Interstellar colonization and other matters; a new Cold War

Chaos Manor View, Thursday, October 29, 2015

Spent Wednesday (yesterday) in conference with Niven and Barnes, and lunch afterwards; we got a lot done, but the clear conclusion is that it’s my turn, and I owe them about a week of work. The Cthulhu War, (working title, probably not the final) is turning into a major and excellent project. It’s the third volume in the Avalon series. Both its predecessors, The Legacy of Heorot, and Beowulf’s Children were both best-sellers, and they hold up well. These are stories of founding the first interstellar colony in a world of slower than light travel; populating the universe at slower than light speed in a race with unknown competitors: we haven’t found them yet, but we have found life, and some it may be approaching intelligence; how long did it take us to evolve to interstellar travelling beings, and how many others are likely?

There is a novella, written after Beowulf’s Children but actually taking place between the two books; the necessity for keeping what happened in The Secret of Blackship Island from being known to the protagonists in Beowulf’s Children was not hard, and a bit of fun, but it turns out to have some serious consequences. Among other things, how do you keep secrets when there’s an AI that knows everything?

Remember, most of the passengers – the Colonists – went there in cold sleep or as frozen embryos. Children could not give informed consent about being frozen and sent off Earth. Thus there’s a real generation gap, because for the first twenty years there were no teen agers; only adults and children. And there’s still a generation gap between the Earthborn who rule, and the Starborn who do an increasingly large share of the work, even if robots do the menial labor… That was important in the first books; it’s even more so now. And Earth is not done sending colony expeditions…

Anyway, I’ve got several important scenes to do, and that’s going to take some of my time. The book progresses well, but this part is sort of my bailiwick. With luck you’ll never know what I did and what the other members of the team have done; we’re all quite active in writing this book.

Tonight is LASFS, and I’d give you the link to my page except that Time Warner has its usual 4: PM shutdown of the Internet. It will go away eventually—ah, it’s back. Anyway I’m going to the LASFS meeting, so this will have to be short.


Steve Barnes calling Jack Cohen for a Skype Conference. Ain’t technology grand?


The debate settled nothing, and wasn’t politically important; it was probably good practice for the candidates, but no one got knocked out, and maybe the Republican establishment is learning how much they are hated by the electorate, and seen as a lesser evil to Hillary – at best. And the media hates them, and perhaps they are learning that. We’ll lose at least one more candidate before Iowa as someone runs out of money. I rather hope it isn’t Carly Fiorina because I’m finding increasingly more reasons to like her, and she’s slowly moving up. Carson sounds better all the time, and he obviously has stamina and self control. Jed Bush is doing his duty and running but his heart isn’t in it. Trump is Trump; unpredictable and not controlled by any group. What you see is what you get.

The Republican Country Club Establishment has learned a few thing and forgotten some since they ran the only man Clinton could beat in the ’96 election; but they haven’t learned much, and have forgotten even less. They know that electing any Democrat will be a disaster to the country, so they think that the nation has no choice; people like me will have to vote for who they put up. The Primaries become very important; but you knew that. This is a very critical election. I wish Carly were more charismatic.


It’s still Pledge Week at KUSC and thus at Chaos Manor; if you’re sick and tired of me asking you for money you have only to hang on a bit longer – of course if no one subscribes or renews this place won’t be here at all and I’ll never ask you for money again. Actually, we’ve has several new subscribers this week, and the renewal rate has been pretty good. Not spectacular, but this is a Depression even if officially they don’t call it one.

They no longer count people who want work, don’t have it, and have given up looking for a job as unemployed, and since more and more do give up as this non-recovery wends on and the Debt grows and grows, the unemployment rate shrinks even as the number of people not working grows. The employment rate among young black males is low and getting lower; while the number of young black males murdered by young black males is growing. If Black Lives Matter, and they do, it is odd that no one in the Democratic Party seems to notice this. They wish to raise the minimum wage even higher; this means that the number of young black males who can do anything you would pay money to have them do gets smaller; but no one notices that cause and effect. Minimum wages might make sense when there is no alternative – the job has to be done – but a minimum wage for starting workers learning what they must do means there are fewer ventures and a lot of jobs just don’t appear.

But you knew that.

