Sunday, July 31, 2016

Touristing to Portsmouth NH

Haven't been to Portsmouth in fifteen years or more.  And then only to Strawberrie Banke, a historical village setting.  I needed to buy a few new clothes,  the khaki's and sports shirts bought at Good Will Industries years ago are wearing out, and Good Will Industries has downgraded itself below my fairly low standards.  Portsmouth has down some good work on reviving the down town into a tourist trap.  Lotta nice side walk eateries. They had plenty of tourists hiking around the down town.  Parking is tight on a Saturday, I finally had to use my credit card to pay off a parking meter at $1.75 an hour.  Google maps showed nearly a dozen men's clothing stores all on a three block run of Congress St.  It must have been a bad year for men's clothing.  Only two of the stores that showed on Google maps were still there.  One was a unisex place (not my style ) and the other was a women's clothing place, (also not my style). 
   Infrastructure was good.  I drove down on secondary roads, and they were all in good shape, fresh black asphalt, easy curves, generous sight lines, broad shoulders.   Makes me think the infrastructure catastrophe is limited to New York State.  Real states like NH are keeping their roads in good shape. 
   And I'm glad I retired in upstate NH where the traffic is light.  Traffic around Manchester was thick.  There was some kinda hangup in Concord that had southbound traffic on 193 backded up to Boscawen by 2 PM.  Which is early for people to start for home after a weekend in upstate NH.  That one made in onto the air on WBZ. 

Friday, July 29, 2016

Wanna bet hacked DNC computers were running Windows?

Windows, Bill Gate's gift to civilization, is like Swiss cheese.  It's got so many holes that high school kids can hack into it.  Far as I am concerned, running Windows is hanging a hack me sign on your fanny. 
   If you care about security, don't run Windows.  Run Linux or Unix or Macintosh.  They are all a hundred times more secure than any flavor of Windows. 

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Debating WWII grand strategy

Nice thick new book, 2016, entitled Commander in Chief, FDR's battle with Churchill.  Good photo of FDR on the dust jacket.   To read the book, you would think Roosevelt and Churchill spent the entire war squabbling over strategy.  
    From the get go, the Americans realized that the only way to defeat Germany was to land a huge army, on European soil, as close to Germany as possible, defeat the large and effective German army, drive for Berlin, and hang Hitler.   This kind of American thinking goes back to US Grant and the Civil War. Grant understood that the North had vastly greater reserves of manpower (and everything else that counted) than the South.  Once installed as commander in chief, Grant ordered the Army of the Potomac to march on Richmond, the southern capital.  Robert E. Lee put up a stout defense.   But after each bloody battle, Grant ordered his men forward and called up reinforcements.  Grant knew he could absorb horrendous casualties and still beat Lee and win the war.  It wasn't elegant, but it did work. 
   So the American thinking ran toward, "if you run into an obstacle, get a bigger hammer."  And starting a few days after Pearl Harbor, the American Joint Chiefs of Staff  became set upon the notion of a second front.  They even talked about launching the second front in 1942.  And in 1943.  They were dead set against peripheral operations that drained men and material away from the main objective. Things finally came together in 1944 at D-day.  In short it took two and a half years of preparation to build up the enormous force that triumphed in Normandy. 
   The British, who had suffered thru four years of trench warfare on the Western front, suffered the Germans to drive them into the sea at Dunkirk, and watched the Germans massacre the experimental raid on Dieppe, were not as sanguine as the Americans.  Churchill himself had commanded a regiment on the Western front, he knew how bad that sort of fighting could be.  Churchill was an imaginative guy, and he did a lot of thinking about ways to fight the Germans short of frontal attack across the Channel.  He came up with a bunch of them.  North Africa, Sicily, Italy, and Greece were all Churchill ideas.  I daresay there were others that didn't make the history books. 
   In 1942, it was clear to Churchill, and he made it clear to Roosevelt who was inclined to listen to Churchill, that the Allies needed to do something against the Germans that year.  It would have been politically impossible to spend the next two and a half years building up to D-day and not fighting the Germans anywhere.  And, the newly raised American divisions were green as grass, they needed some actual combat experience to become effective against the Germans.  Churchill proposed the Americans land an army in North Africa that year, drive east toward Montgomery's 8th Army, and crush the Axis forces between them.  In this case, Roosevelt had to go against the strong opposition of General Marshall, Admiral King and the US joint chiefs.  He did it, issued them a direct order, something Roosevelt seldom did.  And it worked.  The Germans were cornered in Tunisia, forced to surrender, and the Allies took as many prisoners of war as the Russians took at Stalingrad some weeks before. 
   This smashing success made the British even more reluctant to bet everything on D-day.  For the rest of the war,  conference after conference was held, with the British pushing for more peripheral operations and the Americans pressing for "do D-day now".   The Americans finally got their way, and D-day happened on the 6th of June 1944.  And it worked. 
   Nigel Hamilton goes over all of this in exhaustive detail.  He paints it as a struggle between Roosevelt and Churchill, and makes it sound so bitter that you wonder how the Alliance stayed together.  And he makes it sound like a whole new interpretation of history, which it isn't.  The debates between the British and the Americans are well documented and part of the generally accepted and understood history of WWII.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Russians are going, the Russians are going.

