Monday, December 29, 2014

I survived the flu

It came on the day after Christmas.  I assume I picked it up from one of the six kids we had up for Christmas.  It started out as a sore throat, and moved on to serious vomiting.   That subsided by morning, but I decided to stick with clear liquids for the day, hot tea, jello, chicken broth, and Scotch.  It was a very low speed day.   One thing does work fairly well, Benadryl Allergy and Cold.  It soothes the throat, opens up the nose, and makes things a little less miserable. 

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Cops should not wear black uniforms

Hitler's SS wore black, with chrome trim no less.  They looked fearsome.   American police officers should wear blue, real blue, not a blue so dark it looks black, to show that they are civilian police officers, not SS thugs. They should wear police officer caps, with a brim, and the traditional eight sided cover, not the Air Force 50 mission crush, and not the Wehrmacht peaked cap, and not crash helmets. 
   Many, perhaps most, crimes are solved when someone gives the police a tip.  If the public doesn't like the police they won't give 'em any tips.  All professional police officers understand this and go to great lengths to establish good community relations.  
   Community relations can be difficult when the community has a high proportion of real criminals and wannabe criminals.  I mean, the business of the  police is to arrest criminals, and criminals don't like that.  Best the police can do is contact the law abiding members of the community, clergy, store owners, business men, school teachers, boy scout leaders, citizens of good will, and establish some kind of rapport.  Once established, use the rapport to communicate the police side of controversies to the community. 
    And, communities need to reduce the number of laws that they have the police enforce.  For instance, the Garner death on Staten Island came about thru police (five officers no less) enforcing a law against selling loosies.  Granted, the police were acting at the behest of neighborhood merchants who wanted Garner gone from in front of their establishments, but the loosey cigarette law gave a pretext for hassling an undersirable.   Police should not get into enforcement and arrests unless real harm is being done.   Unnecessary laws ought to be repealed before they cause trouble.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station

Vermont Yankee is an elderly medium sized nuclear plant which has been powering the Vermont/New Hampshire area for years and years.  A while ago the owner gained a federal license good for the next twenty years.  How ever they were unable to defeat the greenies in the Vermont legislature and gain a state license.  And so the owners are gonna close Vermont Yankee this coming year.
   NHPR ran a piece about this today.  The reporter was concerned with job losses at Vermont Yankee.  Nothing about where the electricity would come from, or what might happen to the outrageous electric rates around here.  Nothing about other industries relocating to sites with more reasonable rates.  Nothing about the real economic reasons for having a power plant.  Like keeping the lights on.
   Instead NHPR dwelt on the economic impact of loosing 1200 jobs at the plant.  Wow.  1200 workers at a nuclear plant?  That's a helova lotta workers just to keep the grass mowed and the plant painted.  It's a nuclear plant, it just sits there and electricity comes out.  You don't have to stoke the boilers or unload trainloads of coal.  The reactors just run.  There is some preventive maintanance, checks for leaks, calibration of instruments and the like but you don't need 1200 people to do that.  Can you say featherbedding?

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Five Percent GNP growth in third Quarter

This is fabulous growth.  The US has averaged three percent growth going back to the earliest figures we have.  To get 5 percent means the economy is red hot.  Is that real?
   Do I believe these numbers?  They come from Obama bureaucrats who have every incentive to shore up a crumbling Obama administration with some good news.  The numbers are a "restatement".  They issued earlier less rosy numbers back in October, what we heard yesterday was new numbers based on what?  New data?  Applying some "corrections" to old data?  Mere pencil whipping?   Who knows. 
   How did they treat domestic oil production?  It has been going up, but the price is going down.  Result, more barrels of oil shipped, less money taken in.  How do they score this, as a gain or as a loss?  Do they count things like stock trading and derivative gambling as part of GNP?  How do they treat the greatly increased food stamp program?  Is it a gain because more food money is spent?  Or a loss because more tax money is taken away from honest taxpayers?  How do they handle the increase in health care costs?  Is it more production, or is it a greater drain upon taxpayers? 
   The basic idea, that the economy is growing a 5 percent a year is cool, I like it, everybody likes it. 
Question:  Is is real?  Who knows?  Surely not the newsies, they all grew up on new math and calculators, leaving them totally enumerate.   The economists are not much better.   

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

New Hampshire Director of Tourism

Victoria Mumble-Mumble was the name given on NHPR this morning.  Newly appointed by governor Maggie Hassan.  She had a bright young thing voice and spent her air time pushing a plan to increase out-of-state students in New Hampshire colleges.  Not a bad idea, but you'd think the schools would have this obvious play pretty well covered by now.
   They did mention a few numbers.  Tourism is New Hampshire's #2 industry, bringing in $4.7 billion in revenue.
   Not a word about skiing, hiking, snowboarding, fishing, snowmobiling, leaf peeping, or climbing, the real tourist draws in New Hampshire.  No mention of the new state liquor stores on I93, the tourist railroads, Strawberrie Bank, or even funding for the highway rest areas.  Our tax money at work.

