Hearing report; climbing the hills

View 821 Wednesday, April 23, 2014


If a foreign government had imposed this system of education on the United States, we would rightfully consider it an act of war.

Glenn T. Seaborg, National Commission on Education, 1983


I went out to Kaiser Audiology today. Two hours later I knew officially what I knew from observation anyway: my right ear hasn’t changed since the tests that sent me off to COSTCO to get their hearing aids, and my right ear hearing aid doesn’t need any adjustment. My difficulties in hearing now all come from not having two working ears.

My left ear hearing works a lot better now than it did a few weeks ago when I first noticed the Sudden Hearing Loss (official diagnosis, and yes, everyone is quite aware that it has little information value). At one time I heard nothing in the left ear. I now have about 25% comprehension in it. I don’t hear low levels of sound but at least I hear something: when this first happened the left ear was as deaf as a post. Then came the steroid treatment with the needle through the eardrum (left ear only) and things began to improve, but at first not much. Lately there has been much more improvement in the left ear.

I continue to use both hearing aids. In the left ear I don’t hear much, but I hear something, and it does help comprehension. I now hear the bell/gong sounds of the hearing aid as it tells me about failing batteries and conveys other messages. And I hear some sounds in there.

The COSTCO technician noticed a scab on my left eardrum from the insertion of the needle to convey the steroids. The physician at Kaiser today used some oils and a miniature vacuum cleaner to cleans that ear out; after he had done so, I noticed an improvement in my hearing. They should have had the audiology doctor lady do the test after the EENT surgeon saw me, but that’s not the way they scheduled it, and my next appointment is in six months. If things improve at all I will go back to COSTCO and get these things reprogrammed again. That comes with the purchase price.

I continue to recommend the COSTCO hearing aids.


Niven and I went up the hill today. A bit more than four miles round trip, and a climb of about 700 feet. My balance has become so precarious that we can’t go by the old trails we used to take. We have to stay on the fire road now. Still, it’s a good hill.

Here’s Niven at what isn’t quite the road summit – that’s another 30 yards on – but at a great view and the place where we usually turn around.


And here’s the fire road on the way down – not the way we came up. As I say it’s a great trail.

I took some pictures in 2000, with a short report on part of the trail: http://www.jerrypournelle.com/chaosreports/walk.html And if you Google Chaos Manor trail pictures you’ll get lots of references and links and pictures assuming you have any interest in such thing.







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




Mail: new technology, climate, air supremacy, health advice, Putin, and more

Mail 821 Tuesday, April 22, 2014


“Surveillance is the business model of the Internet:”


“The adage goes that if something is free, the users are probably the product. With an increasing smartphone penetration rate, we Internet users are practically carrying surveillance devices in our pockets all day, and have become unwitting participants in government spying activity, security expert Bruce Schneier argued during a talk at the recently-concluded SOURCE Boston conference.

“Surveillance is the business model of the Internet,” Schneier told attendees in his keynote. “We build systems that spy on people in exchange for services. Corporations call it marketing.” But what’s even more concerning is how this massive data collection effort by businesses has made it easier for governments to do their surveillance on citizens. “The NSA woke up and said ‘Corporations are spying on the Internet, let’s get ourselves a copy,’” Schneier said.

“He explained how the Internet is built around the data economy, in which corporations have thrived on offering free services in exchange for learning more and more about users’ lives. In exchange for “free or convenience,” users have become goldmines for companies like Google and Facebook, which want to get even more data from users in order to better sell targeted advertising. “I like to think of this as a feudal model. At a most fundamental model, we are tenant farming for companies like Google. We are on their land producing data,” he said.” <snip>

“The fact that society today is so enthralled with social media and mobile devices makes it easier for agents to do their surveillance work. Surveillance work is no longer just “follow that car,” Schneier says, referring to the traditional way of keeping track of a person by following his whereabouts. It is now “tell me everywhere the car has been for the past month.” Meta data leaves a trail, after all, and we are all unwitting participants to this widespread surveillance effort with all the breadcrumbs we leave behind.” <snip>

There is more, of course. It makes conspiracy theorists seem reasonable: just because you are paranoid doesn’t mean They aren’t spying on you.

Ed (the shrink)

If something is free, the users are the product….


And the winner for "Best Use of a Drone in the Continental United States" is…

This is a really smart use of a drone to support an unexpected field: archeology.


