Russian Hackers? Quiet Sun. NATO and the Baltics; and some discussion of Free Trade and Tariff

Chaos Manor View, Thursday, July 28, 2016

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



Our Mason arrived at 1801, and now all the bricks are gone, the ivy trimmed back, and they are digging out the old foundation stones. The driveway is filled with building materials, and all is chaos. The new wall will be concrete block with rebar, and I am sure that the ivy will push it over too, but not in my lifetime. That distraction will soon be over, Deo gratia.

I’m not quite up to 21 repetitions of all five of the Five Tibetan Rites, but I do have 21 of three of them and I’m working my way back to 21 for the other two. If you’re interested in the Tibetans, I recommend Hugh Howey and Amber. Hugh does all the talking, but Amber exhibits proper form. Hugh Howey’s expositions should be enough to get you trying.

The goal is to do the rites in the proper form, but it’s unlikely you’ll be able to do that even after a year. That’s all right. Hugh doesn’t have much form either, and the exercise still does wonders for him. You should, however, know what proper form you ought to be striving for, and I recommend that after you get started doing a few of these moves, you start watching Ellen Wood. She believes the Five Tibetan Rites make you grow younger, and you may believe it too after you see her in action. At least you’ll know what you’re striving for.

There has been a lot written about the Five Tibetan Rites and I’m not going to add much; but I do recommend them to you. Start now. You’ll live longer and feel better. I started doing them when I had back problems so severe that Niven had to help me put my socks on one morning in a Bremerton, Washington motel. Steve Barnes recommended the book Stretching (by the Andersons) for that, and it got me back towards normal, which was good. Then Steve Barnes recommended The Five Tibetan Rites. I didn’t take them seriously at first, but as time went on I found them more and more helpful. Now I’m an 83 year old cancer survivor with not balance thanks to radiation therapy. I laid off the Tibetan Rites after the stroke. I wish I hadn’t. I’m back at them, and it feels great to be growing younger.


Anyone who had to work against Soviet Intelligence – the State Security Committee or KGB, their equivalent of the CIA, or the GRU, their equivalent of Defense Intelligence Agency – learned to respect both of them as competent and able to call up skills as needed. I forget who said it recently, but it is almost a measure of competence: any so-called intelligence agency that did not hack the Secretary of State’s private server in her basement could hardly call itself an intelligence organization at all. Actually, I suspect there are young hackers, the equivalent of the Legion of Doom back at the beginning of the computer era, who have copies of those 33,000 emails that Mrs. Clinton thinks she deleted before destroying the server.

Certainly both the GRU and the successor to the KGB have them. What they plan to do with them is not known. Mr. Trump asked them to give him a copy. I’ll add myself to the list of supplicants. I won’t offer to buy a copy because if they actually are for sale the price is likely to be high, but there’s a thought: independent ePublishing to all comers, at, say, $25.00 a copy. I bet it would be a runaway best seller, and all in hard currency. I’d order a prepublication copy today!

Of course there’s the question of authenticity, but since the Danes, the British, the Latvians, the Israelis, and probably at least one Arab country, possibly ISIS, have copies there might be a thriving business in verification. Certainly Mr. Trump would like one: say sold by the GRU, authenticated by the KGB and Mossad, with commentary by MI6?

The LA Times, typical of our neutral highly patriotic news media, said this:

Donald Trump dared a foreign government to commit espionage on the U.S. to hurt his rival on Wednesday, smashing yet another taboo in American political discourse and behavior.

“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’ll be able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” he said, referring to deleted emails from the private account Hillary Clinton used as secretary of State. “I think you’ll probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”

Of course that’s a bit nonsensical: the server can’t be hacked now because Mrs. Clinton destroyed it after erasing the 33,000 emails. Mr.Trump could hardly be daring the GRU to hack a destroyed server. It is supposedly impolite for him to have asked them for the emails, but I don’t see why not. It would have insulted their competence if Mr. Trump had pretended they did not already have the emails, but he did not so pretend; and does anyone seriously believe that a private emails server, not under any special protection by NSA or other US technical agency, was not hacked? And since she erased all those emails, then destroyed the server, and none of our agencies are going to admit they hacked her server, we’ll never see them unless the Russians show them to us. So please, Mr. Putin, favor us with copies. That’s not a dare, it’s a polite request, and I won’t insult you by pretending I think you don’t have them.


