Friday, April 29, 2016

Retraining for workers whose jobs have fled overseas

NHPR was pushing retraining for the jobless this morning. But if there are no jobs, all the training or retraining in the world won't help.  We gotta do the hard stuff, create new jobs, foster new business formation, drive off the hordes of bloodsucking paper pushers and their job killing regulations, make taxes lighter and fairer.  Keep the NIMBYs and BANANA's from stopping projects. 
    Liberal NHPR isn't going to understand any of this.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

I watched The Donald's foreign policy speech yesterday

It was fairly sanitary, no gratuitous slams on Mexicans, women, Chinese imports and other things that have made the headlines over this campaign.  He used a teleprompter, which means he took this one seriously and didn't want to make off-the-cuff blunders.
   It was pretty vague.  He came out for defending and advocating American interests, with out ever saying what those interests might be.  He said ISIS would be gone, soon, but he never said how, or how far he would go to waste them.  Would he send in the US Army to deal with them? Would he nuke them?  Who knows?  
   He never did really say where he stood on free trade, although he made disparaging remarks about NAFTA.  He is against "nation building" but he never addressed the problem of weak or failed nation states that revert to wildlands, harboring terrorists.  You need to remember that Osama Bin Ladin settled into the wildlands of Afghanistan, where there was no effective national government.  From this safe haven Bin Laden set up the 911 operation.  This would not have happened had the United States done some nation building in Afghanistan after the mujahedin drove out the Soviets in the 1980's.  Go watch the movie "Charlie Wilson's War". 
   The Donald made few to no concrete promises in this speech.  Applause sounded kinda thin, to the point where I wondered how full the room was. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Democratic Turnout Down 4 million

So says the Drudge Report.  Does this show a significant party switch in the electorate?  Or does it show four million democrats who wanted to vote in the Republican primary, but will vote Democratic in the general election?  Who knows? 

Progress in DVD burners

After ten years of service, the DVD burner in Trusty Desktop stopped playing.  Something got jammed and the tray would no longer open.  Even after pulling the drive from Trusty Desktop and prying it open, I could not get to tray to move, at least not with the amount of force I dared apply. 
  So ho, for a new one.  A bit of internet research disclosed that the design of DVD burners changed a year after Trusty Desktop left the factory.  The DVD burner that came with him has an IDE connector, a parallel interface with 40 odd pins in the connector.  The new DVD burners have a serial interface (only four wires).  They haven't made the DVD burner that fit Trusty Desktop for the last ten years. 
  OK, so there is a salvation.  They now make USB DVD burners, USB is universal, Trusty Desktop has plenty of USB ports.  So I bought a Verbatim model down at Staples, only $50.  Very small, only 1/2 inch high, compared to old one and 1 1/2 inches high.  It's faster too.  Burns a 4.7 Gig DVD in about half the time the only one needed.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

To Alpha Centauri in just 20 years?

Sounds good.  Ultra small spacecraft, one big silicon chip containing camera, radioactive thermal electric generator, comm and nav systems, to weigh a couple of grams.  A light sail one meter square.  A 100 Gigawatt laser plays on the light sail for 10 minutes and accelerates the micro probe to 20% of the speed of light.  That will get it the four light years to Alpha Centauri in 20 years.  Then it radios back what the camera's see. 
   One sticky point, how does a micro probe, weighing only grams, have enough transmitter power to drive a radio signal back to earth? 
   Idea comes from internet investor Yuri Milner.  He is making grants to fund research.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Weak Tea from The Economist

Cover story this week "Can She Fix it?"  Cartoon on cover shows Hillary, dressed in mechanic's coveralls, holding a monkey wrench, studying a beat up engine hanging on a chain hoist.  Said engine's outline is the lower 48 of the United States.  Of course no mechanic has used a monkey wrench since WWII, real mechanics all use Snap-on socket wrenches.  But that's all right, the guys who write for the Economist were never hot rodders. 
    The think piece article goes on for three quarters of a page laying out the woes of the American economy, low growth, growing unemployment, stagnent wages, and all the rest.
    But the Economist doesn't suggest any serious fixes for all this woe.  They call for "slashing unnecessary regulations" without naming a single regulation in need of slashing.  "Ensuring big firms no longer operate in protected markets"  without naming a single protected market or big firm wallowing in one.  And they call for more government bailouts to companies going down the drain.  And retraining for workers in down the drain companies. 
   Some how I had expected better from a newsmag named "The Economist".

