Thursday, August 31, 2017

Wall St "repos". Legitimate financing or just plain gambling?

It's a very short term lending scheme.  The borrower sells some financial paper (often US T-bills) to raise money, but promises the buyer that they will buy the paper back shortly, at a small profit.  The deal is actually a short term loan, but on paper it looks like a sale. 
   Question:  what useful purpose is served by short term loans?  Legitimate reasons for borrowing are to build or buy plant and equipment, buy inventory for later sale, finance real estate (buying, building, whatever) finance research and development, in short to finance useful economic activity.  All of this stuff takes time, years sometimes, to pay off.  Short term loans, over night loans in some cases,  don't cut it.  All I can see a short term loan doing is making your books look better (more cash on hand) for a financial report, or to finance stock trading.  I think short term loans are gambling pure and simple and ought to be taxed out of existence. 
   Used to be, J.P. Morgan handled a lot of these deals.  For undisclosed reasons J.P Morgan decided to get out of the business last year.  Perhaps they see it as dangerous and high risk. At this point 85% of the deals go thru Bank of New York.  Wall St players are worrying that if anything goes wrong (power failure, fire, flood, hacker attack, whatever) at Bank of New York, the whole repo market is toast.  A good reason not to get into repos in my book.
   Repos are widely seen as one of the triggers for Great Depression 2.0.  Fear of repos caused everyone to stop lending to Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers, which crashed both firms in the fall of 2007.  The Federal Reserve has wanted to overhaul the repos business for nearly a decade (with little luck).  The Treasury's Office of Financial Research estimates the repo market at $3.5 trillion, which is a lot of money.  Enough to touch off another great depression if things should go wrong.  
   Sounds like a land mine waiting for someone to step on it. 

FDA approves Novartis $475,000 cancer treatment

It's for aggressive leukemia in children and young adults.  It's a fancy procedure actually, the patient's blood is drawn, its T-cells separated and then genetically modified, and then injected back into the patient.  Sounds pretty costly.  And it is.  I don't want to answer the question "Is a human life worth $475,000?"  Nor do I want to have to pay $475,000 to stay alive.  Nor do I want to die, at least not just yet.  Clearly I have some unresolved philosophical issues here.   Norvartis calls this product/procedure "Kymriah". 

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Reverse Mortgages

They advertise them on TV all the time.   The ads make it sound like free money.  Today's Wall St Journal has a piece that fills in some of the gaps.  According to the Journal, the bank gets your house when you die.  So much for leaving it to your children.  And us taxpayers anti up for program losses, which ran $12 billion since 2009.  That's $1.5 billion a year.  Ouch. 
   On the other hand, it's cheaper than nursing homes. 

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Words of the Weasel Part 50

"Epic" in referring to Harvey.  The correct word for a flood is "biblical".  Noah himself would be appalled by what is falling on Texas this weekend. 

And, rainfall is measured in inches, not gallons.  I have seen what 10 inches of rain will do.  I can imagine what 50 inches will do.  A few trillion gallons of rain means nothing to me.  I have no idea what say 6 trillion gallons means.  The TV is going over to reporting rainfall in Texas by the trillion gallons, rather than by the inch.  Another example of newsies doing the talk but not informing anyone of anything important.  

Fantastic Beasts and where to find them

Disappointing.  Strange.  First movie I ever watched that had a narrator.  Since the soundmen cannot make the dialog understandable, this movie comes with a voice over commentary explaining what's going on to the audience.  It is supposed to be a Harry Potter prequel, set in 1920's New York. No characters from the previous Harry Potter movies or the books appear in it.  I never did figure out the plot.  Whenever the protagonist got in the tight spot, he apparated out of it with a flash and a bang.  The 1920's costumes and sets were nicely done.   But I fell asleep before it was over. 
   The Wall St Journal had a piece the other day about how poorly movie tickets are selling this summer.  This movie is one reason for that.

Monday, August 28, 2017


The damage in Texas is horrendous.  Fortunately there are few deaths, so far.  The TV news has been saying nice things about the number of civilian volunteers pitching in and helping out, especially with boats.  That is a good thing.  Too bad we have to suffer so much to bring out the good and heroism in our citizens. 

Sunday, August 27, 2017

ICE is running a roadblock on I93, south.

I drove thru Friday afternoon.  It was around Ashland. Not sure what they were looking for, they didn't even ask me my name, just waved me thru.  I assume a four door Buick sedan, with New Hampshire plates, no bumper stickers, just me in the car, looked innocent enough.  I wonder what would have looked suspicious enough to pull over.  ICE was still at it the next day when I drove home.  I understand that ICE has authority to run roadblocks as much as 100 miles inside the US border.  This one was pretty close to 100 miles from Canada.  ICE has done this before, couple of years ago I hit an ICE roadblock at about the same place. 

