Solar Power Satellites, Greenhouses, Fossil Fuels


Chaos Manor Mail, Sunday, March 15, 2015


A Comment on Bob Smith’s Letter
[I have worked in a greenhouse. So here is my problem: Posit a greenhouse constructed of clear glass plates, one inch in thickness. The result will be a warming of some amount within the greenhouse, call it T above the outside temperature. If we then add an additional 12 inches of glass to the structure, will the inside temperature become 12T?¨Having only had a year of high school chemistry, it strikes me that the answer is No. ] This is not chemistry
He is correct. But comparing an apple to an orange, when his posit was about plums. Take his 1 inch of glass and separate it into 2 panes. One third glass, one third air, and one third glass. His green house is a lot warmer. It’s not the amount of glass, but how you use it.
His apple is radiant energy transmitted, and his orange is energy conducted. Neither really apply to his point. Which needs to be energy absorbed. Was his greenhouse floor painted white or black? Cement or water?
We know CO2 absorbs energy. As do methane, hydrogen and a number of other gasses. It’s the effect of this added energy that is in question.
[As I recall, the infra-red radiation is trapped by the glass only within a fairly narrow band-width. Once it breaches those limits, then it passes through the glass and the warming ceases to rise. Have I missed something?¨]
Yes. You have missed something. You limited your model to transmission of infra red radiation, but did not measure it. You measured accumulated thermal energy or heat. And did not account for the variables that affect it.
A climatologist may account for more variables than a non climatologist. They probably know more than we do. And no serious scientist says comprehensive and climate model in the same sentence.
When I have a stomach ache I go to a Doctor. A toothache, a Dentist. A problem with non Newtonian motion, a Physicist. I do not go to a physicist for atmospheric science.
And certainly not a lawyer or politician. If you here one saying “I’m not a scientist …” stop listening. He just said he needs to ask more questions. Not answer them.



Space-based Solar Power Generation

From Phys Org: “Japanese scientists have succeeded in transmitting energy wirelessly, in a key step that could one day make solar power generation in space a possibility …”
Read more at:
And: “Mitsubishi Heavy Industries said it used microwave technology to send 10 kilowatts of power—enough to run a set of conventional kitchen appliances—through the air to a receiver 500 metres (1,640 feet) away.”
Read more at:

: Kevin Naples

I am glad they can confirm the experiments we did at Goldstone many years ago.

A step toward wireless power transmission

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries seems to be approaching something you have been writing about for years:
Very exciting breakthrough if true.
Best wishes to you,
Richard Peterson

Eric said

    Nice to hear but we could have done so much more by now.

Peter responds

Indeed, JPL did so much more almost 40 years ago.

That demo sent 34kw of electrical power a distance of 1.5km at an efficiency of greater than 82%, vs. 1.8kw over 55 meters at an unspecified efficiency. So I’m not clear on where the “progress” is.

The lesson I took away from that first round of SPSS research was that beaming the power was not going to be a significant obstacle.

Structural concerns, solar cell efficiency, electronics reliability, launch weight, and environmental and political issues all needed to be resolved, but beaming (and receiving) the power was mostly just a matter of engineering.

.              png

Power transmission from space is a solved problem. The capital investment to build that dam in space is another story. But out of the first Space Solar Power Satellite we get a Moon Colony built on weekend and third shifts.


An important article: many developing countries and peoples have no choices.

Fossil Fuels Will Save the World (Really)

The Wall Street Journal, 14 March 2015

Matt Ridley

The environmental movement has advanced three arguments in recent years for giving up fossil fuels: (1) that we will soon run out of them anyway; (2) that alternative sources of energy will price them out of the marketplace; and (3) that we cannot afford the climate consequences of burning them.
These days, not one of the three arguments is looking very healthy. In fact, a more realistic assessment of our energy and environmental situation suggests that, for decades to come, we will continue to rely overwhelmingly on the fossil fuels that have contributed so dramatically to the world’s prosperity and progress.
In 2013, about 87% of the energy that the world consumed came from fossil fuels, a figure that—remarkably—was unchanged from 10 years before. This roughly divides into three categories of fuel and three categories of use: oil used mainly for transport, gas used mainly for heating, and coal used mainly for electricity.
Over this period, the overall volume of fossil-fuel consumption has increased dramatically, but with an encouraging environmental trend: a diminishing amount of carbon-dioxide emissions per unit of energy produced. The biggest contribution to decarbonizing the energy system has been the switch from high-carbon coal to lower-carbon gas in electricity generation.
On a global level, renewable energy sources such as wind and solar have contributed hardly at all to the drop in carbon emissions, and their modest growth has merely made up for a decline in the fortunes of zero-carbon nuclear energy. (The reader should know that I have an indirect interest in coal through the ownership of land in Northern England on which it is mined, but I nonetheless applaud the displacement of coal by gas in recent years.)
The argument that fossil fuels will soon run out is dead, at least for a while. The collapse of the price of oil over the past six months is the result of abundance: an inevitable consequence of the high oil prices of recent years, which stimulated innovation in hydraulic fracturing, horizontal drilling, seismology and information technology. The U.S.—the country with the oldest and most developed hydrocarbon fields—has found itself once again, surprisingly, at the top of the energy-producing league, rivaling Saudi Arabia in oil and Russia in gas.
The shale genie is now out of the bottle. Even if the current low price drives out some high-cost oil producers—in the North Sea, Canada, Russia, Iran and offshore, as well as in America—shale drillers can step back in whenever the price rebounds. As Mark Hill of Allegro Development Corporation argued last week, the frackers are currently experiencing their own version of Moore’s law: a rapid fall in the cost and time it takes to drill a well, along with a rapid rise in the volume of hydrocarbons they are able to extract.
And the shale revolution has yet to go global. When it does, oil and gas in tight rock formations will give the world ample supplies of hydrocarbons for decades, if not centuries. Lurking in the wings for later technological breakthroughs is methane hydrate, a seafloor source of gas that exceeds in quantity all the world’s coal, oil and gas put together.
So those who predict the imminent exhaustion of fossil fuels are merely repeating the mistakes of the U.S. presidential commission that opined in 1922 that “already the output of gas has begun to wane. Production of oil cannot long maintain its present rate.” Or President Jimmy Carter when he announced on television in 1977 that “we could use up all the proven reserves of oil in the entire world by the end of the next decade.”
That fossil fuels are finite is a red herring. The Atlantic Ocean is finite, but that does not mean that you risk bumping into France if you row out of a harbor in Maine. The buffalo of the American West were infinite, in the sense that they could breed, yet they came close to extinction. It is an ironic truth that no nonrenewable resource has ever run dry, while renewable resources—whales, cod, forests, passenger pigeons—have frequently done so.
The second argument for giving up fossil fuels is that new rivals will shortly price them out of the market. But it is not happening. The great hope has long been nuclear energy, but even if there is a rush to build new nuclear power stations over the next few years, most will simply replace old ones due to close. The world’s nuclear output is down from 6% of world energy consumption in 2003 to 4% today. It is forecast to inch back up to just 6.7% by 2035, according the Energy Information Administration.
Nuclear’s problem is cost. In meeting the safety concerns of environmentalists, politicians and regulators added requirements for extra concrete, steel and pipework, and even more for extra lawyers, paperwork and time. The effect was to make nuclear plants into huge and lengthy boondoggles with no competition or experimentation to drive down costs. Nuclear is now able to compete with fossil fuels only when it is subsidized.



