Pope on Climate; Robots; The Tsar Acts Like a Tsar;

Chaos Manor View, Thursday, June 18, 2015


Chaos Manor View, Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Steve Barnes couldn’t make it for our weekly conference on the book. Larry and I managed to dream up some material that will go in it. We’ll be back on schedule next week. Come Friday I’ll get my new hearing gadget that may help a lot. I’m still having trouble getting Skype to work properly. They improved the interface so I can’t understand it now. Likely me, but it’s annoying. Why do they keep doing this? Bureaucracy has crept into the electronic industry, perhaps.

We had a good lunch. The rest of the day was devoured by locusts.


Chaos Manor View, Thursday, June 18, 2015

I keep letting myself be distracted by irrelevancies. I need to work on focus. And now it’s time for exercise, but it’s also time for lunch. I’m trying Tai Chi; so far I haven’t gotten through the warmups, which do seem useful. Some of the moves require more balance than I have, so I do twice as many, one hand lightly on my walker. That does improve overall stability, or seems to, and is not frightening. I got through 17 of the 28 or so warmups today. Plus the usual exercises. We’ll see if that helps. I still can’t type. Keep hitting d for s and w2 for w and all that. The autotype catches many of them but that’s just on this machine.

1612: Internet failure.  Time Warner can’t publish my blog. I sure wish there were competition. Doubtless some kid down the block needs a porn fix.  The joys of internet equality. Now I can’t even access the site. Turns out it was Blue Host who decided to blacklist me from my site, although not from elsewhere. It seems to be fixed.

I think the computers have a conspiracy to drive me crazy.


Pope’s leaked encyclical on climate change

On Tue, Jun 16, 2015 at 9:50 AM, Brian Pendell <brianpendell@gmail.com> wrote:

Dear Dr. Pournelle,
First of all, a happy birthday to Roberta! I hope it was a wonderful day for  you both!
To business. Today’s Washington Post has a leaked draft of the Pope’s new encyclical which will discuss climate change. Key line: “The poor and the earth are shouting”.
Being a Protestant, this gives me no new reason to cross the Tiber.  We’ve already discussed here at length how the models are not producing reproducible results, how the observations are questionable, and other issues with what I view as a largely manufactured ‘consensus’. Having the Pope step in to declare a theory of climate change to be religious orthodoxy is not helpful for the cause of actual science.  When was the last time that happened…? Galileo, was it? 
Also, I note that , assuming for the sake of argument that the AGW is absolutely correct, than the greatest inputs to climate change would be the human population and the animals such as cattle required to support them.  De-industrialization will actually make emissions worse instead of better because this population would then be less efficient.
It therefore follows that if the Pope is serious about climate change, he also has to be serious about human overpopulation. Which would require the church to liberalize its teachings on population control measures such as birth control.
Is this very likely?   HA. 
As a Catholic, how does this effect you? Isn’t an encyclical the Pope speaking Ex Cathedra, and therefore infallibly?

Brian P.

Dear Dr. Pournelle, 
If you wish, I have found an answer to my question, and can thus spare you some typing. Ed Morissey, also a Catholic, explains it this way using the quote of a commenter on his site:
“cthemfly: “Thus, we as Catholics need to explain that this encyclical cannot be dignified as anything other than an opinion piece one might read in the NYT.” We should at least explain that this is not doctrine, or even teaching in the sense of the Magisterium in the context of climate change, but a personal reflection and appeal from Francis.”
From this larger dissection of the encyclical.

Brian P.

Thank you. You have indeed saved me some typing and that is appreciated. So far His Holiness is speaking – I guess will be speaking – for himself as an informed religious who is not as well informed as he should be. It has happened before.


Will Your Job Be Done By A Machine?

Thought you would be interested in this from NPR given recent conversations:

Will Your Job Be Done By A Machine?

Machines can do some surprising things. But what you really want to know is this: Will your job be around in the future?

We have the “definitive” guide.

They do have the caveat, “The researchers admit that these estimates are rough and likely to be wrong. But consider this a snapshot of what some smart people think the future might look like. If it says your job will likely be replaced by a machine, you’ve been warned.”

Chuck Ruthroff  

We’ve speculated on this before. My observation is that by 2020 a good half the jobs people have today can be done by a robot (or several robots) costing about as much as a year’s salary and benefits of the worker replaced; with a useful life of about ten years, and may require a supervisor who can attend ten and possibly more robots (a guess from Spinning Jenny days). This requires an economic decision by the employer; it’s not a slam dunk. Yet. But Moore’s Law is inexorable, and yes, I know I am generalizing; I know what chips are. I am about to give up on gotcha mail.