Sunday, April 24, 2016

North County Do, The Lincoln Reagan dinner

We do this once a year up here in Grafton county.  It's a big deal, everyone who is anyone in the state comes.  This year we had all four republican candidates for governor, and both candidates for US senate. and both candidates for NH senate.  And some candidates for NH house. I've been kicking around NH politics long enough now that I knew most of the people there. 
   For governor we have Frank Edelblut, youn guy, first term NH rep, enterpreneur,  talked about making live better for business.  And we have Ted Gatsas, four term mayor of Manchester, older guy, didn't talk much, I was sitting next to him.  And then Chris Sununu, comes from a good family, good name recognition, made a good talk, probably best of the governors.  And Jeanne Forester, current NH senator, well liked and respected, she has been around for a while and everyone speaks well of her. 
   The we come to the US senate race.  We have a primary challenger (Jim Rubins) to well liked incumbent Kelly Ayotte.  Far as I can see, Rubins is a loser, if he wins the primary, the democrat Maggie Hassan, current governor, will beat him.  Kelly Ayotte is sincere, hard working, and with luck and a lot of help, she can win. 
   I see men's fashions are changing.  Half the men there, myself included, were wearing blue blazers, the kind with brass buttons, and khaki slacks.  The other half were wearing dark business suits.  And some untraditionalists, like Jim Rubins, showed up in blue jeans. 

Friday, April 22, 2016

I'm voting Republican, even if it's Trump

First of all, you gotta vote for one of 'em.  I'll grant that Hillary and The Donald aren't anyone's idea of a dream team.  But, one is better than the other.  It's a citizen's duty to pick the better of the two and vote for him.  Staying home is for wimps.
   It looks like we will be faced with Hillary vs The Donald this time.  This isn't cast in concrete, yet. There is a chance Trump won't have the votes for a first ballot win, and the convention goes for someone else, Cruz, on later ballots.  But don't bet on it.
   So,  do you vote Republican, or vote for Hillary?
   Hillary is untrustworthy.  Weird things keep happening around Hillary, going way back.  There was Vince Foster, old Rose Law Firm friend and White House something-or-other, found dead in a Washington DC park one night.  They said it was suicide, but it sure is suspicious.  There was "Travelgate" when Hillary got upset with the employees at the White House travel office.  The employees got fired and replaced with people of Hillary's choosing.  There was Whitewater, an Arkansas real estate deal that the Clintons participated in.  They even got a special prosecutor onto that one, years of "investigation" let the Clinton's off, even though a fair number of other Whitewater participants went to jail.
   Then there was the Monica affair.  Hillary should have divorced Slick Willy over that one.  She didn't, God knows how the Clinton marriage has been doing since then, but it cannot be warm and loving. 
   Then there was Benghazi where four American diplomats were killed by Islamic terrorists.  Clinton, (and Obama) refused to sent rescue missions.  In fact they fired two US general officers that very night for declaring that they would lead rescuers to Benghazi.  Hillary basically wrote off the Americans serving in Benghazi.
   Then there was Hillary's tour as secretary of state.  She has the reverse Midas Touch. Everything she touched turned into disaster. Syria, Libya, Iraq, North Korea, South China Sea, Ukraine, and some more I have forgotten.  Add in the private email server by which she hoped to keep all her emails private, forever.
   And Hillary wants to take our guns away, leaving us at the mercy of whatever criminal or terrorist might happen by.
   Set this against The Donald.  The Donald is politically incorrect, vulgar, inexperienced, and unwilling to take advice from anyone (my way or the highway is The Donald's style).  I'd druther have that than Hillary.  At least The Donald is loyal to the United States of America.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Energy Bill

