EM Drive; Trump; ISIS; and a very mixed bag.

Chaos Manor View, Sunday, August 09, 2015


Once more I am in fiction mode, and will be tomorrow as well.

I do not think Mr. Trump strengthened his position as a Republican candidate; It will be interesting what that does to his decision as to whether to run without the Republican nomination.

It is clear to me that he has the Presidency in his gift to Hillary: if he runs as an independent, she wins, and I do not see how to avoid that. It is also unlikely that he will be nominated by the Republican Party, which will probably retain control of Congress.



60 years ago: The famous Boeing 707 prototype barrel roll over Lake Washington | The Seattle Times


I remember it well. Tex Johnson’s secretary was a subject in some of my Human Factors Laboratory experiments. It was a wild day; and a week later every senior pilot in the airline business was in his boss’s office gasping “You gotta get me one!”


EmDrive – dark matter thruster?
This probably qualifies as a crackpot theory, but what if the EmDrive gets its thrust by redirecting dark matter? That would get around the problems with current scientific theories. Maybe a Dark Matter Thruster could be used in some sci-fi stories as an interstellar drive.

Stephen Walker

That’s an arguable theory assuming that the EmDrive actually produces thrust; that has not yet been proven to satisfaction for something so impossible under current theory, but there seems to be far more than enough evidence to justify more rigorous tests. If there be thrust, then we need theories to explain it.

The EmDrive has *not* been ‘peer-reviewed’, for any meaningful value of ‘peer-reviewed’.

And ‘peer-reviewed’ isn’t as sacred a thing as civilians seem to think it is.


Roland Dobbins

Agreed to both statements; “peer reviewed” is often merely a way of defending a consensus theory. Alas, it doesn’t even filter out nonsense. On the other hand, given the ease of “publication” now, there has to be a way to filter publication to find what’s worth your time. I don’t have a good method for accomplishing that, but it’s obvious we need one. With the EmDrive, the process seems to be working, although it may be a bit vigorous in the filtering; yet given how extraordinary the claim of reactionless thrust (at least reaction against ordinary matter) certainly we are correct in insisting on extraordinary proof.

I certainly hope it proves out, and I vigorously support further tests – I’d love to be in on them. I expect when it’s all over it will not produce useful thrust, but the reward if it does justifies a lot of testing. If it’s a con, it is a bit more clever than most. Newton’s Third Law is a serious limit to space exploration; that rocket equation is brutal…


The Starborn

Dear Dr. Pournelle,

This isn’t directly related to your question, but I think it worth mentioning even so.

In church on Sunday I spoke  to a woman who had fertility problems, so she had her eggs harvested. Since she was determined that all fertilized embryos would be brought to term if possible, they created 8 fertilized embryos , and put them in the freezer until such time as it was possible to try to carry them.

8 embryos, 3 survived pregnancy, and now she has three lovely girls. Ironically, though the oldest and youngest girl are about seven years apart physically, the were *conceived at the same time*  — it’s just that the years that the oldest was developing , the other spent in a freezer. 
It made me wonder — we often talk about cold-sleep as one way to travel between stars. While the techniques to induce long-term hibernation in adult human beings are under development, the techniques to hibernate fertilized embryos exist * today *.
I was wondering if that might be another way to start an interstellar colony — to ship the colonists as frozen embryos.  This would require some kind of ‘caretaker’ to thaw them out and raise them up into functioning adults, either a robot crew or a generation ship “caretaker” family, a family of priests, as your other commenter mentioned, who could maintain their lives and their teachings, passing them through the generations, until planetfall, at which point it would be their jobs to literally act as mothers and fathers to the newly thawed colonists.
This would naturally make the caretakers a literal aristocracy which might cause friction among their children — especially if, several hundred years down the line, there is no more obvious difference between thawed and caretaker, but the caretakers still retain their privileges. Sequel fodder?
In any event, I would suggest that teaching in interstellar colonies will look remarkably like the teaching methods we have used to date. Reason: As you have argued in other books,  it isn’t practical to maintain a high-technology civilization on a new colony.  So until a new industrial base can be created, humans will have to use sustainable resources. Horses instead of tractors.  Animal labor in place of machines. Mechanical calculators and abacus devices instead of electronic calculators. They may eventually develop the tools to build the tools to create such things , but until they do any kind of sophisticated memory transfer technology will have to wait — or be the privilege of the caretaker family.
Some thoughts and ideas. I hope they are useful!

