Saturday, June 24, 2017

What is in those two healthcare bills?

We have one bill passed in the House, and second one about to be voted on in the Senate.  But I have no real idea what each bill does.  For that matter I don't know all the things tucked away in 10000 pages of Obamacare.  Nobody does really.  Nobody can read and understand 10000 pages of legal gobble-de-gook.
   The health care bill I  like would repeal the Obamacare requirements that have forced a lot of workers into part time work.  It would spell out who gets government subsidies and how much.  It would allow the sale of  "hospitalization only" insurance which is a quarter the cost of  "Obamacare covers everything" insurance.  It would  require insurance companies to maintain coverage on insured patients who get sick, and allow such "pre existing conditions" patients to even change insurance companies should they need to (say like they took a new job) .   Uninsured patients who get sick would have to pay something more to get insurance  than ordinary patients.  Medicaid should be reserved for mothers, children and the truly disabled.  Able bodied grownups should get a job with health insurance or pay for their own.  Health insurance premiums should be deductible on federal income tax to even things up between the self employed and the company employee who gets tax free health care thru hisher job. 
   I have no idea if either of the Congressional health care bills have any of these things.  Neither do the newsies. 

Friday, June 23, 2017

"Slants" is derogatory?

An Asian American rock band wanted to call themselves "The Slants".  Some well fed bureaucrat refused to let them trademark the name.  He claimed "Slants" was derogatory. 
  Strange.  I was in the Air Force, I did a turn in South East Asia during the Viet Nam war.  We had a lot of bad names for things we didn't like, the enemy, the locals, the food, the weather, the service, and others.  I don't remember "slant" as one of them.  "Slope" you heard, and slant-eye ( as opposed to round-eye) you heard, but  I don't remember "slant" by itself as a put down. 
   Any how they took this one to the Supreme Court, and won,  The band may trademark "Slants".  Owners of the Washington Redskins, and the Cleveland Indians, both facing similar harassment from bureaucrats are relieved.  They figure they will win their Supreme Court cases.  
   Welfare for lawyers.

Suppose we assassinate Kim Jong whats-his-face, NORK dictator

That ought to slow 'em down a bit.  The NORKs already have nuclear weapons and rockets.  It's only a matter of time (a year? two? three?) before they have a nuke mounted on a rocket with the range to reach US soil.  We need to prevent that.  Nobody wants to start up the Korean War again, that is too awful to bring back. Diplomacy has been tried for twenty years or more to no avail.  Getting a nuclear deterrent (strike force) is so important to Kim that no amount of diplomacy will get him to stop. 
   If we bumped off Kim, it would leave a leadership vacuum.  There would be a struggle between the various number 2 men to take his place.  Kim has been executing anyone who looks dangerous to him and so the bench of number 2 men is pretty thin.  To take over as NORK dictator you have to have some name recognition and some friends to back you up.  We don't know if anyone up north has both the name recognition and the friends required. 
  The NORK regime might just come apart.  It's already under strain, what with peasants starving the the villages and shortages of nearly everything.  The only thing holding it together is the army and the secret police.  With Kim gone, nobody knows if they would stay loyal to the regime.  They might not.  At which point, there are very strong forces to pull North and South Korea back together.  Much stronger forces than any number 2 man struggling to take over could muster.  That result would be wonderful for us and for South Korea. 
   How to off Kim?  Simplest is a smart bomb thru his bedroom window.  Or a Hellfire on his official limousine (with Kim inside it of course).  Or a very gutsy sniper team parachutes in somewhere, gets to within 500 yards of Kim, plugs him and then boogies to a pickup spot and waits for the Jolly Greens to pick them up.  

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Fueling up for Winter

 That's one cord, two winter's worth of firewood. KK Brooks delivered last Friday.  I get to stack it under the porch. 
 Stack beginning.  The criss cross log stacks on the end are the secret to preventing the ends of the stack from avalanching into the driveway.  I use the biggest heaviest logs on the end stacks.
Here we are half stacked.  Care is required to avoid breaking the cellar windows with carelessly tossed logs.  That happened once long ago.  Andersen Thermopane which is beyond my home glazing skills. I had to order a replacment sash from Andersen.  They still had them after some 25 years, but it was a year before the replacement got shipped to me.  
All stacked up.  Took about 5 hours, working in half hour stints.  I'm set for another couple of winters.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Predictions are hard, especially about the future.

