Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Angela Merkel's Lament

"All I can say is that we Europeans must really take our destiny in our own hands.  The times in which we can fully count on others are somewhat over as I experienced in the past few days."  Angela Merkel said these words at a campaign stop in Bavaria. 
   In my estimation, these are words that all sensible European leaders ought to be saying.  Europe, the EU, is as big as the United States in regards to population, land area, industrial capacity, wealth.  It has real threats, the Russians, financial turmoil, a flood of Muslim refugees, Brexit which could lead to disintegration of the EU, Islamic terrorism, high unemployment and sluggish growth, oppressive regulations, Greek bankruptcy, falling birthrates,  and doubtless more that are not obvious to Americans like me. 
   We Americans will help out against Russian aggression, but the rest of the problems we see as purely internal European problems.   Against most of them there is nothing we can do, even if we believed we ought to.   Wealthy Europe is a tempting target to aggressors, refugees, terrorists, and others.  Europe lacks America's natural defenses, lacks America's large and effective armed forces, and lacks America's political unity.  Any thinking person ought to be concerned.  Angela Merkel, as leader of Germany, the largest and most influential member of the EU, is speaking to Germans and EU citizens about what ought to be. 
   But US TV, even normally sober Fox News, is going ape over Merkel's words.  I heard both Shepard Smith and Charles Krauthammer yesterday decrying Angela Merkel words as a call to break up NATO,  and trash the American alliance.  How do you spell "overreact"?
  I read Angela Merkel's words as a call for Europe to stand on it's own two feet.  Which is a perfectly reasonable thing to say.  

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Words of the Weasel Part 51

Someone invented a new and opaque term for a tax on imports to the country.  This sort of tax has been called a tariff since at least the American Revolution, and "The Tariff" funded the federal government down until the invention of the income tax in the very early 20th century.  The size of the tariff was a serious political issue from the Revolution right on.
   We enacted a very stiff tariff,  the Smoot Hawley tariff right after Great Depression I hit.  Most historians and economists tell us that Smoot Hawley made the Great Depression worse, and prolonged it.  Needless to say, "tariff" became something of a bad word  most places.  The exception was in union circles, the unions like tariffs.
   There is a push to put in a tariff again.  Only since "tariff" is now a bad word, they call it a "Border Adjustment Tax".  And the newsies let them get away with it. 

Fake News takes over the MSM

For the last couple of weeks, stories featuring the name of someone in the Trump administration, the proper noun "Russians" and little else have been all we get from the MSM.  The stories are always been from anonymous sources, i.e. sources fearful to give their names lest stuff fall on their heads.  Highly reliable those sources are.  The stories never actually accuse anyone of illegal, treasonous, or immoral acts, they just insinuate that something evil is going on.  Last couple of days they have been talking about, not accusing anyone of anything, just talking about communication between the Trump administration and the Russians.  Sure, the Russians are our international competitors (real people call them enemies). but there is nothing wrong with talking to them.  "Jaw, Jaw is better than War, War."  Winston Churchill said long ago.  JFK managed to keep the Cuban missile crisis from turning into WWIII by talking with the Russians.  After the smoke blew away he set up the "Hot Line" a secure back channel of communication.  There is nothing wrong with talking to the Russians. 
   I wonder what else is going on in the world?

Latest Intel CPU chip is $1999

That's just for the chip, mother board and casework extra.  Read all about on Slashdot. 
 Damn, that is pricey.   I remember when the Mostek 6502 selling for $30 won the Apple II slot, and in the process extinguished the Motorola 6800 which sold for $100.   And there is some market share such a chip will miss, such as the $300 laptop market.
   And in real life, the speed of a desktop computer is set by the speed of the RAM, hard drive, OS, and network, not the CPU.  I notice my relatively new HP laptop running Win 10 is no faster than my 10 year old desktop running Win XP.  Improvements in hardware speed are sucked up and thrown away by the latest version of Windows.  

Sunday, May 28, 2017

And yet more unsolicited advice for Detroit.

How come so many cars on the road are painted gray?  Car salesmen will tell you it is "silver metallic" but in actual fact, it's gray.  And another whole bunch of cars get painted mud color.  Do customers really want mud colored cars? What ever happened to red, or blue, or British Racing Green, or black, or other bright primary colors? 
  Is it really consumer demand for cars painted yucky colors?  Or is it some faceless flunky who chooses the paint color for the average car going down the production line?  Most cars are built on speculation, they don't have a customer nailed down, so the factory builds what it thinks will sell, and ships it to the dealers who manage to sell it.  If the dealer's lot is filled with cars painted yucky colors, then yucky colors they will sell. 
   Maybe sales would increase if there were more cars painted decent colors?

