Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Why the Allies Won (WWII) by Richard Overy

Good read.  Richard Overy is a Brit, who has previously written and published  ten books on WWII subjects, so he knows something about it.  He picks six campaigns that he calls the war winners, as opposed to plenty of campaigns which simply consumed lives and resources without ever doing anything to win the war. I find Overy's views quite reasonable. 
   Overy starts out explaining how touch and go Allied victory was.  In 1939,1940,and 1941 the Axis swept all before it.  Their armies fought better and beat the Allied armies every time.  Hitler overran all of Western Europe save Britain.  Had the Germans been able to get the mines and farms and factories of this humongous area organized and producing, and the young men to enlist in the German army,  he would have had an empire to match his enemies. 
   Overy's first crucial campaign was in the North Atlantic, where the U-boats had to be defeated.  D-Day would not have been possible if the U-boats sank half the troops before they reached England.   He attributes this victory to a handful of Consolidated B24 Liberator four engine bombers that had the range to run air patrols clean across the Atlantic.  Prior to the Liberators, the shorter range patrol planes flying from Britain and Canada left a 1000 mile gap, "the black pit" seamen called it, where the U-boats ranged freely and sank thousands of merchantmen.  Too get the Liberators onto the North Atlantic patrol took direct orders from Churchill.  The RAF wanted to use them for bombing Germany and resisted putting them on a navy mission. 
   Overy's second key campaign is the bombing campaign against German industry.  Right after the war, we ran some surveys concluding that strategic bombing had not been very effective.  Overy disagrees, he cites the decline in German oil production, and the destruction of the German Air Force by the Allied long range fighters escorting the bombers.  By the end of the war, the Germans  didn't have enough gasoline to fill a Zippo lighter.  As an old Air Force veteran, I agree with Overy on this one. 
    For a third key campaign, Overy chooses the eastern front.  In 1941, the German Army completely out classed the Red Army and beat them every time.  The Germans got to the outskirts of Moscow, had they been able to take the city, Russian resistance might well have collapsed.  Somehow, the Russians stayed the course, rebuilt their armies, produced thousands of T-34 tanks, better than anything the Germans had, and inflicted the crushing defeat at Stalingrad in 1942.  Before Stalingrad the Germans had beaten the Russians every time.  After Stalingrad, the Russians beat the Germans every time.
   The last key campaign was D-Day, where the Allies put a huge army ashore, in the teeth of German resistance and succeeded.   The Allies then encircled and destroyed the German army in France.  For the rest of the war, the German's fought with newly raised formations, or units pulled away from the eastern front. 
   Anyhow, if you are a WWII buff, you want to read this book.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Rant about the IRS

Dear IRS,
  Next time you invent one of those damn forms try this.  Give each box on the form a number, or a letter.  Pick one (numbers or letters) and stick with it.  Either give each box a number, or give each box a letter.  Don't put numbers on some boxes and letters on other boxes.  That's childish.  And don't  put a number and a letter on the same box. 
An Average Turbo Tax using Taxpayer.

So why didn't she just slap him in the face?

That's what women used to do to men who got too pushy or grabby or kissy.  Michelle Fields, the Breitbart reporter going after Corey Lewandowski doesn't seem to be that brave.  She is yelling for cops and lawyers, where as a real women would have just smacked the guy. 

Monday, March 28, 2016

147 FBI agents on the Hilliary server case

Wow.  That's totally ridiculous.  Ten agents would be too many. 

Raise the cost of something and you get less of it

California is talking about going to the  $15 an hour minimum wage state wide.  That ought pretty much close out jobs for high schoolers and entry level workers.  And if workers don't enter the job market, they don't continue in it.
 Lots a Luck there California. 

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Orwell, blue jeans, pop music, movies, and fast cars won the Cold War