Monday, December 22, 2014

NYC police officer slaying. Perp was a nut case.

My sincerest sympathy to the families of the two slain New York police officers.  But, despite the torrent of criticism of Mayor De Blasio and Eric Holder, in actual fact, the killer was a nut case.  Just his actions make that clear, first he shoots his girl friend in Baltimore, then he shoots two police officers in New York, and then he shoots himself.  I'm not a shrink, but that has got to be, the actions of an insane individual. 
   And this insane killer was running around loose.  Someone should have noticed that this guy was insane, and he should have been popped into the booby hatch and left there. 
   Trouble is, we shut down the booby hatches fifty years ago.  So now insane individuals are left loose to commit multiple murders.  It has gotten so bad around here that nut cases have spent weekends hand cuffed to beds in local emergency rooms, just because there is no where else to put them. 

Anti Lead Freaks at work

So, yesterday I find two Xeroxed sheets in my mailbox raving about the dangers of lead in my tap water.  I guess the local water board had the mail man put them out.  The sheets lack an author, although I would guess that the Environmental Pollution Agency is responsible.  They are all hot about a level of 15 parts per Billion of lead in the water.  Me, I don't worry about anything until it reaches one part per Million, a 1000 parts per billion.  
    We fixed the lead poisoning problem back in the 1960's when we stopped using lead dioxide as the pigment in white house paint.  Titanium dioxide makes paint white now.  But bureaucracies never die, the Environmental Pollution bureaucrats went out looking for something else to do.  They decided that the solder used to fasten copper water pipe together was dissolving in the water and poisoning people.  Nice theory, but in actual fact, solder is a metal and does not dissolve in water. 
   We have been using lead water pipes since Roman times.  In fact, the words plumber and plumbing come from the Latin word for lead, plumbum. 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Sony's IT department ought to be fired

Some industry sources are telling me that Sony got hacked because their IT department wasn't minding the store.  Log files show repeated unauthorized intruders in their system.  Had the IT department been doing its job it would have checked the logs, and clamped down on the intruders.  They sat on their fannies, and it cost Sony as much as the Target hack cost Target last year. 
  For that matter their top execs ought to be fired for allowing a company culture of badmouthing other Hollywood figures in email. 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Hobbit, Battle of Five Armies

So I went to see it at the Jax Jr in Littleton  last night.  Pretty full house seeing as the movie has been playing for four nights already.  Lotta kids, lotta highschoolers with dates.  It was in 3D, which I find somewhat annoying.  Although they have improved the 3D process, the screen is sharper and in better focus this time.
   As a Tolkien fan since forever I had to see this one, even though the critics have panned it.  Actually the critics are onto something.  The movies has a lotta fighting, lotta marching armies, Smaug the dragon incinerating Esgaroth-upon-the-Long-Lake, Bard the bowman shooting down the dragon on the wing.  Vast armies of Elves, Dwarves, and Orcs, marching in step, pikes out.  Sword fights on crumbling stone bridges.
  Movie is weak on names.  It opens with a glamorous red haired elven princess falling in love with a Dwarf.  She survives the whole movie but I never did catch her name.  Dwarf name I did catch, sorta, it was either Fili or Kili.  The hairstylists went a little overboard on long and shaggy hair and beards for all the guys and Dwarves. The Orcs bring a lot of trolls to the battle, 12 foot tall, beer bellies like a filing cabinet, blue skin, capable of head butting their way thru stone walls.  The ordinary sized characters like Thorin seem to be able to cut them down with just swords, no big problem. 
   We won't comment upon how well the movie follows the book.  You have to enjoy the flick on its own terms.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Sony Folds

In response to some emailed threats of violence, Sony withdrew it's new comedy film, which skewered North Korea and its leader Kim Jong Un.
   This prompted Newt Gingrich to decry the action as losing the first cyberwar battle.   I suppose. On the other hand I always thought Sony was a Japanese company.  I guess Newt has an inclusive vision of who constitutes "us".  Certainly the Japanese have been loyal and useful American allies and trade partners for 70 years  so maybe they are "us".
   Pulling the film means Sony gives up box office revenues, still the most important  revenue source for movies.  They have some $40 million sunk into production costs which Sony is kissing good bye.  Of course these are the same Sony executives who were dumb enough commit their snark to email.  Everyone (except Sony execs)  knows email is so insecure that any thing put in email might as well be posted on the local bulletin board.  You don't bad mouth customers or acting talent you might need to do business with, in public.  Email is public.  Ollie North showed us this back during the Iran Contra affair in the 1980's.  Sony execs are slow learners.  Dead slow.
   You also have to wonder about terrorist/hacker good faith.  Sony pulls the flick, but will the terrorist/hackers refrain  from publishing more embarrassing emails?  Or call off their theater shooters? Who knows?
    Uncle Sam is making noises like the Sony hack was done by the North Koreans.  It will be interesting to see what evidence they can produce.  Surely the hackers went thru one of the various anonymizer sites to cover their tracks. 
    Another question.  How do you go about retaliating?  Do the Norks even have computers for us to hack back at?  Surely they don't have on line banking or stock trading for us to mess up.  Are we willing to call a hack attack an act of war and take some kind of real military action against the Norks?  I don't think so.  They don't have any international trade to speak of.  They don't care about world opinion. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Cannon Mountain Ski Weather

We got maybe two inches of fresh snow last night.  Temperature this morning is just below freezing. 