The Democrats dropped $25 mil into the Georgia special election.  The Republicans dropped $30 mil, which is more money than has ever been spent running for a US rep's seat.  Looks like both national parties have plenty of cash, which is a little surprising what with an expensive presidential election just last November.  You would  think they would still be paying off loans taken out for Hillary and the Donald.
   The Republican (a chick I'd never heard of before) won, 53 to 47 percent which is decent, better margin than Trump got in that district.  Way I look at it, anything better than 1% is decent, anything better than 10% is a landslide.  NHPR called the margin of victory "thin" and "close" but they are just democrats with bylines. 
  Naturally, this win, and the win in North Carolina, delighted Republicans and disheartened Democrats.  But I don't think it predicts anything about 2018.  In a year anything can happen.  If Trump gets health care and tax reform thru Congress the Republicans will be in decent shape.  If he fails, Democrats will capture control of one or both houses of Congress. 
   The msm keep saying that the Republicans control both houses of Congress.  But they have a lot of RINO's in both houses, who are OK with tax-and-spend and fear to rock the boat.  And who may not vote the party line.  Republicans also have a lot of super conservative crazies who don't under stand about compromise and that half a loaf is better than no loaf, and who will vote against anything on the slightest pretext.  And there is always a pretext on any bill, no bill ever satisfies every one all the way, there are always things they want and didn't get, or things that they don't like, and are in the bill.  Look at the Chinese fire drill in the House over health care.  Ryan had to withdraw the Republican bill and rewrite it before he could get enough Republicans on board to vote it thru. 
  Republicans have a lot of work to do if they want to retain control of Congress in 2018.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Some questions about druggies

With deaths from drug overdoses at a record high we have calls to do something about it.  Good idea, but what should we do?  Before I can get on board some one's magic cure, there are a few things I need to know about.  Such as:
1.  Every young person ought to know that anything harder than pot will ruin their lives and/or kill them.  Have we gotten this word out to this year's young people?  Do they believe it?
2.  Are all the institutions and media on board with getting the message out about the dangers of drugs?  Schools, churches, parents, radio and TV, Facebook and its competitors, video games, movies, the music business, and others that might come to mind? 
3. Why do people  get into drugs?  Is it just the pleasure of the high?  Especially as a lot of drugs need injection, sticking a needle in your arm, an event I have detested ever since injections of penicillin as a small child.  For me personally, doesn't matter how great the high is, I won't stick a needle in my arm because it hurts.  If it isn't just the pleasure of the high, then what is it that makes the druggie keep doing it? Are there things in the druggie's life that we could change to get him/her off the stuff?  If so, what might they be?
4.  Does drug rehab really work?  How many people have entered drug rehab and how many of them actually get off and stay off drugs?
5.  What are the generally accepted medical guidelines for prescribing the stronger opioids like  Oxycontin. Do these guidelines make sense?  I know that Oxycontin is so dangerous that many pharmacies refuse to stock it.   How many current druggies got hooked on prescription opioids?
6.  Does methadone work?  Working means getting the druggie off the really ruinous drugs and stabilize things enough that the druggie can hold a job.
7.  What happens to druggies over time?  Do they eventually get off the stuff? Or does it kill them? Or what?

Monday, June 19, 2017

A hero's reward, from the msm

Everyone at that terrible Congressional shooting scene praised the bravery of the two Capitol Police officers on duty.  All the Congressmen under fire say they would have been shot dead except for the bravery of the two officers who moved toward the sound of the guns. 
   As a reward for her bravery, the msm (Fox News no less) outed the female officer as lesbian.  I didn't need to know that.  It probably hurt the poor officer.  A harsh reward for bravery above and beyond the call of duty.
   Good work msm.   

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Kiss your Navy career good bye.

Skipper of USS Fitzgerald, which collided with a container ship off Japan.  How that happened is hard to understand.  A destroyer is far faster, and much more maneuverable than a big container ship.   Destroyers have all kinds of state of the art radar which should have no trouble detecting a big, clunky container ship from 50 miles away.  Plus he ignored Admiral Dan Gallery's advice concerning right of way at sea.  "Steer well clear of any merchie, lest he decide to liven up your day by ramming you."   Gallery is a WWII US Navy skipper, he is the guy that captured a German U-boat and towed it home as a prize. Which shows him as a man of imagination and superb seamanship.   U505 has been an exhibit at the Chicago science museum ever since the war. 

Saturday, June 17, 2017

A few security measures Congress ought to take

They ought to arrange for Capitol Police security at any event with a number of Congressmen in attendance.  For that matter, Congressmen ought to ask local law enforcement to detail a couple of officers to any townhalls the Congressman might be giving.  It's routine for law enforcement to detail some officers to cover high school ball games, they ought to be able to handle an occasional town hall.
   Congress ought to straighten out the concealed carry situation in DC.  They have jurisdiction.  They should require DC authorities to issue a conceal carry permit to anyone over 18 who is not a convicted felon or a committed nut case.  And require DC to honor conceal carry permits from any state.  And provide jail sentences for any official who fails to issue the permit within two weeks of the applicant submitting his paperwork. 
   We ought to discourage politicians and newsies from calling opponents names, such as racist, feminazi, and the like.  The name calling contributes nothing to the political debate and just inflames feelings.  Publish objections to the opponents policies, not their persons.  We cannot forbid name calling by law, but we could do a lot to mobilize public opinion against it. 
   And strengthen our mental health system.  Nut cases ought to be detected early and committed to mental hospitals, not allowed to run around loose.  There are no free beds in the mental hospitals.  Cases where the individual volunteers to enter treatment have failed because there are no empty beds to put them in. 

