A productive Day: Thermaltake; Office 365, experiments with Windows 8, more adventures with Surface Pro 3

View 835 Saturday, July 26, 2014

“Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency.”

President Barack Obama, January 31, 2009


I should be on TWIT tomorrow (Sunday) from Larry Niven’s house.


My associate Eric Pobirs was over, and I spent the day mucking about with small computers, doing the sort of stuff I did for twenty years when I was the lead columnist for BYTE. We revived Alien Artifact, a very fast Windows 7 system that is destined to be one of the two main machines at my work station, discovering that he needed over 100 updates. That affected our next task, which was installing Office 365 on Swan, the Windows 8.1 system that will replace the more graphics oriented machine of the two Intel systems I do much of my work on; I don’t do it so much now, but when I was grinding out 20,000 high tech words a month it was very convenient to have multiple machines doing multiple tasks, all networked. I got in the habit of keeping that installation going, even though for the past few years I haven’t needed anything like that complex a setup. Keeping it going makes me feel like I am at least keeping up with technology – well some of it – and I’m keeping my hand in.

Installing Office 365 took longer than expected, but that was because Alien Artifact was eating a lot of the bandwidth as he gulped down updates. Once downloaded installation was rapid and after that, everything went enormously fast. One of the features of Office 365 is the ability to keep important stuff in the Cloud, with a local copy available in case your Internet connection is interrupted; this makes it a great deal easier to have Outlook mail going on more than one machine. Keeping multiple copies of Outlook synchronized isn’t particularly easy, and Microsoft doesn’t really help or want to – that is, they have a way, called Exchange, which involves a server and master policies and the like, and many like it, but after getting it set up and running here a few years ago, and going to some Exchange technical conferences, I gave up: those who need and like Exchange are welcome to it, and being an Exchange Master is a lot easier and less time consuming than being a UNIX guru, but it’s still more effort than I have time to give it.

We are evolving other and simpler ways, and Office 365 makes that a lot easier. It also makes it a lot easier to install Outlook and bring all the files up to date. In less than an hour we had two new copies of Outlook going, not interfering with each other or with the “master” Outlook (which is really Office 2007) that I keep going on Bette, the middling fast system I’ve been doing most of my work on. I’m still exploring Office 365, and I haven’t done enough with it to know if it has developed any annoying new features, but so far everything just works, and it’s intuitive to an Office 2007 user. I’ve had Office 2007 on most of my systems since before I got the radiation treatments that cured my brain cancer (really I suppose I should say remission, but they can’t find any traces of it and it’s been years…). I didn’t see any need to install and learn Office 2010, although Niven had Eric install it on all his systems. We both have collaborators who still use dot doc files, and while we could have gone to docx, there didn’t seem to be a lot of reason to do that. Those who do fancy formatting for documents and forms and proposals find docx superior, but mostly I just turn out text, with a few pictures stuck in for illustration. But I did find it worthwhile to learn Office 2007 with its ribbon (and to learn to use control-f1 to suppress it when I am wailing out prose), and I expect I’ll learn to like the new features of Office 365; but we’ll see. I haven’t used it enough to be sure. Microsoft does have a habit of making it hard to use some of their improved software, like Windows 8, and the learning difficulties are often enough to obviate the improvements. Anyway, I bought the $99 package of Windows 365, which allows me to use five copies, plus have copies on tablets and my iPhone, and I’m looking forward to playing with them.

After all, the motto of this column has for years been “I do all these silly things so you don’t have to.”

A year ago we built some important new machines, using Thermaltake cases and power supplies, and in fact Thermaltake Keyboards.  About then I got a bit overwhelmed, and I stopped writing the monthly column – which was really unfair to Thermaltake.  I’ll have specifics when I do the Review column, but I should mention that for about two years I have had very good systems built in Thermaltake cases and using Thermaltake power supplies, and I am far more than satisfied with them.  Thermaltake does things with a certain elegance that I find many others lack.  It all looks good, the cables are sturdy and easily routed, and all their stuff was easy to work with.  It is certainly possible to build cheaper  systems, but there’ no real point in building your own computers if what you have in mind is saving money.  You build your own in part for better understanding and quality assurance, and in part just for satisfaction: and I have to say the handsome Thermaltake systems have afforded me that. 


