Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Sorry about the Gorilla

On the other hand, I know nothing about gorilla's, and I know nothing about the specific gorilla that got shot. I am not going to second guess the zoo personnel who had to deal with the situation.   I'm sure the zoo people feel terrible about killing their gorilla, and did every thing they could to avoid it.  They clearly did the best they could in a bad situation.  And, the life of a four year old boy is more important than the life of a gorilla.  I'm glad the boy lives.
 A  question that the newsies have been too ignorant to ask. .  How does a small boy get into an enclosure stout enough to hold an adult gorilla?  If the enclosure can keep gorillas in, why did it not keep small boys out?
   Something for all parents to consider.  Small children think live animals are cute and huggable.  In the Disney movies all the animals talk and act like people.  There was a time when a wild black bear strolled by my NH house.  All the small children playing on my deck dashed down after the poor bear.  They wanted to pet it.  The bear, seeing what was coming for him, increased his pace smartly and disappeared into heavy woods before the kids got too close.   Fortunately that bear did not have any cubs with it, or things might have gotten very ugly.
  Parents ought to make sure their children understand that wild animals are dangerous, and should NOT be pursued.   Wild animals are safe as long as you keep your distance.  I have wild bears strolling about up here all the time. I keep my distance, the bears keep their distance, and we all stay very happy. 

Xmen Apocalypse

Spent Memorial Day weekend at youngest son's brand new house.  Since it rained Saturday, we went to the movies.  This is the newest Xmen flick, just out.  It might as well have been titled "Xmen versus the Mummy".
Lotta CGI special effects. Explosions, fires, collisions, Magneto's strange powers destroying whole cities.  According to the rather weak plot, an God/Demon/Evil Sorcerer from Egypt of 3600 BC  comes to life in fairly modern times and starts doing evil.  Never mind that First dynasty Egyptian Old Kingdom didn't get started until about 2900 BC.  This is the prequel Xmen, set in the 1970s or 1980's.  Whole new cast, all younger.  The guy playing a younger Charles Xavier isn't as good in the role as Patrick Stewart was.  Nice costumes, the chicks look sharp and sexy, the guys look hunky, mostly.  Hugh Jackman gets a brief (5-10 minute on screen) part.  He never gets to speak a line, he just kills a bunch of soldiers, and the last we see of him he is dashing off into a snow covered forest, bare foot, and wearing only Bermuda shorts.  Does adamantium warm a body as well as make it bulletproof? 
   Nobody has a line as good as Storm's line in the first Xmen, "Have you ever seen a toad struck by lightning?"
   OK for kids, or dyed in the wool Xmen fans, but not as good as the first two Xmen flicks.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Nuking Hiroshima was the right thing to do

The Japanese started WWII by attacking Pearl Harbor, in time of peace, without a declaration of war.  They sank the Pacific Fleet battle line, which gave them naval supremacy thruout the Pacific, at least by the thinking of 1942.  They inflicted several more humiliating defeats upon us and upon the British.  They treated our prisoners of war like dirt, many of them died in Japanese captivity. 
   The Japanese fought hard.  Guadalcanal, Saipan, Okinawa, Io Jima, Tarawa.  Based upon bitter experience gained on Okinawa and Saipan, we figured invasion of the Home Islands would cost us a million casualties, and the Japanese far more.  By 1945 US submarines had blockaded Japan, nothing big enough to be worth a torpedo was getting in or out of the Home Islands.  The Air Force had total air superiority, and were fire bombing every city in Japan.  Even at this low point, with their backs to the wall, the Japanese refused to negotiate. 
   Offered a chance to end the war, Truman took it.  And it worked.  The first nuke on Hiroshima shook 'em up, but not enough to bring them to their senses.  The second nuke on Nagasaki finally did the trick.  The bitter end generals were pushed out of government, and some rational men took over and ended the war. 

