I spent the weekend at LOSCON and locusts devoured Monday.
One of my panels at LOSCON was at 10 AM. I do not promise to be either civil, coherent, or coordinated before 10 AM, but I didn’t allow for having to GET there by 10 AM. I didn’t take a hotel room because Roberta didn’t want to go, and it takes some logistics to set me up for sleeping. As a consequence I had to get up early enough for Alex to drive me from Studio City to the airport Marriot, which you may have inferred is near LAX. That’s a 40 minute drive on the best of days. As it happens, Saturday morning after Thanksgiving turned out to be one of the best of days. The freeway worked just fine, there were no problems on the surface streets, and Alex could drop me off at the hotel lobby and go look for parking while I looked for Boston, which was the name of the room they had me speaking in. That turned out to be fortunate, because it was across one hall from the Green Room, which I could find easily and where I could get coffee. So it all went better that I expected.
We were to discuss global warming, which might have been a furious discussion, but it turned out that the ‘panel’ was just two of us: me, and Keith Henson.
I haven’t had much opportunity to talk to Keith recently. We were much more closely involved in the 1970’s, when Keith formed the L-5 Society, I was Secretary, and I introduced Keith to Robert Heinlein at the Kansas City WorldCon in 1976. Those were frantic days. Robert approved of L-5 and endorsed it, members flowed in, we got involved in the Moon Treaty which was never ratified by the Senate, in good part due to our efforts (it might have failed anyway, but we certainly made failure certain).
We started the discussion simply: I asked Keith, “Believer or Denier?” He responded, “Doesn’t matter.”
He went on to summarize: “You (Pournelle) think the science of the warmists is deficient. I don’t care. We have to solve the energy problem some day. We can’t live off fossil fuels forever. Someday we’ll run out. Maybe a long time, but we will run out.”
I could agree with that. If something can’t go on forever, it will stop. And this was beginning to sound eerily familiar.
“You wrote forty years ago that we didn’t have a climate problem, we had an energy problem,” he pointed out.
“Yeah, but the climate problem in those days—“
“Sure. The climatologists were all agreed we were due for another ice age. You said so in Step Farther Out. And you said…’
And of course he was right. I had pointed out then that what we needed was energy. We could do some things about global cooling, but for survival we needed energy and lots of it. Nuclear power for a start. Dams wouldn’t work so well if there were glaciers where there used to be rivers. And Solar Power Satellites would work even if the Earth was cooling. Ground based solar could help, but had the fundamental problem that the Sun don’t shine much at night.
And the panel of two went on to discuss energy, because if you have energy you can run the air conditioners while we think of ways to extract the carbon. Wheat in the Yukon would be a start. Lots of heat and CO2 makes farmland out of a lot of the Canadian Shield and other relatively non-productive areas. Enough energy and we can recycle water easily; I already wrote in Step Farther Out that the cleanest running stream in California even then was the outfalls of the Hyperion sewage disposal plant. For full recycling you take out the rest of the salt and pump the fresh water up to the Angeles Crest where it runs down and fills all the old groundwater chambers, then keeps then filled. It’s not a climate problem it’s an energy problem. It always has been. Whether the Earth is warming or cooling, we have an energy problem. Too much CO2 is just an energy problem. Running out of fresh water is an energy problem. Waste disposal is an energy problem. And if history is any guide, the underdeveloped nations have, at base, an energy problem.
We have constructed a new machine. Eric will have lots of details in Chaos Manor Reviews when he gets to writing about it. It runs Windows 10. It has an ASUS board. I don’t overclock, but this high end board doesn’t seem to have a “Don’t overclock” option; or at least so far we haven’t found it. We have tamed it down to 12%, but that’s 12% too much.
We’re still experimenting, and I need a new monitor just to keep up with its native video capability; all the monitors I have are several years old, and the best ones just barely do 1080p. More on this another time.
Probably just a review for most of your readers.
