A modest suggestion

April 23rd, 2018

UCLA:

Research published today by UCLA climate scientists in Nature Climate Change projects that the state will experience a much greater number of extremely wet and extremely dry weather seasons — especially wet — by the end of the century. The authors also predict that there will be a major increase in the likelihood of severe flooding events, and that there will be many more quick changes from one weather extreme to the other.

Those who manage California’s water supply and protect residents from wildfires, floods and other natural disasters should be planning for those changes, said lead author Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability and The Nature Conservancy. Millions of lives, wildlife and the health of a multitrillion-dollar economy depend on it.

Suggestion: fire everyone involved and get a Magic 8 Ball.

Miscellany

April 22nd, 2018

Some guy: “Human nature is not wanting in certain endowments for the solution of human society. Man is endowed by nature with organic relations to his fellow-men; and natural impulse prompts him to consider the needs of others even when they compete with his own.” The drivel goes on from there; our mini-responses: (1) Yeah, shut up and sit down Mao, Mr. Pot, Joe, Adolph, etc. You too Cain and David. (2) must have been nice in Missouri at the turn of the century. Only mentioning the above because of twitter.

In other news, we think we’re seeing cognitive dissonance with all these lawsuits (here, here and everywhere). Russia fell apart big time, but the suers or sewers know deep-down that the sooie is a really really bad guy. That’s enough fun for one day.

This too shall pass (probably)

April 21st, 2018

Way back a decade and a half ago we were very optimistic about the direction the so-called New Media would take this country. Creative Destruction, new business plans rendering obsolete the Rathergate-infested old media’s, and so forth. We even trotted out Thomas Kuhn from time to time. By “optimistic” we meant of course that things in the country would develop along a line pretty much compatible with our quite brilliant views.

How times change. Universal internet and universal mobile devices took things in a different direction. Instant cursing is in the trillions, and soon there may be a Nobel Prize for vilest tweet. The creators and lead marketers of instant everything (Facebook, Google, Twitter, Amazon, etc) often can combine leftism with monopolistic zeal in business to an extraordinary degree. Actually the two things aren’t that different in some ways, which is why we and Ralph Nader can find ourselves in agreement on aspects of this.

So now we see author, scholar and broadcaster Dennis Prager getting censored by YouTube for videos with Alan Dershowitz and others in a series sometimes featuring distinguished MIT and Princeton professors; he also is mocked by the NYT for saying perfectly true things about its so-called best seller list. And we see 40 year litigator, CEO of Center for the American Experiment, and founder of TIME’s blog of the year John Hinderaker censored by Twitter for perfectly innocuous stuff.

Maybe the thought monopolists can endure forever. We don’t know. But if things can change this much over the last 15 years, there’s no safe way of predicting what can happen over the next period of time. Meanwhile, we’ll watch but not comment much on today’s comey-this-or-that; too many slings and arrows. So back to China and fan blades.

30,000 cycles

April 20th, 2018

CFM:

CFM recommends ultrasonic inspections within the next 20 days to fan blades of CFM56-7B engines with more than 30,000 cycles since new. Also, it recommends inspections by the end of August for fan blades with 20,000 cycles, and inspections to all other fan blades when they reach 20,000 cycles. After first inspection, operators are recommended to repeat the inspection every 3,000 cycles, which typically represents about two years in airline service.

It will be interesting to know how many cycles there were on the engines in this piece. 30,000 cycles would seem to be about 20 years in service. Hmmmm.

More on fan blades

April 19th, 2018

Very good piece:

The engine used by Southwest’s 737-700s, the CFM56, is the most popular high-bypass turbofan engine in the world. Built by CFM International, a joint venture of Safran Aircraft Engines of France and General Electric Aviation, the CFM56 family of engines has been in service since 1974; there are more than 30,000 of them in service with more than 500 different air carriers, and, as a whole, CFM56 engines have more than 800 million flight hours, with remarkably few major failures. The engine used by Southwest’s 737-700s — the CFM56-7B — is used on 6,700 aircraft and has seen more than 350 million cumulative flight hours. But a number of factors can lead to even the most reliable engine failing. With turbofans, the most frequent causes are maintenance errors and metal fatigue.

As the engine gets older, the blades of the fan (scimitar shaped, hollow, and made of a titanium alloy) may become more brittle and begin to crack. Cracking can also be caused by other factors—as in the case of the July 6, 1996 failure of an engine aboard Delta Airlines flight 1288. In that incident, an engine on the McDonnell-Douglas MD-88 hurled fan blades through the engine casing and into the airplane’s passenger cabin, killing two passengers. Inspection of the engine after a previous repair had failed to detect a large crack in the fan’s hub.