–Gary P

I like that one.


America is an Oligarchy?

Hi Jerry

this seen on BBC today – http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-echochambers-27074746

America is run by the rich and powerful – probably not news really

all the best


There is a sense in which all free societies tend to be oligarchies. Education is supposed to remedy that. Education and the usual regressions to the mean. A fool and his money are soon parted. The Barbara Hutton phenomenon. But of course the wealthy and the unions can work together to prop things up so that the usual leveling of a free society doesn’t happen.


green Greenland

Jerry, I know you’ve been using farms in Greenland as a reference point for the uselessness of climate models, but climate scientists do claim to have an explanation for the MWP..


For what it’s worth.


I misspoke. They don’t claim to have an explanation, just evidence as to the extent and scope of the MWP.



for the work.


But of course the ice cap on Greenland is thousands of years old. The Viking farms were possible only for a few centuries – and are impossible now, although the glacier is retreating. Not so far as it retreated for the Vikings though. All through that era from China through the monasteries in Europe, summers were longer and the climate was warmer. Vines in Yorkshire and Scotland. Viking settlement in Nova Scotia called Vinland because grapes would and did grow there – and vigorous skralings to drive them out, too.


crackpots and remote connections


I remember that in the early 80’s a guy who had been a bomber navigator and/or an Air Force weatherman use to hang around the fringes of scientific meetings. Once he latched on to you, mistaking your courtesy for approval. His insight was – get this – that weather patterns were connected. Note we have the NASA piece that tells us – curiouser and curiouser – that weather patterns are in fact connected, and halfway round the planet!


Golly. Even “crackpots” have their day.


Actually, I always found Major Singer interesting, and when someone would actually listen to him he no longer sounded like a crackpot; indeed he seemed to have found an interesting connection. He sent me a copy of his book, and apparently he has something, but how much I don’t know. He doesn’t seem to have revolutionized the weather prediction community. He had some purely empirical connections that he thought happened far more often than current theory would suggest. http://weather.org/singer/welcome.htm

I tend to listen to a lot of people others call crackpots. I am still fascinated by Peter Beckmann’s alternative to Einstein and as physics invents more and more epicycles I wonder, I do indeed. I mostly get stories of reactionless drives which are just around the corner, but alas I never saw one that I could test…

And there turn out to be a number of really unexpected connections in weather…


Microsoft OneNote

Dear Dr. Pournelle,

Big changes must be on the way at Microsoft. They just released OneNote for the Mac, for free. It will also work on the I-devices.

As you’ve remarked on the virtues of OneNote in the past, and are a Mac user, I thought you might be interested if you were not already aware. Keep up the good work.


Art Russell PhD

I remain sufficiently interested in OneNote that I am seriously considering a Session 2 Pro. I’d have bought one already but the Microsoft site believes I have a previous account, which I probably do, and it won’t tell me how to reset the password without my giving the answer to a security question I do not remember ever choosing and certainly do not know the answer to. So I gave up. This was just before taxes, and my taxes were higher than I thought so I suppose I should be glad I didn’t buy it yet. But it does look like one great research tool. With OneNote.



From Ragnarok to Anak Segara

Dear Jerry

Some months ago we discussed progress in ‘carbon free carbon dating’- the

detection of cosmic ray damage levels in rocks covered and uncovered by evolving ice cover to date volcanic fallout layers at high latitudes.

The dating of such layers now combines with isotopic and geochemical tephra analysis to point the finger at aerosols from a little known volcanic cone on Lombok as the proximate cause of the shift in radiative forcing that drove the bad weather that terminated the Viking colonization of Greenland

<http://news.sciencemag.org/earth/2013/10/source-mysterious-medieval-eruption-identified?rss=1> >

Russell Seitz

Fellow of the Department of Physics Harvard University

But could that happen again?

Jerry Pournelle

Chaos Manor

We know both from climate models and recent volcanic SO2 aerosl events that injecting just a few million sons of sulfur ( roughly a 100 meter cube ) into the upper stratosphere can cool the planet by a decree C or more. Recent eruptions in this category, from Tambora to El Chichon have been single paroxysmal events taking days or weeks to emit cubic kilometers of ash and tephra.

