Election Grinds on; Good news from ARPA; Data on Global Warming; Aliens among us? And a lot of mail

Chaos Manor View, Tuesday, March 08, 2016

“This is the most transparent administration in history.”

Barrack Obama

Liberalism is a philosophy of consolation for Western Civilization as it commits suicide.

Under Capitalism, the rich become powerful. Under Socialism, the powerful become rich.

Under Socialism, government employees become powerful.


The Republican Establishment, having alienated at least two thirds of its base – those who participate in primaries, anyway – has decided they must do something. They aren’t going to do much about the issues that have alienated their voters; they’re going all out to Stop Trump. So far they haven’t noticed, or pretend not to notice, that the only non-Trump candidate who might be able to appeal to the Trump voters is Texas Senator Cruz, who is not part of the Country Club establishment that is content to stay in the minority so long as their positions are safe, or that he is a great a threat to their sinecures as anyone.

They’ll learn. First stop Trump. Then woo Cruz, get him to join up with the insiders, win him over, make him grow in office. It worked in the past.

There’s a good chance that it’s too late. As it stands, an open convention would present them with a choice between Trump and Cruz. Mr. Trump scares people, and probably doesn’t really want the splendid misery of the Presidential office. It really is hard work, and it is unrelenting. An advisory post would better suit him, so long as he trusts the actual candidate.

We’ll see.

Meanwhile, Hillary’s problem grow:


0045 AM 

Trump and Cruz have wiped out Marco, so it’s pretty well a contest between them; and Trump’s ahead, but being surprisingly blasé about the negative campaigning against him.  The Establishment country club Republicans don’t really have a viable candidate.  We’re in uncharted waters with no pilot.




And now for some good news.

Reusable spaceplane tops DARPA’s budget request, again


WASHINGTON — For the second consecutive year, the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s top-funded space program is an experimental spaceplane intended to make frequent trips to orbit.

DARPA asked for $50 million in the Pentagon’s 2017 budget request for its Experimental Spaceplane 1, or XS-1 program. That’s up from a $30 million the agency asked for during the fiscal year 2016 budget cycle.

XS-1 aims to develop a reusable first stage that could carry an expendable upper stage capable of placing payloads weighing up to 1,800 kilograms into orbit. DARPA said the vehicle could ultimately fly 10 times in 10 days and boost payloads into low Earth orbit for less than $5 million per launch.

Three industry teams are working on the program: Boeing and Blue Origin; Masten Space Systems and XCOR Aerospace; and Northrop Grumman and Virgin Galactic.

In July, all three teams received funding to continue design work and risk reduction activities in preparation for a production contract.

DARPA said in 2014 it intended to pick one team in 2015 to work toward demonstration flight in 2018, but now it is unclear when such a downselect will occur.

DARPA said in budget documents that it plans to complete system and subsystem designs later this year, as well as coordinate with the Federal Aviation Administration for preliminary flight test planning.

A critical design review is planned for fiscal year 2017, the documents said.

In October, the Government Accountability Office said none of several Defense Department efforts to field quick-reaction launch vehicles, including XS-1, have advanced past the development stage.

In its 2017 budget request DARPA asked for $175 million for its space programs and technology office, significantly higher than the $127 million budget for 2016.

In addition to $50 million for XS-1, next year’s budget would also include:

  • $45 million for the RadarNet program. an effort to design a deployable lightweight, low-power and wideband-capable communications antenna for cubesats.
  • $33 million for Robotic Servicing of Geostationary Satellites, which would establish a robotics operation in geosynchronous orbit to perform servicing tasks.


And some good news for geeks; at least some of us:

Florida Senate approves making coding a foreign language (USA Today)

Madison Iszler, USA TODAY 3:07 p.m. EST March 1, 2016

Florida senators approved a bill allowing high school students to take computer coding classes in place of foreign language requirements.

The bill (SB 468), introduced by Sen. Jeremy Ring’s (D-Parkland), won by a 35-5 vote. It will take effect during the 2018-19 school year. Technological skills are a necessity “for every industry,” Ring told USA TODAY.

“It’s ahead of its time, but in reality, it’s in its time,” Ring said. “If you don’t have an understanding of technology, you will be left behind. It’s a basic skill, as much as reading and writing.”

Local groups are not pleased. The NAACP’s Florida Conference and Miami-Dade branch, the Florida chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and the Spanish American League Against Discrimination (SALAD) released a joint statement disputing the bill, reports The Tampa Bay Times.

“Our children need skills in both technology and in foreign languages to compete in today’s global economy,” the statement reads. “However, to define coding and computer science as a foreign language is a misleading and mischievous misnomer that deceives our students, jeopardizes their eligibility to admission to universities, and will result in many losing out on the foreign language skills they desperately need even for entry-level jobs in South Florida.”

Under the bill, which has undergone several revisions, high schools may offer students the opportunity to take computer coding courses. Originally, the bill said that high schools “must” allow students to do so. [snip]



‘NOAA’s best data shows no warming for 60 years.’



