Progress? Frantic Activity; health care; pipelines, and other interesting discussions

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

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

“Deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

Immigration without assimilation is invasion.



I got some real work done today, but into each reign some life must fall; this afternoon a technician showed up, unannounced, and went into my kitchen where he began removing the dishwasher. I got someone finally to admit that the dishwasher – some fifteen years old – had not been getting the dishes very clean, and Alex had gone out and bought a new Maytag dishwasher. I saw no papers, had no idea of what it cost, and not a clue as to how to use it. I sat at the breakfast table and solved the daily mathematical puzzle, and when I looked up, he was gone, leaving an “Instruction Manual” that turned out to be one sheet of paper about the size of a beach towel folded ingeniously; on it was printed, in every known Earth language and possibly Martian, in type so small that I needed both a flashlight and magnifying glass, what purported to be instructions. Most were legal warnings.

After my initial rage I got out the magnifying glass and flashlight and managed to read enough to do a load of dishes in “Auto” setting. That took 3 hours and 42 minutes. I know because it has an electronic countdown, sort of like the countdown clocks always visible on TV terrorist bombs, and it read 3:42, and while I watched went to 3:41; which was a clue. Watching it another minute confirmed the hypothesis that it was a countdown as I went to 3:40. So it would take nearly 4 hours to do a load of dishes. It did.

I must say it was quiet and did the dishes well. I went back to the nearly unreadable instructions and was told that auto and normal settings saved water and electricity; the FAST setting would get them just as clean, but would use more water, and possibly more electricity. Later on it told me that you could save power by not using the heated drying feature or Sanitize, but it said so in a way that made it clear I did so at my own risk. And later again I found that $40 of what I considered a rather high price was a city “Dishwasher permit” I had to have; a feature of LaLa Land life I had not known about, but I suppose I mustn’t be surprised. My heating bill for the month was under $100…

So that was a distraction, but I did get some work accomplished.


The frantic pace in Washington continues. Mr. Trump seems to spend 4 hours sleeping, two hours with his family, and the other 18 working; he’s apparently wearing his staff out. There are few surprises: he’s doing what he said he would do if elected. This seems like dirty tricks to many of his opponents, and they find people to say so, loudly, but I would suspect there are many fewer “won’t say” voters in the presidential popularity polls, as many who didn’t vote for him because they didn’t believe him watch in wonder. Diehard “No Illegals” adherents have been found to denounce him for hesitating on the Dreamer kids, but as I have already explained, even if he wanted to deport them, surely they are less urgent a problem than illegal alien felons, and there are enough of those to overwhelm the resources available to deal with them. Sufficient unto the day are the evils thereof.

It remains to see how well Mr. Trump and the Congress can cooperate, but I think this frantic pace, and the joy with which many Republican voters feel as they approve sends a message to Republicans up for reelection in 2018. Newt said on TV tonight that it took three to four years to balance the budget, last time – the last time anyone balanced the budget Newt Gingrich was Speaker and Mr. Clinton was President – and we’re in deeper now, but he is pretty certain Mr. Trump will run for reelection in 2020 with a balanced budget for support. As Eliza sings, Wouldn’t that be Loverly?

There’s some talk of restoring the old Citizen’s Council on space, but I think that moment has passed.


Health Care vs. Defense
Dr. Pournelle I hope this finds both your and Roberta’s health issues continuing to improve. I’ve just returned home from yet another hospital stay to address internal bleeding from the blood thinner prescribed to ward off stroke from atrial fibrillation. If its not one thing its another. Oh well, every day above ground is a good one!
On January 19, Cam Kirmser responded to my remarks on health care etc. Let me say I have zero interest getting involved in an old school vs. neocon vs. tea party pissing contest but I will respond. I never characterized the options as being either health care or defense and they are not. I believe in a strong national defense as much as anyone but I believe our never-ending undeclared wars are fueling our enemies and lowering our international standing. If we are going to invoke the Constitution, Article I, Section 8, Clause 11 clearly in Congress alone the power to declare war. That nearly all modern presidents have pursued foreign adventures only creates a precedent but one without legal foundation. The lack of will within Congress is implied consent but not Constitutional authority. The country is being bankrupted by this military (not defense) spending.
I agree that health care is not granted by the Constitution. Neither is it denied. The Constitution is a living document and can always be amended to reflect the will of the people. In the face of greed of our “representatives” and the unbridled power of lobbyists it might never happen but I believe that further trillions would be better spend at home than pursuing the dreams of defense contractors. I believe that many, if not most, of my countrymen would agree.
Its all about opportunity costs. What will our current short-sighted policies cost us for the future of our children? That’s my final answer.

