View 847 Tuesday, October 21, 2014
“I have observed over the years that the unintended consequences of social action are always more important, and usually less agreeable, than the intended consequences.”
“Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency.”
President Barack Obama, January 31, 2009
We continue to upgrade all the systems here at Chaos Manor. Today we worked on the Mac systems upgrading one of them to OS X Yosemite. Haven’t done the Mac Book Pro yet, but we’ll get to it quickly. And I haven’t got the Mac Book Air her new battery, but that will come shortly as I look into iPhone 6 and the newest iPad. All that will be in the next column, which I have started on.
The pledge drive went so well that I used up a good bit of time recording all the subscriptions. I should automate the process, since there are a great many of them, but I like to be familiar with at least a good sample of those who subscribe and support this place. Thanks to all of you.
Charles Murray has an interview marking the 20th anniversary of The Bell Curve and it is worth your time. Couple the conclusions of The Bell Curve – that the modern world tends to group intelligent people together so that there is a big inequality in smart between the places where the elites live and the rest of the country – some predictions become obvious. There is also the problem of jobs, not for the lowest and highest intelligence people, but those in between.
Add to that observations many including me have made about the effects of Moore’s Law on the need for humans at many jobs, including many health care jobs; the growing tendency for government to be incompetent; and the trends become even more interesting.
Murray suggests that we need some kind of distributism plus relegating a great deal of local government and other functions to local communities, which would make more people relevant and needed. Perhaps so. When I first read The Bell Curve (and if you have not read it perhaps you should; it is an important book, and it’s not about what you have probably been told it’s about) I thought of Moore’s Law and that sent me to looking at the old distributists, Chesterton and Hillaire Belloc; and lately Pope Francis I has seen some of the implications as well. More on this another time.
We are ramping up on commands to the healthcare workers, coupled with a bit of information and possibly the distribution of some equipment for dealing with Ebola. Recall that all that equipment is subject to a 20% Federal Excise tax. All medical equipment from crutches to scalpels, hemostats and wheel chairs, splints and stethoscopes, all of it is subject to a 20% excise tax, presumably to help finance affordable health care although how making medical equipment more expensive is supposed to do that is not clear to me. This raises the cost of protective gear a considerable amount.
And we are sending troops into the plague zone. We have not yet closed the gates to those coming in from the plague zones, and apparently there is no intention of doing so. Update 1100 22 October: the Administration is about to require that all those entering the country from plague areas do so at one of five designated airports. This will, it is hoped, allow us to detect those already infected and quarantine them in suitable locations. Of course we must hope that there are not many, since there are fewer than two score beds in proper condition to allow quarantine and treatment of Ebola patients. Were I infected with Ebola or even afraid I might be, and I were in a plague zone, I would pay everything I had to get on an airplane to one of those five hospitals in the United States, and pray that I was hearty enough to get on that plane. After that I would be in the hands of a medical establishment that might save me.
Nigeria, largely through strict quarantines and not allowing anyone to enter the country from plague zones, has managed to achieve Ebola=free status.
Of course the real danger is that the plague will enter the Middle East and South America. That is a danger real indeed, but it is not clear that the 101st Airborne is well trained or equipped to do it, and with four hours training for each soldier – although the military is in general much better trained at sanitation procedures than the general public – it is possible that some soldiers won’t get it right.
I am Cpl. Mike Lawson USMCR. I spent 7 1/2 years in the Marines, most at 4thMarDiv 4thC.E.B (Combat Engineer), Delta Company (Knoxville, Tn). During my time there I was the Assistant NCOIC (non-commissioned officer in charge) of the company’s N.B.C. (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical) response.
Let me assure you, even as a reservist, the amount of training the average Marine (or soldier as it may be) has received in NBC procedures throughout their enlistment to include donning/doffing/Decon is more than enough for this mission. The 4 hour training is SPECIFIC to Ebola. The training we had was for threats that make Ebola look like child’s play (i.e V.X, Mustard gas, Anthrax) You need not worry about the safety and capabilities of the military sent over there. We know our stuff.
My own experience is that any time there is a company of soldiers in place, a fresh dose of gonorrhea will show up on the morning report even though it would seem physically impossible for the trooper to have contracted it; but I cheerfully admit I am long out of date on such matters. I hope these paratroopers will be careful.
Here’s an interesting article from 2013 about the Viking colonies on Greenland, and how as the climate changed and became colder ca. 1300, they adapted.
Note that per one method of dating the Little Ice Age, it began roughly ca. 1350AD, but certainly began no later than about 1550.