The yuge burst of Russian page views has died down.  I am back to my usual 70 odd pageviews a day, with the bulk of them from the US.  Dunno what happened, but it was a wild ride while it lasted.

Trans Pacific Partnership

Both candidates have done a bit of badmouthing of this deal.  This sounds strange coming from The Donald.  Republicans are traditionally in favor of free trade.  But, since the details of TPP have never appeared in the public press, it's impossible to form an real opinion about it.  If it lowers other country's tariffs against American products, it's a good thing.  America's tariffs are already pretty low, which accounts for all the Chinese product in Wal Mart, and all those Japanese and Korean cars on American roads.  With the exception of sugar, I doubt that American tariffs can be reduced much, I mean you can't go below zero can you?
   The scary part is what we don't know.  Rumor says the TPP covers a lot more than tariffs.  Perhaps  equal pay for all countries, or a world wide minimum wage.  Patent and copyright protection for 75 years.  Fixed exchange rates.  World wide safety standards, world wide green house gas regulations, universal freight rates, gun control, universal labor laws. 
   Since the text is secret, it could be anything.  I assume the Obama administration is keeping it secret to damp down opposition.  Or, perhaps the newsies are so ignorant of nearly everything, that they don't want to publish it. 
   Could be anything.  But discussion of TPP would be more meaningful if we knew what was in it.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Russians hacked the DNC?

I'm hearing on NPR, Fox, and the 'Net a theory that the Russians hacked the DNC emails and released them on Wikileaks to help The Donald.
Why in the world would they do that?
    Hillary is a known quantity.  She is not very smart, she can be bought, she won't make waves.  She has had four years as Secretary of State to demonstrate her incompetence in foreign affairs.  If I was Putin, that's exactly the kind of person I would like as president of the only surviving superpower. 
   Trump on the other hand, might do anything.  America is an exceptional country, and with imaginative leadership it can do almost anything.  Under mediocre leadership (Hillary) nothing much will happen.  But under charismatic leadership America won WWII, developed nuclear weapons, traveled to the Moon, eliminated polio, and gave its people the best standard of living in the world.  Under Trump, America could be an irresistible adversary to Russian expansion worldwide.  Why risk that?  Far better to have a mediocrity who will let things slide as they have been doing.   
   So I don't believe the Russians wanted to help Trump.

Monday, July 25, 2016

You would think they would know that Email is public

Debby Wasserman Schultz and most of the top brass at DNC are dumb enough to put things in email that they would never want to become public.  They are too ignorant to know that email ain't private, ain't secure, any thing you put in email can turn up on Wikileaks, or the front page of the newspapers.  This has been clear since Ollie North tried to erase his incriminating emails on the Iran Contra affair back in the Reagan administration.  In Ollie's case, he deleted his emails all right, but efficient IT people at the While House had backed them up on mag tape, and produced them at the Congressional hearings.  Bye bye Ollie. 
   I knew this soon as we got email at work, 30 odd years ago.   Use email for stuff everyone wants to see, such as how to fix a circuit board, how to design with our company's parts, how good our product is.  Don't email gripes, bugs, opinions of customers, anything uncomplimentary to anyone. 
   Talk face to face, out of doors or in a secure location, or use a payphone, or a cell phone from a moving car, when you are talking about bad or sensitive stuff.  Never by email.  Cause email ain't secure.
   Debbie and company should have known this.  She is stepping down, which will help the Democratic party.  The Democrats will do better when they don't have a chuckle head running it. 

Fixing my laptop after installing Win 10

This wasn't so hard.  Run the built in BIOS diagnostic.  And now the Start Menu (pure software) works, and the power button (Hardware but with a lotta software messing it up) works.  a
   Some website explained the way to get into the BIOS diagnostics was to hold down the ESC key while you hit the power on button.  And this appears to work even while the power on button isn't working.  According to a website, the BIOS diagnostics have been standard in HP laptops since 2009. Which means a lot of 'em have it.  On my HP laptop, a 2014  model, the BIOS diagnostics do start up, but they don't give you any messages on the screen except for one, They ask if you want to skip the disk test. 
   And the diagnostics reset a bunch of internal variables, which revived both the power on button and the start menu.  This shows a crappy design on the power button.  Any decent power button ought to assert the reset line to the processor and the entire motherboard.  When reset is released, all micro processors jump to the starting address, (top of memory on some, bottom of memory on others) and start executing code.  The purpose of reset on micro processors is to regain control and start running the program from the top, no matter how messed up the software is.  That ain't happening on HP laptops, some kinda hardware and software kluge is breaking control of the reset line, and the machine fails to start when the button is pressed.  Running the BIOS diagnostics fixes the software part of this kluge.
   Good work HP engineers.   I wonder what else you have screwed up.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Win 10, no Start menu, Power on button broke

So after running a bit after my upgrade to Win 10 I find.
1.  The advertised "start menu" , a replacement for the trusty "start menu" in Win XP, is nowhere to be found.  Some web searching tells me that this is a common problem.  A bunch of fixes were offered,  I  have tried a few of them with no luck.  Without the new and improved start menu, the only way to reach the "settings" app is thru Cortana.
2.  From the settings app I tried out Windows update.  It trundled away downoloading a patch for office and then failed.
3.  The power on button doesn't work,  Press it to start Windows and nothing happens, I get a blank screen.   Work around,  power off the laptop.  Unplug the charger and remove the battery.  Count to ten. Replace the battery and the laptop powers up and runs windows.
4.  Task Manager shows something called "OneDrive" is soaking up 300 Meg of Ram.   Apparently OneDrive gives access to "the cloud" for file storage, after you spend money.  Since I have 600Gig left on the hard drive, and I don't trust "the cloud"  I'm thinking of removing One Drive.  

