Saturday, December 31, 2016

Traveling for Christmas

This year, a breakthru in family Christmas tradition.  Instead of all the children coming home to my place, I went down to spend the holidays with daughter Karen in DC.  Due to the load of Christmas presents, including a cradle for the coming child, dislike for air travel, and desire to have the car with us in DC, we drove down from NH. 
   Looks to me like the infrastructure between here and DC is a pretty good shape.  Even clapped out New York has down some work on the Cross Bronx expressway (I95) and the potholes are filled.  Looks like they resurfaced it.  Still a lot of medium bad chuckholes between the Connecticut border and the Bronx.  New York is still the infrastructure fail in the North East.  I'm thinking all the happy infrastructure talk on TV is coming from New Yorkers like Trump, who only see New York roads.  And maybe DC roads, DC has a fine herd of chuckholes and waterbars so bad I feared for my suspension.  Fortunately the Buick is pretty tough and nothing broke.   NJ has finished widening out the NH Turnpike.  The twelve lane wide part now is usable all the way to Philadelphia. 
   And the NJ tolls are fierce.  The GW bridge toll is now $15.  The NJ Turnpike toll from the bridge to Philadelphia was $11.80.  Then with the Del Mem bridge ($4), the Del TP toll ($4), the Maryland TP toll ($4) and the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel Toll ($8)  toll money is getting up closer to gas money. 
   Noticed a whole bunch of new pricey electric signs flashing harmless platitudes.  More infrastructure money at work.  And the shiny new mile markers, every 0.2 miles are spreading, like kudzu.  Wanna bet each one of those mile markers costs us taxpayers $100 to buy and plant? 
   Daughter's DC neighbor hood is coming up.  New condo's for yuppies under construction.  They finally got the trendy H Street trolley car to run.  Took 'em five profitable years. Everybody loves it, it's quaint, and it's free since they haven't figured out how to collect fares in cars with front and back doors.  At least so says Daughter.  The new cars have TWO, not one but TWO hinges in them to allow the car to handle tight curves.  That's two hinged sections to leak rainwater.  When the Boston T, with the sharpest curves in the nation, bought new cars from Boeing Vertol, they only needed one hinged section.  And the hinge has leaked rainwater onto passengers for 20-30 years now.  By the Way, the H Street trolley line runs straight as an arrow, no curves at all. 

Monday, December 26, 2016

Rogue One, The New Star Wars movie

Saw it today in the Smithsonian Air & Space museum Imax theater.  Nice big screen , good sound system, good seats.  It was in an  annoying three D, glasses required.  This three D system had a terrible depth of field problem.  Everything in the foreground or background was really blurry, only the middle ground was sharp.  PITA.  Camera work was only fair, too many superquick shots, cut too fast.  Too many scenes poorly lit.
   Other than that, it was a decent flick,  Better than the last one, far better than the three followon movies.  The story is set before the time of the first Star Wars (A New Hope) and has a whole new set of characters, no reviving of the old traditional cast,except Darth Vader.  The story line is the Rebel Alliance obtaining the Death Star plans that Luke and Leia will deliver in A New Hope.  We have a dynamic and pretty heroine, Jinn sonething-or-other  who has a good role and plays it well.  We have a handsome hero, whose name escapes me, (whole flick was weak on names) who has a good role but Jinn has a better one.  We have a blind and somewhat crazy Jedi master who is into whacking down Storm Troopers with a staff. We have a big ugly mercenary, with a heart of gold and a taste for heavy weapons.  And a big long armed long legged Droid with a sense of humor.   Lots of  booms amd blasts and space combat and special effects, all nicely done.  The flick keeps things moving and isn't too long. 
   A good Christmas flick. 

Friday, December 23, 2016

On the road for Christmas

Posting may be a little thin, perhaps nonexistent for Christmas week.  I am going to spend the holidays with my children, and may not get around to posting til I get back.

Rehashing Ancient History on NHPR

Way back in 1953, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were tried, convicted and executed for passing the secret of the atomic bomb to the Russians.  As far as the judge and the jury were concerned, the Rosenbergs had given the secret of the ultimate weapon to our mortal enemies.  The Left (we called them communists back then) in those days called the Rosenbergs innocent victims of a judicial murder.   In later years declassification of the "Venoma Papers", intercepted communications between the Soviet embassy and Moscow, showed the Rosenbergs guilt.
   And so, better than 60 years later, NHPR ran a lengthy piece, rehashing the whole affair.  Apparently there are two Rosenburg children, still alive, who are petitioning Obama to posthumously  pardon Ethel Rosenberg, their mother.  They feel she is innocent, and apparently, since they are only asking in her name, they finally think Julius, their father, was guilty as charged.
   I'm so glad NHPR brought this bit of ancient history back to life, and as befits NHPR's rather lefty stance, they give the Rosenbergs a very sympathetic treatment. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Executive Action by Tom Clancy

I wonder if Donald Trump has read it?  In this novel, Tom Clancy's hero,  Jack Ryan, becomes President of the US.   Ryan receives plenty of sage advice on how the Presidency works,  and the good guys win in the end.   Plenty of US political ideas get tossed around, and in some cases nailed to the carpet.  It's a fun read.

Should you warm up your car engine in winter?