And it’s still Pledge Week, and if you have never subscribed, this is the time to do it. Click here  and become a patron, or even a platinum subscriber.

If you have subscribed but don’t remember when, now is when you should do it. Click here and renew.


Scrambling Carrier-Based Fighters

YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — The USS Ronald Reagan scrambled its fighter jets earlier this week after two Russian naval reconnaissance aircraft flew within one nautical mile of the U.S. aircraft carrier as it sailed in international waters east of the Korean Peninsula, according to 7th Fleet officials.

In the latest in a series of incidents involving Russian aircraft, two Tupolev Tu-142 Bear aircraft flew as low as 500 feet Tuesday morning near the Reagan, which has been conducting scheduled maneuvers with South Korean navy ships. Four F/A-18 Super Hornets took off from the Reagan’s flight deck in response to the Russian advance, 7th Fleet spokeswoman Lt. Lauren Cole said Thursday.

Full article at Stars and Stripes:

Seems to me that this kind of stuff used to happen all the time in Soviet times.  Do our new generation of troops (and theirs) know how to deal with it?

Best wishes for your continued recovery!


Not so much after Reagan became President. But yes… We’ll see more of this of course


Military blimp goes AWOL for a joy ride up the East Coast

The Pentagon said Wednesday that U.S. fighter jets were tracking an unmanned Army surveillance blimp that tore loose from its ground tether in Maryland and drifted north over Pennsylvania. (Oct. 28) AP

WASHINGTON – The Pentagon got its blimp back.

It went AWOL from Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland on Wednesday, snapping a more than one-inch thick cable and hitting the skies on a joy ride over the farm fields and towns of eastern Pennsylvania.

It’s hard to hide when you’re a blimp, and at nearly the size of a football field, this one has attracted attention and Tweets and two fighter jets. The Pennsylvania governor issued a statement. The military, too. They were all anxious to let people who were monitoring the blimp’s progress, that, well, they were, too.


Confirmed predecessors to the Carrington Event


Massive solar storms in AD 744/745 and AD 993/994 have been confirmed by carbon-14 spikes both in tree rings and in ice cores from Greenland and Antarctica.  More confirmation that such events are likely to happen every few hundred years.  We have yet to experience such an event in the Information Age.

Best regards,

Doug Ely

Extreme solar storms could be more common than expected


I am not sure there is anything really new in this article but it is brief and does mention an estimate (5 months) of the duration of power outages from a Carrington-like event were it to happen today.

Title and link follow.

Extreme solar storms could be more common than expected



We’ve discussed this before. It’s inevitable, but we don’t know when.


