Blackwater, climate change, Stonehenge, and a mixed mail bag.

Mail 814 Monday, March 10, 2014

A very mixed bag of mail and short shrift comments.


Blackwater is still around.  After the fiascos you’re aware of, they changed their name to Xe (pronounced Zee).  Comparatively recently, they changed their name again; now they’re called Academi —


SITREP Academi Mercenaries Ukraine

This is to respond to the reports of Academi mercenaries in Ukraine (Blackwater changed their name to xe and then changed their name again to Academi).

Essentially, some men in sterile uniforms, who could be anyone, were running around with guns doing some unknown activity.  Certain observers shouted insults, including "Blackwater" in the same way a citizen might call a police officer a Nazi if he believed the police officer were violating his rights. 

I would, generally, think anyone dressed like this were a contractor or a special operations soldier or paramilitary operative.


Most Respectfully,

Joshua Jordan, KSC

Percussa Resurgo

Thank you.


Subject: Do Not Call registry

Hi Jerry,

Did you know that a "Do Not Call" registry exists that makes it illegal for telemarketers to call you?

Alas, it does not work for political campaign calls. The politicians want to be able to bend your ear whether you like it or not.

Eric Krug

It advises me to go to a place that tells me I must be the authorized agent for my organization or some such in order to register. I am not an organization. I am confused.


Ukraine may have to go nuclear, says Kiev lawmaker


I suspect that North Korea, Pakistan and Iran as well as Israel and India understand the implications of these events. I expect that potential nuclear powers such as Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, Japan, South Korea, Argentina and Brazil are contemplating their options.

James Crawford=


You wrote on Heinlein, Machiavelli, and conscripts:


Robert Heinlein and I debated for much of his life over conscription. His view was that any nation that needed conscripts had no right to exist. Mine was closer to Machiavelli’s. Conscription has the many benefits for a Republic, and its effects on liberty are not purely negative.  A nation needs paid professional Legions, but their existence allows them to be sent to wars we might be better off avoiding. Clinton would not have sent conscripts to the Balkans.


I believe Constitutional protections would be sufficient to stop Clinton from sending soldiers to the Balkans if Congress hadn’t shirked their duties through the War Powers Act, helping usher the rise of the imperial presidency over successive administrations. 


Most Respectfully,

Joshua Jordan, KSC

Percussa Resurgo

Perhaps. The consequences of Clinton and Albright choosing sides in five hundred year old conflict in the Balkans, and choosing to bomb the Slavs, has had and will have repercussions for a century and more, and it is still difficult to find the US national interest involved.


Capitalism can survive climate change. this is bad


This is not a joke

As long as the conditions for investment and profit remain, the system will adapt. Which is why we need a revolution

The conclusion about the need for a revolution does not follow from the data presented.


‘After all, if we give up our obsessive reliance on the doctrine of academic freedom, we can consider more thoughtfully what is just.’

Surely this is satire?

‘After all, if we give up our obsessive reliance on the doctrine of academic freedom, we can consider more thoughtfully what is just.’



Roland Dobbins

One would like to believe so, but I am not sure.


Long – worth reading

Not much new to anyone who’s been reading your web site since the 1990s…but worth looking at.

Worth reading and coming back to. I have not removed it from the mail queue and we may see it again.


“There had to be something special about these rocks. Why else would they take them from here all the way to Stonehenge? It hasn’t been considered until now that sound might have been a factor.”



Roland Dobbins

I wondered on that myself when I was working on my Atlantis was the Minoan Empire novel, but I could not come up with a good explanation.


Col Oldfield talking about the Genie Atomic air defense missile in the late 50’s

Nice to hear reason for a change, even if long ago.



: Water evaporation

Dear Jerry –

Paul Linsay’s letter makes some good points, but his final statement, " The same holds true for the 15 micron CO2 line in the atmosphere. It doesn’t penetrate the water more than a few microns and is consequently incapable of evaporating all that extra water into the air to cause more warming." is ill-considered.