Roland Dobbins

Yet one more data point. I am sure it has warmed since the times the Hudson froze over hard enough to walk on, and there were market stalls on the Thames ice; beyond that I’m not so sure. It seems to be warming, but I recall in the 70’s at AAAS meetings the news was full of The Genesis Strategy and other means of coping with the coming Ica Age.


‘The influence of the CO2 warming theory built into computer models is so strong that the climate science establishment does not believe the data until the data has been manipulated to agree with the computer models.’



Roland Dobbins

Yet one more instance; if the data do not fit the model, adjust the data.


“We are saying there is incontrovertible evidence that Alzheimer’s Disease has a dormant microbial component. We can’t keep ignoring all of the evidence.”



Roland Dobbins

But surely we can; it is becoming increasingly common to ignore evidence. Excuse my cynicism.


What could go wrong?

China Is About to Get Even Better at Predicting Dissent









China Is About to Get Even Better at Predicting Dissent

Turns out, “Minority Report” should have been set in Beijing.


View on

Preview by Yahoo


Is “Common Core” rotten…to the core?

“In addition to dumbing down the important [SAT] test, one of two main standardized exams generally used by colleges for admissions, analysts say the revisions will play a key role in imposing Common Core on all American students — even children who are homeschooled, private-schooled, or in states that have officially resisted the widely criticized national standards.”

“Among the biggest changes are the removal of the essay requirement and an end to penalties for incorrect answers aimed at discouraging guessing. Also sparking alarm among experts concerned about the ongoing dumbing down of American education is the fact that the SAT will be drastically scaling back and simplifying the vocabulary and math requirements.”

Charles Brumbelow=

And they need know no history other than we once had slavery.


Mysterious repeating signals arriving from deep space

(NEWSER) – Researchers just announced the discovery of radio signals from beyond our galaxy that are behaving in strange ways. Fast radio bursts—or FRBs—are very rare, very quick blasts of radio waves originating billions of light years away, Popular Science explains. It’s unclear where exactly in the universe they’re coming from and what’s causing them. Since the first one was discovered in 2007, scientists have found only 17 total, and none of them ever repeat, the Verge reports. At least that’s what everyone thought. According to a paper published this week in Nature, researchers at Cornell University have found evidence of FRBs that do just that.

Scientists used to think FRBs were caused by “cataclysmic events,” such as neutron stars colliding with each other and exploding. Repeating FRBs means that can’t be the case. “This research shows for the first time that there can be multiple FRBs from the same place in the sky,” researcher Shami Chatterjee says in a press release. “Whatever produces the FRB can’t be destroyed by the burst, because otherwise, what would produce the next pulse?” And the mystery deepens: “We’re showing that whatever battery drives FRBs, it can recharge in minutes,” astronomy professor James Cordes says. “The energy of the event becomes very problematic.” Researchers hope to next pinpoint where the FRBs are coming from in order to figure out what they’re coming from, and they’ll be helped by three massive radio telescopes that start operating next year. (Speaking of space mysteries: “Alien megastructures” have scientists baffled.)

But see what’s next. Aliens among us? See Freefall



This is interesting news:


A scientific study has revealed that the DNA make up of octopuses is nothing like any other living being on the planet Earth, hinting that they are more alien than Earthly.

Octopuses are present in all of the Earth’s oceans, and have shown a great sustainability among the other aquatic life that share the seas.

Their large brains and ability to solve complex problems with little observation have mystified researchers for years, coercing wonder of their true intelligence and cognitive abilities. The reveal of their DNA has researchers wondering more about the tentacled creatures, their origins, and why they are unlike any other animals on the planet.

It was found that the genome of the cephalopod mollusc, according to the Huffington post, is quite complex. Over 33,000 protein-coding genomes were discovered during recent research. In comparison, humans have approximate 20,000. Although the information is intriguing and will lead to further research, the findings have created more questions than answers.


So, it may be the alien invasion began a long time ago? All I can say

is: Ia ia, Cthulu ftaghn; ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn. The seas are churning….

◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊

Most Respectfully,

Joshua Jordan, KSC

Percussa Resurgo

This is the first I have heard of this; informed comments welcome.


Want that Apple II experience? Now you can run over 500 rare 1980s programs in your browser (ZD)

A group of hackers skilled at breaking Apple II copy-protection schemes is helping save old education and productivity software.

By Liam Tung | March 8, 2016 — 14:21 GMT (06:21 PST) |

After creating a living museum for ancient Windows games, apps, and malware, the Internet Archive has reached a new milestone in its Apple-related preservation efforts, now hosting a rare collection over 500 Apple II programs from the 1980s and 1990s.

The 500-plus set of programs have been supplied to the Internet Archive by a group of hackers known as 4am, which aim to crack rare Apple II programs and preserve them as closely as possible in their original form minus copy protections.

The group hosts cracked games on the Internet Archive, which through an emulation program allows people interact with the programs through a modern browser.

