THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 398 January 23 - 29, 2006
Highlights this week:
For boiler plate, search engine, and notes on what in the world this place is, see below.
For Previous Weeks of the View, SEE VIEW HOME PAGE
If you intend to send MAIL to me, see the INSTRUCTIONS.
This is a Day Book. Pages are in chronological, not blogological order.
January 23, 2006
I have set Paypal up to allow you to buy Strategy of Technology in PDF format. The price is $6.95, which was arbitrarily chosen. The button below "knows" what you are ordering, and automatically sends me the address you ordered it under and notification that you paid. I will then email you a copy. The file is about 1 megabyte, but I sometimes send two different versions on the theory that someone will tell me which is preferable. My enormous thanks to several readers who converted the html files to pdf format. For those who don't know, The Strategy of Technology (1970; University Press of Cambridge, Mass.) was formally written by Stefan T. Possony and Jerry Pournelle. Francis X. Kane, Ph.D., (Colonel, USAF, Ret.) was an unacknowledged co-author; Dr. Kane was Director of Plans for USAF Systems Command at the time. The book was adopted as a text at USMA (West Point), USAFA (Colorado Springs), and both the Army and Air Force War Colleges, and was there for several years. It was also used in some courses at USNA (Annapolis) and at the Navy Post Graduate School. The book was written with general principles in mind, but the examples were chosen from the Cold War period. It was revised over time and all the revisions are incorporated into the pdf. version. The principles remain valid even though the examples are a bit dated. I don't hesitate to recommend it for anyone interested in the future of strategic doctrine.
I have had a surprising number of sales since I put this up over the weekend. I may try this with other works, such as Two Steps Farther Out.
Strategy of Technology in pdf format:
Dealing with Bowker; ISBN Numbers
Well, I have dealt with Bowker to buy ISBN numbers for this and other books. It was amazingly painful. You throw your form down a well, and it comes back to you rejected, with no indication of why. I am still not sure what I did to get them to accept my money. Since Bowker seems to have a government granted monopoly they appear to act as if they are a government: we don't care. We don't have to.
How difficult would it be to have them indicate just what field it is that they are objecting to? Instead, they merely drop you back to the form with no indication of what is wrong. You can continue to play that game as long as you like. Why this outfit has been given a monopoly I do not know, but I suppose they accomplish one thing: they make it difficult, thus keeping the competition down by eliminating those without persistence. I suppose that is a Good Thing.
Microsoft Reader Format
My next step is to convert SOT to Microsoft Reader format. I suspect I already know how to do that and have forgotten. I wonder if Publisher does it?
Well I have a clue now. We will see. Thanks for the responses.
Bob Thompson and others are urging me to try doing a full novel with sales through the net. It's tempting, but I would certainly need to automate the process: if I actually got 10,000 or more orders in a week, which is what I'd need to make this worth doing, I'd spend a good part of my time processing those orders; and while that's enjoyable in that each one is money in the bank, too much of a good thing is painful. Presumably there are automated ways of doing it.
Francis Hamit works through Amazon, which might be a good idea, but they want some kind of exclusive and more than half the revenue. I suspect I can generate at least half as many sales myself. Perhaps the way to go is to reap the initial month's sales myself then set it up for someone else to handle?
Meanwhile I do have TWO STEPS FARTHER OUT which is more or less ready to be converted to pdf and Microsoft Reader. Now if I can find a round tuit...
Of course I have forgotten how to convert documents to Reader format. Maybe it's as simple as a save as in Word?
Rodger Morris says:
Try this link:
so I shall.
January 24, 2006
Michael Galloway is over to help throw things away. We have cleared out boxes and boxes of stuff. Old 12x CD blanks. USB 1.0 devices. You name it, it was probably gathering dust. I could turn a third world country into a 1995 country with all this, but I have no way to get it there and I am not going to maintain it all for them. So out it goes with lots of books so that I can make room on the shelves for other books that have come in since.
This is a major cleanup of the back room. We will start on the Great Hall after lunch. Having fought our way through the back room we are probably safe from monsters...
That will make for a dearth of material in view today.
Sales of Strategy of Technology in pdf format continue to be brisk. Thanks to all.
January 26, 2006
The Iraqi War continues, but we don't do anything about the underlying causes of the war, which is our dependence on the Middle East for vital resources. If we were independent of Middle Eastern Oil, the Arab world would have to develop a real economy, learn to make things and sell them, and in general live with the rest of the world, instead of supporting people with too much time and too much money. They might actually learn to extract the oil themselves, which would require that they develop some actual capabilities other than bomb making and persuading young people to blow themselves up and kill policemen, or sit on the floor learning the Koran, or turning out Wahhabi preachers.
