Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Great Springfield Model Train Show

It's the biggest show except for maybe Timonium down in Maryland.  The Amhearst model railroad club puts it on at the Eastern States Fairground in West Springfield MA.  It's big, the train show filled all four of the very big exhibition halls at Eastern States.  It pulls in the fans, they can charge $5 parking and $14 admission and get it.  I saw license plates from as far away as Maryland and Ontario.  Traffic trying to get into the fairgrounds at 9 AM Saturday was fierce.  I'm guessing we had 10,000 people for Saturday, and the show runs thru today.
   Took me three hours to drive down from Franconia.  It was still dark when I got on I91 and I rolled right along.  I did try and keep it below 80 mph.
   The crowd looked older than it did last time I went to Springfield.  Mostly guys, mostly old enough to be retired.  Some small grandchildren who were fascinated by the moving model trains.  Very few middle and high school kids who would be old enough to build their own model railroads.  Not many working age folk.  This is clearly an old guy's hobby.
   They had dozens of operating layouts on the floor.  Big ones.  All modular, all take apart and load in a trailer deals.  They were all put together and looking very good. They had all the vendors in the world.  I bought some decals, some well used rolling stock to serve as projects, and some hard to find detail parts. 

Friday, January 29, 2016

Black Socks

Front page story in this morning's WSJ.  Army will now allow troops to wear black socks with gym outfits.  Lotta talk about why.  They didn't say how white gym socks look nerdy with nearly everything.  Then the story mentioned that the Army has a 57 page uniform regulation and a 287 page uniform guide.  Good lord.  How many field grade officers does it take to create 287 pages on what to wear?  Or was it GS12's?    That's a lotta paperwork.   Maybe we could do some cost cutting here?
   I spent six years on active duty in USAF and I cannot ever remember seeing, let alone reading, a uniform regulation.  I was able to look sharp and look regulation in front of my troops without a 287 page uniform guide. 

So I watched the Republican debate last night

Everybody looked good and sounded good.  I could vote for any of them.  Except Rand Paul who is an isolationist.  Nobody committed any lethal gaffes.  Nobody missed The Donald.  Any one of these guys ought to have no trouble beating Hillary. 
   And Megan Kelly seems to have a new hairdo, quite becoming.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Men's fashion from the WSJ

Half page story, with picture of "Next in Men's Fashion".  Shows five scruffy looking male models, wearing clothes I'd never be caught dead wearing.  We have one in a bright yellow turtle neck, grass green jacket, purple pants, and loafers without socks.  The other four are wearing mud color outfits.  The story called the color "brown" and said "It's the new black".   We have one "suit" (matching jacket and slacks) in a really loud hounds tooth check, with tailoring by Omar the tent maker, accessorized with a dark bead necklace.   And the next model is wearing a leather jacket, only it has white furry cuffs and white furry edging.  And the guy wearing a "military inspired" jacket that looks like jackets my grandmothers used to wear, black shiny slacks, and white gym socks under his loafers.
   The story claimed a 29 billion Euro market for global luxury ready to wear.   Maybe Euro males buy this stuff?

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Shannara, TV show

Caught it last night.  It's a Game of Thrones wanna be show, comes on at 10 PM which is a bit late for me, but it was worth staying up for.  It is "based" upon the Shannara fantasy novels by Terry Brooks.  I read the first one many years ago and was sufficiently un impressed that I never read any more of them.  So I cannot intelligently comment upon how well the TV show tracks the books. 
   It's swords and sorcery with handsome young sword swinging heroes and some very pretty, leather clad heroines.  There is some vast undefined struggle between men and elves (both good looking) and some really ugly demons.  Dialog is mediocre.  For instance I never did catch the names of any of the handsome heroes or pretty heroines or the ugly demons.
   Still it was OK and I will make an effort to catch the next episode next Tuesday night.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Democratic Socialism, what is it?

The newsies occasionally ask a Democrat what the difference is between democratic and socialism.  You don't have to look far for an answer.  The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) set up for business in 1917 and lasted until 1989.  That was the biggest, longest lived, and most miserable socialist government in history.   Although the country styled itself as "socialist", the ruling oligarchy styled themselves as communist.  Communists and socialists believe in the same things except that communists believe they need a revolution to take power, whereas socialists think they can win power thru elections.  Otherwise they stand for seizing control of all economic activity (pretty much everything) and running it to suit themselves.  The Russians suffered thru 70 years of grinding poverty brought on by their socialist system. 
    The Bern undoubtedly claims that his socialism is different from the Soviet type.  You can believe as much of that as you like. 

