Monday, February 29, 2016

Uncle wants to revive Mortgage Backed Securities.

Mortgage backed securities used to be a $ trillion dollar a year market, up until 2007 that is.  Since 2007 nobody will touch them.  The Journal shows a bar graph of sales over the years and zero sales in any year after 2007. 
   Many people think that mortgage backed securities caused Great Depression 2.0  In the go-go real estate bubble back in the aughts, banks and mortgage lenders needed more money to do mortgages with.  Someone had the bright idea of creating a security, essentially a company IOU, which was "backed" by mortgages held by the bank. These IOU's were sold to gullible investors, by promises of high yield,  and the proceeds used to write more mortgages.  Trouble was, the "backing" didn't mean anything, the IOU holders did not get the right to repossess the properties when the borrowers stopped paying.  And when the borrowers stopped paying, the investors stopped getting paid too.  Investors wised up in 2007 and no more mortgage backed securities have been sold. 
   So banks can do mortgages using their own money, of which they never have enough, or by getting FHA or Fanny Mae or Freddy Mac or VA to put up the money.  But, these government agencies, still suffering huge losses from 2007, all have pretty stiff rules about what kind of mortgage they will accept.  Unless the borrower has a real clean credit record, no deal, no mortgage.
  Now we have Monique Rollins,  deputy assistant secretary in Obama's Treasury Dept saying "We do believe that a reformed asset class could responsibly broaden access for qualified buyers who are not being served today."   Translation: Let's do mortgage backed securities to give the banks money to do any kind of mortgage they like."   Which is what caused Great Depression 2.0.  Not good.  But the Obama administration is in favor.
  Of course, Monique has not explained what she would do to get investors to touch the new model mortgage backed securities.  
  I wonder what a Trump administration would do?

Sunday, February 28, 2016


Short for British Exit From EU. The Brits have set 23 June as the date for a nationwide referendum on pulling out of the EU.  British bookies are offering 2:1 odds that Brexit will happen. The Conservative party prime minister will campaign to keep Britain in.  He cannot get all the senior conservatives to support him. Heavy duty Conservatives like the mayor of London and the justice minister are in favor of getting out and have said so publicly.
   Prime Minister Cameron went to Brussels, dickered, and came back with some concessions from the EU. Britain will be able to refuse to pay welfare to new immigrants until they have been in Britain for four years.  There will be some poorly understood restrictions on immigration to Britain.  It probably ain't enough.  The Brits fear being overrun by foreigners and resent EU regulations on just about everything.
   Problem for Her Majesty's Government.  About one third of British exports go to the EU.  Right now they go duty free since Britain is currently an EU member.  If Britain pulls out, that stops and British exports to the EU will face full EU tariffs.  Which means the end of that huge export market.  The EU has 10% unemployment, which means plenty of EU suppliers who would be so pleased to pick up all the Brit's business after EU tariffs made the Brits noncompetitive.
   I did see one clueless letter to the editor in the WSJ claiming that it ain't so, Britain could pull out and still enjoy EU tariff preferences.  I don't believe that.
   The Economist is clearly concerned, they see economic disaster, of the lights go out and everybody starves to death sort.  They also checked with the bookies for odds.  I think the Economist is onto something.  Where do you go to replace one third of your export business?   Canada?  Australia?  the US?  Would we let them join NAFTA?
   Britain is the second largest economy in the EU.  If they pull out it will make the job of keeping the EU from falling apart harder.  Actually, the EU has come a long way since 1945, they have passport-and-customs free travel between most EU countries, they have a single currency, they have EU wide regulations of things like food purity and labeling, electrical safety standards,building codes.  They have a ways to go to become a United States of Europe, they have no EU wide foreign policy or armed forces, and the EU government in Brussels lacks a lot of powers that the US constitution gives to Washington.
   I wish the Brits every kind of luck.  They are gonna need it. 

Saturday, February 27, 2016

WSJ reviews the Chevy Malibu

At least they are reviewing a car that their readership might consider buying.  The bulk of the Journal's readers are ordinary folk who cannot afford $100,000 supercars, but might well afford a Chevy.  They discuss the various levels of plush the car comes in, ranging from $23,000 to $35,000.  Top of the line rates leather seats.  They list all the electronical goodies, heated seats, heated steering wheel, wi-fi.  The bottom of the line comes with a 4-banger 1.5 liter rated at 160 hp, the up scale models have a 2 liter 250 hp turbo engine.  Actually those horsepower rating sound a little bogus to me.  Back in the day, a stock Chevy 283 cubic inch two barrel V8 was advertised at 180 hp.  To rate a 2.0 liter (126 cubic inch)  4 cylinder engine at 200 hp makes me think they are fudging the numbers somehow.  (There are lots of ways to fudge).  They bitch that the top of the line model looks just like the bottom of the line model.  The expect that for spending an extra $12K you would get some bling on the outside of the car to make it look snappier than the stripper.
   They don't mention test driving it, handling ability, how well the antiskid handles a fresh fall of snow, how much you can get into the trunk, gas mileage, how well the suspension soaks up a New Hampshire pot hole, and a bunch of other stuff that the car mags used to tell us. 

