Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The map is not the territory.

Alfred Korzybski

Liberalism is a philosophy of consolation for the West as it commits suicide.

James Burnham

If a foreign government had imposed this system of education on the United States, we would rightfully consider it an act of war.

Glenn T. Seaborg, National Commission on Education, 1983


Packing for DragonCon. That turns out to be more work than it used to be. Ah, well. I do hope the weather hasn’t affected the Dallas airport.


Longest war

Lately I keep hearing the talking heads on the news refer to the current conflict as “America’s longest war”. In modern times it can be (weakly) argued that since the Korean War that started in 1950 was paused by an armistice rather than ending with a peace treaty it has been 67 years and counting. A better claim can be made for the even longer Indian Wars. the VA recognizes the Indian Wars as running from 1817 to 1898 a total of 81 years. More proof that history is not something the media worries abound.


I expect that’s correct. And even includes the year Congress appropriated no money for the Army, leaving the officers with the problem of how to feed the men…


Floods and FEMA

Dear Jerry –

You recently wrote, 

The way FEMA worked, at least when I was familiar with it, made Clinton’s action as good as any, because the local FEMA officials’ competence was irrelevant. Washington controlled FEMA, and needed no advice from locals; neither local FEMA nor National Guard. Locals couldn’t possibly as competent as the DC Professionals, and don’t you forget it. Of course when Clinton became President he had some reasons to suspect that…

and certainly the approach reached its disastrous apotheosis in Katrina. (Of course, it’s important to keep in mind that FEMA had been folded into DHS, and DHS was largely focused on terrorism at the expense of disaster relief, which led to wholesale retirement of upper level FEMA managers with disaster relief backgrounds who might have done the necessary and made Brown look good. And it’s always a good idea to consider that all the pre-Katrina estimates said that at least half of New Orleans was too poor to evacuate – and then folks blew a gasket when half of New Orleans DIDN’T evacuate. Plus, the press frenzy started about 48 hours after the barriers failed and completely ignored the fact that the nominal FEMA response time had always been stated as 72 hours.)

But there is hope. The FEMA director for the last 8 years has been Craig Fugate, who seems to be about as far from Michael Brown as possible, and who preaches “whole-community response” and makes statements such as,

We had almost by default defined the public as a liability. We looked at them as,We must take care of them, because they’re victims. But in a catastrophic disaster, why are we discounting them as a resource? Are you telling me there’s not nurses, doctors, construction people, all kinds of walks of life that have skills that are needed?


“Quit referring to people as victims and call them survivors.” I said, my first goal is to change the vocabulary of emergency management. As long as you use vocabulary like “victims,” you’re going to treat the public like a liability and you have to take care of them. That works in most small- to medium-size disasters, ’cause we can bring in more help than there are people—but the bigger the disaster the less effective it is. When you step back and look at most disasters, you talk about first responders—lights and sirens—that’s bullshit. The first responders are the neighbors. Bystanders. People that are willing to act.

I recommend this interview

Of course, Pournelle’s Iron Law applies, and there’s no telling how much progress he’s made in a mere 8 years, but it’s certainly hopeful.

Also hopeful is the lack of FEMA response with respect to the civilian efforts such as the Cajun Navy, which have apparently moved several thousand people out of flooded homes and are continuing the god work. Contrast this with the the attempts by FEMA post-Katrina to actively prevent private boat-owners from doing the same function because it wasn’t coordinated. And somehow I doubt volunteer firefighters from other states will be required to undergo a week of training before they are allowed to start work.

It’s still early days, of course, and there are some big political differences from Katrina, such as competence from both the local and state governments (Chocolate Ray Nagin was never properly held accountable for his utter incompetence, and the Louisiana governor’s refusal to ask for help has gone remarkably unnoticed – and both stand in stark contrast to the current politicos). I thought the advice by the Rockport mayor to those who wouldn’t evacuate (“We’re suggesting if people are going to stay here, mark their arm with a Sharpie pen with their name and Social Security number,”) showed a certain welcome bloody-mindedness. But we shall see what we shall see.