So what do we get for recognizing Communist Cuba?

Nothing.  Obama, now he gets into the history books.  The lefties, who write the history books, run the schools, and control the MSM, love the idea.  They will give it a good press, possible for the next fifty years.  So Obama did it for him, not for the country.
   Diplomatic recognition is desperately important to the Castro regime.  It means the Americans will give up attempts at regime change, something that we have tried in the past.  Rumor has it the CIA tried to kill Fidel with a poison laden cigar back in the day.  Now, with embassies established in Havana and Washington,  all the Cuban have to fear is nasty diplomatic notes, rather than a second Bay of Pigs. 
   Charles Krauthammer groused that Obama gave the Castros diplomatic recognition with out demanding any concessions from the Cubans in return.  He has a point.  On the other hand, what concessions, short of shutting down the communist police state, do the Cubans have to make?  They are broke, their people barely have enough to eat, they lack natural resources, they have nothing worthwhile to export save cigars.
   So Obama, grabbing for his place in the history books, hands the Castros a fantastic bennie. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

What is the business model of radio stations??

I mean like what do they do to make money?  We got stations up here that never run ads.  Never do news or weather, never even do a station break.  Never play new music.  They play a reasonable mix of older pop music, some of it a half century old. 
   How do they make enough money to pay the rent and the electric bill? 
   Could it be that Clearchannel bought them up and has plans for the future, but for right now they just keep them on the air to avoid loosing the license?

Strange, I never heard of any of 'em before today

TV news is full of the Allan Gross story.  The Cubans released Gross from a Cuban jail and allowed him to return to the US.  As part of the deal, we released three Cuban spies held in US jails.  I'm happy for Gross, and his wife, and the rest of his family. 
  Funny thing, I never heard of Gross before this.  Lame stream media at work again.  Nor had I heard of the spy cases that got us three Cuban spies.  More good lame stream media work.  Keeping the public informed.  All the news that fits, we print. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Ruble falls. About time too.

The Russian ruble is down to 80 rubles to the dollar today.  It was at 64 when the markets opened in the morning.  Lots of financial talk about why.
  I'll tell you why.  The Russians have nothing to sell to anyone except crude oil.  The only reason to have rubles is to buy stuff from the Russians.  Nobody else will accept rubles, 'cause there is nothing you can do with them.  I'm surprised it took the banks this long to wise up.  Now that the Americans have vastly increased their oil production, everyone would rather do business with the Americans, who are reasonable honest, and aren't threatening to invade their customers.
   For that matter, I don't understand why any bank would loan the Russians money.  They don't have the income to pay off a loan, they defaulted on their loans only  a few years ago, and Russian courts won't support foreigners who sue Russians to get  their money back.  Loaning to the Russians is worse than playing the derivative market.  At least US courts will enforce derivative contracts, which is more than Russian courts will do. 

130 Casualties in Pakistan

Al Quada attacked a school.  My sincerest sympathy for the Pakistani parents who lost children.  There is nothing worse than losing a child.  I hope the Paki's took the gun men alive.  Some rigorous interrogation is in order.   

Monday, December 15, 2014

Turkey Soup

Makes enough to last for weeks.  But heh, what else do you do with that leftover turkey carcass in the fridge?  You can just pitch it, but soup is so easy. 
   Put all the bones, and the rest of the turkey into a big pot filled with water.  Bring to a boil, and let it cook for four hours.  Put in a bit of onion and chopped celery for flavor.  Bell's Poultry seasoning, maybe a tad of pepper, couple of bay leaves.  No salt. 
   After four hours the meat is cooked off the bones.  Let things cool a bit.  Fish out the bones and pitch them.  Cooked bones like these are bad for pets, they splinter into jagged pieces and do bad things to pet's insides when swallowed. 
   Finish the soup off with some veggies, carrots are good for color, peas, celery, baby corn, or real kernel corn or mushrooms.  And some rice.  Let it cook at close to a boil until the veggies are tender and the rice is soft.  Taste.  Salt sparingly if needed.  Add salt last, in case it becomes saltier than expected from adding things like bouillon cubes.  Serve.   Or let it cool and you can reheat it the next day and it will be good.
   All the grownups liked it and even had seconds.  And I still have plenty left.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Your Mileage May Vary (YMMV)

They are just learning about this over in Europe.  The advertised European emissions and fuel economy numbers for automobiles are way way better than what the cars get on the road.  Economist article goes on and on about how the car makers cheat, including programming the automobile microprocessors to recognize the start of an emissions test and switch over to an ultra clean mode for the duration of the test.  The Economist writers seen surprised to find a gap between "objective" testing and real world driving. 
   Over here we figured this out years ago.  Your Mileage May Vary has been a cliche for a long long time.  It seems to take the Euros longer to catch on.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Cromnibus derivative give away.