Friday, February 26, 2016

After action reports

I didn't watch the Republican debate last night.  I been seeing plenty of instant replays on TV today.  Lotta shouting and name calling.  Some new dirt dumped on stage.  I never heard about the Trump University thing before.  Nor about Trump hiring illegal aliens.  I suppose there is something in them, but I won't get very excited about this until I see or hear a reasonably impartial account from a third party.  Trump's opponents ought to bore in on Trump's tax returns. They are real, the returns must exist somewhere, and I'll bet they have some juicy damaging deductions in them somewhere. 
   The instant replays never show anyone saying anything of substance, like what they would do if elected.  Nothing about how to create jobs, how to stop ISIS, nothing clear about Obamacare except they are agin it.  Do they want to just drop it completely and go back to where we were before Obamacare was passed?  That wasn't all that bad.  Do they want do do anything to reduce the scandalous cost of US healthcare?
   Far as I can see from the instant replays they just spent the evening yelling at each other.  Will this have any effect on Super Tuesday?

Cannon Mountain Ski Weather

Cannon got two inches of new snow last night.  Big drop in temp from yesterday, which was up to 50 F and rained hard all day.  It chilled down over night, switched over to snow, and froze my front door shut.  So I had to eyeball the new snow depth rather than measure it with a yardstick. 

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Helmuth Norpoth, Stony Brook Professor, predicts Trump will beat Hilliary or Sanders.

Drudge Report carried the story here.  Since my objection to The Donald comes from my fear that Trump would loose to Hilliary, this is good news.  Cause it looks like we are nominating The Donald. 

I'm debated out.

They are gonna have yet another presidential debate tonight.  I'm not gonna bother to watch it.  All they talk about is how bad the competition is.  I've heard all I need to hear on that subject.  Plus I don't believe most of the trash talk.
   They never make campaign promises, you know glowing prophesies of the bright new future should they be elected.  Not that I believe in campaign promises all that much, but at least they are an attempt to give the voters a reason to vote for them.  Nowadays they don't seem to bother. 
  I want to hear what each candidate would do to create American jobs.  And get the economy to grow at 3.5% per year rather than Obama's 0.7% last quarter.  What taxes would they lower, and by how much? What burdensome Washington red tape would they slash?  What projects (roadbuilding, canal building, NASA trips to Mars, high speed choo-choo trains, more drug treatment beds, etc) would they push?
   How will they counter Putin's aggression in Ukraine?  Economic aid to Ukraine?  Stinger anti aircraft missiles? A USAF enforced no fly zone?  US Army troops in divisional strength?  Same question about Syria, what exactly would they do in Syria?
   How green are they?  Spend money on wind and solar green?  Or lease federal land for fracking?  Or lease Arctic National Wildlife Reservation (ANWR) to conventional oil drilling?  The greenies used to complain about leasing in ANWR nightly, I haven't heard that lately.  Me, I like gasoline and furnace oil for under $2 a gallon.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

We put them in Gitmo to prevent judges from turning 'em loose

"Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States or any place subject to their jurisdiction."
Thirteenth Amendment, passed in 1865 as part of the conclusion of the Civil War.
   The inmates of Gitmo are not criminals, they are enemy soldiers, captured upon the battlefields of Afghanistan.  They have not been duly convicted of anything. An overpaid army of lawyers, working their cases since 2001, has been unable to convince an American court or court-martial to convict them.  Under American law bearing arms against the United States is not a crime. 
  And under the 13th Amendment, if they ain't convicted, we cannot hold them in jail.
  The Bush Administration understood this, and decided to put these people in Gitmo, in the hopes that being off shore, US judges would be less likely to order the prisoners released. 
   And today, Obama engaging in some favorite magical thinking,  wants to close Gitmo and transfer the remaining inmates to somewhere inside the US. 
   He is gonna encounter a good deal of resistance.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

" The US Economy is in Good Shape"?

Oh Really?  Thus sayeth a Wall St Journal Op-Ed.  By Martin Feldstein.  I've heard of him, although I cannot place him just sitting there.  The WSJ  calls  him Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Reagan.  That sounds good, he has been around for a good long while and he worked in a rational Republican administration.  It goes on to call him a professor at Harvard University.  Uh-oh, downcheck, he hangs out with Harvard lefties. 
   Martin starts off by cherry picking the good economic stats, and doesn't say anything about GNP growth of a measly 0.7% last quarter.  He gives a glass half full summary. 
   If this economy is in such good shape why did youngest son have to go all the way to North Dakota to find work?

Monday, February 22, 2016

TV newsies calling Trump the nominee

I'll grant that The Donald is looking strong.  But he only has 67 delegates, out of 1200 and change needed to clinch the nomination.  I think we have a few more primaries to go before we declare a winner.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Another favorite store goes down hill

The Good Will Store on old US Rte 1 used to have a lot of decent used clothes.  I used to hit the place every month or so and score some nice shirts and slacks.  You could go down the row of men's shirts and just feel them, the one with a good feel you took out of the rack and inspected.  I'd find a first class maker's tag, L.L. Bean or Hathaway, or suchlike, on a nice shirt.
  Not anymore.  I stopped in yesterday, and huge row of men's shirts were all plain white or plain blue uniform shirts, the sort of thing McDonald's issues to their help.  And I wouldn't wear anyplace.  And the small kitchen appliances are gone and the stereo components are gone.  My home stereo, speakers and all, cam from that store in years past. 
   I probably won't stop there again. 

