Mail 783 Wednesday, July 24, 2013
The pipe dream of easy war
Dear Dr. Pournelle,
While the New York Times is no longer noted as a source of great repute (at least by me), every once in awhile they come out with something good. This column, by Major General Mcmaster (commander at Fort Benning), is a case in point.
He explains that wars are always harder than we think they will be. The three specific points he makes are:
1) War is political. As the 19th-century Prussian philosopher of war Carl von Clausewitz said, “war should never be thought of as something autonomous, but always as an instrument of policy.”
2) War is human. People fight today for the same fundamental reasons the Greek historian Thucydides identified nearly 2,500 years ago: fear, honor and interest. But in the years preceding our last two wars, thinking about defense undervalued the human as well as the political aspects of war. Although combat operations unseated the Taliban and the Saddam Hussein regime, a poor understanding of the recent histories of the Afghan and Iraqi peoples undermined efforts to consolidate early battlefield gains into lasting security.
3) War is uncertain, precisely because it is political and human.
Probably the best essay I’ve seen out of the NYT this year.
Winning the war is not always the difficult part. Sometimes the tough pert comes after you have won it. How do you get out? We learned some of that in the Philippines. We have never figured out what to do with Puerto Rico. The Constitution was not designed for empire.
Scientists find GIANT Pandoravirus that could have come from an alien planet |
Holey moley – a one-micrometer virus that “only six per cent of its genes resembled genes seen before in other organisms on Earth:”
“Dr Claverie told NPR: ‘We believe that those new Pandoraviruses have emerged from a new ancestral cellular type that no longer exists.’ He went on to explain that it is possible that they have come from another planet, such as Mars.”
Fred Hoyle would have loved this.
Sir Fred and Bob Bussard were both convinced that not all life on Earth evolved here.
Dr. Pornelle –
Where are they going to next put a computer? I shudder to think.
The Lernstift smartpen checks your spelling as you write http://edition.cnn.com/2013/07/19/tech/innovation/spellcheck-lernstift-pen/index.html?eref=edition
"Daniel Kaesmacher, co-founder of Lernstift told CNN: ‘Basically there are two functions. The calligraphy mode which helps you correct individual letters, and the orthography mode which vibrates when a word is misspelled.’ "
"The pen employs a menagerie of sensors, including a gyroscope (for measuring orientation), accelerometer (for calculating propulsion) and magnetometer (a device that measures the strength and direction of magnetic fields) — all to calculate the pen’s 3-D movements."
I’m impressed that someone could invent something like this. I’m not impressed with the purpose of the invention. Only the most dedicated of students readily learn correct spelling from spell check whereas most students adopt an attitude that they no longer need to learn how to spell since the computer will fix things.
Maybe I’m just too old-fashioned – or just remember struggling to learn how to spell. I do like the fact that it’s a fountain pen. (Yes, I’m old-fashioned.)
When I first looked at the site I thought I wanted one, but I decided I did not. On the other hand I have seen the Microsoft Surface Pro running OneNote and I loved it. At $1400 it’s not going to sell, and I don’t think I can afford one, but it sure was fun to use. It accepts a stylus and it recognizes my handwriting. I don’t know if it will recognize yours – there is a reason why Microsoft software recognizes my handwriting.
I think I can do without the pen, but I still think fondly about the Surface Pro.
The great cooling
More Angels have Fallen
Climate is what your model tells you to expect. Weather is what you get. Our models are not very good; they can’t take initial conditions for any year in the 20th Century and project the next 20 years, much less fifty. Patiently I explain again, we know that it has been colder during the Ice Ages, warmer in Roman times, much warmer in Viking times, and a lot colder from about 1400 to 1800, Then it warmed for a while. And now we just don’t know what it’s doing.
Antibiotic Protects Men from Attractive Women:
And it’s not what you think.
I can’t think of an appropriate comment. Perhaps a reader can…
"In terms of politics, I’d say he’s just as anti-American as the next guy in Cambridge."
The pride and hope of America
My Experience as a Military Brat and my Father
In reply to firstname.lastname@example.org you wrote:
"That is not the business of the military. It is the result of their political masters. Military professionals don’t seek war. "
I whole heartedly concur from my experience with my father.
I have never been in the military, but I am a military brat and have had many conversations with my father on this matter. He was a commander at the last five years of his 30-year career. IK have heard from people who knew him but were not close friends that he was an officer with an enlisted heart–high praise indeed.
He echoed your post. He never, never glamorized war. He would not talk about his experience in WWII nor Korea except in the most general terms. He did not see the worst of the actions. In WWII he flew the Hump in C-48s and in Korea he was an RB-45 pilot. He lost a great many friends.
He was most concerned with the men (back then) not war, nor grand goals, nor glory.
He actually advised me not to join the military, primarily because it lost its focus in what is important (after Vietnam). I tried to join the nuclear navy, but fortunately for me and for the navy they did not take me.