Brian P.

Intriguing. It is actually close to what we did in Legacy of Heorot http://www.amazon.com/The-Legacy-Heorot-Book/dp/1470835541. Most of the colonists were in cold sleep, and the rest were frozen embryos; the last of the first settlers was to raise a generation while building a medium tech society; all went well until it didn’t. The book we’re working on now is the third in the series. The second, Beowulf’s Children http://www.amazon.com/Beowulfs-Children-Larry-Niven/dp/0765320886 comes after they recovered from their first near fatal problems; the third takes place about a generation after that. It’s 14 light-years from Earth (and thus at least a century of travel, and 14 years each way communications), so no help there…



Banned in Beijing.



Roland Dobbins



Russia Wants War.



Roland Dobbins

A scary proposition indeed; I can hope that Putin has a more clever scheme in mind. He wants, with reason, to end the encirclement. From our view, we don’t need it; the Europeans don’t contribute much to our defense; and if they want a cordon sanitaire around Russia, surely they ought to pay for most of it?


ISIS: Predictable and Predicted

You can comfortably eat and drink in front of your PC while reading this as you’ll find no surprises:

To date, the intelligence view has been that ISIS is focused on less ambitious attacks, involving one or a small group of attackers armed with simple weapons. In contrast, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, has been viewed as both more focused on — and more capable of — mass casualty attacks, such as plots on commercial aviation. Now the intelligence community is divided.

Meanwhile, the U.S. effort to train rebels in Syria to fight ISIS is having trouble. The few rebels that the U.S. has put through training are already in disarray, with defense officials telling CNN that up to half are missing, having deserted soon after training or having been captured after last week’s attack by the al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front attack on a rebel site.


Yeah, so putting a feather duster up your butt doesn’t make you a bird. Now, can we get back to reality and deal with this?

◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊

Most Respectfully,
Joshua Jordan, KSC

Percussa Resurgo

I could end ISIS within a year, probably a lot less, with two Divisions and the Warthogs. [By that I mean we have commanders who could do it if told to do so.] The battles would be bloody but one-sided; the casualties among civilians would be high because they will not give up without a fight. We could then recruit a Foreign Legion to protect our interests, and Auxiliaries to fight our battles preserving the conquests ( Most of which would be given away to appropriate allied protectorates; we would have the consent of the governed to rule in only a few places, but that’s a detail we can put off). ISIS – the Caliphate – ceases to exist if it has not a territory to rule. Our objective is to preserve former allies, and leave the area.

We can do that now. Perhaps we will not be able to do it later. I would, of course, require the rescued or the recipients of our conquests to pay for our efforts.

America at an Ominous Crossroads | The American Spectator


I have decided that this book is on my reading list.


I stand as one of those who is content to abandon the post war network of alliances that imposed Pax Americana to retreat into isolationism. I do not expect that this will be without adverse consequences, particularly for our former allies. They have been unrelenting in their denigration of traditional, American conservatives and celebrated the election of Obama because he promised to transform America into their image. Such an America will inevitably be incapable of defending allies overseas and should be unwilling to do so. It will be interesting to see if the foreigners regret their relentless criticism of America.

James Crawford=

We need not wait very long before we don’t have any other options.


The threat from ISIS

I’ve been in the Middle East several times and I know first hand the fervent belief of some of the people there. By and large, however, they are not the fanatics the media and our politicians portray them. Most simply want to get up in the morning, work, and raise a family. The following article says a lot of the things I’ve been thinking. Why is ISIS our fight and how are a bunch of guys in pickup trucks ever going to be a threat to the U.S.?