And naturally we did a lot of experiments with Precious, the Surface Pro 3. When Eric first got the machine – at a big discount short term sale – they managed to sell him a Surface Pro 2 keyboard/cover, which works with the Surface Pro 3, but lacks some important features. It works well enough that neither of us noticed it was the wrong keyboard, but there was no problem exchanging the black Pro 2 cover for a purple Pro 3, which fits much better and looks nicer. Same number of keys, and indeed the same keyboard size but with a larger bezel around it. It’s not as good a laptop keyboard as the Lenovo keyboard, but then what is? But it works well enough. With Office 365 it might just be possible to carry the Surface 3 Pro as the only machine on a road trip. I’m not likely to try that – I tend to travel with seven elephants anyway – but you could. And the OneNote 2013 that comes with Office 365 is a great deal more useful than the clipped down OneNote that comes with the Surface Pro 3. When I was using the Compaq PC 1100 Tablet – which I did carry as my only machine on many road trips including WinHec – I found OneNote with a tablet the most useful research tool I had ever had. I am hoping to get the same experience with the Surface.

And while we were at it, we replaced the SSD drive in the ThinkPad with a slightly larger and considerably faster SSD drive. More on that when I do the column. It took about half an hour of actual work (and an hour of unattended file copying) but it all went smooth as silk, and the ThinkPad doesn’t know he’s had a transplant.

And we added Wi-Fi repeaters in the breakfast room and the back room, all connected to the master router through Ethernet-through-power-line systems. That works very well, and my iPhone now gets multiple bars of Wi-Fi all over the house.

And a bit more, all of which is enough, with some reviews of other stuff and a ramble or two, to make up for a new column, which I am now working on. Think of this as a preview.


The California Sixth Grade Reader of 1914 http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00LZ7PB7E/ref=as_li_tf_til?tag=digichok-20&camp=14573&creative=327641 has been selling reasonably well in the few days it has been up, and I am hoping that home schoolers will find it useful. There was a time when the stories and poems in this book formed an important background to American culture and communications. These stories link us to our ancestors. At one time nearly every American was familiar with all these works — I had most of those stories in 6th Grade in Capleville, Tennessee in 1943. I memorized Abou Ben Adam, and verses from Macaulay’s Horatius at the Bridge, and Longfellow, and Hiawatha, and while I didn’t know it at the time, I was learning to love epic poetry. Not then – it was a burden – but being exposed to great poems turns out to last you a long time, and becomes one of the joys of life. Anyway, it’s available.


This is meant for Chaos Manor Reviews, but I want to get it up before World Con. You’ll see it again.




Sherlock Holmes in the Modern World


The Case of the Displaced Detective: The Arrival: http://www.amazon.com/Case-Displaced-Detective-Arrival/dp/1606191896/

The Case of the Displaced Detective: At Speed: http://www.amazon.com/Case-Displaced-Detective-At-Speed/dp/1606191918/

The Case of the Cosmological Killer: The Rendlesham Incident: http://www.amazon.com/The-Case-Cosmological-Killer-Rendlesham/dp/1606191934/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1342470867&sr=8-2&keywords=Rendlesham+Incident+Osborn

The Case of the Cosmological Killer: Endings & Beginnings: http://www.amazon.com/The-Case-Cosmological-Killer-Beginnings/dp/1606191950/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1352221410&sr=1-4

The Omnibus

The Case of the Displaced Detective Omnibus: http://www.amazon.com/Case-Displaced-Detective-Omnibus-ebook/dp/B00FOR5LJ4/

Book 5 (currently available in eBook formats; print coming soon) A Case of Spontaneous Combustion: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00K98AI6Y/

Stephanie Osborn
Interstellar Woman of Mystery


There has been a spate of stories bringing Sherlock Holmes into the 21st Century, some quite successful – I’m rather fond of the “Elementary” TV series, with Lucy Liu as Dr. Joan Watson and doing a very creditable job of it; but none of them are about the Sherlock Holmes we have always known. How could they be? He was a man of the Victorian era, and while we can conceive of him being alive and retired, keeping bees in Suffolk even through the Great War, he couldn’t have survived until World War II.

Stephanie Osborne in her Displaced Detective series has found a science fiction – not fantasy – way to bring Sherlock Holmes into our world. You don’t need to know precisely how that works, but she has managed to make it plausible; and unlike any of the current Holmes series, we now have the pleasure of seeing Holmes himself, a Victorian gentleman, brought into the modern world; where, of course, he is immediately confronted with criminal cases, and his abilities are needed. The administrative details – passports, credentials, and the paraphernalia of modern life are handled skillfully and believably, and we see Holmes able to function in this world. And since he has never burdened himself with the details of abstract science lest he fill his head with needless theory and leave no room for what he considered vital, the adjustment is easier for him than it would be for most time/dimensional travelers.

Holmes purists may not like this series: after all, here is the real Holmes, at the height of his powers, in 21st Century America, much as I would imagine he would be. A bit nonplussed at being plucked from his world in a decidedly one-way trip, but he manages; and after all, this is in many ways an easier world to live in. Many of the details of Victorian life are unimportant now. Hygiene is easier, and there is good dentistry, and while Dr. John Watson was a good military physician of the time of the Afghan Wars, modern medicine is a great deal more reliable now.