GM has a good quarter.

So sayeth the Wall St Journal.  Sales of high margin SUV's and pickup trucks is way up.  The article goes on to do some back patting, and noting GM's plan to buy into (buy up?) Lyft.  And worries about Brexit messing up the European market more than it is. (GM's Euro operations have lost money for years and years).
    No discussion of GM's bread and butter business, selling sedans in North America.  Take a drive on Rte 128, half, maybe two thirds of the vehicles on the road are smallish four seat sedans.  That's where the real volume is in the car business.  Pickups and SUVs are a niche market, granted a large niche, but still a niche compared to small four passenger sedans, the family get-to-work and go-to-market car.  GM is still a huge company, and it must compete in the big markets to survive.  A behemoth needs a lot of feeding to stay alive.  Pickups and SUVs don't have the volume to feed a GM.  They must got for the big market, small sedans.
   GM does have some product for this segment.  First thing GM needs to do is find some better names for the vehicles.  Low end ($14K) is called "Spark", a name that makes me think of blown fuses, electrical faults, crapped out VCR's.  Not an auspicious name for a car.   The next step up is called "Sonic".  Everyone knows that Sonic is a computer game hedgehog.  Both Spark and Sonic are very simular looking hatchbacks, with the road snuffling forward lean styling.  Not very good looking.
  Next step up is Cruze, a decent looking conventionally styled sedan for $16K.  The name suggests only a certain sawed off movie actor.
    GM needs a good car in the low end of the market.  Say a MRSP of $10K, with distinctive styling so you can tell it's a Chevy when you see one on the road.  Distinctive styling helps two ways.  It attracts buyers, and it serves as a rolling advertisement for the car line if it looks like a Chevy rather than just another econobox.  And find a decent name for it.  Actually GM owns a bunch of decent car names that it doesn't use anymore.  Corvair, Pontiac, GTO, Roadmaster, Oldsmobile, all come to mind.  Surely GM can do better than "Spark".  

The Russians are coming, the Russians are coming

   Bogger, this blog's host, supplies a "Stats" page showing the number of pages views, where the viewers come from, and hit counts on your most popular posts.  Being a blogger of ordinary vanity, I check "Stats" every so often to see how popular my humble blog might be.  For the last few years it's been jogging along at 50-100 pageviews a day.  Yesterday, bingo, 350 pageviews.  Today 800 page views.  Wow, a ten X growth in viewership. 
   Where does all this traffic come from?  Would you believe Russia?  Today I have 528 page views from Russia, as opposed to only 39 from the United States.  Either I have gone viral in Russia, or Blogger's Stats function has gone crazy.  Hmm, I wonder.  Actually, I think it's more likely that the Stats function has ceased to function properly, but who knows.  

Saturday, July 23, 2016

HP Support Assistant.

It's one of those vaguely documented programs that comes on HP computers.  Far as I can tell, it's the HP version of Windows Update.  It keeps track of the versions of the HP code in your machine, device drivers mostly, and updates them when it feels like it.  I don't believe the version on FlatBeast (which came from the store running Win 8.10  ever worked at all.  I remember running it a few times and over the course of a year, I don't think it even did anything other than whine.
   Win 10 took offense at HP Support Assistant and claimed it wouldn't work, it would give the computer rabies, and other offensive stuff.  So after getting Win 10 squared away I googled on HP Support Assistant, just to see what others had to say about it.  Best advice I found, was to just re install the damn thing from the HP website.  The writer claimed this would fix all evils.  And it did. 't
   I ran it, and it wanted to replace seven or eight bits of software.  So I let it have its head, and it took awhile, it wanted to reboot after three or four downloads,  but it got to the end and it didn't break anything. 
   Suggestion to you HP owners out there.  Should you find that HP Support Assistant ain't doing much, try downloading a fresh version from HP.  This might get him going again. 

Rolling up the windows

My driveway lacks shade.  On hot summer days the car heats up like a furnace.  To combat this, I like to leave the windows down.  We have maintained the social order up here and I don't have to worry about having the car stolen.
   What I do worry about is the sudden rainstorm.  Really messes up the upholstery when it gets rained on.  Right now, should I hear a rumble of thunder, I must get up, go out to the car, with the key in hand, turn the ignition on, and hold the power window buttons down till all is rolled up.
   I have a remote control for the car on my keychain.  Wouldn't it be nice if said remote had a button to roll up all the windows.  The remote already has a button to pop the trunk lid, and work the door locks.  Surely one more button wouldn't be a cost breaker.  The remote has enough range for me to pop the trunk lid sitting at my kitchen table, so I wouldn't even have to get out of my chair. 
   And while we are at it, how about a rain sensor that makes the windows roll up automatically at the first drop of rain?

