Hearing report; climbing the hills

View 821 Wednesday, April 23, 2014


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

Glenn T. Seaborg, National Commission on Education, 1983


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

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

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

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

I continue to recommend the COSTCO hearing aids.


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

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


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

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






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




Work and citizenship and education and the Iron Law

View 821 Tuesday, April 22, 2014


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

Nancy Pelosi. Former Speaker of the House of Representatives


Referring to the Affordable Health Care Act

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

President Barack Obama, January 31, 2009


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

Glenn T. Seaborg, National Commission on Education, 1983


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

Barrack Obama, famously.


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

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon



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

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

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

“In communist society, where nobody has one exclusive sphere of activity but each can become accomplished in any branch he wishes, society regulates the general production and thus makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticize after dinner, just as I have a mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, shepherd or critic.”


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Interestingly :

Guess Who Makes More Than Bankers: Their Regulators

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

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

Bureaucrats do very well for themselves, as the Iron Law ( ) would predict. At the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, secretaries average $79,182, Less than drivers, but still a fair amount.

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

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


How to survive…

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

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

Charles Brunbelow

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





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




Russia, the US, and the future.

View 820 Thursday, April-17-14

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

Glenn T. Seaborg, National Commission on Education, 1983



Hi Jerry,

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



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

Jerry Pournelle

Chaos Manor

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

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


Peggy Noonan has much to say about the future of US Russian relations. Noonan: The Bear That Talks Like a Man Her point is that we had odd relations with Russia in the time of Charles Francis Adams, in the times of John Hay and Teddy Roosevelt, and here we are again. In between was the Cold War.

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

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

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

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

But surely no one takes that seriously now?

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

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

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

And it is late. More another time.


Lack of gefilte fish

Dr Pournelle

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

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

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

Live long and prosper

h lynn keith

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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




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




Gefilte fish and global warming; income inequality and public education.

View 820 Wednesday, April 16, 2014


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

Glenn T. Seaborg, National Commission on Education, 1983



Microsoft confirms it’s dropping Windows 8.1 support.



Roland Dobbins

If you still have Windows 8 and have not “updated” to 8.1, it appears that you’re lucky. Of course if all the 8.1 updates have installed properly, you’re also all right, I think. Microsoft is going to get a lot of heat about this, so they’ll be working pretty frantically to fix things. The best guess is that they’ll withdraw this goofy policy, but without either Gates or Ballmer perhaps sanity is a bit more scarce? Or more likely, Microsoft is becoming subject to the Iron Law as each department and fief seizes what it can…

Meanwhile, I’m catching up and winding down here. I did work on fiction today. Tomorrow I have to clear up some items with the California Reader so that can go on line.


Paucity of whitefish mars Passover meals

With ice just starting to thaw on the Great Lakes, there’s a shortage of whitefish, a key ingredient in the Seder feast’s traditional gefilte fish. It’s not the only food that’s scarce.,0,6949238.story#ixzz2z7cduzQ1

Exactly how that fits with the theory – perhaps it is better to call it a belief – of manmade global warming is not clear.

Meanwhile we have

April 16, 2014: Earth’s poles are separated by four oceans, six continents and more than 12,000 nautical miles.

Turns out, that’s not so far apart.

New data from NASA’s AIM spacecraft have revealed "teleconnections" in Earth’s atmosphere that stretch all the way from the North Pole to the South Pole and back again, linking weather and climate more closely than simple geography would suggest.

It turns out that weather in Indianapolis (and other Midwest cities) correlates quite nicely with the upper atmospheric clouds in Antarctica (with a two week gap which is presumably the time required for the message about temperature in Indianapolis to get to Antarctica). I presume that more studies of the “communications time” (assuming that these weird correlations hold up, and it looks as if they might) will give us a better guess as to what the communications mechanism is. For the moment I can only think of speedy trolls, or perhaps fairies, but I’m fairly certain it’s something else.

The Gaia theorists (believers?) may be able to make something of this. And among the climatologists there will probably some who will look at their expensive models and sigh.


When you contemplate income inequalities, think on the fact that we spend enormous a mounts of money on a school system which the rich – and most of the teachers – make considerable sacrifices so that they can keep their children out of it. One of the main hereditary advantages one can have is to be born to parents whose wealth or status or both entitle them to educate you without resorting to the public school system; just as one of the main advantages you can give your children is to free them from public education.

There are of course exceptions. We live near one of the, a Los Angeles school rated at the very top of the LAUSD system. Oddly enough, across the street from Carpenter School there is a private academy occupying the premises of Corvallis, a very highly rated Catholic girls high school. Corvallis might have merged with Notre Dame, an all male Catholic high school during most of the last century. Both Corvallis and Notre Dame were highly prized and had more applicants than seats, but the nuns at Corvallis resisted merging with Notre Dame until it was too late. Notre Dame went co-ed, and Corvallis ended up sold, to become a finishing school for Japanese students whose parents wanted them to spend some high school time or finishing school time in the US; that was during the Japanese ascendency and it declined as Japan’s economy declined. Now it is an academy for bright kids who can afford it. We’re fortunate here to have both public and private schools of some merit, but that’s a rare situation.

If you want to reduce income inequality, the first move would be to eliminate teacher ‘tenure’ in the public schools up through and including the community colleges. Promote and retain on merit, and eliminate the worst teachers every year. The US once had public schools that were the envy of the world – the result was that in World War II we had an enormously productive labor force, many of whom – the women – had never expected to do manufacturing work. Rosie the Riveter astonished Hitler and Tojo – but she also astonished much of the United States. Knudsen and Kaiser understood how to use workers with a good general education to operate well designed machinery; and we buried both Germany and Japan with the output of America.

Technology changes, but one thing seems certain to me: we have destroyed what was once the best public education system in the history of the world, and Federal Aid to Education became Federal domination of education; and the Department of Education contributed to that destruction with its crazy theories. The unions with their insistence on tenure – you can never fire a teacher for incompetence even when everyone in the school knows that teacher is incompetent – were the major cause of the decline of the schools, but the Department of Education might have accomplished it all by itself.

If you want to end income inequalities, first restore the public schools to the quality they held before and during World War II.



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