In fact, the less the penetration, the greater the increase in evaporation. Consider the two extremes: penetration to the sea bottom and total surface absorption. In the case of total penetration, the incident energy is distributed throughout the entire body of water, increasing surface evaporation by a miniscule amount. In the second case, for a thin enough absorption layer, all of the energy is applied to boiling off that layer.


Jim Martin


Dear Jerry .

Paul S. Linsay , like Mark Sanicola, is entitled to his own opinions, but not his own natural history.

Two days ago you quoted his views thus :

"Regarding Russell Seitz’ comment, "Mark Sanicola claiming that CO2 does not have an absorption band " between 9 and 13 microns is pure hogwash ." Sanicola is correct and Seitz is wrong".

Whereupon he embarks on a short Gish Gallop through Google space ,connecting to an article on CO2 lasers instead of that obvious arbiter of the facts concerning CO2, the absorbtion spectrum of the atmosphere itself.

As can be seen below, despite its modest concentration CO2 takes a substantial bite out of infrared transmission all the way from 9 to 13 microns.

Inline images 1

It is really depressing to see the Dunning-Kruger linewidth of ersatz climate skeptics broaden under pressure– while water makes a dandy beam dump for CO2 lasers, a block of dry ice works too !

Russell Seitz

Fellow of the Department of Physics Harvard University



Subject: Healthcare


One of the issues in medicine is that thing simply cost more than they did and the care is much better than it was 30+ years ago

when I started. As an example, when I started in medicine if your knee hurt because of arthritis, I gave you 2 aspirin 4 times a

day. We knew that could hurt you, but it made the pain more bearable. Now we send you off for an artificial knee! We’ve gone from

a cost of a few pennies per day to a cost of tens of thousands of dollars.

In my own field, when I started if you had a heart attack, I gave you nitroglycerin and spoke with your widow after it was over.

Then I begin to give you thrombolytics (clot busters) and that put my conversation off with your widow for a few years. Now I rush

you off the the cath lab, put in a drug coated stent and give you aspirin and plavix and your wife is stuck with you for decades if

you have a modicum of common sense. The care is staggeringly better!

The cost of all of this has increased and not in small way. This problem is worse in the US than anywhere else as illustrated.


Is universal health care part of the answer? (The below is stolen from Dan Munro)

* There are about 200 countries on planet earth – and only about 40 have a "formal" healthcare system (which includes access,

delivery and payment for citizens within a given country).

* The U.S. remains the only country (out of the 40) without "universal access/coverage."

* All of the countries in the chart above, almost all of them except the US, have universal health care (note that they don’t

all have the government paying for all of health care). The cost is less and the quality of care is mostly better.

Why don’t we have/approve of Universal Health Care in the US?

Fear – which is largely fueled by three things.

1. A false assumption (with big political support) that a system based on universal coverage is the same thing as a single

payer system. It isn’t. Germany is a great example of a healthcare system with universal coverage and multi-payer (many of which are

private insurance companies).

2. An attitude and culture of what’s loosely known as American Exceptional-ism. There is simply no other country on planet

earth that can teach us anything. Our entire raison d’etre is to be the world’s beacon of shining success – in freedom, liberty,

democracy – and really everything (but especially technology).

3. A fierce independence that has a really dark side. It took another Quora question to really help me see this one. The

question was: P


positive Rights: Why do many Americans think that healthcare is not a right for its own taxpaying citizens?


Here’s the #1 (395 upvotes) answer by Anon (a Brit):

The fundamental mythos of American culture, is that no matter how poor or humble your birth, you can through grit, spunk and

hard work become wealthy and prosperous.

On the face of it, and from the perspective of a class divided Europe, that seems incredibly noble and empowering. The idea

that there is that much social mobility, that anyone can forge their own destiny is a powerful part of the American psyche. When it

happens, it is an incredible thing. Something Americans can feel proud of.

However, there is a dark side to this mythos. Which is this… if anyone can win through hard work and effort, anyone who

doesn’t win, therefore deserves to be poor.

At the core of all the anti-health care reforms is the single concept "why should I pay for the healthcare of those losers."

