Friday, August 18, 2017

Is the F35 any good?

It's been in development, sucking down money, for 20 years, and it's just now coming into squadron service.   It lost five out of five mock engagements with an F16 last year.  The cost per aircraft is outta sight,  maybe $80-90 million.   It won't turn very hard, g-limited to like 6 G.  Plenty of jet fighters going back 50-60 years can pull 8 G, no sweat. 
   They sent a demo model to the Paris air show where it  pulled enough fancy low altitude maneuvers to  catch some attention.  
  Aviation Week ran a three page piece where two experienced individuals debated the merits of the aircraft.  Pierre Sprey, experienced aircraft designer, panned the F35.  Retired Marine Corps colonel David Berke likes the F35.  Both men agreed that the demo sent to the Paris air show had been stripped way down to lighten it and improve it's maneuverability.  Neither man offered any numbers to support his position.  Numbers like range, speed, payload, maneuverability, rate of climb, maxt takeoff weight,  landing speed.  Nothing solid or hard, just unsupported "I like it"  or "I don't like it" 
   Colonel Berke said nice things about the F-35's  blended display system, claimed that it gave the pilot more intelligence to make better decisions.   Back in the day, all the pilot cared about was range and bearing to target.  Radar can do this.  Ground radar and the radar intercept officers give target location to the pilot over voice radio.  When the fighter closes to like 100 miles, his on  board radar will see the target.   They have spent a lot of time and money "blending" the radar, the IR, the ground datalink, and other stuff onto a single big cockpit display all at the same time.  They claim this is cooler than just showing the radar on the main cockpit display.  Maybe, but radar is the sensor that does the heavy lifting, might as well concentrate upon the radar, that's where the targets are. 

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Would you buy a used airliner from this man?

Air Force One, a specially modified Boeing 747 has been flying for 25 years now.   Getting on in years, but still young compared to the B-52's and the KC 135's which are still flying after 50 years.  The Air Force budgeted nearly $4 billion dollars to buy two new replacements.   That's $2 billion per airplane.  Boeing's catalog price for a brand new 747 is $387 million.   President Trump did some jaw boning on the president of Boeing and came away with a small (nit noi) cost reduction. 
    And now we have a new deal.  The Air Force will buy a couple of brand new 747's that were built for a Russian airline Transaero, now bankrupt.  The check bounced, and two nice new 747's have been sitting on a back lot  in Victor California.   The Air Force has refused to say just how much it is paying for them.  Let's hope it is no more than list price new, $387 million each.   
   Now comes the expensive part,  jazzing up the planes with super fancy interiors, nice paint, and radio and comm gear  that lets the president talk to every part of the military, internet, TV, and probably alien deductors.  Plus anti missile warning systems, flare dispensers and laser jammers, plus God knows what other cost enhancers.
   All this work is scheduled to last until 2024.  That's seven highly profitable years for some contractor.    Can you spell gold plated?

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Paying the bills

I do this once a month.   First I sort the month long pile of envelopes into two piles,  real bills that I gotta pay, and begs, dear party member please send money letters.  At this point the pile of begs is always taller than the pile of bills.
   This month was a triumph for the window envelope bills.  The idea behind the window envelope, which gives you 8 different ways to insert the check and the payment stub, only one of which results in the Post Office actually delivering your payment.  The other idea is that the company can change their billing address without reprinting a whole bunch of envelopes with the old billing address printed on them.  This month my phone company joined my TV cable provider and my electric company in changing their company name (Fairpoint Communications got bought up) in changing their company name as billing address.   Lotta churn for just one year.
    The new idea in begging this year is the survey.  Big fat envelope with a survey form inviting you to express your opinions and enclose a check.   I don't  bother with them. 
    And the bill people are trying to get everyone to pay by web.  They no longer print "Make checks payable to" on the bill stubs.  I don't trust the web enough to want to put my money on it, or over it.  I like checks that I hand sign. 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Civil War Memorials, Confederate version

The US civil war was the most terrible war the country ever fought.   The Civil War killed more Americans than all the other wars in our history, all put together.   I am a New England Yankee, and  every village and town up here has a Civil War memorial.   Even though it has been 150 years since Appomattox,  the pain is still remembered.  Naturally New England war memorials bestow honor upon Union men. 
    I don't seen any reason why Southern towns should not bestow  honor upon the Confederate men.  One of the amazing things about the US Civil War is how well we were able to re unite the country after the terrible bloodletting was over.   Surely allowing  Southern villages and towns to put up memorials to Confederates was part of that.   And, all Americans growing up need to know the history of the Civil War.  It was fought to preserve the Union and to free the black slaves, and it succeeded in these aims.  The Confederates fought to repel Yankee invasions of their territory and to allow them to run their own affairs to suit themselves.   They lost, but they fought hard for four years, and compared to later wars, they fought cleanly.
   I can understand that our black citizens are less than enthusiastic about Confederate leaders.   But they need to know about them, and about the Civil War.  If the South had been a little luckier, they might have won.   As it was, Union war weariness by 1864 was strong, almost strong enough to defeat Lincoln's re-election, and just pull the Union Army back and let the South go.  If that had happened, blacks would still be slaves in the victorious Confederacy.
   In the interests of preserving a heroic history for future generations, and keeping the United States united,  I think we ought to keep all the Civil War memorials and statues, Union and Confederate.   I think our black citizens are just going to have to put up with the Confederate ones.  These men have been dead for better than 100 years, let's leave them and their memories in peace.
  

Monday, August 14, 2017

High Tech didn't used to be so political

I worked in high tech for 40 years.  We never got into politics, political correctness, diversity or that sort of stuff when chatting in the shop or at lunch.  At work we gossiped about  co -workers and we talked about the product.  We were always real manufacturers, who made stuff, packed it in cartons, shipped it off our loading dock.  Topics such as how to make the product better, more saleable, more reliable,  faster, lower cost were popular.  And Pine Wood Derby when the local Boy Scouts were running it.    And cars, sports, boating, skiing.   Don't remember much political talk, even in presidential years.  
   Judging from the Google brew-ha-ha that's all changed.   To have a software guy write a readable memo is all new, all the software guys I remember were functional illiterates in English.  They might write a mean stick in Fortran or C but forget it when it came to writing the instruction manual.  
   Had I been running Google, my first thought would have been, "Lo, a software guy that can write, lets get him write stuff explaining how our product works for our customers."  Let me talk him into retracting/modifying/explaining anything truly beyond the pale in his thinking, and  getting him writing stuff that brings in customers. 

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Correlation of Forces, North vs South Korea

In a nutshell, the Norks have twice the force of the south.  Saturday's Wall St Journal gives a breakdown, based upon a South Korean Defense White Paper of 2016.  The South has 655,000 regular troops (including a mere 20,000 American troops) against the North's 1.28 million troops.  As backup, the South has 3.1 million reserve troops but the North has 7.62 million.   Which gives the NORKs twice the number of soldiers as the South.  And, these force levels are enormous.  Consider that Hitler only had 2.5 million soldiers in the army that he sent to attack the Soviet Union in 1941.   And Nazi Germany was a much bigger country, fully mobilized for war, supported by a population about three times the size of North Korea.   In short, both Korea's have really really big armies, and a war between them would be bad.   Notice also that our troops in Korea are dwarfed by the South Korean forces.   Note that our 20,000 troops is twenty times the size of the force we moved into the Baltic states a few months ago  amid much fanfare in the MSM. 
    The article goes on to give numbers of warplanes, helicopters, tanks, armored personnel carriers, conventional artillery, rocket artillery, missiles, warships, and submarines.  All the quantities are impressive.  For instance the North is credited with 4300 tanks.   Rommel at his best never had more than 400 tanks.   The North is believed to have 70 submarines,  which is twice what  Admiral Donitz  had in 1940.  Granted these are diesel electric subs which lack the speed and range of nuclear subs, but are every bit as deadly when they get within torpedo range.  
   Another interesting but scary fact.  The North has 5500 rocket artillery pieces against a mere 240 in the South.  These weapons are descendants of the old Soviet Katyusha rockets of WWII.  They fufill the same role as conventional artillery.   The rocket launchers are cheaper and lighter, and have somewhat better range, and throw heavier projectiles than conventional artillery, at a sacrifice of accuracy.  If you are bombarding Seoul  rocket artillery is plenty accurate enough.   Presumably a lot of those 5500 pieces are dug in around Seoul, waiting for the word to open fire.   Cleaning them out with counter battery fire and air strikes will take forever.   Especially as the fire finder radars only work on unpowered artillery and mortar shells.  Rockets keep accelerating, the radar has no idea how long they have been under acceleration when they first detect them and they cannot compute the launch site for attention by our own artillery.
  In short, both sides have very large forces,  forces the size of WWII forces, ready for combat.  Starting up the Korean war again promises to be really bloody.  The Journal's commentary explains that the South Koreans are expected to win thru better training, better equipment and high morale, even when outnumbered 2:1.    But it won't be easy.
  