“Why the ISIS Threat Is Totally Overblown” – by John Mueller

“Outrage at the tactics of ISIS is certainly justified. But fears that it presents a worldwide security threat are not. Its numbers are small, and it has differentiated itself from al Qaeda in that it does not seek primarily to target the ‘far enemy,’ preferring instead to carve out a state in the Middle East for itself, mostly killing fellow Muslims who stand in its way. In the process, it has alienated virtually all outside support and, by holding territory, presents an obvious and clear target to military opponents.”

Braxton Cook

They grow rapidly; it will not be long before it will take more than two divisions and air support to eliminate them. By then all Christian, Jewish, Druze, and Shiia will be gone, and the inhabitants remaining will be Caliphate under sharia; they will be damn near unconquerable by an army except by extermination.

Perhaps you are right; I certainly regret the passing of Saddam; our destroying him proves that often things go from bad to worse. I am not convinced that there is much worse than the Caliphate which takes seriously their mission to put all to the choice of Islam or the sword.


Footfall fan art by William Black

Hello! I thought you might appreciate this CGI model of the “Michael”, by William Black on Deviant art. Really, it’s well worth looking at his whole gallery, particularly the Orion models, but I thought this one would appeal to you for obvious reasons.



SUBJ: Wanna read a good, short military story?

Dear Jerry,

Perhaps you can use this theme some day. It is a military story I don’t think I have EVER read of in military sci-fic literature and only occasionally in military tv and movies. Pity. It wants more telling.





What can I say to add to this?

Corroded By Urine, San Francisco Light Pole Collapses, Nearly Killing Man http://dailycaller.com/2015/08/06/corroded-by-urine-san-fransisco-light-pole-collapses-nearly-killing-man/

Such a metaphor for a totally progressive run city and state government.



Good morning Jerry,
I’ve not written you in a while as I know you’ve been busy with important things, however my iPhone beeped at me today to remind me it’s your Birthday.  Assuming I’ve not boggled up the date, I wish you a Happy Birthday and may you have many more pleasant ones surrounded by your family.
I see I’ve been remiss in my subscription, so I’ve just sorted that out.  It’s not a great birthday present, but consider blowing most of it on Wine, Women and Song.  The other ten percent, you can just waste.
I know your recent stroke has made things more difficult for you physically, but keep at it, you will improve.  And you will improve if you keep at it.
and now, the brain dump.
Keyboard Recommendations:
Logitech K750r
This keyboard strikes all the right nerd buttons with me.  Wireless, Solar Powered, no more !@#$! batteries!  How great is that?  It works at a decent distance from the transceiver, has a good feel (not like the excellent IBM Model M keyboards, of course) soft, decent key travel, full sized and works well with my PCs or Macs.  Oh and it has an on-board capacitor/batter(?) so it also works in the dark.  I now own several and use them everywhere. 
On Mice:
My favorite mice have pretty much been the Microsoft mice due to their excellent tracking on just about every surface, but I’m beginning to warm up the some of the Logitech mice.  The m325 has a decent feel and incredible battery life.  The box says 18 months between changes, yet I cannot recall changing the battery in over two years.  My apple touch mouse seems to need a change every two weeks, and it uses two batteries! (my recollection might be off, but it sure seems that way).  I got tired of feeding that monster.  The Microsoft mouse I have is much better but even so, I have to change the battery every couple of months.
I see Logitech offers a mouse that claims three years on a single battery.  I’d believe their claims.
Operating Systems:
Mac OS X continues to work very well for me.  Being an old bearded Unix type, I appreciate having a real operating system underneath a very pretty gui.  It just works.
Windows 8.x belongs in the trash heap with Vista and ME.  I cannot stand what they’ve done with it.  Windows 7 is pretty good and a worthy XP successor (in my not so humble opinion).  Windows 10 looks promising and I’m cautiously optimistic.  At the very least, I’ll recommend that any v8.x users take advantage of the upgrade – in about three months.  Let someone else find the bugs I say.  At any rate, Win7 is good enough.