To some degree he was contemptuous of SAC’s motto, "Peace is our Profession." He liked the reframe, "War is our Profession" with the strict caveat that it needs to be so horrendous that it will not occur. The seventy Years war was won by those of my father’s ilk.
When I saw "Seven Days in May" in the sixties I asked him about his opinion of the movie. He was a colonel at the time. He said he would have to do the same thing that Colonel Jiggs Casey ( played by as Kirk Douglas) did. At loss of career Jiggs went to the President to inform him of General James Mattoon Scott’s (played by Burt Lancaster) plot . He looked at me and said, "I have to follow the constitution. There is no other course I can take."
He most certainly believed in what President Eisenhower said:
"In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.
We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together. "
Public Papers of the Presidents, Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1960, p. 1035- 1040 , <http://coursesa.matrix.msu.edu/~hst306/documents/indust.html>
He was not at all pleased by the extensive powers created in the USA Patriot Act.
I suspect but do not know if he would be against Iraq II (2003) He died in 2002.
My own experience of the military as a dependent has been quite good. I have met some scoundrels, but the vast majority of the career military are true and gentle knights.
I recommend that any who may disparage people in the military might want to go to some functions where you have a chance to discuss war and the military life from an experiential way with senior enlisted and senior officers. It is a most enlightening experience. You can keep the situation from going left field by avoiding today’s current hot topics on specific military theaters. Find out from the military what their life has been like, is like now, and what their beliefs are.
I have heard very strong opinions expressed very strongly, but very little in "war-mongering."
My experience may not be the norm, but this has been my experience with a man and his associates who loved the military, being in the military, the men in the military, and their country.
Just as a little side note. It was most enlightening to hear Thich Nhat Hahn say in 2011 that given the proper context that war is not violence. And I do mean proper context [His experience in the 60s with the Vietnam War is most enlightening]. He answered a lot of my questions on "Right Livelihood." [I only learned this Buddhist term a few years ago] I have been interested in this since I was a young sprout as I was always questioning the whole idea of military life, and its proper function in society.
I am not a student of the military. I am a layman who has some experience with people in the military as a dependent.
Regards, Charles Adams, Bellevue, NE
On Forever Wars
Dear Jerry Pournelle:
My comment that the American military ‘is not in the business of winning’ has gotten responses from you and others. I grant your critique of the civilian leadership, but I add that the line between them and the high command is somewhat blurred, due to the famous ‘revolving door’ between military and industry. The problem is systemic; it goes beyond individual agendas. You see, forever-wars have agendas of their own.
The point about mushy plans and sliding objectives is well-taken; for this is precisely how forever-wars sustain themselves. Note for instance the famous "Friedman Unit" of six-months-until-success. It’s a snafu from the human point of view, but from an organizational point of view, snafus are necessary. Were the mission to be completely fully, then the organization will be disbanded; therefore the only long-surviving organization are the ones whose mission is somehow never fully completed. It is a Darwinian effect; do not seek intelligent design in it.
Also note: the inability to attain victory, inherent in all forever-war militaries, leaves them vulnerable to other militaries that retain that ability.
The American military is infused with the message that there is no substitute for victory. Their civilian masters have different views. The American way of war is to build an army, then another, then a third, while building fleets. If the war is still on at that point we smash.
It is possible to still so this by a suitable strategy of technology.
Now it becomes clear.
Silly me, I’d assumed that George Zimmerman had been indicted by an actual grand jury:
This article explains that wasn’t the case, and much else, besides.
The local police and DA did not think there was a case. A special prosecutor was employed.
For the Record
Sitting the record straight, Rush didn’t come up with this "Martin thought Zimmerman was a homosexual" nonsense on his own. This is based on commentary from Martin’s friend Rachel Jeantel to commentator Piers Morgan during a CNN interview – information that Jeantel apparently didn’t reveal on the stand during the trial.
More Fun than Bunny Inspection!
Life once again is more amazing than fiction! Via instapundit
Regards, Charles Adams, Bellevue, NE
FBI Surveils Bikini Baristas, Sergeant Busted in Sex Sting! Don’t Cops (and Feds) Have Better Things to Do?!Ted Balaker, July 17, 2013, Reason, <http://reason.com/reasontv/2013/07/17/dont-cops-have-better-things-to-do-7-13>
"Good law enforcement agencies know to take their time when staking out bikini barista establishments suspected of operating prostitution rings. It’s important to pose as customers to witness lewd acts first hand and it’s absolutely crucial to spend many months pouring over surveillance footage. In fact, you might want to call upon federal agents to provide some extra surveillance footage…."
Military recruiting and Education
Jerry, I thought you might be interested in the following article from the Strategypage at:
The article is Myths Of The Modern Military (not sure the web address will take you right there.)
Interesting take on education, in urban areas and rural areas and the role money and civic responsibility have on preparing military recruits.
You might also take a look at the site for other information that gives a different slant on military affairs.