Friday, July 22, 2016

So I upgraded to Windows 10

And the laptop survived the experience.  Like all things Micro$oft it's slow.  Took 6 hours to install Win 10.  Now that I am upgraded, the laptop seems a scosh more lively.   My custom login screen survived. Word 2002 still works, Picassa still works.  Haven't tried everything yet.  Win 10 threw out CCleaner claiming incompatibility.   It also raised a fuss about some nameless program, and and the HP auto update program.  (It's an HP laptop). 
    I'd been holding off on Win 10, fearing it would be slower and fatter than Win 8.1.  Experience tells me that each new Windows is fatter and slower than the old one.  But, a couple of web searches failed to find anyone raving about Win 10 bugs, and Micro$oft started threatening to end the free updates next week.  So I weakened and updated.
   Lets hope I don't regret it. 

Obama's "Justice" dept OK's giant beer merger

The US Justice dept signs off in a merger of Anheuser-Busch Inbev NV and SABMiller PLC.  The merger is $108 billion and creates the larger beer company in the world.  And it will pretty much eliminate competition in the US.  After this merger, if you want to drink beer, you gotta buy it from the one beer company left.  What ever they will call themselves.  And they can charge anything they want, and we have to pay it, or do without beer. 
   A merger this big should never be approved.  It is so big as to create a monopoly.  And fleece consumers left and right.  So much for Obama looking out for the people.  He's looking out for crony capitalists.   

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Donald Trump's family do good things for him

The children all look really good on TV.  Grownup, articulate, well spoken, properly dressed, well groomed, well educated, and solidly loyal to their father.  Speaking as a veteran parent, a guy who can raise that many good children is a guy deserving of respect.  And his wife Melania, showed great love and loyalty to Donald, in addition to being really hot.  Donald must be a pretty decent husband to attract and keep a woman like that.  Too bad they sabotaged her speech.  Melania would make a helova lot better First Lady than snooty Michelle Obama. 
   Anyhow, family counts.  Trump has some really good family. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

A place to prune the bureaucracy

A government-industry group is trying to reduce the accident rate in "general aviation" (Cessna, Pipers, Beechcraft and the like).  General aviation is running at 1.5 fatal accidents per 100,000 flying hours, where as business aviation is running at 0.5 fatal accidents per 100,000 hours.  So there is room for improvement. 
   There is general agreement that an angle-of-attack  (AOA)  indicator in the cockpit would do a lot of good.  Angle of attack is basically how much the nose is pointed up.  Point up too much and the wing stalls, airflow goes all squirrely, lift drops off drastically, the controls stop working, and the plane falls out of the sky  like a stone.  If this happens close to the ground, say while making an landing approach, the plane will hit the ground before the pilot can recover the aircraft. 
   And, such AOA indicators do exist.  And not too expensive.  You can buy one for about $1500.  But, only for "experimental" aircraft.  "Experimental" means home built, flown only by the builder, not legal to carry passengers.  For "certified" aircraft, factory built planes, legal for anyone to fly or fly in, the same AOA system might cost $10000 to $25000.  Same AOA equipment, the outrageous price hike is the cost of doing FAA paperwork, required on certified aircraft. 
   A Trump administration could do something about this government sponsored rip off. 

Words of the Weasel Part 35

Describing a 1989 British Land Rover in a Wall St Journal article.  "We did hit some weather. There's a lot of water ingress with this truck, but that's part of its charisma." 
   Water ingress.  Yeah right.  Any real person would say "It leaks like a sieve."  Part of its charisma???  Detroit figured out how to make a waterproof car back in the 1930's.  I've owned and ridden in a lotta things over the years,  Fords, Chevys, Dodges, Caddy's , Mercuries,  They all had problems of one kind or another, but none of 'em leaked rainwater.  For that level of build quality, you gotta go to England. 
   He also admits the Land Rover was only doing 11 mpg and burning oil at the same time.  Another example of British engineering at it's best.  A plain old V8 Chevy pickup will give you 16 mpg. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Magical thinking at the Wall St Journal

Granted, it was a letter the the editor,  not an editorial or op-ed piece, but they published it, which means they think it has value.  The subject was bank reserves, a traditional sticking point between regulators and bankers.  Reserves are cash, or  liquid assets owned by the bank, which they can use to keep going when their loans default. Regulators always want the bank to have more reserves, bankers always want less.  If a bank cannot pay out cash to depositors making a withdrawal, the bank is in serious trouble.  Word gets around, at the speed of light, and all the depositors hot foot it down to the bank to withdraw their funds while they still can.  This is a run on the bank, every one wants all their money, right now, and no bank can do that, they don't have reserves that big, and all the money the depositors entrusted to the bank have been loaned out.  Poof,  one vaporized bank, FDIC has to pay off the depositors. 
    The WSJ letter write proposed that banks  purchase "put options" on their own stock.  A put option is short selling, a bet that the stock price will fall before the short seller has to deliver the stock.  Anyhow, the writer feels that this dodge would create "regulatory capital" ( what ever that might be).  This is pur magical thinking.  When loans go bad, a bank needs cash, or really liquid investments, like US T-bills which can be turned into cash on short notice, to pay off depositors.  Banks cannot give "regulatory capital" to a depositor at the teller's window, they need cash. 