As for renewable energy, hydroelectric is the biggest and cheapest supplier, but it has the least capacity for expansion. Technologies that tap the energy of waves and tides remain unaffordable and impractical, and most experts think that this won’t change in a hurry. Geothermal is a minor player for now. And bioenergy—that is, wood, ethanol made from corn or sugar cane, or diesel made from palm oil—is proving an ecological disaster: It encourages deforestation and food-price hikes that cause devastation among the world’s poor, and per unit of energy produced, it creates even more carbon dioxide than coal.
Wind power, for all the public money spent on its expansion, has inched up to—wait for it—1% of world energy consumption in 2013. Solar, for all the hype, has not even managed that: If we round to the nearest whole number, it accounts for 0% of world energy consumption.
Both wind and solar are entirely reliant on subsidies for such economic viability as they have. World-wide, the subsidies given to renewable energy currently amount to roughly $10 per gigajoule: These sums are paid by consumers to producers, so they tend to go from the poor to the rich, often to landowners (I am a landowner and can testify that I receive and refuse many offers of risk-free wind and solar subsidies).
It is true that some countries subsidize the use of fossil fuels, but they do so at a much lower rate—the world average is about $1.20 per gigajoule—and these are mostly subsidies for consumers (not producers), so they tend to help the poor, for whom energy costs are a disproportionate share of spending.
The costs of renewable energy are coming down, especially in the case of solar. But even if solar panels were free, the power they produce would still struggle to compete with fossil fuel—except in some very sunny locations—because of all the capital equipment required to concentrate and deliver the energy. This is to say nothing of the great expanses of land on which solar facilities must be built and the cost of retaining sufficient conventional generator capacity to guarantee supply on a dark, cold, windless evening.
The two fundamental problems that renewables face are that they take up too much space and produce too little energy. Consider Solar Impulse, the solar-powered airplane now flying around the world. Despite its huge wingspan (similar to a 747), slow speed and frequent stops, the only cargo that it can carry is the pilots themselves. That is a good metaphor for the limitations of renewables.
To run the U.S. economy entirely on wind would require a wind farm the size of Texas, California and New Mexico combined—backed up by gas on windless days. To power it on wood would require a forest covering two-thirds of the U.S., heavily and continually harvested.
John Constable, who will head a new Energy Institute at the University of Buckingham in Britain, points out that the trickle of energy that human beings managed to extract from wind, water and wood before the Industrial Revolution placed a great limit on development and progress. The incessant toil of farm laborers generated so little surplus energy in the form of food for men and draft animals that the accumulation of capital, such as machinery, was painfully slow. Even as late as the 18th century, this energy-deprived economy was sufficient to enrich daily life for only a fraction of the population.
Our old enemy, the second law of thermodynamics, is the problem here. As a teenager’s bedroom generally illustrates, left to its own devices, everything in the world becomes less ordered, more chaotic, tending toward “entropy,” or thermodynamic equilibrium. To reverse this tendency and make something complex, ordered and functional requires work. It requires energy.
The more energy you have, the more intricate, powerful and complex you can make a system. Just as human bodies need energy to be ordered and functional, so do societies. In that sense, fossil fuels were a unique advance because they allowed human beings to create extraordinary patterns of order and complexity—machines and buildings—with which to improve their lives.
The result of this great boost in energy is what the economic historian and philosopher Deirdre McCloskey calls the Great Enrichment. In the case of the U.S., there has been a roughly 9,000% increase in the value of goods and services available to the average American since 1800, almost all of which are made with, made of, powered by or propelled by fossil fuels.
Still, more than a billion people on the planet have yet to get access to electricity and to experience the leap in living standards that abundant energy brings. This is not just an inconvenience for them: Indoor air pollution from wood fires kills four million people a year. The next time that somebody at a rally against fossil fuels lectures you about her concern for the fate of her grandchildren, show her a picture of an African child dying today from inhaling the dense muck of a smoky fire.
Notice, too, the ways in which fossil fuels have contributed to preserving the planet. As the American author and fossil-fuels advocate Alex Epstein points out in a bravely unfashionable book, “The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels,” the use of coal halted and then reversed the deforestation of Europe and North America. The turn to oil halted the slaughter of the world’s whales and seals for their blubber. Fertilizer manufactured with gas halved the amount of land needed to produce a given amount of food, thus feeding a growing population while sparing land for wild nature.
To throw away these immense economic, environmental and moral benefits, you would have to have a very good reason. The one most often invoked today is that we are wrecking the planet’s climate. But are we?
Although the world has certainly warmed since the 19th century, the rate of warming has been slow and erratic. There has been no increase in the frequency or severity of storms or droughts, no acceleration of sea-level rise. Arctic sea ice has decreased, but Antarctic sea ice has increased. At the same time, scientists are agreed that the extra carbon dioxide in the air has contributed to an improvement in crop yields and a roughly 14% increase in the amount of all types of green vegetation on the planet since 1980.
That carbon-dioxide emissions should cause warming is not a new idea. In 1938, the British scientist Guy Callender thought that he could already detect warming as a result of carbon-dioxide emissions. He reckoned, however, that this was “likely to prove beneficial to mankind” by shifting northward the climate where cultivation was possible.
Only in the 1970s and 1980s did scientists begin to say that the mild warming expected as a direct result of burning fossil fuels—roughly a degree Celsius per doubling of carbon-dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere—might be greatly amplified by water vapor and result in dangerous warming of two to four degrees a century or more. That “feedback” assumption of high “sensitivity” remains in virtually all of the mathematical models used to this day by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC.
And yet it is increasingly possible that it is wrong. As Patrick Michaels of the libertarian Cato Institute has written, since 2000, 14 peer-reviewed papers, published by 42 authors, many of whom are key contributors to the reports of the IPCC, have concluded that climate sensitivity is low because net feedbacks are modest. They arrive at this conclusion based on observed temperature changes, ocean-heat uptake and the balance between warming and cooling emissions (mainly sulfate aerosols). On average, they find sensitivity to be 40% lower than the models on which the IPCC relies.
If these conclusions are right, they would explain the failure of the Earth’s surface to warm nearly as fast as predicted over the past 35 years, a time when—despite carbon-dioxide levels rising faster than expected—the warming rate has never reached even two-tenths of a degree per decade and has slowed down to virtually nothing in the past 15 to 20 years. This is one reason the latest IPCC report did not give a “best estimate” of sensitivity and why it lowered its estimate of near-term warming.
Most climate scientists remain reluctant to abandon the models and take the view that the current “hiatus” has merely delayed rapid warming. A turning point to dangerously rapid warming could be around the corner, even though it should have shown up by now. So it would be wise to do something to cut our emissions, so long as that something does not hurt the poor and those struggling to reach a modern standard of living.
We should encourage the switch from coal to gas in the generation of electricity, provide incentives for energy efficiency, get nuclear power back on track and keep developing solar power and electricity storage. We should also invest in research on ways to absorb carbon dioxide from the air, by fertilizing the ocean or fixing it through carbon capture and storage. Those measures all make sense. And there is every reason to promote open-ended research to find some unexpected new energy technology.
The one thing that will not work is the one thing that the environmental movement insists upon: subsidizing wealthy crony capitalists to build low-density, low-output, capital-intensive, land-hungry renewable energy schemes, while telling the poor to give up the dream of getting richer through fossil fuels.
Mr. Ridley is the author of “The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves” and a member of the British House of Lords. He is a member of the GWPF’s Academic Advisory Council.

Of course there are those like Teddy Gold who don’t think they are fossil fuels…


What has been seen cannot be unseen – video from Hitler’s extermination camps


Tonight’s Saturday Night Cinema feature is the recently released Holocaust footage filmed by Alfred Hitchcock, Sidney Bernstein and other master directors of that time. The British government chose to shelve the footage because it was “too politically sensitive.” Their dhimmitude today would appear to be much the same —

The unflinching footage reveals true hell of the Holocaust.

Tonight I bring you Channel 4’s presentation of the restored film. The narrator introduces the film and the necessity of airing it so that we “never forget” and “never again.” She says it without irony or self-consciousness, despite the fact that such horrors are being committed daily by Islamic groups across the world.

The continued use of the word “propaganda” is equally disturbing. Documenting what happened is not “propaganda” — it’s history.

- See more at:

Reminder: View at your own risk. When Ms. Geller suggests caution I’ve learned to believe her. Once seen this cannot be unseen.

There are pictures from the film. They were enough for me. Nevertheless, suppressing this for 70 years for political reasons is rather churlish behavior on the part of the British, methinks.


As JoAnne says, what has been seen cannot be unseen. Caution advised.


Copyrights and Patents as Barriers to Progress

Your comments concerning the fallacy of relying on copyrights and patents to protect one’s advantages in a fast moving technological market are spot on. The era when personal computers moved from curiosities to necessities in the commercial provides many examples.

Lotus 1-2-3 was so dominant in the spreadsheet arena that computers using the x86 CPUs from Intel passed or failed based upon whether they could run that software. Texas Instruments built an x86 machine that was technically superior to the IBM PC and its close clones. But they would not run off the shelf software such as 1-2-3 and paid Lotus and others for customized versions of leading software titles. That computer failed in the market while some other Texans created Compaq.

Meanwhile Lotus was so proud of its DOS 1-2-3 that it sued Borland for copying the user interface (the look and feel) too closely for its tastes. (So far as I know, Lotus did not sue Boeing (yes THAT Boeing) over the look and feel of Boeing Calc.) While Lotus was fighting and conquering Borland and others to protect the look and feel of its DOS product it neglected the Windows world. Thus, almost by default, Microsoft won the war to supply general purpose applications to machines running Windows. Excel, Word, Access and later Power Point dominated the market. Borland and others using Lotus DOS 1-2-3 look and feel went away, and practically speaking, so did Lotus. But the copyrights and patents protected products the market no longer wanted. Collateral damage from these battles included loss of Borland’s excellent programming languages and its two or three good database products, among other things.

Other products simply couldn’t adjust to the change from DOS to Windows. They were demonstrating a less aggressive form of rear window driving.