They are doing one.  The house passed its version a while ago, the senate just passed their version.  They now gotta do the conference committee bit and weld the two bills into one.  Obama has said he will sign it.  It's gonna spend $10 billion or so. 
   On what?  There is some unspecified research and development money.  Probably another try to convince people that solar or wind power is worthy and green, rather than a scam on tax payers and rate payers.  I, and a lotta other people and industries, need the power to stay on all the time.  We cannot stand hearing the electric company calling to say, "Sorry, the wind dropped, (or the sun went down) and we are going to shut your juice off for six hours."  For me, that means the furnace won't work and my pipes will freeze.  For industry it means that batches of product under going various heat treatments will be ruined.  Every something as old and well understood as baking bread cannot tolerate the oven going cold before the bread is baked.  High tech processes are even more sensitive.
  And there is money to work on "storage" of electricity on a utilities scale.  That's batteries which are ridiculously expensive.  A lead acid battery big enough to crank my V-8 car engine for a couple of minutes costs $50.  A lithium battery big enough to run my laptop for a couple of hours costs $50.  A battery bank big enough to run a small town would cost billions.  For that sort of money I can build a nuke plant, or two or three natural gas fired plants.   How do you say total waste of money?
  And there is some unspecified subsidy for those evil fossil fuels.  The ones that produce dependable power.   Even at today's price of oil, they don't need a subsidy.
   They tried to slip in a provision to clean up Flint Michigan's city water problem.  Worthy but hardly an energy concern.  There is probably a good deal more pork buried in it, which is why Obama said he would sign it.
   The TV newsies haven't said a word about it.  

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

How come we need bathroom laws now?

We have had men's rooms and women's rooms since the invention of indoor plumbing.  (sometime after the civil war).  How come just this year we suddenly need new laws about them?  How did we survive 150 years or so with out laws about bathrooms? 
   Could it be that the foerever-looking-for-a-cause crowd has just discovered a new cause, a wedge issue no less, that they hope to stir up more social unrest?
    I saw an internet ad showing a school shower room with the caption "How would you feel about a boy joining your 12 year old daughter in the shower?"  I thought about that for a minute.  I used to have a 12 year old daughter (she is much older now).  I know my daughter was tough enough to handle such a situation, had it arisen.  She would have hauled off and slugged the boy.  I watched her do something like that back when she was only six. 
   So I think the republic will survive without passing bathroom laws. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Trusty Desktop is getting old

He is at least ten years old, still running strong, still running XP.  I gave him a new power supply maybe five years ago.  Lately, the DVD drive stopped working, jammed solid, won't open.  I pulled the drive out and got the covers off, but couldn't get it to open.
   So I googled for a new one.   They are really cheap, $35.  There was a time you had to pay more than that for a 5 inch floppy drive.  I was about to click it into my cart and go thru the checkout business, when I noticed an acronym, SATA.   A vague memory of SATA as a high speed serial interface surfaced from all the sludge sloshing around in my memory. Trusty Desktop used the old flat cable IDE interface.
 Ayup.  Times have changed, all the new optical drives are SATA, nobody makes the old IDE drives anymore.  Maybe E-bay?   I'd hate to junk trusty desktop and suffer thru Windows 10 on a new one. 

Puerto Rico is broke, but cannot declare bankruptcy

Puerto Rico is a US territory, acquired from the Spanish American War of 1898.  It's still a territory because several referendums on state hood were voted down over the years.  As a territory, Puerto Ricans are US citizens and can leave the island and settle on the mainland anytime and anywhere they wish.  Puerto Rico doesn't have to pay federal income tax, but they don't get representation in Congress. 
   Over the years, the government of Puerto Rico has be spending more than they take in from taxes.  They have been covering the shortfall by borrowing, largely from New York banks.  The money has run out, and Puerto Rico can't make payments due this year.  There just isn't any money in the treasury. 
   And, thru some lawyer's technicality Puerto Rico cannot declare bankruptcy.  Apparently when they wrote the US bankruptcy code they forgot to make any provisions for territories, as opposed to states, cities, corporations and individuals.  Puerto Rico has been agitating to get that fixed.
   I'm not so sure.  Let things work themselves out.  The foolish lenders who offered loans to cover operating expenses to a  government that would never be able to repay, ought to loose their money.  Maybe a good stiff loss will teach bonehead banks a lesson. 
   And then Puerto Rico will have to figure out how to live within their means.  They won't be able to borrow, so they will have to cut spending and hike taxes and collect the taxes on the books.  All of these are good things.  I hear that half the population of Puerto Rico is drawing some kind of salary from the government.  Which is ridiculous. 
  And I sure don't want to spend my tax money bailing them out. 

