View 718 Friday, March 30, 2012
The demand for equality has two sources; one of them is among the noblest, the other is the basest of human emotions. The noble source is the desire for fair play. But the other source is the hatred of superiority. At the present moment it would be very unrealistic to overlook the importance of the latter.
There is in all men a tendency (only corrigible by good training from without and persistent moral effort from within) to resist the existence of what is stronger, subtler or better than themselves. In uncorrected and brutal small men this hardens into an implacable and disinterested hatred for every kind of excellence. . . .
Equality (outside mathematics) is a purely social conception. It applies to man as a political and economic animal. It has no place in the world of the mind. Beauty is not democratic; she reveals herself more to the few than to the many, more to the persistent and disciplined seekers than to the careless. Virtue is not democratic; she is achieved by those who pursue her more hotly than most men. Truth is not democratic; she demands special talents and special industry in those to whom she gives her favours.
Political democracy is doomed if it tries to extend its demand for equality into these higher spheres. Ethical, intellectual, or aesthetic democracy is death. A truly democratic education—one which will preserve democracy—must be, in its own field, ruthlessly aristocratic, shamelessly "high-brow."
C. S. Lewis “Democratic Education” (1944) as quoted in “Notable and Quotable” WSJ 03/30/2012
Of course Lewis speaks from a classic point of view, in which “moral effort” has meaning. These matters are presented in more detail in his classic essays which were combined into a volume called “The Abolition of Man”, available on Amazon in paperback or Kindle edition. If you have not read it, you should; Lewis asks hard questions in that book as he tries to reason his way to morality and the desirability of moral effort.
But the quote above contains a great truth, and should have been read by everyone involved in the national debate on “No Child Left Behind.” Alas, I suspect that not one of the Congress creatures who debated that bill had ever heard of it, such is the nature of our education, both higher and lower. When I was called to conduct the annual Scholar/leader program for selected graduating high school seniors in Oklahoma a decade or so ago (I was asked on the sudden disability of the professor who had set it up) I added Lewis’s Abolition of Man to the seminar text list. I only wish I could have got the state’s Senators and Members of Congress to read it. But that’s another lecture.
The demand for ‘equality’ is one of those inherent defects in democracy, and one of the reasons that the Framers in 1787 rejected a ‘democracy’ in favor of a Republic. As Lewis observes, Virtue and Truth are not democratic; of course to admit that you must admit that Truth and Beauty exist. And therein lies the key question for our times.
The notion that a majority should rule – that the votes of 50% + 1 should decide all political issues – makes no more rational sense than the notion that kings should rule, or aristocrats should rule. Not that this is an original observation; it has been debated by political philosophers for millennia, and was very much a part of the debate in the Convention of 1787. The American intelligentsia has accepted the notion that government ought to favor the lowest and most downtrodden, not as an act of charity but as simple fairness. The problem is that this is expensive, and unless the society is extremely rich it cannot afford to shower benefits on everyone, and worse, the attempt to achieve equality by leveling – by bringing down the successful so that they have no more than the unsuccessful – generally produces ruin, as the first settlers in the New World learned to their sorrow, and as economic history has shown for – well, for millennia, but it was also a lesson of the 20th Century. See the history of Soviet agriculture.
If Education is an investment, then it ought to work to maximize return; meaning that more resources ought to be devoted to improving the education of the best and brightest than to bringing the just below normal up to normal. Yes, there is an economic advantage to improving the ability of everyone, but at the margin, and certainly under the current circumstances, we put way too much effort in that and way too little into making the top 15% more productive. The only way to achieve No Child Left Behind is to be sure that No Child Gets Ahead, and in many places that is relentlessly applied – and worse, where it is not, there is sure to be a charge of discrimination.
And of course that’s true. It is discrimination to devote more resources to the best and brightest. It is also necessary if we are going to have the resources to devote to improving the lot of the wretched of the Earth.
Enough. It is time for lunch.
Steve Feigenbaum of New Jersey, I need your email address.
I have had to cancel my trip to Colorado Springs. No doubt Air Force Space Command will get along without me. I was more looking forward to going for what I might learn than imagining I had much to contribute. I will have more on this another time, but apparently the airlines are so desperate now that they charge you about half what the trip costs just to have held a reservation for a few days; apparently I get to pay about $200 to Orbitz and the airlines for having made the reservations. Partly that is due to my having used Orbitz in the first place, I guess.
There was a time when I would have had American Express simply make the reservations for me and let them take care of cancelling if it turned out I couldn’t go, but I guess they don’t do that sort of thing any more. At least there are still competent and sympathetic people on the telephone – assuming that you can trick the nice computer voice into letting you talk to a human being – but the executive services young lady didn’t think there was much we could do about this; the airlines are just being desperate.
I once had half million or million mile club cards in several airlines, and I have life memberships in all the VIP lounge clubs, but none of that matters. When the computer age started I imagined a story in which everyone had to deal with artificial intelligences all of them operating at about IQ 90, and all working through rules like any other bureaucracy, all passing a Turing test – can you tell if this is an AI or a human bureaucrat – Damn You! “Sir, it is unlikely that any curse you put on me will be effective. Have a nice day”. I gave up the story as too depressing. Now I am finding it coming true. The good news is that some of the AI entities are smarter than the humans they replaced. Or at least care more.
We have Windows 8 running. Eric named it Alien Artifact, largely because the handsome Thermaltake case is so spectacular. Windows 8 has some trickiness, as does the high end ASUS motherboard we ended up with, but it is becoming a pleasant experience.
I’ll use the time I have ‘saved’ by not going to Colorado to do a very belated first of the year/last of last year Chaos Manor Reviews column and trying to catch up with some of the routine maintenance of Chaos Manor. I’m really disappointed at not getting to participate in the Space Command symposium and do some sight seeing at the Command and at the Academy. I used to be on one of the academic boards of visitors of the Academy and get there several times a year, but that was long ago; haven’t been there in a while. I am sure it has changed a lot since I was last there.
At least I am not still frantically working on stuff for the trip and conference. Not that I have much time to relax.
I have some dialogs over the equality/debt/deficit issue that I will get up shortly; they are informative.
We have got the new machine – Alien Artifact – working, but with Windows 7, not 8. Windows 8 works fine on less advanced machines, but on this one the ASUS board has some advanced features that haven’t had the drivers perfected yet; since it’s months to the release of 8 this isn’t really a problem. The system is fast, and all appears to be well. We had an interesting time for a while: my local network understood that a machine names Alien Artifact existed and had a login name and password that worked with Windows Live, since Windows 8 works that way. Which meant that machines on the net which had accessed the new system under the Windows 8 name could not longer find it and of course told us access was denied and we should see the system administrator and when told to trouble shoot that it told us, breathlessly, that we were denied access, and the remedy was to see the system administrator – in other words, Microsoft Help is about as useful as it ever was. Also Help doesn’t tell us how to delete a system from the Network according to this particular system. Machines that had never accessed Alien Artifact before had no trouble doing it now that it had me as a local user with a password. Conversion from Windows 7 to 8 will be a problem for people who keep older Windows 7 or XP systems around. Boy will they ever. We managed it. Story in the column.
Bed time. The system is very well behaved in Windows 7; it’s a bit advanced for Windows 8 but I am sure that will all be taken care of over time. It’s drivers, and particularly the huge silicon cache boot system. Again more in the column I am doing. But all is well, there are 16 GB memory, and wow is this system fast. It’s also really cool looking and it runs cool. I love Thermaltake.
Mail 718 Thursday, March 29, 2012
Space Access ’12 Conference – April 12-14 – Phoenix Arizona
SA ’12 will be the next round of Space Access Society’s long-running annual get-together for people seriously interested in the technology, business, and politics of radically cheaper space transportation. This year’s conference sessions will run from Thursday morning April 12th through Saturday evening April 14th. (Our Space Access hospitality suite will be open Wednesday evening for early arrivers.)
Conference location is the Grace Inn, 10831 South 51st Street, Phoenix, AZ, about ten freeway miles from the Phoenix airport. For room reservations, call 800 843-6010 or 480 893-3000, and mention "space access" to get our discount $69/night single-or-double breakfast-included rate. (This rate is good for up to three days before or after the conference.)
Conference registration is $120 in advance, $140 at the door, student rate $40 either way.
There are two options for advance registration:
- You can mail us a check or money order. Include for each registrant the name and affiliation (if any) to be listed on the badge, plus their email address. Make the check out to Space Access ’12, and mail it to:
Space Access ’12, PO Box 16034, Phoenix AZ 85011.
- You can go to
http://www.space-access.org/updates/sa12paypalbutton.html to register online with your credit card or Paypal account.
Either way, advance registrations need to be in our hands by COB Friday April 6th, so our volunteer Registration crew has the weekend before the conference to produce your badges.
Two weeks till the conference begins! It’s time to book that flight to Phoenix; it’ll only cost more if you wait longer. And reserve your hotel room soon, as the hotel is filling up faster than usual this year.
Population decline in the West? Not everywhere.
SO MUCH has changed, yet so much is strikingly familiar.
The census results for 2011 reveal a country of contrasts. Dublin’s commuter belt has grown rapidly and our population is more diverse than ever, but Ireland remains a predominantly Catholic country rooted in tradition, where marriage is enduringly popular and the nuclear family is resilient.
Overall, the census shows the population reached 4.6 million in April 2011, the highest level in 150 years. Population growth has been surprisingly high despite emigration and the economic downturn, driven mainly by an extraordinarily high birth rate with more than 70,000 births per year.
In fact, the natural increase – the number of births minus deaths – is the highest on record for any previous census…..
Which is striking and definitely something to think about. Thanks.
My Conclusion: Nuns can run a hospital for a hundred years, businessmen haven’t a clue.
FORT WORTH — The Tarrant County Hospital District plans to spend about $5.5 million to tear down the vacant St. Joseph Hospital complex on south Main Street, with work to begin this summer.
St. Joseph Hospital was founded by nuns in 1885 as Tarrant County’s first hospital. The property was expanded several times. In 1994, Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp. bought St. Joseph and closed the facilities a year later. The property was sold in 1997 to a California company that operated an Alzheimer’s center from part of the complex before going into bankruptcy.
John Paul Robinson
And in general, local communities can manage things better than the federal government. Civil defense works better than FEMA. Sometime local government is corrupt and inefficient; it then looks to the state and the federal government to bail it out. If that bailout is not possible, the locals understand that they get the government they allow, and a reform movement starts. But with federalization and public employee unions reform cannot happen until there is bankruptcy. And even then the beat goes on for a while.
Dr. Brin is expressing his own damn lie
He implies the canard is the middle class will vote themselves largesse. The fact is, it is the unproductive, lower class that does this. Over time the lower class increases without bounds and gains enough political leverage to out vote the productive. At least that seems to be the case today.
