Despair is a sin, and other matters Mail 20110830

Mail 690 Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Your pessimism is WAY overblown

I agree that cutting back energy will cause massive deprivation. That’s why it won’t happen.

You talk about our Masters, but that is where your argument falls apart: they may THINK they are our masters, but they cannot hold power. The Russians had much worse masters than we do, and with much tighter control–yet even they could not hold power forever.

Polls show that a huge majority of Americans now reject the radical environmentalist agenda. With the inauguration of President Richard Perry in 2013, that agenda will be as dead as Soviet Communism.

Incidentally, why is it that you assume that the USA is doomed because it mixes in socialism with its free enterprise system, but that China and India are the wave of the future because they mix in free enterprise with their socialist systems? We are still a far freer nation economically than those countries, and will most likely weather these economic storms better.

I was a big fan of A STEP FARTHER OUT, largely because it took up the optimistic view of technology that Isaac Asimov abandoned when he took up ZPG. Now you seem to have given up hope, right at the point when commercial space is taking off and environmental radicalism is on its deathbed.

Politics, from what I can see, goes in cycles. The 90’s and 00’s were, like the 60’s and 70’s, more or less statist decades. The 10’s, unless I miss my guess, will probably be conservative/classical liberal, like the 80’s. We are standing on the edge of raining soup. I wish you’d stop acting as if the only people in the world who matter are the left-wing chattering classes.


I scarcely know where to begin, but perhaps here: it is pointless to write warnings about a fate we cannot escape. I do not warn you of a future you cannot avoid. On the other hand I have for forty years warned that we are approaching a precipice, and yet we continue to move toward it. Sometimes I get discouraged.

In A Step Farther Out I described a world I thought we could and would get to in my lifetime. I wrote stories in that coming world. We are now in the time frame of those stories, but we are not really exploiting orbit and the Moon, much less asteroid resources. Alas. I had thought that the end of the Cold War would move us to a new world of expectation and hope. Instead we seem to be stuck on Hope and Change. My apologies if I seen unduly gloomy,

For years I have warned that we sow the wind. I see we are reaping now – and we continue to sow the wind.

I know that politics goes in cycles. We learned that from Aristotle.

Negative Mention of Federal Government at all-time High


Just 17% held a positive view of the federal government with another 20% being neutral. Meanwhile, a whopping 63% said they were negative about the government – an all-time low for a Gallup poll.

Gallup, which has conducted this survey each August since 2001, said that Americans’ frustration with politicians and Washington was amplified by the angry – and frustrating – summer debate over the debt ceiling negotiations.

This marks the first time that the government finished at the bottom, displacing last year’s winner of the booby prize, the oil and gas industry.



Most Respectfully,

Joshua Jordan, KSC

Percussa Resurgo

Remarkable. Hope and Change.


You touched on FEMA in a comparatively recent view.  Ron Paul weighed in on the discussion:


Most Respectfully,

Joshua Jordan, KSC

Percussa Resurgo

It should be obvious that we do not need FEMA, and we receive demonstrations with every disaster. The Republicans can restore Civil Defense. I don’t know if they will. FEMA has many lobbyist friends now.

Maybe what ought to happen here is that instead of just saying "EVERYONE LEAVE, NO EXCEPTIONS", the communities involved should develop building codes and resources that *would* survive these major storms. Maybe if the houses weren’t cheap junk slapped together to capitalize on the value of beachfront real-estate, they’d be able to shelter the occupants.

Mike T. Powers


The economy: it’s our fault

Which immediately reminded me of a poem you first introduced me to

Steve Chu

Brecht’s redemption.

The Solution
Bertolt Brecht

After the uprising of the 17th June
The Secretary of the Writer’s Union
Had leaflets distributed in the Stalinallee
Stating that the people
Had forfeited the confidence of the government
And could win it back only
By redoubled efforts.   Would it not be easier
In that case for the government
To dissolve the people
And elect another?


On demand, and consumers

Something has been very clear to me for some time; a point which seems not to be considered important (or not considered at all) by some. Iron rusts, glass breaks, food is eaten. Through necessary use, natural decay, or intentional destruction, the things of value in this world are constantly consumed. If it weren’t for constant creation, the world would rapidly become hellish. Even a slight tipping of the scales toward destruction over creation would lead to a world many would find intolerable.