“. . . climate change is a rabbit hole that goes very, very deep.”
A good summary essay. Parts of it read a bit like Step Farther Out, but modern. Not that Step is much out of date, alas. I could wish it were. It says that soon we will go to the asteroids. We have had the technology for a while. And we’re going Real Soon Now. But it said it 30 years ago.
If they’ve lost Unscientific Anti-American, they’re on the ropes.
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 Excellence; Avoider of Yard Work
png called the lack of test vehicles and launches of DC-X-concept craft a 20-year interruption of the forward progress of the concept. I’m not so sure that really applies as the advances and improvements of material technologies, miniaturization, and computers were absolutely necessary in order for these new craft to be built.
Bezos and Musk are approaching the solution from the opposite ends: Blue Origin launching SSTO (almost) from the ground up and back; while Musk has been working at making consistent successful deliveries to orbit (paying for itself, sort of), and then experimenting on controlled re-entry and landing. I suspect the two of them will succeed in both lines of experimentation, with products that with greatly resemble each other and provide commercial competition.
Thanks for pushing the government to at least have started the concept.
And Cheers to Bezos, et. al. on their latest milestone.
At the Core.
Be sure to look at the picture here. Now here’s a possible climate change threat…
At the Core
Those gas bubbles from the explosion are about 30,000 LY high? Um…Aren’t we about 30,000 LY from the core ourselves? Any of that stuff coming our way?
I see you take my point.
Close Air Support and the Super Tucano
“The WWII-Era Plane Giving the F-35 a Run for Its Money”
“So if the A-10 was never going to be around in enough numbers, what could be done? Only one group had enough distance from the Air Force and enough independent money to consider a viable alternative: buying a cheap, lightweight attack plane on their own. That was the Navy SEALs. A group of them met with the Secretary of the Navy in 2006 to tell him about the problems they faced with getting good enough air support.
Like other American combat troops in Afghanistan, the SEALs sometimes found that high-tech gear couldnâ€™t reliably get the job done, or that cheaper, lower-tech solutions worked better. This is how the US military almost adopted the A-29 Super Tucano, a $4 million turboprop airplane reminiscent of WWII-era designs that troops wanted, commanders said was â€œurgently needed,â€ but Congress refused to buy.”
I got into the periphery on that one. I had some of the air war data and models that they needed to make the pitch. It never had a chance, of course. USAF has myriad reasons for rejecting it.
Lind: ‘The guardian of Ataturk’s secularism was the Turkish military.
The U.S. and the E.U. demanded it surrender that role because it was not “democratic”.’
This was one of America’s great blunders. The secularism of the Ataturk Brotherhood preserved diversity. Without it, majority rules eliminates dissent in Moslem lands. Protestantism and the Protestant German Princes preserved the Reformation, but at a very great price in blood.
Reversal of the nuclear threat
While the weapons couldn’t be made to go high-order, they could make a good mass of “dirty” contamination areas, and would make great hostages.
Having said all that, Mr. Dobbins is absolutely correct, except in scope. The U.S. should withdraw all NATO nuclear weapons immediately. The senior Mr. Bush unilaterally withdrew most nukes from Europe in anticipation of a SALT-like agreement that never came to fruition (his successor dropped the ball). We need to follow through. Exceptions might be those weapons stockpiled in Great Britain, but the rest need to come out of there: EU interests are not aligned with the U.S. nor with the original NATO charter.
Mr. Dobbins also helps to make my other pet point — calling any of those weapons “Tactical” is still ridiculous cold war fiction: They’re the same makes and models that might be dropped by a B-52 in a SAC/TRIAD-style, second-strike, revenge scenario. Stated more simply: since the end of the cold war, having any nuclear assets potentially under the control of an untrusted state or political element is a foolish and irresponsible strategic mistake.
The U.S. nuclear security in NATO depends almost entirely on physical security provided by the host nations’ military. We should have a great deal of skepticism in the military competence and intentions of most of those nations.
Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.