Before Western Civilization; Sowing the Wind

Thursday, July 13, 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.

The map is not the territory.

Alfred Korzybski

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

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

James Burnham

“The fundamental question of our time is whether the west has the will to survive.”

Donald Trump at Warsaw

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


“Right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they will and the weak suffer what they must.”

Of the gods we believe, and of men we know, that by a necessary law of their nature they rule wherever they can. …

The Athenians to the Melians; the Melian Dialogues.


The Hungarians acted like Poles, the Poles acted like Czechs, and the Czechs acted like swine. History’s judgment of conduct during the anti-communist uprisings of the 50’s used to be well known, and after the fall of the Soviet Empire, was accepted even by the Czechs; the point being that certain standards of nobility and swinishness were accepted throughout western civilization. In those times nearly everyone in the United States, educated or not, understood something of western civilization; when I got out of the Army and went to the University of Iowa, every incoming student was required to take two semesters of Western Civilization, which consisted of three days a week of lectures by Dr. George Mosse, plus a seminar session taught by his graduate students; one of those undergraduate seminars was taught by Dr. Mosse himself, and I worked hard to be selected for it; it was a defining time in my life, and I remember him to this day. But everyone heard his lectures, and all learned about Western Civilization.

It is, after all, from Western Principles that the left derives its criticism – now fanned to hatred – of the West; and once that universal understanding is gone, we are back to the Melian Dialogues between Democratic Athens and the neutral people of Melos. Melos was Dorian in population, and Athens required the Melians to join their league against Dorian Sparta. The Melians pleaded for neutrality; The Athenians refused. When the Melians refused to join, the Athenians attacked with overwhelming force, and when Melos surrendered the Athenians put all the adult men to death and enslaved the women and children; they then repopulated the island with Athenians. Sparta later liberated the island, restoring it to those Melians they could find, and giving any captured Athenian women and children who survived to the Melians.

The strong do as they will. The weak suffer what they must. And this is law.

It is self-evident that men and women are not equal in all respects. It is self-evident that all men are not created equal. It is self-evident that all women are not created equal. The Bible exhorts us to be kind to strangers – but not submissive to them. Western tradition tells us to act as if it were self-evident that all men are created equal, and that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; those principles became the common heritage of much of the west, but they are only an assumption; we have no proof, only the observation that things work better if we accept them.

That, of course is not strictly true; there is a great history of philosophy that leads to modern Western ethics and moral principles; but the average citizen of the west does not know this, other than having a vague knowledge that those who should know can teach it to those smart and interested enough;  but for practical discussion, the fundamentals of Western ethics and morals are assumed. We assume these truths to be self-evident even though it is really self evident that they are not literally true.

But like all rules contrary to observable facts, it is easy to carry them too far – and to assume that others share them when they do not.

Do any of the women who demonstrate for groups that demand Sharia Law have equal status with the Common law imagine that they will be equals under Sharia? Even if they happen to marry into Muslim Royalty there are few places where they will become First Lady; and even there, their testimony in a court of law would be inferior to a man’s. But I leave it to you to research women’s lives under Sharia. And of course it is in Muslim countries where most if present day slavery survives. But if you truly adopt cultural relativism, you have no intellectual basis for rejecting slavery. The strong do as they will, and the weak suffer what they must.

“A small left-wing party held a protest with activists dressed as women from The Handmaid’s Tale, an American TV drama series based on a novel about a future totalitarian society, in protest over Trump’s treatment of women.”

“The fundamental question of our time is whether the west has the will to survive.” said Mr. Trump.

Or are we too busy sowing the wind?


Elected Democrat threatens Trump in Facebook rant


“Trump is a half term president, at most, especially if I ever get within 10 feet of that p—“y,” Hamann wrote in a lengthy Facebook post. A screenshot of the post, in which Hamann writes that Trump was “installed by the Russians” and seethes against the president, his supporters and Republicans more generally, was widely circulated on social media beginning Tuesday evening.

This is probably a drunken rave; but some of the rants I have seen on national television by supposedly sober journalists come pretty close.


Aerospace guru explains why SpaceX reuses rockets – and it’s not to save money

“Reusability allows a marked increase in flight rates,” Cantrell explained. “Reverse engineered financial models of SpaceX show that to reach a good strong positive cash flow, they need more than the traditional 10–12 launches per year that sized rocket has demonstrated. Reusability should easily double the amount of flights possible from a mere production and logistics standpoint.”

Well, someone is finally listening.


DARPA Neural Implant – Oath of Fealty


DARPA is going for the type of neural implant you imagined in your novel, “Oath of Fealty”.

“Think of it as evolution in action.”



Rodger Morris


The Trump Email…

Watch the left suddenly care about emails:


Before arranging a meeting with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer he believed would offer him compromising information about Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump Jr. was informed in an email that the material was part of a Russian government effort to aid his father’s candidacy, according to three people with knowledge of the email.

The email to the younger Mr. Trump was sent by Rob Goldstone, a publicist and former British tabloid reporter who helped broker the June 2016 meeting. In a statement on Sunday, Mr. Trump acknowledged that he was interested in receiving damaging information about Mrs.

Clinton, but gave no indication that he thought the lawyer might have been a Kremlin proxy.

Mr. Goldstone’s message, as described to The New York Times by the three people, indicates that the Russian government was the source of the potentially damaging information. It does not elaborate on the wider effort by Moscow to help the Trump campaign.

There is no evidence to suggest that the promised damaging information was related to Russian government computer hacking that led to the release of thousands of Democratic National Committee emails. The meeting took place less than a week before it was widely reported that Russian hackers had infiltrated the committee’s servers.


And there is no evidence to suggest the Russian government hacked the DNC servers. In fact, it seems it was an inside job…. It also seems someone murdered a Democratic operative over the matter, but I guess they’re all good Americans and all is forgiven. I say “seems”

because I don’t know and since no serious investigation occurred, how can we know? But, the inside job seems more plausible than the Hollywoodesque “Russian connection”.

◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊

Most Respectfully,

Joshua Jordan, KSC

Percussa Resurgo

There is no crime in meeting someone to hear what they have to say, and no law requires you to report hearsay to the FBI despite all the foofaraw; indeed I would think the Bureau might worry that they will get reports of hearsay threats. ”She’s going to tell you bad things about Hillary, and I think she’s connected with the Russian government where she used to be a crown prosecutor and she wants to meet you.”

Can you imagine that the Bureau wants that kind of report? Thousands of them?


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




Treason! and the newspaper of record; Thoughts on space

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

(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.


The map is not the territory.

