Regulations; ISIS; and other matters

Chaos Manor View, Friday, June 12, 2015


I continue to have typing difficulties, but I hope to overcome them. Progress continues on all my collaborations, and we hope to have some new publications fairly soon. I have taken to carrying the walker down the hall, trying to build confidence in my walking without it.


The Federal Marching Band of Music Regulators

The industry has been beset by punitive fines, armed raids and threats of jail. Even banjo makers aren’t safe.


Brian T. Majeski

For more than a century, the music industry escaped the gaze of government agencies thanks to its small scale—$6.8 billion now in the U.S.—and its wholesome, noncontroversial products. Few things seem less deserving of federal regulation than a 5th grader with an oboe. On the rare occasions in history when prominent officials took notice, the magazine I edit, Music Trades, ran celebratory headlines: “President Taft At Baldwin Piano Plant Opening,” or “Clinton Says Playing Music Made Me President.”

Over the past seven years, however, the tenor of the government’s interest in the music business has changed. Our magazine now regularly carries accounts of punitive fines, armed raids and threats of jail time.

If you ever needed examples of the evils of federalizing everything, the above article will supply them. Armed raids on musical instrument makers. Years of lawsuits. Piano teachers subject to regulation from Washington for teaching piano to the neighbor kids. Years of lawsuits without indictments (much less convictions) but extorted “consent decrees” priming hordes of lawyers to file class action suits. Regulation run riot.

In March 2013 the FTC then turned its sights on the Music Teachers National Association, a 139-year old organization comprised primarily of women who give piano lessons in their homes. The group’s code of ethics, which discouraged members from poaching one another’s students, was deemed a restraint of trade. The association got off without a fine but had to abandon its code of ethics, train members about “anticompetitive practices,” draft a 20-year compliance plan, and file annual updates with the FTC.

And more; clearly the goal is to create hordes of officers to harass the people and eat out their substance.



Just for the record, at 1604 yesterday, essentially right on schedule, my Time Warner connection to the Internet went out


: Higher Education

    Don’t you hate when your predictions come true but not the ones you hoping to see?


I suppose it was inevitable. If you assume intellectual equality of students, you cannot allow any to fail; if you insist on intellectual standards, some students will not meet them.

Of course intellectual careers are only one life course, and while vital, others are just as necessary for a proper civilization. And if you want a democracy you must have taught good citizenship.



I hadn’t read Starswarm until now, but you mentioned it in your blog a while ago and it sounded interesting, so I bought it. I thought you’d like to know that I liked it enough that I’ll probably reread it someday, as I already have with Higher Education. I thought Tarleton was especially well named; I presume you were thinking of Tarleton of “Tarleton’s Quarter” in the Revolution.

Meredith Dixon <>

Starswarm (also available as an Audible book) remains one of my favorite books, with new aliens and a working AI.  I’ll take your note as an excuse to mention it. Thanks


Send enough to do the job Subject

Dr. Pournelle,
I agree with your sentiment. Upon hearing of the CINC’s decision to send more advisors and trainer to Iraq, I was reminded of the Heinlein quote (in the character of the hero Gordon) : “…a Military Adviser who has been dead four days in that heat smells the same way a corpse does in a real war. “
Both Presidents Bush were pressed to define an exit criteria and goals before engaging in Iraq and Afghanistan, but these remained poorly defined. Without achievable goals, one cannot have a strategy, which the current President freely admits he does not have. I hear “provide leadership”, “provide national security,” “stability,” and “coordination of effort,” but no goals, nor means of achieving any. I don’t feel that we’ll ever get a statement of strategy from this administration.
Without a strategy, Iraq will become the same quagmire that Afghanistan is and Vietnam was: in spite of military successes, there can be no political victory and no way to leave.
In addition to sending enough to do the job, we’d better define the job. If not, we’d do better to turn turtle and stay home.

I am not familiar with the source, but the concept of a nuclear ISIS is frightening.  We cannot end the Caliphate without serious effort, now about two divisions and the Warthogs; but that would do it and save lives. We could retake Anbar Province, give the northern part to the Kurds, and give the Sunni part to Jordan. That would buy the Middle East some time; and it would buy us a way out of the Middle East. That seems an obvious strategy to me, but apparently not to the Powers.


1604  The usual Internet failure by Time Warner. Shouldn’t last too long.


High-Tech Solar Projects Fail to Deliver

$2.2 billion project in California generates just 40% of its expected electricity



Cassandra Sweet

June 12, 2015 3:48 p.m. ET


Some costly high-tech solar power projects aren’t living up to promises their backers made about how much electricity they could generate.

Solar-thermal technology, which uses mirrors to capture the sun’s rays, was once heralded as the advance that would overtake old fashioned solar panel farms. But a series of missteps and technical difficulties threatens to make newfangled solar-thermal technology obsolete.

The $2.2 billion Ivanpah solar power project in California’s Mojave Desert is supposed to be generating more than a million megawatt-hours of electricity each year. But 15 months after starting up, the plant is producing just 40% of that, according to data from the U.S. Energy Department.