John Thomas

I agree: that’s the real debate. Is immediate universal high quality health care worth another doubling of the National Debt – i.e. more transfer of assets from the younger generations to us old geezers who use most of the health care resources? Even without military expenses, giving all possible medical options to the old and retired will require borrowing much money; making those who can pay anything pauperize themselves so that those who saved nothing can have the same services, and all can be equal in poverty is only the first step here. Yet if you say no one gets the expensive treatments unless all do, you either get restrictions on research, or bizarre distortions of the market, organlegging, and other such science fiction delights. As Mrs. Thatcher said, of course socialism works, until you run out of other people’s money.

As to how much defense is enough, surely there are similar problems here? Lowering the standards for elite units to promote diversity runs up expenses fast while lowering unit effectiveness; how much “military expense” can we afford to divert to social engineering? If you require the diversion, you still must pay for needed and real military power.

It is an old debate. Machiavelli understood that wealthy republics seldom lasted; they tended to hire soldiers rather than learn to defend themselves. First they ended conscription – something Mr. Heinlein devoutly wanted to do – and went to paid citizen soldiers; soon they hired non-citizens; and you know the rest. “Mercenaries may ruin you by losing battles, by selling out to the enemy, or by robbing the paymaster.” It does not happen early in the republic’s decadence; but it will happen.


health care

Dear Mr. Pournelle,
You write: “the subject should be, is this Constitutional (for the Federal Government) and is it a good idea. Subsumed under that second question is an all important one: can we afford it, or is the money more required for other needs? And that discussion I do not recall seeing.”
I agree. Let’s try that.
Regarding legitimacy: at this point, I would start with the argument that health care legislation would stand on constitutional grounds comparable to those which the courts have recognized for Social Security and Medicare; and that the Constitution gives the Congress broad powers to “provide for the general welfare.”
Can we afford it? That question is more difficult. One problem is that our current system provides us with no credible base line on cost and effectiveness. Here’s an interesting article in Consumer Reports:
First, I think it’s necessary to stipulate that with continuing advances in medical technology it is increasingly the case that we are *capable* of providing medical care which no plausible economy can *afford.* That’s a problem. I have no brilliant solutions, but I do think we need to begin by recognizing that limits exist. Currently, those limits are often imposed by insurance companies. I don’t find that an optimal solution; but I won’t pretend that any other visible solution is very good either.
Beyond that: falling back, for the lack of anything better, on anecdotal evidence —
A few years back I read about a few East Coast hospitals who ran an interesting experiment. They found that overall costs of medical care could be significantly reduced by providing unusually strong home health care to a surprisingly small number of vulnerable patients. Readmission rates dropped significantly. The problem which arises is: while such a program can be effective, and reduces costs, it is to the economic disadvantage of any hospital that adopts it. Under free market assumptions, it won’t happen.
It also turns out that a quite disproportionate amount of the cost of medical care is attributable to hospital expenses in the last six months of life. This presents, I think, both ethical and practical quandaries. The notion of limiting medical care for older people (of whom I am now one) seems ethically intolerable. On the other hand, if I were offered the choice between keeping me “alive” but unconscious for three months, while running up extravagant hospital bills, and spending that same amount on young children, I’d have to go with the children.
Beyond that: one datum I’ve run across repeatedly in church work is that people without medical insurance far too often wind up in emergency rooms with problems that could have been more effectively treated, at less expense, earlier on. The bills with which they are then, in theory, presented are higher by several orders of magnitude than any bills which would be paid by insurance. And in fact they are not paid. I cannot imagine that this system is cost-effective.
In consequence, while I am not sure pertinent information is reliably available, I inclined to think that in terms both of effectiveness and of cost-effectiveness we could do a great deal better.
Is the money more required for other needs? That’s a difficult question. I’d need to ask: what might those needs be? And I’d also note that a similar argument has been raised with reference to space exploration; where one pertinent response is “and how many other uses for rocket fuel can you name?” Which is to say: if we do not spend these resources on health care, is it in fact the case that more resources will be available for other needs?
If I may be cynical: as I watch our infrastructure deteriorate while people scream about their taxes and then go buy snowmobiles, I’m not impressed. Some years back, in Minnesota, Governor Ventura thought the state’s “rainy day” fund was too high; so he pushed through a rebate of a few hundred dollars per resident. Which was received, and duly spent, with no apparent benefit. Then the rainy day came…
A further comment on “rights,” while continuing to think this isn’t a useful approach to health care:
Mr. White suggests, citing the French theorist Bastiat, that “since the people can only delegate the authority that they themselves possess, and “the people”, as a collective, cannot be deemed to possess any authority — or right — that a single person lacks, it follows that the state also cannot legitimately act against a person in any manner that would be forbidden to another person.” I think this assertion is highly problematic, and (attempting to use the term analytically rather than pejoratively) hard to distinguish from classical anarchism. As I read Mr. White’s description, on that basis any taxation by the state would be illegitimate, even for the purposes of national defense. Highway patrols would also be problematic: I, as a private citizen, cannot pull another driver over for speeding, and “road rage” incidents suggest it would be a very bad idea. On the whole, any society I would care to live in rightly prohibits private vengeance, the “wild justice” in place of which we have courts, police, and prisons. None of these functions, I think, can be legitimately exercised by private citizens. So I just don’t think this definition is sustainable.
Allan E. Johnson

