Month: January 2011

Economics Update

It’s not a good week for employment.

Initial unemployment claims rose by 51,000 to 454,000, people are talking about snow doing this, but I’m inclined believe that the weather had less to do with this than the underlying weakness in the economy.

The less volatile 4 week moving average rose by 15,750 to 428,750, and continuing claims rose by 94K to 3.99 million, and emergency claims fell by 98K to 4.62 million, though a lot of that last number dropping are people simply running out of benefits completely.

The Federal Reserve is still concerned about such thing, as the latest Federal Open Market Committee statement, which maintains its concerns as well as their quantitative easing (printing money) policy.


That, apparently is what the news bots are calling our Nor’easter, because I was not alone in spending 7 hours on the road to go just a few miles.

There were people who could not get moving until 4 or 5 in the morning.

There were lots of wiped out tractor-trailors blocking multiple lanes of traffic.

Live Blogging the SOTU

Final notes:

  • Listening to his platitudes and the fact that offers an open hand to the right wingers who want him to fail, and the back of hand to the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party, I just don’t enjoy listening to him.
  • He made a call for the expansion of the H2b and L1 visas:  Others come here from abroad to study in our colleges and universities. But as soon as they obtain advanced degrees, we send them back home to compete against us.”
    • The problem is that this has the effect of lowering wages in technical fields, which sends more mathematicians, physicists, and engineers to careers in finance , where they are more valued (or better paid, it’s the same thing, just ask an economist).  
    • I take it personally, because as an engineer, I have a target on my back from these programs.
  • Oh, God the pundits on MSNBC are yammering on about the F%$#ing seating arrangements, again, I’m taking his advice and turning off the damn TV.

10:10 pm: More Allen brothers roofing stories. *rolleyes*

10:08 pm: A shout out for the “end” of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”, and then draws a parallel about how colleges are not nice to the ROTC. Not necessary, but he needed to call out those “East Coast Liberal Elites.”

10:06 pm: “This July, we will begin to bring our troops home.” Good, but I expect it to be a token withdrawal, probably less than 3 battalions.

10:02 pm:  Talking defense now, “Thanks to our heroic troops and civilians, fewer Afghans are under the control of the insurgency. … In Pakistan, al Qaeda’s leadership is under more pressure than at any point since 2001. Their leaders and operatives are being removed from the battlefield. Their safe-havens are shrinking. ”  More light at the end of the tunnel crap, though. We are losing.

9:57 pm: A shout out to Muslim Americans, this is good, but how about stopping the FBI from infiltrating mosques with informers on the basis of their religion?

9:56 pm: That whole salmon regulation study story is another Republican meme he is reinforcement.

9:55 pm: That last bit about “Current retirees, the disabled, etc.” is a statement that he wants to means test Social Security to “strengthen” it.

9:53 pm: “To put us on solid ground, we should also find a bipartisan solution to strengthen Social Security for future generations. And we must do it without putting at risk current retirees, the most vulnerable, or people with disabilities; without slashing benefits for future generations; and without subjecting Americans’ guaranteed retirement income to the whims of the stock market.”  So he won’t call for Social Security tonight, but he’s calling for Social Security cuts tomorrow, because the Republicans want to kill Social Security, and if your goal is bipartisanship, then they will demand poison pills.

9:51 pm: He just capitulating on malpractice suits, again, giving in before negotiations start, even though “tort reform” has been repeatedly shown not to save money.

9:47 pm:  He’s talking about the fixing the $600 1099 requirement.  Probably a good thing, but will cost money, and he is talking about the deficit.  And for Pete’s sake, he’s talking about how in the middle of a recession he wants to freeze domestic spending for the next 5 years.

9:45 pm: More endorsements of the crappy trade deals, and he buys into the myth of all the extraneous regulations that don’t protect us from Salmonella or from the banks.  Feh.

9:41 pm: He’s calling for tax reform, with a simplification and reduction of loopholes and lower the max rate.  He says “It can be done”, but it won’t.  It’s tax cuts for the wealthy all over again.  Obama will cave when push comes to shove.

9:39 pm:  Atrios will be happy at his shoutout for high speed rail.

9:36 pm:  He’s giving a shout out to the DREAM act and immigration reform.  I don’t see it happening.  The Teabagger infused Republican Party has written off Hispanics for the next election cycle.

9:33 pm:  Yep, it’s bad teachers.  Not pervasive poverty, and a society that sucks brains out of useful pursuits and puts them into finance.  But our country needs teachers, so while Obama is attacking the teacher’s unions, wages, benefits, and job security, he wants people to become teachers.