I would not put it so strongly, but in general the middle class votes for public benefits, but when you know that you must pay the taxes you vote for it tends to put some restraints on it. When all must pay some taxes, and you don’t get to vote taxes on other people, it is different. In today’s world not quite half never pay income tax at all, yet they get to vote on tax increases.
Almost one half of the nation’s murder victims that year were black and a majority of them were between the ages of 17 and 29. Black people accounted for 13% of the total U.S. population in 2005. Yet they were the victims of 49% of all the nation’s murders. And 93% of black murder victims were killed by other black people, according to the same report.
Good grief, how can anyone read the above in any way but to say:
Almost half of the murders in the country were committed upon and by a minority that consists of 13% of the population.
My mind boggles at that.
Does that need a comment?
Lots of superterrans in the Goldilocks Zone of *red dwarfs*?!
I once took a tour through the Cappadocia area of Turkey. I noted that virtually every house had a solar hot water heater on the roof. Solar can be used for other things besides generating electricity, which may not be the best use of solar. At least the Turks in that area are using it effectively for hot water.
Joseph P. Martino
Direct solar is often very efficient. In particular, rooftop direct solar heating to heat a swimming pool can be very effective and much more efficient that running a furnace. I know a couple in New Mexico who heat underground gravel in summer, then circulate air through there in winter. Their heating bill is very low even in deep winter. But that takes space and very good insulation. And of course direct solar means you bathe in daytimes if you want hot water.
4 Year Old Picture Leads to Parents Arrest In Canada
Totally 100 percent true, however this is being extensively covered in the new Conservative News Network in Canada, where both the Cops and Teachers are being given intensive scrutiny.
They are currently being sued, and will likely face criminal charges, for violating the Fathers civil rights, turns out they searched his house without a warrant, violated a bunch of police procedure, and worst of all no one can produce a copy of the picture the child drew.
Not that the Huffington Post is the place where I expect to get cutting edge science information, but since you had posted on the issues with making Fusion work, here is a story I came across
It shows what we are working on here in the U.S. with some interesting possibilities.
The health care case at the Supreme Court
I fail to see why people are objecting to the health care mandate. Clearly taking care of the sick is a good thing and the only way it can be affordable is for the healthy to subsidize the sick. Why should we let the states keep us from doing a good thing and caring for the people? While we are at it, a government free from corruption is also a good thing. A number of Governors in Illinois have been sent to jail for corruption. We need better federal oversight of state governments. Also the State of Rhode Island is nearly bankrupt and California has severe problems with their budgets. Of course the South has a poor record on Civil Rights. We need a way to convince the people in the states to let the benevolent federal authorities have greater control. I have a modest proposal to convince the states it is in their interest to allow greater central control. We should enact a law that requires each state to send two children to Washington each year to participate in a televised game….
Subj: Where did the Moon come from?
The recent work on Titanium isotope ratios is not the first indication that the Moon is composed of material that condensed from the solar nebula at the same distance from the Sun as the Earth.
Belbruno and Gott described the astrodynamics of the formation of the Moon in 2004:
Briefly: The impactor formed at the L4 and/or L5 points of the ProtoEarth-Sun system. Perturbations would eventually throw it into a horseshoe orbit. Further perturbations would send it to impact with the ProtoEarth on a zero-energy parabolic trajectory.
What You Lose When You Sign That Donor Card
"Organ transplantation—from procurement of organs to transplant to the first year of postoperative care—is a $20 billion per year business. Average recipients are charged $750,000 for a transplant, and at an average 3.3 organs, that is more than $2 million per body. Neither donors nor their families can be paid for organs."
Just follow the money. Of course they mean well, unless you are getting chopped up.
Do you have the right to sell your organs? The government says not; it protects you from that, just as you cannot sell yourself into slavery. These are deliberate choices, but there has not been much debate on the subject. Certainly someone gets rich on organ transplants, but it isn’t the donor or donor’s family.
Interactive Scale of the Universe
A fun little overview of the small and the large.
Regards, Charles Adams, Bellevue, NE
View 718 Thursday, March 29, 2012
I’m preparing for the big Space Command conference in Colorado Springs next week. Eric is over and we will try again to build the new machine. And we continue to find new attractive features in the Thermaltake case.
I have mail calling my attention to Dr. David Brin’s disquisition on what he calls “The Largesse Canard”, and since it says
Among those who have carelessly bandied this smugly cynical assertion has been sci fi author Jerry Pournelle, along with many of his more right wing colleagues. It circulates widely among the dour Rothbardians and Randites who dominate today’s warped version of the libertarian movement….
I suppose I should say something.
First, “The Largesse Canard”. I don’t know what, precisely, that means. The statement in question is the familiar ‘quote’ to the effect that a democracy can last only until the citizens discover they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury, after which the democracy will destroy itself. The sentiment has been around a long time. Dr. Brin claims it originated with Plato, and perhaps so, but I never found it there. The most familiar version is credited to A Scots lawyer named Tytler whose works are not familiar to me, but who was apparently read by some of the Framers before the Convention of 1787. It reads
A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury.
There are some who say that Tytler never said that, and this may well be so, although I don’t know that anyone claims that he would have rejected the statement: he was certainly no advocate of democracy. Dr. Brin says this is ‘The Largesse Canard’. The definition of canard is “a false or unfounded report or story; especially : a fabricated report” so I presume he means that it is a canard that Tytler ever said this.
I would have said that is the wrong question to ask. I really don’t care who first made the observation. The question is not whether it was said by Tytler, or Plato, or originated with someone in a campaign staff in 1828 or 2000: the question is whether or not it is a valid observation. Attributing it to Plato may be thought of as an appeal to authority, but this is the first time I have been invited to think Plato said it (he certainly never did say it in that form) – and I really don’t care if it was said by an 18th Century Scots lawyer whose works I haven’t read (and in fact I don’t know anyone who has read Tytler). I don’t consider Tytler an authority to begin with.
As to whether the observation is true, substitute the word ‘entitlement’ for ‘largesse’ and it certainly is not obviously false; it is at least worth considering.
It was not all that long ago that everyone in America understood that this nation wasn’t founded as a democracy, and that democracy, having been considered by the Framers, was rejected for a constitutional republic of limited and precisely defined powers. As to democracy, most of the founding figures of the American Republic rejected it flatly. John Adams was particularly vigorous in his rejection:
Democracy… while it lasts is more bloody than either aristocracy or monarchy. Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There is never a democracy that did not commit suicide.
Cicero certainly rejected democracy in favor of a Republic, by which he meant a mixed government that contained elements of monarchy, aristocracy, and popular democracy in a mixture with checks and balances – and that is what the delegates to the Convention of 1787 thought they had achieved. Very few of them favored a democracy, and the fact that they had not created a democracy was known and they were attacked for it. The Federalist Papers – which I would think far more relevant than a Scots lawyer – dealt with that subject in some detail.
I would not think that dismissing the argument that democracies are in danger of destabilizing themselves, and in particular of overspending on entitlements – largesse, if you will – because there is some doubt as to the source of the assertion would be the right way to approach a point of political philosophy which has, after all, been a topic of debate among political philosophers from Plato and Aristotle to the present day. It is a tendency of democracies to vote entitlements – pork if you like – and to transfer resources from the productive to the non-productive. That would seem to be one of the issues this election is all about. Have entitlements gone too far? Can we continue to borrow money from China in order to fund entitlements? Should we tax the productive to fund bureaucracies? I would have thought these more relevant questions. Note that they are not ‘yes or no’ questions, either. As Niven often observes, rich societies can afford many uneconomic things, including bashing down the curbs to make life somewhat easier for the handicapped, but only wealthy societies can do that for long. Once you get in the habit of doing it, it’s hard to stop when you aren’t rich any more.
There was a time when there was a fairly widespread agreement about entitlements. There were some who said they weren’t big enough, and some who said there ought not be any, but the larger part of the American populace had accepted much of the New Deal and its entitlements. Over time they expanded. Social Security began adding payments to disabled people who had never worked and never would work, and certainly had not paid anything into the Social Security accounts – in other words, from a kind of insurance (with some Ponzi elements in it) Social Security became a system for transfer of money from the able who earned to the disabled who did not. That is largesse. It may be a good idea – but it is certainly not what Social Security was designed to be. It is certainly largesse paid from the public treasury. And it can be a heavy drain on the public treasury, and on investment for economic recovery in hard times.
There has been a great deal of mission creep in entitlements. I’ve watched them over the years. And perhaps there are entitlements which are not largesse, but surely that is not the crucial argument here? And certainly the whole notion of how much to transfer from the productive to the non-productive is a more interesting argument than whether a particular statement was made by a Scottish lawyer, or for that matter, by Plato.
On reading the above I seem to have left out something. The “Largesse Canard” is sometimes expanded to include a theory of cycles in government: democracy degenerates into disorder and is usually followed by dictatorship. Tytler is said to have written a great deal about this. http://www.commonsensegovernment.com/article-03-14-09.html
I’m not familiar with Tytler, but the cycles of government were described by Aristotle and were a pretty common notion among classical political philosophers. Cicero was very familiar with them. So were most of the Framers. Again it is irrelevant whether or no a Scots lawyer added to this theory, since it is not likely that he was the primary source of the views of many of the Framers. The notion that democracies end up as dictatorships was hardly new with Tytler, and probably the best discussion of the cyclical nature of government is C Northcote Parkinson’s Evolution of Political Thought, which I used as a textbook for senior political philosophy back in my professor days.
And while it hadn’t happened yet, the French Revolution followed by Napoleon does not seem to contradict the view.
And we have this from one of my right wing friends:
On a cause of corruption in popular governments.
James Chastek had a post last July which may be apropos the business about the public "voting themselves largesse from the public purse." He opens by saying:
After giving a lengthy discourse on the rise and extent of the decadence of popular government (with a focus on the rise of the regulatory state), Jacques Barzun concludes to the formula that the moment when good intentions exceeded the power [of the average reasonable person] to fulfill them marked the onset of decadence. There is evidence in Barzun’s discourse that this moment is very difficult to avoid, and that this formula indicates a way in which popular governments contain the seeds of their own collapse into decadence. So how does this corruption happen?
There is a fundamental desire in popular government to ensure fair play and equal access, and this requires regulation. There nevertheless remains a perpetual genius for a.) extending the scope of what will count as fair play and equal access (the gradual extension of rights) and b.) discovering ways to cut off persons from a fair share and equal access (new modes of fraud, monopoly, or impinging on the ever expanding notion of right). Both give rise to diverse sorts of regulation to ensure justice and punish crime, and the perpetual genius to extend equality or outwit the system lead to more and more regulation. At some point, the good intentions of the regulators amass to the point that no reasonable person can be expected to make his way through the labyrinth of regulation, and at this point the government is no longer a popular government. Thus the very regulations made to ensure the equal ability of everyone to compete amass to where they become an impediment to the ability of persons to compete.