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Henry Kissinger on the NORKs

Op Ed in today's Wall St Journal.  Kissinger has been around a long long time and is a pretty savvy guy.   The shrewdest thing he wrote was this:
"But American diplomacy will, in the end, be judged by the outcome, not the process."    Which means just bringing the NORKs to a conference table doesn't count.  We need a plan that the Chinese, the South Koreans and the Japanese will go along with.    We have had plenty of conferences with the NORKs over the last 30 years.  Each time the NORKs signed a communique, and then proceeded to violate it.   
   Kissinger says the key player is China.  We need a deal that the Chinese are OK with, and will support.   Just what this might be is unclear.  The Chinese like the NORKs the way they are.  They form a buffer between the Americans and the pushy South Koreans.   They have a way of getting the Americans all wrapped around the axle without  getting them mad at China. 
   Kissinger goes on to say that leaving the NORKs with nukes will cause Japan, South Korea, and Viet Nam to go nuclear themselves.   Talk about  instability.   This threat might make the Chinese more interested in settling the NORK nuke matter.   
 

Friday, August 11, 2017

What to say to Kim Jung Un

We gotta remember that Kim isn't very bright, isn't very brave, and isn't very well informed.  I don't think he has ever visited the US.   Does he even speak or read English?   His ideas of what we might do are formed from the Communist propaganda he must have been raised on, and eight years of Obama's opaque weasel words and red lines. 
   It's right and proper for Trump to tell him "You nuke anyone and we will nuke you down to bedrock,"  Kim may not have understood this before Trump said it.  Even if Kim didn't catch on this time, I bet  there are some people in the regime that did. 
   It will make them cautious.   That is a good thing.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

If someone knocked on my bedroom door at 5 AM

I'd shoot.  I keep a .45 in my bedside table.  Anyone inside my house without my permission at 5 AM is a bad guy.   This happened to Paul Manaport yesterday.  The FBI raided his house in DC "before dawn" according to accounts.  Presumable they defeated his door locks and entered his house.  That's breaking  and entering in my book, and I'd shoot right thru the bedroom door.   Unless their body armor is good enough to stop .45, they are dead. 

The two party system needs some carrots and sticks

The two party system is an improvement over the multi party system.  For any political issue there are always 6 or 7 different policies to deal with it.  If you have 6 or 7 different parties, Murphy's Law guarantees that each party will take a different policy, none of them will have enough votes to push their policy thru, and so nothing gets done.   For historical examples, look at Britain and France during the 19th century.  Britain was steady two party.  France was lots and lots of parties, every party for itself.
    In two party system  the party leadership decide which of the 6 or 7 options to take (or invents yet another one more palatable to the party members) and when the vote comes, the entire party puts all it's votes on one option and it will pass.   Things happen.   Progress occurs. 
   To make this work, the party leadership needs to get all the party members on board.  Good policies help, good leadership speeches help, but when push comes to shove, the party leadership needs to be able to say," Vote with the party and these good things will come to you.  Buck us and these bad things will happen to you." 
    Used to be, Congressional leadership could offer (or deny) desirable committee assignments, and juicy pork for your district.  And money and presidential support in your next campaign.  Or money and presidential support to your primary opponent. 
   Now, not so much.  I forget the details, but the good government types have taken away the leadership's absolute control of committee assignments.  The Republicans outlawed "earmarks" special bills giving money to special causes.   Nobody is sure that they even want Donald Trump's support in their 2018 campaign.   And so,  poor old McConnell tried hard but he couldn't get all the RINO's and rightwing screwballs on board for repeal and replace.   Perhaps he could have made it with a few more carrots and sticks in his hand to bring members into line. 
   Next time the good government types are out there pushing some reform that weakens the leadership's incentives, maybe we ought to vote 'em down. 

We must be doing something right No. 7

Forbes just did a ranking of all 50 states for taxes.  Worst was New York at around 12%.  Far far better is good old New Hampshire at Number 7 with an 8% tax rate.  We are the best in New England by a lot. Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Maine are all far worse. 
    If we could just pass right to work up here we could even attract some industry, like that Toyota plant that is out looking for a location. 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Opioid Crisis Part II

They had a big meeting about it at Trump's place in NJ.  Lotta talk.  Promises to crack down with law enforcement.  Pleas for more money for treatment and drug rehab. 
   No mention of reforming doctors' prescription policies.  Right now we lack any kinda guideline on what medical conditions justify the use of opoids, how much to prescribe, how to prevent doctor shopping.  A lot of patients actually are suffering from various  mental conditions, often depression.  They find that a good solid hit of opioids makes them feel better.  So they search out a pain pill mill and get a prescription for opioids.  And some time or other they find that street heroin works as well and costs less.    I think we need to tighten up on opioid prescriptions.
   Clamp down on doctors.   Doctors hate this. 

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Dealing with the NORKS

It is easier to deal with them BEFORE they get nuclear tipped missiles with the range to strike Japan, South Korea, and America.  Doing regime change on a nuclear armed regime can be very dangerous. 
   And the NORKs are really close to having such missiles.  I don't think they have them today, but it looks like they will have them in a year or two. 

Monday, August 7, 2017

The Wind and the Lion 1975

An oldie but a goodie.  I  popped my video tape into my yard sale VCR and played it last night.  It's still a good flick.  Sean Connery is The Rasuli, "last of the Barbary pirates".  Candice Bergen is Eden Pedicaris, American widow with two young children living in Morocco in 1904.  The movie opens with The Rasuli's horseman galloping along a North Africa beach, gorgeous color, very scenic shots.  He is out to create an international incident to support his cause by kidnapping Candice Bergen and her children.  She is having afternoon tea, in a the formal garden of a plush house in Morocco with a very proper English gentleman.   Very civilized scene.  He is wearing a white suit with tie.  Suit matches his white hair.  They are discussing  the proper wine to drink at this time of day.   Quick change of pace, The Rasuli, followed by a dozen horsemen come crashing thru the garden hedge and start laying about with swords.  Our proper English gentleman turns out to be practical as well as proper.  He produces a large revolver from his shoulder holster and starts blowing Arabs off their horses.  He does pretty well until he runs out of ammunition and is slain.  
    There is a lot of riding and fighting and scenery for the rest of the movie.  Lot's of priceless dialog between Sean Connery and Candice Bergen.   Candice gives as good as she gets.   Where Sean Connery is waxing poetic with quotations from the Koran, Candice Bergen tops each one with a Yankee saying such as "A stitch in time saves nine".
   We get to see the Theodore Roosevelt administration reacting to this outrage.  You get the impression that Teddy has as much pirate blood in his veins as The Rasuli.  Plenty of people have criticized this movie for modifying actual history, but heh, it's movie, not a history lesson.   Shakespeare did the same thing with English history and we like it.  The plot sticks together and makes sense.  The portrait of Teddy Roosevelt is vivid and in accordance with what I know of the period. 
   A fun watch. If you haven't seen it, try it, you'll like it. 

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Since the Republicans lack the stones to repeal Obamacare...

Maybe they could take some of the heat off by passing a few less controversial  measures to reduce the cost of healthcare.  Remember the United States spends TWICE as much money on healthcare as any other country in the world.  Perhaps bringing the costs down out of the stratosphere will ease things a bit.  As it is,  the Republican failure to deal with Obamacare will  probably cost them control of Congress in 2018.  Both houses. 
   They could try any or all of the following:
1.  Allow interstate sale of health insurance.  Any health insurance company can sell policies in all 50 states, no state paperwork required.  Insurance companies hate this, but they don't vote.
2.  Allow duty free import of drugs from any reasonable first world country, Canada, Britain, Germany, Japan, and the like.  Any medicine legal for sale in the source country can be imported and sold in the United States.   Drug companies hate this but they don't vote.  The FDA hates this but they don't vote.
3.  Clamp down on medical malpractice suits.  They just enrich lawyers and make health care more expensive for real people.  Lawyers  (congresscritters are mostly lawyers) hate this.  Unfortunately congresscritters do vote.
4.   Ease the airconditioning requirements down from the current plus or minus 2 degrees F to a more reasonable plue or minus 4 degrees F.  This will cut costs on new construction. 
5.   Tighten regulations on opioid prescriptions.  Drug companies and pill mills hate this but they don't vote.

Granted, none of these measures will do any thing to prevent  a bailout of insurance companies (stabilize is the new word for bailout), but  at least the Republicans could say they did something about Obamacare. 


Saturday, August 5, 2017

Is the Wall St Journal going greenie on us??

Yesterday's Journal published six letters to the editor under the headline "Unchecked Climate Change Will Lead to War".  Of the six letter writers, none discussed the science of global warming, things like is it happening, how fast is it happening,  what causes it.  One asserted that CO2 is poisonous, it isn't.  One talked about examining data over the past 21 centuries.  The thermometer wasn't invented until just 4 centuries back.  Lacking thermometers, ancient writer's ideas of hot and cold are pretty subjective.  Tree ring width indicates amount of rainfall, not temperature.  We have a few records of time of planting and harvest but that's about it.  That ain't 21 centuries of data in my book.  One writer thinks Zika, malaria, and dengue are caused by climate change.   That's false. Diseases are caused by germs or viruses (virii?).  One writer is an anti-fracker, and blames global warming and a whole bunch of stuff on fracking. 
    Dunno about that Journal.  They used to be better than this. 

I got spammed.