Learning while in a Vegetative State.

Dandelions manage it.  They are vegetables, or a least plants.  Left to their own devices, dandelions will grown nearly 12 inches tall, flower, go to seed, and propagate themselves. 
  But, make one pass with a lawnmower and it learns 'em.  After getting mowed, the dandelions change their life strategy, and grow low to the ground and flower low to the ground, too low for the mower to mow them.  Dandelions learn from the first pass of the lawn mower. 
   Smarter than the average weed. 

Words of the Weasel Part 50

Impact, used as a verb. Bad English example "The car impacted the guard rail."  Impact is not a verb, it is a noun, using it as a verb is trendy but annoying.  Newsies can be particularly annoying this way. 
Proper English is " hit": or "strike".  Good English examples " The car hit the guard rail," or "The car struck the guardrail." 

Saturday, May 27, 2017

More unsolicited advice for Detroit Automakers

1.  Stick with building real cars powered by gasoline engines.  They have decent range, and you can refill the gas tank in a few minutes.  Nobody wants to cool their heels on a trip for a couple of hours waiting for batteries to recharge.   Hybrids simply cost $10k more than real cars and don't offer much in the way of better fuel economy.

2.  I personally would never buy a self driving car.  As a matter of fact I would not ride in one either.  When I am zipping thru traffic, I want my hands on the wheel, not some microprocessor.  A little R&D, to stay up to speed on the technology is one thing, betting the company on a self driving car model is foolishness.

3.   Offer a thermometer in the car.  On cold dark nights, you want to know if that black slickness up ahead is ice, or just a puddle.  Is it above or below freezing out side?  Could be a matter of life or death.  And make sure the thermometer reads right when it gets wet by rain or road spray.  

Friday, May 26, 2017

We need to stop the leaks.

CIA has been leaking like a sieve for twenty years or more.  I remember when CIA leaked to the NY Times that we had been tapping Bin Laden's satellite phone.  Well, Bin Laden reads the NY Times too, and he promptly dumped the sat phone and conducted business by courier until we caught up with him in Islambad Pakistan some 10-15 years later.   That leak by the ever patriotic NY Times probably gave Bin Laden an extra 10 years of life.  Way to go.
   Then CIA attempted to destabilize the Bush Administration with the leaks that started the Valerie Plame affair, which consumed the MSM for years back in the early ugh-ohs.. 
   Was I a foreign intelligence person, I would not share squat with the Americans because the Americans leak everything to the papers. 
   Maybe Trump can tighten things up.  Bringing charges of mishandling classified data, like they did to David Petraeous might help. 

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Must be bad if the FISA court whines about it.

FISA court was set up to "oversee" the intelligence agencies snooping, wiretapping, email intercepting, and credit card record requests.  It's secret, so secret that we don't know their decisions, their judge[s], or their rules.  Over the years FISA has acted as a rubber stamp on the intelligence agencies requests to snoop on everybody.  99% of requests to snoop get approved. 
   Now we have NSA lawyers admitting to the FISA court that NSA has not complied with some secret rules about searching the national secret database of every phone call made in the country.  It must have been pretty bad because the normally doormat FISA court expressed unhappiness about it.  They didn't have the stones to hold anyone in contempt of court, or denounce them by name, all they did was whine about it.  But for a rubber stamp court,  expressing unhappiness with an intelligence service is VERY unusual.  Must have been something really bad.  

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

We need to get tougher on the terrorist[s] we take alive

The Boston Bombers struck four years ago.  The younger Tsarnaev brother was taken alive.  The lawyers spent two years, billing hours to the taxpayer, before convicting him in federal court.  At least the judge had the stones to give him the death penalty.  Another two years has gone by, and Tsarnaev has yet to be executed.  I doubt that he ever will be. 
   We need to make sure our laws define acts of terrorism in which people get killed, as a capital crime eligible for the death penalty.  We need to work hard on taking the terrorist[s] alive.  Don't allow them to commit suicide by cop.  We need to get them on trial within half a year, and we need a verdict and a sentence within another half a year.  And we need to execute the death penalty promptly, within three months of sentencing. 
   Let's hope the Brits catch a terrorist or two alive after the Manchester atrocity. 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Caution-Capable of firing with magazine removed

That's engraved on the slide of the new Smith & Wesson automatic pistol that graces the cover of American Rifleman.  No kidding.  We knew that like forever.  You always open the chamber and make sure it is empty.  I learned that when I was 12 years old at summer camp.  And that was a long time ago.  Back when summer camps taught riflery.
    The safety Nazi's at work.  