Charles Brumbelow



We discussed Ferguson in my Intro to Public Affairs class last semester. While it may be fun to assume that the minority community members couldn’t vote due to felony convictions, voting patterns showed a different situation.
In national elections, the black community voted at about the same rate as the white community. However, in local elections, the black turnout plummeted.
It turns out that the black population of Ferguson is primarily a newer population, moving into the community relatively recently. Generally, newer members of a community don’t have the knowledge or the ties to the community to consider voting in local elections. The end result is that the newer members of the community don’t have the local political power to affect policy, which makes them easy targets for revenue enhancement techniques.
The moral of the story is to vote. Registration isn’t enough. And if you are new to the community, you’ll have to do your homework and then vote. Which is probably difficult for lower economic strata individuals who have to work extra hours in order to keep up their standard of living.

: Fredrik Coulter

The remedy for Ferguson is political: the inhabitants need to use their vote. But expanding Federal power will not solve it.


FCC Leaves Itself Wiggle Room on Net-Neutrality Rules

Agency releases 400 pages on rules but also says many issues will be decided case by case         (journal)


Drew FitzGerald and

Thomas Gryta

March 12, 2015 8:07 p.m. ET

The details of the Federal Communications Commission’s new net-neutrality rules make clear the regulator is struggling with how to handle some of the hot-button issues that helped put the topic back on the agenda in the first place.

The uncertainty in some of the rules, released in full for the first time Thursday, reflects in part the fast-changing nature of the Internet and the agency’s lack of experience in areas that it now has the power to oversee.

A highly public dispute over network pricing last year helped nudge into the mainstream the debate over net neutrality—the principle that all Internet traffic should be treated equally. But the FCC says in the rules that it won’t be jumping in right away, because it lacks experience in evaluating such deals.

“We find that the best approach is to watch, learn, and act as required, but not intervene now, especially not with prescriptive rules,” the commission wrote in the rules.

The rules, for example, give the FCC new powers to oversee “interconnection” deals between companies like Netflix Inc. and Internet service providers like Verizon Communications Inc., common arrangements that let companies share network traffic.

An FCC official said the agency will review disputed arrangements, which can involve complaints about money as well as issues like capacity.

The regulator is taking a similarly uncertain stance on sponsored data programs—ones where content companies like Google Inc. could pay the cost of data so their services could be delivered to mobile users free. Critics say such plans give an advantage to deep-pocketed companies that can afford the cost at the expense of startups or other weaker rivals.

“Given the unresolved debate concerning the benefits and drawbacks of data allowances and usage-based pricing plans, we decline to make blanket findings about these practices,” the commission said. Instead, the agency plans to address complaints about those plans on a case-by-case basis

In the rules, the FCC says it will review the arrangements on a case-by- case basis. It also said it would take a case-by-case approach to limits and caps on data use, saying it found pros and cons of such practices. Pricing based on use can save subscribers money, but critics warn that carriers can use the limits to stifle online competition.

The FCC summarized the rules when it passed them in a 3-2 party-line vote two weeks ago. On Thursday, it detailed them in a 400-page document that also addresses criticism of the rules, provides legal justification for the move and airs objections from dissenting Republican commissioners, who warned the commission’s framework would lead to government overreach and criticized the way the rules were developed.

The commission set some clear limits, banning broadband providers from blocking Web content or letting services pay for priority access. Otherwise, however, it generally avoided limits in favor of setting itself up to punish bad behavior if it occurs.

The commission was careful to write its rules so that they wouldn’t quickly become outdated as technologies evolve, said Kevin Werbach, a professor of legal studies at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School who has advised the FCC on open Internet policies. “It’s a reasonable and logical approach given the degree of uncertainty about what is going to happen in the marketplace,” Mr. Werbach said.“Networks evolve.”


“I said, ‘Wait a minute, that’s the golden mean.’”


Roland Dobbins


: American Drone Operators Are Quitting in Record Numbers

Duh….  The USAF requires OFFICERS to fly the drones.  Most of these signed up to be jet jockeys, but their joy stick is Xbox instead of F-35 Lightning.  AND, the jet jockey’s scorn them on every level.  Sooo, as soon as they can, they quit. 

I also note that it takes 1 year to train a drone pilot…. Really, I can guarantee you that I can develop a 4 week program to take any 18yo right out of boot camp to do the job.  Hell, they probably don’t need more than 8hrs training as they’ve been playing first-person shoot-em-ups online since they were 5.



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

American Drone Operators Are Quitting in Record Numbers

American Drone Operators Are Quitting in Record Numbers

An internal Air Force memo reveals that the US military’s drone wars are in major trouble.

March 5, 2015


A U.S. drone flies over southern Afghanistan during a combat mission. (AP Photo/Lt. Col.. Leslie Pratt, US Air Force)

The US drone war across much of the Greater Middle East and parts of Africa is in crisis, and not because civilians are dying or the target list for that war or the right to wage it just about anywhere on the planet are in question in Washington. Something far more basic is at stake: drone pilots are quitting in record numbers.

There are roughly 1,000 such drone pilots, known in the trade as “18Xs,” working for the US Air Force today. Another 180 pilots graduate annually from a training program that takes about a year to complete at Holloman and Randolph Air Force bases in, respectively, New Mexico and Texas. As it happens, in those same twelve months, about 240 trained pilots quit and the Air Force is at a loss to explain the phenomenon. (The better-known US Central Intelligence Agency drone assassination program is also flown by Air Force pilots loaned out for the covert missions.)

On January 4, 2015, the Daily Beast revealed an undated internal memo to Air Force Chief of Staff General Mark Welsh from General Herbert “Hawk” Carlisle stating that pilot “outflow increases will damage the readiness and combat capability of the MQ-1/9 [Predator and Reaper] enterprise for years to come” and added that he was “extremely concerned.” Eleven days later, the issue got top billing at a special high-level briefing on the state of the Air Force. Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James joined Welsh to address the matter. “This is a force that is under significant stress—significant stress from what is an unrelenting pace of operations,” she told the media.

In theory, drone pilots have a cushy life. Unlike soldiers on duty in “war zones,” they can continue to live with their families here in the United States. No muddy foxholes or sandstorm-swept desert barracks under threat of enemy attack for them. Instead, these new techno-warriors commute to work like any office employees and sit in front of computer screens wielding joysticks, playing what most people would consider a glorified video game.

They typically “fly” missions over Afghanistan and Iraq where they are tasked with collecting photos and video feeds, as well as watching over US soldiers on the ground. A select few are deputized to fly CIA assassination missions over Pakistan, Somalia or Yemen where they are ordered to kill “high value targets” from the sky. In recent months, some of these pilots have also taken part in the new war in the Syrian and Iraqi borderlands, conducting deadly strikes on militants of ISIL.

Each of these combat air patrols involves three to four drones, usually Hellfire-missile-armed Predators and Reapers built by southern California’s General Atomics, and each takes as many as 180 staff members to fly them. In addition to pilots, there are camera operators, intelligence and communications experts and maintenance workers. (The newer Global Hawk surveillance patrols need as many as 400 support staff.)

The Air Force is currently under orders to staff 65 of these regular “combat air patrols” around the clock as well as to support a Global Response Force on call for emergency military and humanitarian missions. For all of this, there should ideally be 1,700 trained pilots. Instead, facing an accelerating dropout rate that recently drove this figure below 1,000, the Air Force has had to press regular cargo and jet pilots as well as reservists into becoming instant drone pilots in order to keep up with the Pentagon’s enormous appetite for real-time video feeds from around the world.

The Air Force explains the departure of these drone pilots in the simplest of terms. They are leaving because they are overworked. The pilots themselves say that it’s humiliating to be scorned by their Air Force colleagues as second-class citizens. Some have also come forward to claim that the horrors of war, seen up close on video screens, day in, day out, are inducing an unprecedented, long-distance version of post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD).

But is it possible that a brand-new form of war—by remote control—is also spawning a brand-new, as yet unlabeled, form of psychological strain? Some have called drone war a “coward’s war” (an opinion that, according to reports from among the drone-traumatized in places like Yemen and Pakistan, is seconded by its victims). Could it be that the feeling is even shared by drone pilots themselves, that a sense of dishonor in fighting from behind a screen thousands of miles from harm’s way is having an unexpected impact of a kind psychologists have never before witnessed?

Of course Grand Theft Auto is good training



Dear Dr. Pournelle,

Seeing your concerns about integrity in the US armed forces, I found this article on a different subject which speaks to the same topic, and why it happens.

So .. Iraqi Army troops were caught beheading ISIS captives. I’m sure this is totally and completely upsetting to anyone who saw those selfsame ISIS people burning a fighter pilot alive.   Taste of their own medicine, what? 

Ah, but the Leahy amendment requires that we cut off financial aid to any  organization which commits human rights violations. 

Now, does anyone reading this really believe we’re going to cut off the Iraqi army because of this?     As if.  We’d have to go back and do it ourselves, which is something this administration absolutely won’t do.  And I’d be shocked in the extreme if there is ANY fighting organization in the Middle East, even the IDF , which could survive the Leahy Amendment. 