Some body found my blog and spammed a lot of my recent postings.  First time for that.   So I zapped all the ones I found.  If this keeps up I will have to tighten up on comments.  Right now it's open to everyone.  Spamming should be made a felony, subject to the death penalty.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Gotta stop the leaks

We cannot have the Washington Post printing Trump's phone calls with foreign leaders.  If privacy cannot be assured, and it can't now,  nobody is going to talk to the US president on the phone.  We need to find the leakers and subject them to a bit of cruel and unusual punishment.  Boiling in oil would be good.  Now would be the right time. 

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Firing Special Prosecuters (Mueller) is a bad idea

Nixon fired the special prosecutor who was investigating Water gate.  Can't remember the guy's name now.  Watergate was a long time ago.  Firing caused a nationwide furor and resulted in Nixon resigning the presidency before they got around to impeaching him.   I think for Trump to fire Mueller would work out about the same way.  I hope Trump understands this. 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Opioid Crisis?

How much do places like this contribute to the opioid crisis?  They are spreading.  This one is in Littleton NH, which is about as rural as you can get.  Sources at the Littleton hospital tell me that these guys tried to get office space in the hospital.  The accreditation committee looked at the doctor associated with the operation and said "This guy has red flags sticking out all over him".   So they are in a store front on Meadow St.  All they do is write prescriptions for opioids.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Deported 20 times??

TV news is pushing a terrible story of a lowlife that was deported twenty times and now has murdered someone. This should never have happened.  After deporting a guy a couple of times, we know that deportation doesn't teach him anything.  Should have given him five years in jail back about deportation #3 or #4.   Do we just deport them time and again because it's easy to do and fairly low cost compared to a US jail?   Not good.  After a reasonable number of deportations we know this guy is trouble, letting him loose on the other side of the border is not right.   A good solid stretch in jail might get the message across, and at least will keep him off the streets.   

Monday, July 31, 2017

What are all those US diplomats doing in Russia??

We seem to have 1200 "diplomats" inside Russia when the Russians only have 455 "diplomats" inside the US.  More confusing, the State Department is claiming that many of the US diplomats are actually local hires.  How does that work really?  Do local hires get diplomatic immunity?  US diplomatic passports?  And how do we do background checks on Russian nationals in Russia? 
   Leaving that aside,  what are 1200 diplomats doing inside Russia?  Other than drawing their pay that is.  All I can think of is intelligence gathering, which surely the Russians call espionage.   I am surprised that the Russians let the 455 to 1200 diplomat count in our favor last as long as they did.   Maybe CIA will finally stop covering their agents as diplomats,  which has got to be ineffective.  Surely the Russians surveil and target anyone associated with the US embassy.  The CIA would do better and gather more real intel with agents covered as businessmen, reporters, writers, students,  anything other than US diplomats.  And it will make CIA duty a little more sporting (dangerous) for agents lacking diplomatic immunity. 
    Anyhow Putin has given us until September to cut our diplomat count down to parity, 455, which means expelling 750 of them.  That's a lot.

Lots of luck General Kelly, you are gonna need it.

General Kelly, yanked away from being secretary of Homeland Security, where he was doing good, is now White House chief of staff.  The job description is to run the White House staff,  decide who gets in to see the president (there are not enough hours in the day for the president to see every one who wants to see him) and make sure every one on the staff knows what the party line is, and when featured on the TV news, to support said party line.  And suppress leaks.   You do that by firing leakers when you catch 'em.
   Trump makes this difficult, he tweets messages that no one in the White House knew were coming, he trashes people who are best left alone, like Jeff Sessions, and he changes his mind from day to day.  At Trump's age, he isn't gonna change much, if at all.   It will take all the cooperation that Trump can manage AND solid support for any personnel actions Kelly might want to take, to give Kelly a chance at straightening things out.   Personnel actions is management speak for hiring and firing.
   Kelly is doubtless pretty good at talking people into doing it his way, and is loyal to the President.  I hope the president will show loyalty to Kelly.  With Trump, you never know. 

Stabilize what we have

So saith Maggie the Hassan, NH junior senator, about Obamacare.  Is this fancy language that means give insurance companies more taxpayer money?  

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Why the New Yorker??

Scaramouchi called someone on the New Yorker to unload on everyone in the White House.  What was he thinking?  The New Yorker is in the tank for the Democrats, and will use what ever Scaramouchi said to trash the Trump administration.   And he must has known this.   Any Republican with with two brain cells firing isn't gonna talk to the New Yorker.  Talk to one of the few remaining Republican papers, like the Washington Examiner instead.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

So what was in that "skinny" Obamacare bill?

What ever it was, it got all but three Republican senators to vote for it.  Best vote yet, a couple of previous bills lost by more.   One of 'em, Susan Collins of Maine is a long time  RINO flake,  Another, Murkowski from Alaska I don't know much about, but the third, and decisive vote that killed it, came from John McCain.  Surprise to me.  I never did hear just what McCain disliked about the bill, but I have a lot of respect for McCain built up over many years.  If he objected to the bill,  there might have been something wrong with it.   I wonder what it was.
   Another odd thing.  Someone put out the word that it was OK to vote the skinny bill thru because the House promised to kill it later.  What was that about?  
   As it is now, we voters are highly disappointed that despite a Republican House, Senate, and presidency we are still stuck with economy killing Obamacare.   We need to do something about that in 2018.  Maybe we can primary some RINO's.  I fear that a lot of unhappy Trump voters will vote for Democrats for Congress.   Republicans may well loose one or both houses of Congress.  The Stupid Party rides again. 

Friday, July 28, 2017

Net Neutrality What is it really?

And who is it aimed at?   Obama's FCC  issued some directive about it a year ago or so.   Never bothered to read it, but web surfing claims that Obama prohibited blocking of websites, and required all packets to be treated the same. especially in regard to delivery speed.   
   Some big companies have complained  Obama's policy prevents them from offering higher speed premium cost services.   Does any one care about that? I can already stream movies in real time, no stuttering, halting, good 30 frame per second video on a backwoods broadband cable service.  That's fast enough for most legal civilian uses. 
   As far as blocking websites, I thing we ought to block Islamic terrorist websites any time we find them.  They get people killed. 
   The new Republican chairman of the FCC is talking about repealing the Obama policy.  Some time, may, if he has the votes and the stones.   Do I care?  I have not heard protests from any just plain internet users like me.  Are there any out there?
    Anyone know anything more? 

Thursday, July 27, 2017









Youngest son has a brand-new, bright red, Dodge Challenger, 5.7 liter Hemi, 400 hp. Wednesday night we (me, my brother, and Jon) went to the NE Drag Way in Epping to see how fast the Dodge really is. It was Wednesday night, so the crowd was pretty thin, but it was warm, Jon got in 25 runs, best time of 14.5 seconds, better than the 14.9 he turned last time. Cars were various, from 60's classics, thru some riceburners, crew cab pickup trucks, 'Vettes, 'Stangs, and Dodge Challengers. Couple of 60's Olds sedans. And a snow machine that turned 11 seconds. No all out dragsters, Chargers, or funny cars. Looked like locals, mostly amateurs, out to practice and exercise their cars. Most cars drove to the meet, not many trailered in. Fun evening.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

What are they voting about for Healthcare?

If they do nothing, never come up with the votes to pass anything, and things are looking that way, then we are stuck with Obamacare.  Which has doubled and tripled everyone's premiums, jacked up deductibles to $6000 which makes the insurance pretty much useless, and driven insurance companies out of the Obamacare market due to horrendous losses.   If Obamacare offers subsidies to anyone I never saw an explanation of how much, and who was eligible.  There is probably some handouts to insurance companies but I don't know anything about that.
   They ought to pass a simple one page bill that repeals every single jot and tittle of Obamacare.  Then pass separate bills to re instate  any features of Obamacare that voters like, if there are any.
   They are talking about an insurance company bailout bill.  Pay the insurance companies more money if they keep writing Obamacare policies.  I don't like that.  If we are going to give my tax money away, it ought to go to individuals, not companies. 
   They are talking about  funding a gravy train to the states.  Give the states a big check (block grant is the DC jargon) and let the states do what ever they like with it.  I don't like that much either.  Give a state a handout, and they will spend all of it every time.  If the state has to raise the money thru taxation, they will be more frugal.  
    They are talking about $40 billion to fight opioid abuse.  Is this really health care, or is it law enforcement?  Surely having the cops out catching drug dealers is a serious part of anything  about opioids?   Is drug rehab medical treatment or an alternative to jail?  Does drug rehab even work?  I heard NPR saying that it doesn't.   Good old lefty NPR is usually in favor of things like drug rehab. So if even they say it doesn't work, I can believe them.  
    And the Republicans need to know that if they cannot get their act together and pass something, they are toast in 2018.  We have about 10 RINO senators that ought to be replaced. 

Tort lawsuits down substantially in ten years

Piece in the Wall St Journal yesterday.  They show some graphs with the number of tort lawsuits down by nearly half.  This is good news.   The Journal says state laws have been tightened up, and caps on tort recovery, even $250,000 caps,  have discouraged contingency fee lawyers,  $250,000 isn't enough to pay court costs and leave enough money for the lawyers, and the plaintiff gets peanuts.    All this sounds good, and we need more of it.  Doctors still have to buy malpractice insurance for $100,000 a year to protect themselves from lawyers.  That $100,000 per doctor comes out of our medical bills and health insurance premiums.
   Interesting tort case discussed.  A little girl at a WMCA summer camp was badly injured when a storm blew a tree down on her tent.  Parents felt she should have been in a cabin.   Times change, when I went to summer camp all of us campers spent the whole summer sleeping in tents.  