Monday, April 18, 2016

Windows Washing Time

Youngest son was up for the weekend.  Good time.  Anyhow he used my trusty desktop to do some email, and then he said "Dad, your computer is REALLY slow."  Well, yeah it had been slowing down bit by bit over time.  Youngest son suggested  blowing Firefox away and then re installing clean.  
So last night I started in on it. 
Ran Spybot Search&Destroy.  It found and zapped a buncha cookies, and some registry keys, none of which sounded particularly dangerous, but you never know.  Zapped them all. 
Then go for a clean install of Firefox.  Fire up Internet Exploder, Bing for firefox, click on the first reply, and then leave.  Click on Start->Settings->AddRemoveProgram.  Hit remove on Mozilla Firefox.  That goes OK.  Double check.  Fire up regedit and search the registry for keys containing Firefox.  Zap most of 'em, skip keys that look like pointers to Firefox for other programs to use. 
Go back to Internet Exploder  and click on Download.  This is not so good.  It tries to get me to download a couple of suspicious programs, a driver updater and a speed-me-up program.  Won't take no for an answer, both Yes and NO buttons get you to the download page.  Finally get to the Firefox download.  That trundles along for minutes, and then croaks.
  So, restart Internet Exploder, Bing for Firefox again.  Read the dozens of hits.  Second hit down is the official Mozilla website.  Click on that, and Firefox downloads and installs smoothly.  No suspicious extra programs.  Click on Help and then About, and Firefox updates it self to version 45.  And my bookmarks still work.   Moral of the story, If you Google for a something and get a bunch of hits, read each hit, try for the hit that looks like it's the maker's website.  By this time Trusty Desktop is running faster.  More like his old self.
  Download MalwareBytes, and run it.  It gets 11 hits, all on something names PUP.whatever.  Zap those. 
  Start up Microsoft's Malicious Software Removal Tool.  Select "all files".  It's been running for 20 minutes now and has four hits. It's still running.  I'll zap all hits when it finishes. 
  So, Spring Cleaning for Windows.
1.  Empty the recycle bin and delete any files you don't need/want
2. Run every antivirus you have, and you trust. 

Sunday, April 17, 2016

What does NASA do that is worthwhile?

Worthwhile like Apollo say.  Apollo worked, and put America into the history books for ever.  What is NASA doing today?  Paying $30 million a seat to the Russians for a ride to the ISS?  Buying Russian made rocket engines for the ULA Atlas booster?  Launching a few robot probes? 
  Are we getting our money's worth?
  The only real history making mission left is a manned Mars mission.  This is within today's technology.  I've seen plans to send the assent stage to Mars, making a soft landing under remote control. Then sending a second one just in case something breaks.  Then setting up a nuclear powered chemical plant to synthesize fuel for the return trip from Martian air, soil, and perhaps water. Then using five Space-X Falcon 9's to boost a Mars mission, crew capsule, and lander into orbit. Four man crew.  Doable out of the current NASA budget.  Within a few years.
   This would be a history book mission.  Why don't we do it?

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Google Maps, print one, waste one

The Google software weenies keep breaking things.  This time they "fixed" the Google maps print feature so as to print a one page map, it first prints a sheet of pure worthlessness, and then prints your map on a second sheet.  PITA.
   Good work Google.  Keep this sort of thing up and you will conquer the world.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Russians buzzing US destroyer

Back in the cold war, it was hairier.  There was the Russian sub that collided with a US destroyer.  Damage was limited, the destroyer made it back to base under its own power, but it surely must have scared the bejabbers out of the US captain and crew. 
   Then there was that Chinese fighter that collided with a US recon aircraft back in the early uh-ohs.  The Chinese pilot was buzzing the much slower recon plane, only he wasn't as hot a pilot as he thought he was.  He was killed, and the US recon plane had to make an emergency landing in Chinese territory. 