The 4am-cracked programs are a subset of the Internet Archive’s much larger Apple II software library. But as archivist Jason Scott explained in a blogpost, the 4am collection plays a special role in balancing out a library that is skewed towards popular arcade games.


IBM’s Automated Radiologist Can Read Images and Medical Records

HomeBig Data and Analytics › IBM’s Automated Radiologist Can Read Images and Medical Records

I have been optimistic about the potential for voice recognition for many years. In my 2001 book, Net Attitude: What It Is, How to Get It, and Why Your Company Can’t Survive Without It, I discussed the ability to translate languages. Adoption was slow for a decade, but is now accelerating with Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri, Google Now, Microsoft Cortana, and the Skype Translator. Listening to a voice and converting it to meaningful text is one of many forms of artificial intelligence. IBM Research has developed another form of AI called Avicenna. The Avicenna software can read medical images, structured data, and electronic health records. The result is a productivity boost for radiologists. [snip]

And the robots get better and better…


“You can’t really get caught up in the cartoon because it’s a serious business.”



Roland Dobbins


Defense Secretary Takes Position Against a Data ‘Back Door’     (nyt)


SAN FRANCISCO — Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter assured an audience of computer security experts Wednesday that he was not in favor of a “back door” that would give the government access to data that is protected by encryption.

Speaking at the annual RSA Conference, Secretary Carter sought common ground with companies worried by Apple’s fight with the Federal Bureau of Investigation over access to an iPhone.

“Just to cut to the chase, I’m not a believer in back doors or a single technical approach,” Secretary Carter said to loud applause during a panel discussion at the conference. “I don’t think it’s realistic. I don’t think that’s technically accurate.”

Apple is resisting a court order that would require it to create software to break the password mechanism in an iPhone used by one of the assailants in the December mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif. [snip]


She Had an Abortion at 15. How It Changed Her Life.


After a free pregnancy test came back positive, showing that then-15-year-old Nona Ellington was five weeks pregnant, she went forward and scheduled an abortion.

Read More


‘Who really owns a Tesla? Not the title holder, that’s for sure.’



Roland Dobbins

I find that interesting…


: NHS to harvest babies’ organs in proposals to mums pregnant with damaged babies | Daily Mail Online


Niven might recognize the similarities to his organ banks.

As long as the possible organ recipients are limited to infants, demand will be limited. What happens if fetal tissues can be used to treat life threatening illnesses in adults? Will the government run healthcare system start exaggerated the alleged fetal defects or even lie to expectant mothers so that their babies can be harvested? Will a certain quota become mandatory? Will aging voters mandate that access to contraception be regulated to ensure an adequate supply of spare parts to extend their lives?

James Crawford=

Indeed. In unrestrained capitalist societies you will find human flesh for sale in the market; in other, it will be a government monopoly.


‘Were there sympathetic pre-board screeners in Boston and New York who ignored the X-ray images of weapons on September 11?’


I don’t agree with the main thrust of this article, but it poses an interesting question, nonetheless.


Roland Dobbins

I think box cutters were not forbidden prior to 9/11.


A famous IBM employee took her baby to an IBM conference and had to deal with a smart aleck

Lisa Seacat DeLucaIBM super inventor Lisa Seacat DeLuca.

Lisa Seacat DeLuca is among the best-known women who work for IBM.

She’s a mobile software engineer and one of the company’s most prolific master inventors. She has close to 400 patents and patent applications under her belt as part of IBM’s massive patent-creation machine.

She’s often on the speaker circuit, including a TED talk she gave a few years back.

She’s also a new mom.

So on the last day of the IBM Connect Now conference, the ghost day when most people have cleared out, DeLuca married her two passions together. She loaded her 5-month-old daughter into a baby carrier and went to the conference.

While she was there, a man in his late 50s approached her to berate her for bringing her baby to a professional conference, she told Business Insider. He told her that having her baby there was a “security issue,” reports fellow IBMer Anna Seacat, who was so annoyed about the incident that she wrote a LinkedIn post about it. (Both women reached out and shared the story with me, too.)

DeLuca did some sleuthing and discovered that the man was an IBM contract employee.

Lisa Seacat DeLucaDeLuca and Emily.

Yes, the man’s comments were rude and out of line. And it was annoying that he somehow felt compelled (and entitled) to share his unsolicited opinion with a stranger.

But what I liked about this story is this: DeLuca describes herself as #motherworking not a #workingmother.

“I’m a mom first, a technologist second, #motherworking not #workingmother #lifeisshort,” she wrote on an Instagram post that featured a picture of her daughter.

But the question I have is, who says you have to rank the different parts of yourself like that? A cranky older man without the grace to keep his sarcasm to himself?

Whether you’re a mother or a father, you can be a professional, a hard worker, and lots of other things — a cook, a maker, a student, a sibling, a spouse …

Or to put it another way: If the world really has to choose between procreation and work — and if work is supposed to win — then the human experience wouldn’t be long for this world, would it?

