THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 471 June 18 - 24, 2007
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June 18, 2007
Home and safe. Thanks to Joe the house is in good shape, the plants are watered, and the dog was happy. Sable was glad to see us, but she is sorry to see Joe leave. The drive was uneventful. I'm still wearing my neck brace most of the time, and that seems to have stopped the pseudo-sinus headaches I get from pinched nerves. I'm off the anti-biotics as of this morning's last dose.
Now it's time to work.
|This week:||Tuesday, June
The new column is up, and we're caught up now at Chaos Manor Reviews.
Fiction in Progress:
Readers and Non-Fiction:
More will be added, and if we get some more subscribers, I'll look into making all this available in multiple formats.
The newest addition to the subscriber area is the old standby A Step Farther Out, complete with illustrations and the original introductions by Larry Niven and A. E. Van Vogt. This is courtesy of Mr. Steve Martin, who has done a beautiful job of formatting this work. The book was first published in the early 1980's. The purpose was to persuade people that we are not doomed, and we would live to see the 21st Century. After all, Isaac Asimov had said we wouldn't, and so had many academic economists and "ecologists". Computer Models of Doom abounded, and they all showed enormous die-offs of humans through famine and disease. The conventional wisdom was that we were doomed.
A Step Farther Out disputed that: we could, I argued, have not mere survival, but survival with style, using renewable resources.
We have made it to the 21st Century. Alas, many of the measures I proposed for Survival With Style have yet to be implemented; and A Step Farther Out, and its sequel Another Step Farther Out, both available in the subscriber area of Chaos Manor Reviews, remains relevant to our time.
I am also mailing a copy of the pdf format edition of The Strategy of Technology by Stefan Possony, Jerry Pournelle, and Francis X. Kane to all Patron subscribers. Patron subscribers have kept this place going for years, and I haven't done much in return. I'm working on some new rewards, although I understand that most patrons have subscribed as support for what we do, not for the goodies. (An on-line edition of Strategy of Technology has always been available to all readers.)
The copies of the pdf format of The Strategy of Technology were sent to all patron subscribers. As usual we had a number of returns. If you did not get yours, please tell me, and make sure I have your current email address; many of you change addresses without telling me, which is pretty reasonable -- I don't imagine telling me your subscription address is high on the red star list of things to do.
Who Killed The Dream?
Most of this is from another conference, but it's of general interest:
We have told the story of how Space Shuttle went from being a simple reusable access to space pickup truck to a horse designed by a committee. One part of the design process was NASA's hope to take space access away from the Armed Services by making the Shuttle able to perform just about any mission the Armed Services wanted. In practice this mean USAF; the Navy in those days wasn't all that interested in space (although Arthur Clarke had already pointed out that if the human race is to survive, then for the vast majority of our history the word "ship" will mean "space ship"). The Air Force had a particular mission requirement: launch from Vandenberg, go over the Soviet Union, and return to land at Edwards AFB. This required a large cross range capability, which required wings, which dominated Shuttle design.
As one observer puts it, "the SAOAM (that's the Silly Ass Once Around Mission) requirement was dropped by the Air Force in 1974, two years after the SAOAM (along with the volume of the cargo bay) had defined the Shuttle's design."
All this is pretty well known, but it's worth repeating. In the course of discussion Dr. Phil Chapman, one time Antarctic explorer and former US Astronaut, said this, which I quote with his permission:
I am not sure rotten vegetables would be appropriate. I suggest offal.
Re: "Death of the Dream"
I don't understand why everyone keeps crapping all over NASA for their "failure" in the Shuttle design. Indeed, Chapman's quote in the View describes exactly how it WASN'T the fault of NASA!
Chapman claims that NASA ought to have gone back and re-done the Shuttle from square one. See, the problem there is that without Air Force money there WAS no Shuttle…and Air Force wouldn't provide money unless they got what they wanted. And the USAF fell in love with the idea of a "space plane"; they weren't interested in any of these silly old spam-in-a-can capsules or Big Dumb Pipes.
If you want to throw trash at someone, throw it at the USAF. As time goes by and I learn more about the military/scientific history of the twentieth century's latter half, my opinion of the USAF continues to descend.
Many of us who worked with the Air Force, particularly those from Schriever's camp, have a different view.
NASA wanted control of space. This mean exclusive control. They wanted to be sure that everyone who had access to space was thoroughly NASA, a 45 year old PhD, a real astronaut; no simple jet jockeys and pilots, no flight engineers, and certainly no enlisted personnel. To keep control of space NASA offered to do any job anyone proposed. After all, hadn't they GONE TO THE MOON? This was NASA. (No, they hadn't gone to the Moon. General Phillips came and and took over Apollo, and directed the effort to go to the Moon; but that's another story.)
NASA's policies were deliberate. They knew precisely what they were doing. They were keeping USAF from having a space program. And the Navy.
If Navy and Air Force had been given the mission of developing space access and missions in space we would be on the Moon now.
Late or early start as you choose: late getting here anyway. Walked 2 miles with Roberta, then the full 4 mile 700 foot altitude change hike up the hill with Niven. Our agent has comments on Inferno II that make sense, and we'll be doing some changes. Lunch at Todai. Now to go through and make some fixes...
Happy Summer Solstice
I do wonder a bit about National Review now that Buckley is no longer actively running it.
This week's issue has the egregious Frum telling why he was wrong about immigration. National Review was wrong for years about immigration. The resulting harm to the conservative cause cannot be exaggerated. And of course they had the egregious Frum write his piece reading all those who opposed invading Iraq, and opposed staying there once we invaded, out of the conservative movement. They also, unforgivably, allowed the egregious Frum to insult Stephen Tonsor (of whom the egregious one had never heard, apparently). Of course the egregious Frum has never apologized. Why should he? Nor has National Review although Buckley now concedes that those NR read out of the conservative movement were right. "If I knew then what I know now I would have opposed the invasion." A fair statement by Buckley, but the egregious Frum has yet to be heard saying anything of the sort.