A new approach to solving “the ISIS problem”
Dear Jerry,
Did you notice this in Scott Adams’ blog:
{You can’t bomb an idea to death. So how do you ever defeat the idea that is ISIS?
To kill an idea, you need a hypnotist, or someone skilled in the art of persuasion. I’ll describe one way to do it. I do not expect any of the candidates to favor this approach. So what follows is not a policy suggestion so much as an example of how a trained hypnotist would kill an idea.
[As always, don’t take cartoonists too seriously. In this blog we kick around new ideas for entertainment. New readers of this blog need to know I am a trained hypnotist.]
A hypnotist would start by defining ISIS in a way that is true (enough) but provides some sort of psychological advantage. For example, you could start by defining the ISIS brand of Islam as “historical” as opposed to modern. That might not be the right world, but you get the idea. We want a label that is fresh (such as “low-energy” or “nice”) so we can imbue it with the qualities we want. In this model, we stop using the old language of “religious extremists” and similar labels because the old words have not helped us enough.
Then we A-B test historical Islam versus modern Islam to see which one does best.
The way you A-B test “historical” Islam is by first putting a wall around the ISIS caliphate, which means a combination of drones, mines, fences, moats, and whatever works. Neighboring countries will do the heavy lifting on the borders. They have the money and the incentive to keep ISIS out.
Some of you will say walls never work. And that is true if you are speaking in military terms. A wall won’t stop an army in the long run. But this wall would not be built to stop an army. Nor would it stop every individual with bad intent. It doesn’t need to.
We are trying to kill an idea with this wall. The wall would exist to define the territory where the idea will be tested. In this context, the wall can be a little bit porous and still work okay.
Once the border around the caliphate is mostly secure, we declare that “historical Islam” is on one side of the wall and modern Islam is (mostly) everywhere else. Instead of saying we want to kill all folks who subscribe to this “historical” brand of ISIS Islam, we say we want to see how their world thrives compared to ours. So our plan is to leave the Caliphate alone and see how they do.
Here’s the best part of the plan: Over time, our stated objective would be to drain from the caliphate all technology that was invented or manufactured by heathens. The ISIS-controlled caliphate would be left with an “historical” version of Islam. That would be our gift to them. We’re just trying to help.
We could remove modern transportation options from ISIS by bombing oil refineries and keeping borders sealed. I hope we can someday use drones to jam satellite signals over selected areas as well. Eventually all electric power plants would be removed from the Caliphate, and their electronic devices would become worthless.
But that isn’t enough. We also need to provide massive amounts of pre-modern farming supplies, food, and medical supplies, so the innocent population can eat, and also to reinforce the image that we are helping ISIS get to their “historical” version of Islam.
For example, we might airdrop plows and seeds and other early farming implements. And all of it should have a label that says we are supporting ISIS in its plan to live a pre-modern version of Islam. I would go so far as to provide copies of the Koran – lots of them – with no edits and no surprises. We might include a cover letter explaining our helpfulness and our desire to let the Caliphate thrive under its own set of rules.
The leaders of ISIS will have a hard time convincing the locals that the countries giving them free farming supplies are the enemy.
Once we create a “digital jail” for ISIS, where no one can use modern technology to communicate, and almost no one can leave or enter, we will also control their access to news. And that’s what you need to kill an idea.
Obviously we would need to be proactive about allowing innocents to leave the Caliphate. And by innocents, I mean women and small kids. The men of fighting age probably have to stay, so they can kill whatever is left of ISIS when the time comes.
The basic idea I am proposing is to switch from enemy mode (killing humans) to helpful mode (removing heathen technology). Instead of saying we want to end ISIS, say we want to give them a chance to show the world they are right. Just as soon as they give up their heathen-made technology.
If you want to kill an idea, you have to go after the idea directly. And the best way to kill an idea is with a friendly embrace and a bright light.
Trump says he wants to put a wall around ISIS and bomb their oil refineries. That’s how a Master Persuader approaches this sort of thing. }
Hope you sort out your “Surface problems” soon.

ISIS under its own proclamation has no right to exist or rule if it has no territory; its purpose is to impose strict sharia law on faithful and infidels alike. You can kill the idea of ISIS as Kitchener did after Khartoum. The Mahdi springs up now and then, but he has to be successful; either he rules somewhere of he is not the Mahdi.


In re Islam and the death of classical civilization, per Messr. Jordan.

I highly recommend this book, which updates Pirenne (whom I always found

persuasive) and thoroughly debunks the absurd and ahistorical ‘they preserved classical learning’ propaganda to which we’ve been subjected for the last 150 years or so:



Roland Dobbins


: Why Air Power Keeps Failing

I agree with the larger point, armies are generally army-centric, and ours is no exception. Look at air ops in Northwest Africa in ’42, for instance – we had adequate but far short of overwhelming air resources, but they tried at first to do a little bit of everything and spent some months achieving only modest amounts of anything.

Air supremacy is an excellent task for a separate air force – if you can afford it. And we certainly ought to be able to afford both that and dedicated professional ground-support forces, if we weren’t being pulled about as far up the diminishing-returns maximum-quality aircraft cost curve as it’s possible to go.

A quibble about WW II BoB, mind: The Luftwaffe understood just fine how to achieve air supremacy – go for the opposition’s air fields and support structure while also forcing them to come up and be atritted in the air. My read of ultimately why the Germans failed at the Channel is that the Brits (unlike everyone else to that point) had a good enough air defense that it was going to cost the Luftwaffe massive losses – on the rough order of half of their total air force – to grind the RAF into dust. German leadership (Goering) couldn’t stomach that price, backed off the proven winning approach partway, and commenced trying to find ways to win on the cheap – none of which worked.


Actually, Eagle started without realization by Goering that air bases were more important than airplanes; but the no one realized that fully for a long time. The Britain bombed Berlin, and Hitler ordered the Luftwaffe to waste planes and time on London, and Britain was saved.





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




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