Alfred Korzybski


Niven and Barnes will be over in an hour to discuss our latest book, and I haven’t time for this, but the situation has become absurd. Supposedly sane and educated people are accusing Donald Trump. Jr., of treason – treason – for accepting a meeting that in which, supposedly, damaging information about Hillary Clinton would be offered.

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.”

Donald Trump, Jr. receives an email from a former associate of his father offering a meeting with a Russian former “Crown prosecutor”, whatever that is; a Russian lawyer who will deliver information damaging to Mrs. Clinton. She may have connections with the Russian government.

When I was a campaign manager for Mayer Yorty in the Yorty campaign, I received countless offers of information for sale about the Mayor’s opponent, former LAPD Lieutenant Bradley. I ignored most of them. One or two were intriguing enough that I accepted meetings with the offerer; on at least one occasion, the offer was through a third party, just as in this situation. In that particular instance, I was offered a number of unsubstantiated rumors which I could have someone run down, mostly of crime victims unhappy with Bradley’s police performance; worth nothing, as it happened, but I think I paid $20 for copies of the documents, none of which proved useful. Another time, the information might have been true, but the compiler made it clear it was dirt on Bradley’s daughter who had famously once been arrested for shop lifting in a department store for attempting to leave wearing a dozen or so pairs of new underwear. I quickly stopped that conversation: the Mayor had directed that we would never use anything related to Bradley’s family in the campaign, a policy I fully agreed with.

Another time, I did pay about $50 to a private investigator for documents relating to some investments Bradley had made, but after inspecting them I could not see any use for them.

Although no criminal acts were involved in any of this, I never informed the Mayor or Campaign Director Salvatore about any of these meetings; why would I? It was just another part of the campaign.

As it happens, in Trump Jr.’s case, the Russian lawyer, a former prosecutor, had nothing on Clinton and wanted to discuss Obama sanctions against Russia which had caused Russia to terminate American adoptions of Russian babies. The whole May 2016 meeting in the Trump Tower took less than half an hour, and nothing came of it.

Is there any sane way of making any of that treason? A promoter former associate of his father’s offers a meeting with a Russian “Crown lawyer”, who may have some information damaging to Mrs. Clinton, possibly obtained from the Russian government. Should young Trump have telephoned the FBI or Homeland Security with this hearsay? He certainly had no legal requirement to do so. We all hear rumors all the time; I certainly do.

Any campaign manager, offered information damaging to the opponent, has damned good reason to look into the offer, although chances are good that it will come to nothing. Doing so is not levying war against the United States, and as to giving aid and comfort to its enemies, who is the enemy? I was not aware that we were at war with Russia, or ever had been. You can’t give aid and comfort to an enemy you don’t have, and taking a meeting in the Trump Tower in hopes of receiving information rumored to be damaging to a political opponent is certainly not levying war against anyone.

On the other hand, destroying subpoenaed emails and documents is certainly a felony. Deliberately leaking classified documents to the public is certainly a felony. Exposing classified information to the public, even if inadvertently, is illegal and may be felonious if the negligence was severe and a reasonable person should have known it would result in exposure of classified documents. (One reason one doesn’t take Top Secret documents to the local Starbuck’s to read them.)

Treason! Is there no end to this madness? Of course there are “Republicans”, particularly some “conservative Republicans” who are terrified of victory: they might actually be held responsible for something. Better to be in the minority. The perks, coffee in the Congressional and Senate Dining Rooms are just as good.



Fake News Will Only Get Worse With the Maturity of Tech Like This:

——– Forwarded Message ——–


Fake News Will Only Get Worse With the Maturity of Tech Like This:


Wed, 12 Jul 2017 20:06:44 +0000


Michael D



And the beat goes on.



Citizens Council


You wrote last week: “The Council essentially ceased to exist after our meeting with Dan Quayle was instrumental in creating the DC-X. ..the last Council Meeting was in the early 1990’s… ..Many of its members including of course General Dan Graham and Max Hunter have died; others including myself have aged in the more than 25 years since the last meeting. It’s someone else’s turn.”

Yeah, it’s been a while. Damn, I was young back then! (I will admit to middle age now.) But a little extra history for your readers, if you will:

I was a junior participant in that historic ’88 meeting – I’d been a very focused (occasionally obnoxiously so, I’m sure) “it’s the transportation dammit!” part of the Council’s informal online working group since late ’85.

I’d also gone to work for L5 Society in early ’86, but quickly discovered everyone there had their own grand space scheme – every one of which counted on someone else to provide the transportation.

But from my back room at L5 HQ I moonlighted helping G.Harry Stine pull together the published ’86 Council Report, “America: A Spacefaring Nation Again”, which was great but didn’t quite take the final step in detailing *how* to solve the problem.

Then in ’88, of course, we took that final step, and changed the world.

Only not quite as quickly as we’d hoped.

You’ll recall that the original program that emerged from your 1989 visit to the VP included both the initial low-altitude DC-X plus a high-performance DC-Y “two pilots to as near orbit as possible”

experimental follow-on. DC-Y was intended to see just how close to orbit a budget single-stage reusable rocket could get.

Then a year or so later, at a point where we were all distracted with day jobs, some farking genius at SDIO decided to start touting the DC-Y as a many-ton-payload carrying “Brilliant Pebbles” deployer.

Thus both totally missing the point of an X-vehicle (to quickly and cheaply learn what we needed to know *before* trying to design an operational payload-carrying version) and also GUARANTEEING that the Congress of the time would immediately kill it.

As we’d explicitly warned them. Which said Congress then did. Leaving us with DC-X, far better than nothing but less than we’d planned.

Which started me making like a broken record within our small circle, to the effect that *someone* needed to begin watching the store full-time, lest that sort of fell-through-the-cracks screwup set us back even further.

(At the time I did assume it was merely an ignorant screwup, not bureaucratic sabotage, which in hindsight may have been overly charitable. Regardless, losing DC-Y early led directly to the NASA X-33 fiasco and ten wasted years, not to mention a couple of billion dollars down the drain. But that’s another story.)

Then in ’92 I got laid off from my game development job with a handsome chunk of severance, and in a momentary excess of enthusiasm I volunteered. Thus Space Access Society was founded to continue pushing the core ’88 Council policies, with me as chief cook & bottle washer – protesting loudly that OK, I’ll do it, but for five years only, no more.

Hah. Did I mention “not quite as quickly as we’d hoped?” Twenty-five years later, in between all the distractions the world keeps throwing at me, I’m still at it, still with a loose informal brain trust that’s the distant descendant of our gang back in the day, and still pushing an evolved but recognizable version of the ’88 Council policies.

With some success to show for it in recent years, but that too is another story.