But this week's issue also purports to tell the conservative movement what we should think about Global Warming. As usual they have it partly right and massively wrong. Perhaps some of the error is tactical.
The article is by one Jim Manzi, the Lotus man. He begins:
All of which is trivially true, and has been known since Arrhenius who calculated that industrialization might be capable of raising global temperatures by about 1 degree C over the course of a century. This was in 1896, and despite Lotus 1-2-3 and Quattro and Excel and supercomputers with 200,000 lines of FORTRAN, the predictions aren't much better. More "sophisticated" but not better in the sense of predictive. Manzi's condescending baby talk doesn't help his credibility much.
And just as National Review comes out with a cover story game plan for conservatives on dealing with global warming -- which is to play politics with it and ignore the truth -- we find that perhaps we're not done with The Coming Ice Age after all. See today's mail.
When my old friend and mentor Russell Kirk set out to reinvigorate American Conservatism, he began with a book of political philosophy. He also wrote A Program for Conservatives, a nearly forgotten work on just what we ought to be doing. Some of his students, including me, went into politics -- I managed the successful first Congressional campaign of Barry Goldwater, Jr., having been involved rather deeply in fighting the Cold War - but we never forgot that conservatism is a set of principles, not a game plan for winning elections at whatever cost is demanded.
National Review seems to have forgotten that if this article is any example. Which is a pity. Pat Buchanan's The American Conservative never seems to have learned it; it has some excellent articles, but it has been willing to bring in anyone who will agree with any position it likes -- having Norman Mailer on the cover is a particularly egregious example -- and that, in my judgment, is no way to exercise leadership.
Conservatism is a state of mind and a way of life. It is a set of principles, not a game plan, and the principles are more important than any particular narrow issue. Sometimes some principles have to be compromised: Mutual Assured Destruction, MAD, was a ghastly national strategy, but whilst we were faced with tens of thousands of deliverable nuclear warheads with no technological means for defense there weren't many good choices. The Cold War made activists of many of us. We found ourselves forced into entangling alliances, and spending blood and treasure in wars in which we had no obvious national interest beyond doggedly pursuing the strategy of containment. And we chose containment because the cost of defeating the Soviet Union by direct means became increasingly too great for humanity to bear. To make it worse, we were forced to compromise principles with the Liberals who forced entitlements and the entitlement mentality on the nation as the price of allowing us to continue containment and keep sufficient armed force to prevent the Soviets from expanding. We may never recover from some of the compromises the Cold War and containment forced on us.
But through it all some of us understood the principles. One such was National Review under Buckley.
Bill Buckley is older than I am, and I can well understand his eagerness to let go, to end the continual demands of being the founding editor with all that meant. The nation owes him and his magazine more than most realize.
But the principles still don't change. One principle is, If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It! And if it is broke, know what you're doing before you muck with the social order! And if you don't know what you're doing, pay more attention to finding out what's going on than in DOING SOMETHING for the sake of having something to do.
That applies in spades with big casino to the question of climate. We can in fact make a pretty big difference in CO2 levels. It won't be by reducing carbon emissions. If we need to get rid of some CO2, there are some very large scale methods of doing it. The costs are trivial compared to Kyoto -- but if we do the Kyoto nonsense or some variant that the bureaucrats will come up with, we may not be able to afford any large scale methods. And in fact we don't know if we need to get rid of the CO2 in the first place. Maybe we need to throw another log on the fire. Global warming and rising seas help some and harm others. Glacial ice down into the temperate zones helps almost no one (except the Great Penguin Conspiracy, in which the penguins banded together to cause nuclear war and consequent nuclear winter, thus expanding their territory through all of South America and up to Baja California).
National Review has a game plan to use global warming in political races. It may be fine for political activists. As for me, I wish someone would come up with a game plan to generate candidates I really want to see in office.
I see that Paris Hilton will be paid a million bucks for undergoing her ordeal. If she'd been left at home in that ankle bracelet she wouldn't have got 10% of that. Think of it as a million dollar one month gig...
This may be one of the more interesting law suits, with some really interesting ramifications. The outcome ought to be fascinating.
June 23, 2007
A quiet day. Roberta seems to have the crud I had.
The City Attorney was big in public for demanding JUSTICE for Paris Hilton and denouncing the sheriff for sending her home with the anklet. Somehow someone got on his case after that, and it turns out his wife was driving without a license, driving a city car without license or insurance, failed to show up on a traffic charge and had an outstanding warrant, and didn't pay California taxes on her business. And Rocky was driving without insurance for a while. I have not heard him demanding justice and no special treatment.
He also paid the city back for repairs to the city car which his wife damaged when she was driving it. This was years ago and he has paid it back "to do the right thing" although he hadn't bothered until it came out after his Paris Hilton performance. And his wife has now paid a hunk of money to the state to settle that matter. At least that's what the LA Times says.
June 24, 2007
I seem to be having a relapse, and Roberta has it too. Must be some kind of virus. After the week on antibiotics there ain't no bugs in me. I'll manage.
Roland found this:
-- Roland Dobbins
which is well worth your attention. Note that much of the police structure of Germany was created under the liberal Weimar regime; see The Road to Serfdom for details. It only takes a change in regime to bring in different policies, once the precedents are set; and these are set firmly. If they can jail you for Holocaust Denial, they can at another time jail you for Holocaust Assertion. We will have more to say on this another time.
Welcome to the End of History.
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.
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