Marketing fail: Testor's DullCote

DullCote is a clear matte spray finish.  Testors has been selling the stuff to model makers, like me, since forever, at least 50 years that I can think of.  Well known brand name.  I stopped at the biggest hobby shop in Boston, Charles Ro, and bought a can of it.  Surprise.  The new labels that someone in marketing dreamed up, no longer have the DullCote name, instead the label calls itself Clear Lacquer in both English and Spanish.  I wasn't sure if I had the right stuff.  Only after turning the can over and over and upside down did I find a small sticky label that said " DullCote". 
   Probably the same marketeers who have decided not to put the maker's name onto new automobiles.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

So does anyone have the right to keep secrets?

Uncle is leaning on Apple  to crack a smartphone used by the San Bernardino killers.  Apple is refusing, saying that once they do, it will crack encryption on all Apple smart phones. 
The Apply phone is probably crackable.  Like Windows, Apple must need to patch the code in the phones.  Once you allow the phone to patch itself, change the code inside it, all bets are off, you can load code to do anything you want.  But, Apple is probably the only one who can pull this off.  They have the programmers who wrote the code, they have the source code, they have development stations that allow a programmer to single step thru the code and watch what it is doing.   Without this information and equipment, nobody outside of Apple has a snowball's chance in Hell of pulling it off. 
   Apple clearly fears that if they crack this phone, they will be on the hook to crack any phone in the future, and their customers, knowing that Uncle can snoop their Apple smart phone, will go to a more secure smart phone. Samsung for example.
   I like the idea of being able to keep secrets.  Fourth Amendment, unreasonable search and seizure.  Fifth Amendment, protection against self incrimination.  Uncle has so many ways of snooping that I like the idea of some limitations.  In this case, appalling as it is, I kinda doubt that the cell phone in question will tell investigators much, if anything, if it gets cracked.   NSA already has all the phone numbers that the San Bernadino killers called with thqt phone, and they can jolly well get agents out to interview every one of 'em.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Einstein and gravity waves.

Gravity waves are not new, Einstein predicted their existance a hundred years ago.  My sophmore physics course (50 years ago) covered them. 
   Gravity is a very weak force compared to the electromagnetic force or the strong nuclear force.  Which makes gravitational waves hard to detect.  Indeed, the detectors only managed to detect the most violent event imaginable, the collision of two black holes. 
   The unscientific newsies have failed to report on a bunch of interesting questions.  Such as how do you figure the distance of the gravity wave source?  It's been reported that the two colliding black holes are billions of light years away.  I wonder how they figure that? 
  What is the signal to noise ratio from the detectors?  Detectors of anything, including gravity wave detectors, tend to output low level random noise all the time.  Signals have to be stronger than the noise to be detected.  How much stronger than the noise was this event?  What causes the noise and could it be reduced in an advanced detector somehow? 
  Do gravity waves propagate at the speed of light?  We all kind of assume that they do, but it would be nice to have some measurements to confirm our ideas. 

Monday, February 15, 2016

Living Constitution, fancy words for judicial tyranny

Advocates for a "living Constitution" say that things have changed since the Constitution was adopted way back in 1789 and that judges [usually the Supremes] should change the way the Constitution works "in order to bring things up to date".  The appeal to the courts is a way of side stepping the democratic requirement that laws are only made or changed by the duly elected legislature.  It's easier to sell your changes to 5 out of 4 unelected lawyers possessed of lifetime tenure than it is to sell them to the much larger legislature all of whom needs to stand for reelection in the near future.
   The proper way to change the law in a democracy is to have the votes to pass your changes into law in the elected legislature.  Many will complain that this is just too difficult, which is another way of saying that they don't have the votes for their pet programs.  The Constitution allows for amendments.  We have made twenty seven amendments since 1789, the most recent in 1992.  It can be done, but the Constitution calls for super majorities in both houses of Congress and among all the states.  Amendments only happen with widespread political support.  
   The late Justice Scalia was opposed to the notion of a "living Constitution". He preferred to call it the enduring Constitution.  I'm with Justice Scalia in this. 
   Obama wants a "living Constitution" person to replace Justice Scalia. 

Stuart Weitzman: Wonder what he is selling?