Friday, June 16, 2017

7.62 = 30 caliber

A Fox newsie was talking about the rifle used in the Congressional shooting.  He described it as "7.62 big enough to kill an elephant."  Let me enlighten a clueless newsie.  7.62 mm is the same as .30 caliber, the standard caliber for rifles since 1898.  The US  adopted the 30-06 rifle round back in 1906.  It remained standard issue to US soldiers for WWI, WWII, and Korea. It is still in production.  It was replaced by the 7.62 NATO round  (otherwise known as 308 Winchester) in the 1950's.  It's not an unusual round for rifles.  Serious hunters carry 30-06 rifles today.  Not so serious hunters carry the older and less powerful 30-30 rifle or the newer and less powerful 223 rifle.
   The newsie was attempting to convince his audience that the Congressional shooter was carrying an unusually powerful rifle.  Not true.  The Congressional shooter was using an ordinary hunting rifle, chambered for ordinary .30 caliber ammunition. 

Thursday, June 15, 2017

5000 Fools (tourists) visit North Korea every year.

Who wants to visit a communist dictatorship where they can arrest you, jail you, and even execute you  just because they can?  You would think Otto Warmbier's story, which has been in the news for better than a year, would discourage all but the most foolish tourist.  They released Warmbier the other day, but he is in bad shape now.  The medics didn't seem to know just what happened to him or how to treat him.  They talked about loss of brain tissue, which doesn't sound good. 
   The Journal says that about 5000 fools from the West visit North Korea as tourists every year.  Of which 1000 are Americans.  And what is there to see in North Korea, other than a population being abused and starved?  Creepy, I would pay money to avoid seeing that.  I suppose some of the American tourists are of Korean decent, who might be visiting family members stuck in the communist hellhole.  That's understandable.  Other than that, it's hard to understand visiting North Korea.  Especially as you can visit South Korea, a free, modern, decent, and successful country without risking your life. 

What is the worst thing about the Congressman Shooting?

It only kept the newsies off the Comey-Sessions-Mueller-Russians story for a day.  Yesterday was 100% coverage of the shooting.  Today they are back on the old groove, covering unsubstantiated innuendo and anonymous sources. 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Schools Rethink Recess

Dawn over Marblehead.  Anyone who can remember grade school can remember how hard it was to sit still and no talking.  Recess gave relief, you could run around, talk, shout, play ball games.  All practicing parents know how hard it is to get young children to sit still.  Young children are bubbling over with energy and they have to work it off by running around and shouting.
  To  run an effective grade school, you have to let the kids outdoors for recess to let off steam.  Otherwise the kids are just too bouncy to absorb any kind of learning.   Back in the day, we got two 20 minute recesses every day. 
  Modern "educators" think recess is a waste of time, and they have been advocating no recess schools, keep the kids noses to the grindstone all day. 
  According to a piece in today's Wall St Journal, some "educators" have wised up and are recommending a whole hour of recess every day. 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Do I support a flat tax?

Today's mail brought a thick envelope marked "New Federal Tax Reform Information Enclosed".  No return address, no indication of the organization doing this mailing.  I didn't really believe it was from the IRS, despite the effort to make you think it was an IRS letter.  So I opened it, and it was one of those "take a survey, send us a donation" letters that have been popular with the fund raisers.   
   This outfit, The Conservative Caucus, or perhaps Americans for Constitutional Liberty, I'd never heard of either before.  They are advocating for a flat 10% income tax for everyone, no deductions except charitable contributions and mortgage interest.  And they denounced the length and legalisms of the humongous Internal Revenue Code and the existence of the IRS
   Thinking about it, I cannot go with them.  The way I see it, we have three groups of people in the US, the well off, the ordinary working stiffs, and the really poor.  And I think we ought to tax the well off somewhat more, and the really poor something less.  In other words have three tax brackets.  I think everyone ought to be liable for taxes, unlike the current setup where half the population owes NO tax, and the well off pay most of the Federal government's expenses.  I think it is important that all citizens, even the very poor, pay something in taxes, just to let them know that the government benefits, of which we have so many, have to be paid for. 
   I do like the no deductions for anything, except charitable contributions.  I'd even go so far as to  eliminate tax breaks for dependents (children) and being married.  I'd dump the mortgage interest deduction, especially deductions for mortgages on second homes.  I'd get rid of capital gains.  Income is income, doesn't matter where it comes from.  I'd dump the earned income tax credit.
   I'd declare all 75,000 pages in the Internal Revenue Code null and void, along with all rulings of the tax courts over the years.  I'd abolish the tax courts.  If the government has a beef with us taxpayers, let the government go to regular courts, like everyone else.  
   They advocating getting rid of the IRS. Well, we ought to skin 'em down a bit, but we have to have some government office to mail our tax forms to.  Someone has to open the tax return envelopes and cash the checks.  So we have to have something.  On the other hand, we should remove the IRS's power to garnish your wages and seize your bank account.  If the IRS has a beef with us taxpayers, they can take us to court, a real court, not a "tax court" where the judge is getting paid by the IRS. They don't need the power to bankrupt us on just their say-so.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Advice for New HS graduates soon to be incoming college freshmen