Monday, July 18, 2016

Baton Rouge is horrible, just like Dallas

My sincerest sympathies to the slain officers, to their families, and to the entire city.  Their loss is too great to describe in words. 
    This is the third attack on police officers within a year.  It's frightening.  It shows a breakdown in the social order in the country.  Laws are obeyed in America because the majority of the people think they ought to be obeyed.   If opposing (shooting) the police becomes the dominant thinking, we are in deep trouble.  It will get to the point that people are afraid to go to the store, for fear they will be robbed or killed, or both.   
   And I don't know how to fix it, other than getting rid of Obama who is egging it on.  And getting our schools to pull up their socks, and teach the need for civic participation in government, and less glorification of  violent troublemakers in history.  Like Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, Allende,  and others. 

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Season Five, Game of Thrones

I'm a year behind.  I don't have HBO, and Netflix doesn't let the show out until a year has gone by.   So I watched the first two discs of season five this week.
  Metza Metza.   They suffered badly from the curse of the cameraman.  The cameraman is on a "turn the lights out" kick and the scenes are so dark you cannot even see the actors faces.  It's really dark.  I guess the cameraman thinks it's "arty" or something.  I think it sucks.  I think that turkey cannot read a light meter, and doesn't know how to set up the lights, you know a key light, a fill light, and avoid throwing double shadows.
   I am loosing track of the plot.  Arya is getting mixed up with a sorta religious group that lives in massive masonry buildings.  Arya wants them to train her to fight.  She certainly doesn't want to become a nun, that's not Arya.  Why she thinks she needs more combat training is beyond me.
   Anyhow, season five is not as good as previous seasons.  

Saturday, July 16, 2016

PBVRC Spagetti Dinner

That's Pemi Baker Valley Republican Committee.  PBVRC throws these dinners once a month.  All you can eat.  And they have speakers.  Last night they had Kelly Ayotte, (Candidate for US Senate), and Chris Sununu, (Candidate for NH governor).  Word had been circulated, and everyone came.  The place, the Ashland VFW hall,  was packed.  Fortunately the air conditioning was working.  Both candidates spoke well, with conviction, and to the approval of the audience.  Audience was typical north country, I know many of them.  The older set, lotta gray hair, a few canes.  The few young folk were mostly campaign aides to the candidates.  All in all, a good evening for the candidates, they pretty much picked up every vote in the place.  And for us voters, the spaghetti was up to the usual standards, everyone had plenty to eat. 

Friday, July 15, 2016

How to get rid of ISIS/IS/ISIL, Al Quada, and the rest of 'em.

Might be a little costly.  No pol or presidential candidate is talking about it, but it is doable if we want to.
First, we invade the ISIS lands, occupy them. Set up a government of our liking.  Do land reform.  Hunt down and prosecute Islamic terrorists.  Put 'em on trial rather than just shooting 'em down.  Reform the education system.  Make sure they are teaching the three R's (reading, riting, rithmetic) and some useful arts, and not preaching hatred and jihad.  This whole program might take five years or more.
   Pass some laws over here making membership in ISIS and the like a crime, also criminalize travel to ISIS lands and service in their military, and giving them money.  Get US prosecutors out looking for examples and prosecuting them. 
   Keep on fracking.  It blunts the "oil weapon".  Keep the pressure on banks to deny them accounts, wire transfer services, money laundering, and anything else. 
   Make sure US TV coverage, especially news, in Arabic, gets into all ISIS lands.  We have internet and satellites to broadcast from.  Make some movies and TV shows that depict Islamic crazies as crazy and evil, and the true faith as virtuous.  We defeated communism with blue jeans, rock and roll,  and "1984", let's do the same to Islamic crazies.
   Blow the Islamic crazies off the internet.  Make their websites disappear, tap their email.  Cancel their Facebook pages and memberships.  Take down their snuff videos.  Put software to work looking for Islamic propaganda.  
    Find some reasonable Imams and give them some support, TV contracts, book deals, air time.  Use drones to take out the really crazy Imams. 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Google Maps, software is too daring, you gotta watch it

Used to be, when you asked Google maps for directions from here to there, the program was pretty conservative, it would route you over Interstates only, even if it took you a long way out of your way.  Well the software weenies got more daring, and they let the program route you down secondary and tertiary roads, looking for the shortest route.  In a way this was good, but the program would route you down impassible or non existent roads.  Last year it tried to run me over NH route 116 in mud season.  The program didn't know, or didn't care, that 116 has bottomless potholes from side to side in mud season.  I used my superior local knowledge to drive on US 302, which is an all weather road,  unlike 116. 
   Then yesterday it generated a routing thru Maine for me.  The Maine road the software picked, was just plain non existent.  Just plain no such road, nowhere, no how.  I did make it, but it took a lotta backtracking.
  My advice, look at the Google proposed route.  If the roads lack even a state route number, or the little towns along the route lack names, beware. 
   My other suggestion for the Google software weenies.  Fix up your map coloring.  Leave the background white, that saves me ink cartridges ($52 each) and improves the contrast with the roads.  Then paint the roads with a solid stripe of a single color.  Drop the white road with faint gray sidewalks look.  Use a consistent color code to distinguish between interstates, primary roads, secondary roads, tertiary roads, and dirt roads.  Your current color scheme is close to unreadable.  You ought fire what ever weenie thought it up.