This is not an argument for libertarian deregulation.
The whole essay – it’s fairly short – can be found here: http://thomism.wordpress.com/2011/07/27/on-a-cause-of-corruption-in-popular-governments/
I recall the essay. I suppose the simplest summary is that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. But then we have much cultural knowledge about that, including folklore dating back to Aesop and before. Those who measure success by intention rather than result will often find unexpected consequences, and some will die condemned as villains no matter their intentions.
Of all sad words, of tongue and pen, the saddest are these: But I meant well.
I also have mail from many pointing out that it is not the middle class who vote themselves largess from the public treasury, but those who are unproductive transfer wealth to themselves (or to all) from the productive. This isn’t strictly true: a number of public benefits including the one that Niven and I often use as an example, bashing down the curbs to make life easier for the disabled, are enthusiastically supported by those who pay the taxes. Aristotle defines the middle class as those who possess the goods of fortune in moderation, and generally when you have government by and of the middle class, it will often boost public benefits, generally to be shared by all. The problem comes when they can no longer be afforded, yet the tax structure is that most to all of the taxes fall on increasingly smaller numbers of people. Those accustomed to the public benefits, yet now cannot pay into the public treasury, still want and generally insist on the public benefits.
Example: Some 70% of American public school children now get a breakfast paid for by the public treasury. This is apparently necessary for some number of the children – I don’t know how many, but numbers claimed run from a few percent to 30%. That is, the children would have no breakfast if the public largesse did not provide it. This is not seen as a responsibility of the parents – let them work, or go to the streets to beg; it’s their job to feed their children – but a public responsibility. One can, and I will, argue that a republic is far better off to allow locals and particularly local charities to address this difficulty. This has the great merit of allowing those temporarily out of work to assume some responsibilities and claim some pride in doing community work without burdening the people in the next county or state with local problems. It is always a good thing for a republic that many of the citizens are involved in working on local problems, rather than entrusting it all to a paid (and increasingly expensive) bureaucracy. But that’s a matter for another essay. It should be obvious that one requirement of self government is that those who can participate in governing, and at the lowest level possible.
Rule by the middle class is not quite the same thing as populist democracy which at one time was known by the more pejorative name of mob rule. Those who have nothing have every incentive to get something, and if the easiest way to do that is through politics, than that is an attractive course. And as Murray observed in Losing Ground, if you given enough benefits to those in poverty, then poverty becomes an very attractive state to be in. If I hire people to be poor for a living I will get many applicants; yet it must be paid for by the productive or it cannot be paid for at all. Incidentally it is no canard to say that Barzun, Murray, and Aristotle said the things I have said they said. They did say them, famously. In Aristotle’s case we have several sources, including Cicero.
View 718 Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Zimmerman and Martin Photos [see last night’s mail]
While I do think the reaction to this incident has been unbalanced, my understanding is that the photo of the person flipping off the camera is misattributed (and that this not of the same Trayvon Martin who was shot).
Thanks. As I said, I have no provenance for the pictures. And we certainly have no authenticated source of information on what really happened in this Florida situation. How could we? We don’t have any of the old school journalists I grew up reading. That kind of journalism went away with the rise of the Media, and we now have to rely on do it yourself efforts. The real point here is that this is not a national case. Juan Williams in today’s Wall Street Journal http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303404704577307613183789698.html?mod=googlenews_wsj has a number of important things to say. He concludes:
Despite stereotypes, the responsibility for the Florida shooting lies with the individual who pulled the trigger. The fact that the man pursued the teen after a 911 operator told him to back off, and the fact that he alone had a gun, calls for him to be arrested and held accountable under law. The Department of Justice is investigating the incident and the governor of Florida has appointed a special prosecutor to review the case.
But on a larger scale, all of this should open a serious national conversation about how our culture made it easier for this type of crime to take place.
The conclusion that Zimmerman ought to be arrested suggests that Williams has more data than the rest of us including the local authorities, but that is assuming facts not in evidence; I suspect that’s Williams being ritually liberal. His article notes:
The most recent comprehensive study on black-on-black crime from the Justice Department should have been a clarion call for the black community to take action. There is no reason to believe that the trends it reported have decreased since 2005, the year for which the data were reported.
Almost one half of the nation’s murder victims that year were black and a majority of them were between the ages of 17 and 29. Black people accounted for 13% of the total U.S. population in 2005. Yet they were the victims of 49% of all the nation’s murders. And 93% of black murder victims were killed by other black people, according to the same report.
Of course he treats this in the usual liberal manner: this is a “social problem” and needs a “solution” through government action. One problem is that communities that have had great success in changing these dismal statistics are generally ignored by the press. There will be a few TV specials here and there, but the notion that discipline and hard work has an effect on education is generally ignored. I don’t think there is a ‘national’ education ‘solution’; there are schools that are effective.
As I write this I am listening to an advertisement for “I can afford college dot com” (maybe it’s I can’t afford college dot com) which is pretty well a stereotype: it advertises entitlements without any discussion of qualifications. Everyone is apparently entitled to college, whether qualified or not, and ‘college’ is a magic remedy, just as high school used to be. Because of the various quota laws we have adopted in the hopes of – well, it’s not clear what is hoped for – but because of the various laws and regulations we have adopted, personnel managers are forced to rely on external credentialism; which means that people of ability and character who haven’t managed to get the ‘credential’ are tossed out, while the credential factories are run as unionized bureaucracies thoroughly subject to the Iron Law. The radio add is disturbing. It is sponsored apparently as a public service advertisement. Almost as if it were a parody.
The Civil War amendments assumed that the freedmen would become American as the Melting Pot did its magic, as it had worked with the German, Irish, Jewish, Hungarian, Italian immigrants. As late as the 1960’s conservatives could and did argue that America was unique in that you could study and learn how to become an American, unlike, say, becoming a Swede or an Italian or an Irishman. All “hyphen” Americans – e.g. Italian-Americans, Hunkie-Americans, and so forth – had been discriminated against, and had overcome that. The freedmen would do the same. That was the assumption and in many places it was true. Signs of it working were the Tuskegee Airmen, the Red Ball Express, the integration – over time – of the US Army and Navy, all done without a lot of fanfare. But then came the big Civil Rights movements, and the notions of entitlement took over from the notions of civic responsibility. Being an American was an entitlement, and had no requirements whatever. An odd notion, but one which seems to prevail now. With the usual results.
The Zimmerman/Martin case is a local case for local authorities, and while there may be lessons to be learned, if it has a national legislative or executive policy effect, that effect will be to diminish libery.
A Republic of free self governing citizens will not get everything right everywhere and certainly every local community will not come up with policies that everyone else thinks are right. That is a certain outcome of liberty.
Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.
The Black Panthers have raised the amount of the reward offered for Mr. Zimmerman’s whereabouts. And there are threats to burn down cities if they cut back on entitlements. News at eleven. We can learn about this kind of government from Greece.
Last night’s mailbag had a note about fusion experiments in France. I have today:
Michio Kaku was almost certainly referring the ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor) project currently being constructed in France. This is funded by a consortium of countries, with the EU (not just France) funding 45% and the US funding 9%. First plasma is planned for November 2019 which ties in with the "8 year" timeframe. However, D-T operation is expected start in 2026.
From that article:
"ITER’s mission is to demonstrate the feasibility of fusion power, and prove that it can work without negative impact. Specifically, the project aims:
To momentarily produce ten times more thermal energy from fusion heating than is supplied by auxiliary heating (a Q value of 10).
To produce a steady-state plasma with a Q value greater than 5.
To maintain a fusion pulse for up to 480 seconds.
To ignite a ‘burning’ (self-sustaining) plasma.
To develop technologies and processes needed for a fusion power plant – including superconducting magnets and remote handling (maintenance by robot).
To verify tritium breeding concepts.
To refine neutron shield/heat conversion technology (most of energy in the D+T fusion reaction is released in the form of fast neutrons)."
If all goes well, ITER is to be succeeded by a demonstration commercial fusion reactor, known as DEMO:
Planned to start operating in 2033.
I used to follow fusion closely; for a long time fusion was the great hope for energy. Over time it became clear that we would have workable fusion energy Real Soon Now, but the date when we would have it continued to recede into the far future. I waited for some indication of real breakthroughs, but after a while I began to follow something else.
Energy either comes from the Sun or it’s nuclear.(Well, there’s tidal but that’s not the point.) “Fossil fuels” were (most think) originally solar energy gathered over a long period of time. All of the renewable stuff like green slime and rooftop solar are subject to the solar constant limit of about 1.2 KW/meter^2 meaning that it takes a big area to generate a lot of energy. Moreover that’s when the sun is shining. Growing green slime is just as subject to day/night cycles as any other; green slime, on the other hand, does accumulate the energy gathered. Rooftop solar needs to be used when generated or stored. Storage is the big problem. That makes rooftop particularly appropriate for hot summer day air conditioning since air conditioning demand is one of the major factors in setting peak power generation requirements. It is very close to economic to invest in rooftop solar for schools in southern areas where the summer skies tend to be clear – in particular in Los Angeles, given the state subsidies. Private schools are finding rooftop solar very economic, but alas, that depends in part on local political considerations and subsidies.
Green slime production has similar limits – you need long days of sunlight without clouds. Such areas are generally called deserts. Green slime requires a lot of water. Transporting water to deserts is – well you get the idea.
Nuclear power would solve a lot of problems; it can even solve water problems. I have often said that Los Angeles ought to build a nuclear power plant and use its power to pump the outfalls of the Hyperion sewage treatment plant up to the top of the Angeles Forest and let it run down refilling the water table and the artesian wells. That would save pumping water across the San Joaquin Valley where much evaporates while the various Sacramento delta critters are endangered. But Los Angeles can outvote the rest of the state so we have the numbers so we get the water. This is democracy in action. Welcome to the conversion from Republic to Democracy.
It’s late and I still have errands. At least I have energy.
The Secret of Black Ship Island continues to sell well. We are going to fix some minor formatting problems, but they are sufficiently minor that we are in no hurry, and you shouldn’t be concerned about buying it – they really are minor, and don’t really break the empathy in the story. We will fix them. There is a “review” on Amazon that complains that the book can’t be read in landscape as opposed to portrait mode. That concerned us, and we tested it. The problem appears to be with the commenter’s reader: we can read it landscape or portrait. By we I mean me, several advisors, and some readers. The “reviewer” gave us only 3 * rating because of this flaw, but it’s not our flaw. I don’t think that’s particularly fair, but it’s one of the growing pains of eBooks; at some point it will all even out. Despite the 3* rating (essentially that of a single person who says he did not read the book) we have
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,159 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
Which, I am told, isn’t bad. Particularly for a novella.