Wolf Minimum (extended solar minimum) ca. 1280-1350 (definite, but not as deep as others)
Sporer Minimum ca. 1460-1550 (significantly deeper than Wolf)
Maunder Minimum ca. 1645-1715 (deepest extended minimum)
Dalton Minimum ca. 1790-1820 (shallower than Wolf)
Also note that (as we have been seeing for the last ~2 decades) there was a gradual taper-off — both in solar activity, and in temperatures.
SIDE NOTE: This was brought on by research into Stonehenge, and the notion that Britain was "Hyperborea," "Beyond the North Wind," and that Stonehenge was the purported "spherical temple to Apollo" as purported by Hecataeus of Abdera as preserved by Diodorus Siculus. However, that same description also describes the Sun as moving around the horizon, which would place Hyperborea above the Arctic Circle. Ptolemy and Marcian both place Hyperborea in the North Sea.
Interstellar Woman of Mystery
Dear Dr. Pournelle,
I hope things are well with you. For myself, I am finding this book on the reconstruction of Iraq very fascinating.
It is titled "We Meant Well" — but it was nonetheless a failure.
Essentially, the fundamental issue to all of the problems recorded is the assumption that with nine women you can get a baby a month. A LOT of money was spent — it was the one thing the author says he was never short of — but most of it was wasted.
Case in point: There are a couple of different lines of effort [LOEs] that the state department would sign off on. One example was a chicken plant , built to give jobs to Iraqis and rebuild the infrastructure. Problem: Most Iraqis ate chicken imported from Brazil at a cost of 2880 dinaris for the equivalent of a bird. Chicken feed was not grown naturally in Iraq — it had to be imported. The result was that a *live* chicken sold for 3000 dinaris. After processing, the finished product went on the market at 4000 dinars — more than twice the price of the original chicken. The plant could not operate profitably, so it ran solely on American subsidies, for the benefit of ‘war tourists’ from the Green Zone.
The author explained that when he tried to shut down one of these wasteful programs, he received a poor performance review. His higher ups had careers to think about, and that means they needed to show as many dollars as possible spent on LOES [care for widows, rebuild infrastructure, revitalize economy] , preferably with pictures demonstrating success. The field grade officers in the Army were in much the same predicament — interested in quick, photogenic results which would burnish their careers.
The result is that a lot of careers were made, and most of the money was wasted.
Rebuilding a country is evidently not something you can do quickly, even with literal tons of money, and it is not best accomplished by people who are on short time to another assignment with scant knowledge of Arabic or the society. If we are to properly rebuild a country, we are going to require long-service professionals. Those are hard to come by in the modern world. In the 19th century, Englishmen LEFT England to spend their lives in these other places. But I can’t think of many moderns who would live in a third world country for any time at all if they could possibly help it.
Confidence in the competence of government is often misplaced. The military is often extremely competent at what it can accomplish; but when given the wrong objectives and tasks it was never designed to do, the results are not so predictable.
On page 3, Jonah presents an unavoidably crude but accurate reason why we absolutely want to keep Ebola out of India.
(Unless, of course, this actually IS a conspiracy of the UN nutters who want to reduce global population 85+% – and rule the
survivors as an allegedly benign elite.)
Hi, Dr. Pournelle –
This might add a bit to your discussion of the Ebola crisis. If you have seen it, sorry to be redundant!
How Did Nigeria Quash Its Ebola Outbreak So Quickly? <http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-did-nigeria-quash-its-ebola-outbreak-so-quickly/>
Authors of a paper published October 9 in Eurosurveillance <http://eurosurveillance.org/ViewArticle.aspx?ArticleId=20920> attribute Nigeria’s success in "avoiding a far worse scenario" to its "quick and forceful" response. The authors point to three key elements in the country’s attack:
* Fast and thorough tracing of all potential contacts
* Ongoing monitoring of all of these contacts
* Rapid isolation of potentially infectious contacts
Thats where I read about this before!
I knew I’d seen this story before. In the 6th grade reader, Jason and the golden fleece. Jason and the heroes are sent on an impossible quest by someone who secretly hopes they don’t come back. Today, a few thousand US military heroes are sent to "go fix Ebola", at a time where American safety protocols are also known to fail. That’s a pretty long time, but sure enough history repeats itself. I wonder if this iteration will be written down and remembered. I’m not sure even the Bay of Pigs was this coldly calculated, but the selection of a political assassin as the Ebola Czar is a pretty clear indication that the federal government’s decision process surrounding Ebola is 100% political.
I am sure that cannot be the intent.
: New CDC Experts on Ebola –
Normally I don’t forward jokes/images, but this one is too good to pass up.
Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.