The Caliphate Advances; Automation and other matters.

Chaos Manor View, Tuesday, May 19, 2015


KFI is weird.  They say you can listen on the Internet, but all I get is ads. Then they thank me for listening to KFI.  There are other stations that think the on air ads arte enough, but not KFI.  They make it difficult to listen, so I don’t bother. Pity

Well they sent me an email that makes it easier, but they still make you listen/watch an extra add, and wait for it to complete before the station starts.

Yes, but we give you so much more, you can listen to many other place.  Sure I can.  Don’t want to.


Islamic State Solidifies Foothold in Libya to Expand Reach

Extremist group has sent money, trainers and fighters



Dion Nissenbaum and

Maria Abi-Habib

Updated May 18, 2015 7:20 p.m. ET

Islamic State leaders in Syria have sent money, trainers and fighters to Libya in increasing numbers, raising new concerns for the U.S. that the militant group is gaining traction in its attempts to broaden its reach and expand its influence.

In recent months, U.S. military officials said, Islamic State has solidified its foothold in Libya as it searches for ways to capitalize on rising popularity among extremist groups around the world.

“ISIL now has an operational presence in Libya, and they have aspirations to make Libya their African hub,” said one U.S. military official, using an acronym for the group. “Libya is part of their terror map now.”

And every advance ISIS makes strengthens the Caliphate’s claim to be the true legitimate rulers of the Moslem world. Interestingly, their own logic says that if they can be defeated and have no territory to rule that are not legitimate and it is not the Will of Allah that they rule. Give me the 101st Airborne and the Warthogs and I will put paid to their claims. And no, I have no particular claim to that post; I do mean that giving the right orders would do the job.

The Caliphate does not quite yet pose an existential threat to the US, but they are approaching it.


From the commencement address given by Garry Kasparov, the Russian opposition figure and former world chess champion, at Saint Louis University, May 16:

Every day we make choices large or small: individuals, companies, entire nations. Are those choices guided by the values we treasure? Are we loyal to the principles of individual freedom, of faith, of excellence, of compassion, of the value of human life? Or do we trade them away, bit by bit, for material goods, for a quiet life, and to pass the problems of today on to the next generation?

These moral values are also the values of innovation and the free market, by the way. It is no coincidence that these founding American values created the greatest democracy in the world and also the greatest economy in the world. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus urged his believers to be a “City on a Hill,” a shining example to the world, a phrase used to describe America by John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan. I saw that America from the other side of the Iron Curtain and I can tell you that it mattered. And it matters still.

If America is to continue as a “light of the world” it will be up to you and to your generation to hold fast to these values and not to trade them away for a safe and stagnant status quo. Risk is not only for entrepreneurs. Risk is for anyone who will fight for these values in their lives and in the world every day.

We met Garry in Moscow in 1989, and had a pleasant dinner; it was still the USSR at the time.



Bremer obviously was not perfect. However; the analogy of retaining the cadre of experienced civil servants and technicians that maintained the infrastructure in post war Germany to retaining the Baathists in post invasion Iraq is fundamentally flawed. While not all Germans were Nazis, almost all Nazis in Germany were German. Most became Nazis in order to keep their job. There was little resentment from the general population towards the former Nazis. The situation in post invasion Iraq was more analogous to liberating German occupied Russia, then retaining the German occupiers to provide security. The analogy of retaining Nazis to administer a liberated Israel

The Baathists in Iraq were overwhelmingly Sunni Muslims who had recently waged a vicious, almost genocidal campaign to suppress uprisings by the Shia and Kurds.

James Crawford=

All that should have been obvious before we went in: which means either we ought not to have gone in, or realized that a “democratic Iraq” was not achievable. Our options were dismemberment of the country into Kurds, Shia, and Sunni; or restoration of a minority that would protect the factions from each other; probably a Baath dictatorship. If none of that acceptable, don’t go in at all. When you win a battle or a war you should know what to do next. We had no clue.

Agreed Mr. Obama had an impossible assignment. He had no good options, so he chose —


Automation Replacing People



This is both a humbling book and, in the best sense, a humble one. Ford, a software entrepreneur who both understands the technology and has made a thorough study of its economic consequences, never succumbs to the obvious temptation to overdramatize or exaggerate. In fact, he has little to say about one of the most ominous arenas for automation — the military, where not only are pilots being replaced by drones, but robots like the ones that now defuse bombs are being readied for deployment as infantry.


This is part of an ongoing process that has spanned decades and started with the aircraft navigators.  When I was a Navy C-130F navigator, 1982 through 1985 inclusive, we had six crewmen; pilot, copilot, flight engineer, navigator, radioman, and loadmaster.

The current C-130J has a crew of three; pilot,  copilot, and flight engineer/loadmaster.

Indeed, the Navy and the Air Force stopped teaching celestial navigation back about the year 2003.

The opening salvo of the “Rise of the Machines” and the displacement of the navigators came with the introduction and widespread deployment of compact aircraft inertial navigation systems (INS) and  Global Positioning System (GPS) in the 1980s and 1990s, respectively.  At first, the INS took 15 minutes to initialize the mechanical gyroscopes and would be thrown off by a gust of wind that rocked the wings of the aircraft, necessitating a further 15 minutes to re-initialize..

I remember sitting at Naval Air Station Keflavik, Iceland for the better part of two hours whilst the palletized INS we were using to ferry a short range T-39 Sabreliner executive transport jet re-initialized again and again as gusts of wind shook the aircraft.  It was maddening to get to 14 minutes and 39 seconds into the 15 minute initialization process, only to have to start again when a particularly strong gust of wind shook the aircraft.

