Solar Power Satellites, Greenhouses, Fossil Fuels

Chaos Manor Mail, Sunday, March 15, 2015


A Comment on Bob Smith’s Letter
[I have worked in a greenhouse. So here is my problem: Posit a greenhouse constructed of clear glass plates, one inch in thickness. The result will be a warming of some amount within the greenhouse, call it T above the outside temperature. If we then add an additional 12 inches of glass to the structure, will the inside temperature become 12T?¨Having only had a year of high school chemistry, it strikes me that the answer is No. ] This is not chemistry
He is correct. But comparing an apple to an orange, when his posit was about plums. Take his 1 inch of glass and separate it into 2 panes. One third glass, one third air, and one third glass. His green house is a lot warmer. It’s not the amount of glass, but how you use it.
His apple is radiant energy transmitted, and his orange is energy conducted. Neither really apply to his point. Which needs to be energy absorbed. Was his greenhouse floor painted white or black? Cement or water?
We know CO2 absorbs energy. As do methane, hydrogen and a number of other gasses. It’s the effect of this added energy that is in question.
[As I recall, the infra-red radiation is trapped by the glass only within a fairly narrow band-width. Once it breaches those limits, then it passes through the glass and the warming ceases to rise. Have I missed something?¨]
Yes. You have missed something. You limited your model to transmission of infra red radiation, but did not measure it. You measured accumulated thermal energy or heat. And did not account for the variables that affect it.
A climatologist may account for more variables than a non climatologist. They probably know more than we do. And no serious scientist says comprehensive and climate model in the same sentence.
When I have a stomach ache I go to a Doctor. A toothache, a Dentist. A problem with non Newtonian motion, a Physicist. I do not go to a physicist for atmospheric science.
And certainly not a lawyer or politician. If you here one saying “I’m not a scientist …” stop listening. He just said he needs to ask more questions. Not answer them.



Space-based Solar Power Generation

From Phys Org: “Japanese scientists have succeeded in transmitting energy wirelessly, in a key step that could one day make solar power generation in space a possibility …”
Read more at:
And: “Mitsubishi Heavy Industries said it used microwave technology to send 10 kilowatts of power—enough to run a set of conventional kitchen appliances—through the air to a receiver 500 metres (1,640 feet) away.”
Read more at:

: Kevin Naples

I am glad they can confirm the experiments we did at Goldstone many years ago.

A step toward wireless power transmission

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries seems to be approaching something you have been writing about for years:
Very exciting breakthrough if true.
Best wishes to you,
Richard Peterson

Eric said

    Nice to hear but we could have done so much more by now.

Peter responds

Indeed, JPL did so much more almost 40 years ago.

That demo sent 34kw of electrical power a distance of 1.5km at an efficiency of greater than 82%, vs. 1.8kw over 55 meters at an unspecified efficiency. So I’m not clear on where the “progress” is.

The lesson I took away from that first round of SPSS research was that beaming the power was not going to be a significant obstacle.

Structural concerns, solar cell efficiency, electronics reliability, launch weight, and environmental and political issues all needed to be resolved, but beaming (and receiving) the power was mostly just a matter of engineering.

.              png

Power transmission from space is a solved problem. The capital investment to build that dam in space is another story. But out of the first Space Solar Power Satellite we get a Moon Colony built on weekend and third shifts.


An important article: many developing countries and peoples have no choices.

Fossil Fuels Will Save the World (Really)