The $1 trillion Cromnibus bill to fund the federal government for another year contains a juicy handout to banks.  Banks will be allowed to play the derivatives market using FDIC guaranteed money.  Taxpayer money. 
  Derivatives are an undesirable financial deal, basically gambling, and they take money that might be used to grow the economy and use it for pure gambling.  A derivative is not a stock or a bond.  It's bet between two parties on the price of something (commodities, stocks, foreign exchange, bonds, whatever) in the future.  "I bet the price of oil will go to $120 by March 2015".  " I bet it won't".  hands are shaken on the bet, and come March someone pays off.  The money does not go for starting up a company, building a factory, developing a new product, buying inventory, financing new aircraft, or anything that creates jobs and grows the economy.  As such, we ought to do everything we can to prevent gambling on derivatives. There are better things for banks to do with their money.
   Federal Deposit Insurance Corp (FDIC) is a government guarantee of banks.  Roosevelt set it up in Great Depression 1.0 to convince depositors that they could leave their money in a bank and not worry about the bank failing and taking all their savings with it.  Prior to FDIC, anytime depositors got jittery, they ran to their bank and withdrew all their money.  When everyone did this, the bank withered and died, often within hours.  Now, 80 years later, FDIC is still with us.  FDIC means that no matter how dumbass the bank may be, Uncle will pay off the depositors.  Nobody has to worry about loosing money in a bank. 
   Which means the banks can take some unholy risks, figuring that Uncle will bail them out. 
   Part of Dodd-Frank required that banks no longer gamble in the derivative game using FDIC insured funds.  An excellent idea. 
   Apparently the banks threw bags of money at politicians and the politicians lifted the "no FDIC money for derivatives" ban.  They slipped it into the Cromnibus late at night. 
Money talks.  Politicians walk. 

Friday, December 12, 2014

I hear Sony got hacked...

Couldn't happen to a nicer victim.  Sony, as you might remember, is the company that tried copy protection for its music CDs by loading them with a root kit that infected customer's PC's.   A little shared pain is good for the company soul....

Cannon Mt Ski Weather

We got two, maybe three inches of new snow yesterday and last night.  It's below freezing (just barely) right now.  What with the seven inches we got on Wednesday, the mountain oughta be a great shape for tomorrow.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Torture Report runs interference for Cromnibus?

TV newsies have been totally consumed by the "Torture Report".  The report itself is 6000 pages long, and nobody, but nobody is gonna read thru that.  So partisan pundits have attacked from the left and the right, and the citizen is left with nothing factual, just heated opinions.  The newsies love this story and allow it to drive everything all off the news.
   Meanwhile, lame duck Congress is passing a $1 Trillion dollar appropriation bill, the "Continuing Resolution/Omnibus Spending Bill".  It will fund the entire federal government for a year.  That's a staggering sum of money.  Spread out over 1600 pages to make it difficult-to-impossible to figure out who gets how much.  Enough pork to choke a hog can be hidden in 1600 pages.  Nobody has read this monster flimflam either.  Nobody knows what's in it.  A few staff people know that their bit of pork got stuffed in, or got dropped on the floor, but none of 'em know the whole story.
   There must be some bad stuff in there if they think they need the Torture Report to hide it.
   Not the way to do business.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Cannon Mountain Ski Weather

Nothing happened yesterday until noon, when it started to snow, lightly.  Nothing worth mentioning until the sun went down.  By this morning I had 7 inches of new snow on my deck.  Since then, it's warmed up, it's right at the freezing mark, and we are getting a light rain.  The TV weathermen aren't sure what happens tonight, rain or snow? 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Librarians

New TV show, advertised for AMC,  they actually showed it on TNT.  Sunday night premier, two hours long.  It's an Indiana Jones kind of action adventure show.  "Search for King Arthur's Celtic Crown" was the title of the first episode.  Which ought to give you an idea of what it's about. 
   It's lacking.  I feel asleep before the two hours were up.  Characters were weak, I didn't learn any of their names, always a bad sign.  The leading man is an anti team player, spends most of the time badmouthing his team mates.  His blond second in command has a mean right cross.  By rights she should have slugged him before the second commercial.  In the last reel, crown recovered, he lays them all off.  So much for the One for All, All for One" spirit. 
  I don't think I will bother to catch the next episode.  Hollywood is as lame as ever. 