So the logical thing to do would be to recognize this, or even repeal the Leahy Amendment as a bad idea. Of course this won’t happen.  There’s too much political capital to invest in it.  
So we can’t disobey the law, and we can’t obey it. So what are we going to do?
It’s blindingly obvious. We’ll lie. We’ll find some justification or rationalization to declare that murder of prisoners isn’t really murder of prisoners, sweep it under the rug, and continue with business as usual. 
It’s pretty much the same thing we discussed with Ferguson — the machinery of law seizing up, unable to adjust to new realities, unaccountable.  The result is that the laws are ignored if possible, and if they can’t be ignored, they’re flatly lied about.
Isn’t that why SOCOM has its own acquisition rules — because the existing logistics system is so bound in red tape it can’t make useful changes in time to be of any use to the warfighter? 
I’m not sure how to fix this. But until it is US Armed Forces personnel will continually find themselves on the horns of a dilemma :To follow the laws and regulations or do their job.   Since doing your job will get you promoted while following the law won’t, it seems logical that the officers we will promote will be people who are not only willing to break the law but are also good at not getting caught at it.   Fixing this is going to require a sweeping cultural change , and not just to the military; the political environment in which the military has to operate also has to sweep away the useless laws, but enforce those few that remain rigorously. 

That’s what needs to happen.  I suspect it will happen when the way things are becomes intolerable. Regrettably, it may take a long time before we reach that point. 

Brian P.

If you disparage Duty, Honor, Country you get the officer corps you deserve.


Yeah, right

What better way to get techno morons to use Apple products than to leak a
story that “CIA” can’t break it?  CIA isn’t in the encryption business.
“To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a
child.” — Cicero, 46 B.C.


Gender Gap in Education Cuts Both Ways

MARCH 10, 2015    nyt

Eduardo Porter

Why do the best-educated girls do worse at math than top-educated boys?

Concern about this deficit exploded into public consciousness 35 years ago, when researchers in the department of psychology at Johns Hopkins University published an article suggesting the gap might be caused by a “superior male mathematical ability.”

The debate that ensued was furious. It was so hot that a quarter of a century later, a similar controversy contributed to the ouster of Lawrence Summers from his post as the president of Harvard.

Was there anything “natural” about the performance gap? Or was it the product of gender bias working its way through schools? As the debate raged, ending the underrepresentation of women in science, technology, engineering and math became a critical policy priority.

Amid the din over top girls’ mathematical abilities, something important was forgotten: What is happening that so many boys are falling behind in pretty much everything else?

Last week the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development — a collective think tank of the world’s industrialized nations — published a report about gender inequality in education, based on the latest edition of its PISA standardized tests taken by 15-year-olds around the world.

Boys Fall Behind

Around the world, more boys than girls are failing to meet minimum standards of proficiency in the O.E.C.D.’s standardized tests.

The gender gap in math persists, it found. Top-performing boys score higher in math than the best-performing girls in all but two of the 63 countries in which the tests were given, including the United States.

Test scores in science follow a similar, if somewhat less lopsided, pattern. And women are still steering clear of scientific careers: Across the O.E.C.D. nations, only 14 percent of young women entering college for the first time chose a science-related field, compared with 39 percent of men.

But these are hardly the most troubling imbalances. The most perilous statistic in the O.E.C.D.’s report is about the dismal performance of less educated boys, who are falling far behind girls.

Six out of 10 underachievers in the O.E.C.D. — who fail to meet the baseline standard of proficiency across the tests in math, reading and science — are boys. That includes 15 percent of American boys, compared with only 9 percent of girls. More boys than girls underperform in every country tested except Luxembourg and Liechtenstein.

Across the board, girls tend to score higher than boys in reading, which the O.E.C.D. considers the most important skill, essential for future learning.

At the bottom, the gap is enormous: The worst-performing American girls — who did worse in reading tests than 94 out of every 100 of their peers — scored 49 points more than bottom-ranked boys, a 15 percent gap. And the deficit across the O.E.C.D. was even bigger.

These deficits have not made it to the top of the policy agenda. But they pose a direct threat to social cohesion and economic prosperity.

“The message you get is that girls around the world don’t get a chance in education, but that is not true for most of the world,” said Gijsbert Stoet, who teaches psychology at the University of Glasgow and has studied educational inequality globally. “Boys around the world don’t do well in education. What surprises me is the lack of eagerness to solve the problems that boys face.”

The message I get is that education is getting worse everywhere because the schools are told to do the impossible. The potentially best teachers leave, and those that remain know they can’t do what they promise. But there is one way to ensure equality. Tarquin demonstrated it.

To see some of what education once did, see


Ponce de Leon vindicated!

A true fountain of youth really exists in these United States. Possibly the one celebrated in St. Augustine, Florida – but probably not.

The real fountain of youth has produced some 6.5 million active Social Security accounts for people at least 112 years old. About two percent of these United States are older than 112, in other words. The article doesn’t specify but one might surmise that the amount paid in annual benefits to these fortunate super seniors dwarfs their annual contributions.

Now if only someone will step forward to tell the rest of us how to obtain such liquid.

Charles Brumbelow





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




SD Cards; Educating Educators, Aliens and Talking to Them, Federalism, Sapir-Whorf; and Other Matters.

Chaos Manor Mail, Sunday, March 08, 2015


Continuing the March 4 discussion on SanDisk SD cards:

Regarding the 200 GB SanDisk microSD card, Chris Barker is simply wrong. This is not a primary storage device for a PC or other system that uses that volume for virtual memory paging. On an SSD, which is intended to replace a conventional hard drive and thus must fulfill the virtual memory role, provision is made for the loss of cell function without loss of advertised capacity as Mr. Barker explains. But this simply isn’t an issue for a volume that isn’t used for paging. The level of read and, most importantly, write activity is far, far less. The allocation of a large area to hide the loss of capacity over time simply isn’t necessary as the typical usage of an SD card or USB flash drive doesn’t produce the rate of loss that would be noticed in the device’s expected life cycle. Most current operating systems are designed to handle this as a background task. (The Windows ReadyBoost feature that first appeared in Windows Vista would have been a very high usage scenario for a USB flash drive but falling prices on RAM made it unlikely that many people managed to appreciably wear out a flash drive using ReadyBoost.)

    Another clue here is the extreme amount of capacity supposedly being set aside by SanDisk. A 256 GB SSD is typically sold as a 240 GB volume (before formatting) with 16 Gb set aside for replacing cells lost to wear. For a microSD card to have 3.5 times as much set aside for that purpose is absurd. It should also be noted that 256 GB SD cards are already on the market, which are electrically identical to microSD cards. If the capacity was due to factory allocation settings rather than physical chip volume, it would be reflected in the SD cards already.

    Using a SD card for primary storage on a desktop OS like Windows, MacOS, or Linux would be a miserable experience, so little provision is made for such usage. The performance level of UHS-I cards is at best on par with the last generation of parallel ATA before SATA became the prevailing hard drive interface for mainstream PCs. (UHS-II cards, offering read performance roughly between SATA-I and SATA-II, and devices that support them are still rare and not a factor for most conversations about SDXC. It’s possible they won’t catch on before an entirely new standard takes root.) In a related matter, the cell phone industry is prepping a major shift in how it interfaces primary storage because the bottleneck of the existing standard for embedded flash, eMMC 5.01, is expected to become a drag on performance gains by other components. A newer standard, UFS 2.0, offers substantially higher performance close to the latest generation of PCI-e SSD just appearing in PCs. Both eMMC and UFS are JEDEC standards, so there aren’t any rivalry issues as so often has complicated things in the past.

Eric Pobirs

I would say misinterpreted, rather than wrong. Of one thing we may be certain: the observation I made 30 years ago, that silicon is cheaper than iron and therefore memory drive would replace spinning metal for hard drives, as a long time coming but is finally arriving


DOJ Ferguson Report

Dear Dr. Pournelle,
The Justice Department has released its report on Ferguson

which essentially follows this report from before the events:

It appears that the city decided to use the police department as a revenue generating device, which so antagonized the community that it only took a single spark to touch off a riot. That happened. 

I’m a little bit puzzled as to what any of the rest of us can do about it; if there’s a city council then the most logical course would be for the city voters to Throw The Bums Out.  However, I also suspect that many of those most directly affected can’t vote due to felony convictions.  


Brian P. 

Didn’t New York do the same with their cigarette tax?

Dear Dr. Pournelle,

I don’t think it’s quite the same thing.  The cigarette tax was one thing. By contrast, it appears that Ferguson took the ‘broken window’ concept of policing to an extreme by upping enforcement of minor violations up to 11 , and always levying a fine, never jail time, for the infractions. 

Point 2:  Almost all of the charges levied in Ferguson were municipal charges, even when there was an equally applicable state law.

What does that tell you? 