Tax cuts are always "for the rich"

Ask any Democrat.   Every single tax cut is always derided as "tax cut for the rich". 
Of course it depends upon what you call rich.  We have so many special deals and deductions and rate cuts and earned income credits in the tax code, that half the population owes NO federal income tax.  Needless to say, if you ain't paying taxes now, a tax cut ain't gonna help ya. 
   So any tax cut is only going to help the half the population that actually pays taxes.  Which is the upper income half of the population.  I guess, Democrats can call the upper income half of the population "Rich".  In fact they do.  I know a lot of people who are employed and making enough money to pay federal income tax, but they aren't rich.  They are just getting by, just barely.  They need a tax cut. 

Monday, May 22, 2017

Trump ought to stop that White House leak

Trump has a leaker in the White House.  He leaked the "gave classified info to the Russians" story to the papers.  Trump needs to find him, fire him, and revoke his security clearance.  For that matter he still has a bunch of Obama political appointees still working thru out the government.  Those guys detest Trump and are looking for ways to do him harm.  Trump ought to lay off the lot, ASAP.   Most of 'em will never be missed, it's the senior career GS types that actually make things happen, the upper level political appointees are  there merely to attempt to give the executive some kind of handle on the bureaucracy.  Obama appointees aren't going to do Trump any good. 

A flower blooms in the Junkyard

Front page of Saturday's Wall St Journal had a picture of women voting in Iran.  The women were all dressed identically, like wearing a uniform, in black from head to toe.  Ugly squared.  Standing next to one black clad woman was a little girl, say age 6 or so. She was wearing faded blue jeans, and a flowered long sleeved top and she looked so pretty, and she made all the grown women in hijabs looks so ugly.   You gotta wonder  about Iran where they force women to dress so ugly all the time.  

Words of the Weasel Part 45

Weasels say "substance" when they mean drugs.  As in "substance abuser" which sounds nicer than "drug addict".   It would not be PC to offend the druggies...

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Jacking up prices of old drugs hurts society.

Title of a letter to the editors in Saturday's  Wall St. Journal.  The writer, an MD, correctly points out that the development costs of old drugs have been paid, and the extra price merely goes to enrich the drug maker and hurt patients.  And the MD goes on to suggest we need lawmakers to put in price controls. 
   Not so.  We want competition to bring down the price.  The FDA kills competition by requiring drug makers to obtain an FDA permit to sell any drug.  And they  only issue the permit to one company.  This is a government mandated monopoly, and the monopoly players take advantage of their monopoly by ripping us all off. 
   Once a drug goes off patent, any company ought to be able to make it and sell it with out doing FDA paperwork.  We might want FDA to inspect the newcomer's manufacturing process to make sure the drug is properly made, but that's it.  If the company wants to make a drug, it can, and the FDA should not be able to forbid it.  That's one fix.
   Fix number two would allow duty free import of drugs from any reasonable first world country, places like Canada, England, Japan, France, Germany, where we think they have reasonable quality control of the drug making processes.  Those countries have public health as good as we do, often better, and the drugs they sell to their people are plenty good enough, which means they are plenty good enough for Americans too.  And the prices of foreign drugs can be way lower.  Those Epipens that got jacked up to $600 can be had in Europe for $20. 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Accidental Superpower. Peter Zeihan