Monday, January 25, 2016

Conservative, Smervative

The Republican candidates are on TV bashing each other.  Favorite bash, "He's not a true conservative".  Well, I don't really care if he is, or ain't, conservative.  I want a candidate who will make an effective president.  For openers we need someone who can win the general election. Which means getting the independents to vote for him.  Independents are centrist in their thinking, the ones who are lefties join the Democrats, the righties join the Republicans, what is left (43% of the electorate) is middle of the road.  Come out too strong for some favorite conservative causes, the gold standard, pro life, isolationism, tax relief for the 1%, and others,  you loose the independents. 
   We need someone who can lead, i.e. present a program and convince a majority of the citizens (and their Congresscritters) to support the program.  A candidate who insults the other side is going to have trouble getting the other side to go along with his program.  
   We need someone willing and able to accept advice.  As a subset, we need someone who can judge which advisers know what they are talking about and which ones don't.   Nobody knows everything, any president needs to accept good advice from qualified experts.  And ignore bad advice from know-it-alls.

The Economist thinks low oil prices are bad

It's the cover story.  Cute cover cartoon showing a pumpjack with a demon's head, all in black.  They do admit that low oil prices are good for consumers, but then they go on and on about the hardships visited upon oil producers, and banks who financed oil production.  Woe to banks, woe to producers.
Well, sorry about that banks and producers, there are a whole lot more people benefiting from low fuel prices than there are producers.  As to banks who may not get their loans paid back, time to wise up.  Don't loan money unless you (and your own figures) can show that the borrower will make enough to pay you back.  And don't expect any more government bailouts. 

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Faster than light

I think I heard this story before.  Like last year.  If memory serves, the faster-than-light results went away after some cables on the apparatus were reseated. 

Friday, January 22, 2016

So how much snow is everyone getting really?

TV newsies have been ranting about snow all day.  How bad is it where you are?  Up here we don't have a flake and the forecasts are for no snow on Cannon. 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

US classification system is changing

Back when I was in the service, there were just three levels of classification, confidential, secret, and top secret.  The story I was told, goes like this. Congress passed this into law with the intent of preventing bureaucrats from refusing to show classified to Congressmen on the excuse that the stuff was classified too high for Congressmen to see.  Congressmen don't like being told they cannot see stuff and took steps to insure that they would not be locked out of juicy stuff. 
    Well, even way back then, three levels of classification wasn't enough.  We had all sorts of top-secret nimbus, and top secret nuclear, and so on.  This was done to implement need-to-know.  Set up a classification with a weird name, and then restrict access to those holding a weird name clearance.  This worked, and everyone understood that you didn't want to ruffle any Congressional feathers by being stuffy about their clearances. 
   Fast forward to now.  They are raking Hillary over the coals for possessing "Top Secret SAP" classified on her server.  And the TV newsies are claiming that Top Secret SAP is so secret that Congressmen are not allowed to see it.  Ohh.  We never would have said that back in the day.  USAF policy used to be, treat Congressmen right, and that includes showing them anything they want to see.  Most we would do is try to impress them with the need for keeping their lips buttoned.

Low oil prices are good

Most of us consume oil and the lower the price the better for us.  I'll grant that people in the oil business, and who have loaned money to oil companies are hurting.  But there are a lot more oil consumers than oil producers.  And low prices are good for consumers.  Greatest good for the greatest number. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Sarah Palin endorses The Donald

This is going to help The Donald.  Sarah has nearly universal name recognition, everybody knows who she is.  She is controversial and polarizing.   Lotta women detest her.  But a lotta plain ordinary people like her and find her progress from soccer mom to state governor to vice presidential candidate inspiring.  If she can do it, I can do it.   Anyhow, Sarah's endorsement counts for a lot, in fact it's hard to think of anyone except perhaps the Pope whose endorsement carries as much weight as Sarah's.
   I wish Sarah had endorsed Ted Cruz, but she didn't. 

99 Restaurant decorates with local photos

The good old 99 restaurant in Littleton went to the trouble of taking and framing and hanging in the dining room, a bunch of good local photographs, things like Littleton Main St, the Opera House, the Pollyanna stature at the library. 
   Nice touch for a chain restaurant. 

Over Processing of food

You can barely find whole chickens in the market anymore.  Lots of chicken parts, breasts, drumsticks, thighs, tenders, and such, all of which require someone to cut up whole chickens, where as a whole chicken, good for stuffing and roasting, and also can be readily cut up into parts by any halfway cook, are scare.  Why do the foodstores go to all this cutting up?
   For that matter, whole fresh mushrooms are loosing out to fresh sliced mushrooms.  Why?  the whole mushrooms last longer than they do after slicing. 

Is your router finking on you?

The Wall St Journal ran a cover story yesterday claiming that many of our routers, those little $50 boxes that allow more than one computer to use a single internet modem, have unfixed security bugs in their firmware.  Bug that allow hackers to get into your computer, suck everything off the hard drive, get all your passwords, and turn your machine into a zombie that follows secret orders from bot net masters. 
   Me, I didn't even realize that I could update or patch the code running in my router.  Things to do, dig into the closet under the stairs where my router is stashed, find the model number of my router, and Google for software updates.   And figure out how to insert said software update into the router.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Job Growth

Every so often, the Commerce Dept reports the number of new jobs "created" in the US.  Last time they were claiming 292,000 "new" jobs. 
  I wonder where that "new jobs" number comes from.  Probably the bigger companies report the number of new hires to the guvmint.  Do they likewise report layoffs?  Suppose a company lays off 292,000 employees and replaces them by hiring 292,000 troubled teenagers.  Does this count as 292,000 "new jobs"? 
   Is the "new jobs" number any more realistic than the "unemployment rate" which only counts people drawing unemployment benefits?  As unemployment benefits run out, the unemployment rate drops. 