Free Trade, International Harvester Scouts and the UAW 

Dear Jerry,

“My second was an International Harvester Scout. I loved that car, and my four boys learned to drive in it….”

You are getting very close to home now.  Most of them were built in my hometown in Fort Wayne, IN.  As were the electric motors my dad built at GE and much else.  IH employed many thousands.  GE employed 10,000 in three plants there in the 1960s.   All of these jobs are history.

“Of course all the International Harvester plants, agencies, distributors, and dealers are long ago closed and dismantled.”


“various laws favoring unions and local governments ignoring union “organizing” practices had as much to do with turning Detroit from the industrial heart to a wasteland as ever did free trade – but free trade allowed manufacturers to move to Mexico where wages were much lower.”

And not only or even mainly wages.  In the summer of 1977 during college summer break I worked in a brake parts plant in NW Ohio for two months.  This plant was a UAW shop like all auto parts plants in those days.  My job was loading and unloading heavy steel mandrels holding brake shoe linings into an ancient natural gas furnace for a one hour trip for firing.  All the processes at that plant were piecework with parts in process moved from workstation to work station on push carts.  It featured things like banks of manual drill presses operated by women, bandsaws, etc. 

The work was lousy and labor management relations there were even worse.  Human beings should not be treated as a robot.  That’s what robots are for.  Being a summer vacation hire I wasn’t there long enough to join the UAW.  But I was there long enough to understand how it all worked.

I already knew then and learned later in detail in engineering school that the technology employed in this plant was archaic.  In retrospect I think it represented the industrial technology of 50-80 years previously.  iow circa 1900 – 1920.    The plant was clearly two decades overdue for serious capital investment upgrades.  What this ‘capital’ would have done is contract industrial, mechanical and electrical engineers to redesign processes, design new equipment and then hire foundrymen, machinists and millwrights to build and install this equipment.

In the context of the times this would also have meant replacing people with further automation, then electro-mechanical.  The UAW master agreements of the era effectively prohibited this.  Even as late as 2008 the UAW contract with GM included provisions for a “labor bank” whereby unemployed GM employee UAW members received 90% of their salaries.

As I heard later and unsurprisingly, most of the brake plant’s equipment and all its production was suddenly moved to Mexico beginning one fine holiday weekend a year later in 1978.  From management’s viewpoint they not only got a lower unit labor cost but freedom from numerous and costly OSHA, EPA and EEOC regulations, tort law and highly restrictive UAW contract work rules.

And as is well known now, the UAW hierarchy eventually threw all of its parts plants members under the bus to protect the UAW’s more highly paid assembly plant workers.  Both GM and Ford spun off their parts divisions into separate entities.  These newly independent corporations then entered repeated cycles of bankruptcy, downsizing, plant sales and offshoring.  Wikipedia has plenty of industrial history concerning “AC”, “Delco” and “Delphi” for those interested. 

I do not believe that tariffs alone could have made things better.  Tariffs alone would have frozen everything into stasis.  In a real sense the USSR and the eastern European communist economies all functioned behind insurmountable tariff walls. 

But simply surrendering the entire social and economic battlefield, which is what “Conservatism” really did with its adoption of Free Trade, also did not make things any better.   “Free Trade” was the E-Z money way out for a handful of “elites”.   One of the most insidious effects of so-called “Free Trade” has clearly been to retard technological modernization in the USA.  Instead of “updating” the parts plants those with access to Federal Reserve financing and contemporary control of distribution networks took their antique processes to 3d World destinations in search of cheap labor and regulatory arbitrage.   But even now I rarely encounter people with any awareness of this. 

Donald Trump is the first Republican candidate since Ronald Reagan to show any awareness of all this.  There is plenty he can do, and I have some ideas on this subject myself. 