Saturday was heavy WSJ day.  They pack a 184 page 10 by 12 inch slick paper fashion magazine inside the paper.  Makes for very solid feeling newspaper.
   Not that I am deeply into woman's fashions, but I like to look a pictures of pretty girls as much as anyone.  So I'm thumbing thru it and come to an arresting full page ad by Stuart Weitzman.  Three very slender, pretty models standing in front of the camera, completely naked except for high heeled shoes, the kind with big clunky heels, hugging each other.  If it had been in color it would have been porn, but a nicely lit black and white is arty.
   It did get my attention.  On the other hand, I am still wondering what Stuart Weitzman is selling.  Normal fashion ads have the models  wearing the product they are selling.  These models weren't wearing anything except clunky shoes, and somehow I didn't think that was the product.  Two following full page spreads with the same models only one of which was wearing an outfit that a girl might appear in public wearing.  The rest of them were in underwear.   Perhaps Stuart Weitzman is a modeling agency? 

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Mclaughlin Shouting Hour debates drafting women

They spent 15 minutes of the 30 minute show discussing this one.  To be technical about it, they were discussing requiring women to register for the draft, the way men are required to do.  All the obvious arguments pro and con were advanced. 
  Actually, Nixon ended the draft back some 40 odd years ago.  Because the government can never shut anything down, they left the requirement for men to register, just to give Selective Service something to do and avoid massive layoffs of bureaucrats.
   Nobody really expects to start up the draft again.  The all volunteer army seems to attract enough recruits to fight things like the Iraq war.  Nobody expects to do a World War III with 10 million men under arms.  So to my way of thinking  we might as well drop the requirement for men to register for the draft and then we have full sexual equality about the draft.
  I remember going back to my old high school for alumni day many years ago.  I ran into a few students all hot and bothered about the requirement to register for the draft.  This might have been sometime in the 1980's.  I laughed at them.  I told them when I was a senior there  we had a real draft and we wound up carrying M-16's thru the rice paddies of south east Asia. I went and my two brothers went.  All these kids had to do was fill out some paperwork. 

We miss Justice Scalia

And God help the United States if Obama nominates his successor. 

Maggie Hassan on the Sunday Pundits show

Maggie Hassan, incumbent NH governor, and candidate for US Senate.  WMUR's "Closeup" show with Josh McElvane gave her 15 minutes of pretty much un interrupted air time.  This is fairly important coverage in NH, WMUR being the only real New Hampshire TV channel. 
   And, in fifteen minutes of happy talk, Maggie managed to say exactly nothing.  Pols must go to school somewhere to learn all the happy talk words that mean nothing, don't commit them to anything, but sound good.  Maggie used them all, and gave no hint as to what she might do in the future, what she wants to accomplish either as out going governor or newly elected senator. 

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Where is George Orwell when we need him?

Actually Orwell has been dead since 1950, but we need him back.  In Orwell's time Communism was a virulent ideology spreading world wide and fast.  Communism was so compelling as to cause people to risk their lives spying for the Soviet Union.  The Rosenbergs were caught passing secrets of the Manhattan project to the Soviets and were executed for it. 
   Orwell's Animal Farm and 1984 did more to kill off Communism as any other event during the Cold War.  The two novels spelled out the evil at the heart of communism in simple terms clear to the average reader.  Anyone who read either book could never be a true believer in Communism ever again.
   Today we are afflicted with two dangerous ideologies.  Communism, which I had thought really dead since 1989, is making a come back in the US.  The Bern is preaching communism.  He calls it "democratic socialism" but it's Communism.  And ISIS and company is preaching a horrible fanaticism that leads people to massacre  innocent bystanders, Christians, Kurds, Yazidi's, anyone not a Shia Muslim.
  We need another Orwell to point out the evil at the heart of both these dangerous and horrible ideologies.  

Friday, February 12, 2016

Who should vote in the NH Primary?

Howzabout limiting participation to real New Hampshire citizens?  Let's not allow busloads of out of staters showing up on election day to vote.  Out of state college students should not get to vote in New Hampshire, they can jolly well vote by absentee ballot in their home states. 
  And for that matter, the primary is how the parties choose who the party will support with money, publicity, and workers.  Primary voters should be party members.  If a voter cannot bring him/her self to simply declare their party affiliation when they register to vote, then they should not get to vote in party primaries.  It's not like the parties ask members to do anything, like contribute money, attend party meetings, post yard signs.  They just ask the voter to express an interest in the party, verbally.  I'm thinking that voters who cannot say "I am a Republican" or " I am a Democrat" are so turned off by American party politics that they should mot be allowed to mess up candidate selection by voting in the primary. 
   Speaking of which, NH voters should be required to register, in person, at town hall BEFORE election day.  Voters so unmotivated as to not get down to town hall and register at least a week before election day, are too lackadaisical to cast intelligent votes.  And requiring registration in advance will make it harder for out of state shills to vote, they will have to come up twice, once to register and once to vote.  To register the voter needs to show a NH driver's license, out of state licenses make him an out of stater.  And they need to show a real NH address, an apartment or a house, college dorms are temporary and don't count.  

The Bern and Hillary debate

I turned it on at 9 PM.  First question was to The Bern.  "The Federal government takes up 21% of GNP right now.  How much will it take under a Sanders administration?"  Not a bad question.  The Bern refused to answer it, instead he went off on has rant about income inequality and a rigged economy.  I went to bed.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Cannon Mountain Ski Weather

We got two inches of snow this morning.  Better than nothing, but still pretty measly.  It's cold, 20 F.