I’m glad to hear that Janissaries is coming along.  I know of at least three people who will be looking forward to reading it.
The “There Will Be War” series was interesting to reread after thirty years.  My old versions have disappeared into the brotherhood of book lenders, so I’ve purchased them again from Castallia house.  I hope you can find the time see the others released.


The “em” drive news is fascinating.  Could this be what we’ve been waiting for?  I’m afraid I’m more hopeful than optimistic in the matter, but if it does turn out to be the real deal, it means that mankind will have another renaissance in exploration and adventure that the West has been lacking for over a century.  If anything could breath some life into our decaying society, it would be this and a new frontier to exploit/explore. 
Here’s a link that I think you will appreciate reading – it’s an email exchange between two US veterans of different generations:
This should come as no great surprise, but a lot of people thing you still have many important things to day, so please take care of yourself and continue doing what you do best. 
Thanks for letting me bend your ear, and I hope you have a fantastic day.
– Paul

A good keyboard but not for me. For touch typing I preferred the comfort curve; alas I am a two finger typist now. The Logitech K360 lets me bang away with fewer errors; the chicklet keys are well separated, and that helps a lot.

I think they have done well with the There Will Be War series. http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_4_17?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=there+will+be+war+pournelle&sprefix=there+will+be+war%2Cstripbooks%2C209

Thanks for the kind words.


Russia and rocket engines

So way back when our government spent zillions of taxpayer dollars learning to make rocket engines.
Our brave capitalist ‘job creators’ decided that they did not care to make rocket engines – so messy! So hard! So much easier to just play the stock market and get bailed out with the public treasury when you mess up!
But now some people see that we are signing a zillion dollar contract with Russia to buy their rocket engines because we can no longer make our own. But not to worry, our brave capitalists say that, if we give them ten zillion dollars, they might (might! no promises) be able to make rocket engines again by 2030. Or 2040. Or they might just buy them from Russia and slap a ‘made in USA’ sticker on them.
Commenting on ‘free’ trade, Alexander Hamilton said ‘who would console themselves with the loss of an arm, with the idea that they could buy their shirts for 40% cheaper?’ Well, obviously, our own elites.
You have previously commented that unregulated laissez-faire capitalism ultimately results in human flesh being sold in the market. Perhaps not yet, but it has resulted in our technological supremacy being given away for a nominal price. In less enlightened times this would have called that treason.



full orwell


Google link should avoid the paywall at


Was that the worst speech ever delivered by a U.S. president? Maybe not—our knowledge of 226 years worth of presidential oratory is less than comprehensive—but no rival comes to mind.

Rather than enumerate every flaw of Barack Obama’s defense of his Iran deal yesterday, we’d like to look deeply at the most glaring one, namely this passage:

Just because Iranian hard-liners chant “Death to America” does not mean that that’s what all Iranians believe.

In fact, it’s those hard-liners who are most comfortable with the status quo. It’s those hard-liners chanting “Death to America” who have been most opposed to the deal. They’re making common cause with the Republican caucus.

Unsurprisingly, that partisan smear, vicious even by Obama’s standards, has drawn a good deal of comment from the right.<snip>

I think I can convince nearly anyone that the Iran deal is not best for the US, but I am not President. The Congress may be able to stall, although I think they will not be successful; and if Hillary wins the 2016 election as she almost certainly will if Trump runs as an independent, I doubt she will undo it.

Iran will have nuclear weapons; live with it. There really is no choice now.


Army is breaking, let down by Washington


Army is breaking, let down by Washington

By Robert H. Scales

Special to The Washington Post

Published: August 2, 2015

Last month, Gen. Ray Odierno, outgoing Army chief of staff, and Gen. Mark Milley, his successor, testified to the difficulties faced by the Army. I’d like to make the same points by telling a story.