The Wall Street Journal, 14 March 2015

Matt Ridley

The environmental movement has advanced three arguments in recent years for giving up fossil fuels: (1) that we will soon run out of them anyway; (2) that alternative sources of energy will price them out of the marketplace; and (3) that we cannot afford the climate consequences of burning them.
These days, not one of the three arguments is looking very healthy. In fact, a more realistic assessment of our energy and environmental situation suggests that, for decades to come, we will continue to rely overwhelmingly on the fossil fuels that have contributed so dramatically to the world’s prosperity and progress.
In 2013, about 87% of the energy that the world consumed came from fossil fuels, a figure that—remarkably—was unchanged from 10 years before. This roughly divides into three categories of fuel and three categories of use: oil used mainly for transport, gas used mainly for heating, and coal used mainly for electricity.
Over this period, the overall volume of fossil-fuel consumption has increased dramatically, but with an encouraging environmental trend: a diminishing amount of carbon-dioxide emissions per unit of energy produced. The biggest contribution to decarbonizing the energy system has been the switch from high-carbon coal to lower-carbon gas in electricity generation.
On a global level, renewable energy sources such as wind and solar have contributed hardly at all to the drop in carbon emissions, and their modest growth has merely made up for a decline in the fortunes of zero-carbon nuclear energy. (The reader should know that I have an indirect interest in coal through the ownership of land in Northern England on which it is mined, but I nonetheless applaud the displacement of coal by gas in recent years.)
The argument that fossil fuels will soon run out is dead, at least for a while. The collapse of the price of oil over the past six months is the result of abundance: an inevitable consequence of the high oil prices of recent years, which stimulated innovation in hydraulic fracturing, horizontal drilling, seismology and information technology. The U.S.—the country with the oldest and most developed hydrocarbon fields—has found itself once again, surprisingly, at the top of the energy-producing league, rivaling Saudi Arabia in oil and Russia in gas.
The shale genie is now out of the bottle. Even if the current low price drives out some high-cost oil producers—in the North Sea, Canada, Russia, Iran and offshore, as well as in America—shale drillers can step back in whenever the price rebounds. As Mark Hill of Allegro Development Corporation argued last week, the frackers are currently experiencing their own version of Moore’s law: a rapid fall in the cost and time it takes to drill a well, along with a rapid rise in the volume of hydrocarbons they are able to extract.
And the shale revolution has yet to go global. When it does, oil and gas in tight rock formations will give the world ample supplies of hydrocarbons for decades, if not centuries. Lurking in the wings for later technological breakthroughs is methane hydrate, a seafloor source of gas that exceeds in quantity all the world’s coal, oil and gas put together.
So those who predict the imminent exhaustion of fossil fuels are merely repeating the mistakes of the U.S. presidential commission that opined in 1922 that “already the output of gas has begun to wane. Production of oil cannot long maintain its present rate.” Or President Jimmy Carter when he announced on television in 1977 that “we could use up all the proven reserves of oil in the entire world by the end of the next decade.”
That fossil fuels are finite is a red herring. The Atlantic Ocean is finite, but that does not mean that you risk bumping into France if you row out of a harbor in Maine. The buffalo of the American West were infinite, in the sense that they could breed, yet they came close to extinction. It is an ironic truth that no nonrenewable resource has ever run dry, while renewable resources—whales, cod, forests, passenger pigeons—have frequently done so.
The second argument for giving up fossil fuels is that new rivals will shortly price them out of the market. But it is not happening. The great hope has long been nuclear energy, but even if there is a rush to build new nuclear power stations over the next few years, most will simply replace old ones due to close. The world’s nuclear output is down from 6% of world energy consumption in 2003 to 4% today. It is forecast to inch back up to just 6.7% by 2035, according the Energy Information Administration.
Nuclear’s problem is cost. In meeting the safety concerns of environmentalists, politicians and regulators added requirements for extra concrete, steel and pipework, and even more for extra lawyers, paperwork and time. The effect was to make nuclear plants into huge and lengthy boondoggles with no competition or experimentation to drive down costs. Nuclear is now able to compete with fossil fuels only when it is subsidized.