Cyber Security for ordinary businesses

In this day and age, every thing your company does is on the company computers somewhere.  Email is forever.  First off, you need to identify the things that you need to keep secret from hackers and competitors.  Start with personnel records.  Those must be secret to keep competitors from pirating your best people.  Pay and salary is particularly sensitive because when that gets out, everyone in your company gets bad feelings about everyone who make more than they do.  And it points headhunters toward your less well paid people.  Production information; mechanical drawings, electrical schematics, parts lists, software source code, test procedures, recipes and formulas.  With this stuff someone can set up to make your product and compete with you.  That's legal in places like China.  At the very least they can make a good guess at your cost of production.  Sales and marketing; your customer lists and customer contact information.  If the competition gets to your customers and wins them over, you are hurting.  Email; there is bound to be damaging information in someone's email.
    To keep the hackers out, first consider keeping stuff OFF the hard drives.  Back it up to CD-ROM and keep the CD's in a locked room.  There is a lot of old stuff on hard drive that you don't use today, but could do a lot of damage in the wrong hands.  If the stuff is really valuable, now is the time to establish an off site backup location.
    Set up a secure network.  This is a small number of computers, kept in locked rooms,  and NOT connected to the general company network or the public internet, or the public phone network.  By not connected we means NO wires or wireless connections to anywhere.  Don't rely on "firewalls", some of them have caught fire in the past.  Snip off the wires going to the USB sockets to prevent Flash drive virus invasion.  Remove all floppy drives to prevent invasion by merely inserting a boot floppy in the "A:" drive. Keep all your sensitive stuff on the secure network.  When you do Engineering Change Orders, pull the master drawing off the secure network, give it to the engineer, and have him return the updated version to the secure network.
   Now we come to training your personnel.  Start with email.  Make sure everyone understands that email lasts forever, and will be used against you in court, and by hackers.  Tell them to never put anything in email that they would not post on the bulletin board at the local super market.  If the matter is sensitive, handle it face to face or over the phone.  And delete old emails after 30 days.
   You want to run an anti virus scan once a week on every computer in the company.  Virii can do the damnedest things, just ask the Iranians about Stuxnet.  Commercial virus scan programs are pretty good, and they get better every week.  Keep your anti virus updated.  Even if you have a deal that permits IT to run the virus scans remotely, you still want everyone to understand how important they are.
   All your creative people want to keep their stuff on their machines, just in case.  Encourage them to encrypt it, and/or back it up to CD and keep it  in a locked drawer.  And make sure the latest version is stored on the secure network as well as on their private hard drives. 
   Consider getting rid of Windows company wide.  It can be done.  Linux works, and isn't too difficult for your people to learn.  Windows is totally, but totally, insecure.  Anything stored on a Windows computer is vulnerable to small children, let alone adult hackers.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Words of the Weasel : Establishment

We have a Republican establishment, and a Democratic establishment.  Up until very lately, the establishment was the parties elected officials, and appointed office holders, people whose day jobs were politics or politicking.   
   Lately, fringe groups in either party have been using "establishment" as an epithet for people who don't share their politics.  This may be true, the establishment is concerned with getting re-elected, making deals, and as a rule is much less ideological than the fringe groups.
   But we are always going to have an establishment, meaning the office holding political professionals.  Get used to it, someone has to do it.  And most of these people are trying to get something done, and they all learn that you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. 

Could The Donald beat The Bern?

Who knows right now?  And New Hampshire doesn't decide the nominations, but a smashing win in New Hampshire certainly makes a good start to winning the nomination.  It surely gains you lots of media attention.  I haven't seen any polls on a Trump-Sanders matchup.  The few I have seen of a Trump Hillary matchup were not good, the polls had Hillary beating the Donald by a slim margin.  Not that polls mean all that much this early. 
   This ought to be a Republican year.  Obama has been wreaking the US economy for 7 years now, and he has thrown a bunch a people out of work, lowered everyone's earnings.  If the US voters have any sense left, they will vote for a Republican this time.  If the Republicans can nominate a decent candidate.  Trouble with Trump is his very high negatives.  Gallup says 60% of voters don't like Trump.  That's scary.
    Will the Bern's free stuff be enough to win over The Donald?
    Could the #2 finisher, Kasich, be a better candidate for the GOP?

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Obama does an Op-Ed in the WSJ

Nice big half a page with am illustration Op Ed piece.  "Protecting US Innovation From Cyberthreats". Sound great.  Only trouble is, the Op-Ed contains zilch about protecting anything.  Lotta nice empty words, typical Obama speak, but nothing of substance.  He does promise to spend money,  $19 billion on the "Cyber Security National Action Plan" what ever that might be.  And another $3 billion on federal IT.  And a new bureaucrat,  the Chief Information Security Officer, salary unspecified.  And another unfunded effort to "build a corps of cyber professionals" to "push best practices at every level".   And a new "cyber security Center of Excellence".  And a new "bipartisan Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity".
   Does anyone really think adding more bureaucrats, more funding, and more bureaucracy is gonna keep the hackers out?
   The real situation is this.  Any computer connected to the public internet or the public phone system is vulnerable to invasion and plundering.  Windows computers are ten time more  vulnerable than any other sort of computer.  We must never store valuable information on computers connected to the public internet.  And we should never store valuable information on any sort of Windows computer. They are like Swiss cheese, full of holes.  If we made this nation wide policy we would be a helova lot more secure than we are now.
   Obama doesn't understand any of this.  In fact I doubt that Obama knows how to boot up his laptop. 