What was it you told me back in ’88? “There is no limit to what you can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit.” Or as I put it once to someone worried about having his pet idea stolen, “Don’t worry. If it’s actually a good idea, nobody will steal it – the only way you’ll get anyone to accept it quickly is at gunpoint.”

Anyway, don’t worry. The revived National Space Council will get good advice, in amongst all the bureaucratic rent-seeking. Whether they’ll take it, who knows? I don’t have anything like General Graham’s silver bullet handy. (I need an impressive motto for my office wall. Anyone know what’s Latin for “Not Responsible For Advice Not Taken”?)

The good news is, twenty-five years later, the usual bureaucratic suspects have twenty-five years of abject failure behind them, while the Council’s advice, to the extent it’s ever been implemented, has tended to produce results.

In the words of the immortal Bullwinkle J. Moose, “This Time For Sure!”

Which actually would be a more appropriate motto…

Henry Vanderbilt


Henry was invited to join the Council in 1984, and attended the meetings in my office where we planned to present the SSX proposal to the National Space Council.



Thoughts on Space

Dear Jerry,

Mr. Heinlein once said/wrote somewhere something about avidly following The News was not healthy, that closely monitoring the troubles of several billion other human beings was not good for you. More and more I am concurring with this sentiment. I have run a small experiment, informally. Each day, whenever I drag myself from under the covers and get some coffee, I turn on CNN. If they are talking about anything other than Trump, I watch more than a few minutes. If it is a Trump piece, I watch a moment or two to see if it is as ridiculous as usual, and if so, turn it off. Results? In the past few weeks, I have seen only one story that was not Trump, that being that the North Koreans had finally gotten an ICBM to do more than flop into the sea a few miles from the coast. It takes hard evidence of a looming existential threat to knock Trump off their hand painted radar screens!

As for getting us into space: I noted long ago the propensity for the old L-5 Society, as well as other Big Idea groups, to gloss over the transportation part of the equation. It was one reason I never got involved much with that crowd. I respected their dreams, and they did, and are doing now, important work in dreaming big, but I think they mostly thought NASA would take care of the transportation bit, if only they could get the Proxmire crowd off NASA’s back and increase NASA funding. Up until the late 80s or so, it still seemed to those with no inside information that NASA still had at least some of the Right Stuff.

Alas, the fiasco when NASA grabbed the DC-X and pranged it, as well s the X-33 boondoggle, put that idea to a well deserved rest. If I were able to decree one thing that would, IMHO, increase the chances of making humanity an exospecies (Hey, I just whipped up a term!), it would be to break NASA up into a series of independent labs, along with the launch centers, and have a mission oriented project organization (i.e.

Do this job, by this date, then you’re done, defunded, turn off the lights, the party’s over!) contract with the labs OR private industry for transportation service. You’d see “X” projects Up The Wazoo, Yazoo and Kazoo Toot Sweet!

On the Cheap Energy front, seen the news that China is going for Thorium reactors in spades, with Big Casino? The fact that Thorium is a major “waste material” in the mining and extraction of rare earths, as in one mine can produce five-thousand ton’s of thorium annually, has not escaped their notice.

Oh, if anyone here needs to be reminded, we had a working thorium breeder reactor in 1970. Nixon canceled the program, and we gave the tech away to anyone who wanted to buy the info from the government printing office.

How much you want to bet the Chinese also picked up a set of DC-X plans while shopping?


Thorium is what, the sixth most common element in the Earth’s surface, and its mining and refining, while expensive, is not prohibitively so in vast quantities; but so far, light water Uranium reactors would produce electricity at lifetime plant and fuel costs competitive with fossil fuels; probably the main cost of nuclear energy at present is regulations, and the lawyers to fight them; both regulators and their opponents in court are very expensive.


Mr. Heinlein always said, we’re going; but there’s no guarantee that those who go will speak English.





listing to port, or to starboard? typo 12 July View

Dr. Pournelle,

Nitpicking copy editor comment: you wrote “been arrested for shop listing in a department store.” Left hand QWERTY keyboard typing being what it is for me, I’m assuming you meant shoplifting?

I’m dumbstruck by the leftward spin on this Trump-Russia story. Seems as if it is getting a bit defensive, as I’ve heard no one point out that Comey has essentially lost all credibility due to his own disclosures of government information, leaving Mrs. Clinton open for re-investigation and both of them, along with both former attorneys general liable to impeachment and prosecution. Also haven’t heard anything about the amount of smoke and innuendo around what some foreign service or hacker group might have that would implicate Clinton: even though the “Russian Lawyer” might not have had anything, doesn’t the sheer quantity of rumor make it true?

Trump is still the master of misdirection.



Lifting, of course, and I’ve fixed it. Thanks. The cry of Treason by supposedly rational journalists shows that sensible journalism is no longer the objective.  It’s now “Trump must go by any means necessary,” and apparently they mean it.  I am dismayed. We no longer have a “newspaper of record” or anything like it.




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



Trump, the West, and the Media; More on Climate Change; Bannon shaves; Science and Democracy; the Warsaw speech.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Sunday, July 9, 2017

(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.

The map is not the territory.

Alfred Korzybski

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





In Poland, he casts doubt on election meddling by Russia

Los Angeles Times

Since all my additions are on topics discussed here, I have simply added to Friday’s post.  There is considerably more content here. Open as we did Friday.

Trump Urges West To Show Courage

Wall Street Journal

Both of those headlines in today’s papers refer to the same speech given by the President to cheering crowds in Warsaw. Inside, the Journal, in an editorial, referred to that speech:

Trump’s Defining Speech

In Poland, he asks the West to defend its values of faith and freedom.



The White House description of Donald Trump’s speech Thursday in Warsaw was simply, “Remarks by President Trump to the People of Poland.” In truth, Mr. Trump’s remarks were directed at the people of the world. Six months into his first term of office, Mr. Trump finally offered the core of what could become a governing philosophy. It is a determined and affirmative defense of the Western tradition. [snip]

[snip] This is the speech Mr. Trump should have given to introduce himself to the world at his Inauguration. In place of that speech’s resentments, his Warsaw talk offered a better form of nationalism. It is a nationalism rooted in values and beliefs—the rule of law, freedom of expression, religious faith and freedom from oppressive government—that let Europe and then America rise to prominence. This, Mr. Trump is saying, is worth whatever it takes to preserve and protect.

It was an important and, we hope, a defining speech—for the Trump Presidency and for Donald Trump himself.

The Los Angeles Times, a Democrat newspaper, has no inside editorial about the speech. It does call for an investigation of voter fraud to be abandoned.

I think no further comment is needed on newspaper bias and reliability. Apparently the threat to all of Western Civilization is unimportant to the Times; certainly not more important than Russian meddling with the US elections. Mr. Trump did point out that we don’t really know who hacked the various servers, which is what the charge of “Russian meddling” refers to. It was said in a news conference, not in the Warsaw speech.