It took us 45 years, but we beat the Soviets without going to war.  Way back when we all worried about the Cold War turning hot.  Remember On the Beach? or Canticle for Liebowitz, or Seven Days in May?  or "We will bury you" ?  Amazingly, the fear of nuclear war on both sides restrained the military option, and the Cold War was fought out with propaganda, diplomacy,  intelligence, and other non-lethal methods.
   George Orwell got in the first solid hit with Animal Farm, and followed that up with 1984.  Nobody could believe in the benevolence of communism after reading Orwell.  Remember the Soviet spies Klaus Fuchs, the Rosenbergs, Kim Philby, Guy Burgess, and John Cairncross?  They (and a bunch of others) spied for the Soviets, even passed the secrets of the atomic bomb to Stalin.  By all accounts, these guys, all university graduates, were ideologically convinced that communism was the wave of the future, and they were doing good by spying for the  Soviets.  After Orwell, nobody worked for the Soviets out of pure love of communism.  The later spies were all working for money.
   Levi Strauss got in the second solid hit with blue jeans.  Popularized by Hollywood westerns, worn by American teenagers,  they became ultra cool behind the Iron Curtain, and Soviet teenagers would go to extra ordinary lengths to get their hands on a pair.  It was hard for the commissars to work up much antipathy toward the Americans when every young Russian wanted to dress like the Americans did.
   Detroit did some good with hot cars like the Chevy 409, the 'Stang, the 426 Dodge,  the 'Vette, the Pontiac GTO, The Judge, and the whole drag racing, Thunder Road,  and NASCAR racing scene.  Again, hard to get young Russians worked up against the Yankees, when every one of them wanted to get their hands on Detroit iron.
   Pop music, Elvis, the Beatles,  the Grateful Dead, and all the rest of 'em ruled.  Along with Hollywood movies.  Again, hard to stir up trouble when every one in Russia is listening to Western pop music.  We need to resurrect both pop music and Hollywood, and make sure they are getting  into ISIS land.
  In short we took down the Soviets with coolness, consumer products, popular music and movies.  Plus a few other things.
   This ought to be our strategy for taking out Islamic extremism.  It worked on the communists, it will work on the Islamic crazies.   

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Trump 2016

A campaign sign, someone chalked on a wall at Emory University.  Now we have Emory students and faculty crying about physic injuries and the need for counseling to over come the horror of seeing a campaign sign for a candidate they don't like. 
   Remind anyone you know not to apply to Emory, which seems to have forgotten that in the United States anyone can run for office, and put up signs, run TV commercials, plant yard signs, and electioneer especially on public property. 
   I don't like Trump much myself, but he has the right to run for president, and the right to electioneer. 

Friday, March 25, 2016

I wonder why they didn't take him alive

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced that US special forces in a raid in Syria, killed the #2 ISIS guy.  Good work.  We ought to do more of this. 
   If we got close enough to this guy to snuff him, we must have been close enough to grab him and bring him back.  An enemy this high up must know some things that we could sweat out of him, assuming we still have the stomach for a little wet work.  Even if we don't do that kind of rough stuff anymore,  we could still put him on trial for murder, and then execute him.  Nice long trial, lots of weeping victims as witnesses, tasteful orange jumpsuit accessorized with shiny handcuffs. 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

I wonder what they are doing to us.

From Megavote:

Genetically Modified Organism Food Labeling – Cloture
Vote Rejected (48-49, 3 Not Voting)

The Senate rejected a McConnell, R-Ky., motion to invoke cloture on the motion to concur in the House message to an unrelated bill (S 764) with a Senate amendment containing the genetically modified organism food labeling measure. The amendment would have blocked state and local labeling requirements for genetically engineered food and seeds. It also would have required the Agriculture Department to establish a national voluntary labeling standard for bioengineered foods, and later would have required the department to issue a mandatory standard if there is not at least "70 percent substantial participation" in voluntary labeling. Sixty votes were required to invoke cloture. 
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen voted 
Sen. Kelly Ayotte voted 
" Motion to invoke Cloture on the motion to concur in the House message to an unrelated bill with a Senate amendment containing the GMO food labeling measure.  " 
What in Hell does that mean?  Are we for GMO labeling or against it?
  All I know is my democratic senator Jeanne Shaheen voted NO, and my good republican senator Kelly Ayotte voted yes. I think Jeanne Shaheen is slime, and I trust Kelly Ayotte. But it would be nice to know if Kelly's NO meant she was stopping the GMO labeling bill or promoting it. 
  This is an example of modern Congressional procedure, make everything so opaque that the voter's don't know which way their rep or senator voted.  Give the Congress critters the option of claiming they were both for it and agin it, all in one opaque vote.  The vote should have been, do we pass this GMO labeling bill, yes or no.  Then at least we voter would know what is going down.   