   Thought provoking book.  Zeihan is into geopolitics (influence of geography upon history) and demographics (population growth or shrinkage).  His book explores history in the light of geopolitics and demographics, and then ventures into a bit of future predicting. 
   Zeihan’s geopolitics emphasizes the importance of good land, fertile, well watered, decent climate.  Much of earth’s land is uninhabitable, arctic tundra, deep desert, serious mountains.  Zeihan makes the obvious point that important powers need to control a large stretch of good land.  He also makes the less well known point that North America, in the US Midwest and the Canadian prairies has more good land than any where else on earth.  Compare to Russia, which looks enormous on a Mercator projection map, but much of Russian land is worthless arctic tundra. 
   The second point Zeihan makes is the importance of rivers, especially long and navigable rivers.  Prior to the railroads in the 1830’s, everything moved by water.  Only extremely high value cargo like spices could afford land transport.  Compare a caravan with cargo on pack back.  Maybe 100 pounds of cargo per animal, and speed of twenty miles a day at best.  No wagons or carts.  Wagons and carts need roads which are very expensive.  Only the Romans had the money to put in a good road network.  No one else since the Romans could afford them.   Whereas an ordinary Indian style canoe (ancient water craft design still in mass production) can take a load of 1000 pounds, same as ten pack animals and two guys can paddle it 40 miles a day.   Bigger water craft, with sail and oar, can haul much more.
   In short, you need rivers crossing the land to move anything, foodstuffs, timber, cut stone, troops, metal ores, and textiles.  And, another not so obvious point, the United States has more, longer, navigable rivers than any place else.  The Mississippi- Missouri system allows cities as far inland as St Louis and Pittsburg and Chicago to be seaports.
   Given the geopolitics, and a large and loyal population, it’s no wonder than America became the superpower. 
    Groundwork laid, Zeihan goes on to speculate about the future.  He sees Canada as likely to come unglued, not the Quebecois of the 1990s, but Alberta, oil rich and over taxed wanting out.  He sees Russia needing to control Ukraine and the Baltic states, and needing to do so before demographic disaster makes it impossible to enlist enough young men of fighting age into the Russian army.  Russian birthrate is so low that the Russian population will shrink by HALF by 2040. 
   Zeihan talks a lot about the Bretton Woods system set up by the Americans in 1944, at a summer resort hotel in New Hampshire, only a short drive from my place.  According to conventional history Bretton Woods was a bankers meeting to establish international exchange rates and the role of gold in the post war world.  Zeihan expands this into an American deal.  We Americans, in order to get all you WWII blasted countries back on your feet, offer you tariff free entrance to the American market.  The US Navy will enforce freedom of the seas so your cargoes will get thru.  In return, we Americans don’t want to see any aggression, land grabs, invasions, or “wars of national liberation”.  And we want you on our side in the Cold War, not the Soviet side.  
   Zeihan sees the Bretton Woods system breaking down now that the Soviets are gone and American frackers have made us much less reliant on Middle East oil.  We don’t need the Bretton Woods system as much as we used to, and it’s expensive to keep running it.    
   Zeihan skips a few things, like all of politics, religion, or ideology, the growth of railroads in the 19th century,  importance of coastwise shipping to the original 13 colonies, and others.  But it's interesting and a fine starting point for all sorts of discussions.   He wrote in 2014, so it's pretty up to date. 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Army wants replace Kiowa Warriors with new helicopter.

Kiowa Warrior is a two place helicopter  going back to Viet Nam war days.  The Army wants to replace them with a new model, which is not unreasonable given the age of the in service Kiowa Warriors.  The mission is described as reconnaissance and light attack.  Not troop lift.
   Was it me, I'd want to procure a small fixed wing aircraft, something like the old OV-10 Bronco.  Helicopters require ten time the power of a fixed wing aircraft to fly.  You can get a two place airplane into the air with 60 horsepower.  A two place helicopter needs 600 horse.  Helicopters are vastly more accident prone than fixed wing.  One year, back when I was in the old Military Airlift Command, I was reading in the TIG brief about the accident record for the year.  It was all helicopter accidents (like a dozen) and just one fixed wing accident (They landed a C-133 gear up).  And MAC in those days was flying ten big fixed wing transports for every helicopter.  For flying maybe 10% of MAC's flying hours, the helicopters had ten times as many accidents.
   The reason the Army uses helicopters for missions better accomplished with fixed wing, goes back to the Key West agreement of 1947, back when they created the Air Force.  It was a turf battle, out of which the Air Force got control of all fixed wing aircraft, except for the Piper Cubs used for liaison, and the Army was only allowed helicopters.
   We could save money and lives by allowing the Army to do reconnaissance and light attack with a fixed wing aircraft. 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Fake News takes over the 24 hour news cycle

A democratic newspaper that hates Donald Trump, printed an unlikely story, based on anonymous sources.  Senior administration officials, speaking on camera, and giving their names, called the story false.  Monday TV news talked about nothing else, all day.  The gist of the Wash Post story was that Trump gave classified intel to the Russians at last week's meeting with the Russian ambassador. 
   While this bit of fake news completely blanketed the TV news, serious issues, the economy, tax reform, Obamacare reform or repeal, tariffs,  budget, the Wall,  Dodd Frank repeal or reform, military spending, the NORKs,  Syria, ISIS, get no coverage at all.  Way to go national news media. 
    It's so bad that I heard a Fox News talking head say "The daily press briefing is our opportunity to hold the administration to account".  Wrong Fox newsie.  The daily press briefing is the Administration's opportunity to  present stories that put the administration in a good light.  Your job is to pass along the stories you judge true or useful, and silently give no mention to stories you judge false.  You newsies are supposed to be investigators, not avengers. 

Monday, May 15, 2017

NORK missiles are mostly liquid fuel. Wall St Journal.