Mail 717 Tuesday , March 27, 2012
Not a complete mailbag, but a couple of topics are topical so to speak.
Black Panther Party has offered reward for Zimmerman’s ‘capture’
It amazes me that this could happen and that the media gives it a pass:
Zimmerman has gone into hiding. A fringe group, the New Black Panther Party, has offered a $10,000 reward for his "capture."
Few things have amazed me recently. Incidentally, the radio today reports that the Black Panther Party has raised the ‘reward’ for information on Zimmerman’s whereabouts. All races are equal, of course…
I have no provenance for these pictures, but I have them from more than one source. It is an interesting question.
This just in:
I just wanted to let you know that the photo in the bottom right of the montage that is supposedly a photo of an older Treyvon Martin is an admitted fake. Please see this report from Fox News online: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/03/27/media-matters-honcho-sorry-after-blasting-drudge-for-trayvon-photo/?intcmp=obinsite.
There is more on this in tomorrow’s View. It all illustrates the point I have been trying to make: given the state of journalism we are not likely to get the facts, and there is no reason to conclude that the local authorities, who are a lot closer to this, have not or will not act properly. We can’t nationalize all events. If we did we would drown.
Sounds like someone might be reading your blog in congress, which I believe you have always suspected if not knew.
I know for a fact that at least two Congressmen and staffers of at least half a dozen more regularly read these posts.
Private arsenal ships
Jerry, I get regular newsletters from military.com. Today’s included a link to an article
about how private security companies are maintaining floating arsenals in international waters off of Somalia. The idea is that merchantmen should be able to protect themselves from pirates but there are laws against armed ships entering some ports, for obvious reasons. The biggest problem with this is the complete lack of safety standards and, in fact, even the companies running them are concerned because they don’t want any accidents or thefts either.
I seem to remember some similar problems for Mike Hoare’s outfits in the Katanga days. I can pretty well guarantee that putting blue helmets on troops doesn’t really make them less mercenary or more reliable when it comes to safety regulations…
Subject: 4-Year-Old’s Drawing Leads to Dad’s Arrest
I want to believe there was more to this story, but in today’s environment, I’m not sure any more.
From the article:
“One day last week at school Jessie Sansone’s 4-year-old daughter drew a picture of a man with a gun. The teacher didn’t like it, so she called Family and Social Services. If you think that’s an outrageous overreaction, just wait.
According to the Calgary Herald, when Jessie went to pick up his daughter and his other children at the end of the day, he was handcuffed, arrested, and strip searched <http://www.calgaryherald.com/news/Father+arrested+girl+picture/6209132/story.html> , as they looked for this gun. They did actually find one after they went and searched the family’s home in Ontario … only it turned out to be a toy. Yes, the only gun in the entire house was a toy gun. “
A startling story, but I am not familiar with the Canadian constitution. This sort of activity was a major factor in the Independence movements prior to 1776. Of course it could happen here…
Prostitutes have political power! =)
Spain’s high-class escorts are refusing to have sex with the nation’s bankers – until they open up credit lines to cash-strapped families and firms.
Madrid’s top-end prostitutes say their indefinite strike will continue until bank employees ‘fulfil their responsibility to society’ and start offering bigger loans for struggling Spaniards, it has been claimed.
Sneaky bankers were trying to circumvent the protest by claiming to be architects or engineers, the sex-workers said.
Joshua Jordan, KSC
your nuclear power comment
A couple of weeks ago Michio Kaku was a guest on Coast to Coast and in passing mentioned that there’s a French experimental reactor that is trying to get HOT fusion up and running. He said they’re close and expect to be generating power in about 8 years.
I don’t know if I misheard him or not but I’ve seen nothing on this anywhere.
Have you heard anything about it ?
I have not seen anything on this. My last serious inquiry into fusion power led me to conclude that we know how to build a large and expensive device that would, using fusion, produce more energy than it consumed (provided that you could collect much of the heat wasted in confining the reaction) but it would not be economically break even, and building a demonstration unit would be extremely expensive. Two decades ago I thought inertial confinement and laser triggers would make fusion devices a great deal cheaper, but I have seen nothing on that either. I confess that my enthusiasm for fusion now has faded since for thirty years it has been there will be fusion Real Soon Now. Eventually it will happen, but there are other things we have to develop first, I think.
I have had this mail for weeks:
President Obama & the E.U. “Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities”
I hope you’re feeling well enough to give your thoughts on this N.Y.
Times op-ed by John Bolton & John Yoo on the Obama administration’s unofficial adherence to the E.U.’s draft treaty on outer-space activities, including restrictions on the militarization of space:
“Hands Off the Heavens”.
I know this issue is important to you. I’ve been borrowing your “There Will be War” series from the Brooklyn Public Library, and I’m sure that American military presence in space is not much less important now than it was in the ’80s.
I covered most of the principles on this in The Strategy of Technology. Space will be decisive and if you have no ability to defend your access to space you may very much wish you had. Take the high ground, boy, or they’ll kick hell out of you in the valleys.
Contraception is pretty much universally available and affordable here in the US, yet the very people that you would think would most avail themselves of it don’t. http://neoneocon.com/2012/02/18/over-50-of-births-to-mothers-under-30-are-outside-marriage/ Digging into the data it seems that it is 59% among young Hispanic women and 78% among Blacks. This is an unmitigated disaster (particularly for the children) whose wave, I suspect, has not yet crested and to which government will inevitably turn its attention. In this regard the legislation mandating the universal availability of free contraception is not only a boon for Big Pharma, but a necessary precondition for a government mandate to **employ** contraception. The ‘Progressive’ welfare state has created a problem which can (notionally) only be solved by an even more controlling welfare state. There won’t be any unanticipated side effects, I’m sure; it’s all good. Strangely, I’m missing the troglodytic, pitchfork waving mobs burning down condom and pill factories. Perhaps they are only deemed to have rioted and burned.
Certain contraceptives seem to be a major cause of blood clots in women. http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=7&cts=1331257756266&ved=0CGAQFjAG&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.webmd.com%2Fsex%2Fbirth-control%2Fnews%2F20111026%2Fnewer-birth-control-pills-may-double-blood-clot-risk&ei=fmFZT6CTE8eZiQLVlrHOCw&usg=AFQjCNE8osVr3Kexnui7VIWGUI8r7SdZyg&sig2=JgRZZM0Fbxi4zPaCRCZtxA
Women’s health is not really the driving force behind this movement.
Regarding Ms. Fluke and her alleged constituents, $1,000 a year on contraceptives would seem to indicative of a certain energetic and sustained focus on the prevention of the consequences of procreative activities. But perhaps they are merely obsessive compulsive consumers of these products rather than practitioners of pillow arts; better not to use nasty words in the absence of evidence; probability we’ll just ignore.
As for Malthusian prophecies, I have become sceptical. I clearly recall predictions that 25% of Americans would starve by 1990, and someone even went so far as to suggest the extermination of India as a realistic, if temporary solution to world overpopulation. The panic seems to have been a bit premature. What saved us? I submit: human ingenuity. Panic is still premature.
Universal Health Care
A point from one of your commenters:
"Its time that we get past the idea of universal health care. Every industrialized, forward looking country has some type of universal coverage and it shows in their health statistics. The US if falling way behind in infant mortality, life-span and general health. This impacts us economically, and reduces our ability to compete."
He is the one behind the times. The truth is that all of these "forward looking" countries (and ours) have huge piles of debt. Politicians will promise anything to gain support, and just like Athens in ancient Greece or Athens today, it will catch up with us. I say "us" instead of "them" because this problem has been pushed off in the grand style of Louis the XIV "Apres moi, le deluge". There is nothing new under the sun and human nature is basically consistent. Bills always come due and you can never make specific calls on what is the best way for the economy to be micromanaged. The idea that macro economics is different than micro is absurd on its face, yet the "progressives" still insist that they just need to spend a bit more for the good of all and things will be perfect.
The one thing you can be sure of is that someone will pay soldiers.
Saw your mention of your "tendency to overly long and complex sentences" and realized that the sentence itself might be a case in
point: 72 words, 4 commas, 1 semi-colon, and 1 period. Also 6 pronouns, 6 proper names, and 6 verbs. I also count at least four separate timeframes-as-point-of-view (present, past retrospective to present, past influencing expectations of the present, past retrospective to present (again), present, and past). On the gripping hand, the sentence was perfectly and easily undersandable on first reading.
"Niven and Barnes and I have developed pretty good editorial habits and we’ve worked together long enough to know some of each other’s weaknesses, such as my tendency to overly long and complex sentences and Steve’s addiction to gerunds, so our works are generally well edited; having said that I don’t want to diminish the contribution of editors like Ed Kuehn, Bob Gleason, and Jim Baen on our works in the past."
Once in High School I decided to see just how long a sentence I could write. It ended up being shortly over one page, long-hand, on wide-ruled paper. Didn’t actually *say* much, but I said it verbosely and within the bounds of proper English grammar. I think I had you beat by a bit (at least in number of semi-colons), but if I kept it I don’t know where the page would be. And it still wouldn’t be worth re-reading except for the same amusement value that caused its creation.
You keep on writing and I’ll keep on reading. Unlike my younger self, you have a lot to say that’s worth saying.
I was impressed by Macaulay at an early age and never got over it…
Zero trust in the professional force
"The U.S. Navy will start giving Breathalyzer tests to Marines and sailors reporting for duty aboard ships and submarines and at squadrons, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced Monday in a worldwide call to forces."
I see many results to come from this, none desirable. Provided, that is, that the goal is to improve the defense of the United States.
View 718 Tuesday, March 27, 2012
My love affair with the Thermaltake Case continues, but alas the new system isn’t finished: there appear to be problems with the motherboard. Not with the case and not caused by the case. Our difficulties have to do with installation, but things worked well enough that I found that this massive elegant case is very quiet as well as easy to service.
But we didn’t get the system going yet. I’m shooting for Windows 8, and if that is too much trouble we’ll drop back to Windows 7; and meanwhile we’ll keep all the older machines until the new one is trustworthy. I always keep several machines in operation and my backup system besides home server is mostly to be sure everything important is copied all over the place. There are better ways, but this is an old habit.
Much of the day was devoured by locusts again, and more work piles up. And I have to make ready for the big conference in Colorado Springs next Monday and Tuesday; Space Command is having a conference/symposium. I also have contest finals to judge, housekeeping stuff, errands, and I have been trying to throw out junk as we do excavation down to the layers that accumulated when I was getting my hard x-ray treatment. And they have scheduled another MRI which ought to be routine.