You want to think about what you want to do after you graduate college.  I know that is four years in the future, which seems like forever.  But college goes by quick and you will be out in the job market before you know it. 
   College is expensive, you or your parents, are paying for it.  If you are borrowing the money to pay tuition, you have to pay it back after you graduate.  You gotta have a job to pay off your student loans.  Which means you need to pick your college major to make you employable.  For instance a bachelor of science in electrical engineering, and you will have a decent job no problem.  A bachelor of arts in gender studies, and you will be waiting tables for a long long time. 
  The best majors, looking toward making yourself employable, are the STEM majors, Science (physics, chemistry, biology) Technology (computer programming, premed), Engineering (electrical, mechanical, chemical, civil) and Mathematics (calculus, statistics, matrix algebra)  Engineering, in addition to being decently paid, is interesting and satisfying.  Engineering is a lot of new design work, and being the engineer who designs that new automobile, new handheld electronic best seller, new building, new aircraft, is very satisfying work.  Beats the bejesus out of selling used cars. 
   STEM fields often require math up thru integral calculus and differential equations.  In fact you may need that math under your belt in order to even understand the homework in your major.  You want to find out what the mathematics requirement are in your chosen field, and sign up for those math courses ASAP, freshman year.  Electrical engineering is probably the most math intensive.  A simple two component circuit (a resistor and a capacitor)  require a first order differential equation to analyze. Things like biology and computer programming are less demanding in the math dept.
   If you just cannot warm up to a STEM field, consider the liberal arts.  Traditionally there are seven liberal arts, English, History, Foreign Language, Music, Art, Philosophy, Theology.  English ought to teach you how to write.  Industry offers a lot of jobs to people who can write, specifications, instruction manuals, advertisements, articles about the product, endless written materials.  History will also teach you how to write, and offers a broader field, all of human history, every age, every culture, which makes picking a thesis easier.  English is limited to the works of a relatively small number of English authors.  Picking a thesis in English literature that hasn't been written about a thousand times already is hard.  Foreign languages are always useful to any company doing business overseas, which is most of them these days. 
   If you are a musician or an artist, Music or Art majors are rewarding.  If you are not a musician or an artist, they won't do you any good at all.  There are next to no jobs for music or art majors who are not themselves practicing  musicians or artists.
   Philosophy and Theology used to be big, back in medieval times, but they won't get you a job today.
   One other major, which isn't STEM or an Art; that is education.  If you want to teach in the public schools, you have to take the ed major.  The ed major will get you a job, no problem.  If you can stand the total boredom of the major, and you like teaching, go for it.  The ed departments pretend that education is something that can be taught and will make you a better teacher.  In actual fact, the ed major is endless chit chat about trivia.  It's easy enough to pass the major, but most students find it REALLY boring. The best teachers I ever encountered didn't even have college degrees, let alone an ed major.  They were good Air Force enlisted men pulled right off the flight line to teach in the base Field Training Detachment.  They knew their subjects (jet engines, aircraft instruments, radar, nav electronics, hydraulics, what ever) backwards and forwards.  And that's all you really need to be a good teacher.  If you want to teach in the private schools, then you can major in something useful, the private schools are less hung up about the ed major than the public schools. 
   Then there are the majors that aren't sciences but want to be sciences, (sociology,political science, anthropology, economics, ecology, psychology)  To be a real science you have to conduct experiments to validate your theories.  Conducting experiments in sociology or any of them is not possible or totally unethical. The courses usually boil down to political indoctrination.  And there are no jobs to be had with these majors.
   Then we come  underwater basket weaving majors.  These won't get you a job (other than waiting tables)
Black Studies, Gender Studies, Men's studies, Any kind of Studies, art appreciation, aroma therapy, and others.  Stay away. Total waste of four years and a lot of money.
  Final word.  Don't trust advice from guidance counselors, ESPECIALLY as to the requirements for your major.  You have to get in ALL the required courses in order to win a degree.  Find the college catalog, the current catalog, not one from last year.  All the major requirements are in the catalog.  Look them up, write them down (a spreadsheet is good) and sign up for them as early as possible.  Don't trust a guidance counselor to steer you into the right courses, they don't know, and don't really care, not the way you care.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Who gets blamed when Obamacare crashes and burns?