The Tsar Continues to Act in the Tsar’s Interest


Continuing on…

Regards, Charles Adams, Bellevue, NE


Putin says Russia beefing up nuclear arsenal, NATO denounces ‘saber-rattling’

by Maria Tsvetkova Jun 16

“President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that Russia was concerned about an anti-missile defense system near its borders, after announcing that Russia would add more than 40 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) to its nuclear arsenal this year.

‘We will be forced to aim our armed forces … at those territories from where the threat comes,’ Putin said….”



Russia to increase nuclear arsenal as U.S. plans more firepower in Europe

By Karoun Demirjian June 16

“….Secretary of State John F. Kerry called the announcement concerning, even if Putin ‘could well be posturing.’

‘Nobody wants to see us step backwards,’ Kerry said Tuesday. ‘Nobody should hear that kind of announcement from the leader of a powerful country and not be concerned about what the implications are.’

Several Eastern European nations have asked the United States and NATO to deploy troops and materiel to deter Russia from advancing on territories that were once part of the Soviet sphere.

Those nations became wary of Russia’s intentions after Moscow annexed the Crimean Peninsula in March 2014 and supported pro-Russian rebels opposing Kiev’s authority in eastern Ukraine.

Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, said Monday that plans to store more heavy weapons in Eastern Europe had nothing to do with Russia but are ‘purely positioning of equipment to better facilitate our ability to conduct training.’

Putin said Tuesday that plans to store arms in Eastern Europe worry him less than an increase in European missile defenses.

But Russian authorities warned Monday that if the United States starts deploying more heavy weapons, Russia would meet them tit for tat with additional troops, tanks, planes and missile upgrades, according to Russian Gen. Yury Yakubov’s comments to the Interfax news agency….”

Surely you are not astonished? Of course Putin will continue to act in what he perceives as Russia’s interest. It would be astonishing if he did not. There is an easy way to de-escalate the rising conflict over there. We are not going to answer Russian border aggression with a land war in Europe over territorial disputes – or I hope to heaven we are not.



Raspberry Pi releases an official PC case that costs less than $10 (ZD)

For a little more than $50, you can now put together a tiny PC based on Raspberry Pi parts — though you’ll still need to pay for keyboard, mouse, and other accessories .

By Sean Portnoy for Laptops & Desktops | June 18, 2015 — 00:45 GMT (17:45 PDT) |

The Raspberry Pi project — making a dirt-cheap diminutive Linux PC based on an ARM processor (though now capable of running a custom version of Windows 10, too) — has been a runaway success, with sales topping 5 million and an entire cottage industry popping up around the Pi and its rivals. While the Raspberry Pi foundation has built a few other parts to round out the Pi experience, it has never offered a case to house the Pi innards. Until now.

Like the components it’s been built to encompass, the official Raspberry Pi case is small and budget friendly. In fact, the Raspberry Pi store sells it for just 6 British pounds (or $9.50 for us Yanks), which means you can purchase the Pi and its case for a little over $50 and have a complete computer that is easily portable. Of course, you still need to purchase input devices and the like, as ZDNet’s own Ken Hess notably put in his piece, “Raspberry Pi: How I spent almost $150 on a $35 computer.”

The case is made from red and white injection-moulded plastic that clips together, making assembly a literal snap. It provides access to the Pi’s microSD card slot, four USB ports and its Ethernet jack, and the removable side panel allows you to reach the GPIO (general purpose input/output) pins that let the Pi function in so many different ways.

In addition to being available from the Raspberry Pi official store, the case will be sold via a few partner stores, including a few in the U.S. If you want to find out that list, or see the whole process of how the case came to be, head over to the Raspberry Pi blog for the complete backstory.

So for less than a carton of cigarettes, you can have a better computer than I had in the 90’s.

Just ordered a 3rd Raspberry PI 2 kit via Amazon: the pi, wireless dongle, power supply, MicroSD card with the OS on it, HDMI cable, and a case via Amazon. Total cost $69.99 here http://amzn.to/1H1OlJr .

This one will also become a Media Server and Network Server. The first two were for that, and given to two daughter’s families. This last one is for me.

Very easy to set up, found a great tutorial at https://melgrubb.wordpress.com/ . Starts at the ‘unboxing’ then all the things to do to load and configure the software.