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

What the Euro's ought to be doing

After the Brussels airport atrocity, the Europeans need to tighten things up.  First off, they need to catch the perps, and most important, once caught, put them on trial and convict them of premeditated murder, and sentence them to death.  And force the courts to get it done within six months from the arrest.  And actually carry out the death sentence, not take ten years of appeals and welfare for lawyers.  The deterrence effect of  conviction and punishment wears off over time.  When the courts take ten or twenty years to render a decision, nobody cares.  I can't get excited about a ten year old crime.  Too much time has passed.  But I can get excited about a fresh horror. 
   BTW, US courts need to get on the stick too.  For instance they haven't done a thing about Tsarnaev, the Boston Bomber and it's been three years. 
   Second, Euro cops need to develop some sources, informants, who can tip them off to bad guys setting up to do bad.  The cops need to be where the perps live.  They cannot write off the Molembeeks and the banlieus as "too tough to bother with".  You gotta have cops, on foot patrol, making contacts, and developing informants in the places that the bad guys live.  You start with the shop keepers and the landlords.  Let them know that hordes of government inspectors, tax audits, and other official badness will descend upon them if then don't become informants, and finger bad guys.  Every small time criminal they catch, is offered a choice between cooperation with the cops, or prosecution.  A few months of this will develop some sources. 
   Then the EU needs take real military action in Syria.  Like send in an army, occupy the place, blow Assad and his government away, execute what ISIS people they catch. Set up decent law enforcement, fire protection, and get the schools open and operating.  Make sure they are real schools and not Islamic madrassahs.  Do land reform, namely dispossess the landlords, and give the land out to the farmers who actually work the land.  Give those farmers good titles to their land, and make sure the courts enforce the new titles.  Set up land offices to record exactly who owns what.  Fix up the irrigation systems, canals, reservoirs, dams, pumps, locks, and such.  Get the local industry back into business, hiring people and paying wages.  Give military protection to any place that employs people (out side of family members)  Set up some banks to finance business.  Make Syria a decent place to live, with jobs and a rule of law and then the Euros won't have all those Syrian refugees swarming into Europe. 
   This might take a few years and cost a bundle, but it's worth it. 

Trump is still ahead, Cruz is not dead yet

According to  Trump now has 754 delegates, Cruz has 465.  Trump won Arizona, Cruz won Utah.  To clinch the nomination, you need 1237 delegates by convention time.  If no one has 1237 (a real possibility) then all kinds of wheeling and dealing take place at the convention to select a nominee.  We have a lot of heavy duty primaries still to go. 
   Cruz must be out talking to all the delegates won by candidates who dropped out, and Kasich who might drop out.  We can assume he is saying " Get behind me, we can beat Trump, and I'll reward you with cabinet jobs, the vice presidency, and some nice pork to take back to your  district."  Whether anyone is listening is unknown. 
   Whether Trump or even Cruz will collect the required 1237 delegates before the convention is too close to call.  Trump is really good on TV, and stands for taking names and kicking ass.  Lotta people like that.  He also has a lot of enemies, and the worst unfavorable rating of anyone in politics, worse even than Hilliary, who is pretty bad herself.  The anti Trump people, who include the party establishment have three more months for Trump bashing.  It might work, although it hasn't been very effective so far. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

You oughta get out and vote

Even if you don't like your party's nominee.  If you don't vote, you forfeit any rights to complain about what the government is doing for the next four years.  You got two candidates going for each open office.  One of the two has to be better than the other.  It is your responsibility as a citizen of a democracy to vote for the better of the two candidates.  Can't tell which candidate is better?  You haven't done your home work.  Go to each candidates website.  It's the 21st century, they all got websites now.  Read their campaign promises.  You gotta like one set of promises better than the other.  Google on the candidate's name.  See what kinda dirt comes up.  See who endorses them.  If all fails, flip a coin.  But go out and vote.  If you don't, the worse guy will win. 
   If the choice for president comes down to Trump vs Hilliary, neither of which I like much, you gotta make a pick.  And vote your pick.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Kasich, Trump and Cruz address AIPAC

AIPAC, American Israeli Political Action Committee.  I watched Kasich, followed by Trump, followed by Cruz address this Jewish pro Israel group.  All three of 'em said all the right things, and received lots of applause.  This is an important group, they represent most American Jews, who can be a decisive factor in American elections.  Most Jews back the state of Israel all the way, although they tend to vote democratic.  After 8 years of Obama trashing Israel, they might b ready to vote Republican.   