He has to accumulate a new set of observations, of course. You can’t tell a man’s profession so easily now as Holmes could in his day; or perhaps you can, but it requires a different knowledge set, including a readjustment of expectations. This isn’t and can’t be the same Holmes we knew in The Canon, because that Holmes was inextricably embedded in his times; this is a Holmes who has to adjust to being rudely extracted, plunged into the 21st Century with no way to return, and he has to change quite a lot to accomplish that.

But he’s still Holmes, and I found the series well worth reading. Recommended, for those who like this sort of thing.


1100 Monday:  Fair warning, at least one long time friend and reader has written to tell me he hates these stories.  It’s a matter of taste: I liked the challenge of seeing a Victorian Holmes put into a 21st Century military/scientific bureaucracy.   I was pretty sure that many of my readers would not care for them.  I enjoyed them.  To some extent it’s a matter of expectations.





Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.




California Reader Best Seller…

View 835 Wednesday, July 23, 2014

“Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency.”

President Barack Obama, January 31, 2009


I’m running late, but I have good news:

Congrats on a best selling Amazon book -

Congratulations, Jerry, the California Sixth Grade Reader has made it to #1 in two categories. My experience of Amazon rank is that it can be a highly dynamic measure, so I thought I would document this for you. When I checked at 1:15 AM CDST on 7/23/2014, the book’s “Amazon Best Sellers Rank” was:

#5,542 Paid in Kindle Store

#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Education & Teaching > Teacher Resources > Education Theory > Aims & Objectives

#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Education & Teaching > Teacher Resources > Homeschooling

#8 in Books > Education & Teaching > Schools & Teaching > Homeschooling

Congratulations again!

–Gary P.

Which is certainly good news. It’s lunch time but I’ll be back later. The actual sales are not more than a couple of hundred, but we can hope that will change; and the Homeschooling people are of course a major reason we put the book up in the first place.   http://www.amazon.com/California-Sixth-Grade-Reader-Pournelle-ebook/dp/B00LZ7PB7E

More later.


Surface Pro 3, Kindle Fire HD, Wi-Fi File Explorer Pro


Some thoughts about your recent posts:


“I am bringing back Chaos Manor Reviews.” 7/22/2014

I have waited a long time for you to revive that column. May you be energized.


“One is Precious, the name I have given to my new Surface 3 Pro which Eric found for me at a big one-day sale.: 7/21/2014

I am looking forward to your experiences with Precious. I may want to get a new tablet to replace my Kindle Fire HD 8.9 (bought in November 2012). I have enjoyed the KFHD 8.9″, but it is a poor reader and a poor tablet running a toy operating system with toy web browsers and I’ll never buy another. So I’m deciding whether to get a laptop or a tablet for casual browsing and news reading and for sifting through e-mail. Otherwise I work with two 24″ monitors on my Dell XPS 8500 desktop running Windows 7 Pro x64, and that is hardly enough screen space.

I was more optimistic about the KFHD8.9 when I wrote my review in January 2013. http://www.amazon.com/review/R3A1F4FY18DQ1S/

Today I’d probably reduce my rating to 2 stars from 4, mostly because of the horribly reflective screen that makes reading difficult in any normally lighted room and because I have not found a web browser that doesn’t freeze the Kindle completely on some of the newspaper sites I visit. Also, the Kindle book format is far too limited when compared to PDF for reading, comparing texts, making comments, and annotating.

But I’ll leave it at that having been pummeled by the Kindleistas when I made some casual comments about the limitations of reading on a Kindle. (And I once thought Apple fanatics were extremists.)


“But when I connected the Kindle Fire HD to my Windows 7 desktop the computer reported that the driver installation failed.” 7/22/2014

I did not have a problem the few times I connected my KFHD8.9 to my

Win7 desktop through the USB port, but I did find it tedious.

Fortunately, within a month of getting my Kindle I discovered Wi-Fi File Explorer PRO for just 99 cents. It’s one of the few paid apps I have on my Kindle. It makes file transfers to and from the Kindle quite easy through your desktop web browser. Highly recommended, as I remember you used to say when you found a product you liked.


Best regards,

–Harry M.

I like the Kindle Fire HD despite the glare outside; it does have to be in the shade but then so does everything else.  Mostly though it’s for books on airplanes, and it works just fine for those.  My biggest problem is with connecting it to PC’s.  My two main PC systems are Windows 7, and they simply do not recognize the device.  Either they trundle a while and say device not installed. or they say unrecognized device please go away.  Neither is very useful.  But on my ThinkPad, several years old, with Windows 7 it trundles a while and opened the device and that’s that.  And with a Windows 8 system it just opened the device: no trundle no wait nothing.