480 Page Executive Summary??

The Democratic CIA Torture Report is getting released today.  The executive summary (introduction for Congress critters) is 480 pages long!!!  The whole report is 6000 pages.  Who in their right mind can wade thru that much gobbledegook?  I'll bet it kept about fifty bureaucrats busy writing it. 
  I cannot believe anything of substance survives being spread over 6000 pages. 

Grilling Gruber

Darrel Issa's committee has Gruber up on TV and they are doing him medium rare.  Gruber made the TV news for a number of speeches in which he called the American voters "dumb" or "stupid".  Actually, the voters, once they found out what Obamacare was doing to them, voted a whole bunch of politicians out of office.  It was the Congress critters who gave us Obamacare, not the voters.  The voters, and the Republicans were solidly against Obamacare.  It was the Democrat Congress critters that Gruber was able to flim flam into sticking us with Obamacare.  The voters weren't dumb, but their Congress men were. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics

Every quarter or so, Uncle will report so many jobs "created".  I wonder where those numbers come from?  ADP?  Businesses mail a form into Uncle?  Withholding tax? Presumable they are reporting on hires.  Every quarter we do some hiring and some firing.  Are the reported numbers the number of hires less the number of fires?  Which it should be.  Or do they just report new hires 'cause you get a bigger number that way? 
Inquiring minds want to know.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Economist cover cartoon

The Economist has a good cartoonist, who does most, maybe all of the cartoons in the mag.  He is pretty good.  He did the cover this week.  The cartoon shows two beefy guys doing the pistols at dawn dueling scene.  You know, standing back to back, pistols in hand, on a word from a second they will step forward a few paces and then turn and fire at each other.  Only instead of pistols, these guys are holding gasoline pump nozzles.  They both have mean and nasty expressions on their faces.  One is an Arab sheik, flowing white tribal robes, red and white checked kaffeyeh.  The other is an oil field roughneck, blue jeans, wind breaker, beer belly, and safety yellow hard hat, with an American flag decal on it. 
  Inside the magazine, the cover story tells us that oil has dropped from $100 a barrel last summer to $70 a barrel now.  They also said that production cost of fracked North Dakota oil is $57 a barrel, so the price can fall a bit more and the Bakken will still be profitable. 

Shipping is the secret to Internet shopping

Doing my Christmas shopping.  Mostly on the internet this year.  No more trips into Washington St, Boston, struggling thru the crowds at Filene's Basement, looking for interesting things at Raymond's.  Big attraction of on-line.  They do the wrapping, the packing, the postage, and getting it to the Post Office.  It's great, click on it, type in your credit card, and it's done.  When all my children are scattered across the country, from sea to shining sea, that's a lot of trips to the Post Office. 
   Plus, there aren't any interesting places to shop up here.  Walmart has great prices, but few things anyone would like to receive as a gift.  The interesting cookware shop in Littleton is gone.  The Village Bookstore is just coming back to life.  LaHoute's is still here, but that's sportswear, for which you need sizes.  Which few of us have. 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Curse of the Soundman

Hollywood has been making talkies since Al Jolson sang in The Jazz Singer back in the 1930's.  Recently, say last 10 years or so,  they seem to have lost their touch.  A fair number of movies come thru where you cannot understand the dialogue anymore.  The actors mumble, the mics are not placed right, and the score or the sound effects drown out the actor's words.  PITA.  My children tell me it has to do with getting old, they claim my ears are failing.
   Been listening to the TV doing Christmas carols.  Fox had a boys choir on this morning.  I could understand every single word the boys sang.  Vermont PTV was doing another carol show a few minutes ago.  Again, I could understand every single word of every carol, even the ones in Latin like Adestes Fidelis.  If TV can do it, why cannot Hollywood do a decent sound track on their movies?

Friday, December 5, 2014

Lowest unemployment rate in New England

I heard that on NHPR this morning.  New Hampshire has the lowest unemployment rate in New England. Too bad that our young people have to leave the state when they graduate in order to find work.  Makes our unemployment rate look better, but we miss having our children around.  My youngest son had to go to North Dakota to find work. 

Avoiding Turkey Dryness

Turkey dryness, a much discussed holiday calamity.  I can remember my stepmother berating my father over a dry turkey twenty years ago.  I nearly laughed, knowing that the old man had never cooked anything more complex than a peanut butter and bacon sandwich in his life. Stepmother was a dear, but she was a slow learner.
   Anyhow, we had a nice moist turkey this Thanksgiving.  I think the secret lies in a roasting pan with a lid.  The turkey is good and brown after an hour in the oven,  but needs to go another hour or so to be done.  Put the lid on the bird once it is brown enough and it holds in the moisture.  And baste it often.  Modern turkeys are pretty lean, so you may need to use some oil (cooking, olive, anything except 3-in-1) to baste with. 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

So who is Shawn Jasper?