As for renewable energy, hydroelectric is the biggest and cheapest supplier, but it has the least capacity for expansion. Technologies that tap the energy of waves and tides remain unaffordable and impractical, and most experts think that this won’t change in a hurry. Geothermal is a minor player for now. And bioenergy—that is, wood, ethanol made from corn or sugar cane, or diesel made from palm oil—is proving an ecological disaster: It encourages deforestation and food-price hikes that cause devastation among the world’s poor, and per unit of energy produced, it creates even more carbon dioxide than coal.
Wind power, for all the public money spent on its expansion, has inched up to—wait for it—1% of world energy consumption in 2013. Solar, for all the hype, has not even managed that: If we round to the nearest whole number, it accounts for 0% of world energy consumption.
Both wind and solar are entirely reliant on subsidies for such economic viability as they have. World-wide, the subsidies given to renewable energy currently amount to roughly $10 per gigajoule: These sums are paid by consumers to producers, so they tend to go from the poor to the rich, often to landowners (I am a landowner and can testify that I receive and refuse many offers of risk-free wind and solar subsidies).
It is true that some countries subsidize the use of fossil fuels, but they do so at a much lower rate—the world average is about $1.20 per gigajoule—and these are mostly subsidies for consumers (not producers), so they tend to help the poor, for whom energy costs are a disproportionate share of spending.
The costs of renewable energy are coming down, especially in the case of solar. But even if solar panels were free, the power they produce would still struggle to compete with fossil fuel—except in some very sunny locations—because of all the capital equipment required to concentrate and deliver the energy. This is to say nothing of the great expanses of land on which solar facilities must be built and the cost of retaining sufficient conventional generator capacity to guarantee supply on a dark, cold, windless evening.
The two fundamental problems that renewables face are that they take up too much space and produce too little energy. Consider Solar Impulse, the solar-powered airplane now flying around the world. Despite its huge wingspan (similar to a 747), slow speed and frequent stops, the only cargo that it can carry is the pilots themselves. That is a good metaphor for the limitations of renewables.
To run the U.S. economy entirely on wind would require a wind farm the size of Texas, California and New Mexico combined—backed up by gas on windless days. To power it on wood would require a forest covering two-thirds of the U.S., heavily and continually harvested.
John Constable, who will head a new Energy Institute at the University of Buckingham in Britain, points out that the trickle of energy that human beings managed to extract from wind, water and wood before the Industrial Revolution placed a great limit on development and progress. The incessant toil of farm laborers generated so little surplus energy in the form of food for men and draft animals that the accumulation of capital, such as machinery, was painfully slow. Even as late as the 18th century, this energy-deprived economy was sufficient to enrich daily life for only a fraction of the population.
Our old enemy, the second law of thermodynamics, is the problem here. As a teenager’s bedroom generally illustrates, left to its own devices, everything in the world becomes less ordered, more chaotic, tending toward “entropy,” or thermodynamic equilibrium. To reverse this tendency and make something complex, ordered and functional requires work. It requires energy.
The more energy you have, the more intricate, powerful and complex you can make a system. Just as human bodies need energy to be ordered and functional, so do societies. In that sense, fossil fuels were a unique advance because they allowed human beings to create extraordinary patterns of order and complexity—machines and buildings—with which to improve their lives.
The result of this great boost in energy is what the economic historian and philosopher Deirdre McCloskey calls the Great Enrichment. In the case of the U.S., there has been a roughly 9,000% increase in the value of goods and services available to the average American since 1800, almost all of which are made with, made of, powered by or propelled by fossil fuels.
Still, more than a billion people on the planet have yet to get access to electricity and to experience the leap in living standards that abundant energy brings. This is not just an inconvenience for them: Indoor air pollution from wood fires kills four million people a year. The next time that somebody at a rally against fossil fuels lectures you about her concern for the fate of her grandchildren, show her a picture of an African child dying today from inhaling the dense muck of a smoky fire.