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Horatio Hornblower, The Mutiny

Good flick.  Came to me thru Netflix.  The Brits started a series of TV movies about Hornblower, starring Ioan Gruffyd, nice young guy, who looks the part and acts the part well.  This one is maybe #5 or #6 in the modern series.
   Horatio Hornblower is a Royal Navy officer, serving during the Napoleonic wars,  invented by author C.S. Forester back in the early 1940's.  Forester wrote half a dozen Hornblower tales over the years and they are still in print.   The TV movies are all good.  Costumes are really good.  The naval officers, the petty officers, the seaman, the marines all wear different uniforms, nicely made.  I'm not a real expert on period costumes, but they all look right to my eye.  Most of the action is filmed at sea, on board ship.  The ship[s] are convincing.  Makes you think they took the trouble to find or build real sailing warships.  Either that or the CGI folks are getting really good.  The ships in this modern series are much more convincing that the ship[s] in the old 1950's Hornblower movie with  Gregory Peck and Virginia Mayo.
   Anyway, it's a good watchable flick, good camera work, good soundtrack.  Lots of action, great scenery, excellent plot.  The other Hornblower flicks are just as good. And the books are all good reads. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

So what is Congress planning for Puerto Rico?

Puerto Rico is broke.  They owe $70 billion on loans taken out in the past.  Between pensions, welfare, lotta featherbedding, and plain old graft, the Puerto Rico government spends far more than it collects in taxes. They cannot make payments on the loans coming due. 
   Thru some quirk in the law, Puerto Rico as a US territory, cannot declare bankruptcy the way cities and towns, and possibly states can.  The idea in bankruptcy is to prevent everyone and his cousin suing, which is more than anyone can defend against, and have an "impartial" judge divvy up the bankrupt's assets.  For companies, the judge usually decides to keep the company going, and avoid laying off all the employees. To this end, the bankruptcy judges usually tells the lenders to just suck it up, cancels  the debts, makes some company reforms and sets the company going again. 
  For places like Detroit and Puerto Rico, the path is less clear.  No bank with two brain cells firing is going to loan a nickel to places like that.  The unions, the pensioners, and everyone else will die in the trenches before allowing any cost cutting.  Which leaves the cash strapped government to make payroll with IOU's.
   Mean while, all the big New York banks, who made all the totally foolish loans are down in DC right now lobbying Congress to bail out Puerto Rico, i.e. have taxpayers pay off the loans, so the banks don't have to to confess how stupid they are.  The banks are asking for $70 billion in comfort money.  That's a lotta money.
   There is some kinda Puerto Rico deal going thru Congress right now.  Speaker Ryan is pushing it.  Nobody knows what's  in it. 
   A Puerto Rico deal should merely make it possible for Puerto Rice to declare bankruptcy and be protected from a zillion lawsuits while they work out the details.  The bankruptcy court should have the power to cancel debts, cancel contracts, fire politicians, and raise taxes. It should NOT pay off the lenders.  The lenders made stupid loans, anyone could tell Puerto Rico could not pay off the loans, even twenty years ago.  For being stuck on stupid, the banks oughta take a $70 billion hit.  Maybe it will learn 'em some.
   And our noble MSM ought to find out what is going down in DC and clue us in.  Perhaps the banks have bought them off? 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Let the passengers carry heat. Safer that way.

Things have changed.  Back before 9/11 passengers all understood that when hijacked, they should sit tight, don't give the hijackers any trouble, and they will come out of it alright.   9/11 changed all that.  Now passengers all understand that if they let the hijackers take control of the aircraft,  they will die a fiery death in the crash.  Since then, a few "unruly" passengers have been subdued in flight by fellow passengers. In one case a fire axe was used as a pacifier. 
   If we just let the passengers carry heat, then Abdul the Hijacker has to worry about some little old lady passenger in economy taking a .38 out of her purse and splattering his brains all over the cabin ceiling.  And certainly hijackers armed with box cutters aren't going to win over passengers with handguns.  And if we say handguns are OK, then TSA can stop hassling passengers over the odd Swiss Army knife in some guy's pocket.  And we can drop that stuff about liquid explosives.  The liquid explosive is so touchy that Abdul the Hijacker is more likely to have the stuff go off in the taxi on the way to the airport than in flight.  Real terrorists use Semtex, a plastic explosive. 
   If one in twenty passengers carries, then the hijackers will face a fusillade from  five to ten armed passengers no matter what flight they try. 
  And we could solve the long security line problem that TSA is putting us thru.  For that matter we could lay off TSA and save our selves a lotta hassle and a lotta money.
  All we need for decent security is to X-ray all the checked bags to keep the terrorists from putting a bomb in the baggage compartment.  And  X-ray the hand luggage as well.  We could solve the long line problem overnight.