Consider what would happen if a varhe volume, high-volatile magmachamber emptied not with a bang, but a whistle,with a plume carrying thousands of tons a day of SO2 into the stratosphere for several or many thousands of days , instead of gigatons all at once?

Instead of a Year Without A Summer, you could get a Decade Without July

Stay tuned for more tephrology studies to get a quantitative handle on the subject.

Mantle and crustal heat flow models needed to answer the question depend in turn on better gravity models and more data on high pressure materials science than we at present possess

The greatest volcano on Earth was not recognized as such until last year:


Thanks to the GRACE gravity satellite program, improved mapping of density fluctuations in the crust and upper mantle is progressing :


But that never makes it into the big multi billion buck climate modals does


Jerry Pournelle

Chaos Manor

Subject: Re: From Ragnarok to Anak Segara

Your wish has been answered- just out this paper on modeling a very big,

very long lived eruption :

Biogeosciences, 10, 669-687, 2013



© Author(s) 2013. This work is distributed under the Creative Commons

Attribution 3.0 License.

* Article


* Related Articles


Impact of an extremely large magnitude volcanic eruption on the global

climate and carbon cycle estimated from ensemble Earth System Model

simulations J. Segschneider1, A. Beitsch1,*, C. Timmreck1, V. Brovkin1, T.

Ilyina1, J. Jungclaus1, S. J. Lorenz1, K. D. Six1, and D. Zanchettin1

1Max-Planck-Institut für Meteorologie, Bundesstr. 53, 20146 Hamburg, Germany

*now at: Institute for Oceanography, KlimaCampus, University of Hamburg,


Abstract. The response of the global climate-carbon cycle system to an

extremely large Northern Hemisphere mid-latitude volcanic eruption is

investigated using ensemble integrations with the comprehensive Earth System

Model MPI-ESM. The model includes dynamical compartments of the atmosphere

and ocean and interactive modules of the terrestrial biosphere as well as

ocean biogeochemistry. The MPI-ESM was forced with anomalies of aerosol

optical depth and effective radius of aerosol particles corresponding to a

super eruption of the Yellowstone volcanic system. The model experiment

consists of an ensemble of fifteen model integrations that are started at

different pre-ENSO states of a control experiment and run for 200 years

after the volcanic eruption. The climate response to the volcanic eruption

is a maximum global monthly mean surface air temperature cooling of 3.8 K

for the ensemble mean and from 3.3 K to 4.3 K for individual ensemble

members. AtmosphericpCO2 decreases by a maximum of 5 ppm for the ensemble

mean and by 3 ppm to 7 ppm for individual ensemble members approximately 6

years after the eruption. The atmospheric carbon content only very slowly

returns to near pre-eruption level at year 200 after the eruption. The ocean

takes up carbon shortly after the eruption in response to the cooling,

changed wind fields and ice cover. This physics-driven uptake is weakly

counteracted by a reduction of the biological export production mainly in

the tropical Pacific. The land vegetation pool shows a decrease by 4 GtC due

to reduced short-wave radiation that has not been present in a smaller scale

eruption. The gain of the soil carbon pool determines the amplitude of the

CO2 perturbation and the long-term behaviour of the overall system: an

initial gain caused by reduced soil respiration is followed by a rather slow

return towards pre-eruption levels. During this phase, the ocean compensates

partly for the reduced atmospheric carbon content in response to the land’s

gain. In summary, we find that the volcanic eruption has long-lasting

effects on the carbon cycle: After 200 years, the ocean and the land carbon

pools are still different from the pre-eruption state by 3 GtC and 4 GtC,

respectively, and the land carbon pools (vegetation and soil) show some

long-lasting local anomalies that are only partly visible in the global


Russell seems to have a magic computer that inserts weird formatting into his mail and this one has been around a while because it took half an hour to reformat and I still didn’t get it right; but it is worth your attention.


From a heart specialist friend:

More not less,


Read your comments about your own fatigue.

I hear these types of complaints frequently and the tendency among the fatigued is to do less, not more. It is a subtle trap. I often tell patients two things. First, at 25 when you chased the girls up the hill and you got tired you said to yourself "I need to get into better shape." At 75, when you feel fatigued we fret that the fatigue is the result of aging or some medical condition.

Often, it is the result of a fall in conditioning. So more is the answer, not less.

Second, I tell people that my father is about to hit 95 and his motto is "find a hill and tramp up it over and over again."