And we found just enough errors in the eBook publication of The Secret of Black Ship Island, and I went through it all today to find them. Most are trivial – Forward instead of Foreword, some stray and/or missing carriage returns, a couple of run-on words, and an actual scene inconsistency which I won’t call attention to but Dave Kenny did. My thanks! Anyway that had to be fixed and I found a bunch of minor errors when I went through the published edition – all fairly trivial, one run-on word (andall) and as I said, some small formatting errors. I should have them all noted and off to our agent, and Kristine will be able to fix them in one pass. Anyone who bought the novella from Amazon will be able to trade it in on a free upgraded copy when we’re done.
From reader comments including Mr. Kenny’s the minor errors aren’t enough to spoil the reading experience, but it’s still our job to produce the best copy we can. Mr. Heinlein drilled that into my head from earliest days in the racket. We owe the reader our best effort – and now that we are both authors and publishers we have a bit more to do. I have always appreciated the copy editors who have worked with our books all these years, (even though copy editors are popularly referred to as the class enemy by most authors): Now I appreciate them even more. It’s tough work.
I’ll also get up a mail bag tonight. There’s more information on the Zimmerman/Martin case. Some is shocking.
Mail 718 Monday, March 26, 2012
Most of the coverage of this case is sloppy, and some of the sloppiness seems deliberately inflammatory. Take a look at these if you want what’s actually known so far.
- The Orlando Sentinel with leaked info from the local PD (since pretty much confirmed as authentic by the local city manager in the course of saying he wants an investigation of the leak.)
- ABC News with an account from Martin’s girlfriend, who was on the phone with him at the time.
and more from the girlfriend in the Orlando Sentinel
The mob wants to crucify Zimmerman. Looks to me the local cops made the right call; there’s no case there. If anything, there’d be more of a case (not much, but more) against Martin for assault and battery, if Zimmerman hadn’t made the point moot.
One more data point – Martin was caught with a bunch of women’s jewelry plus a large flat-blade screwdriver in his bag at school last October.
One reason Zimmerman was out patrolling was because of multiple recent burglaries in the neighborhood. I’d be curious when they started, versus when Martin came to stay in the neighborhood. Also, was he on a reasonable route from the store he’d been to back to where he was staying when Zimmerman followed him, or wandering somewhere else?
Not proof of anything either way, of course, but indicative. I won’t hold my breath to see answers to these, mind. Even asking the questions doesn’t fit the "innocent martyr to gun-toting racism" narrative.
I have more mail on this, but most of it points to this being a case for the local authorities, and indicates that the original investigating officers made the right decision. The reopening of this may have been no real favor to Mr. Martin’s family. Our local radio talk show dug into the records and although they continue to demean Mr. Zimmerman, they have broadcast that Mr. Zimmerman made an average of 2 911 calls a year.
Re: Crime Procedurals
"I don’t think I have read more than one crime procedural novel taking place in Florida"
Well maybe they don’t actually count as ‘crime pprocedurals’ in a normal way (as Elmore Leonard’s don’t either) but the Travis McGee stories by John D. MacDonald surely count in my estimation.
As to Special Prosecutors, one particular failure of G.W.Bush in my mind was that he did not, *immediately* upon learning the Patrick Fitzgerald KNEW from Armitage’s confession, that no-one else was quilty of anything, fire Fitzgerald ‘with prejudice’ and pardon Libby.
It is to my mind unconscionable that a ‘special prosecutor’ should question anyone about anything when the object of the prosecutional investigation has been determined.
It was as far as I can tell, GWB’s only failure of nerve. He knew that the MSM would howl, and he left Libby in the wind, when he was legally and morally in the right to stop the investigation at that point, and to punish Fitzgerald for his arrogance and tyranny.
My $.02 worth
Special Prosecutors find something to prosecute or they have nothing to do. So they keep looking. I think it is a very bad thing to do. The Constitution makes Congress the Grand Inquest of the Nation, but it has seldom functioned so. I do not think that was GWB’s only failure of nerve, but it was a major one.
I have a flood of mail on keyboards, and I will have a report on keyboards I can recommend. I have ordered two keyboards to try out; I had standardized on the Microsoft Comfortcurve keyboards until I started thinking about it and realized that although I have several of them including on my writing maches (one running a ThinkPad, for instance) I actually type faster on this Ortek. I hoave thought that before and then let the thought go because there ain’t no more Ortek boards.
Mechanical Keyboard Club!
Once upon a time I was looking into mechanical keyboards. I started here:
Not being a fan of clicky keyboards, I settled on one that I can’t remember. I foolishly deleted my bookmarks on the subject. I recall that I was looking for white backlights to work in the dark, silent keys but that clicky feel. Most of the best switches are by Cherry these days.
A decent one (a Das kb) seems to be here: http://www.daskeyboard.com/model-s-professional-silent/
Another good one (Filco Majestouch): http://www.diatec.co.jp/en/det.php?prod_c=757
Ah! Found my keyboard: http://www.deckkeyboards.com/product_info.php?products_id=95
It’s the Deck Legend – Frost (tactile). And it’s big. “The Deck 105 key Legend measures 18.5" long x 7" deep x 2" high (with feet raised) and weighs 3.5 pounds. Cable length is approximately 6 feet (exposed). Tactile feedback switches (Cherry MX1A-C1NW, clear).”
Yup. This is the one. I still want it, actually. But my 1997 Dell is still holding up so well I can’t justify the purchase.
Ed also adds:
One more thing: the place that specializes in keyboard enthusiasts is http://geekhack.org/
I have an old keyboard. Like your ‘old’ it is very very very old. A MaxiSwitch MaxiTouch Model 2189022xx PN 218902200-21200.
This is a full size, heavy, PROGRAMMABLE keyboard with a separate Insaert/Home/Page section and number section. A full 20" wide by 8"
deep. Solid, heavy, well built.
Iirc I ordered it because you wrote a review about it. Nice medium to heavy key action, No click, but I HATED that about the IBM keyboards.
This is very close to the IBMin feel.
Still in the cupboard as a backup, with a DIN to PS2 adapter rubber banded onto the end of the cable. And I saw the Manual not too long ago.
It explains the programming features. Macros at your fingertips.
If you want it, just say the word and give me an address, and I will drop it off at Fedex, paid from my end, as a ‘Non-returnable Review sample’!! I would consider it my donation to the cause. But only if you expect that it will not just become an aggregation to the midden known as Chaos Manor!
But I have given up on cables, since I need extensions to reach from the computer case beside the credenza, up into the credenza to the keyboard slide. Now using a Logitech DiNovo which is a bluetooth cordless kb + mouse combo. I don’t think I could go back to a corded mouse. But if IBM made a cordless keyboard with a trackpoint, I’d be THERE in a flash (they only make a corded trackpoint’ed version).
This will do until I get some boards in to try.
What would it be like to live on the evil side of an alternate universe portal?
Brewster Rocket knows…
One comment to the letter from "Stephanie S" regarding Pfizer’s prospective profits under Obamacare: history has shown that socialized medicine is not a boon for the pharmaceutical companies, as expensive new remedies are never funded for implementation. Even the European pharmaceuticals today make up their R&D money proving new drugs in the US market, as they are obligated to provide any new remedies at a small markup on cost elsewhere — if they make that much.
Admittedly, Obamacare was sold as a boon to the pharmaceuticals in the short term. That was just one more lie…
The market system has done well for the United States. Adding a safety net when we can afford it is a nice thing to do, but charity works better on that. Political systems can’t really distinguish between the deserving and undeserving poor, and that makes a difference, as you will find if you have to make several trips to an emergency room and are observant.
Aristotle tells us that injustice consists of treating equal things unequally and also of treating unequal things equally.
The main difference between Germany, Japan, and Afghanistan.
The main difference between Germany, Japan, and Afghanistan is that Germany is inhabited by Germans and governed by Germans; Japan is inhabited by Japanese and governed by Japanese; and Afghanistan is inhabited by Pashtuns, Gilzais, Uzbeks, Tajiks, Hazara, Almaks, Turkmen, Balochs, etc., and is governed by no one.
That is certainly an important difference. And Iraq consists of Arab Shiities, Arab Sunni, Arab Baathist atheists, and Kurds who aren’t Arabs at all. Plus some other diversities. If diversity is a good thing for a democracy they have it. Usually diversity promotes empire or did historically. Indeed the Hittites and their Trojan neighbors (who were said to be the founders of Rome had the trick of bringing in and assimilating different peoples and having them become loyal to the state. The Greek democracies never did learn that trick. Rome did…
In response to your Sunday Chaos Manor:-
There is great educational value in having Wiki bookmarked on the screen when reading your postings. For example I now know what a J curve is and the meaning of isentropic.
The traditional way of sinking submarines was to drop a series of bombs each about the size of a 45 gallon barrel at the place where you hoped the submarine would be when the bomb arrived. This was not particularly effective. It was then realised by some OR type that there was a reason that flying birds are not hunted with rifles but with shotguns which fire a projectile with an effective diameter of a couple of feet. Hence hedgehog, a sort of marinised mortar shell, fused to explode on contact. A small explosion in contact with the pressure hull did the business, could be carried in very large numbers, and didn’t deafen your sonar.
In comparing the success of WW2 occupations with the present efforts you left out one of the factors essential for success. In 1943 the United States began training the administrators who were to run the captured territories. Then when they were needed they were fluent in the local language and had a good grasp of local administration. The Iraqi people, not to be confused with the Iraqi armed forces, never felt defeated and some continued the war using new tactics for which the occupiers had no effective counter. It is far worse in Afghanistan. Here each man, family, and village constitutes it’s own armed forces. The only way to bring peace to such a country is to defeat, ie., kill them in detail. What Tacitus once described as making a desert and then calling it peace. Not a sensible way to spend borrowed money even if the money can never be repaid.
When the military were conquering Iraq in the early days of the war, the generals told the Iraqi generals to keep their troops in barracks, keep them orderly, and “you will have an honorable place in the rebuilding of Iraq.” Then came Bremer who sent the Iraqi army home armed and unemployed. The worst proconsul since the Romans led legions into that desert …
Medieval warming WAS global – new science contradicts IPCC
Once again, you are proven right…
Medieval warming WAS global – new science contradicts IPCC More peer-reviewed science contradicting the warming-alarmist "scientific consensus" was announced yesterday, as a new study shows that the well-documented warm period which took place in medieval times was not limited to Europe, or the northern hemisphere: it reached all the way to Antarctica.