Parts per trillion

Apparently some chemical that I never heard of was detected is some water wells in some obscure NH towns whose names mean nothing to me.   They finally got a guy on from state Dept of Environmental Services who actually knew a few things.  Apparently the contamination is no worse than 100 parts per trillion.  Wow.  First time I have heard things quoted as parts per trillion.  Used to be one part per million was about the limit of lab work. 
   Then he said that the EPA limit for magic chemical (SFRA? something strange) was 400 parts per trillion.  In short the detected levels are still way below the limit. 
   Could the newsies be looking for something they can blow up into a Flint Michigan type scandal?

New Hampshire un employment rate down to 2.7%

Wow.  Best in the nation.  Labor utilization rate is 78%, best in the nation.  The NPR commentators were talking about business leaving the state 'cause they cannot find workers.
   Talk about a quick turnaround.  Things were so bad up here a couple of years ago  my youngest son had to go out the North Dakota to find work.   I'm sorta wondering if the unemployment rate is low because all the able bodied workers have already left NH to find work out of state.
   Then the NPR pundits started talking magic talk, like how commuter rail to Manchester would attract workers from out of state.  And how NH needs to do something (unspecified) to the NH schools to produce more "trained" workers. 

National Progressive Radio wants to give Gitmo back to Cuba

NPR ran a medium length piece about this this morning.  They dwelt on the history, Gitmo was war booty to us after the Spanish American war of 1898.  Which was a long time ago.  According to NPR the Cubans are still all hot and bothered about it, and we could make peace and goodness and light flow by giving it back to Cuba.
    Wanna bet The Donald could cut a better deal than that? 

Sunday, March 20, 2016

So why is Obama making nice to Cuba?

Well, it looks good to the lefties in the Democratic party, but do ordinary Americans  approve? Or care?  I think most Cubans in the country are refugees from Castro, and would be happier to nuke Cuba than to recognize Cuba.  I suppose Obama will get some "legacy" out of it, but does the US as a whole, not just Obama and his cronies, get anything out of it? 

Where is Tom Clancy (and Jack Ryan) when we need them?

Say what you will about Tom Clancy's books, they were good action adventure, where the Americans are the good guys, and American ingenuity, courage, and advanced technology win the day in the end.  Clancy's hero, Jack Ryan, starting as a CIA operative in Hunt for Red October, works his way up to President of the US by the final stories.  Compared to the current flock of presidential wannabees, Jack Ryan looks pretty good, well read, well educated, brave, intelligent, a good shot, able to lead a team of top flight people, and able to take advice. In contrast to today's crop. 
   In Clancy's literary universe, America is a special country, faced with numerous low life overseas enemies.  And America manages to come out on top of them in every story.  Good fun reads.  Back in his heighday, Tom Clancy was selling more hardbacks than every other author, all put together.  Makes you feel good about being an American.  Too bad Clancy died a little while ago. 

Friday, March 18, 2016

Whither the Republican party?

Lotta handwringing going on.  The Donald is leading in pledged delegates right now.  He seems to pick up 35% of the primary vote every time.  Right now he has 600 and some delegates, only half what is needed to clinch the Republican nomination.  Ted Cruz is behind, but not impossibly far behind,  with maybe 400 and some delegates.  Maybe The Donald will pick up another 600 delegates by convention time, which will give him 1237, the amount needed to win out right.  And maybe he won't.  No body knows, and nobody really believes the polls.
   If The Donald gets enough delegates by convention time, he still has a problem.  Although 35% of the party likes him enough to vote for him, that leaves 65% of the party that doesn't like him, plus all the democrats don't like him.  Does not look good for The Donald to beat Hilliary.  The Republican establishment is scared out of their socks by these odds.  If The Donald leads the party to a resounding defeat in November, they will most likely get voted out of office themselves.  So they are going all out to get anyone besides The Donald nominated.  At this point, the only likely alternative is Ted Cruz.  All the other candidates have dropped out (except Kasich who doesn't have much in the way of delegates).  The Trump voters will be outraged by a convention that doesn't nominate their man and might do all sorts of bad things. 
   If  The Donald lacks the delegates by convention time, all sorts of things might happen.  Ted Cruz might be able to pull all the non Trump delegates behind him and get the nomination on a later ballot.  The establishment might try to slip in Romney or McCain, or some body, anybody else.  If they succeed they will outrage all the voters, which is a bad thing.  Some charismatic nobody might arise and sweep thru the convention on a wave of applause.  That happened, once, Wendell Wilkie back in 1940.  Hasn't happened since. 
   Or something else might happen.  Stay tuned.