Jim Martin


Civil Defense

The “Cajun Navy” is proving your position on “Civil Defense” to be correct.



Civil Defense

With regard to Civil Defense teams, which I remember being aware of in my youth. If you aren’t already you might want to become familiar with CERT (Community Emergency Response Teams []) – I don’t know about your area but I became aware of their existence shortly before I moved from Stockton (Central Valley) a couple of years ago. With recongnition of the earthquake dangers of the subjunction zone here in Oregon there has been an increasing emphasis on these local teams (Salem OR has numerous teams within each of several regions in the immediate locale, although they are not as yet completely built out). Last spring there was a weekly series of page long preparation guides in the Statesman Journal, and there was a significant presence of CERT representatives at our recent National Night Out neighborhood gatherings. There is quite a lot of media promotion on emergency preparedness and at least low level prepping here. OEM offered the free ham radio class I took a few months ago. CERT is coordinated with the Oregon Office of Emergency Management, headquartered at the National Guard base here in Salem. CERT courses are being taught at our local junior college and in other venues.




There are several reasons why we should maintain a presence in Afghanistan.

We’ve been there 16 years. The Afghan government will most likely never stand alone.

If we leave, the Russians, Iran, or more likely China will have to move in to support

their government.

This is undesirable. One main reason is Rare Earth Elements mining. China currently controls

97% of the market. The Rare Earths are Lanthanides like Neodymium, Scandium, Cerium,

Lanthanum, Yttrium and 12 others. The Rare Earth elements are used in everything hi tech

from cell phones, batteries, magnets, to hi tech aluminum and steel alloys.

The problem with the Rare Earths is they all are generally contained in the same ore.

They are very difficult and expensive to separate in the refining process because they

are closely grouped on the periodic table. China has put the single major US company out

of business by undercutting the market.

Mining and refining Rare Earths is not a very Eco-friendly operation. The mine tailings are

generally mildly radioactive due to Thorium and Uranium. All the acids and chemicals that

are used in refining are strictly regulated by the EPA upping costs.

In remote, sparsely populated Afghanistan, these issues are non-issues. Mining and refining

can occur with little, if any, global impact. China’s monopoly on the market will be mitigated.

David Rockefeller spent a lifetime building a Central Asian presence along with people like

Zbignew Brzezinski and that effort and accomplishment should not be wasted or thrown away.

Through the Council on Foreign Relations and other local boards and commissions, an overall

Central Asian policy of cooperation has been developed.

The Central Asian policy is best put forth and described in Zbignew Brzezinski’s essay;

“A Geostrategy for Eurasia”published through the Council on Foreign relations (CFR);

and his book “The Grand Chessboard”


When one reflects on the decades of dedicated work by David Rockefeller and people like

Zbignew Brzezinski for developement, stability and partnership in Eurasia, it becomes

apparent it’s in everyone’s best interest.

If we are not in Afghanistan, somebody else will be there.

That’s what the interventionists fear. They may be right; but stationing 20,000 troops for decades in Afghanistan is a serious matter, and might even require building a different sort of Army; Legions that expect to serve out their time in foreign lands. Would they be rewarded with citizenship? Pensions – land – for his veterans was one of Caesar’s major concerns.


if they say you are wrong, say it again louder

Dr. Pournelle,

They’re back:

I notice, again, that the authors do not estimate cost, or who they expect to pay, or the actual cost of development in barrel of oil equivalent units, or the cost of maintenance, or the limitations of wind and solar power generation.  And, as in their study two years ago, still don’t state the cost of the energy storage that their proposal requires.  They don’t account for projected growth of demand.

This time, they pointedly also don’t mention the cost in comparison to the gdp of the countries involved.  Obviously, the U.S. will be expected to foot the bill, and China and India will be expected to continue to absorb the pollution generated by mining, smelting, concrete production, and chemical processing.