Notice, too, the ways in which fossil fuels have contributed to preserving the planet. As the American author and fossil-fuels advocate Alex Epstein points out in a bravely unfashionable book, “The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels,” the use of coal halted and then reversed the deforestation of Europe and North America. The turn to oil halted the slaughter of the world’s whales and seals for their blubber. Fertilizer manufactured with gas halved the amount of land needed to produce a given amount of food, thus feeding a growing population while sparing land for wild nature.
To throw away these immense economic, environmental and moral benefits, you would have to have a very good reason. The one most often invoked today is that we are wrecking the planet’s climate. But are we?
Although the world has certainly warmed since the 19th century, the rate of warming has been slow and erratic. There has been no increase in the frequency or severity of storms or droughts, no acceleration of sea-level rise. Arctic sea ice has decreased, but Antarctic sea ice has increased. At the same time, scientists are agreed that the extra carbon dioxide in the air has contributed to an improvement in crop yields and a roughly 14% increase in the amount of all types of green vegetation on the planet since 1980.
That carbon-dioxide emissions should cause warming is not a new idea. In 1938, the British scientist Guy Callender thought that he could already detect warming as a result of carbon-dioxide emissions. He reckoned, however, that this was “likely to prove beneficial to mankind” by shifting northward the climate where cultivation was possible.
Only in the 1970s and 1980s did scientists begin to say that the mild warming expected as a direct result of burning fossil fuels—roughly a degree Celsius per doubling of carbon-dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere—might be greatly amplified by water vapor and result in dangerous warming of two to four degrees a century or more. That “feedback” assumption of high “sensitivity” remains in virtually all of the mathematical models used to this day by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC.
And yet it is increasingly possible that it is wrong. As Patrick Michaels of the libertarian Cato Institute has written, since 2000, 14 peer-reviewed papers, published by 42 authors, many of whom are key contributors to the reports of the IPCC, have concluded that climate sensitivity is low because net feedbacks are modest. They arrive at this conclusion based on observed temperature changes, ocean-heat uptake and the balance between warming and cooling emissions (mainly sulfate aerosols). On average, they find sensitivity to be 40% lower than the models on which the IPCC relies.
If these conclusions are right, they would explain the failure of the Earth’s surface to warm nearly as fast as predicted over the past 35 years, a time when—despite carbon-dioxide levels rising faster than expected—the warming rate has never reached even two-tenths of a degree per decade and has slowed down to virtually nothing in the past 15 to 20 years. This is one reason the latest IPCC report did not give a “best estimate” of sensitivity and why it lowered its estimate of near-term warming.
Most climate scientists remain reluctant to abandon the models and take the view that the current “hiatus” has merely delayed rapid warming. A turning point to dangerously rapid warming could be around the corner, even though it should have shown up by now. So it would be wise to do something to cut our emissions, so long as that something does not hurt the poor and those struggling to reach a modern standard of living.
We should encourage the switch from coal to gas in the generation of electricity, provide incentives for energy efficiency, get nuclear power back on track and keep developing solar power and electricity storage. We should also invest in research on ways to absorb carbon dioxide from the air, by fertilizing the ocean or fixing it through carbon capture and storage. Those measures all make sense. And there is every reason to promote open-ended research to find some unexpected new energy technology.
The one thing that will not work is the one thing that the environmental movement insists upon: subsidizing wealthy crony capitalists to build low-density, low-output, capital-intensive, land-hungry renewable energy schemes, while telling the poor to give up the dream of getting richer through fossil fuels.
Mr. Ridley is the author of “The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves” and a member of the British House of Lords. He is a member of the GWPF’s Academic Advisory Council.