He did say in his speech:


Today, the West is also confronted by the powers that seek to test our will, undermine our confidence, and challenge our interests. To meet new forms of aggression, including propaganda, financial crimes, and cyberwarfare, we must adapt our alliance to compete effectively in new ways and on all new battlefields.

We urge Russia to cease its destabilizing activities in Ukraine and elsewhere, and its support for hostile regimes — including Syria and Iran — and to instead join the community of responsible nations in our fight against common enemies and in defense of civilization itself. (Applause.)

Finally, on both sides of the Atlantic, our citizens are confronted by yet another danger — one firmly within our control. This danger is invisible to some but familiar to the Poles: the steady creep of government bureaucracy that drains the vitality and wealth of the people. The West became great not because of paperwork and regulations but because people were allowed to chase their dreams and pursue their destinies.

Americans, Poles, and the nations of Europe value individual freedom and sovereignty. We must work together to confront forces, whether they come from inside or out, from the South or the East, that threaten over time to undermine these values and to erase the bonds of culture, faith and tradition that make us who we are. (Applause.) If left unchecked, these forces will undermine our courage, sap our spirit, and weaken our will to defend ourselves and our societies.

I could have written those lines, and I’m glad that Mr. Trump said them.


Reading the President’s Warsaw speech, something jumped right out at me that I haven’t seen anyone else sensible comment on. (Leaving entirely aside for now the torrent of leftist blather about defending the West being somehow beyond the pale.)

(Speech transcript at


Embedded in the heart of the speech, there is a clear invitation to

Russia: “We urge Russia to cease its destabilizing activities in Ukraine and elsewhere, and its support for hostile regimes — including Syria and Iran — and to instead join the community of responsible nations in our fight against common enemies and in defense of civilization itself.”

Much of the rest of the speech defines the West in terms that, Poland and central Europe aside, seem to me also designed to flatter Putinist Russia’s post-communist self-image as a bastion of (orthodox) Christian traditionalism against both Muslim south and “degenerate” west.

(I saw recently that Russia was 30% avowed Orthodox when the Wall fell, now 80%. Also recall that Russia loudly and continuously decried the Obama-Clinton State Department’s arrogant pressure on them to swallow the full spectrum of modern political correctness.)

And if you squint a bit, the speech implicitly praises the Russian people too for also surviving and (eventually) rejecting communism, while indirectly pointing out how Putin’s growing klepto-authoritarianism betrays that rejection.

Some quotes:

“..we can still hear those voices that echo through history. Their message is as true today as ever. The people of Poland, the people of America, and the people of Europe still cry out “We want God.””

“And with that powerful declaration of who you are, you came to understand what to do and how to live. You stood in solidarity against oppression, against a lawless secret police, against a cruel and wicked system that impoverished your cities and your souls.”

“We write symphonies. We pursue innovation. We celebrate our ancient heroes, embrace our timeless traditions and customs, and always seek to explore and discover brand-new frontiers. We reward brilliance. We strive for excellence, and cherish inspiring works of art that honor God.”

This speech is two-pronged. Trump is offering Putin a rationale to stop fighting the West – Obama attacked Russia with western-lefty weapons of cultural mass destruction; Trump here is offering a cease-fire. (I find it massively ironic, by the way, that Putin knows perfectly well that said “degenerate western” weapons originated in Soviet Russia.

Apparently memetic warfare has the same problem as biowar: It can come back and bite the originator.)

Trump I believe is also demonstrating he can go over Putin’s head to the Russian people, telling them “we’re basically on your side – so why is your government siding with the militant South and expansionist East, while brutalizing and impoverishing you in the process?”

Carrot and stick, a way out of the economic cleft Putin has gotten Russia into, and a warning that Trump knows how to knock the heart out of Putin’s case that the Russian people should just put up with it.

It is, I think, a hugely ambitious move. I would guess that if anything is to come of it, it will start soon with small things. It may then at some point develop very fast. Or, of course, not at all.

Interesting times.


I made an encouraging reply and got:


So, you see it too, then. Good. I’ve been occasionally known to read more between the lines than is there.

I’m pretty sure the timing of this speech a day before Trump’s first meeting with Putin is not coincidental. Nor is the nominally half-hour meeting going on for over two hours.

As for how that meeting went, I haven’t a clue.

Mind, neither does anyone in the press I’ve seen so far. The difference is, I *know* I don’t have enough data yet to reach useful conclusions.

That doesn’t seem to be stopping anyone else. There’s boatloads of tendentious blather being peddled.

The Syria cease-fire outcome may be the first clue. If the Russians actually use their local clout to make it work (instead of their usual

lip-service) that would be a positive sign.

Time will tell.



The best way to understand Trump is to assume he has a reason for doing what he does, although how he does it can often be influenced by lack of experience with this governing elite; he probably has more experience with a number of foreign elites than most US political figures ever get. He has made deals with them.

You will generally not be far wrong when he does something unexpected if you assume he is crazy like a fox.




I am reminded that I am to take part  in a discussion of Mars projects at UC Irvine September 7 this year.



I am also an invited guest to Dragon Con in Atlanta this September.






More added Sunday night below.  This is an important subject.


Scientific facts: so inconvenient

Drudge just dropped this:

Do scroll down – the “news” reactions are priceless.

It matters far less of what we do (burn coal, fly jets) than one key fact:  the sun is a 3% variable, and that vastly outweighs stuff we put into the air. Astronomy: it just might affect the weather!

The sun is cooling off.  Glad we live in FLA.

James F. Ponder

Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats

—–H.L. Mencken, 1919

Well, I live in California, at least for now. It does seem to me that solar output dominates; especially since Lowell noted a brightening of Mars in the 19th Century when we know Earth was warming…


You would think that when you make adjustments you’d sometimes get warming and sometimes get cooling. That’s almost never happened.”



Roland Dobbins

You would if you paid attention to the results and not the theory, and knew the map was not the territory.



Data and charts, easily understood


Subj: July 4, 2017 : Coldest July Temperature Ever Recorded In The Northern Hemisphere | The Deplorable Climate Science Blog





Arctic Temperatures


This is long and more intended for professionals, but here is some more data:



On the

Validity of NOAA, NASA

and Hadley CRU Global Average

Surface Temperature Data


The Validity of EPA’s CO

Endangerment Finding



Dilbert creator Scott Adams on cognition

Dr. Pournelle,
Scott Adams is blogging about persuasion and cognitive dissonance, and has also remarked on the Tucker Carlson interview with Bill Nye. See . Worth your time, as I think Adams is successfully (perhaps courageously) introducing some rational debate into public discussion of climate change and of subjects associated with Donald Trump.
I often hear that a “denier” has little or no credibility because of an often tenuous link of some sort to the petroleum, coal, or nuclear industries. I never hear or read of any reduction of credibility of a media personality whose ego, reputation, and/or income is closely tied with environmental science. While it is not his obvious purpose, I believe Adams’ blog is exposing the ego bias in some of those advocates.
With hopes for continuing recovery for both you and Roberta,


And see which asks questions yet to be answered.