First, I vehemently disagree with your interpretation of the General Welfare sentence ; it is not a grant of power, it is a pious wish. Were it a grant of power, the rest of the Constitution would not have been needed, and everyone in that room during that hot summer of 1787 knew it. The courts have long held that.  It doesn’t even generate emanations and penumbras, 

I will grant that the powers have managed to get health care out of other power grants, particularly interstate commerce, although I find that strained; but it is the current interpretation.

As to other needs, surely defense is one of them, and many would say much of the infrastructure – which does affect interstate commerce, and the Constitution explicitly gives Congress powers over post roads. What we have now is a massive transfer of wealth from young people to the people taking care of old people, although the recipients are generally unaware of that.


Trump vs. the press

you said:
> much of what the Press Corps receives is privileges, not rights, and those may be withheld at discretion?
We are already seeing that. The tradition has been that the AP asked the first question, then the networks, then possibly others, and when the AP reporter stood up and thanked the presenter, that was the end of the press conference.
We have seen that the Trump administration is not doing this, they are asking various reporters and not in a order as decided by the press. I heard that Tuesday the AP did their traditional “ending” routine, and the response was basically “thank you, but we’re going to keep asking questions”
The addition of 4 “Skype seats” that will let remote reporters/bloggers attend and ask questions is another change to “business as usual”
During Obama’s term in office, Fox news was pretty much frozen out of asking questions. There’s nothing that requires that they take questions from any particular network. So if a network is deemed as being a problem (“fake news” or otherwise), they can be frozen out of being able to ask questions for a while.
This isn’t a violation of the freedom of the press, because it doesn’t prevent them from publishing anything, and if the question really is important, others can (and probably will) raise it. It only hurts the prestige/pride of the network because it’s not THEIR reporter asking the question.
My take on the issue of “holding the press accountable” is that if the press makes what the White House thinks is a false statement, they will counter with what they think the correct statement is.
I agree that the number of people attending/viewing is not important, but what’s being missed in the outrage over that statement is that they were also countering the claim that Trump had removed the MLK bust from the Oval Office, which was presented by the press as a aggressive action against Blacks. That was a very important statement to get countered.


And of course it had not been removed; although the bust of Churchill had been restored. As observed recently in WSJ, the original America First movement would have been appalled: they liked Churchill not at all.


I guess it’s something like; “We’ll trade you for XL and DAPL for forgetting about the war in Syria.” (For the pipeline there.)

