Chaos Manor View, Wednesday, April 27, 2016
“This is the most transparent administration in history.”
Liberalism is a philosophy of consolation for Western Civilization as it commits suicide.
Under Capitalism, the rich become powerful. Under Socialism, the powerful become rich.
Under Socialism, government employees become powerful.
I’m still working hard on fiction; just returned from lunch after a conference with Steve Barnes, Larry Niven, and a short confab with Dr. Jack Cohen in England; we definitely have a book, and now to plunge ahead and write it. AS also hear from our agent that “Call of Cthulhu” will not be popular with the sales force of any publisher interested in this book, so it is very unlikely to be the actual title. It will be the third book in the series The Legacy of Heorot followed by Beowulf’s Children, and incorporates the events of The Legend of Blackship Island which chronologically comes between Heorot and Beowulf’s Children. These are the stories of the first interstellar colony, in a realistic universe that has no faster than light travel (which is what scientists believe we live in now, what with Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity).
Now a second colony ship comes from Earth and appears to be matching orbits with Geographic, the ship that the Avalon colonists came in and which orbits their colony world. In this hard science fiction book we explore the realities and speculate on the motivations of those who go to live among the stars, given the cost of getting there in slower than light vessels. If that sounds like I am practicing writing blurbs for this book, you’re probably right, but it’s as accurate a description as I can come up with; I hope it intrigues you. Sand if you haven’t read the first two books in the series, you may find them to your taste if you’re a hard science fiction fan.
Anyway, that’s much of what I’ve been doing.
I suppose you can call this a pre-announcement: shortly we will announce that There Will Be War, Volume XI, will be published in November and is now open for submissions. It’s not the formal announcement because I don’t have the web addresses for formal submission. I don’t open attachments to emails to me (obviously with some exceptions which I’m not going to tell you) because I only read plaintext in Outlook, so sending me stories to Chaos Manor isn’t going to work; I’m sure I’ll have the web addresses very shortly.
Publisher is Castalia House. There will be a hardbound edition and eBook editions. We buy nonexclusive anthology rights only: that means we buy previously published works, and if you send an original work – a lot of people do – understand that if it is accepted you still have first serial rights until after November, after which they no longer exist for anyone. Payment on acceptance is an advance against royalties: royalties vary in this strange age, so it’s hard to say exactly, but they are competitive, and contributors receive a pro rate share of half what I receive.
My contribution is a volume introduction, and individual story introductions. I have been known to make editorial suggestions, particularly to original contributions. I have also been known to make other contributions, fiction and non-fiction, as I find necessary.
The series has done well, even the nearly thirty year old volumes. Three stories in Volume X were nominated for Hugo’s (Hugo’s to be awarded in August at MidAmericon II).
Once again it has become too late for me to write an essay on Conservatism, Populism, and Democracy. I will once again remind you that a primary axiom of conservatism, There never was a democracy that did not commit suicide,” was accepted by nearly every member of the Philadelphia Convention of 1787. The goal was to establish a survivable Union of states with wildly and violently opposite views about some very fundamental principles, Slavery being only one of them. The tendency for a democracy to quickly degenerate into class warfare was always on their minds. How could that be prevented?
This was no joke. Britain was poised to take advantage of any disunion. There were other threats to liberty.
Was the goal. No one was entirely pleased with the result; the Federalist papers, once published as essays in popular newspapers, and now considered to difficult for lower division political science majors, address some of the problems.
So long as Washington was President, there was reasonable harmony. The Hamilton-Adams-Jefferson-Burr election went to the House, and resulted in a sitting Vice President shooting his opponent dead in a duel. A ruling class emerged, but that didn’t work. Then the beginnings of a Party system.
We are at a turning point now. For decades the upper-lower class and the lower-middle class have felt themselves ignored by both parties, devoid of influence and power, and losing ground every year.
This election is likely to be crucial. Will they be persuaded that “Hope and Change” – which translates into soak the rich and get free stuff – is the only answer? If not. What is? And who’s listening?
Of course it was inevitable:
Army regs be dashed – she wants to wear the hijab
A national security expert says political correctness may once again prevail in the case of a female Muslim student who wants to wear a headscarf with her Army uniform during ROTC events.
The U.S. Army recently granted an exemption to a captain who wanted to wear a beard and turban in accordance with his Sikh faith. Now the historic Citadel military academy in Charleston, South Carolina, is considering whether to grant the request of a female student who wants to wear a Muslim head scarf, known as a “hijab.”
