Recovery Report; “Insurance”; and other matters

Friday, May 5, 2017

If you like your health care plan, you can keep you health care plan.

Barrack Obamas

The map is not the territory.

Alfred Korzybski

“The wealth of our middle class has been ripped from their homes and then redistributed across the entire world.”

Donald Trump

Between 1965 and 2011, the official poverty rate was essentially flat, while the government spending per person on poverty programs rose by more than 900% after inflation.

Peter Cove


Sunday, May 7, 2017

Health report. Two hours ago I would had said prospects are grim, but that turned out to be due to a number of changeable factors, and they all changed.

As of now the news is, recovering. Taking a damned long time to do it, but progress is still being made. I can still take a two mile walk (with the walker) but it leaves me so exhausted that I find good excuses not to do a report.

My head is still working, in that I can do logic and my memory is not gone. The news is depressing although not unexpected; more on that later.

I still find myself thinking politically incorrect thoughts. As for example, “Hidden Figures”, a tribute to diversity and incidentally one of the most profitable movies ever made. It’s a good movie, and deserves to be a success, but I lived through those times, and all of us did “calculations”. One of the better paying jobs in graduate school was doing calculations for various experimental projects. In my case, take a Monroe Calculator, Enter two numbers, say a two digit IQ number, followed by 6 0’s, then a performance number, say the rank order in a group if 40 people; say 9800000034. If you do everything right, you get x^2, 2xy, and y^2. Now add to that the next number, which still be an IQ, a bunch of zero’s, and rank order of performance. Keep doing that until you have entered all the data in that peculiar manner. You are on your way to calculating Pearson’s “r”, the correlation between IQ and rank order for that particular sample, Similar tricks produce mean and standard deviation for the sample of data (the experimental results). I’ve probably got some of the tricks wrong in my head; it’s been over 70 years.

In the days before electronic computers, this is how data were handled, and it was usually done by graduate students who were techies – I was required to take Calculus of Probability and various theories of Statistics in the Math Department – and while one of the most boring jobs I can describe it paid well – they paid for people who knew what they were doing, and how important it was to do it right. I cannot imagine making a career of doing that.

By the time I got to Aerospace Corporation in 1964 as Editor of Project 75, I had graduated to an Italian Olivetti mechanical/digital desk calculator. It was enormous, and everyone was astonished to see one on a stand next to my engineer’s desk; they weren’t for “professionals”. Couldn’t help that because the clearance list for Project 75 was very short, and the numbers were needed. If we’d had “calculators” I’d have been pleased as punch to make data available with all its background filed off; and yes, there’s a lot of calculation in modeling inertial guidance, or at least there was in those days. While I was at Aerospace we moved to central computers and I was able with help to get much of it done by FORTRAN, but that’s another story.

The point being that everyone welcomed computers – mostly central computing where you took you box of cards and technicians ran the program overnight, and you either got your answer or more likely a big core dump on why your program didn’t compile and you could go try to fix that. I sure could have used some “calculators” and in fact I probably could have got my answers sooner if I’d done them myself.

And I’m rambling. Not even sure why I started this, But so far as I can see, “Hidden Figures” is about women, black and white, who did work now done by any computer better than a 1620; which is admirable, and was needed, and saved other project engineers from having to do it themselves or (more likely) teach junior engineers to do it. Necessary work, important work, but Medal Of Freedom work? Not to take anything away from those who did it. It needed to be done. But a breakthrough to professional status might be an overstatement.

And this was a needless ramble, because I really can’t complain if Hollywood makes some money making a bigger deal out of the “calculators” back in the days before computers or pocket calculators; and I certainly don’t fault the people who did that any more than I would look down on the technicians and mechanics that built the space craft. General Schriever was known to carry tools forbidden to an engineer (by union rules) and get his hands dirty, but he didn’t actually build those rockets.