So bring your kids to work sometimes, just as you bring your work home. And if someone feels the need to tell you you’re wrong, smile and tell the person, “Life is short.”

I liked this story.


I am Iron Man: That’s how these augmented reality goggles feel (USA Today)

A Silicon Valley augmented reality company called Meta, whose Meta 2 AR glasses go on pre-order this week, gives users the feeling that they’re superheroes able to manipulate holographic images with a simple hand gesture. Martin E. Klimek, USA TODAY

Marco della Cava, USA TODAY 10:17 a.m. EST March 2, 2016

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. – I am Iron Man. At least for a few minutes here inside a small conference room at the headquarters of augmented reality company Meta.

With virtual reality goggles, you dive into worlds while blacked out from reality. With the clear-lensed Meta 2 headset, I am able to simultaneously see my host for this demo, Meta founder Meron Gribetz, as well as a range of hovering holographic images that are projected downward from the top of the device.

There’s a wide flat screen TV. A three-foot-high globe. A see-through human body. And even a Meta employee from down the hall who is rendered in three dimensions for a brief video chat.

But the real showstopper – the moment when the promise of augmented reality, AR, comes into sharp focus against the ongoing VR buzz – is when Gribetz tells me to reach my hand out and point an index finger at the translucent human figure floating in my field of view.

“When it appears to light up, make a fist and move your arm to the right,” he says.

When I do so, the body suddenly splits into four different images lined up one by one, each showcasing a different aspect of the anatomy. If I want to layer them back on top of each other, I simply reach out, make a fist, and move the image. Robert Downey, Jr., does the same action in Iron Man, only he’s not wearing glasses.

Although this aspect of the Meta 2 demo wasn’t operational during our visit, Gribetz says at a recent TED Talk demo in Vancouver he demonstrated how two Meta 2 wearers can pass a hologram between each other. This sales pitch is aimed at architects and other designers, who can use AR to jointly work on a virtual project as technology gets rid of physical models.

“Eventually, we’ll all be wearing a very light and inconspicuous strip of clear glass across our eyes,” says Gribetz, who has been working on his AR vision for the past six years, a passion he shares with those working on rival AR projects at companies such as ODG, Epson and Microsoft. “The goal is to make the operating system completely intuitive, and to replace computers.”

That’s where the Meta 2’s gesture control comes in. In another demo, I’m presented with nearly a dozen TV monitors in my wide field of view, stacked two high. By reaching out and “grabbing” one, I’m able to move it into a different position, much like one might move apps on a smartphone screen.

And you can interact with the screens, too. Gribetz hands me a physical keyboard, which I can see through the Meta 2 lens. I start to type a message and it appears on the computer screen in my line of sight, which of course isn’t really there.


A particularly powerful aspect of Meta 2 is the fact that the images it presents remain anchored in space, which allows me to walk around them and enhances the sense that I’m really in front of a solid object and not just a hologram. This has the added effect of banishing the somewhat disoriented woozy feeling that can accompany heavy VR use.

Ultimately, what’s truly significant here is that – thanks to both a lightweight form factor and the see-through visor – AR provides a liberating sensation that contrasts with VR’s often claustrophobic feeling.

I’ve hiked across Everest ice fields and retreated from angry dinosaurs in VR thanks to the magic of Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, products that are coming this year. But in each instance the experience was compromised by my mind never forgetting that I was in a real room and by my worrying about bumping into walls. By keeping us rooted in the real world, AR makes its mixed reality universe all the more inviting.

Meta 2 rolls out to developers soon priced at under $1,000 (you provide the computer to power it). There already are a range of enterprise customers for Meta’s wares, ranging from Nike to Airbus, and it will be a while before the average consumer will be living with AR on a daily basis.

But what Meta 2 clearly demonstrates is that the outsized predictions about augmented reality – it will account for 75% of a $150 billion AR/VR market by 2020, according to Digi-Capital – aren’t just justified, they’re as realistic as AR’s holograms are illusory.




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




Trump and the Holy Father; Immigration; Science and Statistics; Aether; and other matters

Chaos Manor View, Friday, February 19, 2016

“This is the most transparent administration in history.”

Barrack Obama

Liberalism is a philosophy of consolation for Western Civilization as it commits suicide.

Under Capitalism, the rich become powerful. Under Socialism, the powerful become rich.

Under Socialism, government employees become powerful.


Trump and the Pope.

I doubt that His Holiness pays any detailed attention to American politics, and since all the mainstream media runs headlines making fun of Trump and parodies his positions, I suppose it was inevitable. On the papal airplane a reporter – whose name is curiously omitted from every account of the incident I have ever seen – asked about the desire to build a wall along the Southern border of the United States. I put it ambiguously because I cannot find the text of the question, nor the reporter’s name.