XL is going to have a terminal in Baker, Montana to pick up Bakken product.

DAPL brings Bakken product to Pakota, IL hub. 8 Pipelines already cross under

the Missouri River without incident. BNSF oil train crosses Standing Rock tribal lands.

(BNSF = Burlington Northern Santa Fe – Owned by Warren Buffet)

Tribe should get some Royalties from pipeline to go away.




image          image

U.S. Pipeline before DAPL and XL           U.S. Pipeline after DAPL and XL

Eric Sabo

The government is not paying for the pipeline; it is preventing others from paying for it, or now not preventing it.


The Democrats have gone full circle from founding the KKK to hating white people:


Democrats must provide “training” that focuses in part on teaching Americans “how to be sensitive and how to shut their mouths if they are white,” urged the executive director of Idaho’s Democratic Party, Sally Boynton Brown, who is white.

The event’s moderator, MSNBC’s Joy Ann Reid, asked the candidates how the party should handle the Black Lives Now movement.

The candidates uniformly emphasized that the party must embrace the activists unreservedly.

“It makes me sad that we’re even having that conversation and that tells me that white leaders in our party have failed,” Brown said.

“I’m a white woman, I don’t get it. … My job is to listen and be a voice and shut other white people down when they want to interrupt.”

“This is life and death” she emphasized. “I am a human being trying to do good work and I can’t do it without y’all. So please, please, please, get ahold of me. Sally at I need schooling so I can go school the other white people.”


They have no values; they just want to complain and oppose whatever is going on and stay in power by disagreeing with everyone else and attracting all the misfits and non-conformists. Only now, they can’t figure out which way is up or down and they’re spinning. Let’s hope they fade away.

◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊

Most Respectfully,

Joshua Jordan, KSC

Percussa Resurgo

I was raised on the notion that the Republicans freed the slaves and imposed tariffs; the Democrats defended Jim Crow and believed in tariff for revenue only.

NPR Against Trump

I was listening to the NPR coverage during the transition and I heard all the worship of Obama and worry about Trump. Now I found this article that points out yet another interesting development at tax-payer funded NPR:


Working in what I presume they see as the interest of factual accuracy, NPR has published an annotated version of Trump’s inaugural speech. In theory, this is probably a good idea.

My problem with it lies in the network’s clearly selective use of this practice. They did not, to my knowledge, ever do anything of this sort with Obama’s speeches which, predominant liberal impressions notwithstanding, were regularly filled with whoppers. Indeed not only did they not point out his many fibs, but they regularly imputed to him and his words realities and intentions that were clearly absent in the text.


◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊

Most Respectfully,

Joshua Jordan, KSC

Percussa Resurgo


Surface Pro


Regarding the Microsoft Automatic Update System (“MAUStrap”) and your portable . . .makes you miss the TRS-80 Model 100, doesn’t it?

There are reasons that I still have one. While others are watching their laptops (with Chiclet keyboards) boot and load all of their apps and background bloat, or their tablets (with places on glass that you are supposed to PRETEND are keys) go through the latest surprise, forced OS update, I slide a switch and in about a second I’m working on a nice big touch-type-friendly keyboard, checking every few seconds by glancing at nice, big text, and enjoying the strongest security against malware known to man (you would have to write the code and upload it yourself)!

As a portable text editor, it has never been surpassed for sheer simple functionality.

As a fringe benefit, with the Model 100 I get more attention from a lecturer or interviewee, as the lone face in the middle of a sea of tops of heads or faces half-hidden behind one device or another.

There is a difference between “technological advance” and actual PROGRESS.


You pay a higher price than I can afford. I’ll have more on the Surface Pro when I get a bit more time.



This might explain some things

Network authentication changes. Windows 10 configures networks as public by default, which can disrupt connectivity with other devices on your network, including NAS storage. To fix this, be sure to change the network type to private.

                The above is from an article about changes to Windows 10. This is a security measure that is the right thing to do but also confusing for experienced users who expect things to be wide open on the LAN by default. It could explain some of the recent annoyances we’ve both experienced.

Eric Pobirs

And indeed it does. I had some of my machines believing they were operating in a Starbucks.


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



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