Fox News was discussing this on Sunday.  Obamacare is driving insurance companies out of the health care business.  Even with $2500 premium increases and $4000 copays,  insurance companies are still loosing wads of money on policies sold thru the Obamacare exchanges.  As a result,  the companies are pulling out of the Obamacare business, leaving vast tracts of America without ANY Obamacare health insurance.
   Who takes the blame was the subject of discussion on Fox.  In actual fact, the MSM will write long tear stained stories about how it's all the Republicans fault.  They will do their best to blame all bad things on the Trump administration. 
   The Republicans NEED to get a health care bill thru Congress and to the president's desk.  If they don't, then the coming Obamacare crash will sink the Republicans, come 2018 elections.  Rule in American politics, when bad things happen, the incumbent president, and his party, take the blame.  Especially when the MSM hates them.  Bad things are happening to Obamacare.  The Republicans must get their act together and pass something, now. 

Friday, June 9, 2017

Paper Ballots Antidote to hacking, Russian or other contenders

We have a leak, from Reality Winner, that the Russians hacked into a voting machine software company.  Apparently they didn't go further and hack the voting machines, but who knows what might be possible next year, or after the next release of Windows. 
   Vote on paper ballots.  Keep the ballots after election day in case you need to do a recount.  And we can do a recount by hand, even after all the fancy digital voting machine stuff dies. 
   Modern digital voting machines are merely desktop computers running a "I-pretend-to-be-a-ballot" program.  They mostly run Windows, world's most vulnerable operating system.  Hack into the software provider, which the Russians did, and modify the "I-pretend-to-be-a-ballot" program to elect who ever you like.  The software company distributes the hacked program to all it's customers, and presto, the Russians favorite candidate wins the election. 
   This cannot happen with paper ballots, marked with pen or # 2 pencil.  And paper ballots a gotta be cheaper for the towns and cities than fancy electronic voting machines. 

Saw Wonder Woman in the Jax Jr last night

Pretty good.  It's a comic book super hero (super heroine) movie.  I  haven't paid much attention to Wonder Woman since I stopped reading comic books around age 14 or so.  Gal Godot plays a great Wonder Woman.  She has the looks, she has the figure.  She gets a great part and a lot of good lines.  A lot of good costumes too.   The flick opens on the Amazon's magic island (I missed the name) inhabited by lots of really hot Amazon women, and ONE really cute Amazon child, Diana.  They don't talk about it, but I assume the lack of men on the island accounts for the very low birthrate.  We see Diana at age 8 and then at age 14 or so, (younger actors) and as grown up (Gal Godot)  The movie opens when handsome American pilot Steve Trevor  (Chris Pine) crashlands a WWI monoplane just offshore (would have been cooler if it were a biplane).   Diana rescues him from his sinking aircraft.  There is a cool fight when WWI German infantry land from boats to capture Steve Trevor.  The Amazons show up in surprising numbers and slay the Hun with swords, arrows and spears. 
    Shortly Steve and Diana set off for Europe to stop WWI.   They leave the magic island by sailboat.  Actually the prop guys should have done a little more work on that sailboat,  its sails never set well, and were always luffing and it's speed thru the water was much too high.   After reaching Europe we see a great set of period automobiles, all polished and shiny.  Period British trains.  Great period costumes.  The guys are all wearing hats (fedoras for civilians).  We see inside of Whitehall offices (lots of hardwood paneling and Army uniforms).   We go clothes shopping in London with Diana which has some very funny bits.  We see the inside of a British pub, full of ugly tough Brits who even manage to impress Diana with their toughness.   We meet war weary British politicians who are ready to sign a really wimpy armistice with the Germans.  And we heard what Diana thinks about wimping out.  
    They miss a few cool shots.  Although bayonets were standard issue in all armies back then, we never see soldiers (allied or enemy) with bayonets on their rifles.  We miss an opportunity to watch Diana with a sword duel with a bayonet wielding infantryman.   One of Steve's buddies carries a good sniper rifle with a big telescopic sight all thru the latter half of the movie.  We never see him draw a bead, center the crosshairs, and blow a bad guy away at 1000 yards. 
   This flick is over two hours, gets a little tedious toward the  end.  Really young kids won't have the patience to sit still thru out.  Other than that, it's fine for kids, everyone keeps their clothes on and doesn't sleep together on screen.  Lots of explosions, acrobatic fighting styles,  and exciting stuff, not much blood.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Islamic terrorist videos on Utube cause big advertisers to pull ads

Wall St Journal had this story today. I don't cruise Utube myself so I don't really know what gets posted there.  But the stuff must be pretty bad if advertisers are pulling their ads off Utube.  Was I Utube, I'd think real hard about throwing extremist video clips off the site, just to maintain good relations with my advertisers, who put up the money. 