Yes, I know, it's a bit more complicated than that, and there exist within the Arab culture some normal middle class people (middle class: those who possess the goods of fortune in moderation; democracy: rule by the middle class -- Aristotle). But the enormous prices the West pays for the oil distorts everything, and forces us to pay far more attention to the Middle East than we should.
And, as I said in A Step Farther Out about 30 years ago now, the key to energy independence is to exploit the resources of space: energy and material resources. About 90% of the resources easily available to humanity are not on the Earth at all. Easily exploited: once you have decent reusable ships for going to orbit and returning (energy cost for a pound to orbit is about the same as energy cost to fly a pound from Los Angeles to Sydney) it's about as easy to mine the Moon as to mine the sea floor. Of course that requires using Lunar resources to bring Lunar resources to Earth, but there are plenty up there. It's all been studied in vast detail. Just that no one cares much, and we have NASA to stifle any actual attempt to do anything with space.
But we could. We could have space solar power satellites. We could have Moon bases. We could have Lunar colonies, mines and energy farms on the Moon; indeed we could have had all those NOW had we not put NASA in charge. NASA's goal is to employ its standing army. Once that goal is accomplished it can do things, some spectacular, but Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy applies at NASA in spades with big casino. Those whose interests are in furthering the organization rather than its goals always get in charge of any bureaucracy, but at NASA they have control almost as tight as their counterparts in education.
I said back in A Step Farther Out that there were three great examples of the futility of vast centralized bureaucracies: the Soviet system of agriculture, the American System of Education, and NASA. One of those has crumbled, and while the Ukraine has not returned to its pre-Stalin status as the breadbasket of Europe, production is higher than under Communism. There is no longer one big central Soviet system of agriculture. In America, though, the education establishment, and NASA/Aerospace Industry are even more centralized and accomplish even less than when I first wrote all that.
The remedy is simple and we all know it. We could break NASA's iron hold on the future of the human race in a decade, and it wouldn't cost as much as we currently hand over to NASA to employ the standing army. Indeed, we could continue to hand NASA the money for its jobs program. My total program would cost less than $200 Billion Dollars over a ten year or so period. This sounds like a lot of money, but it's not when you're already spending Trillions per year.
I've said it all before, but it bears repeating:
Prizes, and X programs.
In all cases, no money to be paid to anyone until the prize is won, other than trivial administrative costs for a skeleton staff that can verify that the prize conditions have been met. A couple of million a year to NSF and the National Academy of Sciences would take care of that.
LUNAR BASE: under $20 billion
To the first American company to put not fewer than 31 Americans on the Moon and keep them there continuously for a period of three years and one day, $10 billion. To the second American company to meet that condition, $5 billion. To the third, $3 billion.
Note that it is highly likely but not certain that in establishing the Moon Base one or more companies would develop low cost ways to access orbit. To be sure of that, though:
ACCESS TO ORBIT: under $10 billion
To the first American company to put three humans in orbit and return them safely to Earth 18 times in one year using the same spacecraft (90% of the entire system other than fuel to be identical; multiple stages allowed but each stage must be recoverable; the 90% applies to the system as a whole), $5 billion dollars. "Put in orbit" is defined as completing three orbits of the Earth. For the second American company to do so, $3 billion. To the third, $1 billion.
SPACE SOLAR POWER: under $20 billion
To the first American company to deliver to Earth continuously for one year at least 250 Megawatts of electric power deliverable to the standard power grid, $10 billion. To the second, $5 billion. To the third, $2 billion.
Prizes defeat the Iron Law by remaining goal oriented. There is nothing to guarantee that once the prize is won, the bureaucrats won't take over the winning organization; indeed they very well may do so; but meanwhile the goal has been achieved. And who knows, once an outfit wins such a prize, there may be some more spark left in it. Organizations don't have to decay into bureaucracies, although they usually do when the goal focus is gone.
We continue with:
X PROJECTS: $50 billion total for about ten such projects.
X projects are by definition under 4 years in duration and have a simply defined set of goals. Their whole purpose is to build the project, test it, and disband: to defeat the Iron Law by not forming a bureaucracy in the first place. There is no permanent organization, there is only a goal.
I can think of a dozen such projects off the top of my head, but the easiest way to do this is to give each of the armed services a small budget to develop their own wish list, and ruthlessly reject any schemes that are not real x projects.