I just voted in the NH primary

Turnout is heavy.  Down at Franconia town hall, the parking lot is full.  I've been doing elections at town hall for quite a few years and that's as busy as I have ever seen things.  I voted at mid morning, in between the vote-on-the-way-to-work rush and the vote-over-lunch-hour  rush.  Secretary of State's office is predicting a heavy turnout, and I think they have it right. 
  The Republican ballot had 30 names on it. Half of 'em I've never heard of.  

Cannon Mountain Ski Weather

Well, we got an inch and a half.  Disappointing, especially as the weatherweasels had forecast 3 to 5 inches. It's cold, 20 F so they can make snow. 

Monday, February 8, 2016

If it can orbit a satellite it can put a warhead anywhere on Earth

The NORKs just launched an Earth satellite.  If your rocket has the delta V to achieve orbit, it can put that "satellite" anywhere on Earth.  I haven't heard just how heavy the NORK satellite was, but it's a start.  A helova start.  To have an ICBM, the payload has to be enough to carry a nuke.  We think, we don't know for sure, that the NORK nukes are "first generation" i.e. heavy, weighing a matter of tons.  Back in the fifties, when both we and the Soviets were getting into the ICBM business, the war heads would be first generation and be very heavy.  The Americans decided that the necessary rocket to hoist a first generation nuke would be ridiculously huge and so we didn't get  seriously to work on a missile until the later generation of nukes came along with weights down into the 100 pound area.  The Soviets wanted a missile so badly that they set to work to build the ridiculously huge rocket.  That rocket came on line about 1957. launched the first Sputnik, and did all the Soviet space launches for the entire Cold War.  We didn't come up with anything to match it until Saturn 5 in 1968. 

So who will I vote for tomorrow?

Gotta make up my mind today.  First off, being a Republican I am gonna vote in the Republican primary.  Second off, The Bern will win in NH if the polls mean anything at all.  Third off, I don't see much to choose between The Bern and Hillary.  The Bern will continue Obama's job of wreaking the US economy.  Hillary will continue to produce the string of overseas disasters of her tour as Secretary of State  Things like Syria, ISIS, Libya, Benghazi, Boko Haram, Ukraine, NORK nukes, and more.
  The Republican field is down a lot.  Iowa shows that the Donald, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio are the best bets, everyone else is an also ran with very low poll numbers.  Even though I like Carly, I'm not going to vote for her 'cause I don't want to throw my vote away.  I'm not gonna vote for the Donald 'cause I think he will loose.  According to Gallup, 60% of the voters nationwide don't like him.  That is not a recipe for collecting the essential-to-victory independent voters.  Gallup says 43% of the voters are registered independent.  If they don't like you, your campaign is going nowhere. 
  So who's left?  Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio both gained enough votes in Iowa to look like possible winners. I like Marco a little bit more than Ted.  Too bad Chris Christy really clobbered Marco on Saturday night.  Too bad that no sitting senator seems to like Ted Cruz much, it shows the Ted has trouble getting along with peers.  Not a good thing for a president. 
   JEB would probably make a decent president, but I don't like the idea of three Bush presidencies in my lifetime.  And he is not a speaker to get the voters fired up for anything.  Chris Christy looks fairly competent but I have my doubts about his appeal outside of the Northeast.  Kasich has campaigned hard up here, and has a good record as governor and US representative but somehow he doesn't appeal to me. 
   Perhaps it is time to toss a coin?

Sunday, February 7, 2016

The Bern says Wall St is all fraud

He was saying that on one of the Sunday pundit shows.  He is half right.  Half of Wall St activity is raising money for economic growth, the other half,  futures and derivatives and mortgage backed securities and short term security lending, is pure gambling.  When the bets go bad, it crashes the world economy, like back in 2007.
   Economic growth means building factories, airliners, pipelines, office buildings, residential housing, and new product development.  All of these activities require financing, you have to pay the workers and the suppliers, but the project doesn't bring in any money until it's finished.  So the project borrows the money to get up and running, and pays it back out of earnings from the finished project.  No money for investment, no economic growth. 
  The working part of Wall St raises the money and lends it out to worthwhile projects.  The tricky part of  finance is deciding which projects will succeed and pay off their loans, and which ones are flaky and will go bust, taking all the money down the drain with them. 
  The gambling part of Wall St does deals that lack any clear economic purpose, and are usually short term.  Real economic growth requires long term patient money, you cannot build anything worthwhile over night, worthwhile projects take months and usually years to pay off.  There are Wall Street operations that do overnight loans of both money and securities.  I submit that nothing worthwhile can be accomplished overnight, and that kind of short term lending is really gambling. 
   We need to identify gambling, and drive it off of Wall St, probably by taxing it heavily. 

