Getting Ready

View 827, Friday, June 06, 2014

John Quincy Adams on American Policy:

Whenever the standard of freedom and Independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.

She well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy, and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom.

Fourth of July, 1821


I am off to South Caroline Hilton Head Island at 0 very dark 30 in the morning, and the computers have decided to drive me mad as I do that. Not much I can do at this stage. It should be food for comment when I get home. There are a number of companies out there that try to seize your computer to sell you registry cleaners and “Speedup” programs; they get in when you try to do the old fashioned Norton Scan, and apparently they are aided by Bing and Google in their efforts. If Google really wants not to be evil they should stop that, but in fact they seem devoted to helping these people.

More later.

Anyway, I have got control over my ThinkPad and it will have to do until I get back.

The news is not very inspiring. It looks like a long summer.

If you need something to read, Mike Flynn sent this to another conference. It’s interesting…

There is a post on The Renaissance Mathematicus on the fruitfulness of scientific disagreements for the advance of science:


And NASA seems to have learned something which we told them twenty years ago…

NASA warned plan to send humans to Mars may fail <>

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NASA warned plan to send humans to Mars may fail <>

The US space agency NASA has been warned that its mission to send humans to Mars will fail unless its revamps its methods and draws up a clear, well-pla…

View on <>

But of course the path to the New World lies out past the Azores, and the path to Mars goes through the Moon…


I see that the ThinkPad is compromised but good, and is inserting little ad clicks into the text.  I didn’t put them there and I do not have time to take them out. Ignore them.  We’’ll fix this mess when I get back.


I went into the control panel and removed a whole bunch of programs installed this morning by my attempt to get an off line security scan.  I expect that has got rid of those pesky little ads in the text.  We’ll now test to see.


AND they are gone.  These were well behaved little scoundrels but I didn’t ask for them; they had to be installed by what looked like harmless stuff. One was PC Speed Maximizer which I never heard of and never allowed to run but it sure was aggressive about asking. Another was an ad program.  Anyway they are gone. And I have to get some other stuff done.

One thing I did was run a Microsoft Security essentials scan on this machine, so it looks safe enough. Now to catch up. At leas I had lunch.



Well, I have spent the day getting the ThinkPad into safe condition.  The problem came about when I left it unusued for months: the number of updates it missed accumulated, and somehow when I started it up one of those friendly helpful services hat pay to jump in ahead of everything else in the search line got into line before Microsoft update.  One it got in, it viewed Microsoft Update as a threat and never went there. This allowed the system to get even more interesting helpful systems that had paid to jump the search line.  I was trying to do several things at once and didn’t pay enough attention, and by chance the wininit.dll problem on my other machine was getting attention.  And I just hadn’t realized how aggressive those “help you” programs have  become.  Got rid of them all, scanned the system, installed 42 updates from Microsoft, reset about five times, and the only thing I don’t have now is a driver for my new HP LaserJet 400 printer.  I’ll worry about that when I get home.  I won’t be printing from South Carolina anyway.  For some reason the printer driver didn’t come in the package of stuff I did install, and the control panel search for the driver on line failed.  I know I have the danged driver over on another machine if worst comes to worst, but probably I’ll figure out how to get it from HP.  The problem is that about ten “helpful” programs have paid Bing and Google to be first in line, making it important to CAREFULLY read the addresses of all the web sites offering you official services when they are in fact not official, and I am running out of time.  But I am set to catch my airplane.  Now all I have to do is be up and about at 0400, which means getting some rest – I won’t say going to bed – early enough.  And I can sleep on the airplane.

Back to the joys of being a Road Warrior.  Heck I used to make a living doing that and writing about it, and we got some great stories.  The problem with getting older is that it’s harder to tell your brain to change the subject when a good habit no longer works.  I should write about surviving as you get older.  I don’t know of any really good books on the subject, at least none that apply to me.  I haven’t got stupid, but my memory is awful.  No worse, actually, than Niven’s was when I met him forty years ago, but I used to have a very good memory, and it’s hard to get used to having to look up almost everything I want to say because I can remember what happened, but not when and to whom, and –  Oh. Well.  No need to ramble on that.

I haven’t heard much of the news today.  I will say the news to me is that Google and Bing seem to have sold out to The Evil Ones, and I would recommend that you never, ever, go to one of the paid web sites at the top of the list when you are looking for the solution to a computer problem.  not even the Norton OnLine Security Scan seems to work properly now.  Everyone wants to install something on your system, and that something wants to exclude everyone else, and they conflict with each other.  More on this when I have time to do some experimenting, but it looks as if we’re in a new jungle of very vicious people who are careful enough to avoid doing too much damage, and whose goal is to wear you down so you let them control your system.  What they do with it after that is never very clear.

Anyway, we’re safe, scanned, and back on track.  And those annoying little adds that one of the ‘helpers’ wanted to put into LiveWriter blog posts are gone, gone, gone.  They weren’t up for more than two minutes before I did something about them. But that has used the day.  I’ll review he Nanotech technical papers – I got about 50 megabytes of them – on the air plane.  So maybe I won’t sleep so much after all…

I’ll probably post something up just before I put the ThinkPad into his carry bag.  My carry on board roll on is an aicient one I got from Number Nine when they were the cat’s meow in graphics boards.  I’ve repaired a few minor damages to it, and it still works just fine, with all the pockets and capacity I need, and strong like nothing else. I must have got it in the early 80’s. For a while Number Nine was a major player in the graphics technology field.