The Nostalgia is Overwhelming.

Way back when, back when I was 11 years old, I got to go to summer camp.  It was a wonderful experience, so cool that I went back for two more summers.  There was tripping, the strange cult of King Kababa, riflery, woodshop, sailboats, rowboats, and canoes, campfire, general swim, the war game, good friends,  living in a tent, no electricity in the entire camp, really great counselors and trip leaders.  Absolutely awesome. 
   So yesterday, I fired up the Buick and drove over to the old camp, just to see if it was still there.  Well, Pine Island Camp is still there.  It's still way out in the Maine countryside, it hasn't been swallowed up by urban sprawl the way my old prep school was.  It's near Belgrade Maine, on an island (Pine Island) out in Great Pond.  And it still looks pretty much the same, even after a serious fire in the 1990's burned down the messhall and Honk Hall.  They rebuilt, and took some pains to keep it looking the same.  The camp director was Ben Swan, son of Eugene Swan who was director way back when.   It being mid week, half the kids were out of camp, tripping.  So I had lunch in the dining hall, swapped some war stories from the old days, didn't take many pictures, looked around, and wallowed in nostalgia.  If by some magic I could be 11 years old again, I'd go right back for the summer. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

A really different Republican National Convention??

A Federal judge in Virginia has just ruled that VA delegates are free to vote any way they want at the Republican convention.  He has dissolved the requirement under state law for delegates to vote the way the primary election turned out.
Wow.  If this decision stands, the convention will be strange, very strange.
   The convention delegates are all old Republican hands.  Everyone wants to go to the convention, it's a blast.  Hell, my mother got to be a delegate to the 1964 convention.  Needless to say, the plum of going to the convention is handed out as a perk to solid Republicans by various strange party systems, a different system for each state.  The lucky delegates were then informed that they had to vote this way or that way.  And all the delegates are old Republican people.  Some office holders, some party workers, some big donors, some activists, but all members of the Republican establishment.
   And the Republican establishment doesn't like The Donald.  If the delegates are told they can vote their consciences,  a lot of em will vote against Trump.  Nobody knows who they would vote for, but someone will turn up.
   The Republican National Committee doesn't like this idea at all.  They have rightly figured that the dyed in the wool Trump voters are absolutely necessary for winning.  Without the Trump voters, Hillary wins.  So opening the door to dumping Trump is opening the door to losing big.  Nobody is sure that Trump can win, but they know that without Trump they loose.  The RNC understands this.  Not sure if the Republican establishment understands it.
   The Wall Street Journal sees this as a big issue.  They ran an editorial about it today.  They were sorta whistling past the grave yard, opining that Trump would make it even if all the delegates are unbound.  Maybe, but I wouldn't bet on it.  There is a lotta NeverTrump sentiment out there.  

Monday, July 11, 2016

US race relations not as bad as 1968

So says Obama on the tube this morning.  Of course, as soon as he said it,  I thought to myself, that actually things are as bad as 1968.
   Obama has made things worse.  Polls show things are a lot worse now than back in 2008 when Obama first took office.  Every time an ugly incident happens, Obama jumps right into it, and takes sides. Guess which side he takes. Every time.  After Obama jumps into it, the rest of the MSM get on the story and their reporting just pours gasoline on the fire. 

Sunday, July 10, 2016

You gotta get your story out, right away.

After any of these terrible confrontations between citizens and authorities (cops), there are always TWO stories.  There is the victim's story, and there is the authorities story.  There will always be some differences, which can cast the entire incident in one light or another.  For example "Hands up don't shoot", which the Michael Brown supporters claim happened vs the cop's story that Michael Brown was trying to grab his gun when he was shot. 
  Moral of the story, the authorities must get their story out, right now.  Even better if they have video to back up their story.  They need to know that the other side will get their story out, and when there is only one story out there, that's what people believe.  So the authorities must get their side of the story out, right away.
  Lots of cops and prosecutors complain that releasing a story ahead of the trial does bad things for their case at trial.  Piffle.  The real trial, the one that counts, is the trial by public opinion.  If the public thinks the authorities behaved badly, it doesn't matter what a judge declares, usually years later.  The lawyers have so degraded the American justice system that it doesn't really matter any more.  Today's courts take years and years to come to a decision, and they usually let the perp off.  Better to win in the court of public opinion than wait for the wheels of justice to get turning. 
   Historical example.  Right after the Battle of Bunker Hill, the Americans wrote up their story, emphasizing patriot heroism and really stunning Redcoat casualties.  The rebels got their story onto a fast Yankee schooner and it was in London within three weeks.  General Gage on the other hand, sent his dispatches back on a slow Royal Army merchantman which took three months to get to London.  Result, the American version of the battle, with it's story of Patriot bravery, went the length and breadth of England for two and a half months before the British side of the story got out.  Needless to say, the American version, so favorable to the Patriot cause, is the one every Englishman heard.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Dallas was horrible.

