European Union Civil War, and other matters.

Chaos Manor View, Thursday, September 10, 2015


I continue to be mystified by Deflategate; it must be a publicity stunt, since I have heard nothing about measures to require both teams to use the same balls, and to insure that those balls meet some specifications of suitability. If all that has been done and rule changes made to ensure it, why is this never mentioned? It is not reasonable to let each team provide the football when that team is on offense. I can think of ways to alter a football to make it easier to pass that would defy casual and even more serious inspection, as can most of you; the game becomes in part a technology competition rather than a sport.

It must all be publicity hoopla.


It’s 1600 and Time Warner has in effect shut down the Internet as is their custom, so I cannot review the latest about the Apple announcements. From what I have seen the tech journalists were not impressed unless they were already Apple fans, in which case they shout Hallelujah in chorus. My own view remains that I will probably buy the iPad Pro unless I have found reasons to expect a big improvement within a year, but by the time the iPad pro becomes available Microsoft may have so improved the Surface Pro software that it will be needless. I am curious about the Apple stylus; Microsoft’s is not bad, but improvements are possible, some obvious.


It is a very hot and miserable day in Los Angeles — must be global warming – and I have no energy, so today is short shrift.


EU civil war

If Vlad I provides a credible deterrent to the Caliphate, and is a stabilizing influence in the Eastern Med, then the EU will be on his side.  Great Britain will likely become more of what Orwell warned against, and will be more internally focused. Muslim stability will help England right along that path, but possibly at the loss of Scotland and (finally) Northern Ireland as direct subjugates (a Celtic patriot might wish for Welsh independence too, but English repression is so completely successful that there is even less Welsh national identity than there is a Ukrainian one).  If the U.S. continues down its current path, we’ll be right along with them, and Vlad I (or his successor — note to Vlad: work on that dynasty thing) will be on the cover of Time, at least, as the savior of the Middle East.

Any bets on a Russian – Israeli rapprochement, given Putin leashing or counter-weighing Iran?
If the U.S.A. continue as mercenaries to support and uphold the house of Saud and its attendants without changing them into a nation (as opposed to well-fed warlords) who can oppose the Caliphate without Russia, we might be buggered. 

Either way, we should look to regional consolidation and learn to play nice in South and Central America, and in the Caribbean.  “Giving up” Panama was a big mistake, and continuing to treat Mexico as a disreputable bandit (its government still is, but should not be treated so) is another.  There’s a lot of resources from here to Patagonia, and they could either be of use to the U.S.A., or a permanent drain — their neutrality is just not the way to bet. “It is better to marry than to burn,” and it is easy to run out of matches.

On top of the EU civil war, there’ll probably be a Chinese one, too.  I don’t want my grandkids being cannon fodder in far East Asia, either.  Perhaps it is time for the U.S. to become a stabilizing influence instead of a co-conspirator?

We need a strategy that considers the world as it is, instead of what we thought it was (and what we might be) a century ago.  If it was only Vlad, or Jong-un, or China, or the clan Saud, or the Caliphate, or only Euro-mid Eastern refugees, or only Iran, or only illegal U.S. immigrants it would all be easy — but in the reality of complex systems, easy solutions (e.g. building a Gadsden Purchase wall) are neither easy nor solutions for anyone but the contractors.

Oh, there will be war, but whose side are we on in these territorial disputes in Europe.  And why.  But there will be war.

Jerry Pournelle

On further thought, I am guilty of creating what may be an oxymoron in my subject line: “an EU civil war” — perhaps the European Disunion might be better.  Sorry.   Perhaps a civil war within a Union is always inappropriate use of the language.
Of course, the acronym E.D. is already in use, but erectile dysfunction might also be an appropriate (in some circles) description of the inability of a combined Europe to deal with an external (or mass economic) threat.

Indulging in a little historical fiction myself:
European Disunion will be the end of NATO, or at least the end of U.S. involvement in it.
In case of war between the erstwhile members of the EU, if Germany and France are on the same side this time (which seems to be what is happening, however reluctantly), they will have all the European nukes (ignoring those of Airstrip One, which will be either not usable or will be kept at home, Korea-like, as a deterrent — this will keep England out of the war, even though they will secede from the EU). 

Franco-Germany will be the “winner” of the war, but the remaining alliance may not include Sweden, Finland, nor the Baltics, nor Belarus — the E.D. might be enough to drive the latter two over to the protection of Imperial Russia.  The North-west corner of Ukraine will be admitted to the E.U.’s successor, perhaps as the Franco-German province of East Poland, but the Southern part, from Lvov/Lviv to Odessa, might not.

