Archive for July, 2012

You didn’t build that business

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

President Obama made a very revealing remark yesterday. He had copied a theme begun by former Cherokee, Elizabeth Warren. He said
If you are an entrepreneur and say I built this business, you didn’t.”

If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

The left has realized how damaging this speech was so they are doing damage control today.

Mitt Romney had a good comeback today.

I couldn’t have said it better myself. Doctors used to be small businessmen. We opened an office and paid our employees and sometimes the employees got paid and we didn’t. Barack Obama has no experience like that. And it shows.

This is going to leave a mark. Cute.

Stupid is as stupid does

Sunday, July 15th, 2012

I can’t help thinking of Forrest Gump when I see this photo.

We have a stupid culture right now and it is infecting the presidential election. Can anyone explain this ad to me ?

That is an Obama ad ! Without being told, I couldn’t tell. Is this what is going to win the election for him ?

The Bain capital stuff is not hard to understand if you know anything about business or economics. The trouble is that many don’t. Including our president. For example, what is “outsourcing” ?

Is this it ?

Outsourcing is the process of contracting an existing business process which an organization previously performed internally to an independent organization, where the process is purchased as a service. Though this practice of purchasing a business function – instead of providing it internally – is a common feature of any modern economy, the term outsourcing became popular in America near the turn of the 21st century. An outsourcing deal may also involve transfer of the employees involved to the outsourcing business partner.[1]

So Delphi made batteries and electronics for GM. Delphi was an American company, destroyed by the GM bankruptcy.

Some enlightened government departments outsource functions to private companies. The Army used to make all their own rifles. That’s where the Springfield rifle came from. And the Garand rifle. In the 1970s, the Army bought the AR 15 rifle from Armalite. That was outsourcing but you wouldn’t know it from Obama.

There is talk about Romney’s tax returns but this is old news. Hopefully, the American people are smart enough not to fall for this primitive populism. I guess we’ll see this November.

Survival literature.

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

I notice today that Wretchard at The Belmont Club has a post on refugees. It includes a lot of comments on survival skills. Basic requirements include guns and ammo so someone else doesn’t take your survival stores away from you. Water is important, as is water treatment supplies when you run out of stored water. The Mormons, as in so many other things, are the experts on survival skills. In the late 70s, the last time there was so much interest in survival methods, I had a Mormon office manager. She taught me a number of good facts about the way to survive a disaster. One is to have a supply of hard red wheat.

Our wheat comes in six-gallon buckets (or pails… another name for the same container.) The net (contents) weight of the grain is 45 lbs. for the conventional grain, and 40 lbs. for the organic grain. When you store grain at home, it needs to be protected in a couple of ways. First, it needs to be protected from a variety of little critters who’d like to get to it before you do. Weevils, for example. And isn’t this interesting: Chances are you’ve never seen weevils in the white bread or crackers you bought from the store. That’s because weevils put no stock in media campaigns from white-flour milling conglomerates; rather, they know what’s good for them, and they’d come after your grain from miles around if you let them. And mice have good nutritional judgment, too. Not that there’s ever been a mouse in your house, but if there was… you wouldn’t want it having access to your grain. Secondly, grain needs to be kept dry. The grain we sell is all dried to a very low moisture level that’s optimal for storage and baking and guarantees that you get the most grain for your money. You need to protect your grain from picking up excessive additional moisture, which can be drawn from the atmosphere. The buckets our grain comes in provide full protection against storage risks. They have airtight gasket-sealed lids, Mylar liners, and oxygen absorber packets that remove the oxygen from the air in the bucket after we put the lid on. The O2 absorbers leave an atmosphere of nitrogen in the bucket, because air consists almost entirely of oxygen and nitrogen. (The oxygen absorber packets themselves are completely food-safe, being made of powdered iron and salt, which are kept separate from the product itself.) Our buckets safely lock out pests, and biological processes are put “on hold” in the Mylar protected, oxygen-free nitrogen atmosphere, so your grain enjoys complete peace and quiet until you want to use it. Note: If you don’t already have a bucket lid removal tool, they make lid removal easy (see lower section of this Web page.) Super Pail packaging is the “gold standard,” the ultimate protection for your grain!

45 pounds of wheat may not be enough depending on the size of your family. The Mormons are encouraged to have a year’s supply stored.

Next you need a grain mill. It’s probably best, for survival purposes, to have this not electrical unless you have a generator available. If you are hard core, maybe the country living mill is for you. It would certainly give the kids something to do.

Hopefully, we won’t need a hand cart to transport our belongings.

In the 1970s, the last time I gave this much thought to survival skills, I was much younger and had a sailboat. The boat was stocked with some food and had room to store a lot more, especially freeze dried food. I used freeze dried as extra supplies on long races in case we had a dismasting or other disaster.

The boat I had in 1979 was a Yankee 38, a great cruising boat although a bit heavy for racing.

This is Bullet, the #1 hull of the Yankee 38 and almost identical to my boat.