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Prosecuting Hillary is a bad idea

The newsies are talking about Trump wants his AG, Jeff Sessions, to prosecute Hillary over her private email server.   Dunno if this is fake news or not. 
   But prosecuting Hillary is a bad idea.  She lost the presidency, that's enough grief to serve as adequate punishment for anyone.  Enough already.
   Worse, it amounts to criminalizing running for public office.   American law allows indicting of anyone at anytime for any thing.   Glenn Reynolds once said "You can indict a ham sandwich"  Public prosecutors work for the executive.  When the executives pleases they can jump on any one, and charges can always be trumped up.   In Hillary's case, her email server has gotta be in violation of US national security laws.  In a future case, a vindictive winner could invent some charge, and by picking the right judge, make it stick.  Pretty soon running for office, or even just posting to Facebook could become too dangerous for all but the richest individual's to do.
    I think we should just drop the Hillary matter.  Besides, prosecuting her will give her barrels of free media. 

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Dunkirk, the movie, the real thing

I haven't seen the movie yet but it is getting good reviews.  Dunkirk was one of the decisive moments of WWII.  Hitler could have won the war that day.  As it was, Guderian's panzers had broken British resistance and were closing in for the kill until Hitler, fearing that his panzer spearhead was getting too far in front of the bulk of the German army, ordered Guderian to halt for two days.  That gave the British time to retreat to the small fishing port of Dunkirk and get evacuated back to England by the Royal Navy and a fleet of small civilian craft, yachts and fishing boats.  The British Expeditionary Force (BEF)  was 250,000 strong, the flower of the British Army.  Had they been captured by the Germans, it would have been a horrendous blow to British morale, and would have deprived the British of the experienced men needed to train up a new British army. 
   British morale was pretty low in the summer of 1940.  The British establishment, MP's, the press, academia, business, the aristocracy, even some members of the royal family, feared doing the trench warfare of WWI all over again, feared that the Germans were stronger than they were, and were ready to cut a deal with Hitler.  Something like, "We keep our fleet and empire, you keep all of Europe".  Hitler made noises about accepting such a deal that summer. 
   Churchill, newly elected Prime Minister, faced a lot of up hill sledding to convince the British to resist Hitler.  He just barely made it.  Had the men of the BEF been lost in 1940, the resulting downer for England might well have made Churchill's task impossible.  Had Britain signed some sort of pusillanimous deal with Hitler, the United States would stayed out of Europe, and minded its own business.  Pearl Harbor would have set our country on a path to annihilate Japan.  Without a friendly Britain to serve as a base,  it would have been difficult-to-impossible to apply American military force again the Third Reich. 
   So it's good to have a heroic movie about Dunkirk, even though the Wall St Journal criticized it for lacking any shots of Churchill. 

Saturday, July 22, 2017

The City is the Battle Field of the Future

Title of an Op-Ed in Thursday's Wall St Journal.  The author, John Spencer,  an Army infantryman and deputy director of the West Point Modern War Institute, is calling for specialized training in urban warfare, and implies that the month battle for Mosul would have gone better if the troops had been trained in  specially built exercise city where they could practice tossing grenades in windows and shooting their way up stairways.  Mr. Spenser argues much of the world's population lives in big cities so the Army ought to train to fight in big cities.
   I gotta wonder if Mr Spenser has any knowledge of history at all.  Cities have been highly defensible strong points since ancient times.  Although modern cities lack walls (the invention of artillery made city walls obsolete) they still offer zillions of strong and hidden firing positions, stout masonry buildings that can resist all but the heaviest artillery fire, basements and subways and sewers and all kinds of bomb proof underground places, tall building from which to throw Molotov cocktails on enemy tanks, which are confined to city streets, and more. 
   The traditional way to subdue a city is to starve it out.  Surround the place, cut off all food and supplies, water if you can manage it, and wait them out.  Siege it's called.  In ancient times, siege was undependable, the besiegers often ran out of food before the besieged city did.  In modern times, with trucks and rail to bring up besieger's supplies, the siege can last longer than the city's supplies will. 
   The German's tried to take Stalingrad by frontal assault.  They spent six months at it.  A mere 60,000 Russians managed to hold off 250,000 Germans, and their tanks, artillery and aircraft.  The Russians fought house to house, floor to floor with grenades and sub machine guns.  When the Germans seized a building by daylight, the Russians counterattacked at night and took it back.   Paulus, the German commander, should have put his army across the Volga River, surrounded Stalingrad and starved it out.  He didn't, he threw his men into the teeth of Russian defenses and lost.
   No amount of special training in urban warfare is going to change the facts, cities are tough strong points, and assaulting them is very costly, and often fails.  Don't do frontal assault.  Surround the place and starve it out.  
   

Friday, July 21, 2017

John McCain

Back in 2000 John McCain was campaigning for the Republican nomination up here.  It was late winter.  The crowd gathered at the Littleton VFW was wearing parkas and snow boots, looking shaggy and upcountry, and leaving muddy footprints on the floor.  The McCain bus was more or less on time, maybe only ten minutes late.   As Senator McCain entered the room, everyone stood up in his honor. 
   I've seen a fair number of presidential candidates blow thru here, looking for votes.  McCain is the only one of 'em where the voters respected him enough to stand for him. 
   God Speed John McCain.  I wish you the best possible luck in the face of your dreadful diagnosis. 

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Slow News Day. OJ parole hearing all day.

That's all Fix has been showing, the OJ parole hearing, then hours of chit chat about it, replay of OJ's white SUV humming thru LA back in the 1990's.  Me, I don't care, OJ was a news item from the 1990s.  It's now the 2010's, and I just don't care about OJ any more. 

Old Glory still waves

Color photo inside today's Wall St Journal.  Shows a small convoy of US fighting vehicles on the move in northern Syria.  Five MRAPS and Strykers on wheels, and a white pickup truck bringing up the rear.  All six vehicles mount flagstaffs with good sized American flags flying from them.  Clearly the vehicle crews think letting every one know that they are Americans will  assist in a friendly reception by the locals.  If the crews thought the flags would draw fire, they would not fly them. 
   America, and what we stand for, still has friends in Syria. 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Stupid Party commits Hari-kari, in public

We voted for Republicans last year to get rid of Obamacare.  Now, nearly a year later, the Stupid Party has been unable to get its act together and vote for anything.  We are stuck with Obamacare, double and triple premiums, $6000 deductibles, 30 hour work weeks, less that 2% GNP growth.  Guess where your Congressional majorities will go in 2018.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Do Airbus and Boeing have competition in the airliner business?

Wall St Journal thinks so.  They cite China's Comac C919, Canada's Bombardier CS300, and Russia's Irkut MC-21-300, all coming on line shortly.  Very shortly, the Comac C919 and the Irkut
MC-21-300 just made their first flights in May this year.  They both have at least one year, probably more, of flight testing and certification paperwork to do before they can sell them.  Bombardier is farther along, their first flight was back in February of 2015, the flight testing and paperwork is done, and they are delivering them.
   We are talking standard single aisle airliners, seating 160 to 200 passengers, selling for $100 million each, the bread and butter airliner.  The bigger flashier planes  787, A380 and such don't sell nearly as many.
   So what happens?  Right now the Boeing and Airbus planes are a little more fuel efficient, have excellent reputations, and cost a tad more than the new comers.  Reputation counts.  Aeroflot was pleased to announce a few years ago, that all their international flights now used western built aircraft.  They retired most, perhaps all, of their fleet of Russian built Ilyushins, mostly because they scared the passengers.   

Sunday, July 16, 2017

NBC Beat the Press

Except for a 10 minute break to the Senate healthcare bill, Chuck Todd devoted his entire one hour TV show to talking about Russians and Trump.  Not that he presented any new information, he just whined about the whole scene.  In the 10 minutes about the Senate health care bill, all he talked about was its chances of passing, not a word about what is in it.  So much for my weekly peek at the msm, now back to real news on Fox. 

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Christmas in July

Hammacher Schlemmer catalog came in yesterday.  This year they offer artificial Christmas trees, with built in lights.  $379 for a small (4 1/2 foot) and  up to $2000 for a big one.  Merry Christmas.   

A Jaguar SUV??

Jaguar??  SUV's?   The XK120s XK150s and XKEs are rolling over in their graves.  But I saw a TV ad selling a Jaguar SUV.  Who wants a Jaguar SUV?  Should I want an SUV I want a real SUV with a nameplate like GMC, Ford, Chevy, not Jaguar (or Cadillac or Lincoln).  Jaguar means sports cars and luxury hotrod sedans.  I owned a Jaguar 3.2 liter sedan once.  Nice car, black, chrome wire wheels, leather seats, walnut dash, OHV straight 6 with an oil leak that would not quit. 4 speed with overdrive.  Troubles it had, power brake booster quit, a wheel came off, the hood latch failed on the road letting the hood blow clean off, heater and defroster worthless in a Minnesota winter, wire wheels were not strong enough, corner the car hard and you could hear those little ping noises as spokes broke under strain.  
   So Jaguar stands for elegance, sportness, and flakiness.  None of which I want in an SUV.  SUV's want to be rugged and reliable. 
   Good luck Jaguar, or Tata who bought Jaguar off the Brits, selling SUVs under the Jag name. 