Another ramble: one reason for my general depression is that there’s no way to “repeal” Obamacare. Oh sure, Congress could in theory simply return the health care industry – at least 20%, one fifth of the US economy – to where it was before the Democrats rammed it through with Senate debate or much else – “You have to pass the bill to see what’s in it” – but they won’t.

Obamacare told about half the American people that they were no longer responsible for their health care bills. Millions who never had “health care insurance” were now covered, even though they wouldn’t have to be employed, or pay more than a nominal sum – a poll tax? — to get it. And indeed if they didn’t bother they’d still be able to have “insurance”; there were subsidies everywhere.

Repeal of Obamacare would take those free goodies away from millions, and the media already have the stories written, the children filmed, the sob stories already on file. They’re ready with the stories, how the Republicans ruined America.

Enough Republicans just don’t want any part of that, and refused to repeal Obamacare. They can’t bear to tell people that they’re responsible for their own medical bills. They’ve been told – and now it’s true – that someone else is responsible. To wit: you. But you don’t take to the streets or dramatically refuse to pay for someone else’s medical bills.

But that’s all right, maybe we can stiff the doctors: here’s what we’ll give you. Take it and treat them. Or else no private practice. We can do that, you know.

There’s really no way out of this. For a long time we made do with charities, charity wards in many hospitals, religious orders, physician time donations, the whole panoply of what de Tocqueville called “the associations” that did for America what governments tried with less success to do in Europe. But charity wards were charities, and everyone is entitled to the best there is, and you can’t say different; so we don’t need no stinking charities. The Constitution contains not one word granting entitlements to health care, nor power to grant them to Congress; if there’s any “right” to health care, it must come from the residual sovereignty of the states. But since we have taken from the states any control of “citizenship” like residency or paying taxes, we can’t leave this to the states and let competition take over. A long time ago, California had a residency requirement: you had to live here, I think a year, before you were eligible for welfare. New York had no such residency requirement so there developed “California Welfare”: a bus ticket to New York City and instructions on how to apply.

We ended that thirty or forty years ago. Unfair.

The whole subject is depressing. President Trump is learning why very little actually changes in Washington. Obscure judges you never heard of stop your border control orders, and appeals take – well essentially forever. Doing anything takes much hard work, and the permanent government establishment will see that little of what you order actually has any effect. Your friends turn on you because you can’t do what you promised even if it looked easy – after all, Obama did it? Why can’t I? I have a pen and a phone…

That way lies madness. Mr. Gingrich understands how difficult it is to do anything in Washington that the Establishment doesn’t want done. Mr. Trump is learning.

What we really need is for robots to take care of people on “insurance”; perhaps we could afford that. Everyone else is responsible for his own medical bills. Perhaps he could actually buy insurance against major crises? Or perhaps robots will so improve the economy we can afford to tell people they are no longer responsible for their medical bills? But until then, we can enslave robots. Not so much doctors and nurses.

For Mr. Gingrich’s much more hopeful view, see



I hate to bother you but it’s a short read:


Good chart. The upshot is, as always, we still don’t know, Given the rise if CO2 and methane (CH4) it would be well to invest in techniques for removing excesses of those, not by curtailing industry and impoverishing ourselves. What eats methane? We know what eats CO2.


“The issue the Democrats, liberals, and progressives all use against the “Repeal and Replace” of the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) is the disposition of those with preexisting conditions. The “heartless” Republicans want to kill off the poor because they oppose (they really don’t oppose it) Universal Socialized Medicine.
“So let’s remove everyone with a preexisting condition from the health insurance market by putting them all on Medicare.
“Yes, this is single-payer. But it’s not universal single-payer. It limits those who are single-payer clients to those who are currently breaking the back of the health-insurance market.
“The Affordable Care Act — by legally requiring those with preexisting medical conditions to be included in the insurance pool — denies the purpose and nature of insurance, as a market product, itself.
“Insurance, by definition, is based on risk of something happening in the future, a happening to which there can be an actuarial projection.
“Someone with a preexisting medical condition is to health insurance precisely like buying automobile liability insurance after you’ve already crashed. It’s a past, not future, event.
“Take these people out of the insurance market by putting them all on Medicare and everyone else can participate in a market for health insurance.
“It’s not a libertarian solution. It is, however, a solution that limits government and preserves a free-market in health insurance for everyone else.
“It’s a conservative or Minarchist solution.”