Captain Obvious does a "research" project

Heard this one on NHPR this morning.  Recent research shows that well dressed men do better in business deals than slobs.  The research had some "test" candidates, one dressed in a business suit and the dressed in a sweatsuit, negotiate a real estate deal.  The guys in business suits got the better deal every time.   They interviewed a software guy who said he felt better and wrote better code wearing a good shirt with a collar, rather than a grubby T-shirt.  Highly objective a repeatable evidence that is. 
   They need to do research on this?
   Fifty years ago, Air Force ROTC trained us officer cadets to look sharp, always wear a clean pressed uniform, keep our hair cut, and keep our shoes shined.  The troops are more likely to listen to a sharply uniformed officer than to a slob. A principle of leadership it was called.  For that matter, everybody knows that you always wear coat and tie on a job interview. 
   Sounds like those "researchers" were looking for something to blow their grant money on.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs by Lisa Randall

Lisa Randall, a Harvard professor of science, attempts to link up the dinosaur killer meteor strike of 65 million years ago with dark matter.  It's an interesting read.   Dark matter is mysterious, but it's existence is generally accepted.  Observation of the rotation of galaxies, shows them rotating so fast that they ought to fly apart.  The equations for speed of rotation of a satellite about it's primary go back to Isaac Newton, and are taught in sophomore physics, which makes them well known and universally accepted.  Essentially, if a satellite rotates too fast, centrifugal force makes it fly off into outer space and stop being a satellite.  If it moves too slowly, the primary's gravity sucks it down and it stops being a satellite and becomes a crater.
   The only reasonable answer to the high rotation speed of the galaxies it to assume they contain more matter than you can account for by counting up the stars in the galaxy and estimating their masses.  In fact the galaxies come up way short on visible (light emitting) matter, like short by a factor of two or more.  So, it's generally accepted that galaxies, including our own Milky Way galaxy, contain a lot of dark matter that does not show up as stars.  Just what form this dark matter takes, is unknown at the moment.  Lotta people are working on it, and we may have an answer any time now.
   Now the author turns to the great dinosaur killer meteor.  She wants to show that the Yucatan impact of 65 million years ago is a cyclical event, reoccurring at intervals of 30 million years or so.  She cites studies of meteor craters and plots the number and/or size of known craters vs age.  These plots give a wavery line on graph paper, and just eyeballing the line doesn't show any apparent periodicity.   She goes into a long discussion about just how much periodicity, as opposed to pure random chance, you need to detect it in a graph.  Surprise, she never mentioned the standard mathematical method of determining periodicity in any kind of line, the Fourier transform.  Apparently she, a Harvard professor, has never heard of Fourier transforms.  Well perhaps that's understandable, Fourier transforms are only taught in electrical engineering, no other branch of science has much need for them.  Anyhow, without performing the definitive test for periodicity, the author assumes the giant meteor strikes reoccur every 30 million years and then presses on to explain how the Milky Way has a thin disc of dark matter at it's center, and the solar system passes back and forth thru this dark matter disc as it rotates around the galactic core on a 30 million year cycle.  Somehow, passage thru the dark matter disk upsets objects in the Kuiper Belt, dragging them out of their nice circular orbits and tossing them down toward the sun in narrow elliptical orbits.   Every so often one of them hits the earth, giving us a dino killer event. 
   It's an interesting read.  I also think it's a long stretch.  

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

NORKS give US student Otto Warmbier 15 years at hard labor

It's tough, I feel for the kid.  But he is terminally stupid to travel to North Korea in the first place, and even stupider doing ANYTHING not 100% legit while up there.  Think of it as evolution in action.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Middle of the Market (MOM) airliner