Place an order for one room worth of smoke

Now that the health Nazis have got us all off tobacco, you cannot have a real smoke filled room today, nobody smokes anymore.  Especially not in public.  But I am sure there are numerous suppliers who will fill the gap.
   Way back when, American party conventions were big get togethers at which the party bosses, office holders, and assorted hangers on, would select the party candidates and just spring them on the voters.  It wasn't all that bad a system, it gave us a series of pretty decent presidents, starting with Lincoln.  If you read your modern history, the US was governed by a class of politician a couple of grades better than anyone in Europe.  This smoke filled room selection process lasted until the Kennedy-Humphrey West Virginia primary in 1960.  Then for some reason (probably media love for Kennedy) the single West Virginia primary was deemed totally representative of the national electorate, and JFK became the democratic nominee that year.  I'm pretty sure that Humphrey and Lyndon Johnson didn't go along, but the convention did, although Kennedy had to offer the vice presidency to Johnson to press on over the top.
   Since then, more states have set up primaries.  New Hampshire has done exceptionally well with its first in the nation primary.  It brings zillions of dollars into the state from newsies, candidates, and just plain tourists, and we need the business. Up until this year, the primaries decided the nominee on both sides, and the national conventions dwindled in importance to the point that the big TV networks would not carry them live in prime time. 
   Even though the national conventions were no longer decisive, everyone always wanted to go as a delegate.  Even my mother managed to become a delegate to the the Republican convention one year.  Each state party set up some elaborate scheme to allocate delegates spots to loyal and deserving party members.  The Donald is beating the drums about the Colorado system being unfair to him since Ted Cruz got all the delegates and he got zip.  Not surprising.  The newsies haven't actually figured out the Colorado system and told us about it, but I can guess it favors loyal and deserving party members, all of whom who detest The Donald. 
   Anyhow, the newsies are salivating about covering the Republican convention this year because it looks like nobody will have the votes to lock it up going in, and there will be demonstrations, floor fights, slanging matches, and wheeling and dealing, all of which makes good copy. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Brits to study reviving sailing ships.

According to the Economist, Energy Technologies Institute  (ETI) wants to study auxiliary wind power to cargo vessels.  The ship would be equipped with huge vertical rotors to be spun by the wind.  Some kind of gear train would drive a propeller off the rotors.  Huge, like fifteen feet in diameter and 150 feet tall.  The idea isn't all that new.  The devices are called Flettner rotors, and they were invented by a German aerodynamics guru  in the 1920's.  Flettner was able to obtain enough funding back then to outfit a medium sized ship with his rotors and "sail" it.  For carrying all this top heavy gear, ETI expects, not a real no-fossil-fuel ship, but merely a 5-10% savings in fuel. 
   Seems like a helova lotta money sunk into equipment for a pretty chintzy fuel savings.  Does not sound worth while to me.  I'm sure the greenies are all over this, they love expensive and worthless things.
   By 1840 the square rigged sailing ship had been perfected to a level that is competitive with modern steam ships in terms of speed, size, and range.  Clipper ships could do 20 knots in 1840, where as 1940's convoys of steamers could only do 6 knots.  The only reason steamers replaced sailing vessels was cost.  Sailing ships required a big crew to handle all the sails.  Enough men to furl sail in a sudden blow, enough men to wear ship.  Whereas a steamer only needs a man at the wheel and a few men in the boiler room to keep steam up.  The world's merchant fleet was mostly sail powered up until WWI when German U-boats sank most of the sailors.  Sailors were easier to catch than steamers. 
   Should the price of fuel go back up (way way up)  the square rigger would become practical again, yielding a true no-fossil-fuel ship.  It would probably take something like $200 a barrel oil to do that. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Finished my taxes, Thank God

Doing taxes gets worse and worse, year by year.  Our friendly IRS keeps adding tax forms, Turbo Tax cranked out 32 pages of Federal income tax forms this year.  You can't just list stock sales on Schedule D anymore, they want half a dozen different forms, with different rules and gobble-de-gook for each form. 
   I don't understand why some presidential candidate doesn't promise to clean this up.  I know there are rabid special interests ready to leap to the defense of every loophole and deduction, but there gotta  be a lot of regular taxpayers who dread  doing all this scutwork every year. 
  I used to do my taxes with an Excel spreadsheet of my own construction.  But craziness connected with sale of foreign stocks is just to much for me, I can't write the spreadsheet when I don't under stand the rules.
There has gotta be a better way.
   The better way is Turbo Tax.  It's straight forward to use but you gotta watch it.  Accidentally hit a comma, when you meant to hit period for decimal point  can drive the program, and you crazy.  You want to double check this year vs last year, assuming  you used Turbotax last year.  Deductions you took last year you ought to be able to take this year. 