The Questions Sucked

It went on for three whole hours. "So and so said this about you, Take 60 seconds and trash him back." was the question, asked over and over again.  Boring.   There were a few amusing moments such as young Florida tourist bumps up against Tony Soprano from New Jersey.  Bush got in a solid hit on The Donald about eminent domain. 
   Questions that did not get asked but should have.  How far will you go to wipe out ISIS?  How large are the American armed forces today and how large would you make them?  What will you do to get GNP growth back up to 3.5% from this quarter's 0.7%.  What kind of fortifications will you build along the Mexican border and how much would it cost?  What is "net neutrality" and where do you stand on the issue? Will you reform patent and copyright law?  And if so, how?  What deductions and exemptions will you remove from the personal income tax?  Mortgage interest?  EITC?  Charitable givings?  Marriage and children exemptions?  What will you do to take Wall St out of the casino and back to financing economic growth? 
   Any how, that is the last presidential debate I am going to watch.  And I still have not decided who I will vote for the coming Tuesday.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Democrats stand for Free Stuff, Republicans stand for good jobs

The Bern is offering the most free stuff.  He wants free healthcare, free college, and doubtless other stuff as well.  Hillary is behind The Bern, but she wants free contraception.
   No amount of free stuff  beats a decent job.  If you have a decent job you don't need free stuff, you can buy what you need with real money.  And your company pays for good healthcare, far better than Obamacare.  Republicans want economic growth which we have to have to offer jobs.  The working age population grows every year, unless the economy grows to match it, people are out of work.  Democrats have managed to bring US economic growth down to less than 1%, which is pitiful.  Economic growth ought to be 3 or 4 percent.
   One reason for pitiful economic growth is all the  lefty greenies out there who raise a stink every time anyone suggests building anything.  Northern Pass, and Keystone XL both come to mind.  I heard some Democrat on TV calling for closing all federal lands to oil exploration just the other day.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Cannon Mountain Ski Weather

After a whole lot of "winter storm warning" and other theatrics from TV weathermen, we got an inch. It's still cold and the mountain is making snow. 

Our Heroin Problem

By all accounts we have a problem.  Deaths from overdoses are way up.  And so, our gallant legislature passed three bills to address the problem.  One will set up "drug courts", type and jurisdiction un specified.  You would think any real judge sitting in a real court, could recognize druggies and when appropriate, sentence them to rehab.  I don't see why we need to establish a special set of courts to do this. 
   Of course, we don't have much, if any rehab in NH, so the real judges sentence druggies to jail rather than letting them run around loose.  And our gallant legislature doesn't seem to be doing anything about the lack of drug rehab.
   Then they passed some more funding for law enforcement and called it anti drug legislation.   I can't remember what the third one was, but it didn't sound like it would do diddly about hard drugs.
   I believe that with enough of the right sort of drug rehab, we can get a lot of druggies off the stuff.  I'm not a real expert, so I might not have this right, but there ought to be some numbers (number of druggies entered into rehab, number druggies later rearrested for possession). I would expect some treatment programs work better than others.  We should copy the more successful programs.
   We also need to get the word out to our young folk.  We need to make sure they know that heroin and the other hard drugs will ruin their reputations, get them fired from their jobs, get them divorced, get them jailed, and kill them.  Schools, churches, and all social organizations should feel a responsibility for getting the word out.  Things like Facebook should at least prevent the sale of drugs on their sites, and blackball users who advocate drug use. 

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Icebreakers $1 billion each?

Op ed in the WSJ this morning, a couple of retired general officers explaining the need for more US icebreakers.  Makes sense, especially if we are gonna have off shore oil exploration in the Arctic.  If they have an emergency on an Arctic oil platform, icebreakers can get up there for a rescue. 
   The OpEd claims that new icebreakers will cost $1 billion  apiece.  That sounds too high by  a lot.  An icebreaker is just a merchant steamer with a very strong hull, a specially shaped bow, and extra powerful engines.  You'd think you could buy one for 10-20% over the price of a standard merchant steamer.  Unless Pentagon weinies gold plate the specifications.  Which they have a lot of practice doing.  I think you can buy a supertanker for $200 million, you ought to be able to get an icebreaker for about that kind of money.
   Then the Op-ed veers off into the merits of leasing icebreakers instead of buying them out right.  This does not compute.  The only reason for leasing anything is you don't have the up front cash to buy it outright.  Uncle Sam has all the upfront cash in the world, and he can print more if he runs short.  The lessor has to make all his expenses plus some profit, His expenses include interest on the money he has to borrow to buy or build the ship.  A lease deal will cost the taxpayers more than an outright buy.  Especially as icebreakers are very specialized and I don't think there are any for sale, you need an icebreaker, you have to build it special. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The year of A size post cards

We get a blizzard of ads in the mail these days.  New this year is the A sized post card.  Used to be a post card was 3 by 5 and got a cheaper postage than regular letters.  Now they are 8.5 by 11 (full typing paper size) and made of fine heavy paper.  And I get a lot of 'em.  I was able to light the fire on nothing but the A size post cards that came in over the last couple of days. 
   A size?  Engineering or draftsman jargon for a drawing the size of a piece of typing paper.  We had B size, C size, D size and more. 

