Nothing Burgers; Sowing the Wind; Strange News from Arecibo; Are rights alienable?

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Being intelligent is not a felony. But most societies evaluate it as at least a misdemeanor.

-Robert A. Heinlein

The fact that in normal life and in psychiatry, anyone who “consistently and persistently insists” on anything else contrary to physical reality is considered either confused or delusional is conveniently ignored.

Michelle Cretella, M.D.

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

James Burnham

I have never said that human society ought to be aristocratic, but a great deal more than that. What I have said, and still believe with ever-increasing conviction, is that human society is always, whether it will or no, aristocratic by its very essence, to the extreme that it is a society in the measure that it is aristocratic, and ceases to be such when it ceases to be aristocratic. Of course I am speaking now of society and not of the State.

Jose Ortega y Gasset, The Revolt of the Masses


Trump, Jr., is learning the hard way that it’s not the event that’s poison, it’s the cover-up. The meeting with the Russian Crown lawyer continues to furnish the anti-Trump forces with material to mix in with their other materials and fire as grapeshot in the general direction of Trump Tower. Young Trump should have been forthcoming from the first. Yes, it was a nothing-burger, but he should have been aware that every detail, including his expression “I would love it” about the offer of dirt on Hillary would come out and be used to haunt him; and he was too inexperienced to realize that while he had said “if true” , that would be muted or left out entirely.

So now his father will end up using valuable time on the nothing-burger, to the detriment of the country.

One reason I generally avoid comment on breaking stories is that you never know all of it, and we probably don’t know it all yet; but perhaps we do. And yes, I understand his desire to keep the “I’d love to have that” remark out of the public eye, because it looks unseemly. In todays world unseemly is almost lost, but young Trump was well brought up, and it’s embarrassing to him.

But embarrassing is not illegal, and in today’s times rather trivial.

Let’s sum up what happened: a promoter associate of now President Donald Trump’s approaches Candidate – not President, not President Designate, not President Elect, not Presidential Nominee, but Candidate Trump’s son with a proposition. He says he knows a third party, a former “Crown prosecutor” for Russia who may continue to have some connection with the Russian government. She wants to see young Trump, and has derogatory, possibly damning, information on Hillary Clinton. Do you want to talk to her?

Mr. Trump, Jr. replies that he would love that information. So would any of the other campaign officials for any of the other Candidates, although most of them would not have shown the brash enthusiasm young Trump showed. He invites his brother in law, and more Trump campaign officials – how many is not certain. We may note that he was smart enough not to meet her alone or only with the promoter.

At this point has any crime been committed? Not by any stretch of the law I can make. He has only hearsay that she may have dirt on Hillary, and she may have Russian connections. “Hello? FBI? A guy I don’t know well tells me a former Russian Crown prosecutor has derogatory information on Hillary Clinton. Who am I? Donald Trump, Jr.”

FBI Agent to superior: “Trump’s people want to meet with us, because some guy told them that some Russian woman who used to be on our list, but now seems to have a visa wants to sell him dirt on Mrs. Clinton.”

The superior is very likely to laugh like hell. “Trump? What’d he get last poll? Was it even above 10%? Haven’t you got better things to do?”

But the point is that young Trump had no obligation to report that a guy told him he knows a woman who’s got dirt on Hillary for sale. Every campaign manager knows a dozen people who know someone who’s got dirt on the opposition. I sure did, I didn’t meet most of them because I thought it would be a waste of time I didn’t have – campaigns are stressful – and I sure didn’t call the police about any of them. Even when it wasn’t hearsay – when it was someone telling me he had dirt on our opponent – I sure didn’t call the police.

Of course it was a nothing-burger; the Russian lady didn’t have info to sell, she wanted an audience to lobby for her own cause – but suppose she had offered to sell him what later came out in WikiLeaks? Now the decision is above the pay grade of anyone in that room. We have no idea what Donald Trump Senior – now President Trump – would have done. Suppose he had bought the information? Suppose that analysis of it showed it contained U.S. Top Secret Documents? He may now be required to report it. He has evidence of a crime and possession of documents he ought not have and Mrs. Clinton ought not have let the Russians have – and a pretty good adventure story could be written with these assumptions. He still hasn’t committed a crime in my judgment, although I suppose such a case could be made; but in any event that didn’t happen.