Popular Mechanics and Road & Track are saying "NO!"   I say yes.  In proper cold weather, say below zero, your engine oil gets stiff and sticky.  The oil pump may be be able to force enough thick and sticky cold oil thru the engine bearings to prevent damage to the engine.  And, the defroster won't throw any heat til the engine warms up. 
   What you ought to do, is give the engine 20-30 seconds at idle to get the deep chill off it.  Then drive away gently, no foot to the floor acceleration, until the temp gauge gets up somewhere near normal, or the defroster starts throwing a little heat.   Takes a few minutes and then all is well. 
   There is no need to leave the car idling for 10-20-30 minutes before driving it, but you do want to keep your foot out of it until the engine is warm. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The NRA counts coup

The new American Rifleman magazine, the NRA house organ, got to me today.  In it, the NRA leadership spent several pages patting themselves on the back for Donald Trump's win.  NRA backed Trump from the very beginning and are overjoyed at his win. 
   Aside from a few Democrats bad mouthing the NRA,  the MSM hasn't let out a peep about how effective they were.  Actually, the NRA has several million dues paying members,  mostly single issue, support of second amendment voters.  The NRA magazine goes to all of them.  Every election American Rifleman will have a two page center spread, listing every office in each state, from US senator down to dogcatcher, and naming all the candidates, and giving each candidate a grade, A thru F, on where they stand on the second amendment.  The membership reads the magazine and finds it highly credible, much more so than any of the MSM. 
   I'm thinking that several million motivated single issue voters swung more weight in the election than anything the Russians could even think of doing.  Funny that the MSM never writes about it.  Probably the MSM writers are all city boys who don't like guns. 

How "Identity Politics" failed Clinton

"Identity Politics" as played by Hillary, amounted to identifying some group[s], blacks, women, Hispanics, LGBT, and others, naming them, and asking them to vote for Hillary.   Some did, just being named is powerful, but many did not, because Hillary never addressed their wants and grievances.  She just asked  for the votes.  No quid pro quo.  No campaign promises. 
   In some cases, the "identity group" wants something repellent to the rest of the country.  Hispanics want easier immigration and a path to citizenship for the illegals allready in the country.  This is anathema to large number of  regular voters.  Women want free contraceptives and abortion on demand which is anathema to large numbers of voters. 
   To do "indentity politics" well, you need some genuine members of the group, leaders, come out and campaign for you.  Hillary didn't have any prominent blacks, hispanics or LGBTs on TV, calling for Hillary's election.  Actually The Donald did better in this respect.  He had Ben Carson, a highly respected black man, come out and publicly support him.
   My advice to the Democrats in the aftermath of this year's election, is to go back to political basics, come up with a party platform, that states issues, that actually mean something real to voters.   This requires some head banging within the party to accept some controversial issues.  What to do about pipelines and transmission lines, oil exploration, charter schools, taxes,  law enforcement, and more are all controversial inside the Democratic party.  One reason Hillary never campaigned on any of them is that doing so would have brought a storm of criticism down on her from the numerous opponents of each and every issue. 

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Companies need to train their employees

Companies are wailing that they cannot find workers with the right skills to fill some 5 million job openings.  Stop wailing.  Hire some likely young guys (and girls).  Run 'em thru a training course, on company time and on payroll.  Flunk out a few losers, and in a few months you have all the new skilled workers you might need. 
   But, after we spend money on training them, they quit and go to work for our competitors.  That mean you aren't treating them right, not enough pay and benefits, or an unpleasant work environment (dirty dingy shop, nasty foremen, crummy hours, and other things) 
    The public schools need to teach the three Rs, reading riting, and 'rithmetic.  It's unreasonable to expect them to teach CNC machining, vapor reflow soldering, digital signal processing, use of logic analyzers, operation of bulldozers and backhoes.  This sort of specialized state of the art technology must be taught by industry, not public high school.  Let the schools teach fundamental things of use anywhere and let companies teach their special technologies. 
   Judging by the corporate whining about lack of suitably trained workers, I don't think many American companies understand this. 

Saturday, December 17, 2016

What does CIA know about hacks and hacking?

Probably very little.  CIA's history is not encouraging.  They failed to predict the breakup of the Soviet Union in the late 1980s.  They spent eight years attempting to destabilize the Bush administration with embarrassing leaks and the Valery Plame affair.  They  claimed the Iranians had closed down their nuclear weapons program. They failed to warn of 9/11. They still have their agents working out of US embassies.  Not an impressive record.
   Today CIA is claiming the hacks against the Democrats were done by the Russians.  Maybe.  Maybe not.  Granted the Russians have the capacity, but so do a bunch of others, ranging from individuals, small groups, large groups and plenty of nation-states.   China and the NORKs have the capability and they don't like us much.  ISIS has the capability and they really don't like us.  Plus the democrats were a pretty soft target.  Word has it that Podesta was so clueless as to fall for a phish email, you know the ones that claim there is a problem with your account and you need to give us your password to make it right.  According to the Wall St Journal, the Republicans had tighter security and the hacker[s] failed to penetrate them. 
   I'd give more crediblity to the Russian theory if I heard it from some truly competent people, like Microsoft, Kaspersky, Malwarebytes or even NSA.  I used to do contract work for NSA, and NSA did have people who knew what they were doing.  I cannot say that about CIA. 

Friday, December 16, 2016

That Russian Hacking

The MSM are still talking it up.  Spreading the narrative that Hillary would have won, except for the Russians.  Sounds better than Hillary lost because of her nasty background going back 30-40 years, and she didn't promise to get the country back on the right track.  Polls from before the election showed everyone thought the country was on the wrong track.  Hillary never addressed this issue (and a lot of other issues) whereas The Donald promised to get the country back on the right track.  The voters found both candidates to be equally personally distasteful, but they all knew the country was on the wrong track, so they voted for the candidate who promised to fix things, rather than the candidate who kept saying that everything was just peachy.
   Hillary's secret server, FBI directory Comey's statements, and the leaked Podesta emails all hurt Hillary, but I don't think any of those things were decisive.  It was Hillary's frequently stated belief that the country was on the right track that convinced voters that she wasn't living in the real world. 
   But no Democrat, from Hillary on down wants to admit that, so they are puffing up the Russians were hacking story. 

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Fall of Aleppo

The fall of Aleppo to the forces of Bashar Assad and Vladimir Putin is the culmination of Obama's Syria policy.  It is a horrible human catastrophe.  But it's what Obama brought us.  It's a good thing it happened on Obama's watch, since he is fully responsible for it. 

So what happens to Dylan Roof?