Anyway I have plenty to do.  Maybe something tonight before I go, but probably I’ll deal with some mail on the airplane and get something up before bed at Hilton Head Island.

I am packed and the alarm is set.  I’ll nap up here in the study until 4 AM.  Hope all goes well.



One caveat on you comments in the View yesterday:

If this report is correct ( Russia might be Number 3, not Number 2.

I suppose I should have made it clearer.  I always expected Russia to  become Number Three at some point if they have not already.  The Chinese have learned from North Korea that if you want to keep the West from interfering in your internal affairs with their “end of history” liberal democracy, you cannot do it without nukes; and while a force de frappe may be sufficient, it may not be.  A good nuclear arsenal including some tactical nukes will be needed.  Particularly if you need to intimidate Taiwan…

Incompetence or malice?

Dr Pournelle

"Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence." –Napoleon Bonaparte

The result of egregious incompetence is indistinguishable from that of malice.

I submit in evidence Paul Bremer’s administration of Iraq.

Live long and prosper

h lynn keith

That has long been debated.  As one who does not suffer fools gladly, nor indeed at all given a choice, I understand perfectly.  And you have given a very good example.


This is worth sharing. It is a listing of college majors, popularity, income range, and unemployment rate for graduates with each major.


I have not time to comment on this tonight so it will probably appear again; it is a matter of importance to many at this time of year. The cost/return of expensive education with concomitant debt is a matter of considerable concern.




And one more that deserves a longer comment and which you will probably see again:

F-35 issues

  Hi Dr. Pournelle,

Over the course of my career, I’ve been involved with a couple of components on the F-35. In both cases, I was involved in re-designing a component which had been shown to have problems. From my worm’s-eye-view, we did in fact actually upgrade the parts which were amenable to Moore’s Law, essentially doing a ground-up redesign of the component with radically different silicon, fitting into the same volume and performing the same function but better.

I’m not going to defend the F-35 project from a strategic point of view—for several reasons I tend to agree with you that smaller contracts issued more frequently is the way to go, rather than one big “transformative” contract. However, I do not know much about the details of the airframe, and I’m willing to entertain the possibility that this is the correct way to do some of the trickier bits (such as stealth, and VTOL). But from the point of view of electronic components you could look at the F-35 as a series of aircraft, not just one, with successive acquisition blocks incorporating evolved versions of the electronics. And so far, at least, I don’t think materials technology is amenable to Moore’s Law.


After the Challenger disaster we convened, at the request of the White House, another weekend meeting of the Council.  The Citizen’s Advisory Council on National Space Policy (I made up the name during an interview since we had to call it something) was an ad hoc group of space experts and enthusiasts which had access to the National Security Advisor and after the President read the first report, to the President.  It contained astronauts, aerospace executives (George Merrick, North American’s general manager for Shuttle was a member from the beginning, intelligence experts (General Graham and Dr. Stefan Possony among some who never cared to be named), rocket experts (Max Hunter for example), science fiction authors (Heinlein, Anderson, Bear, Dean Ing), publishers (Jim Baen for example), physicists, serving and retired officers, and many others.

We recommended essentially unanimously that Challenger’s replacement be the best ship we could design with modern technology rather than a copy of Challenger, and as George Merrick and Dr. Gould of North American pointed out, many of the  sub-contractors were out of business, and there were no production lines – copying Challenger was more expensive than building a new one incorporating much we learned from the Challenger failure.

NASA couldn’t do it.  The bureaucracy was too strong. Atlantis had many of the known flaws of Challenger.  I am pleased to hear that USAF is not as rigidly controlled by the bureaucracy as NASA was, but I fear that is not universal.  When Benny Schriever was running Systems Command he controlled the bureaucracy, but that has not been the case since Systems Command was abolished (with gleeful cackles by the  bureaucracy).

I haven’t tome adequately to respond to your comment on materials science, but I think you are not correct.  Do understand that technology advances by S Curves, not pure exponentials, and many technologies have their own curves, some of them quite unique; but we do know how to build spacecraft which are stronger and lighter, and thus have higher payloads for the same delta v, and that has been on its own S curve for some time. Not as steep as chip technologies, but not flat either.

As to the trickier bits, some of them are important; and some we would be better off without. Multi-mission aircraft are not the best answer to economy, if one of the missions is air to air supremacy.



Oooo, interesting

Stephanie Osborn

Interstellar Woman of Mystery <>

OOO, interesting indeed.  I’ll have more on this when I get back,  Stephanie will be at Hilton Island this coming week and we can discuss it there.



Saturday night.  Safely arrived in the resort hotel. Long flight, one connector from Charlotte to HHH Iskabd was cancelled, but the gate agents were able to get me on the next plane so I lot only a couple of hours.  And now for bed



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




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