The U.S. will pull the few remaining NATO nukes as the alliance falls apart, but probably not precipitating it.  Greece and Turkey will be NATO’s Jenga blocks, and will come to be under the protection of the Czar, but they will leave NATO peaceably when Russia makes good their debts and solves their border problems.

It seems most likely Spain will (again) be on the losing side of the civil war, but it remains to be seen who they will take with them.  Italy has been unified a little too long.  Some of the littles like Monaco might not make it as post-war independents if they stand out, but more likely they’ll be mouse-quiet (not in the style of Grand Fenwick). 

When Greece sells out to Putin, he will get the fealty of Serbia, Bosnia, Montenegro, etc. as part of the package.  I think they’ll be voluntarily bound by treaty, but perhaps there’ll be some military arm-twisting.  The fate of Romania and Bulgaria and their like might depend on whether they sign on with Franco-Germany or the losers.  They may see the writing on the wall, or may be bought by the offer of incorporating Southwestern Ukraine (Moldova gets buried).  What’s left of Ukraine becomes land locked and the Black Sea is a Russian pond as well as its gateway to the Med.

Putin’s price to Syria and Turkey could easily be an independent Kurdistan, however reluctantly those two might surrender the territory.  Kurdish Iraq and Iran will secede, probably violently, to join up with the new homeland, so Tehran will be too busy for Israel, anyway. Kurds get a promised land, Putin get’s his Time photo op.

I’m probably wrong on all counts, but (rhetorically) if the situation does change drastically, who might the U.S. have to deter — the lite version of Airstrip One, Franco-Germany, the Russo-Israel alliance?  Might there be a Co-Dominion after all?  Who should we ally with, if anyone?

An interesting scenario. I confess to being literally under the weather – my wife hates air conditioning, and I cannot go upstairs to my air conditioned writing suite, although if this keeps up I am going to find a way. We will see what comments this gets. Thank you.

Europe is accommodating 800,000 migrants who what the best they can find in welfare benefits including dental care. If 800,000 armed persons came in demanding tribute it would be called an invasion. More will come, of course, and they will want better benefits; how long that will go on is not clear.

Swedes, not being entirely insane, and once one of the most war-like people on Earth, may decide to take a different course; on the other hand, robots may save us. The main trouble with socialism is you run out of other people’s money; the hope is that technology will substitute robots for other people, and that people can be paid to settle in and learn to be good, if not citizens, then migrants.

France seems to be finding that doesn’t work well. There are parts of the United States that are teaching the same lesson. The United States had great success with the Melting Pot, but that pot is being overwhelmed with numbers and the schools are teaching diversity, not assimilation. I doubt any of us will live to see the denouement of that.

We sow the wind. We have been doing so for decades. The debt rises. But then Moore’s Law is inexorable; still there are few exponentials in the real world, and the ogive may level off. It’s a race to see whether the robot economy can afford what our merely human one demands.


Iran Deal

Understanding the Corker bill is key to understanding the current situation. Within the context of the broader agreement with Iran, the key US action is the lifting of US sanctions. These sanctions are encoded is US law, independent of the international sanctions (which were negotiated for, but obviously have nothing to do with US law, nor were they every part of a formal treaty that would require the Senate to consent to changes).

The Corker law preemptively lifted these sanctions in support of an agreement negotiated by the president as long as 1) all of the relevant agreements (both those involving the US as party and significantly any third-party deals such as the IAEA inspection arrangements) are submitted to Congress within 90 days of the agreement 2) Congress does not pass a formal rejection of the deal (which, since it would be reversing the Corker law, must be it’s own bill, and survive a presumptive veto).

There are secondary arrangements that have been mentioned (such as the US providing assistance with Iranian enrichment efforts under certain conditions) that would require some kind of affirmative legislation that could presumably be blocked by Congress, but none are all that significant compared to this – if the Administration has fulfilled its obligation to report the deal in its entirety to Congress, the sanctions are legally lifted, as Congress obviously cannot pass legislation reinstating them. At this point the international sanctions regime also shuts down, and most of what Iran wants from the deal has been achieved. After that, attempting to reinstate sanctions just provides the Iranians with a justification for walking away from their obligations under the deal.
Obama has clearly learned the obvious lesson from the shutdown fight of several years ago – given the current filibuster rules, the side in any legislative battle that wins if no bill passes has a decisive advantage. Why the Republicans signed off on the Corker bill is a separate question, but having done that, Obama now has a solid legal foundation for the key US concessions in the deal, and these concessions are largely irreversible. He can easily leverage that into either formal approval of the remaining elements that need it – or at least prevent any serious attempt to stop any of it on the obvious grounds that we’ve already given up 90% of what we’ve agreed to in the hope that Iran will follow through on their side of the deal, so everyone is just going to have to suck it up and hope for the best.