Of course there are those like Teddy Gold who don’t think they are fossil fuels…


What has been seen cannot be unseen – video from Hitler’s extermination camps


Tonight’s Saturday Night Cinema feature is the recently released Holocaust footage filmed by Alfred Hitchcock, Sidney Bernstein and other master directors of that time. The British government chose to shelve the footage because it was “too politically sensitive.” Their dhimmitude today would appear to be much the same —

The unflinching footage reveals true hell of the Holocaust.

Tonight I bring you Channel 4’s presentation of the restored film. The narrator introduces the film and the necessity of airing it so that we “never forget” and “never again.” She says it without irony or self-consciousness, despite the fact that such horrors are being committed daily by Islamic groups across the world.

The continued use of the word “propaganda” is equally disturbing. Documenting what happened is not “propaganda” — it’s history.

– See more at:

Reminder: View at your own risk. When Ms. Geller suggests caution I’ve learned to believe her. Once seen this cannot be unseen.

There are pictures from the film. They were enough for me. Nevertheless, suppressing this for 70 years for political reasons is rather churlish behavior on the part of the British, methinks.


As JoAnne says, what has been seen cannot be unseen. Caution advised.


Copyrights and Patents as Barriers to Progress

Your comments concerning the fallacy of relying on copyrights and patents to protect one’s advantages in a fast moving technological market are spot on. The era when personal computers moved from curiosities to necessities in the commercial provides many examples.

Lotus 1-2-3 was so dominant in the spreadsheet arena that computers using the x86 CPUs from Intel passed or failed based upon whether they could run that software. Texas Instruments built an x86 machine that was technically superior to the IBM PC and its close clones. But they would not run off the shelf software such as 1-2-3 and paid Lotus and others for customized versions of leading software titles. That computer failed in the market while some other Texans created Compaq.

Meanwhile Lotus was so proud of its DOS 1-2-3 that it sued Borland for copying the user interface (the look and feel) too closely for its tastes. (So far as I know, Lotus did not sue Boeing (yes THAT Boeing) over the look and feel of Boeing Calc.) While Lotus was fighting and conquering Borland and others to protect the look and feel of its DOS product it neglected the Windows world. Thus, almost by default, Microsoft won the war to supply general purpose applications to machines running Windows. Excel, Word, Access and later Power Point dominated the market. Borland and others using Lotus DOS 1-2-3 look and feel went away, and practically speaking, so did Lotus. But the copyrights and patents protected products the market no longer wanted. Collateral damage from these battles included loss of Borland’s excellent programming languages and its two or three good database products, among other things.

Other products simply couldn’t adjust to the change from DOS to Windows. They were demonstrating a less aggressive form of rear window driving.

Charles Brumbelow



We discussed Ferguson in my Intro to Public Affairs class last semester. While it may be fun to assume that the minority community members couldn’t vote due to felony convictions, voting patterns showed a different situation.
In national elections, the black community voted at about the same rate as the white community. However, in local elections, the black turnout plummeted.
It turns out that the black population of Ferguson is primarily a newer population, moving into the community relatively recently. Generally, newer members of a community don’t have the knowledge or the ties to the community to consider voting in local elections. The end result is that the newer members of the community don’t have the local political power to affect policy, which makes them easy targets for revenue enhancement techniques.
The moral of the story is to vote. Registration isn’t enough. And if you are new to the community, you’ll have to do your homework and then vote. Which is probably difficult for lower economic strata individuals who have to work extra hours in order to keep up their standard of living.

: Fredrik Coulter

The remedy for Ferguson is political: the inhabitants need to use their vote. But expanding Federal power will not solve it.


FCC Leaves Itself Wiggle Room on Net-Neutrality Rules

Agency releases 400 pages on rules but also says many issues will be decided case by case         (journal)


Drew FitzGerald and

Thomas Gryta

March 12, 2015 8:07 p.m. ET

The details of the Federal Communications Commission’s new net-neutrality rules make clear the regulator is struggling with how to handle some of the hot-button issues that helped put the topic back on the agenda in the first place.

The uncertainty in some of the rules, released in full for the first time Thursday, reflects in part the fast-changing nature of the Internet and the agency’s lack of experience in areas that it now has the power to oversee.

A highly public dispute over network pricing last year helped nudge into the mainstream the debate over net neutrality—the principle that all Internet traffic should be treated equally. But the FCC says in the rules that it won’t be jumping in right away, because it lacks experience in evaluating such deals.

“We find that the best approach is to watch, learn, and act as required, but not intervene now, especially not with prescriptive rules,” the commission wrote in the rules.

The rules, for example, give the FCC new powers to oversee “interconnection” deals between companies like Netflix Inc. and Internet service providers like Verizon Communications Inc., common arrangements that let companies share network traffic.

An FCC official said the agency will review disputed arrangements, which can involve complaints about money as well as issues like capacity.

The regulator is taking a similarly uncertain stance on sponsored data programs—ones where content companies like Google Inc. could pay the cost of data so their services could be delivered to mobile users free. Critics say such plans give an advantage to deep-pocketed companies that can afford the cost at the expense of startups or other weaker rivals.