On Precious, though, inserting the USB plugged into the Kindle, NOTHING happens.  Nothing.  The Surface Pro 3 just doesn’t believe there is a device attached to the port.  I confess I am unfamiliar with Windows 8 and haven’t studied how to force it to poll all the ports and look again and I’ll have to learn that, but this was disappointing…



Well, I have learned a lot about USB and Kindle.  Most of it will go into the new Chaos Manor Reviews column, but I can summarize.  When you connect a Kindle Fire HD to a Windows 8 machine, if you are not watching carefully nothing will happen, or at least it will seem that way; but in fact the device will now be present on you “This Computer” screen although the default size of that screen is so small you will not see it there until you expand the screen.  At least that is what was happening with Precious, my new Surface Pro 3. With Windows 7 it was more complicated and I will explain it all in the column.  But eventually both Windows 7 and Windows 8 will see a Kindle Fire HD as just another device.  You can also use Media Player to play stuff from the Kindle on a Surface.

The cable needed is a standard USB cable, full size plug on one end and micro – not mini, but micro – USB on the other end.  With Windows 8 It Just Works.  With Windows 7 it might just work, but it might also take a bit of manipulation and coaxing.


One of my favorite TV characters, Abby Sciuto, the forensic science expert on NCIS, has a warning about hair dye; if you use black hair day or know anyone who does, you need to know this:  http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2014/07/22/ncis-star-pauley-perrette-issues-hair-dye-health-warning-after-severe-allergic-reaction/

I think I have posted this before, but I am cleaning out Firefox Tabs, and this one remains: if you have not seen it, it is worth while, and if you have my apologies. http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamestaylor/2014/06/25/government-data-show-u-s-in-decade-long-cooling/


From reading Willy Ley’s Rockets and Space Travel while in High School about 1947 I always knew I would live to see the first man on the Moon.  I never expected that I would shake hands with the last man on the Moon, but I have done so.  I hope that’s temporary. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Aldrin_Apollo_11.jpg

And something I didn’t get to write an essay on:  http://patterico.com/2014/07/16/the-kindness-of-strangers-shames-the-va/


We have been working on Chaos Manor Reviews, and thanks to Rick Hellewell we’re almost done: I’ll be able to post essays directly to that site, so I won’t be mixing the technology and political and social stuff.  I don’t know the publishing schedule of the new Review, but it will certainly have some reviews every month, and possibly more often, since I won’t have editors with deadlines.

I have not been receiving review books and stuff for a while, and of course I shouldn’t be since I wasn’t doing the column, but I think we have enough influential readers to be worth considering when it comes to review copies of books and such items, and next time you revise your reviewer list you might think of me again.  Anyway, jerryp@jerrypournelle.com gets to me although I do have pretty good spam filters; I generally get well done press releases.  Upcoming will be some words on Windows 8, and my log of my experience with Precious, the Surface Pro 3 tablet and PC, in which I am installing the latest Microsoft Office.  I’ll also experiment with dictation software.  And there will be considerable about the publishing revolution.




Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.




Errands, hearing aids, trying to connect a Kindle Fire HD to a PC; Governing an Iraq Province

View 834 Tuesday, July 22, 2014

“Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency.”

President Barack Obama, January 31, 2009


It has been a long day, utterly devoured by locusts. I have mislaid the controller for my Costco Hearing Aids, and I need one; after fruitless searching of everything I can remember wearing since I got back from Hilton Head Island – I know I have had and used it here since then, but I don’t remember just when – I decided I’d better buy a second one, even if it only becomes a spare.

Alas they have to order it, and it costs $150 plus $13.50 in various taxes; it’s not a medical item, so it’s taxable as any consumer product. That seems unfair, but then the laws are designed to extract as much out of people who can afford things like this as they can squeeze us – squeeze those rich people until the pips squeak, the poor will get them free – and perhaps I am being overly bitter about $13.50. Anyway I’ll get it in a week or two, and have to go back out to have it coupled to my hearing aids.

For those who don’t know, I have COSTCO Kirkland Hearing aids. They have changed my life. I wrote about them not long after I got them .http://www.jerrypournelle.com/chaosmanor/kirkland-cosco-hearing-aids-change-the-world-for-me/

They were great for a month then I had Sudden Hearing Loss in my left ear. http://www.jerrypournelle.com/chaosmanor/log-sudden-hearing-loss-steroids-and-blood-sugar-and-a-few-other-matters/ That got drastic treatment and it worked sort of, and over time my left hear continues to improve. I noticed that when I pushed the ear bud in harder I could hear better with the ear I did that with, told Kelly the cheerful technician at Burbank Costco, and she did things to the ear pieces today that have improved things about 10%. But all that took some time. I wandered through Costco, wishing I had brought either a log book or Precious, my new Surface Pro 3, so I could take notes. There’s a lot of new stuff out there. My old internal telephone system is obsolete, and I note there are some wireless systems that might work: what I need is a wireless system with about 5 extensions that I can use as an internal intercom so Roberta can call me from downstairs without having to use a cell phone to call me on the house phone. My old system did that but was wired, and it’s pretty well dead (after 25 years), and I see 5 station portable phone systems that will allow you to connect to cell phones all wireless but I wasn’t able to determine if I could use one of those as an intercom. Something to investigate.