Sunday, July 9, 2017

Freeman Dyson

Regarding the Freeman Dyson on,
“Having seen many faddish notions come and go, Dyson is distressed that many environmentalists now believe “global warming is the greatest threat to the ecology of our planet.”” at
The environmentalist are are right. The fraud, personal oppression through climate related taxation and the massive transfer of money from the producers of goods and services to the producers of bigger government as a result of believing that human can have an impact on climate change will result in more damage to the ecology of the planet than any climate change ever could!



The problem is that they start with the assumption that their models are accurate; that their map is the territory. It has been shown time and again that the maps are not accurate; their models do not predict, Spending ourselves broke on the assumption that they are leaves little to make combat the conditions that may result if they’re really wrong – if, for instance, the Sun really is a variable star and its variances belittle all the odd climate changes caused by man. For an amusing science fiction story on that, see Fallen Angels by Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, and Michael Flynn.



Greenland climate change
I read on either ITV or BBC that with the glaciers melting in Green land there was a strong very strong chance that the warming current (Gulf) that keeps the UK warm would be diverted back across the UK, all that cold water would cause havoc. Yes it was diverted.  German and UK scientists have found it was diverted to run down the east side of the N American Continent. It is probably responsible for the horrible storms this and last winter. You may have scientific friends that will conform this. I also understand from an article in the southern hemisphere that with the latest satellite videos and the new lens on the recent satellites that the ice that is  or was melting in Antarctica there is now a claim that the reforming ice is clear. This with your contacts may be proven correct.


I invited comments from experts.

Greenland climate change

I see many studies by the standard people, purporting that a reversal of the North Atlantic gyre (thermohaline circulation) COULD occur. A lot of “studies suggest that X MAY happen,” or “a new model says that X MAY occur” and the like. I see some indication that the Gulf Stream may be weakening; whether this is temporary or not, only time will tell. I do not see any indication of a backflow of cold water down the eastern seaboard of North America.

In fact, researchers at Columbia University say the whole “thermohaline circulation drives climate” is an outright myth:
Also this:



~Stephanie Osborn, “The Interstellar Woman of Mystery”

Award-winning author of the Division One, Gentleman Aegis, and Displaced Detective series




I hadn’t seen anything current.

This article from 2011:

seems to be tied to your correspondent’s concern, but I have learned to take any “science journalism” in the British tabloids with a large enough grain of salt to eliminate the supposed freshwater problem if properly dispersed.

This report, also from 2011:

says that the Gulf stream was diverted about 125 miles north of it’s usual flow in places.  That does not seem consistent with the correspondent’s concern, in my opinion.

I’ve not found any easily accessible articles suggesting a cool countercurrent along the East coast.

Bottom line, I’m not sure I can add anything substantial.

For what it’s worth, Wikipedia says:

Global warming could, via a shutdown of the thermohaline circulation, trigger cooling in the North Atlantic, Europe, and North America.[9][10]

Take that with a grain of salt also.

Also for what it’s worth, this came up on Google Books during my search of the above:

American Journal of Education, Volume 52-53, page 250-1, 1918:

Mistakes in Geography Teaching.


There are few better examples of the persistence of popular error, once deeply imbedded in social consciousness, than that of the Gulf Stream Myth. The warm temperature of this current opposite the coast of South Carolina was discovered in the days of Franklin.

It was this fact that gave the stream an importance in the minds of navigators that it no longer possesses.—James Page, U. S. Hydrographic Office, in Monthly Weather Review for August, 1902. Perhaps the most amusing recent instance or repetition of all the old rhetoric and all the old error about the Gulf Stream is an article by Mr. F. T. Bullen, in the London Spectator. Mr. Bullen says: “But who among us with the slightest smattering of physiography is there that is not assured that but for the genial warmth of this mighty sea-river our islands would revert to their condition at the Glacial Period; who is there but feels a shiver of dread pass over his scalp when he contemplates the possibility of any diversion of its life-giving waters from our shores? The bare suggestion of such a calamity is most terrifying.” Now, as a mere matter of climatic fact, were the aerial drift, that is, the circulation of the atmosphere in the north temperate Zone, to remain as it is to-day and were by

any possibility the Gulf Stream to be diverted at the Straits of Florida, no one in England would be a whit the wiser, for it is the aerial drift that has the gift of mildness in its flow. The diversion-Of-the-Gulf-Stream bogy may impress those who have a “smattering of physiography,” but it has no terror for him who knows that the Gulf Stream myth has nothing to rest on Save the bad science of fifty years ago and its recrudescence in the present.—Harvey Maitland Watta, in the Monthly Weather Review for September, 1900.

Perhaps as a final word on this subject, the following from Mr. Henry Gannett, Geographer of the U. S. Geological Survey, in the Bulletin of the American Geographical Society for July, 1901, may be quoted:

“Can it be supposed that the Japan Current, however warm it may be when it leaves the tropics, retains any appreciable excess of heat after a journey of 6,000 miles in northern latitudes? As a matter of fact, no trace Of this current reaches the shores of North America, its force being entirely lost thousands of miles to the westward. There is nothing left but the merest drift of the surface water before the prevalent west wind.

“In the north Atlantic the condition is much the same. The Gulf Stream loses its velocity and disappears as a current long before the British Isles are reached. That the cold climate of the eastern portion of the United States is caused by an Arctic current close inshore is disproved by the fact that there is no such current along this coast.”

Before leaving the Gulf Stream it may be noted that the fact that this stream does not sweep around the Gulf of Mexico, as still shown on some of our maps, was thoroughly demonstrated by the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey prior to 1888.

Some geographies still persist in giving as the causes of ocean currents the unequal heating of the water in different latitudes, the excessive evaporation of the tropics, the diminution of atmospheric pressure in low latitudes, and the alleged greater saltiness of equatorial waters. Of course all of these have been banished to the limbo of the shades of ingenious guessers, the real cause being the winds.


The old settlers in any new country look back upon their pioneer days of privation and suffering, and ascribe most of both to weather conditions which, in the haze of memory, seem to have been severer than the climate of the present. Thus Thomas Jefferson said:

“It is apparent that the climate of Virginia has changed. The old inhabitants here tell me that they remember when the snow lay on the ground four months every year and they rode in sleighs.”