Monday, January 18, 2016

My condolences to Space-X

They had a perfect launch, inserted the payload of satellites into orbit, and almost managed to softland the booster for reuse.  They came very very close to success, the booster autopilot managed to slow the booster assent,  fly it back to the designated landing spot, keep the booster upright, engines pointed down, and land within 1.3 meters, call it four feet, of the desired landed spot.  But every little thing has to be just right.   One of three landing legs failed under load (or failed to lock into the down position), and with only two legs to stand upon, the booster toppled over and burst into flames. 
   Which all the newsies are treating as a failure to Space-X.  I see it as a good launch and a near miss on landing the booster.  Next time, I bet all three legs work perfectly.
   Ad Astra. 

Feeling the Bern, Bernie on gun control

Bernie was on Meet the Press yesterday morning.  He came right out in favor of an "assault weapons" ban and a ban on "armor piercing bullets".   This isn't going to improve his vote in NH, where  most of us believe you ought to have a piece in the house, just in case.  He must think his lead in NH is strong enough to beat Hillary and it's worth it to gain support among the lefties in the larger democratic party.
  Amusingly enough, the Bern is raving against imaginary objects.  "Assault rifles" are the same as deer rifles in anyway that you can measure.  Except deer rifles are usually chambered for more powerful cartridges.  My ancient Marlin 30-30 lever action hits harder than the 223 round of the AR15. 
   Any bullet will pierce armor if it is going fast enough.  Real rifles (say 30-06) will pierce any armor light enough for a man to carry.  For that matter 223 assault rifles will pierce quarter inch mild steel, although they won't pierce a quarter inch of armor steel.  Standard bullets come with a full copper jacket over the lead slug which holds the bullet together as it hits the target.  Standard full jacketed bullets are the right choice to defeat body armor.  The other type of bullet has a soft nose and is supposed to expand when it hits, making a bigger wound.  These are sold for hunting, although a Geneva convention from the 19th century outlaws their use in warfare.  All US military ammunition is full jacketed to be in compliance with that convention. 
  So when Bernie comes out  against "armor piercing bullets" he is really talking about all standard ammunition.   Which might be his point. 

Cannon Mountain Ski Weather

It's snowing right now.  Started last night and I have 4 inches down already (8:30). It's still falling.  Temperature is good, 20F.  It ought to keep on snowing for a while.  The weathermen think it will last until 1 PM, another 4 hours  or so.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Election Predictions from the NRA

Ya gotta hand it to the NRA, they are effective.  They have a large and committed membership that votes, and the national organization is very effective at getting out the word to the member ship.  They are good at what they do. 
   Yesterday a piece of election "information" drifted into my mailbox.  It has a map of the US, with the states colored red or blue.  The old confederacy, the mid west and west are solid red.  The coasts are solid blue.  The few tossup states are left white.  They count 206 electoral votes for the Repuyblican who ever that may be, 217 electoral votes for Hillary, and 115 tossup electoral votes.  Who ever wins the tossup votes wins the election. 
    BTW, they show New England and New York solid blue EXCEPT New Hampshire.  We are a tossup.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

The Thursday night Republican debate

I didn't watch it live, 9 o'clock is my  bedtime these days.  Plus I figured I would get plenty of instant replay and bloviation on TV over the next few days or weeks.  So far  I have not been disappointed.  All the TV people (New Yorkers all) have decried Cruz's slam on New York.  They think it is dreadful. I'm not so sure, certainly a lot of unpleasant and destructive thoughts and words come out of New York.  Dunno about how they feel about New York out in Iowa, but up here in NH there is no love lost on New York City.
   The pundits all think the Republican field has narrowed to Trump, Cruz, and Rubio.  I wonder about that.  Christy still has a good standing in the NH polls.  And the results from Iowa and NH will change everything.  And I don't think the polls are really telling us anything we can trust about Iowa and NH.  Up here lotta people just haven't made up their minds.  Enough people to tip the primary any old which way.

Baltimore wants to demolish 7000 city houses

But why?  I've been to Baltimore.  The city houses are all solid brick two story row houses.  Decent city living.  Don't demolish them, sell them.  Somebody will buy if the price is right.  And fix 'em up.  And pay taxes on them. 
   Probably democrats behind this.

Cannon Mountain Ski Weather

It just started to snow.  No much down yet, but it's still falling.  Temperature is high, 32F.  Up to 8 inches is FORECAST.  We will see what we get.  No use of the R-word on the forecasts.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Obama wants to spend $4 billion on self-driving cars??