His Holiness answered “A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian,” which is the answer you might expect from this Pope if the question is a general question in the abstract. What would you have him say? It is certainly true: if your entire policy is building walls and rejecting people, you are certainly acting as Jesus would have; would you have the Holy Father say otherwise? Indeed, if his sole activity in the Vatican were to be to order the Swiss Guard to erect a fortress, it would hardly be a Christian act. The Vatican certainly has walls – as Trump later pointed out – and indeed in its time has had fortresses, tunnels to them, cannon, and a rather good army to protect it, and this not just in the time of the Borgias. The Pope knows this; he is clearly discussing an abstract principle, not a particular man, as his staff’s frantic attempts to de-escalate the situation have tried to make clear.

I would think it really depends on the wording of the question.

Whatever the wording, the reporter had his story, and rushed off to phone it in. The media went into triumph mode, and the headlines and TV crawls started immediately. “Pope Francis Suggests Donald Trump Is ‘Not Christian” trumpeted the Newspaper of Record, the New York Times, and that was one of the mildest banners.

It was a tempest in a teapot. Trump, as is his want, fired a salvo in his defense, then began to moderate it. The Vatican backed and filled. This is not a new round in the Thirty Years War; the Treaty of Westphalia prevails. States are allowed to defend their borders – as the Vatican does—and remain Christian. Whether a big wall is either necessary or sufficient to control our Southern border, it certainly won’t hurt, and there are many reasons to believe it will be a big help. Trump doesn’t hate Mexicans. American Christians can and do contribute to tons of causes in Mexico, and do. Trump remains a good Christian Protestant as Jack Kennedy was a Catholic.

Peace and Joy.


Whatever your views on migrants, I doubt you would read this day book for long if you believed in unrestricted immigration and a world without borders. To be clear: I am an enthusiast for the American Melting Pot and assimilation, and I firmly believe that migration with no intent at assimilation is invasion, and we have a perfect right to resist invasion.

I do not believe we can deport all the illegal immigrants in any reasonable period, but that does not mean unlimited acceptance. It is a complicated matter. I do think those who cannot obey the laws should be at the top of the list for deportation, but I don’t suppose any significant number of Americans would disagree with that statement. I would consider paying a significant bounty to anyone willing to self-deport, but I put that as a matter for discussion, not instant implementation. As a firm believer in mens rea as a necessary condition for criminal punishment, I have very mixed emotions concerning those brought to the United States as minor children. I would certainly consider honorable service in the Armed Forces as a path to citizenship. All those matters can be discussed; but until we have control of the borders, the discussion is moot.


I am working on a Chaos Manor Reviews item on Ransomware, how it works, and how to defend yourself. Whatever else you do, install Microsoft Security Essentials; and do not click on any attachment to any email that does not come from a known source – and just because it has a friend’s return address doesn’t mean that your friend sent it. Not only can the friend’s address be faked, but the fact this this sender is a friend of yours isn’t that hard to discover.

Ransomware is an insidious attack that encrypts all the data on your system; by all I mean not only the stuff on your computer, but any other drive that it’s networked to. The only way to get the data back is to pay the ransom for the encryption key; payment is usually to be made in bitcoins, and can run to multiple thousands of dollars. There’s nothing for it but to pay; Abbey a NCIS won’t be able to get your data back, much less anyone you know.


South Carolina Tomorrow


In tomorrow’s South Carolina primary, the polls are, in important ways, cryptic.

Trump’s average has slid slightly, from mid to low thirties – this tells me he hasn’t (thus far) picked up much support from the recent dropouts.

His ~1/3rd of Republicans ceiling, for now at least, seems real and holding. Extrapolating this, in a two-way race he loses the nomination handily, and in a three-way race his chances aren’t great.

The key thus becomes how soon does the race (currently six-way) narrow to three, or two. Trump’s interest in preventing a single strong challenger emerging for as long as possible is obvious; hence his recent barrage against Cruz. This has apparently been working. Cruz’s poll average numbers have slid from a solid second place in the low twenties, to an effective tie for second in the high teens with the rebounding Rubio.

But those averages are based on numbers all over the place. Cruz’s this-week SC polls high/low mark is 23/13, Rubio’s 22/15. Dig deeper and these variations in part result from different assumptions on turnout by various groups, notably older voters and conservatives.

Bush and Kasich meanwhile duel for fourth place at around ten percent, with Carson bringing up the rear at around seven.

What to look for tomorrow night:

Twice now, the final polling averages have concealed surprises. In Iowa, Trump significantly underperformed, while Cruz and Rubio overperformed. In New Hampshire, Trump turned this around to a modest overperformance, Kasich did likewise to take (distant) second, while Rubio suffered from the Cristie debate hit and fell to fifth.

A lack of surprises in SC tomorrow – Cruz/Rubio effectively tied for distant second, Bush/Kasich for more distant fourth – is a significant tactical Trump win. He does not then automatically “run the table”, but he’d be a step closer. Add a significant Trump overperformance from his current 32.9 average, and even more so.

Surprises to watch for are either or both of the apparently close battles, for second or fourth, not being close. An unambiguous strong second could lead to increased perception of being the one who might beat Trump, a weak fifth to increased donor pressure for dropout. A significant Trump underperformance is also possible (not predicted, but

possible) at which point his inevitability perception could take a major hit.