But that, at least, might make a story. It at least centers on a crime – one committed by Mrs. Clinton. Whether Mr. Trump would have committed a crime by accepting the information would, I suspect, depend on what he did with it and whether or not he reported it. But since nothing happened – she offered to sell no information and none was bought – what’s all the shouting about?

And yes. I’d love to have some juicy dirt on my candidate’s opponent, and there was a time when I might have said I’d love some. That’s not a crime, it’s just lack of experience with campaigns.



Subj: Fwd: More swamp draining
“fly-infested operating room and surgical instruments that weren’t always sterilized”
Now THIS is deplorable!

“Strange times are these in which we live when old and young are taught in falsehood’s school. And the one man who dares to tell the truth is called at once a lunatic and fool.” – Plato

Top officials at New Hampshire veterans hospital removed

BOSTON –  Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin has removed two top officials at New Hampshire’s only veterans hospital and has ordered a review of the facility amid allegations of “dangerously substandard care.”

The Boston Globe reported that 11 physicians and medical employees alleged the Manchester VA Medical Center was endangering patients. They described a fly-infested operating room and surgical instruments that weren’t always sterilized.

The Office of the Special Counsel, a federal whistle-blower agency, found “substantial likelihood” the allegations were true and ordered an investigation, which began in January.

Following the newspaper report Sunday, Shulkin removed hospital Director Danielle Ocker and Chief of Staff James Schlosser. He ordered a more thorough review.

A VA spokesman told the newspaper Ocker and Schlosser would be assigned other duties in the interim.

Assigned to other duties. Perhaps they should be sent on a training mission with a Seal Team. To North Korea. “Set ye Uriah in the forefront of the hottest battle, and retire ye from him,”


MUST SEE — Hartford Catholic School

“Strange times are these in which we live when old and young are taught in falsehood’s school. And the one man who dares to tell the truth is called at once a lunatic and fool.” — Plato

I have no comment.


SUBJ: “I felt a great disturbance in the Force . . .”

“I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened.” ―Obi-Wan Kenobi

“New Doctor Who Jodie Whittaker tells fans ‘don’t be scared by my gender’ as decision to cast the first-ever woman as the famous Time Lord divides fans”


“One in six BBC stars ‘must be gay or lesbian or disabled’ by 2020 says new staff-hiring guidelines at the corporation”


“British “Academy Awards” (BAFTA) Will Deny Consideration of Award To “Non Diverse” Projects”

Will there ever be, can there ever be, again be an England?




I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.

Destruction of the glue that binds societies together is fun, but it has consequences, as we have seen after 40 years of sowing the wind. Now we reap. Perhaps we ARE in Kansas.


Opioid crisis prompts extreme proposals – MSN News

Stories by Robert Heinlein, Joe Haldeman, and Jerry Pournelle predicted this, that at some point in the future some human beings would be decided by government to be a sub-class of citizen, not worth the effort of providing medical care.  Who needs ‘em?  If they die, they die.
That future is now arrived, and the poor and sick are reaping what the rich and criminal have sown.

Opioid crisis prompts extreme proposals

CBS News – CBS News – Mon Jul 17 2017 20:07:00 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)

CBS News gets a first-hand look at problem overwhelming Middletown, Ohio, where one councilman warns addicts: “We might not show up to treat you”


Strange Signals from the Nearby Red Dwarf Star Ross 128.



Roland Dobbins


We are conducting a scientific campaign from the Arecibo Observatory to observe red dwarf star with planets. These observations might provide information about the radiation and magnetic environment around these stars or even hint the presence of new sub-stellar objects including planets. So far, we observed Gliese 436, Ross 128, Wolf 359, HD 95735, BD +202465, V* RY Sex, and K2-18. Only Gliese 436 and K2-18 are known to have planets. Observations were done between April and May 2017 in the C-band (4 to 5 GHz).

Two weeks after these observations, we realized that there were some very peculiar signals in the 10-minute dynamic spectrum that we obtained from Ross 128 (GJ 447), observed May 12 at 8:53 PM AST (2017/05/13 00:53:55 UTC). The signals consisted of broadband quasi-periodic non-polarized pulses with very strong dispersion-like features. We believe that the signals are not local radio frequency interferences (RFI) since they are unique to Ross 128 and observations of other stars immediately before and after did not show anything similar.

