stop pouring good money into greenie "alternate energy" ratholes. 

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Musta been a lotta heat.

After FBI director Comey let Hillary off last month, it must have taken a hell of a lotta heat to make him change his tune, in public, so close to the election. I've heard that a lot of FBI people are still mad about letting Hillary off.  Maybe something really juicy turned up, and Comey had to fess up or they would leak it.  Certainly most Republicans, especially the ones in Congress, were unhappy about letting Hillary off.  The ones in Congress can make trouble for the FBI when budget time comes around. 
   There is talk that what ever it was turned up during the investigation of Anthony Weiner for sexting a teenage girl.  Weiner clearly has some kind of psychological hangup.  Some how, Huma Abedin, Hillary's close advisor, married the guy, and even had a child with him.  Make you wonder about Huma, how smart is she really, if she couldn't figure out that Weiner was a screwball.  And how smart is Hillary to rely on a woman who isn't very bright as a close advisor?
   And how did the FBI get their hands on what ever it is?  On Huma's computer?   Hillary should have given Huma some lessons about wiping hard drives clean.  Let's guess that "it" is an email from Hillary.  A lot of the stuff Hillary wiped off her server must have been emails to Huma.  And the FBI found them still on Huma's computer?  
   Come on FBI, let us see the dirt too.  It's selfish to hog all the mud to yourselves. 

Friday, October 28, 2016

Wonder how many early voters wish they had waited?

For the latest FBI blockbuster to come out. 

Heat makes light

The blockbuster announcement by the FBI today that they are re opening the Hillary email case is a result of heat applied to the FBI.  Enough heat will make some light.

Old USAF Cliche

"Any landing you can walk away from is a GOOD landing."   I never really appreciated this cliche until the time we ground looped in a Gooney bird at Takli Thailand.   We passengers were VERY appreciative and we all shook the pilot's hand.
   Betcha Mike Pence understands the old cliche now. 

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Rail vs Air travel?

Europe and Japan take great pride in their high speed passenger rail.  I've been to both places, ridden the trains, and they are slick.  You board the trains in the center of town, no $100 cab ride to the airport, and you get a fine view of the passing countryside, and they drop you off in the center of town, where you can walk or take the subway to your hotel. 
   Why don't we have trains as nice in America?  Simple, the US is too big, train takes too long to get anywhere.  When I had business on the west coast, I could board a jet liner at Logan and be in California before lunch.  That's 3000 miles at 600 mph.  Even a science fiction 300 mph train would take all day.  A practical 21st century high speed train (150 mph) would take a day and a night. 
   The only place in America with cities close enough for train travel to compete with air is the Boston-Washington corridor up the east coast.  And, we have Acela, a medium high speed train.  Not as fast as the French TGV or the Japanese Hikari superexpress, but fast enough.  Acela can do the Boston New York run fast enough beat airline time, you can skip the taxi to the airport and the hour to get thru security.  Funny thing,  Acela fares are higher than airline fares. 
    Governor Jerry "Moonbeam" Brown out in California is trying for high speed rail the length of California.  It's gonna cost billions.  Real passengers will fly anyhow.  Good luck California taxpayers. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

They voted for this or that awful thing

Hourly now, I have negative TV ads claiming that this candidate or that candidate voted tax breaks for big oil, or supported the "special interests" or some other just plain awful vote. 
   Never do these ads mention the name or number of this dreadful bill the target is accused to voting for, or the date of the vote, or anything that would allow you to fact check the claim. 
   And in this age of Democratic footdragging in Congress, that puts off voting funding bills until the last minute and then voting thru a 5000 page "omnibus spending bill" to keep the government running for another three weeks, it's meaningless.   The Congressperson can vote for the omnibus and keep the government funded, and lay himself open to all kinds of charges, because an omnibus bill contains all kinds of bad stuff.  In 5000 pages they can and do hide funding for damn near anything.  Or he/she can vote against it, and get trashed from all quarters for shutting down the government.  All the feeders at the federal trough will rise up in righteous anger against anyone who threatens to derail their gravy train. 
   So I ignore all the "Did you  know so-and-so made some dreadful vote" ads.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

New engines for the B-52 fleet?

Aviation Week had a short piece lobbying for a B-52 re engine project.  From a technical standpoint, this might make sense, it would certainly give a nicer B-52 with more range, better takeoff power, and lower maintenance.  Especially if a modern engine with enough power were selected that would allow the B-52 to fly on four engines instead of the current eight.  As an old flight line maintenance officer, I can tell you, that maintaining four engines is a helova lot easier than maintaining eight engines. 
   But, speaking as a taxpayer, is it worth it ?  Engines are the most expensive part of an aircraft.  For a new airliner, the engines are a quarter to a third of the overall flyaway cost.  The Aviation Week article didn't breathe a word about cost.  The B-52's are old, so old that we ought to replace them all, right now, on general principles.  Does it make sense to plow serious money into a plane that ought to be retired, and probably will get retired in the foreseeable future?  Especially as the engines on the B-52 work, are reliable, and are efficient enough to give the old B-52 better range than any other USAF bomber, either in service or on the drawing boards.