Grab Niven and Sable and hit the damn hills.

More, not less.


Alas I fell far behind in mail and I can’t take Sable now. I sure miss that dog. So does Niven. But we’re going up the hill tomorrow. And it’s great advice. Now I need nagging. Sable used to do that.


Subj: hmm



Certainly makes for interesting reading. But I am not sure I believe the next one


The real cause of global warming:




JSF F-35

Jerry –

Long-time reader of your columns in Byte – just discovered your website. Great reads!

My thoughts on the F-35 follow:

IMO the F35 multi-role fighter is nothing but a glorified Swiss army knife. Somewhat capable of many things, but not particularly capable of any. Some pilots have actually likened it to a flying piano.

As any skilled craftsman will attest there are no substitutes for purpose built tools.

Keep well

// Paul

Paul Loewen

The TFX was a very good recce/strike airplane, but it was also intended to be a fighter which it was not. There is no prize for second place in a dogfight. If you want air superiority you have to pay for the technology. You cant then hang bombs under the wings and call your air superiority plane a ground support plane.

All this is in great detail in The Strategy of Technology. The Air Force used to understand that lesson.


America and freedom

Jerry -

In your latest post, you wrote, "Nations have few permanent friends, but they do have permanent interests. One permanent interest of America is to maintain liberty and freedom."

I’m pretty sure this is the argument used by interventionists going back at least to Kennedy.

So the question arises: liberty and freedom for whom?


Jim Martin

I am not sure I understand your point. Kennedy went into Viet Nam because he thought it was necessary for containment. There was this ongoing thing called The Cold War, and if your strategy is to contain the enemy then you have to contain him. It happens that the war of attrition in Viet Nam had almost the exact effects intended by containment: we were rich enough to afford it. The USSR was not. It was hard lines on the Vietnamese of both parties; being a battlefield in a war of attrition usually is.

I recall in a debate with Allard Lowenstein back in those days, he said “Jerry, you want to win this and get out. I just want to get out. But your friends there “ –indicating the Secretary of Defense – “want to lose it and stay in.” I admit to being silenced. I didn’t have the minutes to give a lecture on how to win a war of attrition when it is part of a strategy of containment, and I am not sure I understood the situation that well in 1968 anyway.


Ethnic Boundaries

“Why is it our job? We did that after WW I and the result wasn’t very pretty.”


1) It is not our job, but since we appear to be continually embroiled in foreign conflicts why not arrange things so it happens less often?

2) We did not do that after WWI. We arranged things like a bunch of drunks, almost as if the goal were to screw it up so nothing ever gets resolved.


But well, we thought we were doing good. We drove out the Hapsburgs and ended the Holy Roman Empire once and for all. And after all, Die Sudeten Deutschen were only Germans, and Germans didn’t deserve an ethnic boundary.


Babcock & Wilcox cuts Small Modular Reactor program


>>B&W continues to believe in the strength of the mPower technology, but without the ability to secure significant additional investors or customer Engineering, Procurement and Construction contracts to provide the financial support necessary to develop and deploy mPower reactors, the current development pace will be slowed. <<

Rod Montgomery==monty@starfief.com


Government Swat Teams

We’ve been discussing government SWAT teams for years, on Chaos Manor and in other places.  We mentioned Department of Education SWAT teams and we quipped about drones and so on.  Well, the mainstream is finally catching up:


Regardless of how people feel about Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy’s standoff with the federal Bureau of Land Management over his cattle’s grazing rights, a lot of Americans were surprised to see TV images of an armed-to-the-teeth paramilitary wing of the BLM deployed around Bundy’s ranch.

They shouldn’t have been. Dozens of federal agencies now have Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams to further an expanding definition of their missions. It’s not controversial that the Secret Service and the Bureau of Prisons have them. But what about the Department of Agriculture, the Railroad Retirement Board, the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Office of Personnel Management, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service? All of these have their own SWAT units and are part of a worrying trend towards the militarization of federal agencies — not to mention local police forces.