Best Wishes,


Tariff alone won’t do it; but the desire to conserve jobs and industrial potential is needed, and no one in power has that.  The neo-conservatives want unrestricted capitalism, and many of them want war.


Free Trade, Industrial Mobilization & President Trump: A Proposal

Dear Jerry,

As you noted, when production is outsourced and offshored by “Free Trade” entire economic ecologies and communities are destroyed.  Not only do specific factory jobs vanish but so do jobs and skills in the entire supporting infrastructure.  Eventually a point is reached – and it has already been reached in many places – where the population is just as unskilled as their 19th Century agrarian ancestors.

It becomes impossible to simply reopen a disused factory and put out a “Now Hiring” sign.  Those answering the ad have to be completely trained from scratch.  And there is the problem the equipping the factory with capital equipment.  The former machine tool manufacturers are often gone as well.

We have however faced similar situations in the past.  The World War II industrial mobilization is an example.  The entire aerospace industry had to be built nearly from scratch.  A few companies each formerly producing a few dozen aircraft annually suddenly had to contemplate producing hundreds and thousands of aircraft.  Numerous shipyards had to be built and then populated with trained workers.  This was a long drawn out process that began in the late 1930s.

We therefore have to simultaneously a) train people and b) create entirely new factories and capital equipment starting from a small base.  As a start on this effort:

There is a company in Oxnard California that produces some of the most advanced heavy CNC machine tools in the world.  These are “Made In USA” including its electronic modules.  This company is Haas Automation.  Uniquely among heavy CNC machine tool manufacturers, Haas publishes its sticker prices on its website:  Haas Automation®, Inc. | CNC Machine Tools Made in the USA | Best in CNC Milling and Lathe Value


Haas Automation®, Inc. | CNC Machine Tools Made in the USA | Best in CNC Milling and Lathe Value

By Haas Automation, Inc.

The largest CNC machine tool builder in the Western World, Haas Automation manufactures a full line of CNC verti…


Haas sticker prices run from $80,000 up to $180,000.  Their current production is approximately 14,000 units per year.  The incoming Trump Administration should obtain an appropriation covering the procurement of 200,000 units, and with contract completion in four years.  This will cost $32 billion, assuming our corrupt and incompetent federal procurement bureaucracy can manage to obtain Haas’ highest off the shelf sticker price.  Haas therefore will have to shift into extremely high gear.  Even 24/7 will not come close to covering this.  Clearly Haas will have to begin cloning its Oxnard factory multiple times.  This is what we want.

These 200,000 heavy military industrial grade units are to be delivered to every vocational technical school in the country.   We’ll need suitable facilities to house this equipment and provide it with three phase power and to purchase the required accessory tooling.  Therefore we’ll double the appropriation to $64 billion.  This equipment can and will do more than train a new generation of modern workers.  It can and will also produce many of the parts and tools required for new domestic factories.

This response is appropriate not only to our domestic but to our international situation.  “Free Trade” is not creating more stable relations with the Chinese Communist dictatorship.  “Free Trade” is instead inspiring increasingly aggressive behavior by the Beijing regime and the People’s Liberation Army.  Therefore it is past time to present this regime with other problems to occupy its primary attention.  One of these is how to cope with a rapidly cratering industrial export economy that is still greatly dependent on antique, labor intensive and low quality industrial practices exported to it from higher wage rate countries.

Best Wishes,







Russian hackers

Mr. Pournelle,
You wrote “It cannot be treason to invite the Russians to give us a copy of whatever they have already stolen.” True. However, it is quite bizarre to see an American presidential candidate publicly invite Russia to aid him against his opponent.
I agree it’s not treason. However, it does seem to be a measure of character and integrity. Or their lack.
Allan E. Johnson

It may be unusual but it is hardly unprecedented, and why would it help Mr. Trump to have thousands of words about weddings, Thanksgiving recipes, shopping news, and the other trivia Mrs., Clinton assures us is the entire content of those emails? I agree we have no business reading other people’s mail, but this is exceptional in that it was the correspondence of a Great Officer of State. We insisted on every second of the recorded conversations of President Nixon.



