Outlook Problems; Space x has a used space ship too; Fastest object ever launched?; Trump, Hillary, and more. And corrections.

Chaos Manor View, Friday, April 8, 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.


In an hour or so Larry will be over and we’ll go to the Writers Of The Future dinner for Judges and others. A lot of my friends and colleagues will be in from all over the country, and with the possible exception of the World Science Fiction Convention it’s my main chance to meet with all of them. I suppose that’s not as big a deal now as it was when I was younger, but it’s still fun.

Spent the morning trying to persuade the Surface Pro 3 (with Surface Pro 4 keyboard with fingerprint recognition) to run Outlook, but no joy. I click the Outlook button and up pops a small blue window with moving dots to say it’s trundling, and either “Starting” or “Processing” below the word Outlook – and it trundles. I gave it two minutes once. Nothing. It just trundles.

It has been that way since the last Windows 10 build. I have shut it down, restarted it, managed to locate scanpst.exe and run it on Oiutlook.pst, invoked powerful magic, a number of curses, and general whimpering in frustration. Everything works including the fingerprint recognition. Everything but Outlook. I suppose next I will have to uninstall Office and reinstall it; that may do it, but I can’t be sure. A tablet/portable without Outlook is useless on trips, and in fact useless to me at the breakfast table since I need Outlook to get at the mail.

I doubt Microsoft cares, but I was going to carry the Surface Pro 3 on a trip involving the space community; I sure don’t dare do that now. I’ll refurbish the ThinkPad, I guess. Or get a new one. I sure can’t do email without Outlook.

As I said, everything else works, and quite well. I’m getting used to Windows 10, and if I didn’t have a lot of habits picked over the years from earlier versions of Windows I’d have few problem with 10. Except of course Microsoft doesn’t understand Windows 10 either.

Example: I want to be sure I can see “hidden” files, even though Microsoft doesn’t want me to. Bing “see hidden files Windows 10” and you get very explicit instructions from Microsoft. Start>control panel; click on Appearance and Personalization. Click Folder Options, then the View tab. One minor problem: there is no Appearance and Personalization in my Control Panel. There is a Personalization, but it does not have Folder Options. This is true of every Windows 10 computer I have. Microsoft may one day intend to put an Appearance and Personalization command in there, or maybe it had one once, or maybe the people who wrote that need a new career in concrete breaking; but whatever is the explanation, it doesn’t describe Windows 10, and maybe it’s just the usual Microsoft competence; anyway it’s not helpful; and I would still like to be able to view hidden files in Windows 10, and maybe some day Microsoft will get around to telling me how to do it. I won’t hold my breath.

So I suppose I am in the market for a reliable laptop to run Outlook and present a slide show of “Survival With Style” to the Space Development Conference. (Which, incidentally, I founded 35 years ago, chairing the first one with LASFS SMOF Milt Stevens as cochairman; needless to say he and the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society stalwarts did all the work. We had Robert Heinlein as Fan Guest of Honor, and Apollo 13 Astronaut as Guest of Honor).

I was planning on taking the Surface Pro 3, and it might still be a good idea, but I’ll have to start over with it, installing the current Windows 10 and not the experimental version; and I suppose it wasn’t really fair to assume that the experimental version would be reliable enough to use for a real trip. Ah, well.


    atom      Added after correspondence:


I do want to make it clear that I am warning you about using the experimental version of Windows 10: do not do so on any machine which is actually needed to do your work,  it is not reliable.  Microsoft converted my Windows 7 on what was my main system to Windows 10, either without my asking for it, by stealth, or by confusion; I did not knowingly consent to it, and suddenly my 7 system was running 10.  Their help files are abysmal, but so far I have not wanted to do much on that desktop that needed any help; Windows 10 has been stable, and while it can be a little confusing it is not fatally so.  And actually I liked 10 on the Surface Pro, but the experimental version is not stable enough that I would carry that Surface on trips; I’d as soon have an iPad.  That may change.

But on a desktop recent enough to run 10, there is no reason, really, why you should not bite the bullet and get 10 if you are running 7; the confusion won’t last long, and it is stable for most normal operations.

Around here I do a lot of goofy things, but that’s partly so you won’t have to.



Space X did it


Phil Tharp





Bacevich: ‘In the War for the Greater Middle East, the United States chose neither to contain nor to crush, instead charting a course midway in between. In effect, it chose aggravation.’


Roland Dobbins <

An ugly conclusion, but accurate, and what I feared from the first day.  Good intentions are never enough.


I messed up the Bacevich link – apologies.

Here it is:


It’s adapted from his latest book:



Roland Dobbins





Boston Globe Opinion Piece

This is an interesting if amusing opinion:


IF FBI Director James Comey feels no deadline pressure to wrap up the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s e-mail server, he should.