Roof is the homicidal maniac who killed nine people in cold blood at a church bible reading session.  MSM is reporting that the jury has found him guilty.  But guilty of what?  This is federal court with charges of hate crimes and other mopery and dopery.  The feds don't do murder.  Question for you MSM, just what did they find Roof guilty of, and does it carry the death penalty? 
   Far as I am concerned, they should have put Roof up in state court on just nine charges of first degree murder.  Which carries the death penalty. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

New York Times. 80 years of disinformation

All the news that fits we print.  The Times got started in the 1930's with their man Walter Duranty, who sent back years of glowing stories from Stalin's Soviet Union.  According to Duranty everything was sweetness and light in Russia.  He never wrote a word about the great famines, the purges, and the secret police.  Duranty was so bad that even the NY Times finally admitted that his Pulitizer prizes were undeserved.  Of course they didn't come clean until the 1990's, but the Times did admit (then) that Duranty's reporting was not on the up and up.
   Then the Times had a love affair with Fidel Castro in the late 1950's when Fidel was just a revolutionary hiding out in the Cuban woods.  They ran a long series of stories, flattering to Fidel, condemning Batista.   They helped Fidel immensely, the Times had all of America convinced that Fidel was a good guy.  Which helped Fidel a lot.  He was running guns and stuff into Cuba from Florida.  Since everyone knew, 'cause the Times had told them, that Fidel was a good guy, we never cracked down on his smuggling into Cuba.  This wasn't the only reason Fidel won, but it was a big help.  It wasn't until Fidel had been in power for six months and made a bunch of rabidly anti American speeches that the Times finally admitted that well, yes, Fidel was a communist.
    Then in the late 1960's the Times sent their man Harrison Salisbury to North Viet Nam, where he sent back a flock of stories sympathizing with the Viet Cong.  Harrison wrote about this remote village, where the village chief kept a big written log of all the American air raids going back for years.  Horrors, four innocent villagers had been  wantonly killed by Yankee Air Pirate bombs.   Well, I was in South East Asia that year, and my unit, the 388 Tactical Fighter Wing, had flown missions to that little ville in North Viet Nam.  The biggest railroad yard you ever did see was smack dab in the middle of that little ville.  And we had raided it, heavily, several times.  If  "collateral damage" was limited to only four civilian casualties, I call that damn good bombing on our part.
   After that, I never paid much attention to the NY Times, since they had proven themselves unreliable.  They were back in fine form for this year's election, plugging for Hillary and trashing The Donald at every turn.
   An example of American journalism at it's finest.  

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

What's good for General Motors is good for the country

So said "Engine Charlie" Wilson, secretary of defense back in the Eisenhower administration.  The statement caused a furor at the time.  Democrats went into a tizzy.  But in real life, things that helped GM, the largest corporation in the world in those days, were good for the country.  When things were good for GM, they hired workers and spent money on supplies, parts, and new construction.  All of which is good. 
   Trump's many enterprises are reasonably important to the country, not quite as big a deal as GM was back in the good old days, but big enough.  It could be said that what's good for the Trump operations is good for the country.  Democrats would howl, again, but it's true.  President Trump's actions that help the Trump business empire will help plenty of other businesses.  The newsies are yelping for Trump to do something, anything, to separate himself from the business empire he built.  I don't see this as a real necessity.   He has tweeted that he will turn the business[s] over to sons Eric and Donald.  Both of whom have expressed love, loyalty, and respect for their old man during the campaign.  I think both sons see the world about the same way The Donald does, and will run the Trump empire about the way The Donald would.  And would listen to anything The Donald might suggest to them.  After all they are immediate family and any President is entitled to talk to his immediate family, in confidence for that matter.  I'm OK with that. 

Monday, December 12, 2016

SpyHunter 4

A virus got onto my desktop.  It started putting a bunch of files with the extension .osiris on the harddrive.  Googling on osiris  informed me that Malwarebytes (which I have and use and trust) and something called Spyhunter (which I had never heard of before) would settle osiris's hash.  So, I gave malwarebytes a run, and sure enough, it reported some viruses, and zapped them.  So just to make sure, and to see what would happen, I ran Spyhunter.  Not so good.  It crashed once.  Then it ran and found a list of stuff it didn't like.  So when Spyhunter finished scanning, I clicked to make it zap the stuff it found.  Instead of doing what it was told, Spyhunter demanded I pay $40 for the fancier version of the program.
   No way would I do that.  I  used Windows Explorer and Regedit to search for the objects Spyhunter was objecting to.  No soap,  I could find neither disk files nor registry keys to match anything Spyhunter reported.  So, I uninstalled Spyhunter.  I cannot recommend that program to anyone.
   I still have a bunch of .osiris files on disk.  And a file demanding ransom to decrypt them.  I'll do some more research tomorrow. 

The Russians are hacking, the Russians are hacking!!

Yeah right.  We know someone hacked the democrats, 'cause their stuff turned up on Wikileaks.  That's about all we know.  We have no way of knowing who dunnit.  The hacker causes disk files to be copied out to somewhere on the internet.  For looking at the disk files afterward, you cannot tell if they were copied or not.  The only way we know the hack occurred is that stuff turned up on Wikileaks.  Even if we can find the Internet address (URL)  to which stuff was sent, that could be anyone.  Any hacker will sent hot stuff thru an internet anonymizer site that  keeps no records and forwards stuff tracelessly. 
   No matter what the MSM or CIA or FBI or other pundits say, we cannot know who did the hack.  We can have suspicions, but we cannot know.  The world has plenty of individuals, small groups, large groups, and countries capable of doing the DNC and Podesta hacks.  Especially as it didn't take much to do the hack.  From what I hear Podesta was clueless enough to fall for a phishing email.   Which is incredibly clueless of him.  
   The folks we hear saying the Russians did it don't know that.  They are saying so because they think it will help their political position.   Which is hard to understand actually.   Getting hacked shows the victims (hackees) as sloppy, ignorant, and clueless. 

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Black Viper seems to be off the air

Black Viper, most useful and knowledgble  computer geek, the goto web source for taming Windows, seems to be off the air.  I get that "Sorry cannot find" message when I try his URL. 
   Anyone know anything? 