Friday, July 14, 2017

A Federal Department of Cyber Security?

Op Ed in Wednesday's Wall Street Journal calls for creation of one.  The writers want to consolidate some 11 existing cyber security agencies into one new cabinet level department.  Like we did creating the Homeland Security Dept some 15 years ago.  Sounds cool. I wonder what such a new bureaucracy would do, other than draw their pay.  The writers by the way, both work for Sullivan and Cromwell, a law firm doing cyber security work.  They probably figure that a big cyber security department could write bigger contracts that 11 smaller ones. 
  There are probably 300 million computers in the country, pretty much all of 'em running Windows, the world's most vulnerable operating system.  Some fraction of these (1/10th? 1/4?, maybe even 1/2?) have critical data, voter registration, credit card data, phone bills, driver registrations, title deeds, stock ownership, bank accounts, and more.  Destruction or even just tampering with any of this stuff would cause all sorts of havoc.  Not to forget national security stuff , codes, ciphers, location and numbers of nuclear weapons, plans for warplanes, operational orders, size and strength of the armed forces, war plans, effectiveness of weapons, and more.   And finally there is control of things like the electric power grid, nuclear power plants, the phone network, the Internet, even city traffic lights.  Putting out the lights, even just fouling up the NYC traffic lights would be very very expensive. 
  Keeping all this stuff secure is low level work, the system administrator of each of how many million computers, has to insist on strong user passwords, disabling passwords of employees leaving the outfit, weekly backup, keeping each machine up-to-date on Microsoft patches, keeping critical machines in locked rooms, insisting on periodic password changes, searching for and eradicating malware, insisting that only one firewall machine be on the public internet all the rest go thru the firewall machine to get to the net.  It's the unsung efforts of a vast number of low level workers that keeps us as secure as we are.  I don't see how a high level  cyber security department would help out here. 
   Users, commercial, military, and state, ought to come together and pressure Microsoft to close the many gaping holes in Windows security.  Microsoft ought to disable autorun (we spread Stuxnet on the Iranians via autorun).  Microsoft ought to remove the Basic language interpreters inside Word, Excel, and probably other stuff.  The Basic capability is never used by real users, and allows damaging malware to be hidden inside harmless looking documents, sent as e-mail attachments to infect victim computers.  And there are dozens of other Windows loopholes that anyone versed in Windows internals can tell you about.  Concerted pressure from all users might shape the Microsofties up.  
   As for the controlling of things, electric power generators, transfomers, trains, rolling mills, air traffic, etc. One simple rule will do a lot of good.  Never pass control or monitoring signals over the public internet or the public telephone network.  Run your own dedicated line, preferable fiber optic, preferably on your own poles.   Make it so hackers would have to climb a pole and tap a line to gain control.  Fiber optic is much harder to tap than traditional copper pairs. 
   We have a huge army of under employed lawyers in this country.  Tell the affected companies that we will sic those lawyers on them should they equipment fail because some hacker gained control over the internet. Keep it off the internet and we will be much safer. 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

$9000 per kid, per year, State Aid to education.

That's what NHPR said this morning.  That's just state aid, the town puts in more.  That's a lot of dough.  Say 20 kids to a classroom.  Call it $180,000 total.  You can hire a decent teacher for $45,000, and buy her/his healthcare for $14,000.   What's the excess $121,000 going for?  Building maintenance?  More non teaching administrators? Pay offs?  
   NHPR did mention that NH spends more on education than most states.  And I have noticed that most towns have really nice, quite new, school buildings.  Far nicer than the tony private prep school I attended. 

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

ObamaCare, RyanCare, McConnellCare

First we have Obamacare, which is the law of the land, and will remain so unless Republicans get their act together.  Obamacare has doubled and tripled people's health insurance premiums, saddled them with $6000 co pays or deductibles,  cut workers hours from 40 down to 30 a week, and determined that small businesses stay small to avoid the killer costs that come when the 50th employee is employed.  Obamacare offers government handouts to some people sometimes.  How much and who is eligible is up to federal bureaucrats, who have 10,000 pages of Obamacare law in which to find words to justify what they want to do.  Which means the bureaucrats can do what ever they want to do.  And Obamacare tries to tax the healthcare industry to pay for healthcare; which doesn't work.  And the health insurance companies, after loosing barrels of money on Obamacare policies, are refusing to write new ones.
   Then we have a House bill to change some things.  It passed the House, just barely. Just what it does is unknown to me, although it is hard to imagine it being worse than Obamacare. 
   And the Senate is working on its own version of reform.  We don't know much about it, and Senate Leader McConnell has not been able to get the Republicans on board with it.  At a guess the Senate bill will be similar to the House bill, but since we don't know much about the House bill, that doesn't tell us voters much.  
   We voters elected Trump and the Republicans to fix Obamacare.  We don't understand just how that might happen, but we know we want the ridiculous co-pays to go away, and the premiums come back down to where they were before Obamacare.  And we want to have at least two health insurance companies competing for our business.  And we want to be able to buy "hospitalization only" insurance because it used to only cost $3000 a year whereas Obamacare's cover- everything policies cost four times as much.  A lot of people who are in good health, and have a little money in the checking account, like the idea of insurance only for the big expensive stuff, and pay the ordinary stuff out of pocket. 
   If the Republicans cannot get their act together, we voters will throw the bums out in 2018 and elect Democrats.  If the Republicans (the stupid party) does not understand that, good riddance. 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Swaps Rules to Get Revamp

Headline of a piece in today's Wall St Journal.  The global swaps market is $486 TRILLION.  Yikes.  I consider "swaps" to be a form of Wall St gambling.  Wall St is supposed to raise money to grow the economy, build factories, finance new construction, buy inventory, stuff that employs people and creates salable product.  Even the Journal was unable to describe how a "swap" works. 
   Much of the piece was about the Consumer Futures Trading Commission (CFTC)  whining about the sales data  being furnished to them by privately owned swaps data repositories.  As you might have guessed, each repository furnishes data in a different format.  CFTC hasn't bothered to write data swabber programs to put all the data into a common format for CFTC's programs.  Tough cookies CTFC.  Get your act together and fix the problem, don't waste everyone's time whining about it. 
   Apparently after Great Depression 2.0 Congress set up the reporting requirements "to help unwind failing market participants that posed a risk to the entire system"  By which they mean the taxpayer will bail out the swaps sellers next time the market goes south.  Why in God's name do we want to give a US government guarantee to Wall St gambling debts?  Let 'em go broke. 
   Our government at work.

Monday, July 10, 2017

The Economist writing about "The German Problem"

Sub title: "Why Germany's current account surplus is bad for the world economy".   The Economist goes on to write "At bottom, a trade surplus is an excess of national saving over domestic investment".   That's a crock.  Trade surpluses happen when you manage to sell abroad more stuff than you buy from abroad.  Having an array of good products at the right prices, helps with the sales end.  Having a good domestic supply of quality product helps keep imports down.  Germany has a lot of world class products, look at Mercedes, Porsche, VW, Lowenbrau, Airbus, and many others.  Who wants to buy an import when the domestic product is as good as you can get any where? 
   If the world wants to cut down on Germany's trade surplus, the world will have to offer products as good as or better than German products, at a competitive price. 
   Writing like this makes me wonder where the Economist's writers went to school.  If their economic writers are so deluded (in a magazine named the Economist!)  do their other writers know anything at all? 

You talk to everybody when you are running for President

Everybody.  They might vote for you, they might contribute money (in return for favors after the election), they might have intelligence (dirt) you can use, they might put in a good word for you, they might be planning a stab in the back.  You never know, so you talk to everybody you have time for.  You want to increase your candidate's name recognition, talking about him with everybody will increase it. 
   Given all that, I fail to see any interest in today's msm flap about Trump campaign workers, (Donald Trump Jr and Jared Kushner) talking with a low name recognition Russian lawyer.  So what? Everybody in the world wants something from the US, everybody in the world starts by talking to the presidential campaign people.  So what else is new? 

Sunday, July 9, 2017

NBC's Beat the Press, my weekly dose of MSM

Chuck Todd was pushing the "Russian" story.  He thinks the Russians somehow influenced our election.  He advanced NO evidence.  Spent a lot of time on this narrative.  Then he trashed Trump over Trump's disparagement of US intel services.  US intel has made some major goofs, failing to predict the fall of the USSR, predicting that Saddam had nukes, leaking the fact that we were tapping Bin Ladin's satellite phone to the NYT, allowing Bradley Manning and Edward Snowdon free run of their classified, and others.  I have little faith in CIA or NSA anymore, and I don't see anything wrong with the President expressing doubts about US intel stories.  Chuck Todd has a problem with it, probably because a whole bunch of US intel people are Democrats who attempt to destabilize Republican administrations. 
   Then he read off a poll praising the MSM.  If you pay for the poll, the poll will say anything you like. 
   Then someone made this amazing statement "The base won't permit any bipartisanship".  I doubt that.  The base (either base) has some things they want, and other things they don't want.  Congresscritters who vote for (or fail to vote at all)  things the base wants, and against things the base doesn't want, will be voted out of office.  Just ask a bunch of Democrats who voted for Obamacare and are now out of office. 
  And finally there was a lot of talk condemning Trump for failing to take Putin to task over Russian election meddling.  Just how do they know this, when the meeting was just Trump, Putin, Secretary of State, Russian Foreign Minister and two interpreters is beyond me.  Did NBC bug the conference room?  Both Trump and Putin issued statements after the meeting.  I know Trump's statement would never fail to make Trump look good, and Putin's statement is likely a lie from end to end.  
  Anyhow back to real news on Fox News for me. 
  