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Donald is rising in the polls

My major objection to The Donald used to be national polls showing him losing to Hillary.  Well, that seems to be turning around.  This weekend the TV newsies began to cite new polls showing The Donald level, or slightly ahead of Hillary.  The lead isn't decisive yet, but compared to where The Donald was a couple of months ago, it's a whole bunch better. 
   The Republic might be saved yet.

Ergonomic Fail. My Cell Phone

It's extremely small, it's black, which makes it hard to see.  Set it down somewhere and you cannot find it.  Inoffensive computer casework beige would be easier to see.  And I would be happy to have one a tad bigger if it held a bigger battery. 
  Control of this miniature wonder comes from stroking the touch pad with your finger.  The poor thing sports just two real physical buttons.  One button is the "wake up" button.  Press it and the phone comes to life, touch screen lights up. Press it again and all sorts of weird stuff happens, including missing my incoming call.  The other button adjusts the loudness of the ring. 
  Should phone ring in my shirt pocket, I'm bound to press one or both real buttons while fishing phone out of my pocket.  Which means ring loudness randomly changes from max to zero, and the incoming call gets lost.
   For my simple needs, the ring loudness might as well be another "app" on the touch screen menus, I'm less likely to screw up the ring settings by just handling the phone.  The wake up button ought to be a slide switch, so you cannot press it by accident. 
  My other gripe, the phone has TWO keypads, a numeric pad like a standard desk phone, and a qwerty keyboard.  So, entering a new contact, it asks for contact name.  And shows the telephone keypad.  It takes four or five finger strikes to find the qwerty keyboard. 
   This is a lower end Trak Phone, no monthly contract.  God help us from the smarter phones.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Curse of the Cameraman

Newly fashionable among Hollywood cameramen, the under exposed shot.  In a recent Bond movie (Skyfall) we have a furious hand to hand fight between to black silhouettes.  I guessed one was Bond and the other was a Bond villain, but there was no way to tell  one fighter from the other.  Which makes the whole fight scene pretty meaningless.  A recent Marvel comic book movie (Dark Thor) all the scenes are super dark. Ocasionally we can make out the actor's faces in an otherwise black scene, but some times not even that.  These aren't the only ones. 
   This ultra dark fashion makes watching movies a real PITA.  It's as bad as the fad for shake-the-camera shots of a few years ago. 
    And we still have the curse of the soundman out there.  You know, the sound man allows the score or the sound effects drown out the dialog.
    Hollywood used to get this right, well lit scenes with understandable dialog.  But lately directors have been allowing cameramen and soundmen to screw things up. 

Friday, May 20, 2016

EgyptAir Crash

It's a terrible story.  My deepest sympathies to the victims and their families.
The TV newsies have been talking and talking about the story, mostly revealing their total ignorance of aviation.  For instance I heard one of the saying the winglets (little upturned fins at the wingtips) were there to improve maneuverability.  No way.  Winglets reduce the drag caused by the wing tip vortexes.  No body talked about the time the vertical stabilizer snapped clean off an Airbus departing New York, causing a crash that killed all on board.  At the time, Airbus claimed the failure was caused by the pilot applying too much rudder.  The newsies mostly let Airbus get away with this canard years ago.  Real aircraft are built strong enough to withstand the force of hard over control surfaces.  In an emergency the pilot needs to apply full control forces and not have to worry about the aircraft breaking up in mid air.
   Lotta talk about terrorism.  It's certainly a valid suspicion.  So far there is no evidence (at least on TV) of terrorist action.  Evidence like hearing "Take this plane to Mosul" on the cockpit voice recorder.  Or flight data recorder showing massive failures all over the plane at once.  Or some low life confessing that he put the bomb on the plane.  Or intercepted phone or text messages, or email, or snail mail of the low lives gloating about their success.  So far we don't even have any terrorist claiming the hit.
  I got my suspicions, just like the rest of you, but so far, they are just suspicions. We need to find the wreck and recover the recorders before we know anything. 
  Also note, EgyptAir is a government of Egypt operation with a mediocre to poor safety record.  The Egyptians have plenty of motive to blame the crash on terrorists, as opposed to shoddy maintenance or poorly trained aircrew.  It was the Egyptians who first started crying terrorist within hours of the tragedy. 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