Point 3:  There were some other things as well. For instance, there was one woman who owed a $100 fine but couldn’t pay it, so she tried to pay a $27 partial remittance until she could get the money together. The courts wouldn’t take it.  They wanted the full amount at once, and refused any attempt.

There was another case where a gentleman had paid $500 on a $100 fine — and still owed $551 thanks to interest!

Put all this together and I think we’re seeing something far different than what we saw in New York .. this looks to me much like the ‘organized brigandage’ St. Augustine described in “City of God” , the sort of thing that happens when justice and the state part ways.

I admit I’m a bit confused as to how we reached this place. The point of a democracy is that the leaders are elected, and are supposed to be removed by an outraged citizenry when things get this bad, preferably with tar and feathers.   Likewise, there’s supposed to be oversight over police behavior, an internal affairs bureau, and recourse when things go bad.  Instead it’s as if the system has frozen up — we no longer seem to have any way of checking or restraining police or governmental power. 


Brian P.

One of the consequences of the Constitution is that these United States will always have different opinions about what is right and what is wrong. There will always be some who would make a Federal Case out of State and local policies which were not given to the Federal Government; abortion is one such. No one thought there was a Federal right to abortion in the Constitution for two Centuries, and the various states had different policies; it was a matter for the States, and there was insufficient national consensus for a Constitutional Amendment. The liberal view was that this was a moral issue of great importance, and the court found a right of privacy in the “emanations and penumbras” particularly in the 14th Amendment, although the States that adopted that Amendment would have been astonished to learn that were conferring a right of privacy which forbid state laws against contraception. The principle that the Constitution was a living document rather than a contract is now upon us, and the original Constitution which restricted the Federal Government to explicitly granted powers, reserving all the rest to the States (or to the people) is dead. Some mourn it still. In the deciding case Justice Stewart called the Connecticut statute “an uncommonly silly law” but argued that it was nevertheless constitutional. The Federal government might be far more “correct” by modern standards, but it did not have the Constitutional power to impose that view against the States any more than, prior to the 13th Amendment, it had the Constitutional power to end slavery.

The Ferguson system seems unseemly, but the remedy is political, not the force of the Federal government. Both State and Federal investigations have shown there is no Federal Case here. Similarly, the New York Cigarette tax seems stupid, and perhaps the Interstate Commerce law ought to be applied; but it seems to be New York’s business, not mine. Or the US Attorney’s.

Of course there is much in “modern” Federal practice that resembles “organized brigandage”. We are well on the way to what the late Sam Francis called “anarcho-tyranny”. We have sown the wind. Were I living in Ferguson I would study the Atlas, and were I in the business of helping the citizens of Ferguson I would be installing precinct committee members; not imposing my views by force because of my moral certainty. In particular, intimidating store clerks while stealing cigars is a dangerous and probably ineffective form of protest.


We’re not alone?

More evidence that we may not be alone in the universe:


Astronomers believe mysterious signals – previously dismissed as stellar bursts – are coming from an Earth-like planet.

The Gliese 581d planet has conditions that could support life, and is likely to be a rocky world, twice the size of Earth.

Signals from the planet were initially discovered in 2010, but last year dismissed as noise from distant stars.

Now, a further study claims that the 2014 research was based on ‘inadequate analyses of the data’ and that Gliese 581d does exist.


These guys have an SETI program? Let’s hope 22 light years is far enough away to keep them safe from us; else we might go in there and try to “liberate” them from their oppressive rulers and engage in nation building because it’s in the national interest and it will create jobs. =)

Seriously, though, it would be nice to make a friendly contact and it would be nice if “our people” were also friendly about it.

◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊

Most Respectfully,

Joshua Jordan, KSC

Percussa Resurgo

Others including Hawking have different vies about the desirability of communications; in any event you may confident that if we do try, it will be friendly on our part, and most of will mean it. We have no way of knowing the intentions of the aliens. And of course probabilities favor a more physical explanation anyway.


Subject: Are barely trained teachers just as good as education majors…

Dear Jerry,
I thought you might be interested.

Are barely trained teachers just as good as education majors? Looks like it.  •  The Wonkblog headline “Teach for America teachers aren’t any better than other teachers when it comes to kids’ test scores” buries the lede.A new study comparing test scores among elementary school …


I would say a good case can be made for two year certificates for grade school teachers; it seems to have worked in the past, and I suspect requiring 4 year degrees is counter-productive and does not produce the expected results. A case can be made for more intense education of high school teachers, but not in “education” courses.

: Educators vs. Education


I would suggest that if we wish to save our schools we need to “Return to those thrilling days of yesteryear” and examine the curriculum of the two year Normal School that trained teachers in the 19th and early 20th centuries. I would guess that the vast majority of the 6th Grade teachers using the 1914 Sixth Grade Reader had that education.

As the “Educators” have taken over the training of Teachers we have been afflicted with a steadily declining quality of Education coupled with a steadily increasing inflation adjusted cost of Education.

The current age of Credentialism has forced our Teachers to take an increasing number of courses in HOW to teach at the expense of WHAT to teach.

I do not see any solution to this problem as long as we have Federal Control of Education.

Bob Holmes

The question being how great the value of “how to teach” studies can be; no greater than the teacher’s knowledge. How well do Professors of Education do in grade school classrooms?

: Educationalism

The following book by the Underground Grammarian regarding educationalism should tickle your fancy:

The one-eyed man knows that he could never be king in the land of the two-eyed, and the half-wit knows that he would be small potatoes indeed in a land where most people had all or most of their wits about them. These rulers, therefore, will be inordinately selective about their social programs, which will be designed not only to protect against the rise of the witful and the sighted, but, just as important, to ensure a never-failing supply of the witless and utterly blind. Even to the half-wit and the one-eyed man, it is clear that other half-wits and one-eyed men are potential competitors and supplanters, and they invert the ancient tale in which an anxious tyrant kept watch against a one-sandaled stranger by keeping watch against wanderers with both eyes and operating minds. Uneasy lies the head.

Unfortunately, most people are born with two eyes and even the propensity to think. If nothing is done about this, chaos, obviously, threatens the land. Even worse, unemployment threatens the one-eyed man and the half-wit.

And the moral of that story is …


General Relativity – The Comic Book


No comment.


My own research on Clinton emails


First, hugs to you and Roberta. I am impressed as hell that you were back to writing and blogging while still in rehab (and tweeted about it a few times). You’re in our prayers.

Second, ABC News called me when the AP story broke about Clinton running her private e-mail on a home server and asked, “Can you verify/replicate this?” I’ve been working on it all week, and the answer still is, “No.”

In fact, I think AP leapt to an unjustified conclusion based on data I was able to recover as well. If anything, there are indications that the Clinton e-mail server may have been hosted by two successive hosting firms — The Planet and Confluence Networks — and the latter is a foreign-based, foreign-owned hosting system (though apparently making use of US-based server farms) well known for spam and malware sites.

The real, real question is: where was the e-mail domain server physically located? There may be some profound negative security implications depending upon that question, which may be why no Clinton associates have confirmed or denied the existence of a home server.

I’ve written two posts on the subject. Here’s the newest one:

And here is my original one, which has its own updates up front; it helps to scroll down to “BACK TO OUR ORIGINAL POST”, read to the end, then go to the top and read the updates:

Down the rabbit hole, indeed. ..bruce..

Bruce F. Webster

Long time readers will recognize Bruce as an old friend and longtime correspondent.


How America was Misled

One of many money quotes

At precisely the time Mr. Obama was campaigning on the imminent death of al Qaeda, those with access to the bin Laden documents were seeing, in bin Laden’s own words, that the opposite was true. Says Lt. Gen. Flynn: “By that time, they probably had grown by about—I’d say close to doubling by that time. And we knew that.”

This wasn’t what the Obama White House wanted to hear. So the administration cut off DIA access to the documents and instructed DIA officials to stop producing analyses based on them.

Sent by a usually reliable source.


: Sapir-Whorf refuted

Dear Dr. Pournelle:
Recently on your blog you marvelled over the lack of the word “blue” in Ancient Greek. You ask, following the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis, if the Greeks actually experienced the color blue, under that azure Mediterranean sky.
I reply that there are many vivid experiences lacking words. Consider your stomach; when there is food in it, you are “full”; when there is no food in it, you are “hungry”. These are fine and short words. Now consider your bladder and your colon. When these are full, you are what? When they are empty, you are what? These feelings are vivid, intimate, urgent and felt by all, but I know no words for them!
My urologist says that the condition of having a full colon is called “tenemus”. That’s a noun, but he doesn’t know a corresponding adjective. Also it refers to the condition, not the feeling.
I propose the following; bladderful, bladdervoid, colonful, colonvoid. Those are the ‘polite’ and abstract words; their ‘rude’ and immediate synonyms are pissful, pissvoid, shitful, shitvoid. This 2x2x2 word-cube possesses mathematical regularity, and also musicality; I offer it to you for free. Use it in good health.
These words did not exist before now; yet they denote universal experiences. Thus I refute the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis.
And as long as I am discussing missing useful words… we need words for velocity; short words to be said in a great hurry. Sailors have ‘knots’ for ‘nautical miles per hour'; but what do we call a mile per hour? “MPH” is an acronym, and it’s five syllables long; by the time you’ve screamed it at the driver, he’s already crashed the car. So what word will do? “Miph”? “Oomph”? Nah…
Or take “kilometers per second”; useful for all space-farers. I think “kaypees” will do admirably. This too I offer to you.