Saturday, July 8, 2017

647 Hp Mustang. Only $450,000

Looks sleek and hot.  Top speed of 216 mph.  That's smoking hot.  But the engine is a 3.5 liter V6???.  My Buick has a 3.5 liter V6.  Turbocharged and all,  what ever happened to the 427 V8 that won Le Mans 50 years ago.  Ford plans to build 250 a year.   For people that plan to race them, it's probably a deal.  For us ordinary folk, $450,000 is a helova lot of money for a car.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Fed Governor Urges Housing Finance Fix

Headline of a Wall St Journal piece.  Fed Reserve governor Jerome Powell wants more private investors to buy into Fanny and Freddy, so that next time Fanny and Freddy go bust, private investors will lose money rather than taxpayers.  Everyone always thought that Uncle Sam stood behind Fanny and Freddy even though the fine print in the enabling laws did not so state. This wide spread belief allowed Fanny and Freddy to borrow money on the credit of the United States, which meant they could raise money for 3-4%, really cheap.   But when Fanny and Freddy went bust in 2008, Uncle decided us taxpayers were on the hook for $140 billion to avoid besmirching the reputation of the US treasury.
    Fanny and Freddy didn't cause much trouble until the 1980's when they started buying mortgages off banks.  The real estate industry loved this, it made more mortgage money available. Sell a mortgage to Fanny or Freddy, and presto, the bank has the cash to make yet another mortgage.  Fanny and Freddy recovered the money by selling bonds on Wall St.  They said "Look, these bonds are 'backed' by real estate."  Suckers fell for this, and for a while the bonds sold like hotcakes.
   The banks, now that they could unload their mortgages started writing really bad mortgages, "sub prime" and "alt-A" to borrowers who would never be able to pay off the mortgage.  No matter, long as we dump this worthless mortgage on Fanny and Freddy we are OK.  This continued until the sucker investors wised up to the fact that "backed by real estate" meant nothing.  They didn't have the right to foreclose and repossess the real estate.  So the bonds stopped selling, and Fanny and Freddy went Chapter 11.  For $140 billion.  This touched off Great Depression 2.0.
   In actual fact, we ought to shut Fanny and Freddy down, for good.  We don't need them to "make more mortgage money available".   Mortgages are profitable and safe. We used to say "Safe as houses". If the borrower fails to pay, the lender gets the house.  Home mortgage borrowers are strongly motivated to keep up the payments, who wants to explain to a spouse that they are getting evicted?  Far more secure than the stock market.
  Shut down Fanny and Freddy.  The real estate industry (brokers, builders, appliance makers, lumber industry) will cry a lot, but  life will go on. 

Prescription Rate for Opioids Falls

Headline of a Wall St Journal piece today.  But looking at the charts that accompany the piece, not very much.  Average prescribed dose did fall from maybe 60, down to maybe 48  "morphine milligram equivalents" what ever that may be.  Prescriptions per 100 patients peaked around 80 and is now down to 70.  Damn, 70 out of 100 patients get opioid prescriptions?  That's a lot.  In my whole life, just once a dentist prescribed percoset after a painful extraction.  That was 30 years ago, one prescription, which didn't put a buzz on me as good as a shot of bourbon did.  For that matter, aside from childhood earaches I don't remember having to deal with pain, not even the sort of pain that aspirin will deal with.  Somehow I find it hard to believe that 70 out of 100 patients are experiencing pain worthy of an opioid prescription. 
  The Journal piece did not discuss guidelines for prescribing opioids.  Surely there are some?  Other than recommendations for drug company salesmen? 

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Eye catching photos

Front page color spread in the Wall St Journal.  Against a background of Mosul blow all to pieces, burned out cars and piles of rubble, we have a young girl, looked to be 7 years old or so.  Light brown hair, blue eyes, pink dress.  She could have come off any suburban street in the USA.  Makes you wonder how she wound up in war torn Mosul. 
   Same issue, page three, we have a photo of the US destroyer that collided with that container ship off Japan.  It's a formal photo from stock, tied up to the dock, crew is manning the rails.  Large ship, big enough to be a cruiser in WWII.  Clearly a new ship, all her topside structures have walls slanted in, (tumblehome) to reflect enemy radar beams up into the sky rather than straight back to the enemy receivers.  Just one popgun on the foredeck, looked to be 75 mm.  Which is a dinky cannon for ship that size.  Even army tanks carry 120mm guns these days.  I hope she has lots of missiles, and that the missiles work when needed. 

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

NORKs are gaining on missiles to nuke LA

They tested a missile yesterday that has the range to reach Anchorage Alaska.  Won't take 'em long to stretch the range enough to hit LA.  They have nukes.  If we let them proceed, get the nuke mounted on the missile and the range stretched just a bit, they will be a helova a lot harder to deal with.  You cannot threaten to do regime change on a regime with nukes.  They will nuke you.  We ought to deal with the NORKs before they get their nuclear tipped ICBM into action.  Like right now. 
   We have tried diplomacy, lets make a deal, for twenty years.  The NORKs never lived up to any of the deals they signed.  They aren't going change.
   We could start up the Korean War again.  This is so awful that nobody wants to go there.  The NORKs have more guns and stuff than they did back in the 1950's.  South Korea's capital is within artillery range of North Korea.  Needless to say, the South Korean are not in favor of having Seoul shelled into ruins. 
   We could do a surprise air strike to take out their nuclear and missile facilities.  Most people think the NORKs are so dispersed and so dug in that we couldn't destroy enough facilities to do any good. 
    We could attempt to destabilize the NORK regime.  Looks chancy, the Kims (Grandfather, Father, and Son) have been arresting and executing their political opponents for 60 years.  I don't think there are enough left alive to do us any good.
   We could pressure the Chinese to cut off the NORKs supplies of food and fuel.  The Chinese like having the NORKs around.  It gives them a buffer between the pushy South Koreans, who are hand in glove with the Americans.  And they enjoy having the NORKs sticking it to the Americans while their own hands remain clean.  Trump has tried, and all he has gotten is lip service. 
  We could tell the NORKs that the next missile we see standing on a launch pad gets attacked, right then and there. 
   We could off Kim Jong whats-his-face.  That would destabilize the heck out of the NORK regime.
   Anyone have any other ideas?

Monday, July 3, 2017

NPR said drug rehab doesn't work, just this morning

On the FM this morning, they had a piece about drug rehab.  It was not encouraging.  They said the success rate was down around 5%, i.e. 95% of the druggies who go thru rehab go back to using drugs shortly after they leave rehab.  They did say that more psychotherapy was needed in drug rehab programs.  They did not bother to describe the treatment plan in existing drug rehab programs. 

Sunday, July 2, 2017

The Grunge Look rides again

Wall St Journal, Saturday's "Style and Fashion" page.  They are selling guys clothes this time.  Whole page of color photos of four to five guy groups of models, wearing the in things.  Despite the clothes being new and clean, the models manage to look scruffy.  The clothes are a jarring patchwork of colors that don't go together, and never were very good.  Gray, brown, lemon yellow, pink, black.  Real guy colors those. These guys never learned how to tie a tie, brush their hair or put on a happy face.  They all wear surly expressions. And a spread of man bags.    Call the whole page a no sale for me.
  Next page features blue jeans.  According to the Journal, lycra is out, the in jean is straight cotton denim.  They have a picture of a blonde model, standing in a parking lot, wearing denim jeans, a baggy white top, a silk scarf, and high black boots.  The show a spread of jean, all blue, all stone washed, starting at $850 from Dior, and working down to $80 from the Gap.  Last pair of jeans I bought was $35 from Sears.
  The Journal needs to work on their fashion writers.  Show me some stuff I might like to wear, rather than stuff that makes me laugh.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Night Line Legal. They run TV ads.

Great name.  Nearly as good as Midnight Auto. 

Friday, June 30, 2017

F35 Turns the Corner

Cover story in Aviation Week.  The F-35 A (the Air Force model, no V/STOL)  made it to the Paris Air Show this week.  Le Bourget outside of Paris.  It flew, showed off some really impressive low and slow manuvering close to the ground.  With 40,000 pounds of thrust, it's hard to stall this baby, just pull the stick way back, shove the throttle all the way forward, and the engine will make the plane go up, even if the wing isn't doing much in the lift dept.  Apparently they have done some work in the engine, the plane is now certified for 7 G.  Used to be limited to 5 G (not much) because any more G caused the engine rotor to rub on the engine casing, which caused a fire, resulting in the total loss of one F35.  They have done something about the problem, and 9G is promised in the future. 
  Up beat article.  No talk about lack of software, horrible costs, ridiculously long development cycle. 