“The urgency is to do it well and promptly. And ‘well’ comes first,”

Comey told local law enforcement agents in Buffalo on Monday, according to the Niagara Gazette.

“Well” is important. But so is “promptly,” and the FBI’s definition of that is unclear.

The probe, underway for a year now, addresses a fundamental question:

Did Clinton intentionally or recklessly forward classified information in a way that put the country at risk?

Getting the answer sooner rather than later seems only fair.



When did the general public ever have the right to pressure law enforcement to increase the speed of an active investigation? The investigation is finished when it is finished and if it doesn’t happen on an idealistic time table then I guess we all have to learn to live with it. If it drags on for ten or twenty years then an article like this would seem in order.

That FBI hasn’t stonewalled on this from the beginning raises my eyebrow.

◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊

Most Respectfully,

Joshua Jordan, KSC

Percussa Resurgo

I would not predict that the Obama Administration would allow an indictment of Hillary Clinton.  Actually I have mixed feelings about the process; one of the things that destroyed the Roman Republic was the practice of indicting Consuls after they left office; not many were actually convicted, but the fear of that happening affected all politics.


First man-made object in space?


                If I ever heard about this before, I’d forgotten.

Eric Pobirs

We didn’t talk about that test during the Cold War, and I suspect it was forgotten before 1990. But then there’s this:





A-10 and the Air Force

The A-10 shows why the F-16, the F-22 and the F-35 will never be able to replace it!
Watch the video on this one! This is what the A-10 does that the F-16, the F-22 and the F-35 never will!
Maybe the F-35 can dog fight. But, it can not go deep into the valley of the shadow of death and come home on a wing and a prayer!

Peter Wityk






The Panama Papers


> This seems like the greatest leak in history; if I were still taking my illicit finance course I would have asked my professor tons of questions.  Now, I plan to research this and see if I have any questions worth contact him about.  But, this is huge and will take time to digest:


> http://panamapapers.sueddeutsche.de/articles/56febff0a1bb8d3c3495adf4/

> ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊

> Most Respectfully,


> Joshua Jordan, KSC

> Percussa Resurgo


Good.  What do you think he’ll say?

Jerry Pournelle


The Panama Papers

I’m not sure…

We covered the methods of money laundering and we covered places where it happens. He might just comment that it’s like any other money laundering operation, but the compelling factor here is who is involved and seeing how the International Community and its several institutions will deal with this.

But, he might have some deeper insights or more nuanced opinions on it. So far, I find it interesting that Putin seems to have a ton of wealth overseas or at least theoretical access.

And, seeing who this leak damages the most, I’m starting to wonder if this was a leak by Western intelligence agencies. And I’d also be interested in hearing any indication that he might think that as well. “Ethical proof” may not be logically satisfying, but it is neurolinguistically satisfying. =)

◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊

Most Respectfully,

Joshua Jordan, KSC

Percussa Resurgo




Peggy Noonan on Trump this week


Closer to the mark this week.

Phil Tharp


From the Guardian website:

The long read: The sugar conspiracy.


Excerpt (from a 2015 paper titled Does Science Advance One Funeral at a Time?):

A scientist is part of what the Polish philosopher of science Ludwik Fleck called a “thought collective”: a group of people exchanging ideas in a mutually comprehensible idiom. The group, suggested Fleck, inevitably develops a mind of its own, as the individuals in it converge on a way of communicating, thinking and feeling.

This makes scientific inquiry prone to the eternal rules of human social life: deference to the charismatic, herding towards majority opinion, punishment for deviance, and intense discomfort with admitting to error. Of course, such tendencies are precisely what the scientific method was invented to correct for, and over the long run, it does a good job of it. In the long run, however, we’re all dead, quite possibly sooner than we would be if we hadn’t been following a diet based on poor advice.

Perhaps some of what is troubling climate science?

Bill Frye

Among other problems. “In the bowels of Christ, think ye that ye may be wrong.”


Clinton Campaign Courts UFO Conspiracy Theorists

Apparently, the Clinton campaign has decided that they cannot win the general election without strong support from the UFO lunatic fringe “Clinton campaign chair: Americans ‘can handle the truth’ about UFOs” (http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/clinton-campaign-chair-americans-can-handle-the-truth-about-ufos/ar-BBrwmu5?li=BBnb4R7). Clinton intends to ask for the declassification of
as many documents concerning Area 51 as possible.
I figure, given her track record, that no such documents will be found.
We go from incomprehensible to bizarre.

Kevin L Keegan

Astonishing, although on reflection…



To Beat Go Champion, Google’s Program Needed a Human Army    (nyt)

George Johnson

APRIL 4, 2016 

Lee Se-dol, a professional Go player from South Korea, was smiling amid other players despite losing four of five games against a Google computer program called AlphaGo. Credit Lee Jin-Man/Associated Press

Nearly 20 years ago, after a chess-playing computer called Deep Blue beat the world grandmaster Garry Kasparov, I wrote an article about why humans would long remain the champions in the game of Go.