And when a cracked fan is spinning at about 8,000 revolutions per minute, it can become a deadly projectile — either headed outward through the engine casing, or back into the jet portion of the engine, causing even more shrapnel amongst the compressor rotors and a full-on engine explosion.

While any broken blade in a jet engine is going to be destructive to the engine itself, the fan’s position outside of the engine proper and its larger size and momentum also make the fan dangerous if it fails. One blade flying free could bounce around inside the cowling, breaking loose other fan blades, creating a hail of spinning sword-like debris. The engine cowling needs to be extremely resistant to damage from a fan failure to prevent the blades from flying out and striking the body of the aircraft–making sure that the failure is a “contained failure.”

But in some cases, a fan blade breaks free with enough kinetic energy that it becomes an extremely large-caliber bullet, breaking other fan blades and passing through the engine housing. In the most catastrophic cases, such as the crash of United Airlines Flight 232 in Sioux City in 1989, the flying pieces of fan blades can cut through other vital aircraft systems. The same year, a fan blade failure on British Midland Flight 92 — a 737 using an earlier version of the CFM56 engine — led to a crash in Kegworth, England, in which 47 died and 74 sustained serious injuries.

Fortunately, the more recent incidents involving uncontained engine failures have not been on a UAL 232 scale. While the Delta incident in 1996 killed a mother and child and left five others injured, there had been no fatalities in engine failure incidents since. Most recently, in August of 2016, in an incident similar to this week’s, Southwest Airlines Flight 3472 from New Orleans to Orlando suffered an uncontained failure of its left engine, blowing off the engine inlet — resulting in passenger photos almost identical to the ones posted by passengers of Flight 1380. As with this week’s accident, the aircraft experienced cabin depressurization, but not because of a blown window — a 5-inch by 16-inch hole was found in the fuselage just above the left wing, but no fan blade or engine cowling material managed to penetrate into the passenger compartment.

The missing fan blade from Flight 3472 was never found, and the NTSB investigation of that incident is still underway. But the fracture surface that remained showed signs of fatigue crack growth.

It’s highly likely that examination of the engine of Southwest Flight 1380 will find the same tell-tale signs of engine fatigue. The engines on the aircraft — a “Next Generation” 737-700 with the registration number N772S, put into service in 2000 — have been used for about 40,000 flights, and about 10,000 of those since the aircraft’s last major overhaul. While that’s not unusual for Southwest, which has one of the older average-aged fleets of aircraft in the industry, it’s likely that Southwest will end up increasing the frequency of engine overhauls as a result of this accident.

Some turbine blades are restricted to one overhaul and then retirement. We won’t be surprised to see some hours or cycles limits on fan blades as well. In other news, the HNA restructuring has picked up steam.

Very strange

April 18th, 2018

It is extremely strange that a single fan blade could inflict the kind of damage seen on SWA 1380. We know a good bit about these things and we’ll follow up when more facts are known. Just to show you how rare and unusual this is, the CFM56 is widely used on passenger jets, with over 29,000 engines delivered to over 500 operators worldwide, powering 13,400 single-aisle commercial jetliners.

Clever Belt and Road two-fer

April 17th, 2018

Examiner:

China can put an overextended borrower in a debt trap. Take Sri Lanka, for example. Saddled with more than $1 billion of debt, the Sri Lankan government had little choice but to lease the strategic port of Hambantota to companies owned by the Chinese government. “Sri Lanka is kind of a cautionary tale for how China ended up with a controlling stake in a port, and a 99-year lease, when the Sri Lankan government never really intended that to happen in the first place,” Hillman said.

And then, there’s the main port in Djibouti, which is not only adjacent to China’s only overseas military base, but is also the main access point for U.S., French, Italian, and Japanese bases. It may soon be turned over to another Chinese-linked company.

“I think the example of Djibouti has been instructive to all of us,” John Garnaut, former senior adviser to Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, testified before a House Armed Services Committee hearing last month. “Too often, we’re seeing things that were advertised as just pure economic investments in infrastructure that have ended up being used to this process of debt trap diplomacy, to kind of transfer to change at lease hold into freehold ownership of crucial infrastructure.”

China, which likes to play the long game, is slowly but inexorably extending its power and influence while America stands by and watches, said former Defense Secretary and CIA Director Robert Gates. “We don’t have anything, even in the back of our mind, to compete with ‘One Belt, One Road,’ this trillion-dollar Chinese initiative which will be transformative in Asia,” Gates told NBC in a recent “Meet the Press” podcast. “The Chinese have basically contracted to rebuild the port of Gwadar in Pakistan, and there will be a Chinese naval base there. They already have a naval base in Djibouti,” Gates said.