Boeing is talking about doing a new airliner to be a MOM airliner.  Airbus is competing furiously, and Boeing wants a magic product to take market share away from Airbus.  Unfortunately, just what the MOM airliner might be is vague, they don't talk about how many passengers it would carry, or the range it could fly.  And some people feel there is no such MOM design.
   Obviously Boeing is still feeling good about their new 787, which although smaller than the Airbus A380, is selling better.  When they started the 787 they knew that Airbus was doing something much bigger, but Boeing figured that the 787 was about the right size and would sell better, and they were right. 
   The other thing that clouds the issue is that Boeing makes some many different sizes of airliners already that you would think one of them would be the MOM airliner.  They have the smallish single aisle 737 which is still selling every one that comes off the production line.  They have the 757 and 767 models, larger than the 737 and maybe to be dropped.  They have the brand new sizable 787,  the older but large 777, and finally the big old 747.  They are still making a few 747's but it is clearly on the way out.  Given this wealth of Boeing airliner types, it is hard to see a market segment for which they don't have a product. 
   For future growth, Boeing has the 737MAX project to put new and more efficient engines on the 737.  This project is going head to head with a similar project at Airbus putting the new Pratt & Whitney geared turbofan engine onto the tried and true A320 airliner.  Boeing has the 777-X project to create an updated version of the big 777 twinjet.  They have the USAF tanker project inhouse which something like 200 aircraft. 
   There has got to be some pressure inside Boeing to do another clean sheet design, using carbon fiber structure, and the latest of everything to create a follow on to the 737.  But the last clean sheet design, the 787, encountered delays, supply chain hangups, cost over runs, battery fires, and it's gonna take years and years of production to recover the money sunk into it.  The 787 has made it thru the development pitfalls and is now in production and making money.  But it was so late that Airbus was able to get the directly competitive A350 to market only a year after the 787.  Anyhow, there must be a lot of people at Boeing who have sworn "Never again" to the concept of advanced clean sheet designs. 

Monday, March 14, 2016

So what is The Donald guilty of? Really?

When you set up a political event, you gotta expect some unruly troublemakers to show up and cause trouble.  That's what cops are for.  As part of setting up the event, you get with local law enforcement, and  ask 'em to show up, in uniform, and keep order.  And if  trouble does break out, you blame the cops for not doing their duty.
   So The Donald had some sort of trouble, type and size unspecified, somewhere around Chicago, and everyone is blaming The Donald for it.  I don't get it.  I don't like The Donald much, and hope something happens to keep him from becoming the Republican nominee, but lets hang him for something that he done, not something that ain't his fault.
   Troublemaker's showing up at an event ain't his fault.  If trouble breaks out, it's the cops fault for not stopping it.  

Battery powered airliners.

NASA is funding research into them.  The idea is to carry batteries and an electric motor to drive (or assist driving) the fan section of a turbofan engine to produce thrust.  The greenies love the idea because it sounds so green, which is why NASA is spending money on the paper studies.  I wouldn't care to ride on one. 
   The artist's conception sketches show a fairly ordinary looking airliner with two big jet engines slung under the wings. 
    The article does admit that the idea doesn't really work until the batteries get about five times better than they are today.  Current lithium batteries store 150-200 watt hours per kilogram.  Everyone admits that the idea needs  batteries that can do 1000 watt hours per kilogram, five times better than today.  That is gonna take a while. It took 50 years to go from NiCad batteries to lithium for a maybe three times improvement.  At that rate of  progress it will take another fifty years to get to 1000 watt hours per Kg.
  Same issue of Aviation Week carries an article explaining that the International Civil Aviation Organization banning the shipment of lithium batteries on passenger airliners because of the fire hazard. 
   Your tax money at work.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Paul of Dune by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson

This turned up in hardback, good dust cover, in a second hand shop for a couple of bucks, so I bought it.  And read it.  It is 15th sequel to Frank Herbert's fantastically good 1965 novel Dune.  The sequels have been lesser works, pot boilers some would call them.  This one is no exception.  All though 512 pages long, it isn't really a novel in my view.  It's a bunch of  events, each event having little to tie it to it's sisters.  The book does have a protagonist, or perhaps better explained as a view point character, namely Paul Atriedes (Muad'Dib).  But Paul never does much, he is present in most of the events, but as a passive observer.  Even in the final event, an attempt on his life,  Paul does not even sentence the assassin to death.  This is a far cry from Dune, where Paul escapes Harkonnen assassins, rallies the Fremen. overthrows the Galactic Emperor, and slays a couple of enemies hand to hand in formal duels with knives. 
   In a real novel, the protagonist is faced with some kind of challenge.  He will make several attempts to overcome his challenge, in the last attempt, the climax of the novel, the protagonist will do or die, either triumph over his challenge or die from it.  That doesn't happen here.  There is no challenge to Paul Muad'Dib, he encounters a flock of bitter enemies, but nothing especial, nothing worthy of the attention of the new Galactic Emperor. 
   In short, after slogging thru 512 pages, bupkis. 