Anyway I wandered around Costco, then stopped at Fry’s on the way home. I bought a USB Cable, standard plug on one end, microplug on the other; Micro is what fits into the Kindle Fire HD. But when I connected the Kindle Fire HD to my Windows 7 desktop the computer reported that the driver installation failed. It’s late and I’ll worry about that in the morning. I remember connecting my first Kindle to my PC without trouble; surely the Kindle Fire can interface with a PC? But not tonight it won’t.

I still don’t have a lot of experience with Precious, but what little I have remains pleasant. She isn’t getting a lot of use from me yet, but the flirtation continues. I made some notes about Fry’s and how a lot has changed out there. The computer section is smaller and there are far fewer sections on programs and games, and lots of signs saying “We meet Internet Prices” — and a lot of sales people with nothing to do. That latter situation can’t last.

Then to PETCO, the one at Burbank and Hollywood Way where the old Orbach’s – a quality outlet that was once one of my favorite stores – used to be. It’s much bigger than the Studio City PETCO, but it has a much smaller staff: there was only one cashier in operation and while she was nice she wasn’t very experienced, and buying my bird seeds took about half an hour. I needed bird seed because I was running out, and I particularly needed unsalted peanuts because that’s what my Blue Jays demand. I’ve had the same family of Blue Jays come to my house since I bought it in 1968. This must be ten generations of Jays that come here demanding peanuts and fighting the squirrels for cracked corn. But eventually I got songbird seed, sunflower seeds, and peanuts, enough to last a couple of months, and off to – well other errands. Lots of errands. Got home and decided to cook dinner because I wasn’t much use for anything else by then. And now it’s bed time.


Now it appears that the BUK Surface to Air Missile we saw going to Russia with a missing missile or two was not a Russian missile but a Ukrainian SAM captured by Russia’s allies in the Ukraine.

Is this the BUK missile system back home in Russia after shooting down flight MH17?

A driver followed this military truck on a main road for two kilometres in a ‘border area’ of Russia before uploading the footage, filmed with a dashboard camera, on the internet.

The cargo had no escort and Ukrainian sources have seized on it, captioning the footage: ‘A Russian blogger filmed the BUK M1 in Russia, the one that shot the Boeing.’

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2699170/Is-BUK-missile-launcher-shot-MH17-smuggled-Russia-Motorist-captures-military-truck-carrying-BUK-M1-border-town.html#ixzz38Gvspl4u

One has to follow breaking news, but if you do, you have to be prepared for the facts to change like dreams. The speculation by the US seems to have been that the Russians provided their separatists friends with lethal SAM BUK model missiles, and that must mean that they trained the separatists to use them, and thus the Russians are directly responsible for downing the plane and killing all those Dutch citizens, and –

And now no one’s so sure. If this missile system was captured by the separatist rebels from the Ukrainian regulars, it’s quite possible that it was operated by defectors from the Ukrainian regulars, and where’ the Russian responsibility in that? But of course nothing in this is certain. One thing I have noticed is that the pundits are certain these birds are difficult to operate. I doubt that. I would imagine that any high school graduate fluent in the language in which the field manuals for the missiles is written could figure out how to use it to shoot down an airplane – and yet mistake a scheduled airliner for a Ukrainian military aircraft. Which makes a certain amount of sense. Certainly Russia has no interest in shooting down Malaysian passenger planes, nor do the separatists. Of course there remain a few other hypotheses. Don’t forget the Cossacks.


Millions of Americans installing ‘perfect spying device’ in their own living rooms: Amazon Fire TV monitors and records your conversations

Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/046009_Amazon_Fire_TV_audio_surveillance_perfect_spying_device.html#ixzz38GzN6LH1

by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger
Tags: Amazon Fire TV, audio surveillance, perfect spying device

(NaturalNews) Amazon.com is building the CIA’s new $600 million data center, reports the Financial Times. (1) At the same time Amazon.com is building this massive cloud computing infrastructure for the CIA, the company is also shipping millions of Fire TV set-top devices to customers who are placing them in their private homes. I have one myself, and it’s a terrific piece of hardware for delivering Prime video content. In fact, in terms of its usability and specs, it’s far superior to Roku or Netflix-capable devices. Fire TV is, hands down, the best set-top video delivery device on the market today.
But there’s something about it that always struck me as odd: it has no power button. There’s no power button on the remote, and there’s no power button on the box. It turns out there’s no way to power the device off except for unplugging it.
This is highly unusual and apparently done by design. "It is not necessary to turn off Amazon Fire TV when you are finished using it," says the Amazon.com website. (2) "Your Amazon Fire TV is designed to go into sleep mode after 30 minutes, while continuing to automatically receive important software updates."
Note carefully that this does not say your Fire TV device WILL go into sleep mode after 30 minutes; only that it is "designed" to go into sleep mode after 30 minutes. As lawyers well know, this is a huge difference.

Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/046009_Amazon_Fire_TV_audio_surveillance_perfect_spying_device.html#ixzz38Gzd1MHu

I have this from a number of readers, including long time friend JoAnne Dow.  I have no conclusions. On the other hand I don’t have one of those devices.



: Blowing my own horn…


David Couvillon

Colonel, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, Retired.; Former Governor of Wasit Province, Iraq; Righter of Wrongs; Wrong most of the time; Distinguished Expert, TV remote control; Chef de Hot Dog Excellance; Avoider of Yard Work


8 Things I Learned as an American Governor in Occupied Iraq

By Robert Evans, David Couvillon

Imagine you were suddenly dragged out of your day job and told you had to travel to another country and rule over it for an indeterminate amount of time. Most folks would curl up in a little ball and try to cry out the responsibility; others would cackle maniacally and buy a white cat to stroke during monologues. Lt. Col. David Couvillon did neither of those things. He was a Reserve Marine officer, activated for Operation Iraqi Freedom and eventually tasked with governing the Wasit Province of Iraq immediately after that country’s government retired to a spider hole at the behest of a whole bunch of men with real big guns. Thrown straight into the deep end while holding an anvil, Couvillon quickly discovered …

Read more: http://www.cracked.com/article_21303_8-things-i-learned-as-american-ruling-iraqi-province.html#ixzz38H7GD8Pe

Read more: http://www.cracked.com/article_21303_8-things-i-learned-as-american-ruling-iraqi-province.html#ixzz38H76792q


Confucius say Man who does not blow own horn, same will not be tooted….

Well done.





Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.




California Reader is up; musings on strategy of technology; Reviving Chaos Manor Reviews

View 834 Monday, July 21, 2014

“Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency.”

President Barack Obama, January 31, 2009


Many developments at Chaos Manor. I am bringing back Chaos Manor Reviews. It will take a bit to get it going again, but I’ve taken steps to make it happen. One is Precious, the name I have given to my new Surface 3 Pro which Eric found for me at a big one-day sale. Precious has a Type Cover 2 with backlighting, and we’ve installed a 64 GB Sun microdisk for extra memory in case there’s ever a need, but her purpose isn’t to replace a desktop – I like working with desktops and BIG screens – but to sit on my breakfast table while I read the Wall Street Journal and make notes. And that she does nicely. At the moment she has a special OneNote program that she came with, and I haven’t mastered using it yet; and I haven’t yet installed Office 365 yet. All in due time. But she’s connected into my Wi-Fi system and is settling down nicely. I’m pretty sure I’m going to like her – she reminds me of LisaBetta, my Compaq 1100 Tablet I had back in COMDEX days, and which I more than once carried as the only computer when I was on the road.


I also got the California Sixth Grade Reader http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=California+Sixth+Grade+Reader&rh=n%3A133140011%2Ck%3ACalifornia+Sixth+Grade+Reader up on Amazon, thanks to Rick Hellewell and many others on my team of advisors. If you were planning on buying a copy, please let me know if what you get is all right. I found a couple of bugs when we first put it up, and there may be more – perhaps a problem with the Table of Contents – but if there are we will fix all that and I’ll see that you get a new copy when it’s all fixed. I’ll have more about that book another time, but we’re very proud of it. It took a lot of work, and it has been years in the making, largely because I got laid out with brain cancer about the time it was going up the first time, and then other things delayed it. The Reader is important: this was the Sixth Grade Reader for the state of California in 1914 and many years before and after that. The stories include Macaulay’s Horatius at the Bridge, Ruskin’s King of the Golden River, Jason and the Argonauts, and a number of other works which are part of our literary heritage. There are great poems, some of which influenced the thinking of generations of Americans.

One of the great pleasures of my life has been enjoyment of literature and poetry. I did not precisely choose to master poetry: it was required of me that I do so, and I disliked a lot of it; but eventually I learned to love it. I am reminded of Kipling commenting on his education: he wrote of his Latin teacher that he “taught me to loathe Horace for two year; to forget him for twenty; and then to love him for the rest of my days and through many sleepless nights.” Alas, my Latin teachers were not so thorough as that, but I was required to read and learn epic poems, some of which are in this book, and the effect was about the same: I resented being required to learn to love those works, but I have been thankful for fifty years that I was so required. Enough: I’ll review the Reader in Chaos Manor Reviews, and probably some of what I just said will be in there. There will be overlap between that place and this one.