They failed to mention the Department of Education, the Post Office, and other places that have SWAT teams.  They also did not mention highly trained Bunny Inspector Counter Assault Teams, which are trained to kill anyone who mistreats rabbits and evades the normal Bunny Inspector Agents.  And that’s probably because these don’t exist — at least not in the unclassified data stream.  =)  But, you’d almost believe it these days…


Most Respectfully,

Joshua Jordan, KSC

Percussa Resurgo


Two Fronts To Putinism


This piece makes an interesting case that we’re opposing Putin on one front when he’s actually fighting on two – and we’re unwittingly helping him on the second.


Briefly, we’re encouraging national self-determination around Russia’s periphery, an easy sell among former members of various Russian-dominated empires who do NOT want to go back.

At the same time though, we’re pushing Western postmodernism upon these nationalists, hard, by both current Administration policy and (my take) by general State Department proclivity. This doesn’t go over nearly as well.

Putin, meanwhile, despite our President’s proclamations to the contrary, very much does have an ideology – to oversimplify grossly, anti-postmodernism (read the original article.) The Russians bearing it aside, this ideology is a lot more attractive to many of the former Soviet nations than what we’re pushing. If we actually want to win this contest we’d do well to drop the aggressive postmodernism and stick to national self-determination. (If we want to survive as a powerful nation we’d do well to drop the aggressive postmodernism, but that gets into a discussion of the coming elections.)

As for various Western conservatives beginning to make approving noises about Putin, I assume that’s more a matter of any stick to beat our current postmodernist masters with than it is serious support for expansionist Russian nationalism, and I can (somewhat) sympathize. Were I them, though, I’d be very careful how firmly I grasped that stick.

The time could come when they’ll want to drop it in a great hurry, if Putin overdoes the expansionism.


Tsar Regent Vladimir Putin is one of the most astute politicians of the age, and underestimating him is a very dangerous thing to do. He has goals and their implication must be studied. But: he is a Russian nationalist, vicar for the Tsar, and not a candidate for Emperor of the world; and Europe has faced far more dangerous threats.

NATO is now a burden. The Cold War is over. And we have no great interests in the territorial disputes of Europe. Or in Entangling Alliances. We have common interests with Russia. They should be pursued. I’d rather have a Russian agreement than an alliance with Bosnia.


Another Russian bolide




Stephanie Osborn

Interstellar Woman of Mystery

See all my books at http://www.Stephanie-Osborn.com <http://www.stephanie-osborn.com/>


Heat-seeking drones are getting the 420 on weed in the UK,


Ho ho – so ironic


Technology – ain’t it grand?


I see some great stories there. Free lance drone owners, like falconers…




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




Work and citizenship and education and the Iron Law

View 821 Tuesday, April 22, 2014


But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it away from the fog of the controversy.

Nancy Pelosi. Former Speaker of the House of Representatives


Referring to the Affordable Health Care Act

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

President Barack Obama, January 31, 2009


If a foreign government had imposed this system of education on the United States, we would rightfully consider it an act of war.

Glenn T. Seaborg, National Commission on Education, 1983


If you like your health plan, you can keep your health plan. Period.

Barrack Obama, famously.


“…the only thing that can save us is if Kerry wins the Nobel Prize and leaves us alone.”

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon



I have just finished a lengthy telephone conference call involving an event that several Sigma SF members including me will be attending at Hilton Island Conference Center this June 8 – 12 http://www.hh2014.org/. It’s about Large Scale Integrated Circuitry and the future, with an emphasis this year on Nanotechnology. As readers here know, I’m very interested in the effects of Moore’s Law and the inevitable advance of technology on a free society, so I think I’ll have things to say there. I also expect to learn a lot. Several other Sigma science fiction writers with technical backgrounds will be there.

Meanwhile I am discovering that there is Life After Taxes, and now that Easter is over Chaos Manor is returning to something like normal chaos as opposed to the agitated variety that has dominated most of this year.

I have a stack of topics to write about. One is some comments on the theory of Capital ; Marx had much to say about it, but his view that “Capital is barren” was clearly wrong. He couldn’t have anticipated Moore’s law, of course; yet in a sense he did in that he anticipated, after the Class Society and the State withered away, a time when productivity was so high that no one had to do much work, and

“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, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticize after dinner, just as I have a mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, shepherd or critic.”


Of course the reality of the communist state was quite different, but then that state had more to do with Lenin than Marx’s dream: Trotsky warned that until the Revolution was universal, you could never build the true communist state. A communist state in a capitalist world must look to its defenses and its security, and since the Revolution is imperfect so will the society be. Various versions of Trotsky’s views permeated the American left during and following World War II, and some of that transmuted into what became known as neo-conservatism.