Tchaikovsky's Nut Cracker Suite

They put it on in Littleton NH last night.   It was the local dance school doing it.  The venue was the old Littleton Opera House, a groovy old building from the 1880's, newly restored to it's original glory, period woodwork,  nice paint, and at the insistence of the state building department, structurally beefed up to prevent it from sliding into the Ammonusuc River.   The real reason I, and youngest son, got out on a cold dark night was  that my grand niece Amelie, age 7, had a part in it.  It was a big hit.  At least 300 people in the audience, a lot of small children, undoubtedly younger siblings of cast kids.    The audience completely parked up the Opera House lot and the town lot behind the Jax Jr movie theater.  A bid deal for a smallish up country town.
    And it was a nice show for an amateur cast.  Fair number of grown up cast members, who had the bigger parts.  There were tutus and point shoes, and most of 'em could dance en pointe.  Costumes were colorful. All the kids got parts.  Music was recorded but they had a pair of very decent speakers that nicely filled the house.  Minor drawback, the portable dance floor wasn't very solid, and the grownup dancers made really loud thumping noises dancing upon it.  Kinda spoiled the lightness and bounciness of the dance when you could hear the floor complaining of the weight.
   Classical music isn't dead yet.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Trump picks military officers for cabinet

Because only the best go into the military.  I did a six year tour in the Air Force.  The airmen I served with were absolutely top notch people, intelligent, motivated, loyal, hard working, dependable.  After my Air Force tour, I worked in civilian industry for forty years.   Working in the high tech companies out on Rte 128,  I never had a workforce as good as I had enjoyed in the Air Force.  I had a lot of good people in industry, but the Air Force had better.
   I see Trump picking the best people he can find.  Of course many of them are military people, because only the best go into the military.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Remember Pearl Harbor

It changed the course of history.  Up until Pearl Harbor, isolationists in America had succeeded in keeping the US out of WWII, despite the unanimous opinion of the American establishment.  In December 1941 the Nazis were well on their way to conquering the world.  They had invaded and occupied Norway Denmark, Holland, Poland, Belgium, and France.  Britain was on the ropes, they had fended off the Nazi air attack in the summer of 1940 by the skin of their teeth, but were in no shape to do much more.  The vast Red army, locked in combat with the Wehrmacht, had suffered defeat after defeat, loosing hundreds of thousands of men in German encirclements.     By Pearl Harbor time the Germans had reached the suburbs of Moscow.  Had Moscow fallen, Russian resistance would have collapsed and Adolf Hitler would rule all of Europe from the Channel to the Urals. Had the isolationists kept America out of the war for another year or two, Hitler might have won.  It was a close run thing.
    Isolationism disappeared in the smoke of Pearl Harbor.  Americans were outraged and to a man demanded their government do something about it.  Which the Roosevelt administration pr0ceeded to do. 
    The Japanese, with the exception of Admiral Yamamoto, totally misread the situation and
American intentions.  The Japanese war aim was to conquer China, plus a few other things, but China mostly.  The Japanese economy was dependent upon American exports of gasoline and crude oil and scrap metal.  The Americans disapproved of the China invasion and embargoed those crucial exports.  The Japanese were faced with collapse of their economy (production of warships, war material, aircraft and all the rest needed to maintain a war), or backing off, with the intolerable loss of face that would entail.  They never thought about going elsewhere for raw materials.  Sumatra, not far away, had enough high quality crude oil production  to run Japan thruout WWII.  They could have just muscled their way into Sumatra, acquired the needed oil.  The Americans would send diplomatic nastygrams to Tokyo, but the US isolationists would not have permitted anything more. 
   Instead, Japan thought that a devastating attack, one that knocked out the US fleet, would cow the Americans into making terms.  Partly this mistake came from a  Japanese leadership had no conception of the resources at America's disposal.  In Japan, things were so tight that building a single new battleship required contributions from school children (lunch money) and years of scrimping and struggle.  In America Roosevelt could pick up the phone and say " We need ten new battleships as soon as possible.   The contract will be cost plus.  Start work now".  And ten new battleships, plus carriers, destroyers, liberty ships, submarines, and everything else would slide down the launching ways and join the US fleet.  Japanese leadership simply did not understand this.  They thought that sinking all the Pacific Fleet battleships would cripple the Americans forever. 
    It didn't.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Replacement for Air Force 1. The Donald weighs in

The United States owns two (just two) operational Air Force 1s.  They are Boeing 747's with a fancy paint job, and every imaginable electronic device and defensive system.  Cost was no object back then.  The primary reason for Air Force 1 is to impress everybody in the world.  We are the only country rich enough to furnish a custom widebody jet liner to fly the president around.  All the other heads of state fly commercial. The current two  aircraft have been flying since the 1970's if memory serves, and you can make a case that it's time to replace them.
   On the other hand, aircraft last forever.  Every thing that wears out gets replaced.  Maintenance (I used to be a maintenance officer) has to fix everything, soon as it breaks.  If it ain't fixed, the crew won't accept the aircraft, causing all sorts of bad things, late departures, late arrivals, nasty phone calls, the works.  Engines and other machinery have to to replaced every so many hours.  So after 25 years of service, the current two Air Force 1s are as sound as when they left the factory, maybe better.
   Somehow during the Obama administration, the Air Force got funding to buy two replacements.  The new birds will be the same Boeing 747s with a sticker price of $352 million, each.   That would accomplish the primary mission of Air Force 1, namely to impress everybody.  Throw in some bucks for the fancy paint job.  Let the passengers communicate with their smart phones.  
   That's not gonna fly in the Air Force I remember.  I'm sure the Air Force contract calls for installing all the fancy electronics that the current models have, plus a bunch of new stuff that's been invented in the last 25 years.   And thousands of hours of flight testing, of a highly reliable airliner that has been flying for nearly 60 years.  Maybe the Air Force will pull the KC-46 tanker cost enhancement trick, demanding all the aircraft wiring be redesigned and rerouted "to meet Air Force standards".  Boeing knows as much or more than the Air Force about the right way to wire an aircraft.  What with one frill or another, the price tag is up to $4 billion for two aircraft.  Which is too damn much. 
   With a bit more pressure from The Donald, they might be able to reduce the fancy electronics load and cost.  I'm sure there is a bunch of stuff that the plane could jolly well do without.  Or, just cancel the whole project and keep on flying the current, very safe, very impressive aircraft.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Taiwan is a real country, no matter what Mainland China says