NPR ran a story about a four year old being "transgendered"

Was on the FM radio yesterday.  I was appalled.  How can a four year old know any such thing?  Could this be a case of the parents wanted a child of the opposite sex?  And rather than having another child, they decided to warp the one they had?
And the pros don't approve either.

JFK wanted to send a man to the moon.

Obama wants to send a man to the ladies restroom.   Good slam.  From Texas.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Third Party Presidential runs

In 1860,  Democrat John Bell split the Democratic Party into Northern and South wings.  He tipped the election to Republican Abraham Lincoln. 
In 1912, Republican Teddy Roosevelt  ran as the "Bull Moose Party" candidate.  He tipped the election to Democrat Woodrow Wilson. 
In 1968 Democrat George Wallace ran as a third party. He  tipped the election to Republican Richard Nixon.
In 1993 Independent Ross Perot ran as a third party. He tipped the election to Democrat Bill Clinton.

Since the modern party system was created with the establishment of the Republican Party in 1856, these are the four "third party" campaigns that garnered enough votes to get into the history books.  Just about every election had third party candidates but mostly they never garnered enough votes to matter.  These are the four big third party campaigns that did well enough to matter.
  In all four cases, the third party was a split off from either the Democrats  (Bell and Wallace) or the Republicans (Roosevelt and Perot).  In each case the presence of the third party campaign tipped the election to the other side.  
   So today we have unhappy Republicans talking up a third party campaign.  If they get it off the ground, history says it will tip the election to the other party, Hillary.
   I don't want Hillary as president.  The Donald would be much better. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Supremes cannot decide. Both plaintiffs claim victory

The eight surviving Supremes have lost all ability to discuss issues among themselves.  Four of them vote leftie, the other four vote rightie, they cannot reach agreement.  In short, the eight top legal beagles of America cannot agree on what the law means.  Good work law schools.
  In the Little Sisters of the Poor case, where Obama is trying to force a Catholic order of nuns to furnish birth control to their employees, the Supremes just ruled that the case must be reheard in the lower courts. 
  Both sides, the nuns, and the Obama administration claim victory. 
  They cannot both be right, Can they?

Slanting the news same-same Freedom of the Press

They have been all over Facebook and Zuckerman over the accusation of slanting the "Trending" column by dropping conservative stories.  A Congressional hearing is promised. 
   Not that I approve, I'm conservative too, but the United States has been blessed with slanted news reporting since the founding of the Republic.  Look at the New York Times.  In the 1930's they supported Soviet communism.  "I have seen the future and it works".  In the 1950's they supported Fidel Castro, strongly enough to make him dictator of Cuba.  In the 1960's they backed North Viet Nam.  They published the Pentagon Papers in order to destabilize the Nixon administration.  They published a leak from CIA about tapping Osama bin Laden's satellite phone, result, Bin Laden ditched the phone and went back to messengers. 
   I don't see much difference between want the Times does and what Zuckerman is accused of doing at Facebook. 

Monday, May 16, 2016

More Global Warming

It snowed up here, light, only 1/4 inch, but mid May is very late for snow, even in New Hampshire.  Clearly global warming at work. 
Then my electric bill shows power use by month over the last 12 months.  This year, May 2016, average temperature was 43F and my daily power use was 19 KWH.  Last May, it was 57F and daily power use was 15 KWH.   More global warming at work. 