Thank you.


Edge and Scrolling and Searching and Windows 10

Your entry today (9 Sep 2015) mentioned issues with using Edge on your Surface, and sites that require horizontal scrolling, where that scrolling is not on Firefox.

I am not sure that you did a proper test of that issue. If a site does not ‘adjust’ to the browser window properly, it is most usually the fault of the site, not the browser. A site needs to be ‘responsive’ to the size of the viewport (viewing area of the browser window on the device). If it is responsive, then the site will adjust it’s display of content to be legible, without horizontal scrolling, on any device.

Take your site, for instance, or . Both of those sites have a ‘responsive’ design, which is intended to adjust for the viewport of the devices browser, no matter which browser you use. If you look at those sites in Edge, or Firefox, on any device, the text/content should be readable, from phone to tablet to pad to notebook to desktop, in any width of the browser. It’s not perfect, but both sites will not require horizontal scrolling on any device and any browser.
Your notes didn’t specify the sites you were looking at, but I suspect that you didn’t look at the same site on Edge and Firefox. I suspect that a site that require horizontal scrolling on Edge will also require horizontal scrolling on Firefox, on the same device.

So, proper testing would require that you test the same URL on both browsers (Edge and Firefox) and see if the horizontal scrolling is required on both browser; I suspect that it will.

A non-responsive site, such as (who should know better) requires horizontal scrolling and zooming on my L3 phone, and my LG table. (On the phone, I have to turn the phone in landscape mode and zoom in to be able to make the content legible.)

Although I don’t have a Surface, I do have Windows 10 and Edge. I usually use Firefox (out of habit), but the same sites behave the same on both browsers.

As for the default search engine in Edge: it is true that Bing is the out-of-box default. But that is easily changed to the search engine of your choice. Even Bing searches will tell you how to do it.
Edge does show you some ads on startup, but they don’t insert ads on other sites (other than the ads those sites already have). A test with the same site on both browser should show that.
As for Windows 10, I have upgraded my home systems (HP Laptops, 17″ screen) to Windows 10 from Windows 7, and I like the improvements. In particular, I noticed that the screen is much ‘crisper’ than in Windows 7. The Start menu is still there, and it is easy to find a program (just click the Window key, and start typing the name of the program you need). Once you find the program in the list, you can ‘pin’ it to your Start menu so it is there the next time.

I didn’t much like the interface of Windows 8, although my wife got used to it (after some struggle) on her laptop. She has since converted to Windows 10, and there have been minimal calls out to ‘tech support’ (me) for issues with the new OS.

Apologize for the length of this, but a proper comparison of how a site looks in Edge and Firefox requires that you test the same site in both browser, and not the first results you see from different search engines for the same topic.

Regards, your long-suffering web guy, Rick Hellewell

I thank you for the long suffering; I could not do this place without you.

I was unclear, and I have gone back and edited the piece to clarify: yes, I looked at the same web sire – Verge – in both Edge and Firefox. Edge required horizontal scrolling, and always kept some ads visible. Firefox snapped to fit the space available. This may have been misuse on my part due to unfamiliarity with Edge.


Wheelchair Accessible Transportation

Hi, Jerry.   You write:  “I see an article on how Uber needs regulating so that they have to take care of customers in wheel chairs thus making the drivers get out of the car. If people in wheel chairs cannot use Uber, then of course no one can.”

Uber won’t take Medicare or Medi-Cal in payment, but here in Sacramento, Paratransit  and MedStar  will.  There are probably similar services in any city large enough to support an Uber base. Even if Uber could take wheelchairs, would people pay for that service when the gummit will provide it?

Ken Mitchell           

“Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the  socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all. We disapprove of state education. Then the socialists say that we are opposed to any education. We object to a state religion. Then the socialists say that we want no religion at all. We object to a state-enforced equality. Then they say that we are against equality. And so on, and so on. It is as if the socialists were to accuse us of not wanting persons to eat because we do not want the state to raise grain.”
Frederic Bastiat, “The Law”


Dr. Pournelle,
This is worth your time, for a laugh:









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




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