Monday, April 11, 2016

"Hillary Clinton was a fine Secretary of State" said Obama

Weekend interview with Chris Wallace on Fox.  Yeah Right.  Fine judge of people that Obama.  Picks the right person every time. 
Hillary was Secretary when the Benghazi consulate was attacked, killing four Americans including the Ambassador to Libya.  She had allowed State Dept cookie pushers to short stop appeals for more security from the ambassador.  She was there when a US general and a US Admiral were fired that night for daring to send rescue missions.  She sent one of her operatives on all the TV Sunday pundit shows to blame the disaster on an obscure bit of internet video. 
   She was Secretary when the Arab Spring began to undermine Hosni Mubarak in Eygpt.  Mubarak had kept the peace that Anwar Sadat had negotiated with Israel.  Mubarak had been a useful and loyal ally of the United States.  When SHTF, and Mubarak's regime began to totter, she did not do the right and proper thing, namely allow the Egyptians to work out their internal problems.  No, she (and Obama) jumped right in and called to Mubarak's overthrow.  
  She was Secretary when the US pulled the troops out of Iraq, turning the place over to ISIS. 
  She was Secretary of State when Putin invaded Ukraineand annexed the Crimea.  She didn't say squat about that.
   She was Secretary will Libya came unglued during the Arab Spring.  We gave the Europeans a little logistical support while they overthrew Qaddafi  and then we all up and left.  Libya is now a failed state, controlled by ISIS.
   She was Secretary of State when Obama announced a "red line" in Syria over the use of poison gas.  She was still Secretary while Assad gassed more of his own citizens and we did nothing. 
   If elected President, Hillary will doubtless find more catastrophes to mismanage.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Why do we have Wall Street?

In a word, economic development.  Economic development means starting up new companies, building new factories, opening mines, building dams, launching ships and 747's, expanding production facilities.  All these things need money, often a lot of money, and it takes a long time from startup spending to making money from sales.  Might be years between first spending on production facilities, advertisements, research and development, and first accounts receivable from sales.
   You gotta raise money to get a startup company up and running.  The nicest money raiser for start up companies is to issue stock.  They can pay their initial employees largely in stock.  They can pay their initial investors in stock.  Stock makes the stockholders into part owners of the company.  They get to vote on the board of directors, and they are entitled to a share of company earnings, (dividends).  A company can use stock, which it can issue for merely the cost of printing stock certificates, to cover a lot of expenses.
   The stock market (the heart of Wall Street) exists to give value to stock.  Stockholder's know that they can convert their stock into cash, right now, on the stock market.  That gives the stock real value, far more value than the promise of future dividends will give it.  Lotta startups never pay dividends, they tell the stockholders to just sell the stock for cash.  Which works when you have a stock market in New York and other places. buying and selling every company's stock, every day.
   In short, Wall Street provides the money that makes economic development happen.  The stock market guys are pretty good about picking winners and losers, a helova lot better than any gov'mint snivel servants will ever be.  The stock market steers investment money into winners, and shuts off money to losers.
   In short, we need Wall Street to keep the US economy growing, and hiring workers, and producing the accustomed flood of low cost, high performance products into the consumer market.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Divisions in the Republican Party