Dr. Pournelle 

“[W]hy would it help Mr. Trump to have thousands of words about weddings, Thanksgiving recipes, shopping news, and the other trivia Mrs., Clinton assures us is the entire content of those emails?” 

My guess is because it is not trivia.
Ms. Clinton turned over State Department emails and knew the contents would create a storm. She figured could weather that storm. (The level of corruption with the Clintons amazes me, and I come from Texas where LBJ’s Uvalde County routinely tops the state voter turnout with 103% of all registered voters.) 

My guess is that Ms. Clinton’s personal emails bear evidence of her pay-for-play scheme with her husband. William Jefferson Clinton’s speaking fee rose from $150,000 per speech to $750,000 per speech during his wife’s incumbency as Secretary of State. 

If you have not seen it, I recommend Clinton Cash: Clinton Cash – Official Movie Premiere


I haven’t seen them, so I cannot comment.


Why Doesn’t our Federal Government do Worthwhile Things?


After receiving a robocall this morning with a spoofed caller ID and claiming to be from the IRS, I began to wonder why our Federal Government does nothing about Caller ID Spoofing. My conclusion was that stopping Spoofing might be worthwhile and there is precious little that the Feds are doing that us worthwhile for an individual tax paying citizen or legal resident.

The entire switched voice network needs a complete overhaul. This is an excellent time to do this now that an area code no longer provides reliable geographic location due to Cell Phones and number portability.

I would suggest the following:

A secure system that eliminates the possibility that Caller ID can be spoofed. If a caller ID is shown on the receiving phone it WILL BE the number of the calling phone.

A change to 11 digit dialing for ALL calls.

(Most Land Lines already require dialing a 1 if an area code is required so this would not be a large amount of extra work.)

Instead of a 1 prefix dialing would consist of the area code plus the seven digit phone number followed by the 11th digit that would be a check digit, either modulo 7 or 11 as used in Credit Card numbers. This would have the beneficial effect of eliminating almost all misdialed calls.

(No more middle of the night wrong numbers as some drunk tries to dial a taxi or a friend.)

This would be something useful!

Bob Holmes

Does it require government to do this? I would not think that would be your first choice; nor is it mine. Make certain that regulations allow this innovation, and perhaps let local government authorize damage suits against phone services that allow spoofing. I bet someone would figure out how to avoid the suits and fines.


Eurowar Update

The latest updates on Daesh asymmetrical warfare offer a prelude of what must surely come with our lack of border security and lack of any detailed plan to fix it other than Mister Trump’s wall — though this arguably lacks detail, at least to me.

Knives are replacing guns in attacks; this means gun control looks even more laughable. Better to arm citizens to fight these terrorist killers than to disarm them as lambs for the slaughter.

Fear not, French citizens! Your country’s media will no longer publish the names or photographs of terrorists! And I’m sure they’ll continue to report about trucks manifesting free will and killing people of their own free will and accord.

I’m not impressed by the French response, or more accurately the lack thereof. It seems to be more talk and more deprivation of citizens’


The Germans government put on a show with the polzei even as more risky refugees stream in:

None of this looks pleasant.

◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊

Most Respectfully,

Joshua Jordan, KSC

Percussa Resurgo


solar activity bottomed out again

We are currently beginning our 4th consecutive day of no spots on the solar near side…again.

There are only two sunspot groups on the far side, which just rotated around there four days ago; one of those produced an M7.6 flare, which didn’t miss by that much being an X1 flare. (It did generate a CME, but it wasn’t Earth-directed, being about ready to rotate off the near side anyway; it also produced 2-3 other M-class flares.)

This is the 3rd extended run of spotless days in the last two months, which makes 21 out of 58 days or 36.2%, spotless at least on the nearside, and probably at least 16-18 of those 21 with no spots whatsoever.

The solar flux has dropped; the cosmic ray flux has increased.

There ARE a few coronal holes, but I am not overmuch impressed by them.