Five dead police officers, seven or eight more wounded. In a totally unprovoked ambush. My sincerest sympathy to the victims and their families.  According to the TV newsies, the shooter, a US Army veteran who served in Iraq,  had no indications of craziness before opening fire Thursday night.  That's scary.  It shows the bonds that hold our society together are failing. 
   The bonds go way back, to childhood.  Sunday school teaches the Ten Commandments, and "Thou shalt not kill." is easily understood even by five year olds.  Movies and TV shows depict police as good guys, and those that shoot at them as bad guys.  Nobody wants to think of himself as a bad guy.  Parents and teachers constantly keep on kids about fighting, with siblings and classmates.  This training was so effective that in WWII, General SLA Marshall noted that a large number of American soldiers were reluctant/unable to shoot the enemy.  Apparently this shooter was not so inhibited.  How many more like him have we raised up?

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Congress grills FBI director Comey

They got on his case this morning around 11, and they are still whacking at him now at 2 PM.  Comey is standing up and hasn't really put his foot in his mouth, yet.  They are working on that as I write this.  The Democrats on the committee have been throwing themselves on the tracks in Comey' defense.  The main point of contention is the matter of guilty intent.  According to Comey, the ordinary law of the US requires guilty intent in order to prosecute.  Apparently a US law passed back in WWI times makes divulging  classified a crime no matter why the perps state of mind is.  Comey doesn't like that law and he claims that only once in the 99 years of the law's existence has anyone been prosecuted under it.  A lotta Congresscritters don't agree, they think leaking classified should be prosecuted no matter what.
   Nobody is talking about the basic insecurity of email, be it government or private or just plain old Gmail.  To my way of thinking, you should never put classified on email.  Back when I was in the service, and handled classified, email hadn't been invented, so the matter never came up.  But now, we should not allow classified to go by email.  Government email is same same, it's vulnerable.  Plus all the secretary of state's communication ought to treated as classified.  I sure don't want the Russians, the Chinese, or ISIS reading US cabinet officer's email.  I don't think cabinet officers should use email at all.  Nobody is talking about that at all.

The lights are going out, all over New Hampshire

The greenies, working thru the public utility commission, have bulldozed the local power company into closing their three remaining coal fired power plants.  One of them, was forced to install a $450 million scrubber back in 2009.  Part of the deal is that the power company can bill rate payers for the $450 million outstanding debt.  For the next ten years.  On top of the "Stranded Cost Recovery" charge they put on the bill for the Seabrook nuclear plant.  
    The power company is hoping to replace the lost generation capacity with hydro power from Quebec, to come over the yet to be built Northern Pass power line.  Which the greenies are fighting to stop. 
   The greenies managed to shut down the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant last year. 
   I ought to go out and buy a Honda generator set to get thru this next winter. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Juan Williams on Johnny Can't Read.

Juan had a handsome op ed in the Wall St Journal yesterday entitled "The Scandal of K-12 Education".  He cited some really awful statistics on the terrible performance of black and Hispanic kids in the public schools. Without getting into the numbers, they are really really bad.  And Juan cries out to do something about it.
    Thinking back on my experiences learning to read, I don't really remember the school doing all that much for me.  I can still remember the night it all came together and for the first time I could actually read a real book, not a picture book.  It was "The Land of Oz",  (L. Frank Baum).  Granted the schools did some ground work, we all learned the alphabet song, we learned phonics, and we started with "Fun with Dick and Jane" a worthy but boring beginning reader.
  But, I learned to read because I wanted to read.  Reading was fun, an enjoyable pastime, as good as watching TV, especially TV way back then.  There was so much good stuff to read.  The Saxonville library was open every day and it was on my way home from school.  I stopped in every day or so to get new books.  And they had a bunch of really cool ones.  There was a series, bound in orange, of biographies of famous Americans.  I read them all.  There was the "Landmark" series with books about the Battle of Britain, the Tokyo raiders, the Royal Navy in WWII, and other things to catch the interest of an grade school boy. And really good science fiction by Andre Norton, Robert Heinlein, Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov.  And the Tarzan books, the Tom Swift books (the old series), the Oz books, the John Carter books, Tolkien, Robert Louis Stevenson, Mark Twain, Jules Verne, James Fenimore Cooper, Walter Scott,.  And comics.  If there was ever something printed that just cried out to be read, it was a comic book.  Scrooge McDuck, Blackhawk, Tarzan, Batman, Captain Marvel, Plastic Man, Superman, and more.  Parents and teachers disapproved of comic books back then, but they were a tremendous incitement to learn to read, certainly more stimulating than playing computer games.  We would spend our own money to buy them.  Ten cents an issue, they are more like four dollars now.  Every kid had a stash and every kid read them.
   The other incentive to read was that my parents did it.  Dad read the paper every day and he read bed time stories to us every night.  If Dad did it, I wanted to learn it too, just to get with it.
   Bottom line, learning to read is a self motivated thing, schools can help, parents can help, but the kid has to want to do it himself. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

GKN Technology meets Brexit

GKN Technology is a British company that makes the wings for Airbus.   The UK government pulled out of the Airbus consortium some years ago, but GKN Technology retained their Airbus business somehow.  The Airbuses are assembled in Europe (Germany or France, cannot remember which). Which means those British built wings get shipped across the Channel.  When Britain does the paperwork to pull out of the EU, presumably those wings have to pay the EU tariff when they land on the continent. 
  And it's not like GKN Technology can find another customer for its wings.  Those wings are Airbus wings, and won't fit another airplane.  If Brexit means Airbus has to pay a serious tariff on the wings, they will surely investigate alternate suppliers located on the continent.  And with EU unemployment running at 10%, any EU supplier will have no trouble staffing up to handle the extra business.
   Be afraid, be very afraid. 