The TV newsies have been giving this one a lotta talk.   The newsies are saying that the "Establishment" and the rank and file party members are at odds with each other.  And that the breach is unfixable. 
  Well maybe so, maybe not.  There is an establishment, it's office holders at all levels, local state and federal, then party officials and workers, and activists.  The establishment really cares about winning, they are in it as a day job, they want to keep their jobs, and they don't care about making flashy but risky gestures or embracing ideologies.  They want to win. 
   They know that The Donald will loose, loose big, and take the rest of the Republican party down to defeat.  So they are against The Donald.  Which puts them at odds with The Donald and his supporters.  Just to put the establishment further onto the hot seat,  Ted Cruz, the alternative to The Donald, ain't their cup of tea either.  Ted is a man of strong ideological principles, he is a forth right Christian, and he is into flashy but risky gestures, such as doing a Federal government shutdown.  They fear they cannot cut a deal with Ted, that Ted will stand on principle and refuse to compromise.  So far, it looks like the establishment will back Ted, as their only alternative to The Donald and the lesser of two evils.  Better a hard to deal with ideologue than a flaming disaster. 
   And, the party rank and file isn't entirely agin this viewpoint.
   The sticky part comes when the nominee gets picked.  Trump voters will be upset if The Donald doesn't win, a lotta of other Republicans will be just as upset if The Donald does win the nomination.  The challenge to the Republican party, is to soothe all these ruffled feathers and get the offended voters to at least vote for the party, if not get out and electioneer for the party.   There are gonna be a lot of ruffled feathers and unhappy voters no matter which way the nomination goes.  At a guess,  the disappointed Trump people will be easier to soothe than the vast number of Republicans who detest Trump. 
   One healing gambit that the winner might use, is to offer the vice presidency to the looser. 

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Going after salt

The FDA is planning/talking about  issuing new regulations limiting the amount of salt in food.  You gotta wonder about this.  Making rules for salt, or any other rules on food seems to be a legislative job, not a bureaucrat job.  The Germans brag about a medieval law on the purity of beer, still in force in Germany, but a real law, they didn't have bureaucracies in the middle ages.  I think the FDA is stepping beyond it's legal authority.
   And then there are recent scientific studies claiming  that salt ain't all that bad for you.  These are disputed, but then True Believers won't accept any thing that cast doubt upon their beliefs.  Lotta bureaucrats are True Believers. 
   My chemistry is weak, but it is clear that all sorts of biochemistry in your body needs just the right amount of saltiness to work.  The body has mechanisms to maintain the right salt level, one mechanism is appetite, when your salt level is low,  salt tastes better, when your salt level is high, less salt tastes better.  In the service, they issued us salt tablets on hot days when we were sweating hard. 
   One effect of the drive for lower salt, is to sharpen my eye in the store.  Original Recipe Stoned Wheat Thins, taste a helova lot better than Low Sodium Stoned Wheat Thins.  Both come in nearly the same packaging, you gotta look sharp to buy the good tasting ones.  On the other hand, down the canned soup aisle, I find the traditional Campbell's is just too salty for my taste.  The new fangled Healthy Request soup tastes better with about half the salt of Campbell's. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

That giant leak of off-shore tax dodgers

So far, all the low lifes exposed have NOT been Americans.  They got Putin and Assad and the premier of Iceland, and a whole bunch more, but no American names that mean anything to me.  This may change, but for the time being I can enjoy a little smugness. 

Monday, April 4, 2016

The Donald trashes NATO

We set up NATO shortly after WWII in order to keep the Soviets from gobbling up western Europe the way they did eastern Europe.  In those years the European countries were still all smashed up from WWII and pretty helpless against the USSR.  The NATO treaty was mostly D'Artangnan's cry from the Three Musketeers, "One for all and all for one".  It told the Soviets that the United States would resist any further takeovers in Europe.
   And it worked.  The Iron Curtain stayed where it was, and didn't move west.
   And in 1989 the Soviets collapsed, ending the threat for many years.  NATO kept going, doing a bit here and a bit there, helping out in Afghanistan.  Until we got Putin in the last few years and all of a sudden, the Russians are looking dangerous again.  Since Georgia and the Ukraine, and Syria, the Europeans can see a need for NATO, especially the eastern Europeans like Poland and Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia.
   I dunno where Trump is coming from when he calls NATO obsolete.  It is an anti Russian alliance, which was needed in the 1950's and look to me like we still need it in the 2010's for the same old reason.  

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Daredevil, the TV show

Youngest son is a fan and he played me one episode.  It's bad TV.  The camera man is into the very very dark look.  No lights on anywhere.  All the characters appear as black silhouettes,  no light on their faces, and I could not tell one from another.  Lotta hand to hand slugging matches, where none of the characters were recognizable.  Lotta fast cuts from one story line to another, and back again, with no point except confusing the viewers.  Nobody ever addresses anyone else by name.  At least the dialog was audible, but the camera work was so bad as to make the show painful to watch.