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Nextgen and Privatizing Air Traffic Control

Trump was pushing these two ideas on TV yesterday.  Right now air traffic control (ATC) has been run by the FAA and paid for thru appropriations of federal tax money.  Trump (and others) want to set up a private or semi private company to run ATC and be funded by levying  fees on the airlines who use ATC.  The airline industry is in favor, as is the ATC union.   The issue really comes down to funding.  Right now, every time Congress gets its panties in a twist, the FAA funding bill doesn't get passed, and when it finally does pass, it leaves out funding for capital improvements, new radars, new control towers, new computers, Next Gen and such.   With a private company funded from fees, the cash flow is steady and predictable, every one's paycheck comes thru on time, and  capital improvements can be made, especially long term multi year projects.   The down side is the private company can hire more people, buy more equipment and just raise the fees to pay for it all.   They have a monopoly, and they will exploit it to grow. 
    The capital improvement under consideration is "Next Gen" an expensive plan to force every airplane in the country (and out of the country) to buy an pricey GPS receiver/transponder.  This gadget uses the GPS part to find the plane's location, speed and course, and when interrogated by a ground transponder would transmit the plane's ID and location back to the ground to update the ATC displays in control towers.  Transponders start at a couple of K for a light plane model, and a lot more for an airliner grade model.  The advantage of Next Gen is greater accuracy, say 10 feet of so, as compared to  5 miles or so for today's ground radar.  Which is said to allow controllers to fly planes closer together, allowing more air traffic in the same amount of airspace. 
   Maybe.  But it relies on vulnerable technology.  The GPS signal from satellites is quite weak and could be jammed in wartime.  The NextGen GPS/transponder is complicated and should it fail the aircraft disappears off ATC display screens.  And there is plenty of airspace for flying from place to place.  The congestion occurs around airports.  We only have 50 odd airports in the whole country and each one can only handle one operation (takeoff or landing) a minute.  There is plenty of airspace inbetween airports for all the planes now flying and all the planes that will be flying in the future.
   We should not do Next Gen.  Too expensive, too vulnerable, and we don't get anything for spending all that money. 

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Reality Winner??

Unlikely name.  NSA contractor arrested Saturday for leaking classified information.  She had a history of flakiness, including a posting about whiteness is racism, or some such malarkey.  She was an Air Force veteran.   The newsies haven't said what kind of discharge she had.
   Question:  How did somebody so flaky ever get a security clearance?  Did who ever granted her clearance talk to her former Air Force commander?  And how did she keep her clearance?
  Another Question:  Why was a contractor given access to this classified?  What was their need to know. 
   Seems to me, NSA has lost it's grip.  Back when I was a NSA contractor they gave us polygraph tests as part of gaining a clearance.   NSA was the only place I was ever at where they inspected your briefcase on the way in and out of secured areas.   Letting "Reality Winner" (is that really a name?)  in and giving her the run of the files makes me think NSA is getting sloppy. 

Monday, June 5, 2017

Cortana: What can it do and do I care?

According to net rumor, Cortana does some searching and accepts voice commands and gives voice responses and does snooping for Microsoft.   It used to suck up better than 100 Mbytes of RAM and a smidgen of CPU time.  Since putting in Creator's update big patch the other day it is down to 66.6 Mbytes of RAM and zip for CPU time. 
   After go rounds with Dragon Dictate and the average robocaller, I am not impressed with voice recognition.  I haven't gone thru a training session with Cortana.  I don't think I'm using it at all. I think I want to blow it away to save RAM and speed up things.
   So far, net searching only say you can use Regedit to add a key to the registry  (AllowCortana = 0) that inhibits Cortana from doing something while searching.  No directions for blowing Cortana clean off the hard  drive.   The only searching I ever do is with a web browser and Google, or on my harddrive with Windows Explorer.  
  Question:  Is it worth  adding the magic key to the registry?   Will it recover that 66.6 Mbytes of RAM, or does it leave Cortana sucking up RAM and doing nothing?  