Why?  Private industry has already developed self driving cars using private money.  Why throw in taxpayer money?  What do we taxpayers get out of it?  According to the Union Leader, Obama thinks self driving cars will eliminate traffic accidents.  Let's hear it for the microprocessors.  They never screw up.  Right. 
   The only role I can see for guvmint in the self driving car thing is establishing uniform nation wide rules for how capable a self driving car has to be in order to be allowed to drive on the public roads.  Say a driving test, the self driving car has to negotiate the test with out bending any fenders or hitting anything.  Such a test would have to have some real traffic to avoid, some ice and snow, some cross winds, potholes, soft shoulders, some night driving, and what else?

Thursday, January 14, 2016


After the Great Depression was kicked off by the 1929 stock market crash Congress passed some laws intended to prevent a recurrance, ever again.  One of the contributing factors to the 1929 crash was big banks playing the stock market, with depositors money.   And in the 1930's Congress passed a law preventing banks for buying and selling stocks.  This was the Glass-Steagall act and it remained the law of the land for 60 years. Banks hated Glass-Steagall 'cause there is a lot of easy money to be made in the stock market, particularly if you have a lot of money to invest. It took the banks 60 years of solid lobbying and "campaign contributions" to finally repeal Glass-Steagall some time during the Clinton administration. 
   And now after Great Depression 2.0, kicked off by banks making dumb ass mortgages, people are calling for some regulation to curb big and brain dead banks from crashing the economy.  Bernie Sanders is calling for reinstatement of Glass-Steagall.   Actually this is a fairly good idea.  Banks primary purpose is to finance construction and house sales, and finance business activity.  Buying and selling stocks just soaks up bank assets and does not contribute to economic growth. 
   The other thing banking needs is some incentives to write decent mortgages.  The "Ninja" mortgages (No income, No job or assets)  caused the crash of 2007.  A mortgage must not exceed the real market value of the property, in fact the buyer ought to put up 10% or so of his own money to buy the place.  And the bank needs to see that the borrower is gainfully employed and is making enough to make his monthly mortgage payments.
   One way to make this happen is to require that the bank that issues the mortgage must hold that mortgage to maturity.  If the bank knows that it will b holding the bad should the borrower default, they will be fairly careful not to write mortgages for untrustworthy borrowers. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Where was their air cover??

Two US Navy small craft some where in the Persian Gulf (the Obama administration won't say exactly where) where captured by the Iranians.  Where was US air cover?  There were two boats, each one ought to have had a working radio.  The Gulf isn't very big.  Jet aircraft can be anywhere in the Gulf in a matter of minutes.  Some aircraft ought to be on five minute alert in such a near-to-war zone.  My fighter unit kept two fighters on five minute alert 24/7, and that was back in heart of the US, namely the state of Minnesota. 
   Those two boats should have radioed for air cover as soon as the Iranians hove into sight, and they should have had air cover within 15-20 minutes of making the radio call. 
   Let's guess, Obama didn't want to upset the Iranians and he refused to allow the jets to take off. 

Nevada wises up

Nevada state government decided to cut back on the goodies offered to the home solar cell freeloaders.  About time, and NH ought to follow suit.  The current deal offers to buy all the electricity the home owner produces, at full retail rate, for ever.  Home owners use their sales earning to pay their electric bills.  Since solar cells produce no electricity after sunset, all solar cell owners are connected to the regular electric grid and use utility provided juice to keep their lights on, their TV's playing, and their oil burners burning.   Up here a practical sized home solar panel can reduce the home owner's electric bill to zero in the summer, and make a worthwhile dent in it in the winter. 
   Net result, solar cell owners get a free ride from the ordinary rate payers.  The cost of providing grid power is mostly in paying off the generators, the transmission lines, the local wires and poles.  The  utility workers spend most of their time fixing stuff that storms tear down. Very little money goes to fuel.  Compared to paying off the enormous loans that built the system, the cost of fuel is negligible.  All the home solar cells do for the utility is save a little bit of fuel.  The utility still has to build and maintain a physical plant big enough to serve all the customers at night and on cloudy days.  Home solar cells don't save the utility a nickel when it comes to their major costs. 
Which is why all solar installations require subsidy from rate payers and tax payers.
   Anyhow, the two solar cell companies operating in Nevada are crying and threatening to hold their breath (actually to stop selling solar in Nevada).

Cannon Mountain Ski Weather

We got three inches of powder snow last night.  Not all that much, but better than nothing.  It's cold, 16F, good for snow making. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Power grows out of the chimney of a factory

To paraphrase Mao TseTung.  The pollsters (they telephone me every day) are asking about the most important issue in the upcoming election.  "Jobs and the economy" and "national security" are the two serious choices.   I say that if we have jobs and the economy then we can build or buy all the national security we need.  A thriving economy pays taxes that the government can spend on troops, rations, ammunition, uniforms, fuel, fancy $200 helmets for the troops, outrageously expensive warplanes and warships.  It will pay for overseas missionary efforts, foreign aid, bribes to friendly governments, propaganda, Doctors without Borders.  It will pay for US imports which are life to third world countries. It will pay for research and development efforts that result in better weapons for our forces.  A good  economy allows us to take in immigrants who will grow the economy even further.