Tomorrow, it’s the voters of South Carolina’s turn. We’ll see.


Well, thanks for telling us what to look for.

Sander and neverland

Dear Dr. Pournelle,

First, I’m experimenting somewhat with google mail. The formatting of the last few emails I have sent you seems to be off. This sentence, for example, marks the end of a paragraph.

That bastion of right-wing extremism, Mother Jones, has examined the numbers coming out of the Sanders campaign — or at least, numbers they imply they support without explicitly endorsing them — and declares them fantasy.

The link includes some graphs and data, which I leave for the perusal of yourself and your readers.


Brian P.


: Pat Buchanan on Trump

What he said!

Phil Tharp


Back Doors


My knee jerk reaction to Apple’s refusal to create a special OS to break into the San Bernardino Terrorist’s iPhone was indignation. How could Apple stand in the way of learning about other potential acts of terrorism?

After a few moments of thought I came to the conclusion that Apple took the correct stand and is trying to protect the privacy and freedom of all iPhone users throughout the World.

It is clear that our Central Government is too big and literally out of control. It is our duty as Citizens to carefully way our options and use the ballot box to protect our privacy and freedom.

Bob Holmes

I think the Republic can survive strong encryption; I am not sure it can survive indefinite increases in government power.




Belmont, Fishtown, and Church

I enjoyed the robust exchange between you and Mark on Murray’s work.

I’m not pointing this out because I think you or Mark missed this understanding; I’m pointing it out because it wasn’t mentioned and I think it contributes to your exchange.

I would offer that church attendance may play an important function for very practical reasons. I think it was in the opening of the film “The Departed” that Jack Nicholson said it, plainly: “Years ago we had the church. That was only a way of saying – we had each other.”

Church, as I understand it, comes from Greek and means “community”. I did not look that up in the OED; that’s what I was told by people who attend church and that’s how they feel about it. I don’t know that everyone feels that way, but I do know that social order flows from church attendance. I’ve seen it first hand. People have relationships they would not have any other way simply because they’re “brothers in Christ” if you will.

Other organizations, the Rotary Club, the Freemasons, and so on offer something similar but church is unique in the content it offers and

the participants it attracts. Simply put, people benefit from

interaction with others with common values. People who attend church share some common values and it would be more easy to build rapport and leverage social capital into economic rewards.

People might be more likely to go into business together if they know one another from their church groups. A couple might be more likely to marry, having met at church. In fact, church people tend to wear their best or at least more formal than usual clothing to church. Is this only to show respect in their worship or do they mean to impress others as well? Perhaps subconsciously? Even if not, maybe some women look better to some men when they dress for church and vice versa….

◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊

Most Respectfully,

Joshua Jordan, KSC

Percussa Resurgo


WSJ no longer available through Google

Dear Jerry:

As you said on 2/17/2016 about access to WSJ articles through Google:

“However. If you Google the exact title – which I will cite – that often takes you to the article; it’s some sort of deal the Journal has with Google, and it’s quite legal for you to use it.”

Unfortunately, WSJ turned off that mode of access a few weeks ago as described at many locations including

I had been reading Taranto’s “Best of the Web”

through Google access ever since they put it behind their paywall. Unfortunately they blocked it a few weeks ago. Then it was open for a couple of days again before being blocked again.

WSJ has closed in upon itself behind its paywall, sort of like passing beyond the event horizon of a black hole.

Authors who want to be widely read should avoid publishing in WSJ as their works will have very limited distribution. There are many, many sites that provide open access to columnists. Even some of WSJ’s own columnists publish their articles independently on their own or other web sites, though they may not appear on those other sites until several days after they appear in WSJ.

Best regards,

–Harry M.


Actually, the use of Google to bypass the WSJ firewall has apparently been suspended; it hasn’t worked for me for almost three weeks.

Very frustrating.


Thank you. I missed that announcement.


Replication Crisis and Repetition Crisis

“With data becoming ever more abundant, this should be the golden age of the social sciences. And yet they seem to be suffering two mirror-image nervous breakdowns—the Replication Crisis and the Repetition Crisis.”

“Something like 70 or 75 percent of America is now in a protected group. This is a disaster for social science because social science is really hard to begin with. And now you have to try to explain social problems without saying anything that casts any blame on any member of a protected group. And not just moral blame, but causal blame. None of these groups can have done anything that led to their victimization or marginalization.”

“[I]t is unacceptably easy to publish “statistically significant” evidence consistent with any hypothesis.”

The article is focused on the social sciences but many of its observations appear to apply equally well to climate “science”.

Charles Brumbelow

I agree; Steve’s article is worth your time if you have anything to do with modern research evaluation or conducting. Undergraduate statistics in most department other than Mathematics is not rigorous and does not spend much time in statistical inference and its assumptions; it’s mostly cookbook, and fairly useless for actual understanding. Good for generating publishable “peer” reviewed works, though.