FBI lets Hillary off the hook.

The FBI director held a news conference, live on TV, just a few minutes ago.  Bottom line, the FBI doesn't think they have enough to prosecute with.  They read a ton of emails.  In fact you gotta wonder how Hillary had the time to crank out nearly 100K emails.  She was only secretary of state for four years, call it 1000 days, so that's 100 emails a DAY.  How did she manage to eat lunch and go the can, and do 100 emails a day??
   The FBI claimed to have really scrubbed Hillary's server, recovering a lot of email from caches and deleted-but-not-scrubbed disk space.  They also said that Hillary's lawyers had wiped a lot of email as "personal" and the lawyers did a better job than Hillary, they scrubbed the disk files (over wrote them with random ones and zeros) and deleted them (erased the file names from the disc directory).  Which makes the emails unrecoverable, like they had been shredded. 
  The FBI did a lot of talking about how classified and how many were classified.  Groovy but any secret service in the world would love to read the American secretary of state's email no matter what it's classification. 
  In short, the FBI trashed Hillary and her state department for sloppy handling of classified, but they don't think it was deliberate, and you gotta show intent to prosecute.  The FBI didn't find intent, and so Hillary gets off, not scot free, some of the mud sticks, but they ain't gonna prosecute, so she can go on running for president.  Another tight squeeze for a Clinton, like Whitewater, like Vince Foster, like Monica, like a bunch of other stuff. 

Sunday, July 3, 2016

The Supremes pretend to practice law.

Actually they are mere indulging in their private political prejudices.  Law is a body of rules,  written down.  Moses showed the way.  Just ten commandments, chiseled into stone tablets by the hand of God.  And law is limited.  Ten was the starting number.  We have a lot more now.  but if it isn't written down, it isn't law.
   Judges are supposed to know the law, and apply it to the specific case before them.  And there is always room for interpretation.  Even "Thou shalt not kill" (from KJV) has been interpreted to read "Thou shalt not commit murder." a much narrower reading.  It's up to judges to look at the law, look at the facts of the case, and render a judgement, using pure reasoning. 
   When this is happening, a majority of judges (or for that matter a majority of reasonable men) will come to the same judgement in the same case.  That is, if they are looking at the law, and reasoning from the facts of the case.  If they are judging from personal prejudices, anything can happen.
   Since the unfortunate death of Justice Scalia, it has become clear that he eight survivors on the court are judging from personal prejudice rather than from the law.  Hence the number of four to four ties.  How the eight top lawyers in America can fail to come to a majority opinion is a scandal.  These clowns aren't practicing law, they are setting themselves up as kings. 

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Franconia Old Home Day Parade.

So Franconia does it's parade on Saturday (2 July) partly 'cause we always do it that way, partly to avoid going head-to-head with the Woodsville parade and partly 'cause everybody has Saturday off.  We have a huge mob of parade marchers forming up, we have my Buick doing a little electioneering, we have a Junior ROTC color guard, and we have the Jeanne Forester people.
   By the way, the Blogger people have been messing with the photo uploader again.  At least it still uploads although I had to do it twice before it worked. 

Friday, July 1, 2016

DEC makes the market, adapts to a changing market, finally fails and dies

Digital Equipment Company moved into the big time when it invented the minicomputer, back in the early 1960's.  The legendary PDP 8 wasn't much of a computer, only 12 bits wide, the largest number it could handle was only 4096, not much.  And it could only address 4096b words of magnetic core memory, RAM had not been invented yet.  But it was a computer, it was small compared to the only other computers available that year, namely mainframes costing in the millions and filling an entire room. 
   The PDP8 only cost $8000 (1960 dollars) and was smart enough to do a fair number of things.  A whole bunch of  automatic test sets were built, with a PDP8 built in and running the show.  So many were sold that DEC became rich and famous.  All looked well until the micro processor came on the scene in the early 1970's.  One of my first projects coming out of engineering school was to design a microprocessor board to run a test set.  My board had plenty of punch and only cost $200, parts.  That pretty much killed the $8000 PDP8 for that role.
   DEC recovered, they juiced up their minicomputer and sold it for timesharing.  A PDP11-35 could support a couple of dozen timesharing terminals, enough to run a small company. The later PDP11-70 and the VAX were even stronger. And the timesharing rig, with disk drives and mag tapes might cost $100,000.  Still cheap compared to a mainframe.  This kept DEC going thru the 1980's. 
  Then the desktop computers appeared.  The IBM PCs, and the Compaqs.  These sold for $3000 or so, and were every bit as good as the the DEC minicomputers, and they were cheap enough for every engineer to have one for his very own. 
   And that was the end of DEC.  Compaq bought them up, and then HP bought Compaq, and now there is hardly a trace of DEC left.