I found most of the items on the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal well worth reading today. The sum total of them reminded me that it is time to revise The Strategy of Technology, and we’ll do so. One of my former students from my professor days is now a Pentagon consultant and wants in on the process. The principle in that book haven’t changed and are still true. The technological war is stilt the decisive war. The examples are all from Cold War days, and need updating to modern conditions and modern warfare. We’ll get to it. It takes time and energy, of course. While I am on that subject I want to thank the Platinum subscribers who continue to renew: their support allows me to work on what I think is important rather than grubbing about for lucrative stuff. At my age I don’t keep quote so many balls in the air as I used to…

“Lasers Are No Longer a ‘Star Wars’ Fantasy by Eric Schechter and Dave Majumdar reminds me of the importance of a strategy of technology.

The two Iranian-designed Abadil-1 drones that Hamas flew from the Gaza Strip into Israel last week were little more than over-glorified toy planes. So why did the Israeli military shoot them down with $3 million Patriot missiles? After all, Israel has multiple Iron Dome missile-defense batteries in the south of the country.

In all likelihood, the Patriot crew were the first to detect and track the invading drones. And not knowing exactly what they were facing, the Israeli Defense Forces took no chances.

While the drones were destroyed, the episode shows the limits of conventional interceptors. If Hamas had sent a dozen drones, Israel would have had to waste missiles on them all. That’s why Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, the same government-owned company that built Iron Dome, is developing a laser system called Iron Beam.

Lasers have great potential as weapons. Laser beams travel at the speed of light, so no rocket will ever outrun them. They are also remarkably cheap to generate—a couple dollars a pop, compared to launching a five, six or even seven-figure missile. And as long as you’ve got electrical power, a laser cannon will never run out of ammunition. Lasers are also versatile. They don’t have to blow up a target to neutralize it. They can fry electronics, sensors and navigation systems.


Steve Possony and the late Duke Kane – Stefan T. Possony, PhD., and Francis X. Kane, Ph.D., Col. USAF – wrote much of Strategy of Technology in the 60’s, and I was asked to be a co-author and general editor of the work. Since Kane was an active duty Air Force officer (Director of Plans, USAF Systems Command) his name did not appear on the book. It was used as a text at West Point and the USAF Academy, and is still used as a text in some of the war colleges; and in 1980 Kane, Possony, and I (with about 50 others including Buzz Aldrin and General Graham) wrote the space and defense policy papers for the incoming Reagan administration. One of the outcomes of those papers was the Strategic Defense Initiative, which some have said was important in bringing the Cold War to a non-violent end. (Note that Possony was one of the authors of The Protracted Conflict, which detailed the Containment Strategy which was the major US Cold War policy.

A Congressman’s Drone Disobedience

Sean Maloney wanted aerial photos of his wedding. To get them he had to ignore the FAA.

July 20, 2014 5:43 p.m. ET

June 21 was a lovely day for the wedding of Sean Maloney, a Democratic member of Congress from upstate New York. The ceremony was held at the historic Church of St. Mary-in-the-Highlands, with the Hudson River in the background. The day ended with fireworks. These details are available via a video on YouTube, produced for Mr. Maloney by a company called Propellerheads Aerial Photography.

But shooting the video was illegal, according to the Federal Aviation Administration, a federal agency Mr. Maloney helps oversee as a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

The FAA has taken the position since 2007 that any commercial use of drones is unlawful. It has sent cease-and-desist orders to companies in industries that include video, agriculture, real estate and journalism.


And what happens when 4,000 drones each carrying 2 kilos of high explosive, each guided by GPS, rise out of Gaza headed for Israeli Iron Dome installations?

The technological war continues whether we like it or not; and those who refuse to participate in it, or think they can stop it with treaties and arms control agreements, will find they have chosen a losing strategy.

Tunnels Matter More Than Rockets to Hamas

The terror group wants to infiltrate Israel to grab hostages and


Michael B. Mukasey

July 20, 2014 6:13 p.m. ET

Early in the current clash between Hamas and Israel, much of the drama was in the air. The Palestinian terrorist group launched hundreds of rockets at Israel, and Israel responded by knocking down rockets in the sky with its Iron Dome defense system and by bombing the rocket-launch sites in Gaza. But the real story has been underground. Hamas’s tunnels into Israel are potentially much more dangerous than its random rocket barrages.