But technology and productivity are making it more and more possible for a larger and larger portion of society to be artists, critics, and such who do not produce consumer goods. They probably will not rear cattle, since that takes a certain amount of investment and land and transport: in Marx’s time as he looked about Thuringia, it was easy to imagine being a professor who had a small stead of cattle and perhaps poultry. That kind of farming always looks more attractive to those who haven’t had to do it. Having raised cattle and tended chickens as part of my growing up, I soon was glad enough to leave that to the field hands while I played about with the Encyclopedia Britannica. The newness of farm activities wears off fast, or did in my case.

I note in today’s Wall Street Journal that welders make $100,000 a year and more, and the Journal advocates changing our school system back to include shop classes and other useful arts, rather than being devoted to college prep. The notion that in order for anyone to amount to anything they will need college degrees is a pernicious falsehood probably spread by the colleges. I note that one drawback to the Federal government’s attempt to find new mechanism for forgiving student debt and liberate the middle class from this particular bondage is the very real fear that the colleges will simply raise their prices (and the pay of the faculty, administrators, and non-education staff) accordingly. This is worth thinking about.

Has there ever been a real debate about the necessity for a college education? Particularly the kind of college education most of our institutions of higher education provide? There are more and more stories of college graduates, deep in debt, working at coffee houses or in various other service jobs, and more and more who would have been better off going to work when they left high school: not only did they put themselves deep in debt for an education that taught them to do little that anyone would pay them to do, but they started late and now have no work experience, have developed no work habits and social skills of the work place, and face a rocky future.

Aside: when I was in aerospace at Boeing, we calculated that if one started in the production line on leaving high school, and another started college to gain an engineering degree, even in those days when the University of Washington tuition was nominal, by the time the engineer had earned as much money as the steadily employed production worker, they would be well into their thirties. This was in about 1956. I doubt it has changed much now except that the steady employment of the production worker is now far from assured, and as productivity increases, is becoming less probable.

Enough: I am still working on what happens to a Republic when half of its citizens are not needed: who cannot find employment that allows them to possess the goods of fortune in moderation. That was Aristotle’s definition of middle class and it is still correct for this kind of analysis; and rule by the middle class produces a democratic state. But when half the citizens cannot find work that justifies possession of the goods of fortune in moderation, what happens? “If a foreign government had imposed this system of education on the United States, we would rightfully consider it an act of war.” One wonders if the US has not been conquered by those who wish the end of the old free republic. They have certainly built the right education system to accomplish that goal.

But it certainly benefits the intellectuals who dominate the university system. Act of war by whom?

I have much more to look at. Why are writers forbidden to join together as a union, (WGA the screen writers are exceptions because they work for hire and sell their product; unlike writers like me who own and market what we sell. SFWA isn’t a union and can’t act like one, which is of great benefit to the publishers. Now the self-publication revolution is changing the world of publishing like dreams, and it can only continue. As I said back in A Step Father Out, I put my work up on an information utility, you pay to read it, a royalty goes from your bank account to mine, and where’s the need for that blood sucking publisher? That world appears to be here. Alas my asteroid mining world I thought we would have by 2020 has not happened…

And Silicon Valley, which for a while broke free of the regulatory mechanisms and created the technologies that built much of this brave new world, making possible the robots and manufacturing techniques that have so greatly expanded productivity, needs to be taken to task because Apple and Google had some agreements about not poaching personnel from each other. The Lords of Silicon Valley must be punished for making this revolution and escaping the regulatory agencies. But the Iron Law of Bureaucracy moves inexorably on.

Interestingly :

Guess Who Makes More Than Bankers: Their Regulators

In 2012 at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. the average pay was $190,000. At the Federal Reserve? It won’t say.


It turns out that the regulators including their limousine drivers (Motor Vehicle Operators at FDIC: $82,130) make more than the average bank employee (about $50,000).

Bureaucrats do very well for themselves, as the Iron Law (https://www.google.com/#q=pournelle%27s+iron+law+of+bureaucracy ) would predict. At the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, secretaries average $79,182, Less than drivers, but still a fair amount.

In India for a very long time the main ambition was to get a government job and work for the Permit Raj. There’s still a strong impulse in that direction. Are we coming to that in the US?