My spinnakers were all red, white and blue. Otherwise this is identical to my boat. I took it to Mexico several times but not to Hawaii as it was too heavy and rolled badly in a heavy down wind run.

Here is the Choate 40 that I took to Hawaii in 1981 and which would have been a great escape boat in a disaster.

The interior was rather stark and did not have as much storage as the 38 but it had a huge interior volume and could store plenty of food and water. It had 100 gallons of water tankage.

Anyway, I can’t handle these boats anymore so that option is probably not there. I thought Lake Arrowhead would be a good hideout but I couldn’t tolerate the altitude so, in my decrepitude, I guess I will wait here with my hand gun for them to come get me.

Of course, Romney could still win the election.

Decision theory

Sunday, July 8th, 2012

About 17 years ago, I spent a year at Dartmouth Medical School getting another degree in medical outcomes research. I had retired from the practice of surgery after a 14 hour spine fusion. In college, I had a fall in gymnastics class that sent me to the student health center. They x-rayed my neck but not my back below the neck. When I began medical school, we all had to have chest x-rays and mine showed that the fall had caused a three level compression fracture in my thoracic spine. After 18 years in practice and 25 years of standing at an operating table, I had begun to have trouble with my back. It began with pain but continued to signs of spinal cord compression. In 1994, I went to UC San Francisco to consult David Bradford, who had written a number of papers on newer techniques in the surgery I needed. He agreed that I needed it and we arranged for me to have the surgery after Christmas 1994. It involved a lengthy recovery so I retired from my practice and turned it over to a younger associate. I had planned to return part time and see office patients only but he had other ideas, which were not well thought out but there was little I could do about it.

I had been interested in medical quality measurement for years. Now, with no activity planned once I recovered, I got interested in the Dartmouth program. It was called “Center for Evaluative Clinical Sciences,” a rather clumsy name. It is now called something else, but the idea is the same. Jim Weinstein, who is now CEO of the Dartmouth-Hitchcock medical center, was in my class that began in 1994.

The program included some remedial math for us oldsters. Although I had been an engineer it had been in the 1950s. We got a lot of statistics education and some health policy. The Dartmouth folks had been involved in the design of Hillary Clinton’s health plan and I had some fundamental disagreements about policy with them. Like so many academics, they were convinced that they knew how to run a top-down system and I was not so sure. However, the methodology training was, I thought, to be invaluable to me.

Two new areas, in my own experience, were very enlightening. One was survey design, in which I learned a lot about surveys, and incidentally, about polling. The other was decision theory. I had had no idea how important this was to be in health care.


A day at the ocean

Saturday, July 7th, 2012

Today my son, Joe, and his son, William, went to the harbor at San Pedro to see the USS Iowa on the first day it was open to the public. We had neglected to buy tickets online and, when we arrived, we found first that it had been moved from where we thought it was, and that the line was enormous. In fact, they had stopped selling tickets because the ship was too crowded.

Joe got on his cell phone and logged into the ship website, where he was able to buy tickets for the 2 o’clock boarding time. He couldn’t print, of course, so we went over to the yacht club where we were able to print the tickets. We had lunch and went back to the ship about 1:40. We found the end of the line for 2 o’clock and boarded just about on time.

It was still very crowded but the tour was enjoyable.

Here are Joe and William on the main deck with the two forward turrets in the background. The #2 turret is the one that had the lethal explosion in 1989. The initial reports suggested that it had occurred by sabotage.

The first investigation into the explosion, conducted by the US Navy, concluded that one of the gun turret crew members, Clayton Hartwig, who died in the explosion, had deliberately caused it. During the investigation, numerous leaks to the media, later attributed to Navy officers and investigators, implied that Hartwig and another sailor, Kendall Truitt, had engaged in a homosexual relationship and that Hartwig had caused the explosion after their relationship had soured. In its report, however, the Navy concluded that the evidence did not show that Hartwig was homosexual but that he was suicidal and had caused the explosion with either an electronic or chemical detonator.

Ultimately, that explanation was rejected by the public and Congress as an out for the Navy and the explanation was an error in loading the bags of powder.

Here is William standing by a shell and the powder bags on the main deck. The bags are behind the shell and are rammed into the breech after the shell with a rammer. The investigation concluded that it was not a human error or a deliberate act but an error in loading.

During its review, Sandia determined that a significant overram of the powder bags into the gun had occurred as it was being loaded and that the overram could have caused the explosion. A subsequent test by the Navy of the overram scenario confirmed that an overram could have caused an explosion in the gun breech. Sandia’s technicians also found that the physical evidence did not support the Navy’s theory that an electronic or chemical detonator had been used to initiate the explosion.

At any rate, the tour was fun and the day was beautiful. The ship is still not fully restored and will require a lot of work to get into good shape for tourists. It got quite warm in the after section where the ship store is and I finally headed up to the main deck again to cool off.

Here are Joe and William at the stern of the ship looking out at the empty cruise ship terminal.

Here is William on the bridge with the rest of the ship in the background.

Here is Joe taking a photo of William with the main gun turrets in the background.

It was a beautiful day. We will be back.