Hogwash in science

Dear Dr. Pournelle,

I believe you will find this article quite worthy of your time, as it lists some of the myriad ways in which scientists pass off hogwash as legitimate science.

My apologies that the word he uses is not “hogwash”, but it is equally accurate.

The three most obvious methods that I saw in the article:

1) Assert that something has been “proven,” “shown,” or “found” and then cite, in support of this assertion, a study that has actually been heavily critiqued (fairly and in good faith, let us say, although that is not always the case, as we soon shall see) WITHOUT acknowledging any of the published criticisms of the study or otherwise grappling with its inherent limitations.

2) Refer to evidence as being of “high quality” simply because it comes from an in-principle relatively strong study design, like a randomized control trial, without checking the specific materials that were used in the study to confirm that they were fit for purpose

Here’s the one that is almost certainly fraudulent:

3) Step 3.1:

Scan the scholarly databases for anything which might critique your hypothesis.

Make it a point to dash off a letter to the editor critiquing the problematic paper.

Do this for all such papers.

3.2 At the end of the year, write a “systematic review” in which you consider all the papers for and against your position. Now summarily dismiss the offending papers as “refuted by experts” (i.e. you and your cronies) . However, you fail to find any problems in the studies supporting your position.

3.3 NOW you publish.

Now that we know about it, it would be useful to have some way to track this kind of activity, so we can catch such unscrupulous researchers out.


Brian P.


The End of DuPont Central Research

Dear Jerry,

The short-termers have won again; another giant of corporate research has fallen…


“Why DuPont Shrunk Its Central Research Unit Experts see the cuts to the illustrious unit as part of a trend that puts business first

“Less than a week after DuPont announced its merger with Dow Chemical on

Dec. 11, DuPont managers told scientists at DuPont Central Research &

Development in Wilmington, Del., to halt all laboratory work. The

researchers were to label unmarked samples and leave everything else in

place. Severe and unprecedented cuts, the researchers were warned, were


Between Christmas and New Year’s Day, employees received Microsoft

Outlook invitations for 10-minute meetings with their supervisors. On

Jan. 4, they took their turns learning if they would be let go.

Cardboard file boxes were left in the lobbies at DuPont’s Experimental

Station for workers to carry out their personal effects. Delaware state

troopers were on-site in case of incident.

“It was one by one all day long,” a former researcher who asked not to

be named tells C&EN. “And it was one of the most miserable days I ever had.”

The layoffs were part of a DuPont plan to roll up its storied Central

R&D (CR&D) organization and fold it into a new group called Science &

Innovation. The move was part of a larger program at DuPont meant to

save $700 million annually, cut 10% of its workforce, and prepare the

company for the merger with Dow….

…Leading-edge chemistry flourished at CR&D. “It was, for many years,

arguably the world’s center of fundamental research in organometallic

chemistry,” noted Harvard chemistry professor George M. Whitesides

recently in an essay in Angewandte Chemie International Edition (2015,

DOI: 10.1002/anie.201410884). Influential carbene chemistry specialist

Anthony J. Arduengo III, now at the University of Alabama, began his

career at CR&D in the 1970s. So did Massachusetts Institute of

Technology chemist and Nobel Laureate Richard Schrock.

At CR&D, publishing “was viewed as a worthwhile objective in its own

right,” Nugent recalls. “We were expected at the end of the year to have

publications in primary, revered, peer-reviewed journals.”

In the 1960s, according to Nugent, CR&D was publishing more papers in

the Journal of the American Chemical Society (JACS) than MIT and

California Institute of Technology combined. “That is beyond belief,” he

says. “Sixty papers a year.”

DuPont, Nugent says, was one of six companies—including Bell Labs,

Eastman Kodak, Exxon, IBM, and Merck & Co.—that represented a large

chunk of JACS articles from the 1950s through the 1990s. These six

companies continued to be responsible for two-thirds of the JACS

submissions from industry in the 1980s even as central R&D waned at many



I reluctantly turned down a contract position there in the mid-1990s

because I was looking for something longer term. It was a campus

environment where they were doing some really neat chemistry. A sad

situation. The take-home quote which summed it up:

“’Kevlar, to my understanding, took 20 years to get from the red to the

black,’ says Andrew Feiring, a chemist who was with CR&D from 1974 to

2006. ‘Wall Street just isn’t going to stand for that sort of thing today.’”

Innovation loses again. 🙁


Rod Schaffter

“Rebellions often start in an attempt to recapture an old world. In

truth every cataclysm worth the name washes away more than we bargain

for and takes us on roads we never suspected.”

–Richard Fernandez


SUBJ: Another author cited your law

Apropos of nothing . . . just FYI.

Charles Stross in the latest Laundry series _The Annihilation Score_ mentions your iron law of bureaucracy, without attribution on p.307.

and dropped a money quote from _Oath Of Fealty_ as a kicker.

