Muslims and the Caliphate

View from Chaos Manor, Thursday, February 19, 2015


I continue to recover but typing is slow and frustrating. I find myself hitting two keys at once quite often, and correcting a sentence takes longer than writing it. I must look at the keyboard rather than the screen. Of course that is grousing; I saw in rehab hourly reminders to count my blessings and I must remember that. I can only hope that I continue to improve. After all I started two months ago with one finger and a thumb I could control. I must not forget that.


Dear Dr. Pournelle,

Some articles on the ISIS phenomenon and their theology which may prove of interest.

First, the Atlantic piece:

Second, a rebuttal I find convincing.

It is true that ISIS justifies itself by a fundamentalist interpretation of the Qu’ran, but it isn’t fair to assume that Islam inevitably leads to violence.  ISIS is not exactly fully literalist, as they will destroy places of worship (forbidden in the Qu’ran) and they have a large obsession with porn
( — which, again, is counter to strict teaching.
So there’s no such thing as a real literalist in this world — neither for Muslims nor for Christians.  Instead, there are people who interpret scripture verses to justify acting on their worst instincts under color of law, and people who interpret scripture to try to build a society.  ISIS , while claiming to be literalist, is in fact as unliteral as the ‘inerrant’ churches of my youth who added prohibitions against drinking and dancing.  So while we have to acknowledge that they are an Islamic offshoot following a violent interpretation of Islam, we shouldn’t assume that it’s the inevitable outcome of Islamic teaching. That would put us at odds with the Jordanians and Kurds who are part of the solution to this problem and also happen to be Muslim.
Now, it is true that, as Mark Steyn puts it eloquently, violent Muslims following this and similar interpretations have caused a lot of grief in the world.
But there are more than one billion Muslims in the world, and most of them aren’t doing this.  The Ottomans built a multicultural empire, once upon a time.  So while we need to recognize the threat of violent Islamic extremism, we have to be chary of assuming this is the inevitable result of Islam or of lumping in all Muslims in with ISIS. Especially when some of those Muslims are fighter pilots being shot down and burned alive on our behalf. 
The path to victory requires the Muslim world to ostracize this terrorism and violence, to cast them out of the Ummah, and then destroy them. We should do all we can to foster that end.   Perhaps providing the Jordanians, Syrians, and Kurds the assistance they need to quash the ‘caliphate’ like a bug. 


Brian P.

Obviously we do not declare war on a billion people because of their religion. Having said that, the question is, what do we do? The one thing we must not do is allow the Caliphate to exist; so long as it has any territory at all we are at war with it. As to the rest, I suspect – as do the Iranian mullahs – that the weapons of cultural mass destruction will have their usual effect as they have on Western Civilization. What that does to the future of humanity I do not know. We have eaten the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil – that is we have declared man as the measure of all things, and can dispense with the Will of God and all such. Of course this is not new. Protagoras said that man is the measure of all things, and Socrates answered that the dog-faced baboon is the measure of all things.

For more of the dialogue, see and the discussion; it is a debate that has been at the heart of philosophy and religion for more than two thousand years. And see

We hope, and modern liberals are sure, that man has no need of rules posited from anyone other than ourselves. We recognize no authority other than 50%+1 of whatever collection of human beings happens to be interested, although we often defer to the loud and raucous.  Where that leads we do not know, John Stuart Mill believed that free speech and rational discussion were the only key to the pursuit of The Good Society, but that liberal philosophy has not led where he envisioned.

But we can agree that a liberal Republic cannot tolerate the existence of a viable and growing Caliphate, and the Caliphate is the first to agree. Nothing outside it can legitimately exist except in dhimmitude.

We have the means to extirpate ISIS just now. How long that will be true is not certain. But one thing is; there is no peace with the Caliphate; the Koran makes that very clear. There can only temporary truces, and not with all the enemies of Allah at once. So says the prophet, and that view cannot be changed. It is war to the knife, and ISIS grows daily.

Yes, we may ally with Muslims, as we have in the past; but understand that to the Caliphate those are not Muslims at all.

I that you are mistaken in your reading of the Koran. The commands are explicit, not interpreted into it.


Dr Pournelle

‘[T] need new technology “to enable extended operation at Mach 0.8/0.9 and 500 ft,” exactly the A-10’s workspace today.’

I doubt very much that Mach 0.8/0.9 is in the Warthog’s workspace, because the Hog has a never-exceed-speed that is less than 0.7 Mach. In my experience, the only bird that regularly flew in that ‘workspace’ was recce (RF4c), but the Air Force does not fly those anymore.

But I take Ed’s point. The Air Force has no need for the F35. Nor does the Navy. The Marines may have. They bought the AV8 on their own nickel. Let ’em buy this bird, if they want it.

If the Air Force wants to retire its Hogs, give ’em to the Marines. I am sure the Grunts will find a home for ’em.

Or give ’em to the Army and let the fixed-wing/rotary-wing division go hang.

Live long and prosper

h lynn keith

The entire purpose of a military is to win wars. It should go to the War Department. Support of the ground force is the reason for existence of the Air Force. Now, true enough, it cannot support the ground force until it first wins air superiority, and much of the ground army command will not understand how to achieve that; but keeping a monopoly on close support and then not having the force to do it with is not the way. The Air Force and the Department of Defense were experiments which in my judgment have failed; bring back the War Department and USAAF. War is too important to be left to pilots.