I never heard of him before.  Somehow the Democrats recruited enough New Hampshire RINO's to elect him Speaker of the House, beating out Bill O'Brien by a VERY slim margin.  All the democrats and 40 RINO's voted for Jasper.
  Wonder what Jasper is in favor of?  Since all the Democrats voted for him, you gotta wonder if he is a tax hike guy.  Could he be thinking state income tax?  Or state sales tax? 
  I liked O'Brien, he was a cost cut guy.
  There is a group starting up to primary all the RINOs.  I wish them luck.

Strange, I never heard of the Eric Garner Chokehold case

Before yesterday that is.  When some unnamed group[s] ran off some demos on Manhattan.  The demos made the TV news.  The video of four or five cops piling onto Garner and choking him to death is horrible.  I'm surprised it didn't get more airplay. 
   If the TV newsies were doing their jobs, they would tell us who is organizing the demos, perhaps interview someone on TV.  As it is, they sound totally clueless. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

$250 million for body cams?

That's a lotta  money, even for the Feds.  
Question:  Do you think things would have been different in Ferguson if the officer had been wearing a body cam?  The officer says that Brown, a big and scary looking guy, attacked him, and he shot in self defense.  He probably would have fired at Brown even if he had been wearing a body cam. 
   I suppose that body camera's would deter a few cops from doing a Rodney King act on some hapless target.  But American cops are pretty good about being professional, defense attorneys do a lot to reinforce the professional behavior.  I don't think $250 million worth of body cams will make them much more professional. 

What kinda tax breaks ?

Apparently some $45 billion worth of tax breaks will expire, and hit tax payers harder in this tax year.  Unless Congress repasses them in the current lame duck session.  Fox is covering this.
Question for you TV newsies.  What is in that $45 billion package?  More special favors for hedge funds and Wall St?  Let's have some details.  Otherwise we should be calling our Congress critters to urge them to vote no. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Obama is keeping Ferguson in the news...

But why?  Ferguson is an unhappy story that real people would like to fade away.  Nobody likes 18 year olds getting shot by police.  Nobody likes riots and burning down businesses.  All real people would like the Ferguson story to get over with.  Obama seems to be working to keep Ferguson going in the news.  He held that special conference at the White House about it.  He invited head line grabbing race hustler Al Sharpton to the conference. 
    Who does Obama think he is appealing to?  There is a small minority of blacks, those who feel society is unfair to them, people we used to call the Black Panthers back in the day,  who want to keep the riots going until something good happens for them.  This is a small minority of all blacks.  So Ferguson appeals to a minority of a minority.  So why does Obama care?
   Or, does Obama want the newsies to stay on the Ferguson story because otherwise they would be reporting about something even worse for his administration?   And what might that be?

Either the economy is looking up...Or

Or Linked-In upgraded it's software.  For the first time in years, I got a robo email from Linked-In with some real job offerings.  First one was System Engineer at Raytheon.  I worked at Raytheon once upon a time.  I'm not really in the job market, I retired some years ago, but it's good to think the Linked-In's software thinks I am worth getting a resume from.
Let's hope it's the economy, I'd like to think the economy is improving despite Obama's best efforts to kill it and throw everyone out of work. 

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Robocaller says goodbye.

This one has called me at least three times in the last month.  The phone rings, I pick up,  and nobody is on the line.  I ought to hang up right then and there, but for some reason I give 'em the count of 5 to come on the line.  This robocaller waits for the count of five and then says "Goodbye".   It's persistant, it's called me three times in a month.
   What is the robocaller is trying to achieve?  It is a voice phone,  they cannot suck  my social security number or a credit card number out of a  plain old wired phone.  They don't sell me anything, or ask me any thing.  Why do they bother?  All I can think of is burglars checking to see if I am home before coming out to plunder the place.  But that's gotta be crazy thinking.
  Robocalling ought to be made a felony, with some cruel and unusual punishment attached.  Boiling in oil would be appropriate. 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

US College education is too expensive

I'm on a roll.  What do you do to slow the rise of college tuition?  Which has been way higher than the general inflation rate for decades.
1.  Fire the useless mouths.  The only people who should be on salary are real professors, who teach three full credit (meets three times a week) courses per semester..  Administrators should be fired on general principles.  Administrators do not contribute to the student education, they just steal student's tuition money. 
2.  Fire the janitors, the dishwashers, and the groundskeepers.  Let the students mow the grass, sweep the halls, do the dishes, and shovel the snow.  Tell the students if they don't like doing the chores, find another college.
3.  Coaches should not be paid more than professors. 
4.  Insist on Saturday classes.  That way you can schedule Mon-Wed-Fri classes AND Tues-Thurs-Sat classes and fit more classes into the same classroom space.
5.  Stop constructing frills.  Fancy student unions, gyms, pools, theaters, dorms, anything not used for instruction.  Students can rough it, or private enterprise will step forward and fill the gap.
6.  Drop the worthless courses and majors.  Gender studies, racial studies, film criticism, art history, journalism, theatre, sociology, political science, anything that does not lead to gainful employment upon graduation. It's fraud to take a student's money are not equip him to earn a living.
7.  Drop graduate education.  The masters and doctorate and post doctoral programs lead only to jobs as college faculty, and there are virtually no job openings for college faculty.  Students going for graduate degrees are getting fleeced by the college. 
8.  Be fair to athletes.  Make sure that they graduate, in four years, with a useable degree.  If they cannot do the work, they cannot play. 