Israel started a ground offensive against Hamas in Gaza on Thursday, intending to destroy Hamas’s tunnel network. The challenge became obvious on Saturday when eight Palestinian fighters wearing Israeli military uniforms emerged from a tunnel 300 yards inside Israel and killed two Israeli soldiers in a firefight. One of the Palestinian fighters was killed before the others fled through the tunnel back to Gaza.


in 1529 Suleiman the Magnificent besieged Vienna. (http://www.wien-vienna.com/vienna1529.php) It had rained all spring and summer all across Europe, and the huge siege cannon that brought the Turks into Constantinople in 1453 could not be brought up to Vienna; Suleiman had to rely on mines – tunnels – to get into the city. The defenders were warned of the tunneling, and dug counter-mines. Soldiers sat deep underground with drums scattered over with dried peas, listening for disturbances indicating mining going on. Countermines intercepted Suleiman’s miners, and battles took place underground. Tons of gunpowder were taken by the Christian defenders from the Turkish miners.

One would think that the Israelis would have effective means of detecting incoming tunnels, but then I have always thought that Cal Tech ought to be called in to the border defense system: there are tunnels from Mexico into the United States. Surely there are technological means for detecting them? But so far we do not.

The daily new often reminds me of the need for a new textbook on Strategy of Technology. I would have thought someone would have written it by now, but it hasn’t happened so far. Today’s paper was an extreme example of that reminder.


Four Years of Dodd-Frank Damage

The financial law has restricted credit and let regulators create even more too-big-to-fail companies.


Peter J. Wallison

July 20, 2014 5:55 p.m. ET

When the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act took effect on July 21, 2010, it immediately caused a sharp partisan division. This staggeringly large legislation—2,300 pages—passed the House without a single Republican vote and received only three GOP votes in the Senate. Republicans saw the bill as ObamaCare for the financial system, a vast and unnecessary expansion of the regulatory state.

Four years later, Dodd-Frank’s pernicious effects have shown that the law’s critics were, if anything, too kind. Dodd-Frank has already overwhelmed the regulatory system, stifled the financial industry and impaired economic growth.

According to the law firm Davis, Polk & Wardell’s progress report, Dodd-Frank is severely taxing the regulatory agencies that are supposed to implement it. As of July 18, only 208 of the 398 regulations required by the act have been finalized, and more than 45% of congressional deadlines have been missed.

The effect on the economy has been worse. A 2013 Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas study showed that the GDP recovery from the recession that ended in 2009 has been the slowest on record, 11% below the average for recoveries since 1960.


For those interested in financial reforms, this is an important introduction into what must be done about Dodd-Frank. There are many other financial reforms needed.


Heinlein’s checklist

I guess I qualify as barely human; but, considering most human beings, that doesn’t bother me much.

I suspect Heinlein was counting his student experience at invasion planning; notice he says "plan an invasion," not "a successful invasion." I wonder what grade he got on that exercise.

On 7/20/2014 5:21 PM, Paul Anderson wrote:

"while in communist society, where nobody has one exclusive sphere of activity but each can become accomplished in any branch he wishes, society regulates the general production and thus makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, to fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticize after dinner, just as I have in mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, shepherd or critic. " – Das Kapital, part I, chapter 1; a shorter but clearly not comprehensive list.

I do wonder when he planned an invasion and of where; he retired as a Lieutenant in 1937. I’m not sure exercises at Annapolis count.

I have no idea when Mr. Heinlein might have been involved in planning an invasion; but remember that this is a quote from Lazarus Long, not his Author…

Heinlein said:

“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, con a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”

Let’s see now:

I have changed diapers, written sonnets, balanced accounts, built walls, taken orders, given orders, cooperated, acted alone, solved equations, analyzed new problems, programmed computers, and cooked tasty meals.

I have tried on occasion to comfort the dying, and to fight; but neither efficiently.

I have never planned an invasion, butchered a hog, conned a ship, designed a building, set a bone, or pitched manure. I have snuck indoors, killed mice, driven an RV, erected tents, reset passwords, and pitched leaf compost, but those don’t count. Nor have I died, gallantly or otherwise; but neither had Heinlein when he wrote this list.

So I stand at 12 to 2 to 7. The 2 and the 7 I mark down to lack of experience, and the (usually fortunate) lack of need to acquire such experience. So by Heinlein’s count, I stand as mostly human already, and trainable to full humanity if absolutely necessary.

A little birdie tells me that most people would do about as well as me. That same birdie tweets that Heinlein, when he wrote this checklist, had already passed 20 of his 21 tests. Therefore I retort to Heinlein:

A human being should be able to define humanity in self-serving terms. Objectivity is for others.


I am not entirely sure what that means, but it sure sounds good.


Several readers have told me of this:

18 Influential Voices in Literature on the Internet




Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.