Added a 1TB external hard drive and a powered USB-3 port (not enough power via the Pi to run the external hard drive), and stuck it all in a nice wooden box I got from the Michaels’ craft store.

Fun project…



A Robotic Dog’s Mortality    (nyt)


The Family Dog

When Sony stopped manufacturing replacement parts for its Aibo pet robot, owners scrambled to save the robot-dogs that had become part of their families.

By Zackary Canepari, Drea Cooper on Publish Date June 17, 2015. Photo by Zackary Canepari for The New York Times.

This is the final episode in a Bits video series, called Robotica, examining how robots are poised to change the way we do business and conduct our daily lives.

TOKYO — They didn’t shed, chew the sofa or bite the postman, but for thousands of people Sony’s Aibo robotic dog was the closest thing to a real canine companion. So when the Japanese company stopped servicing the robots last year, eight years after it ended production, owners faced a wrenching prospect: that their aging “pets” would break down for good.

Sony introduced the Aibo in 1999, at a price of 250,000 yen (about $2,000 at current exchange rates). The beaglelike robots could move around, bark and perform simple tricks. Sony sold 150,000 units through 2006; the fifth and final generation was said to be able to express 60 emotional states.

Robot pets didn’t became the ubiquitous accessories that the Aibo’s developers had imagined, however, and the Aibo was never much more than a side project for Sony. The company was used to selling consumer products in the tens of millions, not the thousands. And by the mid-2000s Sony was losing money, its mainstay television business eroded by competition from cheaper South Korean rivals.

The Aibo fell victim to company restructuring, as Sony sought to refocus on more profitable businesses. Still, Sony continued to repair Aibos until March of last year. But by then spare parts were becoming too scarce, the company said, forcing it to end the service and turn owners away. —Jonathan Soble

Fall in love with your robot at your own risk; they are not immortal.



Inside an MIT researcher’s grand plan to create the personal food computer (WP)

By Matt McFarland June 17 at 8:45 AM

In a Cambridge, Mass. building, under the glow of LED lights, Caleb Harper is working to literally plant the seeds for a movement that could change the way we eat and live.

Harper, the founder of the CityFarm research group at the MIT Media Lab, wants to bring the open source spirit to the nascent field of vertical farming. With knowledge being shared freely, anyone could have access to the world’s best recipe for tomatoes, or whatever plant they want to grow.

“Everyone in the world wants to know more about where our food is coming from and how they’re going to keep getting it,” Harper said. “There is a groundswell of consumers and young innovators that would like to make a big difference. All we need is the tools. My focus is on getting the tools out there.”

This spring Harper made the first prototype for his “personal food computer,” which is essentially a climate-controlled box. It’s small enough to sit on a coffee table, and includes an array of sensors to monitor conditions, such as carbon dioxide levels, humidity, light intensity and pH. There’s no soil. The plants get their nutrients through a mist which has crucial minerals added in.

By using digital technologies to identify and recreate the optimal conditions for a plant, his platform for making climate recipes has the potential to one day provide optimized foods around the world, no matter the season.

Harper plans to donate the personal food computers to select schools this September, when he formally launches his open agriculture movement.


Music is free now – and the industry only has itself to blame

How Music Got Free: What Happens When an Entire Generation Commits the Same Crime?
Stephen Witt
Bodley Head, 296pp, £20

Cowboys and Indies: the Epic History of the Record Industry
Gareth Murphy
Serpent’s Tail, 400pp, £14.99

Cowboys and Indies describes a growing industry where any chink in a company’s armour was punished by the opposition and boldness was rewarded. When the Original Dixieland Jazz Band came to Britain in 1919, they “took London by storm and were commissioned by Columbia’s British company to record no less than 30 sides”, a brave move for something that could have been a week-long novelty. But it paid off. Eight decades on, How Music Got Free portrays a business too bloated and greedy to understand that suing your customers is not the best way to sell your product.

Now it’s the book publishing industry’s turn



: Wines from Nova Scotia

Dr. Pournelle,

I read with some amusement your doubt whether they plant grapes in Nova Scotia. While it’s a small amount of acreage planted (only 550 acres) it is a growing industry. http://winesofnovascotia.ca/ is a website to promote the wineries.


Bill Grigg

: Vinland is where you find it

As to wine in Vinland proper, nothing more tropical than barley grows where they wintered in Newfoundland, but  since you mentioned Nova Scotia  I googled and got a shock: – i bolded the text :


When you walk through Nova Scotia Wine Country’s lush vineyards,
you’re never more than 20 kilometers from the ocean.