When I was a boy, tonsillitis was a dangerous illness. In 1952, it kept me in Tokyo General Hospital for weeks. I shared a cramped ward with dozens of soldiers horribly maimed in Korea. The hospital had only one movie theater. I remember watching a Western sandwiched between bandage- and plaster-wrapped bodies. I remember the antiseptic smells, the cloud of cigarette smoke and the whispers of young men still traumatized by the horrors of the war they had just left.

My dad came from Korea to visit me, and I recall our conversations vividly. At the time he was operations officer for the 2nd Engineer Battalion. He told me how poorly his men were prepared for war. Many had been killed or captured by the North Koreans. During the retreat from the Yalu River, some of his soldiers were in such bad physical shape that they dropped exhausted along the road to wait to be taken captive.

“We have no sergeants, son,” he told me, shaking his head, “and without them we are no longer an Army.”

In the early ’70s, I was the same age as my Korean-era dad. I had just left Vietnam only to face another broken Army. My barracks were at war. I carried a pistol to protect myself from my own soldiers. Many of the soldiers were on hard drugs. The barracks were racial battlegrounds pitting black against white. Again, the Army had broken because the sergeants were gone. By 1971, most were either dead, wounded or had voted with their feet to get away from such a devastated institution.

I visited Baghdad in 2007 as a guest of Gen. David Petraeus. Before the trip I had written a column forecasting another broken Army, but it was clear from what Petraeus showed me that the Army was holding on and fighting well in the dangerous streets of Baghdad. Such a small and overcommitted force should have broken after so many serial deployments to that hateful place. But Petraeus said that his Army was different. It held together because junior leaders were still dedicated to the fight. To this day, I don’t know how they did it.

Sadly, the Army that stayed cohesive in Iraq and Afghanistan even after losing 5,000 dead is now being broken again by an ungrateful, ahistorical and strategically tone-deaf leadership in Washington.

The Obama administration just announced a 40,000 reduction in the Army’s ranks. But the numbers don’t begin to tell the tale. Soldiers stay in the Army because they love to go into the field and train; Defense Secretary Ash Carter recently said that the Army will not have enough money for most soldiers to train above the squad level this year. Soldiers need to fight with new weapons; in the past four years, the Army has canceled 20 major programs, postponed 125 and restructured 124. The Army will not replace its Reagan-era tanks, infantry carriers, artillery and aircraft for at least a generation. Soldiers stay in the ranks because they serve in a unit ready for combat; fewer than a third of the Army’s combat brigades are combat-ready.

And this initial 40,000-soldier reduction is just a start. Most estimates from Congress anticipate that without lifting the budget sequestration that is driving this across-the-board decline, another 40,000 troops will be gone in about two years.

But it’s soldiers who tell the story. After 13 years of war, young leaders are voting with their feet again. As sergeants and young officers depart, the institution is breaking for a third time in my lifetime. The personal tragedies that attended the collapse of a soldier’s spirit in past wars are with us again. Suicide, family abuse, alcohol and drug abuse are becoming increasingly more common.

To be sure, the nation always reduces its military as wars wind down. Other services suffer reductions and shortages. But only the Army breaks. Someone please tell those of us who served why the service that does virtually all the dying and killing in war is the one least rewarded.

My grandson is a great kid. He’s about the same age I was when I was recovering at Tokyo General. Both of his parents served as Army officers, so it’s no wonder that in school he draws pictures of tanks and planes while his second-grade classmates draw pictures of flowers and animals. The other day he drew a tank just for me and labeled it proudly “Abrams Tank!”

Well, sadly, if he follows in our footsteps, one day he may be fighting in an Abrams tank. His tank will be 60 years old by then.

At the moment I’d rather he go to law school.

Robert H. Scales, a retired Army major general, is a former commandant of the U.S. Army War College.


A Guy Came Across This Enormous Abandoned Building. What’s Inside It Shocked Him.




Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.




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