The Future of Computing

Title of cover story in the Economist.  They are quoting some Silicon Valley pundits on the end of Moore's Law.  Gordon Moore, one of the founders of Intel, stated that the number of transistors in integrated circuits doubled every year, later revisions said every 2 years.  The observation was based on steady improvements in silicon lithography, which yielded smaller transistors, and hence more salable chips per silicon wafer.  Back when I started in the business, chips were made with 100 micron design rules.  Now we are down to 19 microns.  Sooner or later we will get to a size that cannot be shrunk anymore.  Silicon Valley pundits have been talking about this for twenty years that I can remember, and probably longer.
  The Economist been listening to the doomsayers, and ran a cover story and a special technology section worrying about the end of Moore's law.  They make it sound like computers will stop getting smarter. 
  Not to worry, the microprocessors are plenty smart enough, and if one chip won't do the job, buy five or ten of 'em, they only cost $10 or so, and get on with it. 
   The real effect of the end of Moore's law is that chips will stop getting cheaper every year.  Back when, Analog Devices introduced their nice new ADSP2181 chip.  The first year, they lost money on every chip they sold.  But after the first die shrink reduced the size of the part, and hence it's cost, it became profitable, and after three or four more die shrinks it became really cheap and profitable. 
   And since chips or now so cheap, I think the world will keep on rotating if they stop getting even cheaper. 

Friday, March 11, 2016

Trump comes out against H1B visas

First good idea I have heard out of The Donald.  H1B visa's are a deal where companies find skilled high tech workers overseas and sponsor them for temporary (a couple of years) entry to the US on the condition that they remain employed.  Should there be a falling out between the H1B employee and his employer, employee must find a new sponsor ASAP lest he get deported. 
   Companies like this, 'cause overseas employees will work cheaper than native Americans.  Take an engineer from say India.  A salary that an American engineer would find insulting, looks like more money than he has ever seen in his life. 
  And after a few years we tell this guy his H1B has expired and he needs to return home.
  This seems kinda dumb, and hard on the employee.  I knew a bunch of these guys over the years working in high tech.  Most of 'em are well educated, smart, hard working, decent people who would make excellent US citizens.  And, we need more young smart hardworking people (makers) to keep the US economy running, and produce the stuff that  50% of the population (the takers) is drawing thru our generous welfare programs. 
   We ought to run immigration to build the US with good decent citizens.  Every year we ought to have one big entrance exam.  We admit the best people to the country and tell the others to re apply next year.  Best people are the engineers, the scientists, the doctors, the young, the married, the educated and the intelligent.  Admit the best and offer them permanent citizenship. 

Thursday, March 10, 2016

British Industry is against Brexit.

According to Aviation Week, British aerospace and defense companies  are speaking out against Brexit.  Airbus, airlines RyanAir and Easy Jet, and the company operating Heathrow airport  have all decried Brexit.  A report compiled by accountants KPMG suggested that three quarters of British aerospace and defense companies would vote to remain in the EU.
  Too bad companies don't get to vote.
  Good to hear that a few Brits have their heads screwed on nose to the front.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Open and Closed Primaries

States like NH hold open primaries, anyone can vote in either party's primary.  Other states like Massachusetts hold closed primaries, you have to be a registered party member to vote in the party primary. 
   Arguments for closed primaries are thus.  An American political party is more than just a bunch of voters.  The party stands for things and politicians who campaign under the party banner are expected to support their party on all levels.  Elected politicians are expected to vote the way the party leadership calls for, even if they themselves are against the party position.  In which case, it makes sense for the selection of nominees be limited to party members, in order to insure that the nominee thinks the way the party rank and file do.  Allowing independents and opposition party people to vote in party primaries dilutes the party members vote and allows the election of wishywashy or even hostile thinking nominees.
   The strongest argument for open primaries occurs in one party states.  In a solid red or solid blue state, winning the primary is equivalent to winning the general election.  In solid blue Massachusetts, winning the democratic primary means you will take office a few months later.  So members of the opposition party cry out for votes in the only election that really matters, the dominant party primary. 