“These projects are a two-fer for the Chinese, because they get credit in those countries for building these big infrastructure projects,” he said. “These countries are going to be deeply in debt to China for a long period of time, and that takes with it a tremendous amount of political influence.”

Oh yes, and about that borrowing down business, WSJ: The People’s Bank of China said Tuesday that the amount of reserves commercial banks are required to hold would be reduced by 1 percentage point. The cut, which takes effect on April 25, will unleash about 1.3 trillion yuan in funds. 400 billion yuan can be used toward new lending by banks.

Amusing bonus: who does the special prosecutor in L&O Sideshow remind you of?

Borrowing down, parading up

April 16th, 2018

TRD:

China’s “cheap money” era may be coming to an end, as the amount of debt available in the country’s economy plunged more than $200 billion – or roughly 20% – during the first quarter of the year. The sudden credit crunch comes as the Chinese government looks to curb high levels of borrowing that have fueled the economy’s growth. “The fall in the outstanding amount of broad social financing is bigger than expected,” Ding Shuang, chief China economist for Standard Chartered in Hong Kong, told the South China Morning Post.

China’s measure of credit and liquidity in the economy, called social financing, fell $211.85 billion during the first three months of the year compared to the same time in 2017, the People’s Bank of China said on Friday. The large majority of that financing, roughly 87%, came in the form of bank loans. And “shadow bank financing” fell as Beijing continued to clamp down on illicit deals.

Meanwhile, via WSJ: Mr. Xi, who is China’s military commander-in-chief, boarded a guided-missile destroyer to review a parade of 48 vessels—including nuclear missile submarines and China’s first aircraft carrier. Wearing military fatigues, Mr. Xi was shown watching J-15 fighter jets taking off from the carrier, the Liaoning, following the parade.

Excellence or Affirmative Action — pick one

April 15th, 2018

Before you start yelling at us, check out what Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams and Larry Elder think about the absurd and harmful practice of affirmative action. Imagine it applied to the 207 Nobel Laureates in Physics. Imagine how awful the NBA would be if it were applied there. Don’t even mention ballet!

All of which brings us back to Amy Wax and her non-controversial, except for today’s leftist madness, newspaper piece saying this: Get married before you have children and strive to stay married for their sake. Get the education you need for gainful employment, work hard, and avoid idleness. Go the extra mile for your employer or client. Be a patriot, ready to serve the country. Be neighborly, civic-minded, and charitable. Avoid coarse language in public. Be respectful of authority. Eschew substance abuse and crime.

If you think that this is controversial, then it’s you who has the problem. (Which explains, psychologically, why the true believers can’t just disagree with you, they have to go crazy mad-angry on you.) Anyway, Scott Johnson has a long talk by Amy Wax, and a letter from a sane Penn trustee telling the university to stuff it. Yay, sanity! BTW, in her talk, Wax notes one of our favorites, the lady professor at MIT who got the vapors over some comment by Larry Summers.

Change of pace:

And now for Bonus Fun: there’s a movie on Sundance and it clarifies why Stephen King doesn’t like the President; he thinks Christine is running the country.

‘Tis the season to be pardoned

April 14th, 2018

Like Spengler, we thought the pardon of Scooter Libby the other day was fabulous, and we concur with his DSM-IV diagnosis of the failure of the Bush administration to do so. BTW, we don’t come to our knowledge of the Libby case casually. If you read our highly detailed pieces from 2005-2007 chronologically (this, this and this, for example), you will see that we started out thinking he was guilty and ended up in a very different place. Rove and Armitage did the leaking and Libby was the fall guy for political reasons. Disgusting.

Anyway, the Libby pardon leads us to the great place we’re in today, mirabile dictu. (BTW, Scott Johnson comes to much the same conclusion.) Trump ought to Go For The Gold on this one, and he can do so with a mixture of triumph, condescension, and magnanimity since Mueller and Co. have been wasting everyone’s time and money with the so-called collusion nonsense. As you know, “collusion” has been merely the pretext for giving Mueller a fishing license, and that needs to be revoked now. Trump ought to pardon Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, the Dutch lawyer, and anyone else caught in the Mueller cross-hairs. Critically, this now includes Michael Cohen (see Andy McCarthy’s piece), the highly timely development of the day.