SpaceX begs government for more money

Leaving space policy to the industrialists will leave us with more “infrastructure spending” that merely lines their pockets.


: Random contemplation about automated vehicles

This seems to be the anniversary of an interesting event. The officers charged with beating Rodney King were acquitted. So the black community in LA behaved like a collection of depraved babies and rioted. As the rioting continued Larry Tarvin was severely beaten and Reginald Denny was damn near killed. While it is material to history that the man who saved Denny was a black who had actually grown up and took responsibility to save his fellow human it’s not material to this discussion. What is material is that both drivers stopped their vehicles in the middle of a riot. This does not seem to be a particularly safe activity.

Methinks that I will argue with the law as a live woman in her 8th decade rather than become a lump of statistic. If I ever find myself in that situation stopping or even slowing down is about the last thing I will do, chiefly because stopping might well BE the last thing I ever do.

With that background we have the recent wave of vehicles with automated driver assists. They will stop the vehicle if a “collision” is likely even with a lump of animated protoplasm.

Contemplate this a few moments.

Suppose my attitude becomes more generalized. (NC’s House has just formally made it legal to drive through protestors trying to hijack a road taking motorists who run up to them and stop hostage. That’s kidnapping, you know.) So we have vehicles on the road with drivers motivated, i.e. not dumb enough to stop, to push on through. Some of them have automatic stop that overrides the driver.

Some of them don’t. Guess who is going to get hurt in each case. If you were a rioter would you go after a 1990s beater or a brand new Tesla? I think I will put off any automated assist sort of vehicle purchase for awhile. They are as vulnerable to deadly attacks as the Android OS.

{o.o} (Ack to Michael Yon for the concept.)



Dr. Pournelle,
I fear your recovery is proceeding more slowly than you (or your family, friends, and fans would wish). You have my best thoughts and prayers for a speedy recovery.
Douglas Lewis

I will let this stand for many like it: thanks for the kind word and good wishes, and regrets that it is taking so long. I do think recovery is happening.


: Leftist Lunacy

The Democrats keep showing whey they can’t be trusted to govern:


“Na Na Na Na, Hey Hey Hey, Goodbye,” Democrats sang at Republicans. A few Democrats even waved goodbye.

The implication was obvious: Democrats believed many Republicans had just cost themselves their political careers by voting for an overhaul of Obamacare.

And the DC political class wonders why people hate them.

I understand that Democrats not only didn’t like the way this bill was passed — without any estimates on what it might cost or how many people might lose coverage as a result — but also believed the policies contained in it would leave the country and its people considerably worse off.

That is a worthy conversation to have. But, that’s not what Democrats were doing. Instead, they were jeering and mocking their colleagues.


◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊

Most Respectfully,

Joshua Jordan, KSC

It’s always better if you can give millions of people free stuff that other people must pay for. It always makes you feel much better.


Middle East Oil

“Events are moving rapidly to a possible new war involving Israel, the United States, Syria and Russia. Were it to take place, I honestly hope not, it would be yet another stupid war over oil. Only this oil war somehow feels far more dangerous than the US war against Iraq or Libya or previous oil wars. It’s about the part of Syria named the Golan Heights.”


I wonder if they can come to a deal.


Clinton Email Scandal….AGAIN

This Clinton email scandal continues!


“Somehow, her emails were being forwarded to Anthony Weiner, including classified information,” Comey said, adding later, “His then-spouse Huma Abedin appears to have had a regular practice of forwarding emails to him for him to print out for her so she could deliver them to the secretary of state.”