“It may be a hundred years before a computer beats humans at Go — maybe even longer,” Dr. Piet Hut, an astrophysicist and Go enthusiast at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J., told me in 1997. “If a reasonably intelligent person learned to play Go, in a few months he could beat all existing computer programs. You don’t have to be a Kasparov.”

That was the prevailing wisdom. Last month, after a Google computer program called AlphaGo defeated the Go master Lee Se-dol, I asked Dr. Hut for his reaction. “I was way off, clearly, with my prediction,” he replied in an email. “It’s really stunning.”

At the time, his pessimism seemed well founded. While Deep Blue had been trained and programmed by IBM with some knowledge about chess, its advantage lay primarily in what computer scientists call brute-force searching. At each step of the game Deep Blue would rapidly look ahead, exploring a maze of hypothetical moves and countermoves and counter-countermoves. Then it would make the choice that its algorithms ranked as the best. No living brain could possibly move so fast.

But in Go, an ancient board game renowned for its complexity, the ever-forking space of possibilities is so much vaster that sheer electronic speed was not nearly enough. Capturing in a computer something closer to human intuition — the ability to seek and respond to meaningful patterns — seemed crucial and very far away.

Other seemingly distant goals included the ability to translate automatically between two languages or to recognize speech with enough accuracy to be useful outside the laboratory. Computer scientists had already spent decades trying to crack these problems.

For many, the aim was not just to make an artificial intelligence, but to understand deep principles of syntax, semantics and phonetics, and even what it means to think.

Now anyone with a smartphone or laptop (communing by Internet with a supercomputing cloud) can get a rough translation of text in many languages. They can dictate instead of type. Photo software can sort not just by date and location but by the faces of the subjects.

The results are imperfect and often clumsy, but they would have been mind-blowing in 1997. What happened between then and now?

Of course, computers became ever more powerful. But even today’s fastest aren’t able to anticipate all of the permutations of a situation like playing Go. Success on this and other fronts has come from harnessing speed in other ways.

The breakthrough in translation came from setting aside the question of what it means to understand a language and just finding a technology that works. The automated systems start with a text that has already been translated, by human brains. Then both versions are fed to a computer. By rapidly comparing the two, the machine compiles a thicket of statistical correlations, associating words and phrases with their likely foreign counterparts.

Similar approaches, more artificial than intelligent, have led to surprisingly rapid improvements in recognizing speech and facial images, as well as with playing championship Go.

In AlphaGo, learning algorithms, called deep neural nets, were trained using a database of millions of moves made in the past by human players. Then it refined this knowledge by playing one split-second game after another against itself.

Tweak by algorithmic tweak, it became ever more adept at the game. By combining this insensate learning, which amounts to many human lifetimes of experience, with a technique called Monte Carlo tree search, named for the ability to randomly sample a universe of possible moves, AlphaGo prevailed.

That was an enormous victory. But the glory goes not to the computer program but to the human brains that pulled it off. At the end of the tournament in Seoul, South Korea, 15 of them took the stage. They represented just a fraction of the number of people it took to invent and execute all of the technologies involved. Lee Se-dol was playing against an army.

Back in 1997 I wrote, “To play a decent game of Go, a computer must be endowed with the ability to recognize subtle, complex patterns and to draw on the kind of intuitive knowledge that is the hallmark of human intelligence.” Defeating a human Go champion, I wrote, “will be a sign that artificial intelligence is truly beginning to become as good as the real thing.”

That doesn’t seem so true anymore. Ingenious learning algorithms combined with “big data” have led to impressive accomplishments — what has even been called bottled intuition. But artificial intelligence is far from rivaling the fluidity of the human mind.

“Humans can learn to recognize patterns on a Go board — and patterns related to faces and patterns in language — and even patterns of patterns,” said Melanie Mitchell, a computer scientist at Portland State University and the Santa Fe Institute. “This is what we do every second of every day. But AlphaGo only recognizes patterns related to Go boards and has no ability to generalize beyond that — even to games similar to Go but with different rules.

“Also, it takes millions of training examples for AlphaGo to learn to recognize patterns,” she continued, “whereas it only seems to take humans a few.”

Computer scientists are experimenting with programs that can generalize far more efficiently. But the squishy neural nets in our heads — shaped by half a billion years of evolution and given a training set as big as the world — can still hold their own against ultra-high-speed computers designed by teams of humans, programmed for a single purpose and given an enormous head start.

“It was a regrettable game, but I enjoyed it,” Mr. Se-dol said during the award ceremony. (Regret, enjoy — these words do not compute.) He added that the contest “clearly showed my weaknesses, but not the weakness of humanity.”

Picking up the plaque and bouquet he had been given as consolation prizes, he laughed nervously and stumbled from the stage. Several days later, he said he would like a rematch.






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




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