Mail 746 Sunday, October 14, 2012
Joe Kittinger’s record held for 51 years . . .
I was minorly involved in Manhigh back in the early days. Major Dave Simons taught me the habit of installing seat belts and insisting that everyone used them when I visited one of the balloon launches – I was then in human factors at Boeing and we had contracts on space survival equipment. We didn’t know much about anything in those days.
Subj: Colonel Kittinger’s Heir?
China and the west.
Hope your nose is on the mend. Here is a short but interesting article on China and the west from the BBC news site:
Very basic of course. Imagine Greek times when there were Greeks, almost-Greeks and those who might become Greeks in a vague concept of the homonoia. America had some of that concept in its formation before we became enthralled by diversity. Early concepts of homonoia had elements of race in them, as did early concepts of Americanism. Over time Americans came to accept various nationalities and linguistic groups as candidates for the melting pot. It took time to include Asians and Africans in that mix, but it was happening. As Bill Buckley used to say, you could study to become an American. It took work but you could do it, and we were opening that to everyone. That, of course was back before we became enthralled to diversity.
China has always had its concept of civilization vs. barbarians. China was often conquered by barbarians, but managed to survive and civilize her conquerors. Of course one can question whether their current treatment of Tibetans and Uighers fits any model of civilization, but that is for another discussion.
Space Out: NASA Faces More Budget Cuts in 2013 | Observations, Scientific American Blog Network
Not sure if either is really saying anything but at least space is being discussed.
The question, of course, is what role government ought to play in space development.
I covered much of that in The Strategy of Technology and various other papers and books I have done since. Roughly it is that government ought to put out prizes for technological developments, and fund X-projects, but it should not try to control technological developments through arsenals and centers.
The old NACA helped the development of the aviation industry. NASA strangled the space industry. Given what was spent on space development after Apollo we ought to be halfway to Alpha Centaiuri by now; instead NASA drained off valuable projects to pay its standing army.
We may be on a better path now. The key is not the size of the NASA budget but its structure. Some parts of NASA do some things very well indeed. And the Shuttle Main Engine was a marvel in its time, efficient and reusable if run at below 95% of it’s maximum thrust, which it should have been. NASA came up with some wonders. It also came up with turkeys, such as segmented solid rocket boosters. But that is a matter for another essay.
Space-X is a real step toward commercial space development. And the Commercial Space Act was well drafted and has helped a lot.
We’ll get there…
Why big companies can’t innovate
I thought you might find this <http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2012/09/why_big_companies_cant_innovate.html> interesting. I think it applies to all large organizations; for instance, NASA.
Live long and prosper
h lynn keith
Well, sometimes they can, but in general there are optimum sizes. I have long been a big fan of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, and I think it ought to be more vigorously applied. There are banks that are too big to fail and thus too large to allow to exist. It is true of other industries. Buying up one’s competition is not necessarily something we ought to allow when they get above 10% of the market share. Huge trusts do not act in the public interest. Competition ought to be encouraged.
David McCord Wright is no longer as highly regarded as he once was in the field of economics, but in my judgment his analysis of what was wrong with Marx has never been bettered. Marx noted the tendency of capitalism to concentrate more and more power in fewer and fewer hands. Wright pointed out that in the United States we had – for a long time – the trust busters, the anti-trust act to insure that there were competitors in vital industries, and that no one firm controlled too much of the market share. I see very little work on this in modern economics and I think that is regrettable.
AMD Laying Off Up To 30 Percent Of Workforce: Reports
AMD Laying Off Up To 30 Percent Of Workforce: Reports <http://app.info.ubmchannel.com/e/er?s=1922782676&lid=4896&elq=8ff61fb4afca4a7b9d785e94c3e5c6c3>
AMD next week is expected to announce the layoffs of 20 percent to 30 percent of its staff in the wake of a disappointing preliminary third quarter fiscal report.
And the beat goes on
“Our thinking was: how do we make use of the essential essence of Einstein’s theory for velocities above c?”
Now that is truly interesting. So if we ever have the fact we already have an approach to the theory…
Nice people, these Taliban
And they have recently said their only regret is that they didn’t kill her, a mistake they will remedy in due time. This is war on civilization. But we don’t have a concept of homonoia.
Top Brain surgeon atheist changes mind
The Emerging Doctrine of the United States | Stratfor
An emerging doctrine of the United States – “the United States does not take primary responsibility for events, but which allows regional crises to play out until a new regional balance is reached:”
You have been arguing for this for decades. I guess the guys in suits finally figured out that it is a good idea.
The piece is from Stratfor. It’s a good read.