The two were investigated for possible mishandling of classified material, but the FBI ultimately dropped the matter without seeking charges because they could not show either of them intended to violate the law, Comey said.

“Really the central problem we had with the whole email investigation was proving people… had some sense they were doing something unlawful.

That was our burden and we were unable to meet it,’’ he said.


Somehow? That’s amusing because when emails “get forwarded”, it is not some mysterious force that does it. I press the forward button, enter an address, and hit send. Is there another way this happens?

And that last part where they can’t prove that people knew they were mishandling classified information? You mean to tell me they did not attend briefings and sign documents on how to properly handle classified information? I know I did those things. And, as affairs occurred, I had to sign further documentation reminding me of my obligations and telling me that I could not speak about certain matters for a certain period of time and that I had to submit any book I wrote to the US government for approval — whether or not it contained anything related — else the royalties would be seized by the United States government. They were quite specific and quite controlling and I didn’t have clearance nearly as high as what these people had.

This all seems like BS to me. I believe if I had done what they had done, I believe I would have been punished in some way and — at the very least — I believe I’d be blacklisted from maintaining or receiving a security clearance without a waiver. Maybe my perception was off and I believed the briefings more than I should have, but that was my impression.

◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊

Most Respectfully,

Joshua Jordan, KSC

Percussa Resurgo



coming apart?

Dear Mr. Pournelle,
An interesting column in today’s (London) Times:
While the article focuses on Democrats, I think the point of concern is broader. Paragraphs that caught my attention:
“Now online media can go where it chooses and it generally chooses to be in New York or Seattle or some place where metrosexuals can gather and compare beards. Although we were told at the start of the internet boom that we would be free to work anywhere, the American experience has been the opposite: the jobs are more concentrated than ever before.
Politico’s interest was in the newspaper industry because of the political impact of all the nation’s reporters living in Democratic-voting areas. However, the broken model of America’s political economy is a wider phenomenon. Anything modern and zingy and potentially profitable is increasingly done in American cities and predominantly the cities near the coasts. The rest of the country gets the dregs.
This is not sustainable if America is to rediscover its unity in the post-Trump world.”
Allan E. Johnson

So long as you have promised – contracted for – more entitlements than you can possibly collect enough to pay for, you may have a problem. Depressing, isn’t it? We have sown the wind for decades. Now we reap.


Bleeding Kansas

Dr Pournelle 

The current situation in the country reminds me of the accounts of Bleeding Kansas in 1854. Kansas had vote fraud, unconstitutional government, and gangs brought in from Missouri and New England. Seven years after the bleeding started in Kansas, it spread to the rest of the country. 

I wonder when the current violence in California will spread to the rest of the country. 

Live long and prosper 

h lynn keith

I wonder: do they even teach “Bleeding Kansas” in schools any longer?


Hi Jerry,

Don’t ever see much if anything about fusion in the MSM. In my mind it’s the only viable option to replace oil and gas. From the The Engineer (UK):

Switch flipped on UK’s newest tokamak fusion reactor

Known as the ST40, the reactor represents the third of five stages in the company’s plan to deliver fusion energy to the grid by 2030. Controlled fusion requires temperatures in excess of 100m°C, but this has never been achieved by a privately funded company. To reach that goal, Tokamak Energy is focusing on compact, spherical tokamak reactors, as it believes they are quicker to develop and offer the quickest route to commercial fusion power.

“Today is an important day for fusion energy development in the UK, and the world,” said Dr David Kingham, CEO of Tokamak Energy. “We are unveiling the first world-class controlled fusion device to have been designed, built and operated by a private venture. The ST40 is a machine that will show fusion temperatures – 100 million degrees – are possible in compact, cost-effective reactors. This will allow fusion power to be achieved in years, not decades.

More w/video:

-Blair S.

That could be the best news yet: the only problem we really have is an energy problem, as I pointed out fifty rears ago. With enough energy I can solve or control almost any problem




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



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