Now they are coming for Big Frank Rizzo

Big Frank has been dead for some years now.  He was first police commissioner and then got himself elected mayor of Philadelphia.  I was living one state over (Delaware) in those years.  We got the Philadelphia Inquirer, which was solidly anti Rizzo and the Philadelphia TV.  The Inquirer ran hit pieces on Big Frank every other day and the TV was unsupportive, to put it mildly. 
  Frank was colorful and had pretty solid political support in Philadelphia.  He had some rough edges, and managed to offend a lot of people.  He was not an "affirmative action" kinda guy.  Anyhow, after his death his supporters got a stature of him erected in Philadelphia.
   Now, after demonizing statues of long dead Confederate generals, Frank's surviving enemies, of which there are quite a few, want to get rid of the statue of Big Frank.  They couldn't vote him out of office during his lifetime, so now that's he is dead and gone, they want to spit on his statue. 
   Seems like a waste of effort to me.  Big Frank is a part of Philadelphia's history, for better or for worse.  Taking down his statue won't change that history, it will just erase today's memory of it. 
   I didn't approve of Big Frank back in his day, but I think he deserves a statue in his beloved home town. 

Friday, August 25, 2017

Has the Navy Reached its Breaking Point?

Title of the Op-Ed in Thursday's Wall St Journal.  The writer, Seth Cropsey, former naval officer, currently with the Hudson Institute,  writes a lot about the Navy's need for more funding, and the size of the job the Navy is tasked to do, and extended deployments.  But he doesn't talk about the real causes of this accident.  Things like the following:  Were navigation lights burning on both vessels?  Was the destroyer's radar manned and operating?  What was the range to the tanker when radar reported the contact to the bridge?  How many lookouts were on duty at the time of the accident (o'dark thirty)  How close was the tanker when the lookouts first reported it to the bridge?  Who was officer of the deck?  Was he on the bridge?  Was he awake?  How long had he been on duty? How much experience did he have?  Did the officer of the deck order full speed to avoid collision?  Could the engines produce full speed (30 knots or better for a destroyer) or were they worn or broken?  What were the skipper's standing orders regarding steering clear of merchant vessels?  Did he quote Admiral Dan Gallery, "Steer well clear of any merchie, lest he decide to liven up your day by ramming you." Where was the skipper anyhow?  Was there radio traffic with a shore traffic control center?  If so, what was it? 
   In short, do our sailors know what they are doing? 

Thursday, August 24, 2017

The Economist trashes the construction industry

They complain that the industry has not modernized and improve their productivity.  That ain't true.  I can remember hanging around construction sites as a boy many years ago.  Studs were cut to length with handsaws.  Now a days a Skilsaw or a radial arm saw zips thru two by fours in seconds.  I remember the chink-chink-chink as the carpenters drove nails home with 20 oz framing  hammers.  Now one pfhht with an air nailer and a 10 penny nail is sunk right up to the head.  Sheet goods, plywood, siding, sheet rock, go up faster than nailing boards together.  Now a days even the smallest job does earthmoving with back hoes, bulldozers, and front end loaders rather than picks and shovels.  CPVC piping goes in faster than copper tubing and cast iron drain pipe with oakum and lead joints.  Romex cable goes in faster and easier than the old steel armored cable. 
   I'm thinking the Economist is written by the type of folk that cannot change a light bulb. 

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

I got a push poll from my old Alma Mater

At least it claimed to be from Franklin and Marshall, but it displayed the name of the survey company as much as it did the name of my old college.  It came to me on Facebook. The survey writer was deep into "diversity"  and asked a lot of questions about it, with answers slanted toward "diversity is good".   This survey was more into shaping my opinions than in finding out what I think about things.  Diversity was the shtick, no questions about safe spaces, micro aggressions, care and feeding of snowflakes, anti free speech. 

Monday, August 21, 2017

US Navy does it again

How does a destroyer, with vastly great speed, maneuverability, and the best radar money can buy,  get hit by a tanker?   And this is the second such incident this year.  On the first one, the Navy has relieved the captain and the executive officer of duty.  They never have said just how the accident happened.   Admiral Dan Gallery once wrote "Steer well clear of any merchie, lest he decide to liven up your day by ramming you."  I guess modern destroyer skippers don't read Dan Gallery any more.
    Could it be the destroyer thought he had the right of way over the tanker, and expected the tanker to change course to avoid him?   It doesn't work that way, big tankers don't maneuver all that well and if they are in a narrow channel, they won't maneuver at all lest they run aground.   Grounding a big tanker costs a lot more than running down anything, so the tanker skippers just plow on ahead.  You would think a US Navy destroyer skipper would understand this, but you never know. 

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Boston Law Enforcement did better than Charlotte's

Boston had a bigger demo.  The Boston cops prevented anyone from bringing in weapons, and kept the two sides (lefties and righties) apart.   There are internet postings and TV pieces saying that Charlotte police stood to one side and let the two sides fight with each other.  Charlotte city  democratic party gave the stand aside order, hoping to create a national news feeding frenzy, which happened.  MSM has been talking about nothing else for a week.   I'm not sure if this theory is real news or fake news, but it is certainly plausible. 

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.