I had to demonstrate understanding of the Whorfian hypothesis as part of my Ph.D. qualifying examinations. I can honestly say I have thought about it little since then.


“Lest Darkness Fall”


I don’t think I told you, but I read “Lest Darkness Fall” last year and enjoyed it a great deal.

Phil Tharp

I just bet you did. Sprague spins a great yarn.


Brian P’s command on Sex and Terrorism 3/4

Last autumn, I took the time to listen through the famous recorded lectures of Greg Mosse on cultural history at the UW Madison web site. In those, he points out that many men are perfectly happy living in a state of slavery and bondage.
Doug Roberts
From my personal observation, it takes education and training for people to prefer freedom and liberty over slavery and bondage. It matters how tight the bonds are. I think it is an accident of history that here in the USA we built a nation upon the principles of liberty and freedom. We were taming a continent with little oversight. Only then do men resent the bonds of various forms of slavery. That may also help explain why, today, rural areas are bastions of liberty and freedom while urban areas are havens of restriction and limitation.

Some are content to let others face the challenges, and live off the efforts of others. When there are enough of those to control the government the Republic is doomed. Among other reasons, when the soldiers no longer respect the government…


Is it bad when 


Regarding your recent view comment about the legions not respecting the government… Is it bad when the reaction inside the operations center is general laughter, upon seeing “breaking news” on CNN about another physical security breach at the white house?

Name withheld…


Sex and terrorism

Dear Dr. Pournelle,

In one of your older novels (Prince of Sparta, I believe), your characters debate why their enemies are fighting. One concludes “it’s the girls”. 
Turns out that may apply to our current troubles as well.
Arab men in traditional culture have NO contact with women at all, not even dating, until they’re married. That can often not be until one reaches the thirties. 
This has the results you would expect.
ISIS, by contrast, offers a quick marriage both to male and female recruits. For the men  the attractions of marriage are obvious. Women are offered  ” wonderful husband and a free house with top-of-the-line appliances, such as a fridge, microwave and even a milkshake machine”.  Moreover, ISIS will pay a stipend for every  child the couple bears.
Framed that way, it’s obvious why they exert such a powerful draw.  People who aren’t ever going to amount to much , people who have been let down by their traditional culture, are flocking to a place that offers them a fresh start. And sex , of course. 

If this is the draw , then perhaps we can help demolish ISIS by offering similar things, or convince those countries that reform it’s necessary. It’s difficult for me to imagine those countries being truly stable if they’ve got all that sexual energy screaming for an outlet, even after we crush ISIS like the bug it is.

Brian P.

One of the attractions of Communism to undergraduates in the 50’s was that the girls believed in free love. That was effective in the days before the hookup culture. It would not be now in US universities.


M. Stanton Evans, gone to his reward.


Roland Dobbins

Mr. Evans, as Mr. Dobbins well knows, in the mid sixties had in his book a statement making me a Communist spy, despite the personal assurance of Russell Kirk that this wasn’t true. It’s a long story and not important now if it ever was.  RIP


Could IBM’s brain-inspired chip change the way computers are built? (WP)

IBM has worked its way up from a worm-size brain, with 256 processors that simulate neurons, to a chip with 1 million of them — the equivalent of a bee brain. By the end of next year, the team hopes to build a mouse-sized brain with 256 million processor-neurons, he said.

At 100 billion neurons, the human brain remains a distant dream.

That looks like a 256-fold (2^8) increase every two years, or 16-fold every year.

If we have 256 million neurons by the end of next year, that means 4 billion a year later, 65 billion the year after that, 1000 billion the year after.

So “a distant dream” is reached about four years from now.

Distance just ain’t what it used to be.


We can discuss the singularity another time; it does appear we are moving ahead with the concepts making AI possible.


The Unreasonable Power of Mathematics 

Dear Jerry:

Some brave souls at the BBC have decided to risk their careers by putting basic equations on screen in an attempt to deconvolute the Climate Wars.

It aired a day ago across the pond, and has already gone global oh  YouTube.:

Be warned: this program  just might change your mind.

Monckton & Soon’s Model  ? I don’t think so.

                         Russell Seitz

Fellow of the Department of Physics Harvard University        


I wonder if there is any significance to this article being in the UK press and not US…

Subj: Bubonic plague-carrying fleas found on New York City rats

Plague shots anyone?
“To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a
child.” — Cicero, 46 B.C.

Dear Dr. Pournelle:
I appreciate that this article represents a point of view, and that this point of view is no more (and, of course, no less) arguable than the “realist” viewpoint which you appear to espouse with respect to Ukraine et al. I also appreciate that you are unlikely to come around to a different way of thinking on this subject.

I pass this along for two reasons: the author does a comprehensive job of laying out his position, contra the realpolitik view; and he does so in a way that i think exposes the weaknesses of the “realist” view in a measured and non-confrontational fashion.

As I’ve stated in other correspondence, I find your views on the subject quite distressing, the more so that you were one of the thinkers who most influenced me during the Cold War, when your positions seemed on all fours with the forward-leaning internationalist–indeed interventionist–bipartisan foreign policy that was this country’s from the late 1940s to the late 1960s, in which President Reagan played the final hand to a successful close.

It is quite difficult for me to reconcile one of Reagan’s strongest supporters with the (you’ll forgive the expression, but I am at a loss to find a better) neo-isolationist you seem to have become since the Cold War ended: and while it’s possible that it’s due to my ignorance or lack of sophistication, I like to think that those are not the primary factors in my failure.

And while we’re on the subject of epithets, your continued use of the term “neo-conservative” and its various pejorative attributes does nothing to make your argument more convincing, although it does irritate and alienate people like myself, who share some of those views. I leave it to you to decide whether that should affect your usage: of course “Chaos Manor” is your house, therefore your rules. But my late mother once observed that manners consisted in the avoidance of behaviors that made others uncomfortable.

I realize I am probably wasting my time (and yours), but you’ll have to forgive me for continuing to (politely, I hope) try.
Very respectfully,
David G.D. Hecht

I am not immune to emotional attachments, or to dislike of cooperation with tyrants and unpleasant leaders; the question is, what is the threat to the United States, and what agreements make us safer?

Russia needs and wants Russians, or inhabitants that can be Russified – assimilated into the Russian culture.  Ukrainians and Cossacks can be.  Some Slavs can be. Finns and Swedes cannot be, and their experience is that Poles cannot ne either.  They were given a large part of Poland after WW II, as well as Konigsberg. They don’t want Poles and dilution of the Russian culture.  They are a threat to Ukraine, but the Russophile Ukrainian population will assimilate nicely; the rest won’t.  Russia knows this.

Russia is no threat to US territory, and a life or death treaty with Ukraine will not increase the security of the US.  Russia and US have similar interests to the East of Ukraine; having a hostile relationship helps neither nation.

I am not an isolationist and never have been, any more than Jefferson was when dealing with the Barbary Coast.  I am a realist.

If you will give me a term more acceptable to describe  the modern interventionists who got us into a needless war in Iraq, and a prolonged stay in Afghanistan after we had cast out the Taliban I will endeavor to use it, as you do not like neo-conservative.  They were allies in the cold war, but do not understand that it is over.

According to the egregious Frum I have been read out of the Conservative movement, so while I think of myself as conservative I am no longer a “Leading Conservative Intellectual.” But then I am of a company with the late Messrs. Stephen Tonsor and Russell Kirk who also opposed the Iraqi invasions.

I believe we are at war to the knife with the Caliphate, and that war is far more a threat to the US than the Russian territorial disputes; and I firmly believe we must accept that war.  No war was ever won by waiting for the enemy to take the initiative. This puts us into a war in Iraq.  We must fight it.  It would not have come upon us without our invasion of Iraq, which I very much opposed – of course once we were in it it behooved us to fight to win.  And having won we needed a proconsul who understood our objectives.  At the price of much blood and treasure – most Iraqi but much of it ours – we imposed Bremer.

And now we refuse to acknowledge ISIS is at war with us, yet they say so hourly.




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




Airpower, Temperature, Dragon, NATO, and much other Mail

Chaos Manor Mail, Saturday, February 21, 2015


Roberta is singing at a funeral that I didn’t wake up in time for. The newspaper is outside, down five brick steps in front. Needless to say I don’t go out the front way. Sometimes a neighbor will toss the papers up on the patio, where I can get at it, but no one seemed to be walking their dog when I looked out. Which makes this a good time to catch up on some of the mail; I’ll try to put current topics first, but it’s all interesting.