The NY Times, echoing the lace panty leftie peaceniks from the State Dept,  is bashing Trump for accepting a phone call from the President of Taiwan.  Let's be real about it, Taiwan is a real country that we, the United States, have promised to defend from invasion by the mainland.  That is a serious commitment, to go to war with a whacking big industrialized  country like China.  And Taiwan is a significant economy, well worth our time.  Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) is one of the largest silicon foundries in the world.  If it disappeared, there would be a serious worldwide shortage of semiconductors.  Analog Devices, with its own foundry in Wilmington MA,  sent their digital designs to TSMC, half a world away.  The Wilmington foundry was at capacity, and it could make higher value analog parts, where as TSMC was a strictly digital house.  And they did good work.
   Anyhow, despite what the mainland Chinese say, Taiwan is a real country, with industry, armed forces, a sizable population, friendly to the United States.   For the NY Times to get its panties in a twist because Trump took a friendly phone call from the president of a friendly country, is outrageous.  

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Is the "Alt Right" just 50 internet trolls?

Been hearing a lotta talk about the evils of the "Alt Right".  I never heard of 'em before the last election when all of a sudden they were evil incarnate, snatching victory from the lips of Hillary Clinton.  I don't know the names of any alt-rightists, I don't know of any books they have published, any blogs, any websites, any magazine articles.  For a group that is credited with so much, they are pretty near invisible. 

Is the USA really divided??

Watched the Sunday pundits this morning.  One of 'em, Meet the Press, showed a post election Donald Trump speech.  Over laid upon The Donald's blonde hairdo were three lines, red for Republicans, yellow for independents, and blue for Democrats.  For most of the speech, the Republican line was at, or over, the top of the chart.  The independents weren't quite so enthusiastic but still a solid 80-90 percent.  The democrats stayed down at 20 percent. 
   I call that a serious split.  Let's call the two groups Republicans or Democrats.  There are other names we could use (conservative or liberal, progressive or stick-in-the-mud, etc) but  Republican and Democrat are the names we use in politics and elections. 
   So what is the difference between these two groups?  Some of it is just partisan ship, the same kind of thing that motivates fans of the Yankees and the Red Sox.  Some of it is distaste for this year's candidates.   But let's focus on things that  the incoming Trump administration could do something about.  That's issues.  Like the economy, tariffs, immigration, taxes, "the social issues", and other stuff that can be expressed in concrete terms, rather than the feelgood means nothing talk so beloved of politicians, especially when they are on TV.  The media didn't talk issues, probably because they are too ignorant to recognize an issue if they should trip over one.   It's so much easier to just read the polls over the air.
   Going from stuff I read in the Economist, the Wall St Journal, and the TV I see things this way.
   Republicans like tax cuts,  keeping immigrants out,  keeping foreign made goods from competing with American goods (tariffs),  repealing Obamacare.  Republicans see American corporations as job providers and want to encourage them. 
   Democrats want tax hikes.  They say they are OK with immigration, although I wonder if the rank and file Democrats agree with the leadership on this. They seem to  be OK on tariffs, they want to keep Obamacare.  Democrats see American corporations as robber barons in need of more good harsh regulation.

I93 widening finish in 2020???

I93, the stretch from Manchester down to the MA line, was built, back in the 70s as a four lane divided highway.  Over the years it has become the Number 1 commuter road to Boston.  With horrible traffic from Manchester to the MA line.  MA built their section of I93 six lanes and eight lanes.   Everyone noticed that the traffic jam broke up after crossing the MA border.  
   Better than five years ago NH started to widen I93 out to six lanes.  They still haven't finished it.  Channel 9 (WMUR) had the NH commissioner of transportation, Victoria Sheehan on TV this morning.  She opined that I93 might be finished by 2020.  FOUR YEARS from NOW.  Arghhh!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Tucker Carlson's 7PM news show

It's Fox, natch.  Tucker now has the hour after Brett Bair's news hour.  Tucker is pretty good.  First week or so he had a number of liberal guests on, who he proceeded to disembowel right in front of the cameras.  Fun to watch.  But the amount of blood spilled has scared off the game.  At this point, nobody who is even a little bit left of center, and has two brain cells still functioning, is going to be on Tucker's show.  Nobody wants to be red meat, eaten raw, on national TV. 

Friday, December 2, 2016

Risk vs Regulation

The objective is (or ought to be) preventing banks (and their ilk like brokerage houses) from losing wads of money and kicking off Great Depression 3.0.  The way a bank looses money is to make bad loans that default and don't pay off. 
    Democrats think you prevent this by setting up federal bureaucrats to watch the banks, check their books, and meddle in their deal making.  Hence the Sarbanes Oxley law and the Dodd Frank law.   Many think the terrible economy during the Obama adminstration was caused by these two laws. 
   I think you prevent undue risk taking by banks by insuring that the bankers who lead their banks into disaster should be made to smart for it.  First we make very very clear that Uncle Sam will never ever bailout any failing bank.  If we have any bank "too big to fail"  it's time for anti trust action to break that bank up into smaller parts.   Bankers need to know that if they screw up, they are out of business, right then and there.  Bank officers loose their pensions, and deferred compensation, and their company health insurance. FDIC can pay off the depositors, but bank investors, officers, employees, and stock holders loose everything.  Which ought to produce some pressure on the suits to avoid stupid plays, like Greek loans.  Or mortgage backed securities, or credit default swaps.  And we encourage every blood sucking lawyer in the land to sue the management of failed banks for gross negligence.  