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Wendy's to install automatic kiosks in 6000 outlets

This story has gotten some serious airplay, always followed up with tsk-tsking about how $15 minimum wage causes low end jobs to be automated out of existence.  
It reminders me of  an old old Robert A. Heinlein story.  Our intrepid teen age hero has been invited to breakfast at a truck stop, by a trucker.  To make conversation the trucker says,
   "This joint used to be automated.  Then it went broke, and the trade all went to the Tivoli, down the road apiece.  Then the new owner threw out the machinery and hired girls.  Business picked up."
   At this point the waitress is taking their order and the trucker says to her,
   "I want that egg just barely dead.  If it's cooked solid I'll nail it to the wall as a warning to others."
   "I doubt that you will be able to get a nail thru it," replies the waitress.
   "See what I mean," says the trucker to our intrepid teen age hero.  "How can machines compete?"

   Good luck with automation Wendy's.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Trashing Sikes Picot

NPR and the Economist have been blaming the woes of the Arab world on the Sikes Picot Agreement of 1916.  Must be the centennial that brings this out.  I'll grant every one of the Arab woes, but I cannot believe they have anything to do with Sikes Picot.
   The Ottoman empire (forerunner to modern Turkey) used to own, operate, tax, and run all the the modern middle East, Greece and the Balkans, Egypt and North Africa.  Turkish/Ottoman control began to slip in the 19th century and World War I brought Lawrence of Arabia to completely tear up the Ottoman empire.  In 1916 the British and the French had Sikes (for Britain) and Picot (for France) draw up a plan to divvy up the Ottoman lands after the war.  The British, the French, the Italians, and the Russians all got a big slice.  Old style imperialism at work.  But that's the way things worked a hundred years ago.
   In reality, the local Arabs were too dis organized, too tribal,  too uneducated, and too primitive to actually run things.  It took 30 years for the Arabs to get up to speed and push out the European imperialists and set up their own regimes.  To a certain extent, but not entirely,  the boundaries of the new Arab states followed the boundaries drawn by Sikes and Picot, but so what?  The populations were/are  all Arab, they all speak Arabic, they are all Muslims.  With the exception of Egypt, there are no natural geographic borders (mountain ranges or rivers, or deserts) so one boundary is about as good as any other.
   The entire region is huge,  no Arab government has the smarts, the charisma, or the military force to run the whole place.  Best the Arabs can manage is to run smaller chunks of it, hence the multiplicity of regimes, Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Qatar, Syria, and so on.
   So far as I am considered, the woes of the Arab lands are of their own making, it's not the fault of a diplomatic agreement among European imperialists a hundred years ago. 

Friday, May 13, 2016

Where have all the retail sales gone?

WashPo has a long article here bewailing the lack of retail sales.  One reason might be the really utilitarian product retailers have to sell.  Consider Walmart.  A worthy place, the price is right, the stuff is OK, and I shop there.  But only for pretty utilitarian things, like Jockey shorts, prescription medicine,  and paper towels.   Over the last few years we have lost the Radio Shack, a nice kitchenware place, a decent used book store, a very decent new book and toy store, an Ace Hardware, two video stores, and The Oasis restaurant.   All that's left is Lahout's, Walmart, Staples, Home Despot, and Lowes.  None of them are very gifty stores.
  For Christmas, birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, I go on line to find nice stuff to give as gifts.   I gotta drive a long way south on I93,. Tilton or Concord.  to find anything much better.  So this Christmas, Amazon, Lee Valley, Signals, and Garrett Wade got all my Christmas buying. 

Cluelessness runs in the family

Apparently Chelsea Clinton's husband, Marc Mezvinsky, some kinda stock broker wheeler dealer has lost humungous amounts of his clients (suckers) money.   According to the Daily Mail, he lost the money speculating in Greek bonds.  That's a maximum stupid in my book.  Anyone with two brain cells firing knew that the Greeks were broke and would never be able to pay off their bonds.  Looks like Chelsea married a chucklehead.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

There IS a difference in supermarket brands

Surefine (Mac's Market house brand) 100% Colombian coffee tastes better than Shaw's house brand 100% Colombian coffee.  Was in Shaw's the other day and picked up a can of their stuff by mistake.  Bad idea, it was harsh and bitter.  Even youngest son commented on how bad it was.  Whereas the Surefine at $4 and change a can tastes as good as jazzier coffees going for as much as $9 a can. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

