Drones in America

Apparently, the US courts have decided that drones small enough, and used like hobby aircraft, are in fact model airplanes and thus Not subject to licensing. The logic seems to be, small hobby aircraft operated ‘for fun’ in line of sight were not regulated before, and a drone is essentially the same thing if operated in the same way, so long as it isn’t really big.

OK. But I think the USA (and Canada and all sensible governments everywhere) should insist that drones have a serial number on them, in several places, that can be recovered in the case of a crash (I’m thinking airplane crash here.)

My cameras all have serial numbers in them. My laptop has one. I’m pretty sure the manufacturer could track that serial number to a specific outlet, and I’m pretty sure that outlet could track that serial number to a specific purchase. Most of us pay for medium-expensive stuff by credit card, so that tracking would come right back to the purchaser.

The good news is, supposedly a stolen camera or laptop could be proven to belong to the original purchaser.

Even better, a drone involved in an accident or in criminal activity, could be tracked to the original purchaser.

Why doesn’t the USA put that into law: serial numbers. Almost everything of serious lasting value has one: the VIN on my car, your refrigerator.

Drone on.

Peach in sediment?

Speech impediment.

I remember the one time Daffy Duck was permitted to appear with Donald. He made a comment about not working again, with some one with a speech impediment.

Here is a thoughtful article about How Trump Could Get Fired. This from The New Yorker. This is a long and careful article. If you can’t read, tough. No easy summaries here.

And, what would you expect to say reacting to the possibility of impeachment? That it would make you fame records? Have a look here.

I’ll give a few quotes, latter reference first. As always, emphasis mine:

“Everywhere I go, people tell me that if I am impeached, they’re going to watch it,” he said. “The ratings are going to be through the roof.” He said that he expected his impeachment ratings to be “many, many times” the size of the audience for Bill Clinton’s impeachment, in 1998. “It’s not even going to be close,” Trump said. “The ratings for Bill Clinton’s impeachment were a joke.”

If you wondered about Trump’s understanding of impeachment, here’s another quote from the same source: (emphasis mine, as always)

Asked about the recent impeachment of the former South Korean President Park Geun-hye, Trump said, “Did anyone even watch that one? That was Korea. Nobody cares.” As for the impeachment of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, he said, “I didn’t hear about that one. I don’t follow Brazil. I like Argentina. I saw ‘Evita’ many, many times. Andrew Lloyd Webber did a great job. Millions and millions of people loved it. But that was a Broadway show, not an impeachment.”

Now let’s go to our earlier ‘how Trump could get fired’ from The New Yorker.

Michael Flynn, who resigned as Trump’s national-security adviser after acknowledging that he lied about his contact with Russia’s Ambassador, is seeking immunity in exchange for speaking with federal investigators, raising the prospect that he could reveal other undisclosed contacts, or a broader conspiracy.

 Is trump a peach in sediment? Or do we both have a speech impediment? That’s the dumb question.

James Comey: symptom of ??

Here you will find a UK page on the firing of FBI Director James Comey. By, of course, POTUS Donald Trump.

I will content myself with a few observations. You can read the article by clicking the above hotlink.

Insiders think Comey was fired because he was closing in on Trump and Trump associates with connections to Russia.

Trump said Comey was fired because he messed up the handling of Hilary Clinton’s private eMail server. I won’t bother doing the search, but you can check out this claim: at the time, Trump praised Comey for damaging Hilary.

Comey asked for more resources, and went from weekly to daily updates.

Some commentators and newspapers, including The New York Times, have suggested the President disposed of Mr Comey in a frantic bid to prevent his own impeachment.
That is a quote.

The Pledge of Allegiance has had several small tweaks, as you can find in Wikipedia. Here is one version:

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Unfortunately, when I say it in my head, I hear the ending as:

libertine justice, for all?

For American readers: are you feeling a growing sense of unease here?

For Trump supporters, is there any conceivable evidence that would shake your undying support for your current President?

For readers (not many, eh?) in other countries, does the current ‘stability’ of the USA let you sleep soundly?

What does it mean when a President fires the head of an agency investigating: questions about his associates, his election (was it manipulated by the Russians), and his former National Security Advisor?

Comey went gentle into that good night. Here’s a final quote:

Mr Comey has not given any interviews since his dismissal, but said in a farewell letter to his colleagues at the FBI: “I have long believed that a president can fire an FBI director for any reason, or for no reason at all. I’m not going to spend any time on the decision or the way it was executed. I hope you won’t either. It is done.”

A final dumb question: do you think Comey is going to be silent forever?

What does the New Yorker think about Canada?

Here you will find a fascinating article about Canada versus the United States of America.

I will quote the opening two paragraphs, and encourage you to read the rest – slowly. As always, emphasis mine.