Vintage Cary Grant and Sophia Loren Romantic Comedies

Just finished watching two of them.  Houseboat, where Washington lawyer and widower, with three small cute children, meets up with Sophia Loren, who first charms the children, and then wins Cary Grant's heart.  With a few amusing mishaps, like when moving a house, they get it stuck in a grade crossing, and then a diesel powered express train roars thru, blowing the house to splinters.  Which results in the family moving into a beat up house boat on the Potomac. 
   Then there is The Pride and the Passion, a movie set in Napoleonic war Spain.  Spanish guerrillas come into possession of an absolutely humongous cannon.  They set about dragging the mountain of metal clear across Spain to the siege of some-where-or-other.  Sophia Loren is the BFF of the guerrilla leader  (Frank Sinatra).  Cary Grant is the English naval officer who is the only man with the guerrilla army who actually knows how to work the gun. 
   Heartwarming movies the likes of which they don't make anymore.  Houseboat is the better of the two, Sophia Loren gets a better role.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

New Buzzword, WWC

Stands for "White Working Class"  They started using it late in this election.  Prior to this election I had not heard it anywhere.  Strange.  Back when I was growing up, every kid's father  worked, at the Dennison plant, at the GM assembly plant, at the Roxbury carpet company, at truck farming, at auto repair.  None of them had a college degree.   No blacks lived in  Framingham MA in those days.  I went to public school and I don't remember a single black kid in any of my classes. I didn't meet any blacks until I joined the Air Force.   So,  back then, everyone in town was white, and worked and so the white working class was everybody. 
   The other thing I don't like about the buzzword is the "working class" part of it.  Has an unpleasant Marxist sound to it.  Or is it an attempt to revive the idea of Communist class war? 

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Words of the Weasel Part 49

Bipartisan  (n) or bipartisanship (adj).   Noun or adjective.   Generally perceived as a "good thing"  or at least the pol using the word hopes that is what the voters perceive.  At it's strongest, bipartisan is a code word meaning vote for my bill.  A weaker form of the word means I will talk compromise with my political opponents rather that just yelling at them.  
   If a pol has nothing better to offer than bipartisanship,  you ought to vote for the other guy.

Secretary of State

I hope who ever Trump picks can manage the State Dept, a goofy bureaucracy stuffed full of democrats, know-it-alls, and peaceniks.  They all have snivel service protection against firing.  Many of them are scattered all over the world where it is harder to keep track of, and ride herd on them.   Flinty old John Bolton might be able to handle them, but  I'm doubtful of Romney, Guiliani, and Corker.  Petraeius might be tough enough.
  As it is, a lot of 'em are getting ready make leaks embarrassing to the incoming Trump administration,  and the MSM are sitting up, wagging heir tails,  and begging for some dirt to print.
   Although the secretary of state cannot fire them, he could announce a policy of unaccompanied overseas tours in unpleasant places for State Dept leakers.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Do we really need a law against flag burning??

Burn a flag in most places and you WILL get punched out.  Which is one reason why flags don't get burned very often.  Why make life more complicated by passing laws? 
   And for the Supremes who have opined that flag burning is free speech.  It ain't speech, it's action.   Some how we have nine lawyers, men of pure speech, who don't understand the simple things in life, like the difference between talk and action. 

Publicity for vote recounts

  I doubt very much that any number of recounts will change the election results.  But one of the minor losing candidates is calling for them, and the MSM are giving her, and the recounts, as much publicity as The Donald ever got on campaign.  (And The Donald got a lot of publicity from the MSM) 
   I wonder why the MSM is pushing this issue.  Do they think it will weaken the Donald after inauguration?  They are all so locked in to doing election stories that they want to stretch the election out some more?  They are all so brainwashed that election stories are the only kind of story they know how to write?

Who to send to Fidel Castro's funeral?

How about Al Sharpton and that football player Colin K-something-or-other?

Monday, November 28, 2016

Dark History: Vikings by Martin J. Dougherty

It's almost a coffee table book,  nicely printed, nicely illustrated, if it was a few inches bigger it would make the coffee table class.  The author is, or is writing for, Viking re-enactors or gamers, he doesn't write like an ordinary historian.  It reads well, and tells the story of the Vikings the way most histories tell it, you can quote from the book and nobody is going to challenge your ideas.  He talks about the famous names, Ragnar Lodbrog, Sven Forkbeard, Hrolf Ganger, Lief Ericsson, Harald Hardrada, Eric Bloodaxe.  Nice discussion of things like clothing, farming, the gods of Asgard.  I am enough of an amateur historian to have heard of most of the things in the book, but it's a fine introduction for folks unfamiliar with the Viking age.
   Dougherty introduces us to the modern Russian historical controversies without taking sides.  Viking traders on the way to Constantinople penetrated most of what is now European Russia.  It's clear that the Viking culture had influence upon the lands and peoples of Russia.  Modern Russian historians are reluctant to allow that Vikings are the founders of Russia.  They like to emphasis the native slavic genius and downplay the influence of the Vikings.  Since the relevant sites are all deep inside Russia, only available to Russian archeologists, there is little that Western writers can say with much authority. 
   All in all, a good read.  It would be better if they gave some provenance to the numerous and lovely illustrations.  They range from photos of ancient rune stones to a nice color illustration that I recognized from National Geographic magazine years ago.  Giving the name of the illustrator and a date would add interest to the illustrations. 

Who will become Secretary of the Air Force?

USAF has a bunch of  problem areas right now, pure Air Force issues that a new Tramp administration Air Force secretary will need to cope with.  The on going and worsening cost overruns and schedule slippage on the F-35 fighter program.  It's gotten so bad that Canada recently bailed out and will buy F-18's instead.  There is more slippage and over runs on the KC-46 tanker program.  ust starting up is a new strategic bomber (B-21) program.  And a new air launched ground attack missile to serve as a penetration aid for that bomber.  And the fighter pilot mafia keeps trying to kill off the A-10 program over the protests of the Army and the Marines.  The creeping paralysis overtaking all new programs.  In WWII we could move a new fighter from paper spec to mass production and into combat inside of a year.  The F-35 program has been running for twenty years and the plane still isn't combat ready.  Right now the gun won't fire, and the engines catch fire if the plane pulls more than 5.6 G. 
   New Air Force secretary has his work cut out for him.