North Carolina Bathroom Brouhaha

The Obama justice department and the state of North Carolina are now suing each other over the bathroom bill.  The Feds are threatening to cut off some serious federal money unless North Carolina knuckles under.
   Leaving the bathroom bill issue for a bit, let's ask why the Feds were giving a state that kind of money in the first place.  Education is a state and local responsibility, and should be paid for by state and local governments.  When the folks that spend the money have to raise the money, they are a bit more frugal in spending.  Where as free money handed out by the Feds gets spent as fast as possible.  There is always something to spend money on. 
  In short, why is my federal tax money being set to North Carolina?  It's a nice place and all, but I think it ought to be raising its money from its own citizens, not freeloading off of me, up here in New Hampshire.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Army to Shrink to 480,000 troops

  So how many are real combat soldiers, infantry, artillery, and armor, and how many are paper pushers and Rear Echelon Mother F----rs (REMF)   480,000 real combat troops is on the thin side, but possible. We only sent 140,000 troops to take out Saddam Hussein a few years ago.  But 480,000 who are mostly REMF's is scary.   
   In the real world, the troops are dispatched on one year overseas, unaccompanied, combat tours, and then they expect at least one year back home with their families.  When there ain't enough troops, the same guys get sent back on second and third and fourth combat tours with only a few weeks at home in between each combat tour.  This is pretty damn hard on the troops.  

Why we don't want a President Hillary

She would pack the Supreme court with lefties, who would rule against liberty and in favor of regulations, bureaucrats, against the second amendment, and uphold rights for tiny minorities at the expense of the general public  They would support all kinds of government snooping on citizens  These lefties  would stay on the bench for decades suppressing liberty and enhancing federal power. 
  She would veto repeal, or even any changes to, Obamacare. 
  She would bungle US foreign policy the way she has bungled Syria, Libya, Tunisia, Ukraine, North Korean, Iraq, and Iran.  She is possibly clumsy enough at foreign relations to get us into yet another war.
  She is a gun control freak and will attempt to take our guns away. 
  She will continue Obama's economy killing policies.

   The "Never Trump" people talking up Hillary as better than Trump need to think about these things.  

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Selling the Nerd Mobile on TV

One of those  successful car commercials.  Opens with a sporty looking little red car zipping down an empty road. (When was the last time you got to drive on a road empty of cars?).  Camera zooms in on the driver's seat and we have the biggest nerd you ever saw driving the car.  That's gonna make me want to buy it.  Then we see a cop car, bubble gum machine flashing blue and red in the rearview mirror.   Commercial ends, mercifully, before we get to the cop writing the nerd a ticket.
   Do they really think this is gonna sell cars?

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Computing Gross National Product (GNP) according to the Economist

Actually, in these PC days they call it Gross Domestic Product (GDP) .  National has become a dirty word in PC circles.  But it was GNP when I went to school and I am not PC.  The statistic began to be computed in the 1930's as a measure of an economy's war potential.  The Americans managed to shift a third of their massive GNP into war production by 1945, and that buried the enemy under an avalanche of ammunition, rations, tanks, jeeps, warplanes, army trucks, aircraft carriers, radar sets, and finally nuclear weapons.
   GNP is defined as the total output of goods and services, expressed in dollars, and figured on a yearly basis.  Goods is easy enough to understand, goods are packed in cartons, stacked on loading docks, shipped to customers.  Services used to be necessary things like transportation (rail, shipping, trucking) or utilities (electricity, water, sewage)  As time went on, service providers of lesser importance wanted the prestige of  being included in GNP figures.  In the UK they now include the services of "sex workers" and there is a push to include housekeeping and child care into GNP figures.
   The Economist did not explore a few issues in GNP computation.  Consider automobile production.  Clearly number of new cars produced times the average sales price of new cars goes into GNP.  But, consider this, Detroit doesn't make everything that goes into a new car.  They buy tires, batteries, spark plugs, wire, fasteners, glass, paint, sheet steel, lotta stuff from other companies.  Think about that spark plug company, Champion say.  They ship a lotta plugs to Detroit, which have an average sales price.  That goes into GNP as well as the new cars do.  In this case the plugs get counted twice, once as the leave the spark plug company, and a second time as they leave the auto plant, securely screwed into the engine of the new car.
   Then how do you handle big construction projects.  Say the World Trade Center.  That took years to build.  Did they estimate the amount done each year and add that into GNP?  Or do they wait until the building is finished and sold?  We are talking of a billion dollar project here.  Lumping years of work into the last year gives you a GNP bump in the year the job finishes.  And what does 9/11 do to GNP?  Do they even count that in GNP? 
   Anyhow the Economist devoted a full page to GNP calculation this week.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