The Journal ran a piece on the NORK missile program today.  They showed sketches of three NORK missiles, all liquid fuel.  Later on in the article they mentioned that the NORKs were working on, and had test fired at least one solid fuel missile.  But the missiles in the sketches were all liquid fuel. 
   Why do we care?  Liquid fuel is half liquid oxygen (LOX) and the other half is something like kerosene, or alcohol, or perhaps even hydrogen.  As soon as the missile is fueled with LOX, the LOX starts boiling off.  The boiling point of LOX is minus 183 degrees Centigrade.  Putting LOX inside an aluminum missile fuel tank in ordinary air (plus 20 C) and the LOX starts to boil off into oxygen gas.  The fuel tank pressure relief valve lets the gas vent outside to keep the tank pressure down.  Not a problem if you launch right after fueling, but you cannot keep a liquid fueled missile fueled for more than tens of hours.  Give it ten or twenty hours and all the LOX is gone, boiled away.  You cannot keep a fleet of liquid fueled missiles fueled and ready to launch at a moment's notice.  After the order to launch is given, figure an hour or two for fueling before main stage ignition. 
   Far better as a weapon is a solid fueled missile.  The earliest solid fuel was plain old black gunpowder, and 4th of July skyrockets still use gunpowder.  Far better solid fuels can be made but the chemistry is complicated.  Modern solid fuel has a lot of plastic explosive in it, usually some powdered aluminum for extra hot burning, and a lot of magic chemicals to slow the burn rate down so it doesn't just explode and blow the missile to bits.  Just what the magic chemicals are is secret, and tricky.  We didn't get it figured out until the first submarine launched Polaris missiles in the 1960's.  It will take the NORKs a while to come up to speed on making solid fuel missiles. 
   With solid fuel missiles, you can launch within a minute or two after the red phone rings with a launch order.  Which makes a much more reliable weapon than liquid fuel missiles. 

Patch for the Wanna Cry virus on Windows XP

You can find it by googling for Wanna Cry patch on Windows XP.  And you can download the patch using any browser, you don't have to use Internet Exploder.  The patch file has the longest filename I ever saw, just to make things hard for us users.  Thanks M$.  windowsxp-kb4012598-x86-custom-enu_eceb7d5023bbb23c0dc633e469c2f14fa6ee9dd.exe.   Don't try to google for that, it's too long to type correctly.  Google for "Wanna Cry patch windows XP".   
   M$ decided that Wanna Cry was so bad that they released a patch for XP, which they have declared obsolete, dead as a doornail, and windows update no longer works on XP.   Too bad.  Of the various flavors of windows, XP is the fastest, the smallest, and can do everything the newer flavors of Windows can do, and do it faster.   A lot of us still run XP, cause the newer and fatter versions won't run on our elder but still very capable computers. 
   If you are running one of the newer, slower, and fatter versions there are special versions of the patch for use on them.  M$ brags that windows update will have automatically patched the newer versions.  You can believe as much of that as you want to. 
   Now, to see if the patch actually works.  It doesn't seem to a broken anything.  Only time will tell if it stops the Wanna Cry virus. 
   The Wall St Journal says law enforcement world wide is looking for the Wanna Cry perps.  If the cops catch them, I can think of some cruel and unusual punishments that would fit the crime. 

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Does your Windows machine run slow?

Not that any flavor of Windows is speedy, but if you notice your machine running slower than usual, it might be the wuauclt bug in Windows.  How to tell?
   Run task manager and look at the processes.  If you see process SVChost.exe using 99% of your CPU time, you have the problem.  You are looking at service wuauclt.exe locked up in a loop.  Microsoft does something unneeded and unusual here, they run one program (wuauclt) but make task manager display the name svchost, rather than the program's true name of wuauclt.  This is pure obstructionism on Micro$oft's part.
   You can regain control of your machine by using task manager to kill process svchost.exe.  You can ignore the scary warning task manager displays when you do.  Nothing bad will happen.  Go ahead and kill it.
    Various internet postings tell me that wuauclt is part of windows update.  Windows update is supposed to go thru the list of patches for various things, and sort thru the patches that are new, and the patches that have been already applied, and just apply the new patches.  M$ programmers bungled this bit of code, and as the patch lists get longer and longer, wuauclt gets into a loop and hogs 100% CPU time for as long as a hour.
   If like me, you are running trusty old XP,  you might as well turn windows update off, M$ isn't issuing patches for XP anymore.  You can do this  with services.msc, which you can start from the run box.  Find "automatic updates".  Stop it.  Then click properties and set the startup mode to disabled.
   According to a couple of internet postings, the wuauclt runaway is caused by or aggravated by  missing patches in Internet Exploder.  There are multiple versions of IE out in the wild, V6, V7, and V8.  You ought to update to at least V8.  And then run  Windows Update (if functional)  from within IE to apply all the outstanding IE patches.   I did that, haven't run long enough to say if it works.  But it's a good thing to do in any case.  Better is to use another browser, any other browser is faster and safer than IE.  I only keep IE on my machine to run Windows Update, I do all my web cruising with Firefox.
   Good luck.   