According to The Washington Post, the school is considering a second request as well from the student: that she be allowed to cover her arms and legs during exercise. The Post also clarifies that the woman has been “admitted” to the school but has not yet chosen to attend. [snip}
Trump foreign policy speech today
You could have written the whole thing.--Phil Tharp
Well, I would say some things differently, but the principle revealed are not all that different from what I have said for years. I would have to read it more closely than I have before endorsing it, but nothing in my reading stands out for objection. I will have more on that when I have more time.
This should make you happy
Look at paragraphs 9 and 10.
In the sense that it seems Mr. Trump is demonstrating his ability to be Presidential, I am pleased that any candidate can do so. But do understand, I have not endorsed Mr. Trump. I do refuse to denounce him.
What Could We Build With Extra-Strong, See-Through Wood? (journal)
Scientists in Sweden came up with a hybrid that’s considerably stronger than acrylic and lets in far more light than normal wood
April 21, 2016 12:06 p.m. ET
Wood is a great building material because it is strong, affordable and renewable. If only it were transparent!
That, at least, was the thought that occurred to a team of scientists in Sweden, who went ahead and made it so—after a fashion. They came up with a hybrid of wood and acrylic that retains some of the advantages of each material. Their Franken-wood is considerably stronger than acrylic, they report, and it lets in far more light than normal wood, which makes it a promising possible building material.
The team, at Sweden’s Wallenberg Wood Science Center and the country’s KTH Royal Institute of Technology, relied on nanotechnology, the science of very small things. Previous research in this vein has yielded foldable transparent paper, and in 2012, a member of the transparent-wood team, Lars Berglund, was part of a group that managed to create a transparent crab shell. They did it by extracting calcium carbonate, protein, lipids and pigments, replacing them with an acrylic resin while preserving the shell’s shape.
This time, Dr. Berglund and his fellow researchers worked with small pieces of balsa. They first had to remove most of its lignin, a naturally occurring substance that strengthens plant-cell walls, darkens wood and blocks light. Wood with the lignin removed looks white, but it scatters too much light to be transparent.
Lars Berglund explains nano cellulose
So the scientists injected it with prepolymerized methyl methacrylate, a version of the material used in such acrylic panels as Plexiglas, and then heated it at around 158 degrees Fahrenheit for four hours. The result was see-through wood that, thanks to the plastic infusion, was even stronger than before, Dr. Berglund reports. “We are making plywood at this very moment,” he says by email, adding: “We make each layer separate and then laminate them together.”
In their experiment, the scientists were able to dial up or down how much light passed through the wood based on the volume of the chemical infusion, but thickness makes a big difference too. The scientists report that a thin piece of wood—just 0.7 mm thick and treated with their process—let through 90% of light. But when they used a piece 3.7 mm thick (about a seventh of an inch), only about 40% of the light passed though.
The desired transparency would depend on how the material is employed. The scientists foresee its being used someday in construction to let more natural light into buildings, where complete transparency might not be welcome. The transparent wood isn’t as clear as glass, but its haziness can be a virtue in solar panels, the scientists say, because it means light could be trapped for longer in a solar cell. “Longer trapping time means better interaction between light and active medium,” they write, “which can lead to better solar-cell efficiency.”
“Optically Transparent Wood from a Nanoporous Cellulosic Template: Combining Functional and Structural Performance,” Yuanyuan Li, Qiliang Fu, Shun Yu, Min Yan and Lars Berglund, Biomacromolecules (March 4)
Moore’s law spinoffs continue. And the Law is inexorable.
Wikipedia succumbs to the Iron Law.
Wikipedia Is Basically a Corporate Bureaucracy, According to a New Study
By Jennifer Ouellette
Wikipedia is a voluntary organization dedicated to the noble goal of decentralized knowledge creation. But as th…
I cannot see any attribution to Doctor Pournelle, though this is clearly describing the Iron Law in action.
Well, I never expect acknowledgement but it is pleasant when it happens.
Dear Jerry –
Some research on the Murfreesboro arrests suggests that there may be rather less here than meets the eye. Keeping in mind that I am not a lawyer, nor do I play one on television,
Criminal responsibility is ordinarily a pretty common-sense concept. From a related case,
“A person is criminally responsible for an offense committed by the conduct of another, if:
(2) Acting with intent to promote or assist the commission of the offense, or to benefit in the proceeds or results of the offense, the person solicits, directs, aids, or attempts to aid another person to commit the offense;”
In other words, if A is assaulting B, and C prevents B from running away, C is held criminally responsible for the assault on B, even if C did not actually assault B.
Furthermore, under some circumstances a person does have a legal obligation to intervene, but this is apparently applied to parental relationships, and forms the basis for charges of child neglect. A parent who willfully permits his or her child to be harmed is clearly doing something wrong, and criminal charges in these cases does not seem to violate common sense. It’s hard to imagine how such a legal duty can be applied to children 6 to 11, so I’m dubious that it is.
