Sunday, March 6, 2011

Shall we liberate Libya ?

Libya's dictator has his hands full with a popular revolt. Should the US intervene on the side of the rebels?
Unlike Egypt, Quadaffi, the Libyan dictator has been a real bastard going back 40 years. He was responsible for the Pan Am bombing, the bombing of a German nightclub which killed American soldiers, and ruthless oppression of his own people. He settled down somewhat after Reagan ordered an air strike on his palace, and even more after Bush did a regime change on Iraq, but even so, he remains a bastard who is better off dead in my opinion. Who ever replaces Quadaffi could hardly be worse, and, with any kind of luck, will be better.
Reasons not to intervene should be obvious. Our troops and airmen will take casualties, "collateral damage" to Libyan bystanders and their property will do nothing to improve Libyan-American relations, and what ever regime comes to power after an American intervention will be forever known as American stooges. And Quadaffi might win in the end, which will make us look foolish for backing a loser.
Reasons for intervention don't look all that good. To prevent Libyan civilian casualties is the strongest reason that has floated up in the public press. Up until now, US policy ( and everyone else's policy) has been to let countries kill as many people as they liked in the course of civil wars, international wars, or rebellions. Compared to the Iran-Iraq war, or the Ruandan genocide in the Congo, a little strafing of demonstrators in the streets doesn't really count. The other reason to intervene is a little payback on Quadaffi for his past sins. Which might be satisfying, isn't really a good reason to take sides in a civil war.
So, let's let the Libyan's sort out their governance problems on their own.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Bill O'Rielly vs Donald Rumsfeld

O'Reilly is interviewing Rumsfeld on TV just now (its a rerun of last night's show). O'Reilly is criticizing Rumsfeld for not speaking out about the risks involved in the regime change operation in Iraq. O'Reilly said he had no idea of how much trouble we were headed into, and it was all Rumsfeld's fault for concealing information from us. This is back 7-8 years ago when the Iraq operation was started.
Well I don't know about you, Bill O'Reilly, but I had a very clear idea of what the risks were back when we intervened in Iraq. It could have become as bad as Viet Nam. I knew that, and so did everyone else in the country with Viet Nam experience. I served in Viet Nam and so had a lot of other people. O'Reilly's accusation that the country didn't know what it was getting into is wrong. We knew darn well what we were getting into. And so did he.
Fortunately Iraq, although plenty bad, was not as bad as Viet Nam was. Be thankful for small favors.

Movie Credits

Back in the stone ages, movies opened with the credits. You got a chance to know who was playing what part before the movie started. Now a days, the credits are held to the end, and the cast's credits just give actor's names, no hint as to what role they played. Pain in the tail.
Part of the pleasure of watching movies is knowing what actor is playing what part. In the old days they spelled it out. Today, if you don't recognize the actor's face on screen, throwing the name up at the end of the movie doesn't help much. And with modern makeup it gets harder and harder to recognize the face. Take an actor like Sean Astin (Sam Gamgee). He looks totally different in each movie he acts in. I shouldn't have to look the flick up in IMDB to figure out who the cast was.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Why 787 Slips were Inevitable, (Aviation Week)

A "Viewpoint" article on what amounts to the op-ed page of Aviation Week, by a couple of professors of supply chain management from Rutgers business school. As management gurus, they concentrate on the management of the 787 project. The unusual feature of the Boeing project was the subcontracting out of vast pieces of the airframe. Wings, tails, the fuselage itself, were designed and built by subcontractors. The Aviation Week writers, as management guru's see the project's three year lateness as a management problem. If all you have is a hammer, every thing looks like a nail.
They point out that it only takes one late subcontractor to hold up the entire project, whereas the subcontractors who work hard and deliver on time don't get rewarded for their efforts. They say that the project slipped because a few unmotivated subcontractors were late, or delivered substandard work that had to be done over.
I used to earn my living in the engineering business. Once we got a job, we always went full out to do it right and do it on time. Our motivation? Simple, we all knew that if we didn't make the customer happy, we'd never get another job from him. So I don't really believe in the management gurus ingenious theories of motivation.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

I borrowed this chart from the Oil Drum blog. Despite a century of oil production, the US is still in the big leagues, number three producer after Saudi Arabia and Russia. That's nearly enough to supply our own needs. If we got back into deep water drilling, did some more fracking, and drilled in ANWR, we could be number 1, and self sufficient. Why is the Obama administration dead set against it?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Can the Feds cut the deficit?

The Republican house has made a start. They whittled $100 billion (or $61 billion prorated) off "non defense discretionary spending". Which ain't much compared to $1.4 trillion of new red ink this year. But it's a start. If the Feds don't have the gumption to pass these token cuts, we are doomed. They will never have the stones to attack the big entitlement programs.
Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security eat up the bulk of the federal budget. Cutting those is going to hurt, 'cause a lotta people take advantage of them, and they will all complain mightily when their benefits are reduced. Some the the sting could be eased by measures that reduce the overall cost of health care. Allowing interstate sale of health insurance, allowing import of drugs from abroad, banning consumer advertisements of prescription drugs, and clamping down on medical malpractice suits would help a great deal.
Then we could eliminate the federal farm subsidies, the federal ethanol subsidy, federal education spending, and federal highway spending.
It's gonna hurt, but there is no alternative. We won't be able to sell US bonds at any price if the federal debt goes much higher.

Is Spring a Myth?

Terrible blizzard yesterday. Wind howled around the house all day, snow every where. Got cold last night and its still below freezing up here. Today the town road grader made four passes up and down my street trying to push back the snow banks. Fortunately my mailbox survived this operation. I got drifts 8 feet high in places. More snow is forecast. And this is March?