The sprawling facility uses “power towers”—huge pillars surrounded by more than 170,000 mirrors, each bigger than a king-size bed—to capture the sun’s rays and create steam. That steam is used to generate electricity. Built by BrightSource Energy Inc. and operated by NRG Energy Inc.,Ivanpah has been advertised as more reliable than a traditional solar panel farm, in part, because it more closely resembles conventional power plants that burn coal or natural gas. NRG co-owns the plant with Google Inc.and other investors.

Turns out, there is a lot more to go wrong with the new technology. Replacing broken equipment and learning better ways to operate the complex assortment of machinery has stalled Ivanpah’s ability to reach full potential, said Randy Hickok, a senior vice president at NRG. New solar-thermal technology isn’t as simple as traditional solar panel installations. Since older solar photovoltaic panels have been around for decades, they improve in efficiency and price every year, he said.

“There’s a lot more on-the-job learning with Ivanpah,” Mr. Hickok said, adding that engineers have had to fix leaky tubes connected to water boilers and contend with a vibrating steam turbine that threatened nearby equipment.

The real problem with ground based solar is storage.  The sun doesn’t shine at night… And there are more clouds than the models predicted.  Even though the drought is severe.  Climate is what you predict.  Weather is what you get.


“Why I Defaulted on My Student Loans”

The idea is to get an education for something PRODUCTIVE, but no, we have to get all “touchie feelie”.  How many more are there whose major was “Black History Studies”, or “Women Studies”?

Remove all warning labels and let natural selection work.

It isn’t just adding courses that has happened to education.  If you go for equality in admissions, you lower the admissions standards. You must then adjust the course material lest too many flunk out; of course they should not have been there to begin with.  But the larger student bodies means much larger staff, faculty and others, so costs, driven by unions – labor wants more! – climb, and tuition rises skyward; you can’t work your way through college. Yet the swollen ranks of faculty and staff must be paid, and their pay raised, and their pensions paid; so education needs more money even as it produces less. It costs more for less, and this spiral continues.  You may predict the result


: A-10 Crisis Worsens

As I pointed out in a previous email, the F-35 cannot effectively aim its 25mm cannon and the Air Force says it will be seven years before the F-35 can do close air support missions. But, with the history of delays we might suspect it would take longer than seven years.

So, you and I would think the Air Force would just keep the A-10s around a little longer… But, you and I are sensible people, bureaucrats are not:


“We want to take those [A-10] aviators, and have designated, predominantly close air support squadrons in F-15s and F-16s,” Gen.

Herbert Carlisle, head of Air Combat Command, told reporters after the gathering. “We will always do close air support.”


This is idea is neither good nor original; they tried it during the first Gulf Conflict and it was an abysmal failure. Worst of all, Air Force officers don’t seem to have a concrete plan to make it happen.

Carlisle says they lack resources, organization, and exercises and the solution will “evolve over time”. Sounds ad hoc to me…

We have another interesting problem. You would think that close air support would require some coordination among the forces involved.

For example, as an Air Force commander I might want to know what my Army guys on the ground need and I might want to hear their suggestions when I put my CAS program together. Well, our Air Force doesn’t agree:


Participants went in understanding that there is no future for the Warthog, according to Sprey. “One other huge lie was that this was a joint enterprise,” the A-10 designer added.

Air Force officials effectively briefed members of the other services and U.S. Special Operations Command on a decision they had already made, rather than truly soliciting their advice, Sprey explained.


And if you get deeper into this article and consider the armament differences between the F-25 and the A-10, especially when we look at the 180 rounds for the F-35’s 25mm cannon vs. the 1,200 rounds for the A-10’s 30mm cannon, you may wonder why the Air Force would want to replace the A-10 with a clearly inferior plane.

But then we have this:


“Platforms like the A-10 amplify the deficiencies in the F-35 program, and the Air Force doesn’t want the A-10 there to serve as a direct competitor,” said Mandy Smithberger, director of the Straus Military Reform Project at the Center for Defense Information—part of the Project On Government Oversight.

“Keeping the A-10 around makes the [F-35’s] CAS shortfalls particularly pronounced, and creates an opportunity for fly offs.”


Why does the Air Force want this system so badly that it will retire a system that is clearly more effective just to have the damned thing?

Is this a bailout program for Lockheed? And, the Air Force wants

this program so badly that it not only wants to scrap an effective, combat proven system but it will not solicit advice from the forces it’s supposed to support? This doesn’t make sense to me.

I’m starting to agree with you; I think it’s time to put the Air Force back under Army command; the Air Force clearly lost perspective and I’m starting to think Air Force decisions — as outlined in this

article — weaken the national security. An independent Air Force

was an interesting experiment, but it seems to have run its course. I don’t want us to have a huge failure before we decide that it’s time to make some sensible reforms. I’d still like to read more from you about how going from the Defense Department back to the War Department would help our position.

◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊

Most Respectfully,

Joshua Jordan, KSC

Percussa Resurgo

It may take a disaster.  And an Independent Air Force plays hell with the Principle of the Unity of Command








“If you want to restore liberal education, restore sexual morality. And if you want to restore sexual morality, restore liberal education. The same virtues of honor, self-control, innocence, purity, respect, patience, courage, and honesty are cultivated in both places.”
Peter Kreeft



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




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