Situated on one of the cooler climate limits for vines, Nova Scotia’s soil and mesoclimates create some of the most distinctive premium-quality grapes in North America.

Our wineries have garnered international acclaim for their efforts and genuine passion. There are over 70 grape growers and more than 720 acres under vine in seven different regions across the province.

We have a long and rich tradition for growing grapes for wine dating back to the 1600s, when this was one of the first areas to cultivate grapes in North America.

                         Russell Seitz

Drat. There goes an example. I do not think there are enough wild grapes that anyone would call it Vinland, but perhaps for Vikings from Iceland the bar was pretty low…

On a practical level, we are probably within the error bar of being about as warm now as we were in Viking times before the Little Ice Age. Are we not lucky?

Global Warming Since The Little Ice Age


I came across the following bit of military trivia:

” On the frigid morning of 23 Jan 1795 a Lt. Col. Lahure of the French Army, led a squadron of hussars, with a company of infantry riding double, across thick sea ice at the Texel in Holland to successfully capture the entire Dutch Navy.”


The Earth has indeed warmed, and well before the Anthropogenic Global Warming alarmists say it did…


Rodger Morris

I don’t see how there can be any controversy over how cold it was in 1776 and after, up to 1810. It is how fast it warmed after that, and what caused that warming, that’s in question. Believer advocates try to ignore the Viking and Medieval Warm, and the Roman Warm periods with their contrived hockey stick, but I think all but the True Believers have given that up.  And while we can track 19th Century warming to 5 degrees or so, we can’t be more accurate than that; we’re fortunate to have that much.  Sea temperatures could only be taken with a bucket and a mercury thermometer, and sea keeping duties made those more rare than we’d like.  Anyone who has actually looked at a tree ring, then says we can 1/10th degree accuracies from that, is probably a likely investor in the Brooklyn Bridge.


Needs of the battlefield


Pay particular attention to the section entitled, “Two Dangerous Assumptions about Future War” 

This is critical to ALL military thinking and planning on future battlefields.  Failure respect your enemy will ultimately result in your defeat, or withdrawal from the field without advancing your political goals.

Oh, by the way.  KEEP THE DAMNED A-10 in our inventory!



David Couvillon
Colonel, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, Retired.; 
Former Governor of Wasit Province, Iraq; 
Righter of Wrongs; Wrong most of the time; 
Distinguished Expert, TV remote control; 
Chef de Hot Dog Excellance;  Avoider of Yard Work

I’ll have a commentary another time. And the new release of Strategy of Technology will have a section on modern air war.


: Econo-dysphoria, a critique

    Kaitlyn Jenner transgresses gender boundaries, Rachel Dolezal transgresses race boundaries, and gender and race are big deals in America; but our nation’s big-daddy-o injustice centers on class.

    Therefore I wish to share with you my own identity dysphoria. It is an issue that I have struggled with my entire life, but only now can identify; and so I come out now, to you.
    You see, I am a billionaire in a thousandaire’s body.
    Inwardly, I am monstrously rich, but the banks only acknowledge one millionth of what is rightfully my own. That’s their fault, not mine. It’s how the Man conspires to keep me down.
    If only I could access the money that I feel I should have, then I would be buying legislatures and financing brilliant cultural innovations and re-engineering entire economies. I would be making a much bigger difference in the world than I do now.
    Please do not make light of my misfortune. It has caused real suffering for myself and for those I love. I would gladly make the transition, despite the trouble of doing so, but alas there are no effective therapies, or competent specialists, addressing my condition.
    I have long struggled with this privately, but I suspect that I am far from alone in this. If you also suffer from econo-dysphoria, then please come out too. In solidarity there is strength.
    What’s that? You say that I’m joking? That I’m not really that rich? So is gender negotiable, and race is almost negotiable, but class is not negotiable at all? Is the thickness of one’s wallet more genuine than the color of one’s skin, the shape of one’s genitalia, or the contents of one’s character?
    Well then, that goes to show what this culture really thinks is real!

Long time contributor




Why Mathematicians Are Hoarding This Special Type of Japanese Chalk


Odd at first thought? But understandable upon rumination. Both the creative and the productive become attached to their favorite working tools.

“If the poor workman hates his tools, the good workman hates poor tools.

The work of the workingman is, in a sense, defined by his tools.”

– Weinberg, p.203









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




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