A few examples:
Continue DC/X to built the SSX that Hunter, Graham, and Pournelle sold to the National Space Council in 1989: a 600,000 pound GLOW VTOL rocket with the goals of: Savable; Reusable; Higher; Faster in that order. The notion was to determine the best mass fraction we could achieve with that weight of vehicle. It would need 12 to 16 engines, and developing the plumbing and control for ganging that many engines would be one of the major accomplishments. It would fly incrementally, as did DC/X, with evaluation after each flight. Build three tail numbers as with nearly all true X projects. The cost would be in the order of $5 billion, which is high but much of that is due to the cost of running government-sponsored programs; the costs include some measures for training the design and construction team since we seem to have lost all the old X project people.
Do it at Edwards, quietly and without a lot of publicity, and get it flying.
I am sure the Two Stages to Orbit, and the Horizontal Landing advocates can describe their own favorite project for about the same amount, and I'd be in favor of funding that too; but these should be done by the individual Services, or a command, not as a central DARPA projects; although I'd settle for DARPA as the sponsor if the alternative is not doing it.
As I said, I can think of other X Programs off the top of my head, as can many of you, and as can many in the space development community.
The entire package above, both X Projects and Prizes, would cost some $100 billion over a period of 6 to ten years, and it would change the world far more profoundly than the Iraq War will. It would bypass the bureaucracies, and by example perhaps show how other great measures could be achieved. The cost is trivial: that is, if the prizes are won we can cheer because what we are doing at present won't get us those benefits for those prices; and if the prizes are not won, the cost is very low to nil since no one is subsidized for spinning wheels.
It only takes doing it.
Addendum on Energy Sources
Space power alone cannot quickly end our dependence on Middle East energy. That will require, among other things, a program to build nuclear fission power plants and make use of much of the weapons grade material we salvaged when we stood down from the Cold War. The program would cost between $100 to $200 billion over a five year period, but if based on a standard 1000 megawatt design, we could build 100 of those in considerably less than five years -- assuming the legal eagles don't destroy the project. There may need to be a billion or so earmarked for that. Energy independence is a national security issue and needs to be treated as such.
We've discussed this in other places, and will again. But moving ahead in exploiting space resources would go a long way toward ending our involvement in the Middle East.
(We also have mail on this; actually the mail got me in the mood to write the above.)
January 26, 2006
We got one room partly cleared out Tuesday, so I am expecting Michael today to help with the Great Hall. We may also try the Cable Room (here there be monsters). This is the annual Chaos Manor cleanout, only I have neglected being thorough for the past couple of years, and judging by some of the ancient stuff from the DOS era I have not been sufficiently thorough for decades. I suppose some of this junk has historical value, but this isn't a museum and I haven't any convenient way to get it to one. I expect that's why some items become collectible: no one cared that much at the time. We all have stories of what happened to our pre-WWII comic books...
The result of criminalizing intellectual property violations can be extreme, as well as costly to the public:
I note that some very much approve of doing this.
January 27, 2006
I've been doing a fair amount of administrative work on matters of public policy. With luck that will have a payoff. We'll see. It's the nature of this stuff that you don't go out and talk about what you're doing, often not even after it's done. As Mr. Reagan used to say, it's amazing what you can get done if you don't care who takes the credit.
I was transferring pictures from the new Kodak pocket camera, and thought these might be interesting.
Left to right: A night at the opera (cast party after the opening of Madame Butterfly); The St. Francis de Sales Choir, Jeanine Wagner, Director, in center; Roberta is up in there somewhere; and a meeting of the Los Angles Science Fantasy Society, with the President and Scribe in what I can only describe as unusual attire for a meeting. (As a fund raiser they auctioned off the right to make the officers wear the masks. Or something like that. Describing LASFS meetings is beyond my ability.)
Received this from Mr. Hellewell, a security expert:
Subject: Virus with Destructive Payload
I also received an inquiry from a subscriber about email purportedly from me with attachments. The attachments do not appear to have been infected with anything, but I can never be sure about such matters.
In general, if you receive mail from me with attachments, it will be personalized; even then it would probably be well to check with me about it, since I seldom send mail with attachments without prior arrangements.
Be careful out there.
I have spent the day cleaning things up, and running errands, and actually working on Inferno. I should be back in essay mode shortly.
Hamas wins; which may or may not convince the Jacobins that democracy isn't the answer to all questions. My friend Greg Cochran keeps asking me for the evidence that Bush and his advisors pay attention the Jacobins, and I can only reply that it is evident from everything they say and do. They really believe that "democracy" as an institution will somehow end conflict and war. Of course it will not. "Democracy" has never been all that wonderful as a means of assuring ordered liberty, and most of the Middle East (and the underdeveloped world in general) need ordered liberty and legal stability a lot more than democracy; enlightened despotism would be much better for them.
The neocons were full steam for democracy at one time. And if we read Paul Bremer's book, and George Packer's Assassin's Gate, we see just how little those put in charge of these matters know about the real world. Bremer is just convinced that a PhD and a career in the Foreign Service fits one for almost any task. This is a pity.