Guardians of the Galaxy Part 2

I went to see it at Littleton's Jax Jr. yesterday afternoon.  It wasn't as good as the first one.  Huge amount of special effects/CGI.  We had explosions, fires, spaceship chases, gun fights, sword fights, fist fights, and weird monsters with lots of tentacles.  We have the original cast, with the exception of Groot.  Groot was in the movie, but he is now only 12 inches tall, as compared with the 10 foot tall tree person in the first movie. Lotta sight gags, lotta lines making fun of other Hollywood movies.
   If the movie had a plot, I never caught on to it.  If it had a protagonist I would vote for Rocket Racoon who had most of the best lines.  Peter what's-his-face  and his green skinned girl friend were present for duty, but didn't do much.  We had a new villain, who called himself Peter's father,  who tries to bend Peter to the dark side, which results in a lot of hand to hand fighting. 
   All in all, a less than distinguished movie. 


Thursday, May 11, 2017

Unsolicited advice for Detroit automakers

Yesterday's  Wall St Journal had a piece on troubles at Ford.  Sales have been going down.  I missed this, but Ford apparently let their last CEO Allan Mulally go a  couple of years ago.  First I had heard.  Mulally got Ford thru Great Depression 2.0 with out declaring bankruptcy like GM and Chrysler did.  Dunno why Ford ever let Mulally go, he was good. 
  Anyhow, here is my advice as to how to make cars and earn money.
1.   Build the best selling car.  Behemoths like the big three (GM, Ford, Chrysler)  cannot survive selling into niche markets.  Look at Corvette.  Highly desirable car, but there just aren't enough guys with Corvette money to feed a Gigantosaurus like GM.  Right now, the volume car is the small four door econobox.  Just take a look around on 128 during rush hour.  Most of the traffic is little econoboxes. Pickup trucks are way fewer, and luxury sedans (Bimmers) even fewer.  If you are one of the big three, you have to build a winning econobox to stay in business. 
2.  Sell the car under one name.  Don't do badge engineering (selling the same car under different names), just changing the badge on the fender.  It confuses the customers, and it dilutes your advertising.  Say you can afford to run 1000 ads.  If 500 of the ads call the car by one name, and 500 ads call the car by the other name,  few customers will remember either name.  More effective, run 1000 ads calling the car by the same name.  More customers will remember that your car even exists, let alone is it desirable. 
3.   Build a car, not a rolling desktop computer.  Customers care about styling, interior fit and finish, price, gas mileage,  handling in snow and rain,  low vibration and low noise at speed, reliability, resale value, and intangibles like a good name, and prestige.  Most of 'em are happy with an FM radio.  Customer's don't like fancy electronic nav systems or voice commanded sound systems, especially when they fail to work.   Besides, really fancy electronic doo-dads are too expensive to leave in the car.  Customers like to take their electronics with them.  Just offer an audio plug that lets the Ipod play back thru the cars speakers, and maybe some power receptacles.
3.  A good name for a car is worth a lot of sales.  The easiest way to make a name good is keep on using it.  Don't do the Datsun-Nissan hari-kari.  GM has a closet full of good old names that it doesn't use anymore.  Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Impala, Roadmaster and more.  Why they ever named a car Beretta is beyond me.  Everyone knows Beretta is an Italian handgun, carried by James Bond, before Q sold him on the Walthers PPK. 
4.  Design the dashboard so you can work it at night.   Use some real knobs that you can feel in the dark.  The modern cheapy dash of 100 pushbuttons, all alike, all with labels too small to read without taking off your driving glasses  is a PITA. 
5.  If you  have a car that sells, keep on making it, don't try to change the car into something else.  Witness Cadillac, famous for luxury six passenger boats, which has stopped making boats, and is now trying to sell a four passenger sport sedan going up against Bimmers.  Caddy even has a racing program now.  They aren't doing very well either at the track or in the showroom.  GM would have done better to keep Caddy selling boats and SUVs. and used another name for the sports sedan, Pontiac maybe.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Dominate the news cycle. Fire your FBI director,