Calcium carbonate can crystallize in a hydrated form as ikaite at low temperatures. The hydration water in ikaite grown in laboratory experiments records the δ18O of ambient water, a feature potentially useful for reconstructing δ18O of local seawater. We report the first downcore δ18O record of natural ikaite hydration waters and crystals collected from the Antarctic Peninsula (AP), a region sensitive to climate fluctuations. We are able to establish the zone of ikaite formation within shallow sediments, based on porewater chemical and isotopic data.
Having constrained the depth of ikaite formation and δ18O of ikaite crystals and hydration waters, we are able to infer local changes in fjord δ18O versus time during the late Holocene. This ikaite record qualitatively supports that both the Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age extended to the Antarctic Peninsula.
The greatest mistake you can make is to be continually fearing you will make one. — Elbert Hubbard
I try to pay attention to all the evidence. Novelists need to be plausible, attorneys need to accumulate evidence, but scientists must account for ALL the data… http://www.jerrypournelle.com/science/voodoo.html
This is big news, but not so big when you think about it and I’ll get to that at the end.
In the new research, published online today in Nature Geoscience, geochemists led by Junjun Zhang at the University of Chicago in Illinois, together with a colleague at the University of Bern in Switzerland, looked at titanium isotopes in 24 separate samples of lunar rock and soil. The proportion of 50Ti to 47Ti is another good indicator of whether a sample came from Earth, and, just as with oxygen, the researchers found the moon’s proportion was effectively the same as Earth’s and different from elsewhere in the solar system. Zhang explains that it’s unlikely Earth could have exchanged titanium gas with the magma disk because titanium has a very high boiling point. "The oxygen isotopic composition would be very easily homogenized because oxygen is much more volatile, but we would expect homogenizing titanium to be very difficult."
So, if the giant impact hypothesis doesn’t explain the moon, how did it get there? One possibility is that a glancing blow from a passing body left Earth spinning so rapidly that it threw some of itself off into space like a shot put, forming the disk that coalesced into the moon. This would explain why the moon seems to be made entirely of Earth material. But there are problems with this model, too, such as the difficulty of explaining where all the extra angular momentum went after the moon formed, and the researchers aren’t claiming to have refuted the giant impact hypothesis.
The models I saw showed a planet hitting the earth in a glancing blow and creating the moon. This theory is not completely inconsistent with the old one. Something could have hit the Earth, causing the spin that planet may have kept going. I think we are fine tuning a larger theory here, but this article frames it as if we are going in a whole new direction. I don’t think the author of this article saw any of the mathematical models or computer models on the subject. What do you think?
Joshua Jordan, KSC
I fear I have not thought much about it. I have heard many “exciting new” theories of the origin of the moon over the decades.
Interesting thing the President said overheard
What an interesting thing to say. What positions will change after voter opinion doesn’t matter?
"This is my last election," Obama told Medvedev. "After my election I have more flexibility."
Seriously, wow. This is a hell of a lot more than merely asking for negotiating room, but the media is presenting this as a simple request to tone down rhetoric for a while instead of a signal that the President will make some real foreign policy changes as soon as he has no internal political consequences for doing so.
To refresh our memory on the President’s starting position:
Is that where policy is going after the election?
Please withhold my name, since Tennyson had it right. Theirs not to wonder why…
As a former troop I can wonder in public…
‘Is the Kindle changing the reading habits of science fiction readers?’
The Kindle is changing the reading habits of a very large part of the reading public… I now sell more eBooks than print books.
Live and Let Spy.
As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, the ornithopter guy did, indeed, fake it.
Still nice to dream about, though.
View 718 Monday, March 26, 2012
We are working on the new Sandy Bridge machine. I have a huge pile of components from Thermaltake, including a power supply that Eric says would power a village, and the most spectacular case I have ever seen. It will all be in the column.
There’s also a gamer’s keyboard. It has mechanical keys, and they feel great, but it also has the compact layout that, I guess, killer gamers prefer: that layout is too small for me. I love the key feel, but I want the keys further apart; but then my goal is not to be a gaming challenger. This keyboard is for killers, with its high polling race, and I suppose gamers like keyboards with a more compact layout. I’m impressed with this Ttesports MEKA by Thermaltake, but it won’t be the keyboard that replaced my wonderful old Ortek.
I’ve been making do on most of my systems with Microsoft Comfort Curve keyboards, and I do like them, but the keys don’t feel right compared to my wonderful old Ortek. I sure wish I had bought half a dozen of these old keyboards when they were available, but as time goes on machines are more and more demanding USB keyboards, which of course the Ortek wasn’t.
I have a ton of mail on this subject and I am sure I will get more, but I still haven’t decided what I’m going to do about the keyboard situation.
What I need is a full sized keyboard, not curved – I thought I liked curved but I seem to be able to type faster with straight lines – and clicky. I like having programmable keys. And I want a full sized layout.
Construction of the new machine continues. We’re using the Thermaltake case. It’s costly – but I already wish I had had that available when we built Emily, the Intel Extreme system that this new one will replace. I am fond of Antec cases, and they have been standard at Chaos Manor for years, but the model we chose for Emily turns out to have been an experimental design that just didn’t work. It attempted to do what the Thermaltake has done – make it very easy to maintain and upgrade hardware on a high end system. Full writeup coming, but I would have paid for this Thermaltake case when we were building Emily had I But Known. It is really designed to make life easier for those who have to update and maintain high end systems. So far we have not got the system done so I can’t recommend it yet, but I love the design. The Thermaltake is so fancy in presentation that you at first don’t appreciate the design features which make it easy to get at the components and change them without having to use tools and pull the system out of its installation. And the internal cable routings and such are very nice. More when we finish it but my first impressions are highly favorable, and while the cost is high, anyone who has to maintain high end systems will realize that it’s worth money to save time and frustration – or so I have learned trying to keep Emily up to snuff.
Again more later when we have got the new system running, but as Eric just noted, it’s a bit like building a sports car and finding out that they’ve really worked on making the maintenance easy.
We have had a brushup caused by a bad DVD blank disk (a generic – don’t use them!) rendering Emily unusable then requiring a restart from power down, and of course the horrible case – again you can’t buy one of that design, it was a temporary and it seemed pretty good when we installed it, but it uses a goofy hinge front system that breaks easily – anyway the horrid case cost an hour of mucking about getting Emily running again so we could burn a Windows 8 disk. Finally all is well.
The Florida Zimmerman/Martin case continues to take up time and energy, but it is clear enough to me that there are unresolved – perhaps unresolvable – ambiguities, and we aren’t going to settle it on general principles. We have a conflict of rights situation, and the details matter. Martin had every right to walk through the neighborhood. Zimmerman acted a bit like a snoop but apparently didn’t threaten Martin; if there was any interaction it’s not reported. And then everything went to hell.
If ever there was a matter for local authorities to sort out, this is it; and there is no reason for all this national attention. But this is an election year and we have a President desperate for an incident to raise his popularity above the deadly 43% mark. Perhaps this can be made into something. And here we go.
In the meantime there have been dozens of homicides in the US. And there will be more.
Bill Gates seems impressed with the rising CO2 enough that he prefers nuclear power to natural gas. So do I. I agree that we don’t want to run an open ended experiment on how much CO2 we can put into the atmosphere. On the other hand, India’s cows can produce enough CO2 to keep the atmospheric amount rising. If we seriously have to eliminate CO2 additions to below what the ecological system can absorb we are talking about really drastic measures.
More likely we come up with some means of increasing the ecological reduction of CO2 amounts. The method that used to be discussed was adding iron to the sea to cause plankton blooms. A couple of experiments give less promising results than enthusiasts had expected. After that the experiments seem to have stopped. I have lost track of why. I’ll see if I can find out. Clearly, if we are going to limit the CO2 in the atmosphere, we have to find ways to take it out, or change the way we live. Drastically. And probably limit population. That is a formula for war without end.
View 718 Sunday, March 25, 2012
I spent most of the day doing chores, then out to the annual Paperback fair where Niven and I signed books until our hands were tired. After which came what has become an annual dinner with Niven and me and Tim Powers and John DeChancie and whomever else we find as congenial company. Which got me home to more errands.
As I start to get back up to speed – I’ll be resuming the Chaos Manor Reviews columns shortly – I find that much of Chaos Manor is, if not obsolete, way behind the times. One thing that needs replacing are my main keyboards. Most of my keyboards, such as the Ortek MCK142 Programmable, are getting really old. The Ortek still works, and I love it –it’s got a clicky feel, and it just works except that I have used it for so long that the legends are gone from the keys – but it’s slowly wearing out. It’s time to replace it, but when I went looking I found it had been discontinued years ago.
Then I went looking for keyboard reviews, and I kept finding references to my own. Apparently nobody is writing the kind of informed opinion reviews I used to write, so it’s time for me to start doing them again. One place to start it keyboards. I Googled Keyboard Reviews and got a lot of references but they all turned out to be pretty tame, no real descriptions, and not much about the touch and feel, meaning that it’s time for me to go scouting again. I want a keyboard that will take a lot of pounding, and has a feel to it so that when you hit a key you know you have done it. It feels like it worked. I suppose that’s in part due to old habits – in the old days, computers might be so slow that I would be looking at the screen but what came up on it would be several letters or even a couple of words behind what I was typing. In these days of lots of memory and multiple processors that doesn’t happen much anymore, but I still like to have a definite feel to my keyboards.
I’ve been happy enough with Microsoft Keyboards for a while, but for my communications machine I like to have a programmable keyboard so I can set it up to send some standard comments and messages. Of course I could do that with macros (well, depending on what program I am using, and the latest Word is nowhere near as macro friendly as the old versions I grew up with), but I rather like the Ortek with its rows of PF(Programmable Function keys above the regular function keys. But Ortek doesn’t make them any longer, and when I went looking for keyboard reviews I didn’t find any that I was much happy with. Next move, I suppose, is to head out to Fry’s and see what they have in stock, since I missed CES this year.
And, we have a Beta copy of Windows 8 operating, and it looks interesting. It seems to be set up for people who use touchpads rather than mice, and will understand gestures, but you don’t gesture with a mouse. That’s all intriguing. So I went looking for descriptions and reviews of mushpad keyboards, and found not very much.
I’d have thought someone would have rushed in to fill the hole I left when I got later and later with my reviews and columns, but if so I haven’t found him. Or her. Or it. And I’m getting my energy back finally, so…
Anyway, we’ll be building some new stuff and updating software here at Chaos Manor and sort of generally catching up; I find that a lot has happened since I stopped paying so much attention to things. All that will be in the column which I’ll resume Real Soon Now if my days don’t continue to be eaten by locusts. And of course there’s my taxes, and I have to prepare for the big Air Force Space Command seminar/conference I’m supposed to be part of in a week. And it’s raining in Los Angeles.