Once the ring laser gyro system and its roughly 5 second initialization process entered the scene, we overwater navigators became much less necessary.  This led apace to the elimination of in-flight navigators.

The wisdom of eliminating us navigators in peacetime was beyond question as both a matter of economy and efficiency.  How the U.S. military will cope in a war against a near peer adversary who can destroy a major portion of our GPS satellite constellation and fry the majority of our electronics, including navigation systems, remains to be seen.

I went on to become an Information Technology Specialist in the federal civil service for 24 years before retiring at the end of August 2013; “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.”


I hope this perspective from a skilled professional who was displaced by emerging technologies adds a worthwhile perspective to the discussion at hand.



My sentiments. How will anyone navigate if an Argus attack takes out GPS? The military has not yet taken away the bayonet, nor should they.

I once took a artificial horizon Polaris observation – as a lark, for I was merely an observer in the KC-135 headed for Thule – and I fear I ended up telling the pilot we was 200 miles from where we really were. Fortunately he laughed.


Greetings and blessings to you Jerry

I suspect you have seen this; if not, it is worth at least a scan. 

I now (last 5 years or so) realize what happened to me in my past career of special agent.  I am the cybercrimes agent that you and Miss Roberta had lunch with in December of 2010.  That 3 hours with you is still on my mind often, and you encouraged me in the pursuits of my EMP protection start-up. 

You and your health are in my prayers.  Thanks for continuing to do what you do.

James F. Ponder

“We will soon create intelligences greater than our own. When this happens, human history will have reached a kind of singularity, an intellectual transition as impenetrable as the knotted space-time at the center of a black hole, and the world will pass far beyond our understanding. This singularity, I believe, already haunts a number of science-fiction writers. It makes realistic extrapolation to an interstellar future impossible. To write a story set more than a century hence, one needs a nuclear war in between … so that the world remains intelligible.”

Mathematician Vernor Vinge, in Omni magazine, January 1983

I remember well.


Self-driving big rigs
Having driven Freightliners, I’m impressed but not overly so. There are still enough places it can’t handle driving that you still need someone in the cab, ready to take over when the computer can’t handle the job. (And I’m not sure how much confidence to place in its own judgment about that question.)
Still, the turnover rate for drivers is quite high, mostly due to stress; the year I lasted doing it is about the average. And most wrecks are due to driver fatigue. So I can easily believe these things will soon be safer drivers than the people who now have the job. And if they are, they will proliferate as fast as they can be built.

John David Galt

The transition will be rough but it is inevitable.


Dr. Pournelle,
Save the eels: give the cocaine to moths:



Measuring the temperature

Hi Dr Pournelle,
I have seen your comments on the difficulty of accurately measuring the temperature, and I completely agree with them. However Randall Monroe posits a surprisingly simple and elegant method for this in one of his xkcd’s What If columns:
“For the most part, the temperature of groundwater in an area is equal to the year-round average air temperature of the surface. Water is a terrific absorber of energy, requiring huge amounts of it to change temperature.[1] Underground reservoirs of water tend to warm up and cool down too sluggishly to respond to the comparatively brief winter-summer temperature swings.[2]
This property makes springs a useful “thermometer” for an area. Instead of spending a year measuring the temperature each day and night, and then calculating the average, you can just stick a thermometer in a spring any time of year.
If you look at a map of groundwater temperatures, you’ll see it closely resembles a map of year-round average air temperatures (PDF, see page 6).
However, this rule only holds true in places where the main energy source heating the groundwater is the same one heating the air—sunlight. “
Of course this doesn’t help with measuring the temperature in deserts or the poles, but I think it would be very interesting to see some historical plots of springwater temperatures (but there probably aren’t any).
Dave Checkley

I find the idea interesting, since nature will have done most of the averaging in a way that can’t be altered, making it more likely to be repeatable without adjustment. I am of course no climate scientist; my experience with temperature measurement and its difficulties comes fro measurement of human temperatures; my environmental temperatures in the experiments were in the hundreds of degrees, and accuracy to the nearest decimal point were not required. It was, however, required to have human skin temperatures to a tenth of a degree since to point was to see changes and predict other changes. We solved the “average temperature” problem by using an anal probe: the astronaut’s body did the averaging. This proposal seems similar. Of course it would not seem to be universally obtainable, so how would you treat such cases as deserts and such? Would those temperatures average with the ground water data?


Gee, is it time to end the war on Drugs as a total defeat now?

It seems genetic engineers are closing in on making yeast that grows Morphine.

Once they are made, no matter where, they will escape. They will find their way to illegal and malign hands. The Morphine will be made. From the morphine, Heroin will be made.

If this is possible with Heroin, it will be possible with almost anything organic. If little Johnny with his Gilbert Junior Gene Splicing Kit can put together fancy new yeast strains that grow fancy new drugs the Great War on the American People by its Government er the War on Drugs is once and for all truly and completely lost.

Genetically Engineered Yeast Makes It Possible To Brew Morphine

Sleep well. We have a wonderful new world in front of us.


I have long thought the war on drugs lost. We tried an experiment with liquor and the result was disastrous; the drug war seems moreso; and the DEA seems unconstitutional: the states may prohibit drugs, but if liquor required the 18th amendment to make the Volstead Act constitutional, where in the constitution does it allow the feds to prohibit marijuana? Or heroin for that matter. They can be forbidden in interstate commerce, but if grown in the state?

But leaving the constitution aside – which we seem increasingly to do when it comes to federal power – have we not learned that prohibition of self indulgences leads to problems? I can argue that a society without marijuana is a better society, but it is pretty clear that the result of trying to make it so leads to very bad consequences.





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




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