Since the Europeans obviously don’t care about their own self-defense, we should finally exit NATO and withdraw all our forces from Europe.


Roland Dobbins

Certainly NATO is an entangling alliance, and has accomplished its mission. Europe can defend itself against Russia, and encircling Russia does not protect US interests. And the Balkans disaster indicates it should have been abolished long ago. We keep it at our peril, for it assumes we all have common interests – which we do not, particularly as NATO expands. It was a great alliance, but the Cold War is done.


: Heinlein Sestina published

My poem on Heinlein was just published…on line, in a pop culture magazine.

Mondo Cult: Poetry by John DeChancie


We add for the record:

Dr. Pournelle,
Some of your sources of F-35 information are guilty of the same type of deliberate obfuscation as the anthropogenic global warming crowd. Just FYI, the low-level flight restrictions are based on F-35 training range noise levels, not combat capability. Thermal efficiency through AETD is sought so that training can proceed in current civilian F-16/F-15 training ranges. It also doesn’t apply to VTOL modes (if those models of F35 are ever actually developed) which may also be used for anti-armor missions.
Noise (audible kind) management is an important quality in low-level, subsonic stealth, however, and it wouldn’t surprise me if some of the high-level stealth requirements were skipped in first gen, non-VTOL models. But I also have to tell you from frequent and recent experience that A-10 is far from silent.
While leading the project, the USAF isn’t the only buyer of the F35, and many of the other customers are mostly interested in developing close air support capabilities.
Don’t get me wrong: I agree with the conclusion that F35 is a pig in a poke and its acquisition is one more indicator that DOD needs a reboot. The cause just isn’t helped by spurious arguments.

Note that I do not know a lot about the current aircraft, but I do know principles, If an aircraft is too expensive we will not have enough: numbers count.

An aircraft good at ground support of a field army will likely be inferior at air tin air combat; and  good good air to air combat planes are often inferior against SAM defenses. These principles have not changed since TFX days,


Just saying…

Google employee posts horrifying video that will convince you to never buy a Nest smoke alarm

It’s a safe bet that Nest CEO Tony Fadell is not too happy with Google staff engineer Brad Fitzpatrick right now. Fitzpatrick last week posted a video that showed Nest’s Nest Protect smoke alarms badly misbehaving in his home. In fact, despite the fact that his house was not on fire, the alarms kept going off and he was unable to find a way to get them to shut up. Fitzpatrick says he posted the video for one reason: To warn people away from buying Nest Protect.

RELATED: Nest now has 15 more ways to rule your home

“Do NOT buy a Nest smoke alarm,” he writes bluntly. “They false alarm and are unhushable pieces of crap… This went off in my house all day, annoying my neighbors. When I got the Android notification that my house was burning down I immediately assumed it was false, since my Nests had already cried wolf before.  I also checked video cameras and saw my house wasn’t actually burning down, so I stayed at work. My poor neighbors, though.”

Generalizing from one case…


One gram of DNA can potentially hold up to 455 exabytes of data, according to the New Scientist. For reference: There are one billion gigabytes in an exabyte, and 1,000 exabytes in a zettabyte. The cloud computing company EMC estimated that there were 1.8 zettabytes of data in the world in 2011, which means we would need only about 4 grams (about a teaspoon) of DNA to hold everything from Plato through the complete works of Shakespeare to Beyonce’s latest album (not to mention every brunch photo ever posted on Instagram).

There are four types of molecules that make up DNA, which form pairs. To encode information on DNA, scientists program the pairs into 1s and os—the same binary language that encodes digital data. This is not a new concept—scientists at Harvard University encoded a book onto DNA in 2012—but up to now, it had been difficult to retrieve the information stored on the DNA.

Past tests have seen gaps in retrieved information, as DNA reacts with its environment and degrades at room temperature. Robert Grass, the leader of the project at the Federal Institute, has found a new way to preserve the information: treat it like a fossil. His team encased their DNA sample in a shell made from silica—similar in structure to fossilized bones and one of the main components of glass—and stored the sample at about 140°F for a few weeks to test its durability.

When researchers recovered the sample, they were still able to read the encoded data, and Grass told the Institute’s blog that had the DNA been stored at subzero temperatures, it could potentially be read in over a million years. CDs and DVDs only have shelf lives of about 25 years, according to the US National Archives, so this would be quite an improvement on our current data storage techniques.

For now, the process remains expensive. The DNA sample created for the Institute’s test—the Swiss federal charter and the Archimedes Palimpsest—was about 83 kilobytes of data and cost £1,000 ($1,500) to produce, Grass told the New Scientist. That means encoding anything worth saving—Wikipedia, for example, or the first four seasons of The Wire—would be prohibitively expensive right now.

As with any new technology, the cost of DNA storage is likely to drop as it advances. So there may come a time when a future being venturing out into the nuclear winter finds a DNA data store and will be able to peruse the greatest achievements of humanity up until the turn of the 20th century.


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




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