News of Comey's firing hit the TV news last night around 5 PM.  Bombshell.  The TV news has talked about little else since.  Not sure what to think about the firing.  All I know about Comey is his dramatic press conferences during the election, the first where he said Hillary was off the hook on her private email server.  Followed by a lot of commentary about how Hillary's conduct was dumb in the extreme but not prosecutable.   If Comey had had two brain cells firing that day, he would never have given that press conference but instead simply forwarded the case to the Justice Department.  Lesson:  If you are handed a hot potato, get rid of it, don't juggle it in public.  As part of this screwball press conference, Comey promised to keep Congress informed if anything else came up.
   And, sure enough, the Weiner laptop stuffed with Hillary's State Dept emails turned up.  And Comey went public with it before anyone had time to look at the stuff.  A week later, Comey admitted that the Weiner laptop material wasn't all that bad.    All of this must have done Hillary some damage, just how much is impossible to know. 
   And so, Trump fired Comey last night.  Probably not a bad idea,  his mishandling of the Hillary email server affair is enough to make me doubt Comey's common sense.  I gotta feeling a bunch of FBI agents feel the same way.  And  the FBI director is a very powerful official.  J. Edgar Hoover was so feared in DC that no president had the stones to fire him for fear Hoover had file cabinets stuffed with ugly dirt that he would release to the press. 
   Chuckie the Schumer was on TV claiming that Comey was fired to prevent an FBI investigation of Trump's Russian involvement.  Pure BS.  No American with an ounce of brains is going to make a deal with the Russians, they have a century long  reputation for treachery and backstabbing.  You can't make a deal with them, they weasel out of it, or just flat break it every single time.  Everyone knows that. 
   Big question.  Who can Trump find to replace Comey?  I've heard Kelly Ayotte mentioned.  I'm OK with Kelly, I actually know her, she is tough, has her head screwed on nose to the front.  She is a republican so the democrats will have heartburn over that. 

Monday, May 8, 2017

National Intelligence Chief Clapper on TV

Congress had Clapper testifying before a committee.  Clapper was saying that yes the Russians did mess with the 2016 election.  But he wasn't very convincing to me.  Every thing he said was a generality, and opinion or a conclusion.  He never spoke of real evidence, not even a wiretapped phone call or intercepted email or snail mail.  No statements like, "We followed Russian embassy staffer so-and-so-ski to a face to face meeting with [any heavy weight person] on such and such a date and time.  We eavesdropped the meeting and heard them discussing [payments, jobs, embarrassing emails, protection from prosecution, locations of dead drops, other spy stuff]".  No cancelled checks, no deposits of large amounts of cash.  Clapper never said anything solid, that could be checked, he just bloviated.
   Clapper did manage to get several hours of TV time on Fox. 

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Assassinating Kim Jong whats-his-face

The Kim regime accused us Americans of plotting Kim's assassination.  They detailed a complex plot involving satellite phones, biowarfare bombs, and an unnamed agent who they are interrogating.  God rest his soul. 
   That's not how I would go after Kim.  I'd  get his location, where he sleeps, when he will review the troops in public, when he will appear in public.  Then I'd send a fighter up there and use a smart bomb to take him out.  Fly good and low, and the enemy radar won't see you on the way in.  Use a good size smart bomb to kill all the close in eye witnesses.  Say 750 pounds, none of those 250 pound Small Diameter Bombs.  Stay good and low and get out of North Korea ASAP. 

Friday, May 5, 2017

Democrats don't get the point on Healthcare

We have Democrats on TV saying that the Republican healthcare bill will cost them at the polls next year.  Those Democrats clearly don't get it.  In actual fact, after 8 years of threatening to repeal Obamacare and endless campaign promises to do so, the Republicans faced a disaster in the 2018 election if they failed to pass an Obamacare repeal and replace bill.  We are currently debating what the bill they passed yesterday will do, but at least the Republicans got their act together and passed something.  If they had not, they could kiss their thin Congressional majorities farewell in 2018.  

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Republicans pass a health care bill

I don't know just what is in it and what it means.  But they did get just enough votes in the house to pass it.  About time.  We voters elected a Republican congress to get us some reforms.  Up until just now, the Republicans had not passed squat, and a lot of us voters are thinking and saying, what good is a Republican congress if it cannot pass anything? 
  Early reports say that twenty Republicans failed to vote for the bill.  We should get their names and publicize them.  Congress critters so disloyal and dumb as to not vote for their party's bill need to be voted out of office.  