Added together, these 3 things all contribute mightily to the runaway healthcare system we have today. Today – the NHE for USA is

$3.5T per year – and it’s growing at (arguably) ~5% per year (for as far as the eye can see).

So can we fix this in the US? Not without some open discussion. There are a LOT of painful things that need to be done. We need

Tort reform, we need to reduce the cost of medical education, we need to decide if EVERY person can have stents or artificial knees

and how do we decide.

One really, really good thing we should be doing is looking at the 39 countries who DO have universal coverage and see how they do

it. For example, the national health service in Great Britain has great public support, their costs are something like 8 times less

and their life expectancy is better. What do they do that we don’t?

You are correct, in general Kaiser does a very good job controlling costs, so does the state of Oregon. What is done at Kaiser and

in Oregon that could be applied elsewhere?

Complex issues, worthy of national discussion.



And at some point there may be a rational discussion.

Today we learned that of those getting health care insurance for the first time, some 30% are felons being enrolled in Medicaid, which was allowed by the Affordable Care Act. As of now no one has found a single person who voted for the Bill who knew that provision was in it. Surely someone knew?


Pine trees’ smell ‘could prevent climate change really being a problem:

“Previously unknown processes like this could help to account for the fact that the world’s temperature, following significant warming in the 1990s, has been stable for the last 15 years or so – a circumstance which climate science is struggling to assimilate.”



Possony used to say that the flatulence of cows was as important to global warming as CO2. He was whimsical but perhaps correct…


The loss of work

The recent discussions about the loss of work are very topical, and I have been motivated to write as follows:

Some of the problems arising from the elimination of work are readily discerned, but boredom, lack of motivation and any need for personal responsibility are the most deadly.

Marx may have suggested that in the future, productivity would enable a day to encompass work, art, and revelry, but observation of welfare dependent communities indicates that sloth, depravity and drunkenness are more likely.

In the past, when the productive have been increasingly forced to support the otherwise starving unproductive, it has been put down to overpopulation, and solutions have been to promote mass emigration and wars.

Such solutions are nominally unacceptable today, but the pressure of circumstances may yet lead to conquests and massacres as events follow the inevitable process of cause and effect.

Progress in human affairs is organic, people take actions to maximize their survival on the basis of their particular circumstances. The ‘one solution fits all ‘ approach of Socialism has been shown to be unsuccessful, and while the purpose of Government should be to facilitate rather than to direct, the inclination to compulsion seems to be compulsive in the governing classes.

In the early days of colonization of America and Australia, the pioneers arrived with very little except some knowledge, some seeds and a few tools. It was a bit wild and lawless, but not to the point of self destruction as evidenced by the present state of these territories. Today, entitlements, health and safety, minimum wages, and constrictive regulations would prevent the establishment of any new territory with similarly limited resources.

Such a potential habitat is in North Australia where the semi-tropical climate is typical of South-east Asia.

Indonesia has long eyed this largely undeveloped territory, and refer to it from time to time as South Irian.

Indonesia has a large population that is unrestrained by a sense of entitlement and eager for development.

We should not ignore needed opportunities that may favour other less developed nations.

Best regards: Ian Macmillan


Global Cooling Circa 1975


Here is one of the articles you mentioned from the 1970s that sounded the alarm about global cooling back in the 1970s:


Rodger Morris


Subject : love will keep us together, until Medicare…

Dr. Pournelle,

Speculation similar to yours on Captain and Tennille’s Medicare gap:



Billy the Kid


Some "nameless person" just edited the Wiki for William Bonney to add his mentions in Inferno and Escape from Hell.



On Global Warming

Hello Jerry,

Got this from your post a couple of days ago:

“….. but that was before the Great Global Warming Consensus that came about when global temperatures began to rise – by fractions of a degree Centigrade – in the 80’s and 90’s (up to 1997 or so) when they stabilized and may have begun to fall again. We don’t know how long that will go on, either."

According to this article, with lots of graphs, Global Warming is indubitably anthropogenic; the raw sensor has been methodically pencil-whipped anthropogenically to produce the highly publicized 20th century warming. See what you think:

Bob Ludwick


Subject: Of course there is no sound in space

No comment



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