I hear UNH is warming up to cry for more taxpayer money this year. 

Saturday, November 29, 2014

US health care is too damn expensive

The United States pays put 19% of GNP providing health care to its citizens.  That is a staggering sum of money.  All the rest of the world gets by pays 8% of GNP, less than half.  And, for paying all that money, US health is just fair, we rank about15th or so.  Which means 14 or so countries manage to give their citizens better health care for half the money.  Note that not one of our intrepid newsies has ever run a story explaining how that happens.  Here is my list of what we ought to do to get the price down.
1.  Competition.  Allow insurance companies to do business in every state of the union.  Right now to sell insurance in a state, the company has to do 100 tons of state paper work, and bribe a lot of officials.  It's so bad that a lot of companies just don't bother.  That's why we only have two health insurance companies up here.  Pass a federal law that says any licensed insurance company has the right to sell policies in all 50 states whether the state insurance commissions like the idea or not.  The Commerce Clause of the Constitution oughta cover this.  This will bring some choice, and perhaps some better pricing to the private insurance market.  Insurance companies will hate this idea, but companies don't have the vote.
2.  Curb the lawyers.  The lawyers should not be allowed to advertise for plaintiffs on TV.  We need a law to prevent mal practice suits for proscribing, manufacturing, selling, anything, of any FDA approved drug or device.  Even if the FDA later dis approves said drug or device.  Everyone knows that the FDA has been super cautious about approving anything, ever since the thalidomide disaster back in the '60s.  After they do approve something, it's reasonable for any man to assume it's safe.  We should not allow suits against those men just because they did something reasonable.  The lawyers will hate this, but there ain't that many lawyers in the electorate.
3.  More competition.  Allow import of drugs from any reasonable first world country, say Canada, Britain, Germany, France.  People should be able buy anything in Canada that the Canadian authorities allow on their market.  US companies often sell drugs for much lower prices overseas, mostly because the overseas authorities insist on more reasonable pricing.  Which is why drugs are often much cheaper from Canada.  People ought to be able to take advantage of this.  The drug companies hate this idea, but again, companies don't vote.  The FDA hates this idea, but that's just a turf battle.
4.  Drop the "electronic medical records" scam.  Insisting that every provider keep your medical records on his computer, just means your medical records are visible to every hacker, every employer, and every enemy.
And it costs money and is driving the smaller providers out of the business.  Large providers like this "feature", but again, companies don't vote.  

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


Clearly Ferguson has a lot of very unhappy campers.  Questions that the TV newsies aren't asking.  Does the black community of Ferguson get out and vote?  Is Ferguson a real town, with a mayor, a town council, police department, fire department, and school department?  Or is it merely a district of St. Louis?  How many blacks and how many whites live in Ferguson?  Census data ought to show it.  Are there black candidates for municipal office?  Do they get elected?  What sort of turnout do Ferguson's black districts show, compared to the white districts?  
   The TV suggests that Ferguson's police force is mostly white, which is problematic.  Is this because Ferguson's blacks don't come out and vote?  The newsies would do the country a favor if they looked into this, rather than riot mongering.
   The riots, burning down stores, reduce employment opportunities as well as retail opportunities in Ferguson.  Hopefully the burned out store owners have insurance that will make them whole again.  But I bet a lot of 'em don't.  Certainly any businessman will think twice, maybe three times before setting up to do business in Ferguson.  Which costs jobs.

Snow just started up here in Franconia Notch.

Follow up to the non stop weather forecasts.  It's just at freezing, and light snow has started in the last few minutes. 

Why do I bother to read them?