But it’s late and I have to do a mail column to catch up on that. Later.


How to survive…


"Author Lewis Dartnell, a 32-year-old British astrobiologist and polymath, isn’t writing with tongue in cheek. Though the book ["The Knowledge"] is brief and points out in a daunting introduction exactly what you’re up against — the world is so complex that no single person starting from scratch could even make a pencil, much less a motor — “The Knowledge” is an actual starter guide that proposes quick-and-dirty solutions to the most elementary issues."

One might wonder if this author consulted "Lucifer’s Hammer" as part of his research.

Charles Brunbelow

Rather more up to date than ours was. I need to write a piece on modern survival.  I met some of my old survivalists friends recently.  We’re still here.  I always said the best way to survive a nuclear war is not to have one.  But I am not sure hoe to make sure we don’t’ have a series of emp’s that shut down the grid…  Not sure Armageddon is inevitable, but sometimes thing look grim.  It is very much in our interest – and in Russia’s – that it not happen. Hedge your bets, ladies and gentlemen, hedge your bets. Someone will inherit the Earth.





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




Russia, the US, and the future.

View 820 Thursday, April-17-14

If a foreign government had imposed this system of education on the United States, we would rightfully consider it an act of war.

Glenn T. Seaborg, National Commission on Education, 1983



Hi Jerry,

So with yet another artificial nation about to implode due to ethnic boundaries, maybe it’s time for another Yalta conference – but this time divide up the world based on ethnic boundaries rather than geographic ones. It’d solve a bunch of problems.



Why is it our job? We did that after WW I and the result wasn’t very pretty. Maybe Empire works for some places. Maybe it’s just not our business. Maybe even the Business of America is business, and getting rich

Jerry Pournelle

Chaos Manor

Good point – it boils down to what are our strategic interests. Do we have any in Ukraine? South Korea? Israel? Taiwan?

I’d rather Obama just say that we don’t, than to pretend we do, and rattle an empty scabbard.


Peggy Noonan has much to say about the future of US Russian relations. Noonan: The Bear That Talks Like a Man https://www.google.com/#q=Noonan+bear+that+talks+like+a+man+wsj Her point is that we had odd relations with Russia in the time of Charles Francis Adams, in the times of John Hay and Teddy Roosevelt, and here we are again. In between was the Cold War.

But Europe has changed a lot: much of it our doing. Germany remains a great power, and the French still fear them: they want a US Army over there to sit on Fritz, as one French diplomat put to me a few years ago. Meanwhile we built a network of alliances against Russia once we were finally committed to the Cold War, then foolishly tried to extend it when the USSR collapsed. I am more and more convinced that what we should have done was get out of NATO when the USSR collapsed. HATO’s work was done; the Communist world threat was ended; and we could safely allow Europe to solve its own problems while we turned back to making money and living our quiet lives of freedom, building our City on the Hill for the world to admire, and avoid entangling alliances and interference in the territorial disputes of Europe – our historic foreign policy that served the Republic well for centuries.

Of course we didn’t always stay out of Europe’s problems. The results weren’t so successful as they might have been. But once Communism rose it wasn’t the old balance of power game anymore.

Herman Kahn once said that the most important fact of the Twentieth Century was that the United States and Great Britain spoke the same language, and that involved us in European affairs and dictated the side we would take. That proved startlingly true, beginning in 1914 and continuing to the end of the Century. Kahn also said that the most important fact of the Twenty-first Century might well prove to be that the United States and Russia were predominately White nations. That statement is often ignored now because it is not politically correct to say things like that. How dare he? But it remains true that Russia is a European nation, and the Russians are, after all, Vikings and Goths who came east and interacted with the Tatars for about a millennium; but they remained European. The first Rome was Rome. The second Rome was Constantinople. The third Rome shall be Moscow, and a fourth Rome there shall not be…

Nations have few permanent friends, but they do have permanent interests. One permanent interest of America is to maintain liberty and freedom. Russian Communism was a threat to that interest. It no longer is. Communism was a threat to Christianity. It no longer is. We do not have to look far to see threats to Christianity and Freedom in this world, but we do not see them in Russia now. We do see them in the Middle East, where the plain language of the Koran states that there can never be peace between Islam and unbelievers, only truces; and the plain duty of an Islamic leader, whether President of Muslim People’s State, or a Caliph of the Faithful, is to impose Islam everywhere. The Koran is as chiliastic as Das Kapital or the Manifesto ever were. Islam or the sword is the command of Allah. Of course for the People of the Book – Christians and Jews – there is the choice of dhimmitude: to live under Muslim rule and pay the tax for not being enlightened enough to accept Islam.