We do not know the origin of these signals [snip]


The Greatest Scientific Fraud of all Time

Dr. Pournelle,
I do not recall ever seeing a reference to the Manhattan Contrarian here at Chaos Manor. It is worth a visit if you have not already become familiar with the site….after all, how often does one come across rational discussion from the heart of deep, deep blue NYC?
There appeared a 12 part (so far) series on what is the Greatest Scientific Fraud of All Time. I most heartedly recommend your perusal of these essays. The are far too long to enclose in this email so I have consolidated links to them below:
How To Tell Who’s Lying To You: Climate Science Edition
What is the Greatest Scientific Fraud of all Time? (from the
Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV
Part V
Part VI
Part VII
Part IX
Part X
Part XI
Part XII
Very warm regards and best wishes to you and your lovely bride,
Larry Cunningham

As it happens today was our 57th anniversary…


From our Thomist philosopher:

Subject: Rights, alienable or not?

Justice was anciently defined as “the habit whereby a man renders to each one his due…” Since a virtue is defined by the good act proper to it, and a good act is in turn defined by its proper object, “jus” or “what is due to each man” has logical priority over the virtue of justice. Hence, “jus” is something much like the Enlightenment “right,” except for its vector. A “right” is something that I demand for myself; “jus” is what I owe to another. However, the former is rooted in the older meaning.
A right is something the defense of which is seen as natural, i.e., belongs to one’s nature. It is not something that you are guaranteed by an authority. Aristotle wrote that all pursue the good as they understand the good. All living things will, in the common course of nature, struggle to maintain their existence. To exist is a good, and the struggle to maintain existence is central to the theory of natural selection. Hence, the desire or impulse to defend one’s own life is both natural and primary, since without it, no other rights attach.
This does not mean that life is guaranteed, nor that it cannot be taken or surrendered in pursuit of a higher good, such as the well-being of society. But even the criminal is seen as legitimate in defending his life against a capital charge. Nor does one suppose that an enemy soldier is doing wrong by shooting back, although we may rather wish he didn’t.
Aquinas argued that human law ought not forbid every vice nor compel every virtue, citing Augustine’s dictum that if harlots were removed, the world would explode with lust. He noted that the death penalty might not be imposed even when justified when an unacceptable evil might result (e.g., killing the hostages along with the bandits) or when the adherents of the criminal are so numerous or well-armed as to incite insurrection by doing so. It would be in any case a last resort to a clear and present danger, precisely because taking a life is a deprivation of a natural good.
Aquinas grounded this in the fact that God permitted some evils for similar reasons, and this allowance for the freedom of the will lies at the root of the right to liberty. Aquinas uses the example of a judge depriving a robber of his liberty against allowing him his liberty to feed his family as the paradigm case of choosing the lesser of two evils.
The third such right, mentioned by William of Ockham, is the right to property. Again, a man defending his own property is seen as justified in doing so, even when the king’s tax collectors have the power to seize it.
And so on. Natural rights are those rooted in human nature. It is the right that is not alienable, not the thing itself. Life and liberty may easily be taken away, but the right to them cannot be taken away. Even a man “chained in prisons dark” may remain “in heart and conscience” free; and a man drowning in the ocean will nonetheless struggle to the end against his doom.
I have to disagree on the end of the Roman Republic. It was not a melting pot overwhelmed by an excess of Celts. The Republic collapsed well before citizenship was extended much beyond Rome itself and her close Latin allies. What brought the Public Thing low was the violence and chaos that overtook politics. They were trying to run a de facto Empire using a city council and the structure just couldn’t support it. Different politicians hired street gangs like those of Milo and Clodius to harass their opponents. There were assassinations and proscriptions; consuls and praetors leaving office were repeatedly hit with lawsuits over their conduct in office (making not-leaving-office a primary goal). Civil wars and coups d’état. All this stoked demand for a strongman who would set things aright: Marius or Sulla, Pompey or Caesar, Antony or Octavian.

Or someone to drain the swamp.