“Given the unresolved debate concerning the benefits and drawbacks of data allowances and usage-based pricing plans, we decline to make blanket findings about these practices,” the commission said. Instead, the agency plans to address complaints about those plans on a case-by-case basis

In the rules, the FCC says it will review the arrangements on a case-by- case basis. It also said it would take a case-by-case approach to limits and caps on data use, saying it found pros and cons of such practices. Pricing based on use can save subscribers money, but critics warn that carriers can use the limits to stifle online competition.

The FCC summarized the rules when it passed them in a 3-2 party-line vote two weeks ago. On Thursday, it detailed them in a 400-page document that also addresses criticism of the rules, provides legal justification for the move and airs objections from dissenting Republican commissioners, who warned the commission’s framework would lead to government overreach and criticized the way the rules were developed.

The commission set some clear limits, banning broadband providers from blocking Web content or letting services pay for priority access. Otherwise, however, it generally avoided limits in favor of setting itself up to punish bad behavior if it occurs.

The commission was careful to write its rules so that they wouldn’t quickly become outdated as technologies evolve, said Kevin Werbach, a professor of legal studies at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School who has advised the FCC on open Internet policies. “It’s a reasonable and logical approach given the degree of uncertainty about what is going to happen in the marketplace,” Mr. Werbach said.“Networks evolve.”


“I said, ‘Wait a minute, that’s the golden mean.’”


Roland Dobbins


: American Drone Operators Are Quitting in Record Numbers

Duh….  The USAF requires OFFICERS to fly the drones.  Most of these signed up to be jet jockeys, but their joy stick is Xbox instead of F-35 Lightning.  AND, the jet jockey’s scorn them on every level.  Sooo, as soon as they can, they quit. 

I also note that it takes 1 year to train a drone pilot…. Really, I can guarantee you that I can develop a 4 week program to take any 18yo right out of boot camp to do the job.  Hell, they probably don’t need more than 8hrs training as they’ve been playing first-person shoot-em-ups online since they were 5.



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

American Drone Operators Are Quitting in Record Numbers

American Drone Operators Are Quitting in Record Numbers

An internal Air Force memo reveals that the US military’s drone wars are in major trouble.

March 5, 2015


A U.S. drone flies over southern Afghanistan during a combat mission. (AP Photo/Lt. Col.. Leslie Pratt, US Air Force)

The US drone war across much of the Greater Middle East and parts of Africa is in crisis, and not because civilians are dying or the target list for that war or the right to wage it just about anywhere on the planet are in question in Washington. Something far more basic is at stake: drone pilots are quitting in record numbers.

There are roughly 1,000 such drone pilots, known in the trade as “18Xs,” working for the US Air Force today. Another 180 pilots graduate annually from a training program that takes about a year to complete at Holloman and Randolph Air Force bases in, respectively, New Mexico and Texas. As it happens, in those same twelve months, about 240 trained pilots quit and the Air Force is at a loss to explain the phenomenon. (The better-known US Central Intelligence Agency drone assassination program is also flown by Air Force pilots loaned out for the covert missions.)

On January 4, 2015, the Daily Beast revealed an undated internal memo to Air Force Chief of Staff General Mark Welsh from General Herbert “Hawk” Carlisle stating that pilot “outflow increases will damage the readiness and combat capability of the MQ-1/9 [Predator and Reaper] enterprise for years to come” and added that he was “extremely concerned.” Eleven days later, the issue got top billing at a special high-level briefing on the state of the Air Force. Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James joined Welsh to address the matter. “This is a force that is under significant stress—significant stress from what is an unrelenting pace of operations,” she told the media.

In theory, drone pilots have a cushy life. Unlike soldiers on duty in “war zones,” they can continue to live with their families here in the United States. No muddy foxholes or sandstorm-swept desert barracks under threat of enemy attack for them. Instead, these new techno-warriors commute to work like any office employees and sit in front of computer screens wielding joysticks, playing what most people would consider a glorified video game.