“There is no point in prioritizing _doing your job_ when your organization faces being defunded in less than three months’ time if you don’t do something else: you do what’s necessary in order to ensure your organization survives, _then_ you get back to work.


(This is how the iron law of bureaucracy installs itself at the heart of an institution. Most of the activities of any bureaucracy are devoted not to the organizations’s ostensible goals, but to ensuring that the organizations survives; because if they aren’t, the bureaucracy has a life expectancy measured in days before some idiot decision maker decides that if it’s no use to them they can make political hay by destroying it. It’s no consolation that some time later someone will realize that an organization was needed to carry out the original organization’s tasks, so a replacement is created: you still lost your job and the task went undone. The only sure way forward is to build an agency that looks to its own survival before it looks to its mission statement. Just another example of evolution in action.)”

Don’t know how you literati folk feel about such things. Better to be plagiarized than ignored, I guess.

That Stross did not mention you may simply be due to differing politics.

Stross is an unabashed SJW. Or it may not. Quien sabe?

I am gladdened to hear you and Roberta continue to mend and improve.




Sex and AI,


Both Isaac Asimov and David Brin have commented on the vanishing wish to have children on the human race. In Asimov’s world, we had a planet with only one person left. In Brin’s world, all the non-reproducing people died off or suicided, leaving the world to those who want children. Interesting that sex robots will facilitate both results.



Russia, the Balkans and history

Dear Jerry,
I had the pleasure, years ago, to study European history under Prof. Henry cord Meyer, Ph.D. Specifically, a course in historiography, the subject being the immediate causes of the crisis in the summer of 1914 that led directly to the outbreak of World War I.
No genius, I quickly realized the primary factor in the crisis and the eventual, seemingly inevitable, downward spiral from general mobilization to declarations of war, was a total disregard by the Austrians, and to a lesser degree their reluctant partners the Germans, of the sense of obligation and noblesse oblige the Russian state, Orthodox Church and people felt towards the Little Brothers in the Balkans.
I sometimes think, when I let myself think of such ridiculous things, that the current version of “Empire” that is called the European Union, might as well be called Austria – Hungary. After all, it’s a multinational “state”, with essentially no real military of its own, but plenty of auxiliaries from tributary states, and overwhelming and stultifying bureaucracy, and is seemingly unbounded determination for a “Drive To The East” come hell or high water.
I suppose you could say, at least you could if you are to accept the above, that that makes us the “the Germans”. We can either backup the Europeans, as the Germans did the Austrians in the summer of 1914, or we can watch our “Austrians” go down the tubes once the Russians decide they have had enough of Western interference with the Little Brothers.
I wouldn’t bet much on the discretion of EU bureaucrats, or the patient’s of put in the Poisoner. Of course, the real joker here is that Putin is smarter, tougher and more ruthless than any Czar since Peter the Great. It occurs to me that Donald Trump, though lacking the withered arm, bears a passing similarity to Wilhelm the second, the ineffably confused supporter of Habsburg ambitions while composing “Dear Nicky” notes to his Russian cousin.
If what they say about history is true: first as tragedy, then farce, then perhaps were due for a Trump presidency. Zeitgeist and all that sort of stuff.
Or maybe it’s all just something I ate!

If I were a moderate Russian I would be fed up with the new Holy Roman Empire and its constant attempts to use American power to encircle Russia. I do not share your dismay at Trump, but do not take that as endorsement.



Jerry, I enjoy your column, but I find it hard to read the frequent references to Beckman’s theories and ether. We’ve had Special and General Relativity around for a century now, with zillions of confirmed predictions. Particle accelerators in particular show time and mass dilation thousands of times. I haven’t studied it, but what does Beckman’s theory predict? If there’s any point to it, it can make a prediction that is different from current theories. What is that prediction? – Maybe someone can check it.

If it makes no predictions that are different, it’s probably the same theory in a different guise: that isn’t uncommon. Dyson earned fame by showing how Feynman, Tomanaga, and Schwinger were all explaining the exact same QED with three very different pictures.


As I understand it, aether and General Relativity are not compatible, but no crucial experiment other than Michaelson-Morley has been devised; and there are reason to believe it was nor as definitive as thought. Michaelson never believed so. It ought to be conducted on the Moon, but that’s unlikely. I know of no other crucial experiment, and since I can no longer do Tensors but can still manage the calculus needed for Petr Beckmann’s work, I am probably prejudiced; I know General Relativity explains the data; but, so far as I understand it, so does Beckmann.

The existence of aether has a lot of implications, including quite possibly negating much ado about dark matter and energy; I’d like that a lot.



Another question which EU answers and which standard science does not

The entire notion that the present Solar System is a descendant of a former collapsed Herbig-Haro object is ludicrous on its
face simply by virtue of the now absent immense magnetic fields.

That being the case, how do YOU account for the rough 26-degree axis tilts on four of the system’s planets including our own??  If our system had formed in anything like the manner we all learned about in school, all of the axis tilts should be nearly zero.
Between the two of us, I have an explanation for that, and you don’t.




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