It will obviously be all free, since we will all be paying two or three hundred percent more  (corrected for collectivized petroleum industries) for the five to ten-fold increase in fossil fuel usage that will be required to build these technologies.  And of course, it will all have to be replaced again by 2075.

I feel better already.


Glad that problem is settled.


Thinking for oneself

Dear Dr. Pournelle,

In the midst of woe, gloom and uncertainty, I see this little note in freshman orientation at Princeton U which brightened my day, and I hope yours as well.

In a nutshell, the profs warn the students to beware of campus orthodoxies and the ‘tyranny of public opinion’, to think for themselves and to give even ‘unspeakable’ ideas a second look.

Good for them. C.S. Lewis asked “What do they teach them in those schools?” It’s nice to see that some of the old light survives, even in the midst of the Crazy Years.


Brian P.

That’s what my generation was brought up to expect of any college. Some were better at it than others. Not necessarily the big research Universities. When I worked as a consultant on the California University Master Plan, the State Universities were different campuses of one University, and had small undergraduate student bodies; the California State Colleges were supposed to be the primary undergraduate institutions, and were not to have graduate students or issue graduate degrees. On this basis the costs were sold to the taxpayers. Of course so soon as the law was passed the California State Colleges insisted on becoming California State Universities and be able to give graduate degrees, and started humping for grants and wanting graduate students to teach the freshmen, ad so forth, etc., etc.


And here you thought there was no slavery anymore anywhere.

Actually there still is slavery. If you go to a backwards nation on the West coast of Africa near the equator you can find massive slavery operations which the government refuses to do anything about. It’s a Mohammedan nation. It is run according to Sharia law. And Sharia law, the law supposedly handed down to Mohammed by his sham Moon god Allah. The Guardian, of all things, published an article about slavery in Mauritania. It’s there. It’s active. It’s the way of life there. And regardless of pressure placed on them, it remains a standard practice in the nation.

Here are Jihad Watch’s excerpts and comments:

Defying international pressure, Islamic Republic of Mauritania refuses to free slaves

And in case you miss the click through to the source here it is:

US warned Mauritania’s ‘total failure’ on slavery should rule out trade benefits

The US is making this an issue under the Trump administration. If Trump plans to have the US military somehow get involved, that would be a bad bad thing. But, making a public issue of this is a nice way to show the savagery of Sharia Law.

We need to do MUCH more of that. Mohammedanism is a threat. And it should get criticized for the uncivilized, indeed savage, behavior called for from its adherents.


I wonder if the law against filibustering still applies? (Private expeditions of US volunteers intent on liberating the oppressed in other nations was once known as filibustering, and at one time outlawed after vigorous debates.)


Re: Your Aug 29th post and refrigeration

There’s another issue about the change in refrigerants. I don’t know how much coverage the Grenfell Tower fire and the subsequent discovery of hundreds of deathtrap tower blocks in “social housing” in the UK have had, but one thing that has had almost no coverage (probably because the environmentalists don’t want it to get any) is that the actual direct cause of the Grenfell fire (the spark to touch it off, if you will) was almost certainly an exploding refrigerator.
Huh? you say? Well, it so happens that approved refrigerants are tightly controlled and much more expensive than the old ones. Because of this, makers of budget fridges have started filling them with such things as propane and butane. Which works fine, until the fridge gets a bit old, doesn’t get maintained (as most don’t) and the refrigerant starts leaking.
Picture it. A small, unnoticeable leak in the cooling circuit, inside the fridge. It gets left overnight; gas builds up inside the refrigerator. Go into the fridge in the morning to get the milk for your cereal, the little light inside goes on, the switch that does that arcs over – and BOOM! (And the blast fractures the cooling circuit altogether, and half a litre of liquid propane flashes almost instantly to gas…)




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




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