Cannon Mountain Ski weather

We got a dusting of snow yesterday, not enough to stick a ruler in to measure, but better than rain.  It's cold again, 17F this morning, so the mountain is making snow.   The weatherman is promising one to three inches this afternoon. 

Monday, January 11, 2016

Gallup says 43% of voters are registered independents

And registered Democrats slightly out number registered Republicans. 29 to 23 per cent. 
Which means the Republican candidate needs better than HALF of the independent votes to win.  Which means we in the stupid party MUST nominate someone acceptable to independents.  Else we get Hillary keeping all of Obama's stuff in place for another four years, maybe eight. 
Is The Donald the man to attract better then half of the independents???

No way is Obama's justice department gonna indict Hillary

Doesn't matter what the FBI finds.  Indicting Hillary will go a long way to electing a Republican president, who will undo as much of Obama's work as he can.  Obama cannot want that.  The Fox newsies are talking up FBI work on Hillary's secret emails on the private server. Now they are talking about corruption charges to go along with the classified flap.  Ain't gonna happend, Obama won't let it.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Chinese pressure on the NORKs

I hear TV newsies talking about this.  The question is what can we do about the NORK nuclear weapons program.  The answer from a number of newsies is to get the Chinese to apply pressure on the Kim regime to back off on the nuclear program.  Sounds good. 
  But it won't work.  The Chinese don't dare apply any serious pressure, such as cutting off their economic support.  North Korea is in such tough shape that only shipments of fuel and food from China keep it running.  The Chinese fear that cutting the shipments would destabilize the Kim regime, leading to a total collapse.  North Korean agriculture is so screwed up that it cannot feed their people, and their industry is so feeble that they have invited the South Korean to set up maquiladoras in the north to employ some of their people.  The only things keeping the Kim regime in power are the secret police and the army.  Should either of these fail in a clutch,  North Korea comes undone.
   The Chinese don't want this.  They would loose their buffer state between China and bustling prosperous and pro American South Korea.  They fear that the South Koreans would subvert Chinese citizens away from communism and the one true way of Mao Tsetung.  Plus giving the Americans listening posts and air bases right on their border rather than way off down south on the 38th parallel.
   I cannot see China risking the loss of the Kim regime just to make the Americans happy. 

Cannon Mountain Ski Weather

In a word, bad.  It's raining and the temperature is up to 40F.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

The Weapon Shops of Isher by A.E. Van Vogt

Classic science fiction published in the early 1950's,  say 65 years ago.  The Weapons Shops sold fabuluous firearms, which among their other miraclous properties, would only fire when held by their rightful owner.  That was science fiction.
  Today we have Obama calling for the invention and production of such weapons.   But would anyone buy them? Most people, myself included, want a firearm that will reliably go bang when the trigger is pressed.  We don't even trust safeties, every shooter can remember the time he missed a shot because the safety was still on.  Which accounts for the popularity of the Glock handgun, it has no safeties. 
   If we don't trust simple mechanical safeties, who is gonna trust some micro processor based system that has to recognize who is holding the gun and prevent it from firing if it is in the wrong hands?  Not me. 
   I suppose such  Weapons Shop magic might work off a finger print sensor on the grip or an RFID tag carried by the rightful owner.  All of which stops working when the battery runs down.  To say nothing of gloves foiling the fingerprint sensor, or the owner forgetting to have the RFID tag on his person, plus a bunch of other Murphy's law failures.  
   I'm surprised that a president of the US can call for science fiction devices and nobody laughs at him.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Cars, Cars, and more cars

NPR this morning said that 17.5 million new cars had been sold in 2015.  Damn, that's a lotta wheels.  There was a time, back in the 60s, when a 5 million car year was considered good.  And consider that a car easily lasts 10 years these days.  Keep up a 17.5 million a year sales rate for 10 years, and you have 175 million cars on the road.  For a population of 300 and some million.  That's a car for every two citizens. 
   Then the NPR greenies went on to wail about the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE).  The sales figure are "cars and light trucks" and light trucks are selling well.  The light trucks (SUVs count as light trucks), get about 20 mpg at best, the little econobox cars might get 35.  Obama wants 50 mpg in a few years.  I got news for him.  We won't ever have a 50 mpg CAFE except by lying.  We do some of that already, flex fuel (gasoline or alcohol) cars give the CAFE a big boost just by bureaucratic fiat. 
   Was I Detroit, I'd make all my production "flex fuel" because it's easy and cheap to do, and I get all sorts of CAFE improvement for every flex fuel vehicle produced.  Just a little attention to gasket materials in the fuel system, using only gaskets that are alcohol proof, a bit more code in the microprocessor to recognize the fuel and for alcohol program the injectors to throw in a good deal more than for gasoline, and presto chango, I have a flex fuel vehicle.  Good for a 20 mph bump in my CAFE. 