The neocons may well shy away from democracy now that they see its fruits. What they will turn to next I do not know.
But I remain convinced that it would be worth a very great deal to the world if the US were to make herself energy independent, by any means necessary, at whatever cost it requires. This would lower the price of oil, leave a lot less at stake in the Middle East and fewer resources for doing nothing, and might even require those countries to learn how to run an actual economy rather than take the fruits of their sands and squander them while learning little to nothing. Spoiled rotten works for countries as well as children.
Why anyone predicted any result other than a victory by Hamas I cannot fathom, but most seem to have. I have known all along this was coming.
It will be interesting to see what happens next. Incidentally, we really don't want free elections in Egypt or Pakistan, either...
January 28, 2006
Subj: What is possible in the Middle East? Jerry Pournelle vs Bernard Lewis
JP: ="Democracy" has never been all that wonderful as a means of assuring ordered liberty, and most of the Middle East (and the underdeveloped world in general) need ordered liberty and legal stability a lot more than democracy; enlightened despotism would be much better for them.=
BL: =To speak of dictatorship as being the immemorial way of doing things in the Middle East is simply untrue. It shows ignorance of the Arab past, contempt for the Arab present, and lack of concern for the Arab future. Creating a democratic political and social order in Iraq or elsewhere in the region will not be easy. But it is possible, and there are increasing signs that it has already begun.=
Foreign Affairs - Freedom and Justice in the Modern Middle East - Bernard Lewis
Is Professor Lewis a Jacobin? What he describes as possible, based on what was traditional until quite recently, is not exactly what we call Democracy; maybe it's not quite what we'd call Ordered Liberty; but neither is it quite what we call Despotism. And, as the saying goes, what Man has achieved once, Man might aspire to achieve again.
Personally, I do not regard Lewis's judgement as grounds for Optimism, merely as grounds for Hope.
And as the other saying goes, Despair is a sin.
I am properly rebuked, not so much for being wrong as for trying to be brief and thus misleading.
What I should have said is that democracy is a useful form of government only when it is not an instrument of class warfare; when there is a lot of money and power at stake in a society that is deeply divided, ordered liberty and security of contract and property are far more important than counting heads for political power.
Probably the best form of government over there is monarchy, Jordan being a good example. This is a legitimate government, similar in many respects to the developing monarchies that allowed liberal government in the West.
Aristotle held that a decent democracy is rule by the middle class: rule by those who possess the goods of fortune in moderation. It helps if there are neither obscenely rich nor desperately poor in large numbers in the society. Switzerland is an excellent example of this: an armed middle class liberal democracy, divided by languages and confessions but still having national unity and ordered liberty.
Getting to that stage in Iraq, given that it was never a nation, seems very difficult and believing that it will happen requires faith that I don't always have. I can more readily believe that a federation of three republics, with some outside entity controlling the huge oil revenue, would work than that a national unity government can be created.
In fact, restoration of the monarchy, with its power derived largely from control of the oil revenue with all the patronage that implies, and backed by the Coalition military so that it is not easily removed from power, would be more likely to work. Of course that is not a solution that will appeal to either Bush or Blair.
I fear I do not agree with Professor Lewis on traditions there: yes, local councils and regional governments have worked (you may recall I advocated restoring as much power as possible to those even as we were waiting for shock and awe); what has not worked is any kind of national government able to dole out huge amounts of money. It might be easier to set up an orderly Iraq without the oil income, so there is not so great an incentive to seize power.
I know of no democracy in that region that has worked. The Turkish Empire certainly was not such.
Much the same can be said about Hamas and Palestine: until there is order there cannot be ordered liberty and without ordered liberty there is no safe democracy.
January 29, 2006
I have errands today. If you have not read my essay on saving the future, see above. It appears to have been read in Washington; sometimes people listen. We'll see.
This is a day book. It's not all that well edited. I try to keep this up daily, but sometimes I can't. I'll keep trying. See also the monthly COMPUTING AT CHAOS MANOR column, 8,000 - 12,000 words, depending. (Older columns here.) For more on what this page is about, please go to the VIEW PAGE. If you have never read the explanatory material on that page, please do so. If you got here through a link that didn't take you to the front page of this site, click here for a better explanation of what we're trying to do here. This site is run on the "public radio" model; see below.
If you have no idea what you are doing here, see the What is this place?, which tries to make order of chaos.
If you subscribed:
If you didn't and haven't, why not?
For the BYTE story, click here.
Search: type in string and press return.
The freefind search remains:
Strategy of Technology in pdf format:
Entire Site Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 by Jerry E. Pournelle. All rights reserved.