Stephanie Osborn

“The Interstellar Woman of Mystery”



What are we going to do?

You make a good point:


Enter now free trade. The theory of capitalism leads one inevitably to free trade; but the consequences of free trade can be devastating.

Mills close. Jobs vanish. The means of production are shipped somewhere else, to people who will make more efficient use of them.

What was made at home is now made elsewhere; when you buy it, the money is gone. It no longer remains in your community. That may be a good thing if goods are that much cheaper, but this is not always the case.


In 2016, we’re having trouble making materiel. Our new stealth fighters aren’t working, our big new carrier isn’t working, and we’ve scrapped entire weapons systems. But, we have the railgun and a few other bright spots.

We are losing our manufacturing infrastructure. What wealth do we pay which people with to do what jobs if this continues? (That’s a “rhetorical” question.)

I think we’re in a lot of trouble. What are we to do? What do you think will happen to America in the next 50 years if the present trends continue, generally?

◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊

Most Respectfully,

Joshua Jordan, KSC

Percussa Resurgo

I make no pretense of satisfaction with the current system of government whether by the Democratic wing or the entrenched Republican wing, and I have for the past three decades called attention that we are sowing the wind. We will now reap.


US, NATO and entangling alliances

Subject: US, NATO and entangling alliances.
Donald Trump’s comments which brings uncertainty to the US security guarantees to NATO members, is opening a can of worms.
While I can appreciate the futility in stopping the Russian Army in the small Baltic states; making them members of NATO, has the same benefits for the US as the rest of the NATO structure even though it pledges the US to declare war on Russia in case of a Russian attack on the Baltic states.
Additionally the Trump argument, that the allies do not pay their fair share, is incorrect precisely in the case of the Baltic countries, which is above average in military spending in Europe and above NATO requirements which many bigger NATO members do not fulfill.
So why mention the Baltic countries with a specious argument about not doing their share, when this is not the case?
Trump could have named keeping the US out of “entangling alliances”, which I can perfectly understand, but that was not his argument.
And indeed the US experience of the period leading up to the two worldwars is, that even a US trying to avoid fighting other people’s wars, will be drawn in eventually when the conflict has grown much more costly and complicated. So why not try to be proactive?
Another much ignored benefit to the US, is that NATO has limited the nuclear club very much. If US security guarantees to NATO members is drawn into doubt, the logical step for many countries would be to acquire nuclear weapons of their own. Even lots of relatively minor European countries would be able to do this, though it would require higher defense budgets than todays.
Is a multiple nuclear armed Europe in US interests?
Hardly, as it would be much more explosive and prone to accidental nuclear exchange, which probably would include the US in the end.
That is an important reality behind the US pledge to NATO, and one that benefits the USA greatly.
Bo Andersen

I expect if I lived in Europe I would have similar opinions. On the other hand, I don’t think Estonia, say, could possibly contribute much to the alliance, and I say this with some familiarity and considerable respect for Estonia. But in the Cold War our strategy was one of containment, and to execute a containment strategy you must contain; which we did at considerable cost in Korea and in Viet Nam.

I have more sympathy with the Baltics than I have for the Balkans, but both are European problems now. If Britain and France and Germany want to give guarantees to the Baltic Republics, they should do so; or at least explain to the American people the value of that guarantee to farmers in Iowa.

Short of nuclear war I think of nothing we could do; we do not really have the means for massive retaliation at a time and place of our choosing. We have dismantled SAC and we will not spend the money to regenerate it.

Mr. Obama has had not much success from drawing bright red lines in the sand in the Middle East. I doubt Mr. Putin takes much heed of threats made by the United States, at least not since 2008. As is often said, diplomatic threats are a cheque drawn against strategic power; and the lower the power bank balance is, the smaller the cheques must be. That is reality.

The European Union would like for the world to be safe from military aggression – but expects that threat to be dealt with by the United States. That didn’t work out well for us un the Balkans, nor for that matter for those in the Balkans and the lower Danube after we dropped all these bridges. I don’t want our navy sent into the Baltic Sea…





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



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