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Particles: Nova's story of the Higgs Boson and Large Hadron Collider

Nova on NPR ran this show.  The subject matter is fascinating, the mysterious "God Particle", the biggest particle accelerator ever built.  Claims to discover the basis of "the standard model" or the fundamentals of space time. 
   The TV show had a lot of shots of physicists and bigwigs partying and drinking champagne to celebrate major milestones.  Some cool shots of big pipes running down endless tunnels.  Shots of physicists bicycling to and from work. 
   It did not explain what the Higgs boson is, or why we expected it to exist.  No mention of the boson's mass, electric charge, spin, lifetime, or how we would detect one, should one form.  No discussion of the accelerator, what keeps the particle beam on course running down the pipes.  No discussion of what fields are used to accelerate the particles down the 50 mile radius particle racetrace.  No mention of how close to the speed of light the particle speed reached.  No mention of  how the accelerator compensated for the growth of particle mass as the speed of light is approached. No mention of what particles were accelerated, I assume protons, but it would be nice to know.  CERN had a serious accident in the early days, the particle beam came off the track and burned a hole thru the wall of the vacuum chamber.  They didn't bother to show the damaged piece of pipe up close. The camera swept over a stack of pipes, one of them was burned black on the outside, but that was it.
    They interviewed a number of the physicists, but they all talked about metaphysics, what it means, what it might mean, the goodness of doing it.  That ain't science.  Science is observations and measurements tied together with theory.  Nobody talked science.
   Really too bad.  I guess the TV show producers know little science themselves , and don't care much about it. 

Washing Windows 8, yet again

Killing off crapware, specifically hpservice.exe.  This baby shows up in Task Manager as a "process", ie a program loaded into ram and running, but does not show a window to control it or observe results.  I tried to DISABLE it in task managers startup tab.  Did not work, when I powered up next day hpservice.exe was still running.  Net searching had told me that hpservice.exe was not a regular Windows service but just got loaded by a key in the registry.  So I started up regedit (more difficult to do in Win 8 than in XP) and searched for a key that said "run" or "runonce" and the hpservice.exe name.  No dice.  Could not find the desired key let alone zap it.
   Went back to Task Manager, and yup, the SOB was still there, big as life.  Some fumbling around and I tried "Control Panel"," Administrative Tools",  "Services"  And there it was, a service, set to "AUTOMATIC" start, which means load and run every time the computer boots up.  I changed that to "DISABLED".  
   I checked for hpservices in Task Manager this morning, and he is dead and gone.
   Moral of story: Don't believe everything you see on the net. 
   And, Win 8 works just fine without hpservice.exe.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Do the NORKS have the H-bomb?

And does it matter?  The first fission bombs used in WWII had a yield that changed over time.  Up until recently the yield was "classified" but all writers said it was 20,000 tons (20KT) of TNT equivalent.  Recently, after declassification of 70 year old work, the yield is now given as 12 KT. These two plain straight fission bombs each leveled a city, with a severe damage radius of a couple of miles.  This is so bad, that it doesn't really matter if you have more powerful bombs.  A 20 KT yield fission bomb is so terrible that bigger bombs aren't that much more terrible.
  As a cold war stunt, the hydrogen bomb, a fission-fusion device was developed.  This device used a fission bomb's heat as a trigger to set off a hydrogen fusion reaction, boosting yield to 1000 KT (a megaton MT) And for a while in the 1950's the Americans and the Russians would exchange bragging rights to the greatest yield.  In actual fact, a yield of 100KT is enough to do anything that is needful.  The Minuteman missile warheads were all 100KT devices at a time when 1000 KT H-bombs were available.
   So now to the NORKS.  They have been  doing nuclear testing for some years now.  The first test was so puny (1KT) that we didn't really believe they had nukes until radioactive fallout was detected in the atmosphere, the seismic signal was so weak as  make us doubt the NORKS had done anything at all.
   So this morning, the NORKS claimed to have tested an H-bomb.  But the seismic signal was still pretty weak, about 6 KT yield, less than the Hiroshima fission bomb of 70  years ago.  Color me unimpressed.  Might have been a fizzle, where the fission bomb trigger went off but the hydrogen fusion reaction did not light off.  I don't think it's an H-bomb until the yield reaches 1000 KT, which is a long way from 6 KT.