They typically “fly” missions over Afghanistan and Iraq where they are tasked with collecting photos and video feeds, as well as watching over US soldiers on the ground. A select few are deputized to fly CIA assassination missions over Pakistan, Somalia or Yemen where they are ordered to kill “high value targets” from the sky. In recent months, some of these pilots have also taken part in the new war in the Syrian and Iraqi borderlands, conducting deadly strikes on militants of ISIL.

Each of these combat air patrols involves three to four drones, usually Hellfire-missile-armed Predators and Reapers built by southern California’s General Atomics, and each takes as many as 180 staff members to fly them. In addition to pilots, there are camera operators, intelligence and communications experts and maintenance workers. (The newer Global Hawk surveillance patrols need as many as 400 support staff.)

The Air Force is currently under orders to staff 65 of these regular “combat air patrols” around the clock as well as to support a Global Response Force on call for emergency military and humanitarian missions. For all of this, there should ideally be 1,700 trained pilots. Instead, facing an accelerating dropout rate that recently drove this figure below 1,000, the Air Force has had to press regular cargo and jet pilots as well as reservists into becoming instant drone pilots in order to keep up with the Pentagon’s enormous appetite for real-time video feeds from around the world.

The Air Force explains the departure of these drone pilots in the simplest of terms. They are leaving because they are overworked. The pilots themselves say that it’s humiliating to be scorned by their Air Force colleagues as second-class citizens. Some have also come forward to claim that the horrors of war, seen up close on video screens, day in, day out, are inducing an unprecedented, long-distance version of post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD).

But is it possible that a brand-new form of war—by remote control—is also spawning a brand-new, as yet unlabeled, form of psychological strain? Some have called drone war a “coward’s war” (an opinion that, according to reports from among the drone-traumatized in places like Yemen and Pakistan, is seconded by its victims). Could it be that the feeling is even shared by drone pilots themselves, that a sense of dishonor in fighting from behind a screen thousands of miles from harm’s way is having an unexpected impact of a kind psychologists have never before witnessed?

Of course Grand Theft Auto is good training



Dear Dr. Pournelle,

Seeing your concerns about integrity in the US armed forces, I found this article on a different subject which speaks to the same topic, and why it happens.

So .. Iraqi Army troops were caught beheading ISIS captives. I’m sure this is totally and completely upsetting to anyone who saw those selfsame ISIS people burning a fighter pilot alive.   Taste of their own medicine, what? 

Ah, but the Leahy amendment requires that we cut off financial aid to any  organization which commits human rights violations. 

Now, does anyone reading this really believe we’re going to cut off the Iraqi army because of this?     As if.  We’d have to go back and do it ourselves, which is something this administration absolutely won’t do.  And I’d be shocked in the extreme if there is ANY fighting organization in the Middle East, even the IDF , which could survive the Leahy Amendment. 

So the logical thing to do would be to recognize this, or even repeal the Leahy Amendment as a bad idea. Of course this won’t happen.  There’s too much political capital to invest in it.  
So we can’t disobey the law, and we can’t obey it. So what are we going to do?
It’s blindingly obvious. We’ll lie. We’ll find some justification or rationalization to declare that murder of prisoners isn’t really murder of prisoners, sweep it under the rug, and continue with business as usual. 
It’s pretty much the same thing we discussed with Ferguson — the machinery of law seizing up, unable to adjust to new realities, unaccountable.  The result is that the laws are ignored if possible, and if they can’t be ignored, they’re flatly lied about.
Isn’t that why SOCOM has its own acquisition rules — because the existing logistics system is so bound in red tape it can’t make useful changes in time to be of any use to the warfighter? 
I’m not sure how to fix this. But until it is US Armed Forces personnel will continually find themselves on the horns of a dilemma :To follow the laws and regulations or do their job.   Since doing your job will get you promoted while following the law won’t, it seems logical that the officers we will promote will be people who are not only willing to break the law but are also good at not getting caught at it.   Fixing this is going to require a sweeping cultural change , and not just to the military; the political environment in which the military has to operate also has to sweep away the useless laws, but enforce those few that remain rigorously. 