I wonder how long it will take for the MSM

To find something, anything, to talk about besides the election.  It's been two weeks and all they can talk about  is the election.  Will this last til New Years?  til next Christmas?  Who knows? 
   Part of the problem is the newsies know so little about anything, so they find it hard to write about just about anything.  The election is simple to cover.  All they have to do is read to polls over the air and then do some pontificating about the meaning of it all.  They don't have to get out of their cushy offices, talk to people, take notes, find stuff out.  That's hard work.  Easier to just pontificate about the polls.
   Could it be that nobody is left in the MSM  who can write a story about anything except the election?

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Alcohol Mandate

Carl Icahn wrote an op ed in the Wall St Journal decrying the use a and abuse of Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs).  These are some kinda chits that concern the addition of alcohol to gasoline before it is sold at the pump.  I didn't fully understand Icahn's explanation of how the scam on RINs worked, but he claimed it was driving the smaller refineries out of business and leaving gasoline production to the majors and the big service station chains.  Icahn is in the business and probably has it right.
   More to the point, the entire alcohol in gasoline program is a scam.  Beloved of greenies, who think it  saves the planet, and of farmers who see a huge market for their corn, in actual fact, the program just raises the price of gasoline.  Growing the corn and distilling it into alcohol consumes more gasoline and diesel (energy)  than the alcohol provides.  We would get more gasoline for less drilling if we just refined crude into gasoline and sold it. 
   Back when the alcohol in gasoline scam got started, the greenies were told that raising corn and distilling alcohol would save on crude oil production.  So all the greenies, and Congresscritters who thought they could snare some greenie votes fell in line.  And all the farmers who correctly saw that massive alcohol production would skyrocket the price of corn got on board, and between the two they had enough votes to slide the mandatory alcohol in gasoline program thru Congress.  That was years ago. 
   The truth is, making alcohol consumes more gasoline and diesel than the alcohol conserves.  And the bulk of us motorists  (in America everyone is a motorist)  are stuck with a program that raises the cost of gasoline.  We ought to abolish the whole thing, RINs and all.   Maybe the Trump administration will do something about it. 

Monday, November 21, 2016

All the News that Fits we Print

The media doesn't admit this, but they really blew their credibility in this election.  The bulk of the real citizens no longer believe what they see in the MSM anymore.   And, the media wants to keep it up.  I hear the word "normalization" passed around.  Apparently this means getting off Trump's case for at least a day or two.  I hear voices decrying "normalization" by which they mean staying on Trump's case, trashing him, and causing him as much trouble as they can.   Somehow, I don't think this is going to rebuild the media's credibility with voters and citizens.  At this point, the only media I believe in much are the Wall St Journal and Fox News.  
   Newest anti Trump tactic seems to be finding offensive ideas on social media, or just inventing them out of thin air,  attributing them  to the Trump administration, and then running a story about them, or asking Trump or Reince Preibus if they support said offensive idea.  The 21st century version of  "Have you stopped beating your wife?" question.  Let's hope the voters and citizens are intelligent enough to detect the malice in these stories and discount them. 
   The purpose of a free press is to inform the citizens so they can vote intelligently.   Now that the media have discredited themselves with the public, the public is turning to Facebook, the water cooler, and just plain rumor.  Not good.
   Part of the media's problem comes from the sheer incompetence and ignorance of their staff.  They are all journalism school majors, the sort of people who cannot change a light bulb.   

The Fake News campaign drives the fake Obits off my Facebook

I haven't seen a fake obit (famous celebrity has died) posting to my Facebook page for nearly a week now.  They used to pop up everyday.  Has the anti Fake News push scared them away or what?

Sunday, November 20, 2016

The Bern and Chucky the Schumer

New democratic Congressional leadership.  They were on TV news today.  Saying that they would cooperate with the GOP on issues they believe in.  As opposed to bucking everything in Congress on general principles.   Which makes sense.  They gotta pass a federal funding bill shortly or the whole government shuts down. Some time in early December. That will take some Democratic votes. 

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Electoral College

Democrats have been complaining about the electoral college system since last Tuesday night when Trump pulled ahead of Hillary.  It's in the Constitution, right up front, unlike some of the other things judges have invented from the bench.  It's the way things have been done since George Washington's time which makes it legitimate in the eyes of most.  It works like this, each state gets votes (electors) equal to its Congressional representation, one vote for each rep. and one for each senator.  Voters get to choose the electoral college votes (electors) for their state.   After the election (sometime in December) the electors get together and vote on who shall be president.   The founders originally thought that the electors would be solid citizens who be free to vote for the most worthy candidate.  But the parties came up with dependable party men who believe in their party and have always voted a straight party ticket to stand as electors.  Which makes the selection of president more democratic than the founders had planned upon.  
 The other effect of the electoral college is to level the playing field between big states and small states.  As a citizen of New Hampshire, I like the electoral college system.  It gives my small state more influence in national politics than it would otherwise have.  Without the electoral college, the hordes of democrats in California would out vote the rest of the country.  I'm not ready to be californicated.  