I sure can type faster on this Ortek than on most other keyboards including the Microsoft comfort curve boards. I like the Microsoft, but I wish they had a clickier feel; I just don’t type as fast on them as I do on this wonderful old Ortek. So now I have to go find something to replace it. Preferably a line of keyboards with the right clicky feel so I can put them on all the machines I’ll be using. Since the keyboards I have are using the old keyboard port connectors rather than USB you can see they’re old, and anyway this will all be in the upcoming column.
Spending the day signing books doesn’t get you very well informed, but I did have to drive out there and back, and the radio was buzzing with stories about the Florida shooting. I wondered about it when it happened: when the story first broke it was clear we didn’t know enough to have any right to a conclusion. I still don’t think we do. It’s pretty clear that Zimmerman was chasing the seventeen year old young man, and the youngster tried to get away from him. The police told Zimmerman that “we don’t need you to pursue him” but I have not heard any stronger command from the 911 operator than that. Apparently – it seems fairly probable – the pursuit continued until at some point the young man ceased trying to get away – whatever that means – and a confrontation took place. At which point the stories go out in all directions. There was some kind of fight, someone cried for help, and Zimmerman fired at least one shot. And the police, after investigation, did not charge Zimmerman.
Now there will be a special prosecutor, which is ominous – that is, a special prosecutor implies there is something to prosecute, and the Iron Law of Bureaucracy can easily creep into the situation. If there is no crime there is nothing to prosecute and the special prosecutor no longer has a mission. We have seen at the Federal level that once there’s a special prosecutor the odds go way up that things will continue until someone pleads guilty to something. I don’t know how such things work in Florida – I don’t think I have read more than one crime procedural novel taking place in Florida – and it may be that special prosecutors are not so special there, but in most places they are easier to set up than to call off.
We’ll see. It’s not really my business. It’s not really the business of the President of the United States, either. I doubt he knows much more for certain than I do, and I sure don’t feel I have any right to an opinion on the subject. It seems certain that Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin. It’s nearly certain that Zimmerman was far more zealous than we expect – or more us want – a neighborhood watch captain to be. ; and everything else gets cloudy. I don’t really expect the media scrutiny to make it much clearer. The old fashioned reporter seems to have vanished, and those who took over don’t seem to have the same motives that the Fourth Estate.
In old days men had the rack. Now they have the Press. That is an improvement certainly. But still it is very bad, and wrong, and demoralizing. Somebody — was it Burke? — called journalism the fourth estate. That was true at the time no doubt. But at the present moment it is the only estate. It has eaten up the other three. The Lords Temporal say nothing, the Lords Spiritual have nothing to say, and the House of Commons has nothing to say and says it. We are dominated by Journalism. – Oscar Wilde
Those interested in the climate debate should find http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/03/23/warm_period_little_ice_age_global/print.html fascinating.
A proper temperature record for Antarctica is particularly interesting, as it illuminates one of the main debates in global-warming/climate-change: namely, were the so-called Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age merely regional, or were they global events? The medieval warmup experienced by northern Europeans from say 900AD to 1250AD seems to have been at least as hot as anything seen in the industrial era. If it was worldwide in extent that would strongly suggest that global warming may just be something that happens from time to time, not something caused by miniscule concentrations of CO2 (the atmosphere is 0.04 per cent CO2 right now; this figure might climb to 0.07 per cent in the medium term).
The oft-mentioned "scientific consensus", based in large part on the work of famous climate-alarmist scientists Michael Mann and Phil Jones and reflected in the statements  of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), says that isn’t true. The IPCC consensus is that the medieval warming – and the "Little Ice Age" which followed it – only happened in Europe and maybe some other northern areas. They were local events only, and globally the world was cooler than it is now. The temperature increase seen in the latter half of the 20th century is a new thing caused by humanity’s carbon emissions.
Lu and his colleagues’ new work, however, indicates that in fact the medieval warm period and little ice age were both felt right down to Antarctica.
We know that it was warmer in Greenland, France, Scotland, Scandinavia, and China. Well, by “know” I mean that it is very easily inferred from records like growing seasons, crop yields, dates of first frost and of ice breakup in streams, and the like. This extends the inferential data to the Southern Hemisphere. It is unlikely that the Medieval Warm was caused by increases in CO2 levels, and even if it were, that the CO2 came from human activities…
The European Union According to Hayek by Alberto Mingardi is well worth your attention. It is the conceit of the voodoo sciences that we understand the world in some scientific way, and that applies to economics and economic systems. Hayek and the Austrians argue that we don’t. The regulators are certain they do. The results are usually quite horrid.
Friedrich August Hayek, who passed away 20 years ago this week, was one of the foremost social scientists of the last century. A Nobel laureate in economics, Hayek is often associated with his critique of socialist systems. There is, in society, a "knowledge problem": Economic life requires the coordination of individual planning. The relevant knowledge for economic planning is dispersed rather than concentrated in society. If this makes coordination challenging enough in a market system, it also makes coordination a virtual impossibility under central planning: The planner can never secure and process all the necessary information to provide detailed guidance to any given development in society.
Even though this argument was originally deployed against hard-core socialism, it works pretty well against the soft-core version widely adopted by European democracies. Centralized welfare systems are necessarily run by a bureaucratic leadership. The supposed technical superiority of such an organization is simply not enough to master the nuances of a complex society.
And it’s late. Good night.
Mail 717 Saturday, March 24, 2012
· China Coup
· Bell Labs
· Red Tails
· Operations Research
· Jobs, Gates, and dreams
· Nation Building
SUBJ: Chinese economic stability
It has been several days since you mentioned rumors of a Chinese coup, and it seems fairly clear that they were unfounded. However, your comment that "China’s economic boom is said to be faltering, but that’s a slowing of growth, not an actual collapse." is true, but not necessarily relevant. A polysci course I took some time ago invoked the Davies’ J-Curve to explain why revolutions often succeed when things don’t seem to be all that bad. It’s all about expectations and perceptions. As a related condition in the US, I suspect that Obama’s chances of reelection will depend on his ability to get folks to evaluate their economic condition in terms of last year ("what have you done for me lately?"), rather than before he took office.
That’s the classic theory on revolution, and Marx dealt with it a bit; but it depends on the structure of the society that is undergoing the revolution. China hasn’t really followed that pattern, and sometimes it’s difficult to distinguish between a revolution and a coup, or either from a revolt of janissaries. Some African ‘revolutions’ were engineered, and certainly one failed attempt at a coup by foreign invaders led by rather famous mercenaries would have been a ‘revolution’ to the world had it succeeded.
China’s history is more one of changes in dynasty, and contests between war lords. Sun Yat Sen led a real revolution in 1911 that established the Republic of China in name, but in fact the country was torn apart into semi-independent provinces under war lords. The Communists were active in forming a national party, as was Sun Yat Sen with his socialist nationalism. The Japanese invasion broke things apart even more and for a while there was a genuine three-way war between the Japanese invaders, Chiang Kai-shek and his Kuomintang (usually referred to as Nationalists). After World War II there was a vicious civil war, extraordinary inflation, and a collapse of central government that ended when Chiang took his army to Formosa (which had been liberated from the Japanese mostly by the US Navy).
That’s not much of a history: the point is that China never had a revolution in the usual Western sense of the word. Both the Chinese Communist Party and the Kuomintang claimed to be the people’s party with revolutionary goals, and both organized armies. Both professed reforms, and both were corrupt. Both were in essence dictatorships under their party leader, and both had support from foreign powers (US and USSR).
Historically China has often solved insurgencies by the “two province” system – take all the food from one province and distribute it to the people of the other. One starves and can’t rebel, and the other is dependent and grateful. There are also divisions along racial lines. The current CCP rules through an extraordinary party organization system; the only effective opposition to the party would be the People’s Liberation Army, which is a political and economic power as well as an army.
As to the US economy and elections, elections matter less and less as the regulatory authority of the central government expands. I remember when the only Federal official who mattered in Shelby County, Tennessee, was the Agriculture Department County Agent, and even after Pearl Harbor the federal government was far away and didn’t much interfere with daily life.
_The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation_
- – -
Subj: Bell Labs, scale and innovation
>>[B]y the 1980s, Silicon Valley, math-intensive finance and similar
>>ecosystems were exploding. Talented, ambitious young people could go
>>to these places, and make both a huge individual impact and a ton of
>>money. The Labs still had a lot of smart people, but you can imagine
>>the selection-bias problems in recruiting and retention once these
>>alternatives were available.<<
Perhaps Pournelle’s Law of Bureaucracy applied to Bell Labs, too?
Perhaps we need to think in terms of stimulating the creation of new industrial labs — and the creative destruction of old, degenerated ones
– rather than of trying to preserve old industrial labs as National Treasures?
Bell Labs was an extraordinary institution. There have been many attempts to copy it, but the general consensus is that they have not been very successful. Bell was owned by a private company which wasn’t really private – as a regulated public utility it had its own form of bureaucracy – but Bell management understood that the Lab was different, and its management was quite different from that of The Phone Company.
I would not quarrel with the notion that we need some new creations and creative destruction.
It is possible to have a Strategy of Technology. US Air Force Systems Command was a rather successful attempt to build an institution for creation of technology on demand. It’s gone too.
Why can’t the ride the jump seats (webbed seats) or crammed among the cargo like I (and all my Marines) had to? (Besides can you think of a better campaign photo op?)
Cheap energy = prosperity!
Drill here, DRILL NOW!
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
I suspect that is not sufficiently dignified for the Command in Chief, or even the Deputy Assistant Associate Secretary of Defense…
Surprise, surprise, surprise!
(Note that the world government must be ‘effective’; ‘totalitarian’
carries SUCH negative vibes.)
But we already knew that 20 years ago when Climate Science, a formerly unknown scientific backwater, burst on the scene with the announcement that CAGW was upon us, the science was settled, that ONLY an omnipotent world government (Marxist of course) could snatch us back from the jaws of disaster, and only if action was taken IMMEDIATELY.
Well, they were right about one thing; climate science was indeed settled 20 years ago. Not surprising when the entire ‘science’ is based on an axiom: ‘CO2 introduced into the atmosphere as a byproduct of humans using combustion as their primary energy source is causing the ‘Temperature of the Earth’ to rise drastically and at in increasing rate. The effects of that temperature rise are uniformly negative and can ONLY be ameliorated by the establishment of a world government with authority over every aspect of energy production and consumption.’
Other sciences, based on a never-ending loop of data collection and theorizing as to the explanation for the observed data rather than a single immutable axiom, are never settled, of course. But then other sciences are actually scientific, unlike ‘climate science’ which is and always has been a political movement which uses the trappings of science and the threat of imminent catastrophe as its justification.