We is stuck with Trump.

Yesterday's solid Trump win in Indiana got Cruz, and now Kasich to both throw in the towel.  Barring an act of God, The Donald is the Republican nominee. 
   The Donald is not my favorite candidate, but, druther him than Hillary.  Gotta start thinking up things to say to get people to vote Republican. 

Monday, May 2, 2016

Book cooking for fun and profit.

Companies are required to publish periodically their profits or losses.  Computation of profit can be pretty slippery.  In principle, profit is gross sales less legitimate expenses.  Legitimate expenses can vary a lot.  When doing the books, any clever accountant can find various ways to make profit come out higher or lower.  When doing the books to show to the taxman, the accountants work real hard to make profit as low as possible, since the company is taxed on profit.  When doing the books to show Wall St investors and sell the company's stock, the same accountants work real hard to make the profit higher. 
  This is natural, not good, but natural. 
  But, in the United States, we allow companies to keep two sets of books, one to show the taxman, another to show to stock buyers.
   This should not be.  We should insist that companies keep one set of books, and the profit they brag about to investors is the profit upon which they pay taxes.  In fact, the IRS could do investors a favor by merely publishing all the company tax returns.  They are public companies after all, and so their tax returns are public information. 

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Winning World War II, Combined Arms Operations

WWII broke out in September 1939 with Hitler's invasion of Poland.  From there, going on til 1942, the Germans' won every battle.  They crushed Poland, Holland, Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Yugoslavia, Greece,and finally France.  They drove the British into the sea at Dunkirk. 
   What accounts for the amazing German combat power?  Answer: combined arms.  German attacks had tanks as the spearhead, with the infantry right behind them.  They had artillery support and air support.
This is effective as all getout.
   It took the Anglo Americans three years to catch on and launch their own combined arms attacks.  It's tricky.  For something real simple, just order an infantry battalion, about 1000 men, to attack somewhere.  This is straight forward, you pass the word to the colonel of the battalion.  Where, when, and that's it.  Now lets add artillery support.  You have to get the guns moved up into range, get the ammunition (heavy stuff that) moved up and the guns emplaced.  Then you have to coordinate so that the artillery knows where and when the infantry will attack.  You want the enemy's front lines shelled just before the infantry moves up, but not too early, shelling tells the enemy that an attach is coming and all chance of surprise is lost. And you want the barrage lifted just before your troops get there. You want the enemy head quarters shelled, you want enemy artillery batteries shelled, and you DON'T want your infantry shelled as they press the attack. You need to make sure the artillery and the infantry are using the SAME maps, with the same names and numbers for terrain features.  You want to have artillery forward observers, with radios, with the infantry so they can let the artillery know when the infantry falls behind the schedule.  All this is complicated. 
   Then if you have tanks, you want the tanks to lead the attack, at least as long as the terrain allows the tanks to pass.  Tanks are maneuverable, but they cannot climb roadless hills, cross swamps, or climb vertical cliffs. Takes more coordination to get the tanks to show up at the right place and do what is necessary.
   Even trickier is arranging for close air support.   Step one is to avoid fratricide.  Your ground units need to be distinct from the enemy's units lest the Airedales bomb your own men.  More coordination.  Get anything wrong and lots of bad stuff can happen.
   It took the Anglo Americans about a year of fighting Germans in North Africa to get all this straight.