That’s what needs to happen.  I suspect it will happen when the way things are becomes intolerable. Regrettably, it may take a long time before we reach that point. 

Brian P.

If you disparage Duty, Honor, Country you get the officer corps you deserve.


Yeah, right

What better way to get techno morons to use Apple products than to leak a
story that “CIA” can’t break it?  CIA isn’t in the encryption business.
“To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a
child.” — Cicero, 46 B.C.


Gender Gap in Education Cuts Both Ways

MARCH 10, 2015    nyt

Eduardo Porter

Why do the best-educated girls do worse at math than top-educated boys?

Concern about this deficit exploded into public consciousness 35 years ago, when researchers in the department of psychology at Johns Hopkins University published an article suggesting the gap might be caused by a “superior male mathematical ability.”

The debate that ensued was furious. It was so hot that a quarter of a century later, a similar controversy contributed to the ouster of Lawrence Summers from his post as the president of Harvard.

Was there anything “natural” about the performance gap? Or was it the product of gender bias working its way through schools? As the debate raged, ending the underrepresentation of women in science, technology, engineering and math became a critical policy priority.

Amid the din over top girls’ mathematical abilities, something important was forgotten: What is happening that so many boys are falling behind in pretty much everything else?

Last week the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development — a collective think tank of the world’s industrialized nations — published a report about gender inequality in education, based on the latest edition of its PISA standardized tests taken by 15-year-olds around the world.

Boys Fall Behind

Around the world, more boys than girls are failing to meet minimum standards of proficiency in the O.E.C.D.’s standardized tests.

The gender gap in math persists, it found. Top-performing boys score higher in math than the best-performing girls in all but two of the 63 countries in which the tests were given, including the United States.

Test scores in science follow a similar, if somewhat less lopsided, pattern. And women are still steering clear of scientific careers: Across the O.E.C.D. nations, only 14 percent of young women entering college for the first time chose a science-related field, compared with 39 percent of men.

But these are hardly the most troubling imbalances. The most perilous statistic in the O.E.C.D.’s report is about the dismal performance of less educated boys, who are falling far behind girls.

Six out of 10 underachievers in the O.E.C.D. — who fail to meet the baseline standard of proficiency across the tests in math, reading and science — are boys. That includes 15 percent of American boys, compared with only 9 percent of girls. More boys than girls underperform in every country tested except Luxembourg and Liechtenstein.

Across the board, girls tend to score higher than boys in reading, which the O.E.C.D. considers the most important skill, essential for future learning.

At the bottom, the gap is enormous: The worst-performing American girls — who did worse in reading tests than 94 out of every 100 of their peers — scored 49 points more than bottom-ranked boys, a 15 percent gap. And the deficit across the O.E.C.D. was even bigger.

These deficits have not made it to the top of the policy agenda. But they pose a direct threat to social cohesion and economic prosperity.

“The message you get is that girls around the world don’t get a chance in education, but that is not true for most of the world,” said Gijsbert Stoet, who teaches psychology at the University of Glasgow and has studied educational inequality globally. “Boys around the world don’t do well in education. What surprises me is the lack of eagerness to solve the problems that boys face.”

The message I get is that education is getting worse everywhere because the schools are told to do the impossible. The potentially best teachers leave, and those that remain know they can’t do what they promise. But there is one way to ensure equality. Tarquin demonstrated it.

To see some of what education once did, see


Ponce de Leon vindicated!

A true fountain of youth really exists in these United States. Possibly the one celebrated in St. Augustine, Florida – but probably not.

The real fountain of youth has produced some 6.5 million active Social Security accounts for people at least 112 years old. About two percent of these United States are older than 112, in other words. The article doesn’t specify but one might surmise that the amount paid in annual benefits to these fortunate super seniors dwarfs their annual contributions.

Now if only someone will step forward to tell the rest of us how to obtain such liquid.

Charles Brumbelow





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




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