Friday, November 18, 2016

The Demographic Imperative for immigration

To be a superpower, you have to have a large population.  The reason the United States surpassed the British Empire during WWII is fairly simple.  The US boasted a population in those days of 100 and some million, compared to Britain's 40 million.  That turnover was peaceful due to close historical ties between the two countries and Winston Churchill who clearly saw that an Anglo American alliance, which he succeeded in creating, could win the war and impose a Pax Americana on the world. 
   Lesson to be digested.  To remain a superpower we have to have a large population.  Especially today when we have 320 odd million as opposed to China with a billion, and India with nearly as many.  To maintain our position in the world, we must maintain and grow our population.   And natural increase is failing.  To just maintain a population, to say nothing of growing it, each woman needs to bear 2.1 children in her lifetime.  As of today, America's women are just breaking even, and it looks like they will fall further behind in the coming years.  Continental Europe and Russia are already far behind,  in Russia the figure is down to 1.4 children per woman, and the population of Russia will sink by half in a generation.  Which might explain Vladimir's rambunctiousness on the world stage today.  He wants to get his licks in while Russia still has the population to do it with. 
   America has an advantage here.  We have created the freest, wealthiest, and most pleasant to live in country in the world.  Everyone would like to move here.     We have a tradition of welcoming and assimilating newcomers, the old melting pot idea.  And, immigrants coming from our south are good Catholics and hard workers. Compare with France and Germany, where the immigrants are low grade Islamics who have not  assimilated at all, they are trying to make Europe over into the Middle East. 
   To maintain our population we ought to admit each year, immigrants equal to 1 or 2 percent of the current population.  Say 3 to 6 million immigrants a year.  And since everyone wants to come, we can be picky and admit people who will do the country good.  Young, healthy, loyal, educated, and law abiding we need.  We don't need more elderly, more unemployed, more gang members. 
   We already have a lot (10 million?) of illegal immigrants in the country.  They are picking crops, roofing buildings, waiting tables, probably all for cash under the table.  But, many of them, most of them perhaps, are fitting in, finding work, raising their children to speak English, staying out of trouble with the law, paying taxes.  Which kinda defines a good citizen in my book.  I'm ready to grant to legal papers to good citizens cause we need more good citizens, and in these cases we know who has been good and who hasn't.  I don't really care if they slipped into the country illegally.  Given their circumstances I probably would do the same thing if I had the guts. 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Thank You Paul Ryan

For killing the attempted revival of earmarks.  Congressional "earmarks" were a shadowy system that allowed Congresscritters to direct spending into their own districts.   For worthy purposes like getting themselves reelected.
    Republicans killed the earmark scam when they took control of the House back in 2010.  Caused a lot of squealing from the democrats and RINO's.
    Somehow the Congresscritters thought they could slip earmarks back in during the lame duck session.  By all accounts they had the votes to open up the earmark black hole again.  But Paul Ryan, Speaker of the House, somehow managed to stop the stampede to the feeding trough.  The whole matter will be put off until the next Congress in 2017.
  Thank you Paul Ryan for saving us taxpayers from yet another money sink.  There is a least one honest man serving in Congress.  

Words of the Weasel Part 48

Racist:   That's what progressives (democrats) call anyone who disagrees with them.  Its gotten to the point that the word is loosing its insult value. 
Sexist:  Same as above. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Fake News on Google, Twitter and Facebook

The Wall St Journal has run stories about fake news on page 4 and page 1 of the business section for two days in a row.  They deplore it. 
   My Facebook has been running fake celebrity obits for a week now.  I have been informed of the death of Clint Eastwood, Angelina Joli and three or four others.   All fake.  Which has pretty much destroyed my confidence in anything else I might see on Facebook.  I use Facebook to post snapshots for my widely scattered children and friends.  Nothing more serious than a seven year old's birthday party, or autumn leaves in NH.  But after all the fake obits,  I don't trust anything more serious from Facebook.   Dunno about twitter, I don't do twitter, although maybe I ought to start to catch some of the Donald's rants.  Haven't seen anything fake on Google, yet. 
   Was I running any of these web sites, I'd clamp down on fake news, just to retain the ordinary user's confidence in the site. 

The Economist really doesn't like The Donald

For the November 12 edition, they ran 10 pages about Trump.  They repeat all the nasty things the democrats said during the election.   A ten page hit piece.  Let's hope this rant lets off their rancours and they can go back to reporting, as opposed to flaming. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Infrastructure, useless frills or needed engineering?

We need more infrastructure is the cry resonating from media to legislatures and back.  The pols like infrastructure because it means money spend in their districts.  Motorists (most of the population are motorists) want potholes, bottlenecks, narrow and bumpy streets to be fixed, to make their drive to work faster and easier.  The clueless media cheers for infrastructure. 
   Except when the money is spent on frills.  The drive up to my place is I93, running from Boston to St Johnsbury.  I have been driving this stretch of road for 60 years to go skiing, I know it well.  New Hampshire has maintained the roadway in pretty good condition over the years,  much better than anywhere in New York state for example.  But over the years, we have wasted money on mileposts.  They put in  shiny new mile post signs every 0.2 miles.  They are so close together you can see from one to another.   We drove I93 safely for 50 years without all those expensive little signs.  Then they funded a bunch of very fancy electric signs that just stand there flashing cute slogans like "Arrive Alive" and "One for the road gets trooper for chaser".  Really necessary those are.   And then there was the great rock blasting of the 1980s.  As you can imagine a New Hampshire highway needs a lot of rock cuts to get the road thru the granite hills.  When I93 was first built, back in the 1960s, all the rock cuts were made, of a generous width (interstate standards).  And traffic flowed nicely for twenty years.  Then in the 1980's they decided to spend a lot of money and widen every single rock cut, from the original generous width, to really ridiculously wide.  Years of drilling and blasting and well paid contractors ensued.   When the work was finally done, and the last "Construction" sign taken down,  the road worked just as well as it had before.  Mega money was spent to accomplish nothing, except giving a lot of well paid work to contractors. 
    Each one of these boondoggles was a 90% Federal 10% State money deal.  If the Feds are paying for 90%  of it, who cares how much money is spent/invested/wasted?  Betcha that bunch of thrifty Yankee state legislators in Concord would never have approved these boondoggles if they had to scrape up the money for them. 
   Principle.  He who spends the money should have to raise the money.  This business of the feds pay for it and the staties spend it is just asking for waste fraud and abuse.  To straighten things out, we ought to shut down the entire federal highway fund.  The states will raise the money for truly needed infrastructure, and they won't find the money for boondoggles. 

Monday, November 14, 2016

Went to the dump today.

Got rid of an entire Buick trunk full of campaign yard signs.  All in good shape.  Used only once.  Seems a shame to chuck 'em, but who has the space to keep 'em?