Trump ought to hang Mueller & Co. out to dry in a prime-time address 2 days after the pardons above are announced. During the 2 days, the media will be going nuts of course, as usual, Hitler pardoning Goebbels, etc., which will ensure an audience of over 100 million for the prime-time address. So here’s the best part, in our TV drama scenario: during that address, Trump should announce the pardons of Hillary Clinton and everyone in her circle, including those involved with Uranium One, the Clinton Foundation, the 2016 campaign, the unsecured servers, etc., and he also should include Comey in the pardons, delicious for several reasons. He should sound magnanimous as he announces A New Beginning, with the past put in the past. None of this will stop the “news” people of the media, of course, with their Kathy Griffin desires, but it will be good fun, and no one will be able to say it wasn’t bi-partisan, which is the cherry on top of this ice cream sundae.

Update: Clarice points out that the Libby conviction was so absurd that his law license was reinstated several years ago.

Beyond bizarre

April 13th, 2018

So let’s get this straight: the FBI went to the FISA court in October 2016 to investigate a Trump associate, using the Steele Dossier as evidence of some sort, and gets that authorization renewed monthly 3 times.

Then, 3 months later, on January 6, 2017 the FBI director meets with the President-elect and tells him info in the Steele Dossier. He neglects to tell him that the Dossier was financed by his electoral opponent, and neglects to tell him that it was used to support FISA investigations of some associate of his. On January 27, the FBI director meets again with the new President. Again he neglects to tell him that the Steele Dossier was financed by his opponent, and again does not say that it has been used to investigate one of the President’s associates. But the FBI director then goes on to warn the President that it should not ask the FBI to check out the veracity of allegations in the Steele Dossier because it “might create a narrative that we’re investigating you personally.”

How screwed up is this? There should be a blackboard kept in an Oval Office closet. At the beginning of each meeting with officials, it’s rolled out. On it is written, “if your not giving full disclosure, you’re fired. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200. Oh BTW, Go to Leavenworth.”

Oh, on the way to Leavenworth, see if you can find Efrem Zimbalist Jr. and bring him back to fix the now-disgusting FBI.

What is to be done?

April 12th, 2018

How does a kid get passed to 4th grade who cannot read at all? Never mind history among the millennials. They’re certainly well taught in 2nd grade, ha ha. Hey, don’t punish the unruly kids. Since the educational system is mostly decimated from kindergarten through grad school, ignoramuses will shortly be in charge of everything if something is not done, and quickly. They’re already running quite a few things — nice!!. Is this a solvable problem, or is all lost?

China debt and some other things

April 11th, 2018

SCMP:

The head of the International Monetary Fund said on Wednesday that global debt, including that of China, had soared to 220 per cent of global output, a staggering level that did not bode well for member economies. The Bank of International Settlements, which serves as a central bank to the world’s central banks, last month included China and Hong Kong on a list of economies whose debt-to-GDP ratios had raised “red flags”.

The IMF, which employs different numbers to measure indebtedness, was urging its members to pare their debt to serviceable levels to sustain them through the next economic downturn, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said in an interview with the South China Morning Post after giving a speech at the University of Hong Kong. “There’s a saying in French that we should fix the roof while the sun is shining,” she said.

She said that the world, including Beijing, needed to tackle its debt problems, adding that 40% of the global debt added since 2007 had come from China.

In the world economy, the debt problem was casting a shadow over future growth prospects, she said. “This is a potential risk that is looming on the horizon of the otherwise quite sunny sky of the global economy,” she said.

From 10 years ago re Lehman Brothers, Lagarde: “dubbed Mr Paulson’s decision to let the bank go under ‘horrendous’ as it triggered panic in markets and banks to the brink of a 1929-style financial meltdown.” It should be noted that she was quite correct in her judgment.

From there we’ll move on. First stop is humorous, with 86 year old Harvard Professor Harvey Mansfield saying that the Democratic Party is a coalition of PhDs and morons. Sharp as a tack at 86. Next, we’ll move on to common sense itself being the illegal thing these days, in VDH’s discussion of immigration. Finally, we’ll take note of an odd Gordon Chang piece about NK starting WWIII; don’t know what to make of that one.

Taking the high road, for the most part

April 10th, 2018

WSJ:

Xi said Tuesday that plans are under way to accelerate access to the insurance sector, expand the permitted business scope for foreign financial institutions and reduce tariffs on imported automobiles and ownership limits for foreign car companies. “In a world aspiring for peace and development, the Cold War and zero-sum mentality look even more out of place.” Mr. Xi told the Boao Forum, a government-backed gathering of business and political leaders on the tropical island of Hainan. “Putting oneself on a pedestal or trying to immunize oneself from adverse developments will get nowhere,” he said. In apparent, if unacknowledged, answer to some of those criticisms, President Xi said China would increase imports, improve the protection of intellectual property and provide a more transparent, rule-based environment for foreign investment. He also pointed to Beijing’s announcement late last year that it would raise foreign-equity caps in the banking, securities and insurance industries, and promised those measures would be implemented. “We have every intention to translate the measures into reality sooner rather than later, Mr. Xi said

Pretty smart speech, mostly taking the high road. Asia markets up. But gee, who was on that pedestal?