The early settlers of Ohio, Illinois and Indiana gave the same experience and the typical old. settler of the Dakotas insists that he knows that the climate is milder than it used to be on these plains. His testimony, however, is not verified by temperature and other weather records which have been carefully made by the United States Weather Bureau. If we to-day had to endure the long continued exposure to the elements which the early pioneer had to undergo and had their less efficient supply of food, clothing and shelter, our bodies, sensitive thermometers as they are, would register exceeding extremes of climate. Besides, the one big snow-storm of some winter in the past gets bigger as our memories grow longer and fills the whole winter with associations of inclemency. It cannot be said that climates of countries do not change, but if such changes do take place centuries, if not milleniums, are required to record any appreciable variation from the mean.


While careful records have been preserved of precipitation and floods in areas which have been forested, deforested and reforested again, there is as yet no evidence to justify the wide-spread belief that the presence of forests increases rainfall and the cutting away of forests diminishes it. A very elementary knowledge of the causes of rainfall shows one how infinitesimal must be the relation of forests to the amount of precipitation, if any causal relation exists at all. A glance at the mean annual precipitation map of the United States shows how independent rainfall is of forests. Michigan, with her Great Lake surroundings and forests, has less rainfall than the inland prairie areas of southern Illinois. The same remark applies equally well to the theory sometimes advanced that if the dried lake beds of the Dakotas were filled with water by artesian wells we should get more rainfall. Such a theory is based upon an erroneous conception of the causes of rainfall and of the general circulation of the atmosphere over the United States. There is this to be said

[blocks in formation]

Out of a class of twenty-nine graduates of high schools of the Dakotas, Minnesota and Iowa, whose answers I happened to preserve, twenty-two gave incorrect answers and seven gave correct answers. The incorrect answers were fairly evenly divided between the moon’s not rising at all or rising in the west, and the majority of the incorrect answers concerning the position of the star had that luminary remain on the eastern horizon for three hours. Since these students were not at all below the average high school graduates of this section, this record does not indicate that a knowledge that the earth rotates on its axis is very widespread, or is more than so many words.

I fear it is true that a vast majority of the teachers of our children would say, if asked for evidence or proof of the rotation of the earth, that the fact that we have day and night proves that the earth rotates,—a most childish conception of a proof of this phenomenon


There has been speculation about the Gulf Stream for a long time, but none I have seen for how it could have affected Denmark, East Prussia, Poland. and China, who all recorded warm seasons in the Viking era.


Before my stroke in late 2024 I could touch type, and very rapidly.  I wrote a long essay on the global warming dispute here and it still reads well.  Excerpt:


President Obama told us today that CO2 traps heat. He said in a way that implies that no one can question that, and everyone must know it, and there is nothing else to discuss. Dyson points out that water vapor traps heat much better than CO2: indeed, anywhere there is high humidity, CO2 is irrelevant because there is no heat escaping for CO2 to trap. The water vapor has got it all. Therefore the effects of CO2 will mostly be on cold dry places. Most of the Earth is covered with water.

Methane is also a much better greenhouse gas than CO2, and any place that has methane in the atmosphere – above certain evergreen forests, and near large herds of cattle, as an example – CO2 will be irrelevant because all the heat escaping through the atmosphere will already be absorbed.

We could continue but there is no need to break a butterfly on the wheel: these are questions that are seldom addressed by the Climate Change True Believers, and when they are it is generally with condescension, as if everyone knows what brought about the Greenland farms. When pressed for a bit more specific information one usually is told “Gulf Stream” as if the Gulf Stream could simultaneously affect the temperature of Greenland, the Western Scottish Islands, Northumberland, York, Denmark, Saxony, Lithuania, and China, all of which recorded warmer weather and longer growing seasons. I have never had any of the True Believers offer to go beyond that condescension.

The President apparently is going to make Climate Change a big and important driver of his policies for the next few years. He seems quite positive that he knows all that anyone needs to know about the subject, and the topic is closed. Anyone who does not understand this believes that the Moon is made of cheese. There is nothing to discuss.






Report: Steve Bannon’s Star Rising in the Trump White House




Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

by Adam Shaw5 Jul 20171,829

Note also that Bannon now shaves and wears a tie to the White House; he didn’t for earlier White House events, and his invitations stopped… Coincidence, maybe.




Angelo Codevilla: Scientific Pretense vs. Democracy

I did not see this when it came out, back in 2009, alas!

It resonates with much of what Doctor Pournelle has written, for example

I found particularly thought-provoking Codevilla’s contrast between

(a) one of my favorite works of historical story-telling and analysis, C.P. Snow’s _Science and Government_, which tells and analyses the story of how Winston Churchill’s science advisor, F. A.

Lindemann (later Lord Cherwell) damn near single-handedly lost the Battle of Britain, and hence the War, by trying — unsuccessfully, thank God! — to derail the desperate race to develop and deploy the Chain Home radar system and the command and control system for RAF Fighter Command based thereon, and

(b) President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s caution, in his Farewell Address, not only against the dangers of a Military-Industrial Complex (which caution is widely known and quoted), but also against the danger that “in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific technological elite” (which caution is almost entirely forgotten and ignored).

I also liked Codevilla’s pointing out that the non-scientist politicians and administrators, while disclaiming any scientific expertise themselves, nevertheless implicitly claim expertise in discerning that those who claim to be scientists, and who agree with them, are indeed legitimate scientists, while those who claim to be scientists, but who disagree with them, are deniers, anti-Science, religious fanatics, or otherwise not legitimate scientists. “[T]he modern struggle is over control of the process of accreditation, and … the arguments the masses hear must be mostly ad hominem, seldom ad valorem— not least because the experts deem the masses incapable and unworthy of hearing anything else.”


Angelo Codevilla used to be a graduate student associate when I was a professor at Pepperdine, Lo! these many years ago. As usual with Codevilla, this piece is worth reading in its entirety. Definitely recommended.



Your revolution was dumb and it filled us with refugees.

Hi Jerry,
A Happy 4th of July to our American friends… even though this is sent July 5th. Thought I’d pass an article written by Conrad Black, with a slightly different take on the Revolution. Please read this as a bit of gentle ribbing from the ancestors of loyalists who fled in the 1770’s.
All said and done….we truly are blessed to have the U.S.A. as close neighbors.