You gotta wonder about the Economist.  A London based weekly news magazine with a long history and pretensions of seriousness.  The end-of-the-year special edition just came in, thick with ads, and lots of speculation and prognostication about next year.  Lots of good opining with little factual content, a sort of writer's delight. 
   Lead article, bylined "From the Editor".  second sentence reads "Two grand gatherings toward the end of the year, the UN's meeting to set 'sustainable development goals' and a get together in Paris to combat climate change, will show whether countries can agree on way to tackle some of the planet's biggest issues. "
Wow.  With Europe's economy tipping into recession, ISIS on the march, Ebola spreading, Putin taking over Ukraine, and China making moves all over the South China Sea, the Economist calls "sustainable development" and global warming  some of the planet's biggest issues?   Can you spell obsession?  Can you spell liberal lightweight?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

National Guard

The TV newsies have been pointing to the lack of the Guard on the streets of Ferguson last night.  The Guard was called up, but was not sent out to confront the rioters face to face. 
   This might be a decision by the governor to allow down town Ferguson burn rather than accept the casualties that might result from sending in the Guard.  Kent State must have been on the governor's mind. 
   The National Guard are part time soldiers, and have a much more practical attitude toward opponents than professional police officers do.  Guardsmen tend to believe the best way to deal with opposition is to shoot them before they get you.  If necessary call in some air and artillery strikes to soften them up before sending in the infantry.  This is a good attitude for soldiers in combat.  It is a little bit harsh for domestic law enforcement purposes.  

Oz, the great and powerful, Disney

As a dyed in the wool Oz fan, I had to watch it.  I first saw the original at age 5, my grandmother took me into Boston on the train, (Grandmother didn't drive) in a snow storm.  That was back before we had TV.  And we had a lot of Oz books around the house and I read them.   
   Any how, this is the second Disney attempt to revive the Oz franchise.  It isn't actually bad,  but it lacks something.  The cast are all people I never heard of.  A much younger wizard gets blown to Oz in a balloon by a cyclone.  Once in Oz he has difficulty figuring out what he is there for.  The wicked witch of the east doesn't seem all that wicked, despite wearing black and flying a broom that leaves a trail of black smoke.  He teams up with a cute blonde Glinda the Good, but the relationship never seems to get to the boyfriend-girlfriend stage, let alone into proposals of marriage.    There is a CGI china doll who tries to fill the role of Dorothy but CGI doesn't have the stage presence of a Judy Garland.  There is a CGI flying monkey in a bell boy uniform who winding up carrying the Wizard's bag and cracking a few jokes. 
Over all,  Meh. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Chuck Hagel, Defense Secretary is OUT.

Obama will make a formal announcement in an hour or so.  I, and many others, wonder how this happened.  Is Obama firing Hagel?  Or is Hagel resigning?  Who will ever know? 
I also wonder what Obama will do for a replacement.  Taking on the Defense Secretary job with serious budget cuts, sequester, ISIS on a roll, no boots on the ground, Iran building nukes,  and various other S.H.I.T.F things going on is not career enhancing.  Obama has driven foreign policy and the military so far down the drain that I cannot imagine anyone being able to do good or look good trying to fix things. 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Nature on PBS, still into Global Warming

Watched "Nature" on channel 6, Vermont Public TV.  Interesting show on the Arctic.  Interesting shots of a school of killer whales driving narwhales into the shallows and chowing down on them.  The voice over kept emphasizing that global warming was melting off the Arctic ice cap, allowing the killer whales to hunt farther north.  And it sympathized with the fate of polar bears.  The traditional bear hunting tactic involves walking out on the ice, finding a breathing hole in the ice and waiting for a seal to come up for air.  No more ice, no more seal hunting on the ice.  We did get to see a couple of polar bears going after spawning arctic char, with variable luck. 
    Of course, this year's arctic ice report shows more arctic ice than usual.  That happy talk about the arctic ice going out and  allowing steamships to make it thru the NorthWest passage has died down.
   That didn't seem to affect the Nature voiceover bewailing the onset of global warming.   

Words of the Weasel Part 42

"Such and Such is broken."  For example, the immigration system, the Congress,  the education system, the tax system and on and on.  And we need to "fix" it.  Fix it my way, of course. 
   More honest would be to say specifically what is wrong and how you want to "fix" it.  For example, "The immigration system has allowed too many (11 mil) illegal immigrants into the country.  We want  reduce the number of illegals, by turning illegals into legals. "   
   Just whining that something is broken is essentially deceitful.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

NPR was pushing rail travel, Concord-Boston

Heh, I'm a rail buff too.  I even have an HO train running around my down stairs guest room.  But, the price tag was stunning.  NPR was talking about $250 million capital investment in fixing up the track from Concord to I assume the Massachusetts state line.  That's about 25 miles, so we are talking about $10 million per mile.  Which is ridiculous.  Back in the day (19th century) there were plenty of railroad tracks running Nashua-Concord, and Nashua-Boston.  Those right of ways are still there.  The state could get them back from who ever owns them now thru eminent domain.  The track will need some work, but $10 million a mile for track work is a rip off. 
   NPR did not furnish any ridership estimates, fares, and travel time, which you would need to estimate revenue and losses.  Right now we have medium good bus service Concord to Boston.  Will the incredibly pricey train be faster?  or cheaper?
   Sounds like the NH taxpayers are expected to foot the bill and all the operating losses.   We would be ahead putting the money into finishing up widening I93.