HP Laptop battery recall. Lack of nameplate

While futzing around after the "Creative Update" big patch, I find that HP has a recall out on some laptop batteries.  Hmm.  I saw that photo for some years ago of a laptop bursting into flames on a conference room table.  Could be bad.  Could burn your house down. 
   So, a few clicks and the website asks for the product name of my laptop.  I get choices of Pavilion G4, thru Pavilion G16.   Top of my laptop just says "Pavilion"  I look on the back, on the bottom, sides, top, everywhere.  No data plate.  PITA.  Battery compartment needs tools to open.  Rather than going down to the shop for tools, I download an 800KB program to figure out which battery I have.  It reports that my battery is NOT on the recall list.  Nice.   
    I wish HP wasn't so cheap and had bothered to put a real dataplate, readable by humans, on their product. 

Creator's update to Win 10: aka Big Patch 2017

So I let Windows Update do the "Creators Update".  It is big and fat.  Took hours to download and more hours to install after download.  It fixed the power button on my HP laptop.  The last big patch, last summer, broke the button.  I had to keep my finger on the power button for the count of ten to make the laptop power down AND turn off the LED in the power button.   Granted a LED only draws 10 milliamps out of a battery rated for an amp-hour or more, but even 10 milliamps will run the battery down if you put the laptop on the shelf for a week or so.  Anyhow Win 10 Creator's update fixed the button that the last big patch broke.  
   And then Creators update broke HP 3D Driveguard.  That's an HP program that does an emergency hard drive head park should the internal accelerometer sense the laptop is taking a fall.  Sounds cool IF it is really fast enough to get the heads parked before the laptop hits the floor.  Net searching offered advice to uninstall HP 3D Driveguard and then download the latest version and reinstall.   Uninstall worked, but download and reinstall not so much.  My first reinstall crapped out with an error message about a bad file in the download.  I tried a second download from another site and it might have worked.  It never bothered to report success or failure.  HP 3D Driveguard does not show in Task Manager.  Neither do it's aliases, of which it has two.  So, either it hides from task manager or it isn't there at all. 
    A Creators Update puff piece on the 'Net  was vague about what all this updating buys you.  You get a 3D Paint program (whoopie) and a lot of stuff for gamers.  I don't draw with my computers and games are for kids.  
     Another productive year for the Micro$oft software weenies. 

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Wipe Islamic Terrorists off the Internet

We ought to do it.  We can do it, the backbone carriers are mostly American.  We  furnish a list of terrorist URL's to the backbone carriers, and presto, they go into the bit bucket for good.  The terrorists will undoubtedly open new ones, but we can make those go into the bit bucket too.  And their audiences, who just pop a URL into their browsers will be confused when they get the 404 error message after the site got blackholed.  It will take time for the audience to discover the new URLs and by which time we can discover them too and make the new ones go away. 
   Everyone agrees that a lot of Islamic terrorists get started, get instructed, and get encouraged over the internet.  For instance we know that Anwar Al Awlaki  set up the shoe bomber, and engaged in emails with Major Hassan, the Ft Hood shooter.  Awlaki got so bad that the weak kneed Obama administration summoned up a little resolve and snuffed Awlaki in a drone strike.  If we can snuff them from the air, surely we can turn off their internet access.
   Every other media, print newspapers, radio, TV, movies, books, music, engage in censorship.  There are some things they simply will not show.  Examples:  death threats, calls to violence, pornography, wardrobe malfunctions, overly  raunchy lyrics, and hate speech.  Only the internet gets away scot free.  With Islamic terrorist racking up more and more kills (149 kills just this Ramadan) we need to shut down their internet access. 
   We need to do this right, and prevent censorship of other perfectly legitimate internet activities.  Probably a small board of respected and impartial  people ought to OK each request to blackhole a URL for being an Islamic terror site.  We have done a fairly good job at snuffing out spammers, no reason why we should not do the same to Islamic terrorists. 

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Mandatory Minimum Sentences.

Used to be, back in the 60's and 70's, judges had broad discretion in sentences.  Unfortunately a number of judges abused this discretion, letting criminals off with slap-on-the-wrist sentences when the community wanted the throw the book at them. 
  As a result, in the 70's and 80's, Congress and state legislatures  passed laws requiring judges to impose mandatory minimum sentences in all cases, mitigating circumstances be damned.  Judges have been whining about this ever since.  But the mandatory minimum sentencing laws still mostly stand, the voters have little interest in the whines of judges.  

Friday, June 2, 2017

Do you believe in Global Warming?