The Tuskegee Airmen gave good, faithful, and valorous service, and deserve to be remembered. But–
As a child in the early Fifties I listened to my father and his contemporaries, all of them Southerners who had "been in the War", and I can say without fear or favor: The Red Tails deserve honor, but if there had been no Red Ball Express — taken as an eponym of the support troops, construction, logistics, and the like, staffed by blacks, which were many — there would have been no Civil Rights movement. The matter-of-fact valor, persistence, and dedication of those units was seen by people who would be the leaders of the next generation, and that was among the first chinks in the dam of irrational prejudice. These were people who sprinkled their conversation with the n-word and worse as a matter of unthinking routine. I often heard things like "I don’t think we could’ve won without the n–rs", and it was such sentiments that allowed people like Dr. King to exist and present their ideas without being simply slapped down.
The romance and importance of aviation in WWII has grown enormously in retrospect, to a level not present among the actual fighters. LeMay and many others engaged in a decades-long PR campaign designed to promote Air Power to a position of glamor and admiration, and largely succeeded, but the citizen-warriors who prosecuted the effort and won thought of the Air Corps as a sort of sideshow, useful in some cases but paling in importance compared to the grunts and sailors who ground out victory one bullet (and one blob of mud) at a time. That includes the pilots, air crew, and support people who prosecuted the war in the air, many, if not most, of whom considered themselves privileged characters lucky to be mostly behind the lines, enjoying many of the comforts of home, and basking in the admiration of the noncombatants they mixed with at the expense of the people who deserved it. Dad and the others knew of the Tuskegee Airmen and praised them as they were due, but thought the truck-driving, shovel-wielding black men who brought, and built, the things needed by the troops were more important.
There is a wonderful movie about the Red Ball Express, by that name actually. It used to be shown to every incoming class at West Point along with They Died with Their Boots On… I say a wonderful movie although I only saw it that once.
The idea of what the mission actually is was questioned in other areas during the war. The Brits put AA guns on some merchants running solo in the Med. After a few months, the people in charge of the AA guns wanted them removed, because the AA gunners on the merchants weren’t shooting down very many enemy aircraft, and in their view, their effort was being wasted. Then, the people in charge of shipping went- WHOA! The ships with the AA mounted weren’t being sunk- enemy aircraft swerve off when the flak starts up, and the bombs either miss or aren’t released. The cargo was getting through.
The AA guns stayed, and were placed on more ships as time went by and they became available.
The key to effective operations research is to figure out what the real criterion is. OR was invented, sort of, by Brit boffins looking at the Battle of the North Atlantic. It’s a classic story: the Royal Navy discovered that hasty attacks on submarines immediately after one was spotted didn’t get many submarines, so they devised new tactics to make attacks with precision and bring other escort craft to the location. The boffins analyzed the data and discovered that this was indeed true, but those tactics lost more ships than the hasty attacks – what was important was to break up the wolf pack and send the subs diving so the convoy could get past. Hasty attacks got ships through – and that was the real goal of the convoy.
Figuring out the true mission so that you don’t optimize on the wrong criterion is probably the most important job of an operations research team; and it’s astonishing how many operations commanders don’t know what the true strategic mission is.
He did it! A man flew with his arms and custom-built wings:
It will be a sport. Olympics, anyone?
- – -
Subject: fake? Re: I never thought I’d live to see the day of human powered flight
On Thu, Mar 22, 2012 at 14:34, Paul D. Walker wrote:
Just given the physics and biology I would say that it’s more than questionable: I’ll bet a dollar that it’s true but only if I’m given extreme odds. Say a million to one.
‘Microsoft never seemed to recover from the shock of achieving their original 1975 goal.’
I said that some years ago. But Microsoft has a lot of bright people, and its management may be able to give them more control while they try to find a new dream. Gates and Jobs had both genius and vision but in quite different ways. Jobs had to spend some years in the wilderness letting the technology catch up with his new visions; Gates stayed on his, and took a while recognizing the impact of the high speed internet even though he had written about it; but he always did have faith that the technology would bail him out if he went a bridge too far. Jobs went two bridges too far with the original Mac and it took a while before the technology let him build the machine he had envisioned.
Combating climate change
Dr. William Briggs (Statistician to the Stars: http://wmbriggs.com/) most recent blog entry is entitled ‘Bioengineering Humans To Combat Climate Change’. In it, he provides some excerpts from a ‘forthcoming peer reviewed “Human Engineering and Climate Change” in the journal ‘Ethics, Policy and the Environment’.
Your readers may be interested in his excerpts and his commentary thereon. Reading the actual journal requires a purchase. I, for one, don’t want to encourage public insanity, so I declined.
When reading Dr. Briggs’ piece, keep in mind that people who think like the authors of ‘Human Engineering and Climate Change’ are currently setting the policies, energy and otherwise, of the United States and much of the remainder of the formerly civilized world.
Humans have been reengineered to adapt to climate changes several times in our evolutionary history either through genuine climate change or because of migration, but we have let nature and nature’s God do that. I once had a job in a department of human engineering, and I did human engineering work, but we thought that mean engineering the device to be easier to use and more effective for humans.
We know pretty well how to survive warmer. We learned how to live at the edge of glaciers a long time ago.
Energy and global warming
I think I sent something along this line previously, but will do so again. The heat engine, the earth and atmosphere, converts thermal energy, solar flux, into mechanical energy. This moves the atmosphere and hydrosphere. I don’t have the desire to figure out the balance, but it is not an isentropic process and so there is loss of solar energy to movement of stuff; like air and water. Now someone could probably calculate how much energy it would take to move the Gulf Stream faster by say a mile per hour on the average. And it would be difficult to measure accurately. But it would be worth while to think about the claims that climatic warming will produce more and more severe weather patterns. So if that is true, then we want to know if there is a conversion increase and what balances it all out. I have not looked closely at this topic but have not found anything readily available to equate thermal/ mechanical conversion: solar flux vs ocean flux & atmospheric flux. Just pondering a bit.
The problem is that when you try to model these things you drown in complications, so you need to make a bunch of simplifying assumptions. In operations research we learned that the assumptions often govern the outcome, so we tried to build models in which the outcome was fairly insensitive to the assumptions. The climate modelers haven’t been able to do that. It’s still just too complicated; we don’t even have good agreements on measurement operations.
Hello Dr Pournelle, here are some of the reasons Afghanistan is different than Germany and Japan.
Both are homogeneous. Slice up Germany and Japan and you’ll find ethnically, culturally and even theologically homogenous populations.
The percentages who don’t fit the mainstream are small enough to be trivial. Iraq was three major groups, if you pick the three biggest groups in Afghanistan you can’t get to majority status. This means that since you have to do things different to deal with local conditions based on culture and other such factors, you essentially have to crack a new code for every little hamlet in Afghanistan.
Germany and Japan were logistically straightforward. While combat units move about relatively easily, the supplies you need for a population and an army are another matter. The sea gets you close to anywhere in Japan and the roads, rails and rivers allow you to move about in Germany without too much trouble. That sort of transportation network isn’t there in Afghanistan.
Germany and Japan were full of cosmopolitan, educated, motivated people who can and did take responsibility and control of local leadership and business. Afghanistan is dreadfully short of cosmopolitan, educated, motivated and not overwhelmingly corrupt people who can be trusted with important things like power over their neighbors, water or money.
Germany and Japan are culturally honest and hardworking. Afghanistan is culturally corrupt and lazy. I actually heard an uncorroborated story about a border policeman fired because he wasn’t taking in enough money in bribes, and passing a sufficient percentage along to his superiors.
There are others, but those are all huge problems for Afghanistan.
The only thing that has ever united the people who live in the geographical area called Afghanistan is the presence of armed foreigners. That has been true since Alexander the Great. The Khan in Kabul never united the country for any length of time, and the President has even less power. The writ of Kabul does not run everywhere. Why we fight to subdue the Afghan people to the Mayor Kabul is not clear to me.
nation building; what works, what doesn’t
I had a thought that not every nation building effort of the U.S. has been an unmitigated disaster, and I wondered what did we do different in Germany and Japan? The answer was not a big surprise. In Japan, Gen. MacArthur did 1) defeat the enemy utterly and completely. 2) Break up the existing Oligarchies and (I hate to say it) redistribute the wealth. 3) Rule as absolute dictator for several years while building a new, western style government. 4) Dictate a new, western style, Constitution. Simple. As speaker Gingrich is fond of saying; "Simple doesn’t mean easy".
By contrast, in Iraq, the U.S. military ruled for about 30 days. Then the state department took over, putting the worst proconsul in the history of the world (Paul Bremer) in charge. I don’t know what criteria he used in employing and installing a new civilian government, but he did it quite quickly, and left everything else up to them. This resulted in the same power structures, same ownership of wealth, etc. And of course the new bosses wrote a constitution to benefit themselves and no one else. Even your youngest readers (any idea what that age might be?) can see how well that has worked.
It strikes me as reasonable to assume that Japanese peasants started from the same point of ignorance of republican style government as Iraqi peasants. The results are so dramatically different because the methods were dramatically different, or so I see it.
Martin Lee Rose
So far as I know we never had any clear goals in either Afghanistan or Iraq. I opposed going into Iraq at all, and advocated driving out the Taliban and getting out quickly in Afghanistan, leaving behind the impression that it would be a good thing not to annoy the United States – while we invested the money we weren’t spending on wars in building energy independence. I was told the Iraq war would only cost $300 Billion, but I never got a very detailed account of how that number was arrived at. For what we have spent in the years since 2002 we could have energy independence and a new Fleet.
Afghanistan makes nothing we want. Iraq has oil but we don’t get any. As an old operations research man I was trained to identify the goals and criteria. I am not sure that was done for either of those operations. We knew what we wanted from our occupations in Germany and Japan.
I don’t think you need to suppose that government subsidies for birth control will inevitably follow the HHS mandate. I think there’s another way to demolish the Fluke argument:
First of all, mandates have ALWAYS increased health insurance costs. The size of the uptick varies, of course, but there has never been a mandate that has NOT increased monthly premiums. And who pays those higher premiums, pray tell? Employers. People who buy their own health insurance plans (like yours truly). In short, a lot of people who are NOT Ms. Fluke. So yes — our thirty-year-old Georgetown coed IS asking other people to pay for her birth control.
Further, once ALL contraception is declared "free," do you think people will continue to buy the generics? Of course not. They’re going to go after the pricier brands. Big Pharma will certainly make a killing — especially after those companies start jacking up their prices in response to the utter lack of cost-reducing incentives. And what’s going to happen once the insurance industry is hit with larger bills for their government-mandated birth control coverage? Insurance companies will charge higher premiums. So once again, employers and individual health care consumers will end up footing the bill.
Personally, I don’t think it’s just to ask me to pay more for my health insurance so the CEO of Pfizer can swim in a pile of money. Do you?