Time to be gone

April 9th, 2018

Politico:

The FBI seized records from President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen on Monday, acting on a “referral” from special counsel Robert Mueller’s office, according to a lawyer for Cohen. “Today the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York executed a series of search warrants and seized the privileged communications between my client, Michael Cohen, and his clients,” attorney Stephen Ryan said in a statement. “I have been advised by federal prosecutors that the New York action is, in part, a referral by the Office of Special Counsel, Robert Mueller.”

We haven’t commented on this situation much, in part because others do it well and we didn’t care that much about such an absurd situation. But now it’s time for Sessions to fire Resenstein, Mueller and associates or resign if he won’t do it. The “recusal” may not apply because this is about 1000 light years away from anything to do with Russia. If Sessions won’t or, as seems likely, can’t do it, he needs to be gone and we’d like someone with honesty as well as liberal credentials take his place.

Karma is karma, neh?

April 8th, 2018

Facebook: “The Policy team has came to the conclusion that your content and your brand has been determined unsafe to the community.” Hmmm, must be some light speed practitioner of Godwin’s Law, right? Oops, bad targets! Leo Laporte points out that the company founder has been apologizing for misusing private information since 2003, when he did so in the Harvard Crimson, and this is a little different spin. Charming. More at Powerline. Question: how can a guy be an animal if he’s a reformer? Bonus fun: check out what one of our B school section mates is up to.

Final point: what do Walter Williams, Tom Sowell, and Larry Elder know that the US government can’t get its mind around?

We’re getting old, apparently

April 7th, 2018

For the first time ever since 1975, we failed to understand almost everything, every joke, in the first hour of SNL, let alone think the program was funny. The audience cheered, but we had no idea what was going on. We recall guys near Rockefeller Center offering in 1975 to give us free audience tickets in the early days, when no one had heard of the show, but now we see wild acclaim for a program that no one should ever been heard of, if this is the product. Jane, you ignorant slut is 1000 years ago. What the heck is going on???

Some reads

April 7th, 2018

Interesting piece by Irwin Stelzer:

The sound and fury notwithstanding, the threatened 25 percent tariffs (totaling $50 billion on some 1,300 Chinese products) and China’s retaliatory tariffs could not cripple either the $19 trillion U.S. economy or the $12 trillion Chinese economy. Hopes that China would become a rules-abiding member of the trading system have been dashed. Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase and a free trader to his core, says that China, now the second largest economy in the world, should no longer be preferentially treated by the World Trade Organization as if it is the developing country it was when welcomed to membership — largely at the urging of the United States.

The real battle will come when America decides not to allow China to dominate the industries of the future by flaunting the rules that have governed the international trading system since the end of World War II. Xi’s “Made in China 2025″ plan calls for subsidizing firms in industries of the future with cash and cheap bank credit; forces U.S. firms to turn their intellectual property over as the price of doing business in China; pushes state-owned or dominated companies to acquire technology-rich American companies; and steals American IP valued at as much as $600 billion every year. Those tactics, unopposed, can easily reduce America to second-class status in the next decade.

Also, VDH suddenly becomes a fortune teller.

Who’s filing for more patents?

April 6th, 2018

CBC:

Canadian China scholar Jia Wang says the country is well on its way to substituting Chinese made goods for high-technology imports. just as when U.S. innovation overtook Britain by producing things like the cotton gin and assembly line manufacturing, China’s surge of investment has made the country a technological powerhouse in its own right. “For the past two years at least, China has filed for more patents than any other country,” says Wang.

Time to be deliberate and careful, when China is outproducing in STEM by huge margins. In other news, Danger Will Robinson: coffee!!!

DOOM gallops ever nearer

April 5th, 2018

We remember the good old days of hysteria, when doom was half a century away. Things like global warming that arose almost out of nothing (never mind the frauds like eliminating the MWP). But now DOOM is today, even if you’re only in second grade. A century ago over 40% of Americans lived on farms and life was tough for many. Life expectancy and income of Americans have increased 50% in a very short period of time. So fantasy hysteria and doom seem to be inversely proportional to their real-world counterparts. This can’t end well.

This for starters; we were going to link to the dumb article referenced by the Twitter guy, but we thought it was too dumb for any serious reader. We were wrong.