Airpower and IS

Respectfully, I would point out to Joe Zeff that air power never managed to shut down the Ho Chi Mihn trail.
Air power people keep claiming (in effect at least) that it can win the war for you. Where and when has that ever been true?
The 8th Air Force did not relieve Bastogne; Patton’s 3rd Army did.
Strategic bombing invited the Luftwaffe to destruction; the Wehrmacht needed to be defeated by armies. Air superiority is useful and important, but that does not equally winning.
Naval gunfire for days and air strikes did not win Iwo Jima. It took boots on the ground and many casualties.
I suppose we could plaster an area with nuclear weapons and make it uninhabitable, but how is that “winning?”
I am sure you know all this; you have said as much. What part of this is not obvious? Why does this keep coming up?

Michael J Schuerger Sr

“Winning” is a concept that isn’t studied enough, in my judgment. In the Cold War, surviving without a nuclear war was a win. I did a study on Stability and National Security that was used in the Air War College, and may still be. But at any level below Central Nuclear War other definitions apply. USAF matured under that condition, and requirements tended to be dominated by the necessity of survival in Big wars; small wars got less attention, which led to Viet Nam where it never escalated to the level USAF was really prepared for. The Russians never trusted their allies with real air power, so local air supremacy was relatively easy to achieve; but they never learned what to do with it.

You can fly over the land, you can bomb it, you can kill everything in it, but you do own it until you stand an 18 year old soldier with a rifle on top of it. General Powers thought that USAF should never give up a mission, so close support of the ground army was kept which meant all fixed wing aircraft. Over time the Army developed rotary wing craft, but they cannot perform all the requirements of real ground support. The primary mission of USAF (other than Strategic Nuclear capability) is and should be gaining and keeping local air supremacy. In this era of SAMS and electronics that is tough to do; and when it comes to design decisions this tends to dominate. The result is obvious.

This subject requires a longer essay than I can write with my present typing skills. I am going to try Dragon and see what that does. It’s an important subject.


I’m not that crazy about turning our military in to a mercenary contract coordinator, but in some respects that’s exactly what it is already. However, maybe it’s time for a private company to purchase all the A-10s and sub-contract their services to the U.S military. There are more than enough people who are willing and able to drive warthogs, and that way they can by-pass all the commissioned-warrant-non-commissioned BS over the people flying them, as well as which service has the authority to use or dispose of them. It wouldn’t be that much different from the way the government subsidizes the airline industry today.

Michael D. Houst

I do not think I agree, but it is an interesting notion.


Leaving NATO

You wrote yesterday, and have done so in days past, that the US should leave NATO. You state that NATO has done its job, shutdown the Soviets, so now we are free to leave. However, NATO has another job just as important as shutting down the Soviets was: keeping Europe disarmed and occupied by a friendly force.
Prior to the US occupation of Europe, there had seldom been peace in Europe. This was fine for the young United States as it kept European powers busy with each other, wasting lives and treasure 3,000 miles from our shores. A peaceful Europe would have left the European Powers able to conquer the US. This state of affairs suited the US just fine until industrialization gave the European Powers the ability to fight global wars.
The United States was no longer safe from a warring Europe. Their wars spilled out all over the globe. The incessant warring in Europe had to stop. The European Powers had never been able to stop on their own, so after World War II, the United States occupied Europe. We established huge military bases throughout and around the region. We convinced the European Powers that we could act as their military, defending them against the “external” threats of the time (the Soviets were sure convenient), so we got them to largely disarm. The European Powers were happy with this — they could spend their treasure on rebuilding after WWII and then on social programs that make politicians happy and bribe the people into quiescence.
The United States realized after the two world wars that it was much cheaper in lives and treasure to occupy a disarmed Europe than it was to arm itself for another European invasion. If we leave NATO and let Europe rearm for serious warfare, we will have to rearm for serious European invasion. We will have to have the capacity to meet and defeat major industrial powers in global warfare again. And this time, we cannot count on the oceans to keep the bombs and missiles, or even the armies, off of our land. We will have to prepare to be invaded as well. This gets ugly.
I say it is cheaper in lives and treasure to stay in NATO, keep justifying it, and keep Europe occupied and disarmed.

Kevin L Keegan

NATO primarily threatens Russia and makes it difficult to exploit our common interests with Russia in dealing with China. It embroiled us in the Balkan mess where we had no interests at all other than sentimental – the participants there were no more vicious than many African conflicts produce.

The French want us to sit on Fritz. Europe need not spend so much on defense. The US subsidizes Europe that way. While I have considerable sentimental regard for the Balkan republics, they are hardly vital allies against – anyone. It is time for Europe to grow up.

Again this is a larger subject than my typing permits just now.


Hello Jerry this is written using Dragon NaturallySpeaking version 12 on a Microsoft Surface Pro 2. I would suggest you look into using Dragon NaturallySpeaking to help you use your computer and do speech to text for writing. I am using a Buddy microphone in the USB port. This is a flexible microphone and can be twisted into any shape. Using this system I can sit in my easy chair using the Surface Pro on battery power and dictate into the computer.
You might want to look at the KnowBrainer website, this is where I buy my versions of the software and microphones. On this website there is an excellent set of software to accompany Dragon, KnowBrainer Command which helps you command your computer. It was written to assist people with handicaps to control a computer. Dragon has three high level versions, one for medical, one for legal, and one for professional writers. These three versions come with the ability to program commands into Dragon (macros). Larry Allen has written a book on writing macros and Dragon which is a good book to start off writing these commands. KnowBrainer Command was written to allow you to control computer using voice commands. I have not tried this software but I understand it’s easy to use for people that have difficulty using a keyboard.
The owner of the KnowBrainer website is a good resource for utilizing Dragon. I use Dragon daily as I am a physician and use it for medical dictation. I have also written macros which allow me to insert boilerplate or activate voice commands for use in an electronic medical record system. I also use a recorder, an Olympus WS-700M (older recorder and a newer version is available which has the same features), to capture dictation on the go. This recorder has a USB plug that pops out and you can plug it into the computer. It also accommodates micro SD cards that you can easily remove. Dragon NaturallySpeaking has software, Transcription Agent, that will automatically download files from the recorder and transcribe them for you, placing them in a folder of your choosing.
I think you might find this beneficial software to try for dictation. Dragon NaturallySpeaking does not have to be trained anymore, indeed a lot of people simply open Dragon up and start using it. One recommended way to improve dictation is to take text files that you’ve already written up and allow Dragon to analyze them for your writing style. This will improve Dragon probably more than any voice training that might be done. I have a set of files of medical dictation and medical terms which I have Dragon analyze. This seems to make Dragon much more accurate, at least for me.
I’m sure you have many consultants that are much more versed in Dragon NaturallySpeaking and other types of software than I. You might have been look into it for you and see what they can come up with.
Keep doing what you do so well. I appreciate what you do, your website is a unique one on the Internet where a person can find rational discussion about many of the issues affecting us all today. As I have said before I believe you are national treasure take care of yourself and live long and prosper.


I have much mail recommending Dragon, and I have the Surface Pro and am getting a dispatch case to carry it. We’ll find out what happens. As it is I spend more time correcting a sentence than I did typing it. Thanks for the suggestion.


The Face of Things – The Jewish (Demographic) Superpower


Long term demographic projections can be hazardous. However; this article raises some interesting questions about what is in the long term interest of the US and might explain Netanyahu’s invitation to European Jews to immigrate to Israel

It appears that the earlier reports of Israel’s demographic demise as a Jewish verses Arab state were premature. In fact it is Israel’s Muslim minority and Muslim neighbors who appear to be on track for demographic decline. Egypt might be the exception, but their economy is so fragile and their population so dependent upon food imports that a sudden, catastrophic drop in population is quite plausible. (we will not contemplate the carnage that could result from breaching the Aswan dam.)

If Israel can successfully recruit and assimilate Europe’s Jews and inspire them to resume procreating rather than just fornicating, this brings the Israeli state decades closer to parity with its neighbors in the critical demographic of young, adult males who fight wars. This of course also brings Europe closer to a Muslim youth majority.

James Crawford=

We can go on with business as usual with everyone but ISIS, but the Caliphate is at war with us.


Law enforcement, Florida-style.


Roland Dobbins


“Inter Jovem et Martem Planetam Interposui”

They’ve reclassified Ceres again.  Now it’s a “dwarf planet”.

(I thought it was from “Space Cadet”, but a quick Google shows it to be from “The Rolling Stones”.  I’m getting old…

–John R. Strohm


The big list of failed climate predictions | Watts Up With That?