9:32 pm: He’s now touting his open mouth kiss to the for-profit education profiteers, AKA the “Race to the top.”

9:30 pm: He’s saying that success is a function of hard work.  Not this generation.  American social mobility and entrepreneurship has fallen behind the rest of the industrialized world.  It’s now who your parents are, and addressing inequalities to fix this.

9:28 pm:  His invocation of “innovations” is a buy into corporatism.  He’s also invoking education, as well as telling people to turn off the TV.  I’m really tempted to turn him off.

9:27 pm:  He’s talking about killing the tax breaks and subsidies for big oil.  It would be nice.  It’s a no brainer, which means that the Republicans won’t let it come to a vote in the House, and filibuster it in the Senate.

9:26 pm:  The Allen brothers going from shingles to photovoltaics is his “Joe the Plumber” this speech.

9:22 pm:  Wants to make America the “Best place in the world to do business”.  We’ve been sucking corporate dick for 35 years, and it’s f%$#ed the average American.  I don’t care how many iPhones we get.

9:19 pm: OMFG!  He’s saying that the lost jobs are just productivity improvement, but the Internet economy will fix everything!

9:16 pm: Some breast beating about the stock market, where and he’d touting the tax cuts, big surprise.

9:12 pm:  He leads with a reference to Giffords.  How could he not?

9:11 pm:  He’s started.  BTW, what the hell is up with Boehner’s pink/purple tie?

9:10 pm: The pundits are going on, and on about seating, etc.  BTW, Chief Justice John Roberts felt compelled to show up, even though he did not want to, because the rest of the right wing justices refused to, and if only the 4 honest justices showed, it would look bad.

9:08 pm:  Oh for f%$#’s sake, he is touting “clean coal” in the speech, as well as nuclear.  The first is a fraud, the 2nd has been a disaster, because they cannot get financing, because of the record of delays and cost overruns.  I’ll stop reading now.

9:06 pm:  He is in and shaking hands. Still reading speech.

9:04 pm: I really hope that it plays better than it reads. But it is demoralizing to anyone who is the least bit liberal.  He touts caving on tax cuts for the rich. Lame invocation of Sputnik.

9:02 pm: Huh.  The speech was leaked on the net a couple of hours ago to the National Journal.  Reading now.

9:01 pm:  Show up already.  I hate listening to the pundits.

8:59 pm:  The pundits, who have advance copies of the speech, say that Barack Obama will call for lower tax rates.  F%$#ing typical.  Sucking up to the rich at the expense of the tax payer, because Obama needs his billion dollars for the 2012 campaign.

8:58 pm:  Turning on MSNBC.  I miss Keith.

If You Don’t Have the Law, or the Facts, and You Can’t Pound the Table, Because Someone is Slamming Your Face on It, Then

Shred all relevant documents:

Federal bankruptcy judges in Delaware are due to hold separate hearings Monday on requests by two defunct subprime mortgage lenders to destroy thousands of boxes or original loan documents.

The requests, by trustees liquidating Mortgage Lenders Network USA and American Home Mortgage, come despite intense concerns that paperwork critical to foreclosures and securitized investments may be lost.

A series of recent court rulings have increased the importance of original loan documents, holding that they are essential for investors to prove ownership of mortgages and to have the right to foreclose.

Nope, nothing to hide here, it’s just too expensive to store boxes of documents.

What you are hearing right is not two 800 horsepower document shredders starting up.


The bombing is clearly a horrible thing, but I don’t have much to add, though I would suggest that you look at Mark Ames article on Russian stoicism.

The Russian reaction may seem cold, or even heartless, in their reaction, but consider the alternative:

As appalling as it might seem, let’s remember what America’s far more sentimental reaction to 9/11 got us: two disastrous wars, tens of thousands of deaths, and the sorts of police-state measures once thought unimaginable. The difference may be more in our sentimentality than in our brutality.

By simply soldiering on, and letting it roll off your back, it makes it much more difficult for the Terrorists to win.


Two potential reactions:

Whoever suggested that he rent out his house

My Reaction

Rahm Emmanuel has been struck from the ballot for the Chicago Mayoral race:

A state appeals court on Monday threw the Chicago mayor’s race into turmoil by ruling that front-runner and former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel did not qualify for the February ballot.

Emanuel immediately responded that he would appeal the ruling to the state Supreme Court and urged quick consideration. The ruling on Monday overturned decisions by a lower court and a Chicago elections board that allowed him on the February 22 ballot.