Or, "Does the president believe in global warming," a question fired during one of those interminable daily press conferences.  The poor press secretary who was serving as a target rightfully dodged the question. 
  Believe.  That's a word used in  religion.  Do you believe in God?  When the newsies start asking about belief, they become religious fanatics looking for heretics to burn at the stake.  The fanatics LIKE global warming, they are using it to scare people into giving them political power. 
   Global warming ought to be a scientific theory, an idea supported by observations or experiments.  About the only observation behind the global warmists is CO2 concentration in the atmosphere.  We have good observations that the CO2 concentration has increased from 300 and something parts-per-million to 400 parts-per-million in the last 50 years or so.  The earth gets heated on the sunside and cools itself by radiating infrared radiation on the night side.  To hold Earth's temperature steady, the heating and the cooling have to balance.  CO2 blocks infrared radiation which reduces the nighttime cooling.  This is the whole of the greenie global warming religion.  Of which they are demanding the president believe. 
   Counter observation.  Plain old water vapor, steam, humidity, clouds, is as strong an infrared blocker as CO2.  And there is about 1000 times as much water vapor in the air as the puny rise of CO2.  The CO2 rise is like 50 parts-per million, against a water vapor concentration of 50,000 parts-per-million.  Most experienced people don't think a change that small means anything in the real world.  Especially as all the computer models of global warming produce crazy results when asked to predict today's temperature based upon data from some starting point in the past. Incidentally,  on a planet two thirds covered with open water, there is going to be a lot of water vapor in the air, and there is nothing anyone can do about it.  
   And, if the world warms up, then the oceans will warm and more water will vaporize and make the air even moister than it is.  Which will increase the amount of cloud cover.  Everyone knows that daytime clouds cool the earth.  You can feel the chill when you are on a beach in a bathing suit and a cloud covers the sun.  Less well known is that night time clouds warm the earth, they block infrared radiation even better than CO2 or water vapor.  Clear winter nights are colder than overcast winter nights.  Which effect is stronger?  No one knows, or at least no one has published on this where I could see it. 
   Another observation.  World temperature has remained steady, no rise at all for the last 19 years. 
   So, scientifically speaking global warming is a maybe.  Might be happening, might not.  This isn't a matter of belief.  It's a matter of scientific observations and theory. 

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Bye Bye Paris Climate Deal.

Trump called a special Rose Garden address on the Paris accord for 3 PM Eastern today.  It got started 15 minutes late, not bad.  Trump said the US was pulling out off the Paris agreement, something he had promised repeated on the campaign trail.  He said the Paris agreement was costing us jobs and economic growth, and it wasn't doing much against global warming.  And the other members, like China, weren't doing as much as the United States. 
   The Paris accord was supposed to be an international treaty, which needs a 66% majority in the Senate to pass.  Obama, who negotiated the Paris accords, never submitted the final treaty to the Senate, because he knew it would never pass.  So, it never was a real treaty, and Trump can denounce it and walk away from it on just his say-so.  That's legit.
   Funny thing about the Paris accord.  I have no idea what the pseudo treaty obligated America to do.  And who might be keeping score.  The Obama administration claimed that the Clean Power Plan, which called for shutting down every coal fired power plant in the country, was  just one step toward meeting the Paris accord.  Of course Trump shut down the Clean Power Plan a couple of months ago, so that's kind of moot.  Of course the greenies are all upset, but next greenie I hear venting about Paris, I'm gonna ask him what the Paris accord required us to do.  And is it fair when the Chinese don't have to do squat until 2030.  The greenie won't know, and that ought to quiet him down for a while.
   In short, Trump put on a show for his voter base, doing something they approve of.  It gives the MSM something new to whine about, which is good, I'm tired of listening to them whine about Russians.  I don't think it does anything about global warming, especially as there has been no global warming for the last 19 years. 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Angela Merkel's Lament

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

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Words of the Weasel Part 51

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

Fake News takes over the MSM

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

Latest Intel CPU chip is $1999

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

Sunday, May 28, 2017

And yet more unsolicited advice for Detroit.

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

Learning while in a Vegetative State.

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

Words of the Weasel Part 50

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

Saturday, May 27, 2017

More unsolicited advice for Detroit Automakers

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

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

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

Friday, May 26, 2017

We need to stop the leaks.

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

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Must be bad if the FISA court whines about it.

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

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

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

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

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Caution-Capable of firing with magazine removed

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

Tax cuts are always "for the rich"

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

Monday, May 22, 2017

Trump ought to stop that White House leak

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

A flower blooms in the Junkyard

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

Words of the Weasel Part 45

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

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Jacking up prices of old drugs hurts society.

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

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Accidental Superpower. Peter Zeihan

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

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Army wants replace Kiowa Warriors with new helicopter.

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

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Fake News takes over the 24 hour news cycle

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

Monday, May 15, 2017

NORK missiles are mostly liquid fuel. Wall St Journal.

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

Patch for the Wanna Cry virus on Windows XP

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