Galaxy Mag – Warning – may be spare time destroyer

Warning, Warning!!! This may be a killer of your spare time.
I just found this link to a indexed and to a limited extent searchable collection of Galaxy magazine from 1950 to 1976 or 1977 ( heading says to 1976 but I found a March 1977 issue and some 1978 links ). You can see the cover and Table of Contents on a linked page. You are also able to download an issue in 9 different formats including text and kindle.
This is more interesting than being nibbled by a host of ducks/geese. But, it is just as destructive of your spare time! Investigate at your own risk!

Peter Wityk

I haven’t dared look. I was Science Editor of Galaxy in the 70’s, and my monthly columns were mined for text for A Step Farther Out (the book).


Galaxy Magazine archives now available online.



Roland Dobbins


SUBJ:“We’re focused on putting cash out of business”

The bad guys are seldom so blatant announcing their Evil Plans. That they feel safe, even proud, doing so is chilling.

Fortunately the pushback is simple (if perhaps occasionally

inconvenient): NEVER, EVER patronize any business that bans cash.

So simple even a Republican could do it. 🙂



From what I have seen, Republicans can’t pour warm urine out of a boot with the instructions on the heel. We need the House. Oh, we need the Senate. All, right. It’s tough, we need the White House. too Then we can repeal Obamacare. Uh–


New generation of heavy lift rockets ready to lift off (Some hopeful news)

Dr Pournelle,

Some hopeful news.

And for those who have forgotten or are to young to remember. Some of the old songs!

Fire In the Sky

Hope Eyrie

Best Regards,

James Marino P.E.

We can hope. But I wrote much of this when I was Galaxy Science Editor. And when I was Science Correspondent for the National Catholic Press Twin Circle. Forty years ago. At least we have the National Space Council again.

But do listen the A Fire in the Sky.


5 million immigrants granted US citizenship can’t speak English

In a stunning indictment of the system that tests immigrants on their eligibility to become “naturalized citizens,” a new report finds that a third are functionally illiterate, unable to speak and understand enough English to get that status.

Some 32 percent of naturalized citizens, about 5 million, fall below “basic” skills in English, the equivalent of being functionally illiterate, according to a new report from the Center for Immigration Studies.

The report is a follow on to one that found 67 percent of immigrants in the United States for 15 years or more can’t speak much English.

According to the U.S. Customs and Immigration Services, those hopeful of becoming U.S. citizens must “be able to read, write, and speak basic English.” They must also “have a basic understanding of U.S. history and government (civics).”


We used to require that they be able to read and write their own language at worst; but the Melting Pot is not magic. Overfill it, and far from producing Americans, it will assimilate anti-Americans in the the – well, I won’t say society, because we are rapidly destroying what is left of society. We are sowing tie wind. We have been doing so for over half my lifetime.


Dr. Pournelle,
It seems that someone has been reading your website:
In Support of Forming a U.S. Space Corps now:
“It’s time for the United States to have a permanent human military presence in Earth-space—starting with a US Space Corps, followed soon by a US Space Guard and leading to a US Space Force.”



Of Thorium and Grasshoppers

Dear Dr Pournelle,

               I noted with interest the re-establishment of the National Space Council. Unfortunately, the media chose to focus on the Buzz Lightyear joke. I am no Trump apologist, but it would be nice to have an actual story reported on once in a while, rather than slapping Trump for not being as urbane as the (not so) Great Obama.

               Concerning DC-X, is it fair to characterize SpaceX’s Grasshopper and ultimately its reusable Falcon 9 1st stage a descendant? Similarly for New Shepard? I seem to remember Grasshopper executing a similar up-across-down flight profile to DC-X.

               On thorium, I think India is the most recent country to announce its intention to forge ahead with reactors using this type of fuel. Good luck to them: Efforts to build a nuclear power plant in Ireland years ago failed due to public protest. We built a coal power plant instead which spewed acid rain everywhere until someone thought to put scrubbers on its chimneys. I shudder to think of the endless court hearings should we revisit the nuclear option again today. We import nuclear generated electricity instead, which I doubt many people here realise.

               Best wishes,

               Simon Woodworth.

Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos are both trying to make a business of space. I have said many times: It takes the same amount of energy to fly a pound to Australia from Los Angeles as it does to put that pound in orbit; airlines operate at a small multiple of fuel costs; but airlines do not push the airplane into the sea after its first flight. Both Musk and Bezos have flyable used space ships.


From the past:



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




Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.