The 11th Commandment (again)

Somebody is running a lot of TV ads, on Fox News, trashing Marco Rubio for missing votes in Congress.  The ads are sponsored and paid for by a PAC that I have never heard of before. ("Right to Rise"?)  I assume this PAC is working for some other Republican candidate, but I have no idea which one.
    Too bad the MSM doesn't take a look at this PAC and let us know who is really behind the "trash Rubio" movement.  Of  course doing a story like that would require getting off their butts and going out on the streets and doing some digging.  It's easier to just read the poll results over the air, and do a bit of pontificating.
   I just googled on Right to Rise and  got some hits.  Wikipedia called Right to Rise a JEB Bush super PAC.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Washing Windows 8 (yet again)

Today's first crapware kill is hpmsgsvc.exe,  This is an HP program, not Micro$oft.  Web searching returned a lot of hits, but few of the hits actually knew anything about hpmsgsvc.  It's been around for a good while.  Fair number of hits talked about troubles back in Windows 7, where hpmsgsvc would go crazy and hog all the available CPU time.  The few knowledgeable hits say the hpmsgsvc is a kludge that lets you "hook" a program to a function key so that you can start that program for just touching one key.  Why anyone would want to do that, it's an ancient DOS idea, is unclear.  If I want to set a program for easy start, I just put its icon (a shortcut) on my desktop, and then the program will start with the click of the mouse. 
   Hpmsgsrv is NOT a regular Windows service, which means you cannot kill it off with the Administrative Tools Service manager.  I killed it with Task Manager.  The old three finger salute (control-alt-delete) still works to bring up task manager.  Hpmsgsrv in in the process list only it tries to hide itself under the name hpservices.  No matter.  STOP shuts down the copy in RAM.  Select the "Startup" tab in task manager and set hpservice to Disabled.   Underneath hpservices is a second bit of crapware calling itself "Hp Smart Adapter".  He is now gone too.  Web searching tells me that HP Smart Adaptor was nagware that specialized in selling you genuine HP accessories.  I don't need that either. 
  I will have to check tomorrow that the "disable" in task manager really works.  If  it fails and lets hpmsgsvc come back to life, I plan to go after it with regedit.  According to web sources, a Run key in the registry starts hpmsgsrv.  If necessary I will use the search function in regedit to locate and then zap a registry key that contains "run" and the program name (  This probably won't be necessary, task manager is supposed to have done all this, but just in case a new Micro$oft feature doesn't work,  I have a backup plan.

Monday, January 4, 2016

The 11th Commandment

"Thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican"   Attributed to Ronald Reagan.  Well with a dozen candidates going for the Republican nomination there is gonna be a few sharp elbows thrown.  But, if you are gonna violate Reagan's 11th commandment, you oughta make it over something real.
  Right now we got Republicans trashing other Republicans for missing votes in Congress.  If you are running for president you gotta get your butt out of Washington and go meet voters out in the real world beyond the DC beltway.  If you do that, you will miss some votes inside the Beltway.  To criticize candidates for campaigning is pure BS.  If you wanna trash somebody, find a real issue.  

Support your Friends, trash your enemies

Right.  Saudi Arabia and Iran are in a tiff.  The Saudis just broke off diplomatic relations with Iran.  Saudi is a long time friend of the US, Iran is a long time enemy. 
   So what does Obama do?  Does he back up the Saudis?  No way, he calls for "restraint" on both sides. 
Especially as Iran is a much stronger country than Saudi.  All Saudi has going for it is oil, and the money it brings.  Saudi has no industry to speak of, a minute population,  their national territory is a desert, they have to import everything.  Iran is right next door, the sea in between them is so small as to permit passage in a canoe.
   The Iranians have ten or fifty times the population of Saudi and enough industry to build nukes. And plenty of oil.
    And we expect middle east Arab countries to send troops to defeat ISIS when we won't even back up a long time friend like Saudi?  

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Washing Windows 8 (again)

Today's Windows 8 crapware kill is a service called "Bonjour".   Bonjour is an Apple invention for "hands off networking".  Bonjour works by going on the local network and finding all the other computers, shared printers, and other useful stuff, and with such info it can then support programs that want to talk with other stuff on the network.  All of these activity runs in parallel with the regular Microsoft networking support which has been there since Win98 and has gotten better over the years.
  Itunes is the program that wants Bonjour support.  I don't have an Ipad, so I don't run Itunes.  There are a bunch of other Apple programs, none of which I had ever heard of, which Wikipedia lists as wanting Bonjour as well.  I don't care about them and so adieu to Bonjour. 
  Bonjour being a service, is best killed using the Windows services tool.   Get to "Control Panel".  I have "Control Panel" as an icon on the desktop.  Some long ago tweaking of "Personalizations" gave me that very useful desktop icon.  If you don't have the icon, do the bang-the-mouse-on-the-righthand-screen-edge thing to bring up the Charms bar.  Select the "Settings" charm.  Inside "settings"  select "control panel". 
   Once in Control panel select "Administrative Tools".  Then select "Services".  This  shows every service in the machine and allows you to stop them, start them, and program Windows useage of the service.  Services are programs that Windows loads into RAM at boot time, or upon demand.  STOP means just shut down the copy in RAM.  I usually STOP a service, just to make sure I have control.  Then reprogram the "Startup type" to "manual" or "disabled".  Manual means don't load and run the service until some program asks for that service.  I set Bonjour to "manual" and it never started up, indicating that no program every requested the Bonjour service.  "Disabled" means never load and run the service no matter how hard programs beg and plead for the service. 
  With Bonjour service turned off, I could still access my desktop from the laptop and transfer fines back and forth.  Home networking runs just fine without Bonjour, the regular Microsoft networking carrying the freight. 