In the case of the Murfreesboto arrests, I’d guess that either the spokesman being quoted was confused, or the reporter reported selectively. To be fair, I suspect the spokesman was constrained in his discussion by the fact that the arrested were minors. I don’t know Tennessee law, but I suspect that in such cases not much information can be released.
That said, an arrest of this sort suggests one of two possibilities: either the police wildly overreacted, or the “fight” which started things off was a very nasty, “Lord of the Flies” bit of work and somebody got seriously injured. In the course of time all may be made clear. Or, since this is a juvenile case, maybe not.
In either case, I doubt that the police are, in fact, implying a general duty to intervene, so my previous comments are probably not really valid.
In Warren v. District of Columbia, the US Supreme Court has decided that a law enforcement officer has no legal responsibility to prevent a criminal offense (in this case, violent rape and torture).
If the POLICE have no legal responsibility to make any effort whatsoever to prevent an offense, what responsibility does anyone else have?
There is a certain irony in the police constantly telling people not to take the law into their own hands, then arresting schoolchildren for obeying those admonitions.
Murfreesboro and guns
Dear Mr. Pournelle,
I agree that the Murfreesboro arrests open rather too many cans of worms; but I note some immediate responses on the order of “we need to be armed.”
I grew up hunting. I am not afraid of guns. But I am also quite aware that they are not magic wands, which you wave and the bad guys fall down. From everything I can learn, actually hitting your *target* at a time of danger and stress is very difficult. Hitting bystanders instead seems rather likely.
I am convinced that anyone who thinks they should have a gun for self defense or to keep order should be expected to undergo regular combat training. Otherwise, it’s just daydreams.
Allan E. Johnson
SUBJ: “Dear Scrotty Students . . .”
This letter was a hoax of sorts, posted somewhere on the internet as a response from Oxford to students attending as Rhodes Scholars to remove the statue of Oxford Benefactor Cecil Rhodes.
Not sure who wrote this. Best line to the students: “Understand us and understand this clearly: you have everything to learn from us; we have nothing to learn from you.”
Perhaps extreme, but tempting…
Police Power to Detain Drivers
Your correspondent John and the headline from the link he provided both inaccurately describe the decision of the 9th Circuit. The decision did not enlarge police’s authority to detain drivers. All the decision resolved is that officers have no obligation to truthfully tell a detained driver why a detention is occurring. In other words, the police can lie to you. This is hardly news. If an officer sees a driver obeying all traffic laws, but the officer has a reasonable suspicion based upon articulable facts that there are illegal drugs in the car, the officer can legally stop the driver. The officer can then falsely tell the driver that she is being detained because the officer saw the driver fail to signal a lane change. If the driver later moves to get any evidence discovered during the stop excluded because she did signal all lane changes, the police can defeat her motion by establishing their reasonable suspicion of illegal activity.
And this is all right with you? I’d need time to think about this. Is this not exonerating false arrest? Now true, if the car is full of contraband, the officer will probably not be punished, but will the drugs be admissible?
Police lying to suspects
I am NOT appalled by the court ruling that cops can lie to suspects.
On the one hand, this levels the playing field, because the suspects often lie to the cops.
On the other hand, it gives cops the chance to make contact with suspects who (as in this case) are committing felonies in the background, but being squeaky-clean to observers. It is certainly a lot less drama than that involved with a “felony stop” event. Compare the risk to bystanders of rolling up on the suspect vehicle, guns drawn, and dragging out the occupants (who may be armed and less than willing to be dragged out), vs. pulling them to the side of the road, saying “you didn’t signal that lane change,” getting them to choose to get out of the car (and away from weapons), THEN making the arrest.
On the gripping hand, this also gives the cops a chance to listen to the suspects respond to accusations of something they know they didn’t do, where they might make incriminating comments regarding the things they ARE doing.
All of this is taking place prior to any arrest, crossing of the Miranda threshold, etc. I would be appalled if the court said that cops are allowed to lie on their paperwork or in court, but the initial contact is an entirely different situation.
The rulings on admissible evidence were first applicable only to federal officers; it was only relatively recently that the Supreme Court found among the penumbras a right to enforce against the States. Are you convinced that this is a Federal matter at all?
Dinosaurs weren’t wiped out by that meteorite after all
You may find this interesting. Seems that geological factors such as separating continents and volcanoes in the Deccan Traps were already browbeating the dinos, so that the Chicxulub impact was a coup de grace:
Since the flowering plants that we think of as trees evolved around the same time, I wonder how the change in herbage entered into the mix.
It seems the dinosaurs had a string of bad luck. Lucky for us.
There went our few years of fame…
Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.