The creation of true value should be encouraged. Creation must outpace consumption and destruction. Anything else is suicidal. (Of course, this raises the question of what is of true value. I’m not among those who think that it’s anything people are willing to pay for — drugs have destroyed many lives, for example. It’s a question I’ve wrestled with for some time, and haven’t found a satisfactory answer.)

On a related note…

Even in the face of empty store shelves in almost any time of panic, there are many who believe we’re in, or near, a post-scarcity world. If there is abundance (in this view), then there is no need for incentives to create, and the only reason for concentrated wealth is class exploitation. And one way to remedy the injustice is to burn and loot. It seems our society has not done enough teaching of the Gods of the Copybook Headings. Experience is likely to be a more cruel teacher. But if we learn the right lessons, we’ll come out of it a society worthy and able to take to the stars.

Thanks for the education your site provides.

— Steve Carabello

Some lessons are very costly.


California Diaspora, Weather and Chas Theory

Dear Jerry,

You and I have corresponded (that is, I’ve written and you’ve published my comments on Chaos Manor) much to my delight. These days I’m one of the folks who has been part of the great Diaspora out of California. That, of course, is the tragedy that California brought upon itself, the loss of the well educated, middle class mature adult professionals (I am perhaps in the last generation of engineers to be trained at a CSU – a EEE at CSU, Sacramento).

These days I live just outside Seattle and am much the happier for it. While I may have the insanity of the Federal government to contend with, I also live in a state that requires itself constitutionally to live within its means. This has led to WA being the only "blue state" to have population growth, growth in jobs and employment AND actual growth in wealth. When compared to our southern neighbors of Oregon and California, we are veritable paradise.

I am one of many millions of Californians who have fled to low tax, high growth refuges such as Texas, Colorado, Nevada and Washington. While much more difficult, I think that eventually we will see a diaspora of this nature happen from the USA if we don’t solve our federal government problems. The lack of religious and economic liberty, after all, resulted in the same thing happening from Europe to America (I am simplifying, of course, but not too much I think).

About AGW aka global warming aka climate change. As I recall, strange attractors and chaos theory emerged from the work of first Poincare and later Lorenz and Mandelbrot. And specifically, Lorenz was doing computer modeling of weather and discovered that extremely minor changes in his input data resulted in wildly varying outcomes of the modeled system. At the same time Mandelbrot was looking at things like cotton prices and discovering that scale mattered in how you measured your subject, leading ultimately to Fractal Geometry.

It bothers me (especially with that EEE background) that we seem to so arrogantly assume that we can predict the outcomes of a complex system. Modern system theory says that we can only predict general possibilities of outcomes and that the attractors (strange attractors, Lorenz attractors, etc.) will determine the possible variation. Admittedly I haven’t worked on this problem, since these days I work in Information Security. We have our own sets of issues to deal with and they occupy most of my intellectual energy. I’m sure, having read you for many years now, that you are painfully aware of those issues. That said, with a reasonable undergraduate background in math, physics, computer science, electrical engineering I am having a hard time seeing how reasonable and well qualified scientists were so blinded to the fact that computer modelling complex systems means you end up with a range of possibilities?

I’m curious what you think about my comments on the Diaspora as well as weather and chaos theory.

thanks for Chaos Manor, one of my favorite sources of thought on a daily basis.


Eric Cowperthwaite

Some processes are chaotic. They cannot be modelled. They certainly cannot be modelled when one does not know all the factors.

"People see that and assume we can predict everything."

But isn’t that what the Warmists – sorry, Changeists – have been telling us?


Roland Dobbins


America Gives China A Mineral Monopoly

August 16, 2011: Complaints from the Congo are growing about the U.S. legislation intended to stop illegal mineral sales. The Dodd-Frank bill (also called the Obama Law) has a clause that prohibits the sale of so-called conflict minerals may have been well-intentioned but it was not well-thought out. Rather than run the risk of buying any minerals that might have been smuggled from the Congo, many major mining companies are simply refusing to buy minerals from central Africa. The result is a de facto embargo. There are few buyers for Congo’s valuable minerals, especially tantalum and tungsten which have many hi-tech uses. This has damaged the Congo’s economy, because the nation relies on mineral exports. According to some sources, China, which does not have to meet Dodd-Frank standards, is snapping up many minerals at very cheap prices.

The road to Hell…..

John from Waterford

But we can’t do anything about that It might be in the US interst, and we have to act impartially when we go break things and kill people and spend money and borrow more money so we can spend more money.

But of course




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