Secrets of being a Superpower: Immigration

Having a large population is one secret.  At 300 and some million, the United States population is larger than all but maybe China and India.  And we have a very high grade and valuable population.  Americans are loyal to America, to democracy, to the rule of law, to liberty.  They all speak, read, and write English.  Most have graduated high school, and many have made it thru college.  For instance  US Army recruits can read and write, drive a motor vehicle, change its oil and tires,  work a telephone,  and many other skills.  I bet the Chinese and Indian armies are not so blessed.
   It was the great 19th century surge of US immigration that built our population to its current level.  Without that vast in pouring of people, we would be about where Canada is today.  Canada is a worthy country and all, but with a population of only 30 million they just don't count for as much as we do with a 300 million population.  
    To maintain our position in the world we need to keep our population up.  We can admit one million immigrants a year, into our population of 300 million and turn them into Americans,  loyal productive citizens who add to the wealth and strength of America.  We have plenty of people to choose from, everyone in the world wants to come to America, where the streets are paved with gold.  We ought to pick the best, the young, the educated, the able bodied, and those who have demonstrated loyalty to America by serving as translators or who enlisted in the US armed forces. 
    While we are at it, we ought to do something about the 10-11 million illegals already in the country.   I don't have the heart to deport them all.  It would look too much like the Nazi's loading Jews into cattle cars for the trip to Auschwitz.  I think any who are gainfully employed, have stayed out of trouble with the law, are raising children ought to be given papers making 'em legal to be in the country and hold a job.  And after a few years, let them jump thru a few more hoops and grant them citizenship. 
   It's a hostile world out there, and we need more American citizens to confront it. 

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Is this Right? Wall St Journal new year's predictions

Let's see here.  WSJ makes twelve predictions.  Number 2 is "The Fall if Islamic State" by Walther Russell Mead, who ought to know better.  Walther thinks that IS has antagonized the French, the Russians, the Merkins, and scared the bejesus out of the surviving Sunni Arab regimes left in the middle east, and thus it will get crushed.  Maybe.  But an ideology so strong as to pull European teenagers to fly to Turkey and hike across the border into Syria to carry an AK47 for IS is going to be hard to stop.
  "A Grand Bargain on Energy" Jeffry Sachs (Columbia University Earth Institute) thinks there is a role for wind and solar energy.  He does not explain how wind and solar keep my lights burning after the sun goes down on a windless day.  If my juice goes off, my oil burner stops working and my pipes freeze.
   "Bookstores are Back" by Ann Patchett, owner of a startup bookstore.  I wish her a lotta luck.  Up here our beloved Village Bookstore, after 20 years of operation, went out of business, and it being revived on a much smaller scale.  Between the price competition from the Walmarts of the world, E-books, and the ridiculous price of hardbacks,  bookstores have a tough row to hoe.
  "Cooperation with China" by Orville Schell, outlines the well know tension spots between the US and China and is so pleased to find that the Chinese and Americans can agree about "Climate Change".  How groovy.  Not a word about US-Chinese trade, the largest trade relationship in the world.  You would think having most of your economy connected to trade with the US might just possibly create a few common interests.  Mr. Schell does'nt mention this at all,
   Ah well, four out of twelve duds ain't too bad.  Betcha the NYT did worse.

Cannon Mountain Ski Weather

Well, we got a half inch of snow yesterday.  Not much, but better than nothing, better than rain.  It's  cold enough for snow making, just barely.  It's 30F right now.  Snow is forecast for tomorrow.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Windows 10 anyone?

I gotta plump Micro$oft program on my laptop that pops up and urges me to upgrade to Windows 10 every other day.  My children tell me Win 10 doesn't offer anything except a faster video interface for games. I gave up on games after Adventure, and that was a long time ago.  The Internet tells me Win 10 sends your username and password to Micro$oft for use in cracking your computer.  Past experience tells me that each new Windows runs slower and sucks up more RAM and disk than the previous one. 
   Anyone got any good experiences with Win 10?

Another year down

2015 is not gonna be my favorite year.  The stock market slide sucked value out of my retirement savings.  The economy still sucks.  We still have Obama pissing in the soup.  We have ISIS terrorists killing in California. We still have global warmers trying to force us all back into a Hiawatha lifestyle.
On the other hand, it could be worse.  My health is still good.  My three children are all graduated from college, gainfully employed, and doing well. 
2016 looks to be a year of pure presidential politicking, non stop, ad nauseum.  Newsies love this story because it is so simple that even they can understand it.  All they have to do is read poll results over the air and make a few obvious comments.  My big fear is the Republicans (aka the stupid party) may screw up and loose to Hillary in November.