It appears that there is an exemption in the law for elected officials, but not for staff, and the fact that he had rented out his house was a major contributing factor.

That being said, I think that it is likely that it will be overturned on appeal by the Illinois Supreme Court, though I would prefer if the ruling stood, and Rahm has the  backing of the machine, so he still has a good chance of winning.

OK, Social Security is Safe, Until Wednesday, At Least

It looks like the poll numbers and the heat from activists and members of Congress have done their job, because the Obama administration has said no proposed Social Security cuts in his State of the Union address:

President Obama has decided not to endorse his deficit commission’s recommendation to raise the retirement age, and otherwise reduce Social Security benefits, in Tuesday’s State of the Union address, cheering liberals and drawing a stark line between the White House and key Republicans in Congress.

(emphasis mine)

Note the specificity of the language. He won’t endorse cutting Social Security Tomorrow. I am also pretty sure that he won’t do it on Wednesday, and it’s pretty clear he won’t do it in 2012, because he wants to be reelected, but if he is reelected, it’s pretty clear he’s going to try for another bite at the apple.

I wish that we still had Republicans like Ike Eisenhower, who said about those who will cut Social Security, “Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes that you can do these things. Among them are a few Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or businessman from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid.

This is More Typical of the Soviet Gulag Era, not the United States

Alleged Wikileaks source Bradley Manning has only one civilian non-lawyer visitor, David House, and he and Jane “Firedog Lake” Hamsher, who is generally his ride to the brig in Quantico, were detained, and her car was towed.

According to House’s and Hamsher’s reports, the guards said that the orders came from the top, and they were made to stand outside for an extended period in sub-freezing weather.

Seriously, one can assume, based on his background, that Barack “The worst constitutional law professor ever” Obama should know better, but it appears that he just does not care.

If you are an American citizen, you are more at risk of indefinite non-judicial detention or assassination then you ever were under George W. Bush.

It’s Not Just the B Model F-35

Yes, the F-35B, the STOVL variant has been placed on probation, but the entire program is encountering difficulties.

Most recently it has been revealed that there are problems with the aerodynamics and propulsion for all the models:

Flight testing so far has revealed problems with handling in the transonic and medium angle-of-attack regimes, [reportedly problems with wing drop/sideslip akin to those discovered in flight test for the F/A-18 E/F] and a problem with screech – destructive high-frequency combustion instability in the F135 afterburner – which is preventing the aircraft from achieving maximum power. [Which produces shockwaves, think the “snapping” on a an improperly lit Bunsen burner, writ large]

You know, that alternate engine for the F-35 is starting to look a lot better, huh.

Additionally, there are very real continuing problems with software, with the advanced helmet mounted displays and the vaunted 360° sensor fusiuon for the pilot not working properly.

As to the B model, weight problems is literally a killer.

With conventional and carrier launched variants, weight gain cuts into performance, payload, and range, but with STOVL aircraft, it means that they are simply unable to perform their basic functions:

Gates said that solving the unspecified technical issues now afflicting the aircraft “could” add cost and weight; the program office says that it “will”, and that it will take two years to “engineer solutions … and assess their impact.”


Vertical landing is a nonvariable requirement. The required airspeed is zero and can’t be adjusted by a few knots to compensate for extra weight. The JSF key performance parameter for bring-back load – corresponding to two 1,000-pound JDAMs and two Amraams – was set early on at a minimal level.

One reason that Lockheed Martin’s shaft-driven lift fan (SDLF) concept was a winner in 1996 and 2001 was that it seemed to offer thrust margin for vertical landing. At the start of SDD, the F-35B was projected to have an empty weight of 29,700 pounds – not a bad place to be in with (then) almost 40,000 pounds of vertical thrust. But, in the weight crisis of 2004, engineers found that the jet had ballooned to a far higher figure (never actually published) at which it could not land vertically with normal fuel reserves, let alone weapons.


Still, the redesign left a fundamental problem: the bring-back load (around 3,000 pounds) was only 8 percent of the landing weight. The result is that the F-35B couldn’t tolerate any OEW growth or thrust shortfall. The engine and transmission are maxed: that’s the issue underlying the repeated delays in powered-lift testing, chronicled here and here.

This is a mess, and much of it is driven by unrealistic requirements for commonality, and placing too much emphasis on the STOVL version, which wastes weight on the A and C variants.

When I worked on the now FCS, it was clear to everyone working on the program that the commonality requirements made the systems more expensive and less combat effective, and the same thing is happening with the F-35.