You cannot pay for healthcare by taxing healthcare

Every dollar sucked out of health care by Obamacare taxes, causes the health industry to raise prices to get even.  Obamacare had a bunch of taxes on healthcare, there was a medical device tax, a cadillac plan tax, personal tax for being uninsured, and some others that I have forgotten.  The healthcare reform bills before Congress would zap all the Obamacare taxes.
  The democrats are crying and calling this "a tax cut for the wealthy".  Yeah right.  Democrats always say that any tax cut is "for the wealthy". 
   They ought to pass a one page bill that says "Obamacare is completely revoked, repealed, null and void.  All Obamacare offices are closed, their personnel must be laid off, their files burned, and the buildings are to be sold.  All Obama care regulations are hereby rendered null and void. 

Pass that.  Then if you have the votes, pass separate  laws on pre-existing conditions, children remaining on the parent's policies,  make health insurance premiums deductible on income tax, fund opioid treatment, and any other little Obamacare goodie you like.  If you have the votes. 

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Ivanhoe (1952) Great Costume Drama

The story is set in Merrie Old England, right after the Third Crusade.  It's in Technicolor which means the color is bright and solid, none of this modern arty "fade-the-color-out-to-black&white" stuff.  I first saw this flick at age nine in the old Cinema at Shoppers World out on Rt 9 in Framingham Mass.  Loved it back then. I'm much older now.  I popped a DVD of Ivanhoe into the DVD player last night.  It's still a fine movie.  It has a very young Elizabeth Taylor as Rebecca of York, ultra cute, forceful, with a serious crush on the leading man.  That's Ivanhoe, played by Robert Taylor (no relation) who was a solid, competent, decent looking leading man in a bunch of movies back then.  Ivanhoe is one of the best roles Robert Taylor ever had.  And we have Rowena of Rotherwood, blonde, beautiful, played by Joan Fontaine, an old childhood sweetheart of Ivanhoe's and bound and determined to wed him, and not let that ultra cute Rebecca make off with him.
   Costumes are great, they look extremely medieval.  Workers and peasants are dressed in drab browns and grays.  Nobility dresses in brighter colors, each actor wears a distinctive costume that makes it easy to tell who is who.  Rowena and Rebecca have very nicely tailored medieval gowns which show off their figures to great advantage.  The cast all speak clearly and distinctly, every line of dialogue is sharp and understandable.   Dialogue has a proper medieval sound to it, a bit of Shakespearean flavor, no jarring twentieth century turns of phrase.  For instance Locksley  (Robin Hood) cries out to his merry men "Away Arrows",  no anachronistic cries of "Fire".  You never "fire" arrows, that only works on firearms.  You shoot or loose arrows. 
   The camera man does it right, every scene is properly lit, none of this modern turn off the lights and let the audience struggle to figure out what is happening stuff.  And no annoying "shake-the-camera" shots.  The sound man places the mikes properly so we can hear everything, and avoids mixing the score or the sound effects over the dialogue.  
   The movie has a great love interest, lots of medieval politicking, and lots of action.  Great scenes of jousting on horseback, with lists, and spectators, lances and shields, solid lance hits hurling the bad guys off their horses and into the dirt.  We see Locksley and his archers take Front-de-Beouf's castle by escalade and flights of arrows.  Single combat on horseback between Ivanhoe and Brian Bois Gilbert.
   All in all, a great flick.  You can get it from Netflix.  

$82,000 per year for Nursing Home??

From Wednesday's Wall St Journal.  Headline "Nursing Homes Balk at Senate Bill".  The nursing home industry is largely paid for from Medicaid and the industry fears the reductions in Medicaid funding will cut into their revenue.  Tough.
   I can send a child to college for only $40,000 a year.  You'd think all those PHD college profs, and all those overpaid and useless administrators would be more expensive than staffing a nursing home.  Put another way, that $82,000 a year comes out to $224.65 a day.  I can rent a first class Washington DC hotel room for half of that.  I means these are nursing homes, not hospital ICU's.  They provide a room with a bed, maid service, three squares a day, and somebody on the front desk 24/7 in case of emergency.  Somehow I think you could do that for  DC hotel room rates. 
   Note to self.  Hope my health holds up so I can die peacefully in my bed at my home.  Plead with my children to take me in should I no longer be able to shop and cook for myself. 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

McConnell lacks the votes to pass Healthcare reform

Might have guessed it.  As of this morning's TV some ten "Republican" senators won't vote for McConnell's health care bill.  These "Republicans" are throwing away Republican chances in the 2018 election.  Us voters voted Republicans in to get Obamacare out.  We know that Obamacare has doubled the price of insurance and thrown a lot of people out of work.  Once we figure out that Republicans cannot do anything, they are gone and the Democrats will be back in charge.  
   And, to add insult to injury, these ten "Republicans" haven't told anyone (voters, newsies, McConnell) what is wrong with McConnell's bill.  Does it cut too much from some pet program?  Is it really just a patch on Obamacare to keep it running a while longer?  Does it lack something they care  about?  They ought to have some reasons they can express on TV for scuttling their own party and turning the country back over to the Democrats in 2018.  To say nothing of ruining their personal chances of re-election. 

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

US spends 19% of GNP on healthcare

That's twice as much as any other country in the world spends.  And American health, as measured by life expectancy and infant mortality, is not a good as about 10 other countries.  In short, for spending twice as much, we don't get any healthier.
  So  Congressional attempts to cut the expense of Obamacare are the right thing to do.  We ought to cut healthcare spending down to 10% of GNP, from 19% today.  Every other country in the world offers health as good as in the US, and spends only 10% of GNP doing it.  It they can do it, so can we. 
  

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Anti Russian voter hacking measures we ought to take

Go to paper ballots.  Keep them after the election in case of a recount.  Get rid of voting machines which are nothing more than desktop computers running a ballot program.  And could be hacked at the factory, at the polls, over the net, every which way, and you could never figure out what happened. 
   Let's have some security on voter registration lists.  If hostile hackers managed to erase say 10% of all Republicans registered, that would throw the election to the Democrats.  A voter shows up at the polls, and he isn't on the registration list, he doesn't get to vote.  Ten percent of either side is enough to decide most elections. 
   Since we cannot do any paperwork without putting it on computer these days, we need some security on the machines that hold  the voter registration lists at cities and towns.  The machine[s] that store and modify the voter registration lists must NOT be connected to the public internet in any way shape or fashion.  Keep the machines in a locked room and only allow a minimum of people access to them.  Backup the voter registration list[s] every week or so, and store the backups off line and off site.  When  new voters are registered give them a printed certificate of registration that they can use to prove they registered should the computers mess up some how. 

Saturday, June 24, 2017

What is in those two healthcare bills?

We have one bill passed in the House, and second one about to be voted on in the Senate.  But I have no real idea what each bill does.  For that matter I don't know all the things tucked away in 10000 pages of Obamacare.  Nobody does really.  Nobody can read and understand 10000 pages of legal gobble-de-gook.
   The health care bill I  like would repeal the Obamacare requirements that have forced a lot of workers into part time work.  It would spell out who gets government subsidies and how much.  It would allow the sale of  "hospitalization only" insurance which is a quarter the cost of  "Obamacare covers everything" insurance.  It would  require insurance companies to maintain coverage on insured patients who get sick, and allow such "pre existing conditions" patients to even change insurance companies should they need to (say like they took a new job) .   Uninsured patients who get sick would have to pay something more to get insurance  than ordinary patients.  Medicaid should be reserved for mothers, children and the truly disabled.  Able bodied grownups should get a job with health insurance or pay for their own.  Health insurance premiums should be deductible on federal income tax to even things up between the self employed and the company employee who gets tax free health care thru hisher job. 
   I have no idea if either of the Congressional health care bills have any of these things.  Neither do the newsies. 

Friday, June 23, 2017

"Slants" is derogatory?

An Asian American rock band wanted to call themselves "The Slants".  Some well fed bureaucrat refused to let them trademark the name.  He claimed "Slants" was derogatory. 
  Strange.  I was in the Air Force, I did a turn in South East Asia during the Viet Nam war.  We had a lot of bad names for things we didn't like, the enemy, the locals, the food, the weather, the service, and others.  I don't remember "slant" as one of them.  "Slope" you heard, and slant-eye ( as opposed to round-eye) you heard, but  I don't remember "slant" by itself as a put down. 
   Any how they took this one to the Supreme Court, and won,  The band may trademark "Slants".  Owners of the Washington Redskins, and the Cleveland Indians, both facing similar harassment from bureaucrats are relieved.  They figure they will win their Supreme Court cases.  
   Welfare for lawyers.