Title: We Could Have Been Canada. Here goes:

And what if it was a mistake from the start? The Declaration of Independence, the American Revolution, the creation of the United States of America—what if all this was a terrible idea, and what if the injustices and madness of American life since then have occurred not in spite of the virtues of the Founding Fathers but because of them? The Revolution, this argument might run, was a needless and brutal bit of slaveholders’ panic mixed with Enlightenment argle-bargle, producing a country that was always marked for violence and disruption and demagogy. Look north to Canada, or south to Australia, and you will see different possibilities of peaceful evolution away from Britain, toward sane and whole, more equitable and less sanguinary countries. No revolution, and slavery might have ended, as it did elsewhere in the British Empire, more peacefully and sooner. No “peculiar institution,” no hideous Civil War and appalling aftermath. Instead, an orderly development of the interior—less violent, and less inclined to celebrate the desperado over the peaceful peasant. We could have ended with a social-democratic commonwealth that stretched from north to south, a near-continent-wide Canada.

The thought is taboo, the Revolution being still sacred in its self-directed propaganda. One can grasp the scale and strangeness of this sanctity only by leaving America for a country with a different attitude toward its past and its founding. As it happened, my own childhood was neatly divided between what I learned to call “the States” and Canada. In my Philadelphia grade school, we paraded with flags, singing “The Marines’ Hymn” and “Here Comes the Flag!” (“Fathers shall bless it / Children caress it / All shall maintain it / No one shall stain it.”) We were taught that the brave Americans hid behind trees to fight the redcoats—though why this made them brave was left unexplained. In Canada, ninth grade disclosed a history of uneasy compromise duality, and the constant search for temporary nonviolent solutions to intractable divides. The world wars, in which Canadians had played a large part, passed by mostly in solemn sadness. (That the Canadians had marched beyond their beach on D Day with aplomb while the Americans struggled on Omaha was never boasted about.) Patriotic pageantry arose only from actual accomplishments: when Team Canada won its eight-game series against the Russians, in 1972, the entire nation sang “O Canada”—but they sang it as a hockey anthem as much as a nationalist hymn.

There is more, much more, in the New Yorker article. I take no pleasure in reading it, but wonder if the much-touted American Revolution, and slavery, did (as the article reasons through) set up the malaise in my southern neighbour country.

And now we have Trump.

Pass the maple syrup. Have a nice day.

How Blog Posts Work (sometimes)

Assume you post to my blog, make sense, tell the blog an eMail that looks real (and checks out), then what happens?

My blog sends me an eMail informing me of your comment. I look at it, maybe test the eMail, and approve it.

Your comment will not show up until I review it as above.

Some blogs automatically  apply comments; some use algorithms to decide to apply comments, some use add-ons to try to detect spam. So other blogs may approve or deny your comment without human intervention.

I always intervene, and am human.

Some comments are sensible. About 120 have been approved and are visible here. The blog goes backward in time to when it was created (long ago, when the world was young and the rocks were still cooling.)

Many comments are not sensible. Some are in characters other than this alphabet. A few have been pornographic. (Apparently mentioning Donald Trump and ‘tongue in cheek’ was enough to provoke this.) Most are boringly familiar. For example:

  • I can make money working from home. The amounts vary.
  • My blog needs SEO tool help.
  • Weird lists of car insurance in the USA from a provider in the EU.
  • Clearly self-promoting. Jewellery, Viagra, clothing lines.
  • Badly written, likely synonym-replacer generated, pidgin English.

What I do depends on my level of annoyance with the sender. I have done the following:

  • Used a tool at my ISP to prevent entire address ranges from seeing my blog. Much of China is blocked out this way. Entire ISPs.
  • Found the commenter’s ISP and formally complained. A few users have vanished, likely cut off (until they find another ISP or identity.)
  • Other actions. (I’m not disclosing any more. Be surprised, eh?)

So, to recap:

  • If you want to comment, give the blog website a real eMail address (that works) and say something with reasonable English. Your eMail will NOT be disclosed.
  • Wait. All decent comments will be approved, and then appear.
  • Don’t bother to spam me. You’re wasting your time, and I’ve gotten really efficient at dumping spam comments.

Do any of you think the above will change my poor-comment-per-day average? That’s the dumb question.

Physics Question

The electromagnetic force works at all distances. Here’s something I’d like to have explained.

This page (there are lots) explains that, say, two electrons, will repel each other, and change course, by exchanging a photon.

I have two electrons whose trajectories are antiparallel. Their mutual repulsion will bend their trajectories, especially at closest approach.

No matter how far apart the electrons are.

My electrons are one light year apart. Now for the tough / dumb questions:

  • Are the photons emitted simultaneously? If so, is this action at a distance communicating faster than light?
  • It takes a year for each photon to reach its target. Does it ‘aim ahead?’
  • The (vector) energy change of each electron is small, so the photons must carry very little energy. How large is their equivalent wavelength?

Serious (or really funny) answers only, please.

For once, then something (???)

The title refers to a poem by Robert Frost. You can have a look for free.