It is well to understand that none of the expensive – very –expensive models employing many people at high pay – has ever predicted anything that Arrhenius didn’t know in 1900, or that you didn’t know in grade school. It is warmer now than in 1776, ad seems to heating at about 2 degrees F per century. You also learned that it was warmer in Viking times than now. We certainly would not call Nova Scotia “Vinland” now; perhaps in fifty years. We do not know why temperature cycles. There are many theories, but we do know Mars has temperature cycles, and we can guess it has to do with the Sun.


Mars’ Massive Erupting Clouds Still Puzzle Scientists

Editor’s note: The following essay is reprinted with permission from The Conversation, an online publication covering the latest research.

Enormous cloud-like plumes reaching 260km above the surface of Mars have left scientists baffled. This is way beyond Mars’s normal weather, reaching into the exosphere where the atmosphere merges with interplanetary space. None of the conventional explanations for such clouds make sense—neither water or carbon dioxide ice nor dust storms nor auroral light emissions usually hit such heights.

These “mystery clouds” came as a surprise, in particular when considering they were first spotted by a string of amateur astronomers in 2012. After all, an international fleet of five orbiters and two rovers is currently operating on and around Mars, and one may be excused thinking the red planet has little left to hide and its exploration has become routine.

A survey of images from the Hubble Space Telescope and amateur astronomers revealed massive clouds had been seen on Mars before, but none as prominent as the 2012 observations.

So what caused these clouds? An international team of scientists led by Agustin Sánchez-Lavega has now published an investigation in the journal Nature.

There’s considerably more.


Americans Befuddled by ‘Net Neutrality’ (MC)

Survey Finds 74% Are Unfamiliar With the Term

2/19/2015 3:15 PM Eastern

By: Leslie Jaye Goff

Only a quarter of Americans are familiar with the term net-neutrality and among those that are, only 38% view regulation of the Internet by the Federal Communications Commission under Title II reclassification favorably.

That’s according to phone survey conducted last week by Hart Research Associates for the Progressive Policy Institute, a Washington, D.C., think tank founded during the Clinton administration..

“Net neutrality is near net zero understanding,” Peter Hart, founder of Hart Research Associates, said.

The survey of 800 adults age 18 and over also found that 73% of Americans want greater disclosure of the details of the FCC’s proposal to regulate the Internet, and 79% favor public disclosure of the exact wording and details of the FCC’s proposal before the agency votes on it Feb. 28.

Broken down by political party, Democrats generally favor Internet regulation by the FCC, with 51% saying they believe it would be more helpful and 33% saying it would be more harmful. Independents and Republicans were more likely to go the opposite direction; only 28% of Independents and 11% of Republicans said they thought FCC regulation would do more good than harm, while 55% of Independents and a whopping 80% of Republicans said Internet regulation would be more harmful..

“These findings suggest that the FCC’s bid to impose outdated telephone regulations on the Internet is driven more by professional activists than by the public, which seems instinctively to resist the idea,” Will Marshall, PPI president, said. “That’s why Congress should take a closer look at what the FCC is up to and make sure these issues get a thorough public airing.”

The full results of the survey, conducted Feb. 13-15, are available at PPI’s website.


Global Warming Propaganda

As someone who is not an atmospheric scientist, or even a physicist, I make no claim of expertise with regard to the effect of CO2 on the atmosphere. I know it has some effect, but I’ve never read as to what the limits might be. However, I have worked in a greenhouse. So here’s my problem: Posit a greenhouse constructed of clear glass plates, one inch in thickness. The result will be a warming of some amount within the greenhouse, call it “T”, above the outside temperature. If we then add an additional 12 inches of glass to the structure, will the inside temperature become “12T?”
Having only had a year of high school chemistry, it strikes me that the answer is “No.” As I recall, the infra-red radiation is trapped by the glass only within a fairly narrow band-width. Once it breaches those limits, then it passes through the glass and the warming ceases to rise. Have I missed something?
One caveat: For simplicity’s sake, I have limited this thought problem to one atmospheric variable. Given what I’ve read over the last 15 years, I don’t believe that it’s possible to model a system as chaotic as the earth’s biosphere and the inter-relationship with our sun in such a comprehensive manner as to come to any worthwhile conclusions.
Thank you,

: Bob Smith


Can you write more about why a War Department is preferable to a Department of Defense? I’m too young to know much about the War Department, though I know of it. I don’t think I’m the only one…

◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊

Most Respectfully,

Joshua Jordan, KSC

Percussa Resurgo

Hopefully when I learn dictation I can write longer essays.


One gram of DNA can potentially hold up to 455 exa

Like you, I believe that over time the cost of storage in this medium will come down. Here’s my question: At what point is the cost low enough that all of that information is included in the price of a computer, at time of purchase, without regard to the form the computing device may take.
Question number 2: When that day arrives, what impact will that have on the search engine markets? Education?

Bob Smith

You raise interesting questions. We are part way there now: look at what comes with most systems. Of course some of that is crapware. But facts are cheap, data are cheap, and prices are falling..


A French Soldier’s View of US Soldiers

Dr. Pournelle,
I couldn’t remember if you had seen this and I couldn’t find it in a cursory search of your daybook. It’s a translation of the original French article of a French soldier’s experience with US soldiers in Afghanistan. It’s a good read and I like finding out what our allies actually think about us.
–Bill Retorick


From the March 2015 Harper’s Magazine, p. 12:

“Indeed, this paradox can be observed so regularly that I think we are justified in treating it as a general sociological principle. Let’s call it the Iron Law of Liberalism: Any market reform or government initiative intended to reduce red tape and promote market forces will ultimately increase the number of regulations and bureaucrats, as well as the amount of paperwork, that the government employs. Emile Durkheim was already observing this tendency at the turn of the twentieth century, and fifty years later even right-wing critics like F.A. Hayek were willing to admit that markets don’t really regulate themselves: they require an army of administrators to keep them going.”
Note that the ‘liberalism’ described here is classic liberalism; let the free market decide. But it seems that Market and State are joined at the hip.
This reminds me of the expansion of paper printouts for every ‘paperless’ office


An interesting assertion, and probably true. I should have thought of it. But it may we can derive it from the Iron Law of Bureaucracy


Was Big Bang disproved?


But no, that paper in no way disproves the Big Bang. For starters it doesn’t begin to explain all of the phenomenae we see, and of those it does “explain,” the end result is in essence no different from current accepted Big Bang theory. And as our favorite Vulcan was wont to say, “A difference which makes no difference IS no difference.”

Second, they’re playing serious games with the geometries, and I’m not at all sure those games are warranted.

Third, Dr. Ross does well when he states that their “conclusion” is really just a restatement of their initial conditions: if you go into a situation with a predetermined conclusion, it isn’t surprising when you reach that conclusion. In other words, if I wanted to disprove the Big Bang, the first thing I would do would be to set up the geometries and any other pertinent initial conditions such that it was impossible to produce a singularity. This also would tend to “disprove” black holes in general, and if I recall correctly, there was a paper recently by another quantum physicist who claimed to have disproven those too.

Aha, here it is, and in Arxiv, which isn’t peer-reviewed, but is merely a paper repository. ( I would be very interested in knowing how much interaction she may have had with Faraq Ali. A cursory review of her references does not reveal any of his papers, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t cross-pollination. Then again, she is coming at it from a different direction than Fariq. And again, her hypothesis fails the test of being able to predict all observations.

Dr. Ross’ summary is really pretty good IMHO, and points out the flaws in the conclusion that the Big Bang has been disproven.

I’m trying to remember where the conversation occurred, but recently I did have a conversation with another scientific-minded person (it may have been Jim in email; it may have been a friend in my special Facebook group, we discuss much science there), and it was explained to me that this Farag Ali apparently has a somewhat questionable background. It seems that he has his own pet theories and is constantly propounding this, that, and the other strange notion, publishing them someplace or other (NOT necessarily peer-reviewed, e.g. Arxiv), and then referencing them in subsequent papers, thereby appearing to substantiate the most recent paper(s). Jim may know more about this; I had not to my knowledge heard of the guy (or at least not sufficient to recognize his name) until this Big Bang thing was brought to my attention. This is not to say that I have not read any articles about his various pet theories, as my fans are apt to dredge up some really interesting stuff (in EVERY sense of the word) and post it for my comments, on Facebook in particular.


Please send some Southern Cali warmth our way; where I live, just outside Huntsville AL, went down to at least 8F last night, with wind chills down around -5F. My heat pump can’t keep the house warm in these conditions, and I’m bloody well freezing.
Stephanie Osborn

“The Interstellar Woman of Mystery”

= = = =

Dear Jerry:

You may have seen the news stories about the Big Bang being disproved by a quantum model. For example,

Astronomer Dr. Hugh Ross at Reasons to Believe explains how the theory in question certainly does not explain away the Big Bang. In fact, it merely assumes it out of existence as a starting premise.

His article is understandable by the well-read layman.

Best regards,

–Harry M.


Rot Springs Eternal

As with many Taki columns, the comments are as interesting as the column.

Charles Brumbelow




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