Shannara: TV Show

So I watched it again last night.  Not bad.  The cast is good looking and can act.  Sets and costumes are right up to snuff.  However, nobody ever called anyone by name in the whole one hour show.  So I still don't know the stage names of any characters.  I suppose I could look them up on IMDB but I'm thinking the script writers could do better.  They have two decent warrior princesses, but I cannot tell them apart.  They both have long dark hair, wear the same dark leather outfits,  carry swords and ride horses.  
   And it is better than Galavant.

Flint's water. How about some scalps?

Every one knows, at least any one who has done plumbing or taken high school chemistry, that acid eats metals,  turning solid metal into invisible ions dissolved in the acid, like salt dissolving into water. All water pipes installed before the 1980's are metal.  The plastic pipe now used didn't come on the market til the late 1970's.   You cannot allow the city water to become acid, 'cause it will eat the pipes all over the city.  Standard procedures for city water  works is to add enough lye (sodium hydroxide) to acid water to neutralize it.  This has been standard practice for a hundred years or more.  This ain't rocket science. 
   According to the newsies, when Flint switched over to using acidic river water which, for some reason, most likely a screwup somewhere, this was not done, and acidic water flowed all thru the city's water pipes, eating out the metal.  All copper plumbing is fastened together with tin-lead solder and older pipes are pure lead.  Our word "plumber" comes from the old Latin word for lead (plumbum). So, the lead content of Flint water soared up and up.
    Anyhow the newsies were on NHPR this morning wailing about the Flint water situation.  What needs to be done is find the persons who failed to add the lye to neutralize the acid, and prosecute them.  We ought to take at least three scalps, one from the Michigan environmental pollution agency, one from the federal environmental pollution agency, an one from the city of Flint water department. 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Coin Toss? Fair? 64:1 odds of winning 6 out of 6 coin tosses

TV reports that six close Iowa races between Hillary and The Bern were settled by coin tosses.  Hillary won all six.  Is she just lucky or was the fix in?  
Odds of winning one coin toss is 1:2, we all know that.  Odds of winning two out of two coin tosses is 1/2*1/2 or 1/4.  Odds of winning 6 out of 6 coin tosses is 1:2**6 or 1:64.  How lucky do you think Hillary is, really?

And then there were three

Iowa caucus has finally happened.  Ted Cruz in first 28%, The Donald second 24%, and Marco Rubio only 1 percentage point behind the Donald.   Hillary and the Bern split the vote 50-50.  
   Well, at least the Donald didn't win, if he had, and did he win in NH next week, he would have been unstoppable.  He is still there, still formidable, but he is beatable. 
   And I think Iowa narrows the Republican field down to three.   Which needed to be done, and sooner is better than later.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Sentencing reform

Used to be, back in the dim past, say the 1960's, judges had broad discretion in sentencing.  Some judges abused this discretion and let perps off with a slap on the wrist when the community thought the death penalty was warrented.  So over the last 50 years, legislatures have tightened things up with mandatory sentencing guideline laws, which called for very tough sentencing indeed.  The result, the US has more people in jail than every other place on earth.  And more prisons, and more unionized prison guards. 
  We ought to do something about this.  We could start with pot.  We should not be incarcerating people for mere possession of pot.  Although pot isn't good for you, it's no worse than tobacco which is legal in every state of the union.  Up here most adults view pot as a charge of convenience which the cops use to hassle teenagers. 
   Then we ought to remove lying to the cops or the FBI as felonies.  If they want to get you, all they have to do is keep on grilling you, and sooner or later you will say something that does not check out. Bingo, felony charge.  Far as I am concerned, it's up to the cops to get evidence of a real crime, not to cross up the suspect with repeated trick questions. 
   And conspiracy.  That's a vague lawyer's word for hanging out with criminals.  Let's eliminate conspiracy as a crime.  If the perp was doing a crime, fine bag 'em.  But if all you have is that the perp hung out with bad guys, tough, it's a free country.
   And I bet if a bunch of fair minded citizens reviewed all the felonies now on the books, they could recommend dropping half of them.

Galavant: The TV Show

So I watched it.  ABC Sunday night at 8 PM, a really good time slot.  The ABC suits must think it will catch on.  It's strange.  It's a swords and sorcery spoof.  It opens with the kinda ragged looking good guys army confronting the bigger and properly uniformed bad guys army.  For openers a jester, clad in motley, does a song and dance routine in the no man's land between the two armies.   Then we have the warrior princess leading the good guys give a rousing pre battle speech to her troops.  Only the words aren't her's they are the words Aragorn used to inspire his troops before the final battle at the gates of Mordor.  It goes on like this, one gag after another.  Some of them are fairly funny, others fall flat. 
   I think I will watch Supergirl next Sunday.