Suppose we assassinate Kim Jong whats-his-face, NORK dictator

That ought to slow 'em down a bit.  The NORKs already have nuclear weapons and rockets.  It's only a matter of time (a year? two? three?) before they have a nuke mounted on a rocket with the range to reach US soil.  We need to prevent that.  Nobody wants to start up the Korean War again, that is too awful to bring back. Diplomacy has been tried for twenty years or more to no avail.  Getting a nuclear deterrent (strike force) is so important to Kim that no amount of diplomacy will get him to stop. 
   If we bumped off Kim, it would leave a leadership vacuum.  There would be a struggle between the various number 2 men to take his place.  Kim has been executing anyone who looks dangerous to him and so the bench of number 2 men is pretty thin.  To take over as NORK dictator you have to have some name recognition and some friends to back you up.  We don't know if anyone up north has both the name recognition and the friends required. 
  The NORK regime might just come apart.  It's already under strain, what with peasants starving the the villages and shortages of nearly everything.  The only thing holding it together is the army and the secret police.  With Kim gone, nobody knows if they would stay loyal to the regime.  They might not.  At which point, there are very strong forces to pull North and South Korea back together.  Much stronger forces than any number 2 man struggling to take over could muster.  That result would be wonderful for us and for South Korea. 
   How to off Kim?  Simplest is a smart bomb thru his bedroom window.  Or a Hellfire on his official limousine (with Kim inside it of course).  Or a very gutsy sniper team parachutes in somewhere, gets to within 500 yards of Kim, plugs him and then boogies to a pickup spot and waits for the Jolly Greens to pick them up.  

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Fueling up for Winter

 That's one cord, two winter's worth of firewood. KK Brooks delivered last Friday.  I get to stack it under the porch. 
 Stack beginning.  The criss cross log stacks on the end are the secret to preventing the ends of the stack from avalanching into the driveway.  I use the biggest heaviest logs on the end stacks.
Here we are half stacked.  Care is required to avoid breaking the cellar windows with carelessly tossed logs.  That happened once long ago.  Andersen Thermopane which is beyond my home glazing skills. I had to order a replacment sash from Andersen.  They still had them after some 25 years, but it was a year before the replacement got shipped to me.  
All stacked up.  Took about 5 hours, working in half hour stints.  I'm set for another couple of winters.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Predictions are hard, especially about the future.

The Democrats dropped $25 mil into the Georgia special election.  The Republicans dropped $30 mil, which is more money than has ever been spent running for a US rep's seat.  Looks like both national parties have plenty of cash, which is a little surprising what with an expensive presidential election just last November.  You would  think they would still be paying off loans taken out for Hillary and the Donald.
   The Republican (a chick I'd never heard of before) won, 53 to 47 percent which is decent, better margin than Trump got in that district.  Way I look at it, anything better than 1% is decent, anything better than 10% is a landslide.  NHPR called the margin of victory "thin" and "close" but they are just democrats with bylines. 
  Naturally, this win, and the win in North Carolina, delighted Republicans and disheartened Democrats.  But I don't think it predicts anything about 2018.  In a year anything can happen.  If Trump gets health care and tax reform thru Congress the Republicans will be in decent shape.  If he fails, Democrats will capture control of one or both houses of Congress. 
   The msm keep saying that the Republicans control both houses of Congress.  But they have a lot of RINO's in both houses, who are OK with tax-and-spend and fear to rock the boat.  And who may not vote the party line.  Republicans also have a lot of super conservative crazies who don't under stand about compromise and that half a loaf is better than no loaf, and who will vote against anything on the slightest pretext.  And there is always a pretext on any bill, no bill ever satisfies every one all the way, there are always things they want and didn't get, or things that they don't like, and are in the bill.  Look at the Chinese fire drill in the House over health care.  Ryan had to withdraw the Republican bill and rewrite it before he could get enough Republicans on board to vote it thru. 
  Republicans have a lot of work to do if they want to retain control of Congress in 2018.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Some questions about druggies

With deaths from drug overdoses at a record high we have calls to do something about it.  Good idea, but what should we do?  Before I can get on board some one's magic cure, there are a few things I need to know about.  Such as:
1.  Every young person ought to know that anything harder than pot will ruin their lives and/or kill them.  Have we gotten this word out to this year's young people?  Do they believe it?
2.  Are all the institutions and media on board with getting the message out about the dangers of drugs?  Schools, churches, parents, radio and TV, Facebook and its competitors, video games, movies, the music business, and others that might come to mind? 
3. Why do people  get into drugs?  Is it just the pleasure of the high?  Especially as a lot of drugs need injection, sticking a needle in your arm, an event I have detested ever since injections of penicillin as a small child.  For me personally, doesn't matter how great the high is, I won't stick a needle in my arm because it hurts.  If it isn't just the pleasure of the high, then what is it that makes the druggie keep doing it? Are there things in the druggie's life that we could change to get him/her off the stuff?  If so, what might they be?
4.  Does drug rehab really work?  How many people have entered drug rehab and how many of them actually get off and stay off drugs?
5.  What are the generally accepted medical guidelines for prescribing the stronger opioids like  Oxycontin. Do these guidelines make sense?  I know that Oxycontin is so dangerous that many pharmacies refuse to stock it.   How many current druggies got hooked on prescription opioids?
6.  Does methadone work?  Working means getting the druggie off the really ruinous drugs and stabilize things enough that the druggie can hold a job.
7.  What happens to druggies over time?  Do they eventually get off the stuff? Or does it kill them? Or what?
 

Monday, June 19, 2017

A hero's reward, from the msm

Everyone at that terrible Congressional shooting scene praised the bravery of the two Capitol Police officers on duty.  All the Congressmen under fire say they would have been shot dead except for the bravery of the two officers who moved toward the sound of the guns. 
   As a reward for her bravery, the msm (Fox News no less) outed the female officer as lesbian.  I didn't need to know that.  It probably hurt the poor officer.  A harsh reward for bravery above and beyond the call of duty.
   Good work msm.   

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Kiss your Navy career good bye.

Skipper of USS Fitzgerald, which collided with a container ship off Japan.  How that happened is hard to understand.  A destroyer is far faster, and much more maneuverable than a big container ship.   Destroyers have all kinds of state of the art radar which should have no trouble detecting a big, clunky container ship from 50 miles away.  Plus he ignored Admiral Dan Gallery's advice concerning right of way at sea.  "Steer well clear of any merchie, lest he decide to liven up your day by ramming you."   Gallery is a WWII US Navy skipper, he is the guy that captured a German U-boat and towed it home as a prize. Which shows him as a man of imagination and superb seamanship.   U505 has been an exhibit at the Chicago science museum ever since the war. 

Saturday, June 17, 2017

A few security measures Congress ought to take

They ought to arrange for Capitol Police security at any event with a number of Congressmen in attendance.  For that matter, Congressmen ought to ask local law enforcement to detail a couple of officers to any townhalls the Congressman might be giving.  It's routine for law enforcement to detail some officers to cover high school ball games, they ought to be able to handle an occasional town hall.
   Congress ought to straighten out the concealed carry situation in DC.  They have jurisdiction.  They should require DC authorities to issue a conceal carry permit to anyone over 18 who is not a convicted felon or a committed nut case.  And require DC to honor conceal carry permits from any state.  And provide jail sentences for any official who fails to issue the permit within two weeks of the applicant submitting his paperwork. 
   We ought to discourage politicians and newsies from calling opponents names, such as racist, feminazi, and the like.  The name calling contributes nothing to the political debate and just inflames feelings.  Publish objections to the opponents policies, not their persons.  We cannot forbid name calling by law, but we could do a lot to mobilize public opinion against it. 
   And strengthen our mental health system.  Nut cases ought to be detected early and committed to mental hospitals, not allowed to run around loose.  There are no free beds in the mental hospitals.  Cases where the individual volunteers to enter treatment have failed because there are no empty beds to put them in. 

Friday, June 16, 2017

7.62 = 30 caliber

A Fox newsie was talking about the rifle used in the Congressional shooting.  He described it as "7.62 big enough to kill an elephant."  Let me enlighten a clueless newsie.  7.62 mm is the same as .30 caliber, the standard caliber for rifles since 1898.  The US  adopted the 30-06 rifle round back in 1906.  It remained standard issue to US soldiers for WWI, WWII, and Korea. It is still in production.  It was replaced by the 7.62 NATO round  (otherwise known as 308 Winchester) in the 1950's.  It's not an unusual round for rifles.  Serious hunters carry 30-06 rifles today.  Not so serious hunters carry the older and less powerful 30-30 rifle or the newer and less powerful 223 rifle.
   The newsie was attempting to convince his audience that the Congressional shooter was carrying an unusually powerful rifle.  Not true.  The Congressional shooter was using an ordinary hunting rifle, chambered for ordinary .30 caliber ammunition. 

Thursday, June 15, 2017

5000 Fools (tourists) visit North Korea every year.

Who wants to visit a communist dictatorship where they can arrest you, jail you, and even execute you  just because they can?  You would think Otto Warmbier's story, which has been in the news for better than a year, would discourage all but the most foolish tourist.  They released Warmbier the other day, but he is in bad shape now.  The medics didn't seem to know just what happened to him or how to treat him.  They talked about loss of brain tissue, which doesn't sound good. 
   The Journal says that about 5000 fools from the West visit North Korea as tourists every year.  Of which 1000 are Americans.  And what is there to see in North Korea, other than a population being abused and starved?  Creepy, I would pay money to avoid seeing that.  I suppose some of the American tourists are of Korean decent, who might be visiting family members stuck in the communist hellhole.  That's understandable.  Other than that, it's hard to understand visiting North Korea.  Especially as you can visit South Korea, a free, modern, decent, and successful country without risking your life.