What I’d really like you to read is a BBC News page about Donald Trump.

He’s considering renewing something like the Glass-Steagall act. This was, perhaps, the last piece of legislation to be removed (in 1999) that led to the crash of 2008.

Paradoxically, while on the campaign trail, Trump threatened to revoke Dodd-Frank, which was put in by Obama to fix things a bit during the crisis.

You can read the BBC page for yourself; I’ll content myself with quotes, emphasis mine:

Mr McDonald said there are good political reasons why the president might want to take a tough line on the banking industry. “The average little guy loves to hear this, so he’s going to score points with his base and it may not hurt him politically at all because it may not get done,” he said.

Dodd-Frank was designed in part to protect consumer banking operations from riskier investment banking business. Among other provisions, it required banks keep money in reserve at levels the president has said he thinks are onerous on smaller operations.

Finally, on this administration’s ability to promise, measure, and deliver:

Earlier, US Treasury Secretary, Steve Mnuchin said he believed the American economy could be growing at a rate of three percent within two years, thanks to the administrations proposed tax reforms. On the campaign trail Trump promised growth of 4% a year. The economy is currently growing at a rate of 0.7%.

Truth? A pebble of quartz? For once, then, something?

That’s the dumb question.

A Telling Show

Today we have two persons of interest.

I am a writer. One thing all writers should think about is ‘Show not Tell.’ For a fine explanation of that, go here and see how Shirley Jump explains it.

The second person of interest, fascination even, is Donald Trump.

Here is one place where some of Trump’s tweets have been gathered. I’ll select just a few words to show that Trump is telling.

  • Mainstream (FAKE) media
  • China & its highly respected President
  • We are making tremendous progress
  • Terrible!
  • Relationships are good-deal very possible!
  • Sad!
  • The U.S. recorded its slowest economic growth in five years (2016). GDP up only 1.6%. Trade deficits hurt the economy very badly.
  • First the Ninth Circuit rules against the ban & now it hits again on sanctuary cities-both ridiculous rulings. See you in the Supreme Court!

I could go on, but if you go through the above list, you’ll probably agree that most, if not all, the italicized words (emphasis mine) are not substantiated with any facts.

We’ve been told. It’s a telling show.

Evil and Corruption

Invulnerability corrupts. Power can convey invulnerability, and thus is often credited with corruption of individuals. However, the H.G.Wells story, The Invisible Man, had an intro which pointed out that the invisible man wasn’t specially powerful, but he could get away with things – was in a sense invulnerable, not liable to be taken to account for his actions.

Invulnerability corrupts.

Evil is, imho, the exercise of power without oversight. For a normal individual, that oversight is called conscience. However, many powerful forces in a society are controlled not by the consciences of individuals, but by oversight bodies charged with reining in those powers.

There are checks and balances within governments. Sometimes.

Between powerful coalitions, nations being an example, power versus oversight becomes a challenge for diplomacy. Carrot and stick, deal and threat, gift and sanction.

North Korea is a scary example of power challenging diplomacy.

So is the United States of America under President Donald J Trump. Large bomb in Afghanistan. Missiles in Syria. Trade threats. Walls. Discrimination.

Now for the dumb questions:

  • Is Trump invulnerable?
  • Does that slightly scare you?

Have a nice day.

Bankrupt.

Here you will find a fine article on Donald Trump’s brilliant new tax plan for the United States of America.

It will bankrupt the country. First, corporate taxes are going to be reduced from 35% to 15%. The trillions in deficits that mere economists predict won’t happen, according to Steven Mnuchin, because growth in reported income will cover it. I think a bit of simple math here is in order: 35% divided by 15% is seven over three. That’s more than double. So to make up for the tax break, American companies will have to report, and pay tax on,more than double their current net profit levels.

Sound likely? Guess not.

That this would save the Donald considerable (?? we don’t see his tax returns, eh??) tax money himself seems to trouble him not a whit.

In addition, this tax reform would do the following:

  • some sort of repatriation tax, giving big companies an incentive to bring back money they hold overseas
  • tax breaks for childcare expenses
  • doubling the amount of standard tax deduction
  • a cut in individual rates, although few details expected yet
  • more tax rate cuts for hedge funds, and other enterprises that pay taxes at individual rates
  • easing the tax form process

And in all of this there is no new tax revenue source:

Mr Trump’s blueprint is not expected to include any proposals for raising new revenue.

The much-discussed border tax that would put a tariff on imports – favoured by House Speaker Paul Ryan – will not be in the plan.

When Mr. Trump got in personal financial trouble in the past, he declared bankruptcy and went on living.

There is the odd voice of sanity in the wings, for example:

Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown called the 15% rate workable only “if you want to blow a hole in the federal budget and cut a whole lot of things like Meals on Wheels and Lake Erie restoration and then lie about the growth rate of the economy”.

Bankrupt. The US Federal Government is going to be bankrupt.

No dumb questions this time. Have a nice day.