Mistaken article attributed to Conrad Black

Hi Jerry
My apologies for any email entries sent without content. My fingers were moving too quickly over the keyboard. I sent a tongue-in-cheek article your way around July 4th 2017 and attributed it to having been written by Conrad Black. It was actually written by a Tristin Hopper for National Post. This Newspaper was founded by Mr. Black back in the 1990’s. It is still an interesting perspective but of course the Revolution was more complicated than outlined in the article.
Canadian humour being what it is, I hope your US subscribers don’t take offense. We accept any comments about us anyone cares to throw our way. Being Canadian we always enjoy being noticed, if at all, whether good or bad.

I knew Mr. Black in those days, and I didn’t detect any alarm bells.



From years ago:

Another reason I don’t Facebook: I’d never do anything else.  My wife follows Facebook including my daughter’s page, on which was posted today something fascinating:  a Great Blue Heron, on what looks like a golf fairway: a large well mowed level grass field, no body of water in sight, nothing around but this big bird walking slowly across the lawn, clearly stalking something.  Slowly he advances. Then stops.  Assumes the pose they take when fishing, absolutely still, neck cocked back, beak aimed a foot or so in front of his feet.  Stands that way for about half a minute.  Then strikes. Out of a previously unseen hole in the ground comes beak and struggling gopher. Bird shakes gopher, finally bangs is on the ground several times.  Gopher is still.  Bird tosses gopher and catches it by the head, aims beak at the sky, and swallows gopher whole.

Of course he’d have to swallow the gopher whole, just as he does fish. He hasn’t got any teeth.  But this was no accidental find.  That bird knew precisely where he was going and watched that hole until he saw the gopher, and grabbed it.  I once saw Sasha, the Siberian Husky we had previous to our last dog Sable, do that with a gopher up on the hill above us, but one expects wolf dogs to do that sort of thing, and Huskies can be very still, alert, and patient when they want to be; and of course you expect herons to be alert and patient when fishing, but I never saw one hunt a gopher before.  Anyway, it was fascinating, and another reason I think I have to avoid Facebook…





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


Space Policy and the National Space Council; X Projects; Chernobyl

Sunday, July 2, 2017

The map is not the territory.

Alfred Korzybski



Executive Order Creating National Space Council

I am pleased that President Trump has signed an executive order reestablishing the National Space Council. The council existed previously from 1989-1993, and a version of it also existed as the National Aeronautics and Space Council from 1958-1973. As such, the council has guided NASA from our earliest days and can help us achieve the many ambitious milestones we are striving for today.

This high-level group advises the President and comprises the leaders of government agencies with a stake in space, including the NASA Administrator, the Secretaries of State, Commerce, Defense, and others, and will be chaired by Vice President Mike Pence. It will help ensure that all aspects of the nation’s space power — national security, commerce, international relations, exploration, and science, are coordinated and aligned to best serve the American people.  A Users’ Advisory Group also will be convened so that the interests of industries and other non-federal entities are represented.

The establishment of the council is another demonstration of the Trump Administration’s deep interest in our work, and a testament to the importance of space exploration to our economy, our nation, and the planet as a whole.

We look forward to further developments with the National Space Council and will let you know as its plans become more firm. As always, thank you for all the work you do that makes NASA a source of innovation and pride for this country.


Citing America’s ‘destiny,’ Trump revives long-dormant space council by executive order

USA Today Published 8:22 p.m. ET June 30, 2017

WASHINGTON — President Trump signed an executive order revamping the National Space Council on Friday, hoping to send “a clear signal to the world that we are restoring America’s proud legacy of leadership in space.”

“With the actions we are launching today, America will think big once again. Important words: Think big,” Trump said. “It is America’s destiny to be at the forefront of humanity’s eternal quest for knowledge and to be the leader amongst nations on our adventure into the great unknown. And I could say the great and very beautiful unknown. Nothing more beautiful.”

The executive order creates a National Space Council — a body that President George H.W. Bush had already created in 1989. But the Space Council effectively concluded its work in 1993 and hasn’t met since.

Trump’s order tinkers with the makeup of the council, but leaves Bush’s structure mostly intact. The secretary of the Treasury and the White House chief of staff are off, replaced by the secretary of Homeland Security and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The director of national intelligence succeeds the CIA director, and the president’s homeland security adviser is added.

And in addition to Bush’s mandate to develop and coordinate long-term space strategy, Trump’s order specifically directs the council to “advise on participation in international space activities conducted by the United States government.”

The order also requires the council to meet at least once a year and to hire a staff.

In signing the order, Trump made many of the traditional arguments for investing in the space program: technological innovation, human exploration and a yearning for discovery.

But he also emphasized a national security role in space. “Security is going to be a very big factor with respect to space and space exploration,” he said. “At some point in the future, we’re going to look back and say how did we do it without space?”

Trump signed the order in a White House ceremony that included members of Congress and NASA astronauts like Buzz Aldrin, who provided levity by quoting his namesake Buzz Lightyear of the Toy Story movie franchise.

“To infinity and beyond,” Aldrin said.

“This is infinity here. It could be infinity. We don’t really don’t know. But it could be. It has to be something. But it could be infinity, right?” Trump said.



When the Bush I administration took office, most of the Reagan people were replaced by Bush supporters. As a Reagan man – I chaired the Citizens Advisory Council on National Space Policy that in 1980 wrote the Space and Space Defense policy papers for the incoming Reagan administration – my White House access and contacts effectively came to a halt. There were no more Reagan men in the White House.

However, there was the newly created National Space Council, headed by the Vice President, Dan Quayle. Mr. Quayle was not a space cadet, and hadn’t been well known in the pro-space community. Until the day he was asked to be then Vice President George H. W. Bush’s running mate, he was referred to as “the distinguished junior Senator from Indiana”, and generally well regarded; the day after he joined the ticket he became a buffoon not to be taken seriously by the very same news media. However, he took the post of Chairman of the National Space Council seriously, and when the Citizen’s Advisory Council proposed an X project, the SSX, he met with General Dan Graham, rocket genius Max Hunter, and council chairman Jerry Pournelle.

We presented our proposal for the SSX, a 600,000 gross liftoff weight (GLOW) single stage to orbit (SSTO) X Project; as Max Hunter said, we hoped it would make orbit; it would sure scare it to death. It would also be savable; and it could be flown sub-orbital. Of course it was fully recoverable. The preliminary design description was done mostly in my office, with visiting members of the Council working on it.






See also X Projects and a spacefaring nation




Mr. Quayle listened to us, and the asked advice from his technical people. He was told that recoverable single stage to orbit was impossible and had been proved to be so in a RAND study. Mr. Quayle then asked RAND to review that study, which they did, and Lo! It turned out not to be impossible after all. It was a possible X Project. Mr. Quayle tried to get it funded; apparently he took us quite seriously. He was unable to get full funding, but he did get Air Force funding for a scale model. Douglas won the competition for that X project, and it was built, on time and within budget, and delivered to White Sands test range for flight testing. It became known as the DC-X (Douglas Aircraft gave all their aircraft, such as the SC-3, that kind of designation).