When I was in grad school, lo these many years ago, the teaching assistants’ offices were on the second floor. (The professors on the third.) Across the hall from us were the education professors.
One day, we got in a discussion with one of the professors about what was then called "the New Math." It was our unanimous opinion that teaching abstract set theory to the youngsters was a bit premature. There was no knowledge base from which to abstract. "And besides," we said, "most teachers don’t understand set theory, either." I have never forgotten his answer. "That’s not important. The teacher doesn’t need to know the subject matter; the teacher only needs to know how to teach."
Years later, I heard that again — only regarding professional business managers. You didn’t need to know the business; you only needed to know how to manage. That was not a good decade for business.
+ + +
A brother has a degree in history followed by a law degree. One day he decided he wanted to make a difference, and took a job teaching "social studies" in a high school. This is one of the better school districts in the Commonwealth. Of course, he had to get an education degree. Basically, he told me, he sleepwalked through the courses. Once he learned the political agenda of the teacher, all the answers were no-brainers. He aced all his classes without much studying. That would not have gotten him his history degree, nor his law degree.
+ + +
Aside: On of your correspondents referred to the 1980s as a period when median income flattened. This is not the case. Median income in constant dollars flattened out in the 1970s, during the Great Inflation, but increased during the 80s. The slope of the increase was virtually identical to that of the 1950s/early 60s. This was true of all races. The increase stopped in the early 1990s and actually declined for a few years thereafter. I have not brought the chart up to date since the mid 1990s. This is just FYI.
(I don’t know what the trend would look like in nominal dollars, as this would be like plotting lengths with a rubber yardstick.)
"We want fairness. There is no fairness if you do not let us cheat."
Behold, the Pacific Century:
Subj: The Business Model of Modern Science
>>[The peer reviewers] can ruin your career and drive research, often funded by the public, to a dead end, and they are not accountable to anyone. In such a system, for most scientists the best, or should I say the only, way to advance their careers is by kissing up to those in higher positions: in person, in manuscripts, and in the whole research strategy. This has been going on for decades. As a result of this “natural selection”, the scientific community has been consumed by cronyism. Parts of it are rotten to the core.<<
There is an important essay in this. And of course the Iron Law is in effect at NSF and other grant agencies as elsewhere.
Eye Opening Lecture on Chinese Intelligence Collection and Operations
I know that nobody has anytime to do anything anymore, but if you can find the time:
Joshua Jordan, KSC
Andrew Bostom stepped out of his usual milieu and passed along a most interesting Global Warming note from "Science". There is a lake in Arctic Russia that has enough material around it for using multi-proxy techniques to determine both temperatures and CO2 levels as far back as at least 3.8 million years ago. It seems at that time CO2 levels were similar to what we have today. Arctic temperatures were about 8 degrees higher.
He includes a link to the "Science" article, which is for pay.
New Hard Data Debunking CO2 Climate Warmism Hysteria http://www.andrewbostom.org/blog/2013/06/22/new-hard-data-debunking-co2-climate-warmism-hysteria/
More on cold fusion
Hydrobetatron.org Launches — Open Source LENR Project ECat World ^
| June 18, 2013 | admin
Posted on Thursday, June 20, 2013 12:14:01 AM by Kevmo
Hydrobetatron.org Launches — Open Source LENR Project
June 18, 2013 By admin
I received the following press release today from Ugo Abundo and Luciano Saporito regarding the launch of a new web site for open source LENR project. Ugo Abundo was the driving force behind the Pirelli High School (Rome, Italy) Athanor cold fusion device, and this work seems to have grown into this Hydrobetatron project. The following is Google translated (with some editing) from the original Italian.
Online now is the website: hydrobetatron.org Open Source Energy Project
Hydrobetatron.org is a website created by the will of Hugh Abundo and Luciano Saporito, just as support for this project, for willingness to work in ‘Under the new LENR science, commonly known by the name (even if improper) of “cold fusion”, with an Open Source philosophy. You can follow step by step all the work of development of the “hydrobetatron,” which will be held in the future, seeking to create a device, (the reactor), efficient and ingegnerizzabile by anyone with the necessary technical skills; in fact, all of the data, research, and construction plans will be in the public domain.
Purpose of the reactor and the production of economical energy, inexhaustible and clean, which we believe is vital to the well-being (and freedom) of man for the salvation of the planet Earth. We invite you to help the project hydrobetatron.org! With the economical energy, inexhaustible and clean, you will help yourself and also our planet!
These days we are building, with a group of founding member LENR researchers, the Association not for profit “OPEN Power”, it may enroll private supporters of the idea of sharing, researchers and other associations, public and private.
The purposes of the statute and the budget of the Association will be consulted on this website; the ultimate goal is to offer all such desirable success of research reached, a free alternative and free (for the exploitation of new energy) to the traditional route search-patent-industrial exploitation by competitors.
Cordially: Ugo Abundo and Luciano Saporito
Well I will be glad to look at your first working model.