The United States should not become involved in the territorial disputes of Europe. On the other hand, we sent the Marines to deal with the Barbary Pirates… We do have interests.
‘As we discussed, there will be consequences for refusal to wear an ID card as we begin to move forward with full implementation.’
The Music Industry
The way to make money from popular music, surprisingly, is not to own shares in a record company. Record companies are so profligate and inefficient that in spite of very low input costs and very high product prices they show little or no overall profit.
The actual artists who write and play popular music have found an answer to the record companies historical monopoly. The equipment needed to record, mix, and then press a recording, used to cost as much as a decent sized house. Now, with the rapid improvement in electronics the equipment to do the same job costs about as much as a second hand car, and mum permitting, will fit in the musician’s bedroom. This is half the battle. The record companies still have an incestuous relationship with broadcasters which until recently preserved their monopoly control of exposure. No longer, thanks to YouTube and Facebook. Hurrah. The previously scorned artists now freely post their work for all to download and enjoy. Albeit in necessarily degraded form due to bandwidth limits. Fans who want a full fidelity version email the artist and get a DVD at half the traditional price. The fans are also told of live performances where the artist can hire a venue in a competitive market and keep the profit. Publicity, the other service offered by the record companies has also been bypassed because of the ease with which fans can post on the band’s FaceBook page. I predict that the traditional monopolistic record companies will soon die and that few will attend the funeral.
There have been similar developments in book publishing although it is regrettable that the author faces many more difficulties than the musician.
The world changes. But as I said when I built my first Ezekial way back in CP/M days, small computers are potentially great equalizers…
I rarely – though sometimes – recommend books to my friends. So it must be unbridled hubris to recommend a book to a successful author. Nevertheless, I will rise (stoop?) to the occasion. The Sovereign Individual, written in 1997 by James Dale Davidson and William Rees-Mogg, has much to say about the impact and likely effects of the Information Age on the state, economies, the ‘returns to violence’ – by which they mean the payoff of employing violence – and much else. Given that you and Niven have written considerably about a future that bears more resemblance to a past than it does to our present, what Davidson and Rees-Mogg have to say may provide you with a wealth of ideas for additional books, though of a very different kind of future.
Or not. Oath of Fealty is not far from what the authors predict.
Oath of Fealty was the second novel Niven and I planned. Paer way through it Larry realized that between us we could do Inferno and he had wanted to do a book guided by Dante since he encountered it in school. OATH did in fact become a best seller, and part of it remain prophetic. If we wrote it today it would be very different, of course, but I do not think it’s main theme is impossible. I find Oath surprisingly readable even now.
“Don’t Shoot!—I’m Che!” (A Glorious Anniversary)
""When you saw the beaming look on Che’s face as his victims were tied to the stake and blasted apart by the firing squad," said a former Cuban political prisoner to this writer, "you saw there was something seriously, seriously wrong with Che Guevara." "
He executed thousands without trial, and yet is still a chic image to wear on shirts to prove you are hip and with it. If we had learning in our halls of learning, this would be laughed off of the campus.
Approaching the Eye (sort of)
Environmentalist Air Pollution
Hi Dr. Pournelle,
I’m glad to hear that the MOHS procedures are going to take care of your latest brush with cancer. I doesn’t surprise me that you felt more scared this time. I think that’s only natural. I’ve never been diagnosed with cancer, but I’ve lost dear friends and family to it and the thought that I could get it scares the bejeebers out of me. I’m very glad that your little corner of sense and rationality is going to be with us for a while yet.
I found what I consider a very nice article over at the "Watt’s Up With That" website that looks at 6 tenets (if you will) of the catastrophic anthropogenic global warming cause and (I think) debunks them all. This is a guest post from Dr. Ira Glickstein (bio at the end of his post). The lede:
What’s the difference between a whimsical fable and an environmental fallacy?
* On the outside, fables are light-hearted fibs. But oh so true on the inside.
* Environmental fallacies are just the opposite, plausible on the outside but hiding ugly realities on the inside.
Environmentalists have promoted the theory that human civilization is the main cause of global warming. They argue that Governments worldwide must take immediate drastic action to prevent a catastrophe. The chain of proof in their human-caused climate catastrophe theory is broken in at least six places. (All formatting above is from the post.)
Here’s the link: Environmentalist Air Pollution <http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/10/11/environmentalist-air-pollution/>
The evidence piles up that we don’t know enough to have a good theory of climate. We do know that in historical times the Earth has been both colder and warmer than it is now. We don’t even know which way it is going: it warmed from the Little Ice Age until sometime in the Twentieth Century, but the trend isn’
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