But surely no one takes that seriously now?

We thought that no one took Communism and its threat of world dominion seriously for a very long time. It took a while to take National Socialism’s brand of German Nationalism seriously with its need for Lebensraum, although there was no real attempt to keep that goal secret; and the plain language of the Koran imposing that duty on Moslem Leaders was pointed out in no uncertain terms on Suleiman the Magnificent, who took it seriously enough to besiege Vienna in 1529 – and came very close to taking that city. They tried again in 1689, and once again there was a huge battle that included the largest cavalry charge (led by the Polish heavy cavalry) in the history of the world, although historians generally believe that the Turks had fewer chances of success than had Suleiman in the previous century. Even so it was close enough.

The Middle East takes the Koran seriously. And it clearly states that there can be no peace between Muslim leaders and the west. Only truces.

Russia watches as former states of the USSR revert to full Muslim rule; and the West builds alliances against Russia. Putin may be forced to look to the East for allies. But first he needs to consolidate all the Russians he can find into unity with Russia or at the least into alliances. That means most of the Ukraine and what used to be known as Byelorussia and is now called the nation of Belarus. Russia has always been pan-Slavic; it will continue to be.

And it is late. More another time.


Lack of gefilte fish

Dr Pournelle

By invitation, I have joined friends at Seder over the years. Never did they serve gefilte fish. I gather it can be served, but the lack of it will not spoil the Seder.

I think the report is little more than an exaggeration to add to the AGW hysteria.

(I googled ‘gefilte fish seder’ and found the addition of gefilte fish to the Seder came late, circa 200 CE.)

Live long and prosper

h lynn keith

As the evidence piles up that weather and climate are far more complicated than are dreamed of by our highly expensive models, Believers become more and more frantic. They fiddle with events, find strange fudge factors, (http://stevengoddard.wordpress.com/2014/01/19/just-hit-the-noaa-motherlode/ ) and make other moves to defend their grants and jobs. I don’t claim to have a better model than theirs, or that I know of a better model: what I claim is that the models we have are not good enough to bet billions of dollars on. Until they can account for Greenland having dairy farms in Viking times http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/04/17/when-greenland-was-green-in-warmer-times/ as recorded in their records and legends and the vary name for Nova Scotia – Vinland – and the Roman Warm times and other such historical phenomena, all of which tend to get ignored in the Great Climate Models, we have no obligation to spend money guarding against what they predict. Their predictions of doom by heat now are worth no more than the frantic predictions of a possible new Ice Age that prevailed in the last century. Me, I’d far rather have to move north to escape warming than have my house covered with a kilometer of ice. And the worst of that one is that from all indications Britain went from deciduous trees to meters of ice in under a century the last time the Ice advanced.


From Yesterday’s view: “Or more likely, Microsoft is becoming subject to the Iron Law as each department and fief seizes what it can”

In companies the Iron law does not work so well when they are not propped up by government mandate.

People stop buying the product and without compulsory tax revenue the Iron turns to water.

Apple is just waiting in the wings for MS to make a mistake and then pounce…


The Iron Law applies to bureaucracies, including peace time armies. One definition of a bureaucracy is that there is no easily obtained objective measure of performance. Private firms have a measure of performance: they either make a profit or they don’t, they grow or they shrink, they gain or they lose market share. If they don’t make money then there are stockholders to hold management’s feet to the fire.

But not always: if government imposes enough regulation on the industry, then new ventures cannot come into that business because it takes a large chunk of capital just to hire the compliance personnel to allow you to exist. The result is the creation of oligarchies and they do become bureaucracies because much of their market share is protected.

The computer business was cut throat competitive as it began and thrived because Washington didn’t have a bureaucracy to impose regulation – needed or needless or even viciously selective – on the industry. That’s being corrected and government more and more gets to pick the winners.

That can happen to companies too. When it bureaucratizes itself eventually it pays, but sometimes it takes a good while before anyone notices what is happening.




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