New villain, "Fossil Fuel Companies"

We used to call 'em oil companies, or "Big Oil" and they have been a punching bag since John D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil.  But we got a new name for 'em now. 

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Is the MOM airliner single aisle or twin aisle?

Boeing is arguing this out internally right now.  MOM is Middle of the Market in case you had not heard.  Single aisle is a smaller jet liner say 180 to 200 seats.  Twin aisle is a substantially bigger plane, say 250 - 300 seats.  Right now, 2015, the airlines like smaller planes, and more frequent schedules to capture as many passengers as possible.  If they offer 3 or 4 departures a day of a smaller airliner, they are more more likely to all the passengers to be had on that city-pair.  If they only offer one departure a day of a bigger airliner, the passengers that want to depart earlier or later, are more likely to book with a competing carrier. 
  On the other hand, should over loaded airports like La Guardia impose departure limits (you airline so-and-so only get so many departures from here) then the airlines are likely to fall in love with bigger planes.
   Boeing is doing bet-the-company forecasting right now.

Batman vs Superman the movie

All the critics panned it.  But, raised as I was on Batman and Superman comics,  I had to see it, just for old times sake.  And, turned out, the critics were right, it was a terrible movie.   Scene after scene, each one full of fighting rolled by, but they didn't connect with each other.  Only in the last half of the movie with the grudge match between the lead characters, followed by a just as big fight against a monster conjured up by Lex Luther, was there some continuity.  Basically this flick suffers for giant plot holes and lack of any continuity from scene to scene.  I got lost following a comic book movie.  The only character with good lines was Lex Luther, and who cares if the bad guy sounds witty?   
   Costumes were meh.  Superman's red and blue outfit was dulled down to dark blue gray and an odd shade of red for his cape.  Batman's costume was all black plate armor that made his look like an overweight gorilla.  Wonder Woman was not wearing her bright red white and blue bikini, she was in some kinda one piece bathing suit in neutral brown.
   Poor Wonder Woman, she doesn't get any lines, she just turns up in the last reel and does some whacking on Lex Luther's monster.  She has a human secret identity but you don't know it, and the scenes in which she appears have little meaning, she is just another tall chick with no real reason for existence.  
   And a few anachronisms.  Lois Lane gets captured by terrorists, who proceed to pop open her 35mm camera and pull the film out of the cartridge, exposing it to sunlight.  I gave up using my 35mm five years ago, Lois is a real reporter, you'd think she would have gone over to a DSLR years ago.  The hoods who knock off Bruce Wayne's parents use a Government model .45 automatic.  That kind of hood ought to be using a .38 revolver. 
    Anyhow, you can save your money and not go see this one.

Friday, April 1, 2016

It's the economy, Stupid

Looking at polls, and just talking around,  the economy and the chances of keeping your job, are the top concerns among US voters, going into this election.  Incumbent politicians tend to say the economy is better or getting better.  Insurgent politicians harp on how bad things are.  Who's right?
  Who knows?  The two numbers the guvmint sends out are bogus.  The unemployment rate the newsies report is actually the number of workers drawing unemployment benefits.  When unemployment runs out, that worker is no longer unemployed.  He may not, probably does not, have a job, but since he ain't drawing unemployment any more, he ain't unemployed.  At the depths of Great Depression 2.0, back in 2008, unemployment got up to 9 or 10 percent.  Since then it has dropped back to 5% nationwide, 2.7% in New Hampshire.  Much of this "improvement" represents people's unemployment benefits running out. 
   Then we have "New Jobs Created".  This number  represents new hires in companies big enough to have to report such things to Washington.  But the number doesn't take layoffs into account.  A company could layoff 1000 senior employees and hire 1000 new high school grads at minimum wage in the same year, but it counts as 1000 jobs "grown". 
   With statistics this flaky, politicians can say the economy is getting better, or getting worse and have statistics to prove it either way.
   "Lies, damn lies, and statistics"  was Mark Twain's slam at this sort of thing.