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

FBI director Comey

The Congress critters grilled him all morning.  Lotta talk about how the Russians helped Trump.  In actual fact Comey himself helped Trump and hurt Hillary far more than any mythical Russians ever dreamed about.  When Comey came out and said he had new evidence from Anthony Weiner's laptop, that October Surprise did hurt Hillary.  Lotta talk in code word and code numbers, like "702".  I am gonna have to  Google for 702 and see what it means.
   And I have posted about this before.  The Russians wanted Hillary for president.  They know her, she isn't very bright, she isn't very brave, and  she would be no match for Putin.  Trump is impulsive, and unpredictable, and has political capital that Hillary can only dream about.  Enough political capital to allow him to send an American armored division to Georgia, or Syria for example.  Hillary would never be able to do anything like that.  The Russians aren't dumb, they knew damn well that Hillary was far far better for them than Trump.  Of course, the Russians read American news media which was 100% behind Hillary and predicted her winning.  So they didn't do all that much anyhow.    

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Shed a tear for Puerto Rico

They will declare bankruptcy to day, unless some last minute deal is made.  Over the years Puerto Rice managed to borrow $73 billion dollars from bone headed Wall Street bankers, who should have known that the island didn't have and never would have the revenues to pay off the debts.  Wall St bankers must have been taking stupidity lessons from the Euro bankers who lent to Greece. 
   The money ran out last year, and to complicate matters, Puerto Rice as a territory had been left out of the bankruptcy law.   You have to be a real US state to declare bankruptcy.  Territories don't count.   So last  summer Congress passed a law to allow the island to go bankrupt.  Being Congress, they put a few bells and whistles and a committee to negotiate into the law, but today the red tape unwound and bankruptcy is going to happen. 
   Anastasia O'Grady, writing on the Wall St Journal's op-ed page is all kinds of indignant about this.  She never really says just what gets her all riled up, but riled up she is.  Puerto Rico got access to a lot of credit, her politicians took advantage of that to borrow when they had no way of paying off the loans.  Politicians are like that.  And the banks deserve to loose their money.  Those were stupid loans, and loosing the money might smarten up the next generation of bankers.
   Capitalism depends upon intelligent distribution of capital.  Capital used to build businesses, employ people, grow the economy, is intelligent.  Capital used to pay government workers, politicians, and pensions is wasted.  It's clear that Wall St wasted $73 billion that it loaned to Puerto Rico.  Let's have the banker's smart for it. 
   It will take a few years (five maybe ten) for bankers to forget a bankruptcy and begin to loan again.  That will be a little tough on Puerto Rico, but that's the way the world works. 

Monday, May 1, 2017

Let's do the American Health Care Cost Reduction Act.

American health care costs too much.  We spend 19% of GNP on  health care.  Twice as much an any other country in the world.  And plenty of other countries, Canada, Britain, Japan, Germany, and many more, have public health every bit as good and in America, and they only pay half as much money as we do.  When we export American products, the price of those products has to be marked up 19% to pay for the worker's health care.  When every other country in the world exports product, they only have to mark up their price by 9.5% because their health care costs and half what ours are.  One big reason that manufacturing jobs are leaving the US, is the outrageous cost of health care in the US.   Want to make America great again?  Lower the cost of health care.
   Obamacare raised the cost of US health care.  Obamacare is a scheme to subsidize the cost of health care for everyone who doesn't get health insurance from their employer.  Obamacare did nothing to make health care cheaper.
   Here is what we could do to reduce the price of health care.
1.  Rein in malpractice suits, pure welfare for lawyers.  Don't allow lawyers to advertise for plaintiffs.  They didn't use to be allowed to do that.   Go over to the British system, loser pays the court costs.   Pass a law saying that manufacture, distribution, and prescription of any FDA approved drug or device is never malpractice, even if the FDA later pulls the drug or device off the market.  FDA takes so long to approve anything that any reasonable person assumes that anything FDA approved is safe.  Lawyers (all Congress critters are lawyers)  hate this, but there are more hardworking voters than lawyers.
2.  Allow duty free importation of drugs from all reasonable first world countries, places like Canada, England, France and some on.  Any drug approved for sale to the public by the authorities of a first world country can be imported even if the FDA hasn't gotten around to approving it yet.  Reason:  the health care authorities of other countries sandpaper the drug companies into lowering their prices, often by half or more.  Those Epipens that made the news last year when the maker raised the price to $600 each.  You can buy Epipens in Europe for $20.  Drug companies hate this, but  companies don't vote.
3.  Pass a federal law authorizing every American health insurance agency to sell policies in all 50 states of the Union, WITHOUT having to do any state paperwork.  If you are an insurance company selling health policies in your home state, you can sell them in every state.   The insurance companies hate this, but companies don't vote.
  We could run the Health Care Cost Reduction Act thru Congress while they are still fumblng around with Obamacare repeal and replace.  We could even get some Democrats to vote for it.