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Newsie's day dream, a "brokered convention"

The TV newsies keep talking about one.  They would just die to cover a "brokered convention".   The good old fashioned smoke filled room where party bosses cut a deal to select the nominee.  Dream on newsies. 
   In real life, the voters expect the party nominee to be chosen in primary elections.  If this doesn't happen, the voters will think something illegal, or immoral, or merely fattening, has happened behind closed doors.  They will refuse to support for any nominee selected by anything except a majority of the primary elections.   If necessary they will vote for a third party candidate who has some legitimacy.  Which will hand the general election to Hilliary. 
   Does the establishment or the voters understand this?   Given the horrible state of American schools, they may not. 

Saturday, March 5, 2016

NH legislature off on wild goose chases

Let's see.  First we have the commuter rail project.  Costs $300 million to set up, plus $12 million a year running costs,  Only serves Nashua.  They want all the taxpayers in NH to pay for it.  Nice work if you can get it Nashua.
   Then somebody wanted to pass a new state law on indecent exposure.  We have been doing just fine with existing law going back to the colonial period.  Why do w need to change anything.  Far as I am concerned, if guys or girls want to walk around stark naked, fine by me.  I will enjoy the view.  I don't see any need for a law. 
   Then someone else wanted to pass a new law about bestiality.  I know the Old Testament is again it, but I hadn't heard of any cases in NH in the last fifty years.  Again, we have law on the books, going back to colonial times, that has been perfectly adequate.  
   Why is our gallant legislature wasting time with this sort of stuff?

Friday, March 4, 2016

Kelley Ayotte event in northern NH

Kelly Ayotte is our incumbent US Senator, running for re-election. She traveled up to northern NH to give a town hall event today.  It was held in the classic NH location, a VFW hall, this one in Haverill.  Turnout was good, parking lot was full, so was the VFW hall.  It was a close knit affair, Kelly knew half the people present and greeted them all. 

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Learning to trash The Donald

Just watched Mitt Romney laying into The Donald on TV.  Wow. Zap.  Mitt came on just as strong as Marco Rubio, maybe stronger. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Learning to love The Donald

The Donald is gonna win the Republican nomination, unless something really weird happens, like an assassination, or all the other Republicans consolidate behind either Cruz or Rubio.  Or  lightening strikes the convention.  Not likely. 
   I have some problems with The Donald as president, but I have more problems with Hilliary.  So I'll vote for The Donald, and work to get him elected.  I sincerely hope that The Donald can beat Hilliary in November, but I have my doubts.  Hilliary's negatives are very high, but The Donald's are higher. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Everyone whines about the US deficit

But nobody running for president talks about how to reduce it.  It's very simple, Uncle spends more than he takes in with taxes.  So Uncle borrows whatever to make up the difference.  So far, Uncle has borrowed a total of one year's output of the entire US GNP, call it $17 trillion. 
  The only way to reduce the deficit is to hike taxes (highly unpopular with everyone) or cut spending (highly unpopular with those on the federal teat).  Nobody wants to talk about either alternative except The Bern, who wants some good old fashioned soak-the-rich taxes.  Trouble with soak-the-rich taxes, is we will all be rich in a few years from inflation.  So soak-the-rich today means soak everybody tomorrow.
   Since the people on the federal teat are less than everybody, it's more politically possible to cut spending than to hike taxes.  Although it still ain't easy.
   If we are gonna cut spending, it makes sense to start with the biggest money suckers, namely Medicare, Social Security, and perhaps Medicaid.  The US spends 19% of GNP on health care, twice as much as any other country in the world.  Some investigation ought to reveal how decent first world countries like Canada, Britain, France, Germany and a bunch of others get by spending half what we do.  Naturally the doctors, the drug companies, the insurance companies, and the hospitals will scream bloody murder when Uncle does a little cost cutting, but let 'em.  They don't have that many votes. 
   Social Security (the third rail of American politics, touch it and die) is harder.  Cutting retiree's social security benefits would create a nationwide firestorm against those stupid enough to try it.  But Social Security pays out a lot in "Survivors Benefits" and "Disability Benefits" which could be tightened up somewhat.  Even a small cut in a big program would save serious money.
  And nobody running for president is talking about any of this.  Wimps. 

We got so much crude oil they are stashing it in railcars

US oil production is up, sales are down and the oil is piling up every where.  The surplus is so bad that owners are renting empty rail tank cars to just hold the stuff until prices rise or customers come forward.  That's a long way from "peak oil".  The Wall St Journal says US oil inventories have not been this high since the 1930's.