One big controversy about vertical rocket landings was that it could not be controlled at low altitude and the speeds involved. Another was that it would re-enter nose down, and wouldn’t be able to turn tail down. DC-X flew 10 successful missions, landing and being refueled and flown again; there are plenty of reports on that. On one of those missions it went from nose up the nose down, then back to nose up in which orientation it made a perfect landing.

Alas after the 10th flight the Air Force turned the ship over to NASA. On the eleventh mission, it successfully landed, but a NASA technician had failed to connect the hydraulic line to one of the landing feet, and it fell over. It could have survived that, but due to over vigorous (and needless testing) the NASA test people cracked the hydrogen fuel tank, then welded it and sent it to fly. Falling over cracked that tank and DC-X literally burned on the ground a hydrogen leaked out.

Mr. Clinton won the 1992 election, and in 1993 abolished the National Space Council. President George W. Bush did not revive it, nor did President Obama.



I hope the new National Space Council will read the Chaos Manor Report, How to Get to Space, , which explains X projects and their role in implementing a national Strategy of Technology.


A lot of you saw this before I did. My thanks.

Trump Signs Executive Order Reviving National Space Council.



Roland Dobbins



Thought you should know:

“President Donald Trump signed an executive order Friday to re-establish the National Space Council . . .”(



This is good news. Is there any chance the CACSP could be revived?

Richard White


The Council essentially ceased to exist after our meeting with Dan Quayle was instrumental in creating the DC-X. Several national commercial space acts have been passed by Congress, at least one of them based on the Council constructed paper “How to Save Civilization and Make a Little Money” (principal authors Art Dula and Larry Niven), and there were other accomplishments’ but the last Council Meeting was in the early 1990’s. Many of its members including of course General Dan Graham and Max Hunter have died; others including myself have aged in the more than 25 years since the last meeting. Larry Niven can no longer host weekend conferences of 50 or more people with Marilyn Niven (and a staff of friends) preparing gourmet meals for them. It’s someone else’s turn.




I really urge those not familiar with X Programs to read

How to Get to Space; it describes the role of government in advanced technology development.




The virus and Chernobyl

Dear Jerry –

I should begin by apologizing for being snippy in asking if you thought Chernobyl is still producing power.

However, since the last of the 3 surviving reactors was SCRAMed in 2000, and the complex is two years into decommissioning, I was a bit hasty.

I was also affected by your ignoring what should (in my opinion) have been a red flag – the reference to the “cancer-riddled operators”. That’s not a phrase likely to get much respect in respectable journalism.

Observing a subsequent post of an article by Alfred Nq, it seems clear that (assuming the claim is correct), the data logging of radiation levels at the complex was in fact affected by Petya, and manual recording begun. Someone, somewhere, in the worst traditions of the Web, used this to create a wild-eyed scare piece about the cancer-riddled operators operating the plant under manual control, and that sort of narrative will still be floating around the net long after you and I are dead.

With that said, your comment that, “The Chernobyl disaster was a result of operator error during nuclear weapons grade item manufacture, not of any power generation operations.” is only half-right. Operator error was largely to blame, but I remember 30 years ago when the “weapons-grade manufacture” bit started as a possible explanation. Apparently it stuck with you. Jerry, there aren’t any such operations at a nuclear plant such as Chernobyl. It’s true that operation will produce plutonium as a byproduct, but that occurs during all operations – it’s not a separate process. It’s been twenty-odd years since the Soviet Union collapsed and the old secrets started leaking out, so the initial secrecy measures have fallen by the wayside. The IAEA report on the incident makes it clear that the “operation” which caused the calamity was a test of the response to an emergency shut-off event. It was, in some respects, a black humor comedy of errors, featuring bad communications, a reactor which was unstable at low power, poor instrumentation, and control rods which, when inserted, temporarily caused a major increase in reactor level. Oh yes, and let’s not forget operator error. Arrogance and bull-headedness by the folk in charge helped a bunch, too. But it wasn’t weapons-grade manufacture operations.


Jim Martin


current Chernobyl operation

Dr. Pournelle,
Operations are indeed going on today at Chernobyl. See PBS NOVA episode 8 of season 44 (the current season of NOVA). I can’t give a reliable web link to the program through the PBS web site, but NOVA documented efforts to put a weather cover over the reactor so that containment efforts could continue. While the town is abandoned, and worker exposure severely limited, work does go on. I gather that other power facilities are also still in operation.


Chernobyl and the cyberattack

Dear Dr. Pournelle;
A brief fact check of Chernobyl and its status regarding the cyberattack has revealed that it is the radiation monitoring system that has gone down, not the reactor itself. The monitoring is being performed manually, on site, but not, apparently, by older, cancer-riddled workers.
The reactor itself, of course, has no functioning apparatus, computer or otherwise. It does, however, still have two hundred tons of uranium left within. So there it is: your information was canted to the dramatic, but held a germ of truth.


Chernobyl virus attack

Dear Doctor Pournelle,

Them what likes to play the venerable Old Fannish Game of“Got Ya!” with you would do well to remember you are alone out there, editor/publisher/commentator and fact checker, and that you are dancing as fast as you can. Doing a pretty fair job of cutting that rug, too, I’d say.

Jim Martin was correct, in that the Chernobyl nuclear power plant decommissioned the last of its’ four reactors in 2015. However, my first reaction to his scoffing at the idea of Chernobyl being currently in operation was “Yes, Chernobyl is still operating,”, as of the last I had checked.

The Ukrainians took close to thirty years to shut down the last reactor, of Chernobyl’s four, because they really needed the electricity, and could not afford to replace the plant with a new source of power.

The Wikipedia article for Chernobyl has the following information on the current ongoing cyberattack:

“On June 27, 2017, a cyberattack affected the radiation monitoring system and took down the power plant’s official website which hosts information about the incident and the area.[18]”

I don’t imagine it’s insignificant that the monitoring of the radiation levels at Chernobyl has been interfered with by a computer virus, so perhaps some concern on the matter is warranted, rather than dismissing it as ridiculous.

Just sayin’!



It was my understanding at the time that Chernobyl was in the process of weapons facilitation at the time of the accident; that came from official sources at the time, and I have not looked at it since. The important thing to remember was that Chernobyl was a positive void design, and such reactors have always been explicitly forbidden by law from construction in the United States. Ed Teller saw to that. It was not like Three Mile Island, where everything went wrong but no one outside the plant perimeter was injured in any way. It was the most expensive test to destruction in history, intended or unintended.



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