Chaos Manor View, Friday, February 19, 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.
Trump and the Pope.
I doubt that His Holiness pays any detailed attention to American politics, and since all the mainstream media runs headlines making fun of Trump and parodies his positions, I suppose it was inevitable. On the papal airplane a reporter – whose name is curiously omitted from every account of the incident I have ever seen – asked about the desire to build a wall along the Southern border of the United States. I put it ambiguously because I cannot find the text of the question, nor the reporter’s name.
His Holiness answered “A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian,” which is the answer you might expect from this Pope if the question is a general question in the abstract. What would you have him say? It is certainly true: if your entire policy is building walls and rejecting people, you are certainly acting as Jesus would have; would you have the Holy Father say otherwise? Indeed, if his sole activity in the Vatican were to be to order the Swiss Guard to erect a fortress, it would hardly be a Christian act. The Vatican certainly has walls – as Trump later pointed out – and indeed in its time has had fortresses, tunnels to them, cannon, and a rather good army to protect it, and this not just in the time of the Borgias. The Pope knows this; he is clearly discussing an abstract principle, not a particular man, as his staff’s frantic attempts to de-escalate the situation have tried to make clear.
I would think it really depends on the wording of the question.
Whatever the wording, the reporter had his story, and rushed off to phone it in. The media went into triumph mode, and the headlines and TV crawls started immediately. “Pope Francis Suggests Donald Trump Is ‘Not Christian” trumpeted the Newspaper of Record, the New York Times, and that was one of the mildest banners.
It was a tempest in a teapot. Trump, as is his want, fired a salvo in his defense, then began to moderate it. The Vatican backed and filled. This is not a new round in the Thirty Years War; the Treaty of Westphalia prevails. States are allowed to defend their borders – as the Vatican does—and remain Christian. Whether a big wall is either necessary or sufficient to control our Southern border, it certainly won’t hurt, and there are many reasons to believe it will be a big help. Trump doesn’t hate Mexicans. American Christians can and do contribute to tons of causes in Mexico, and do. Trump remains a good Christian Protestant as Jack Kennedy was a Catholic.
Peace and Joy.
Whatever your views on migrants, I doubt you would read this day book for long if you believed in unrestricted immigration and a world without borders. To be clear: I am an enthusiast for the American Melting Pot and assimilation, and I firmly believe that migration with no intent at assimilation is invasion, and we have a perfect right to resist invasion.
I do not believe we can deport all the illegal immigrants in any reasonable period, but that does not mean unlimited acceptance. It is a complicated matter. I do think those who cannot obey the laws should be at the top of the list for deportation, but I don’t suppose any significant number of Americans would disagree with that statement. I would consider paying a significant bounty to anyone willing to self-deport, but I put that as a matter for discussion, not instant implementation. As a firm believer in mens rea as a necessary condition for criminal punishment, I have very mixed emotions concerning those brought to the United States as minor children. I would certainly consider honorable service in the Armed Forces as a path to citizenship. All those matters can be discussed; but until we have control of the borders, the discussion is moot.
I am working on a Chaos Manor Reviews item on Ransomware, how it works, and how to defend yourself. Whatever else you do, install Microsoft Security Essentials; and do not click on any attachment to any email that does not come from a known source – and just because it has a friend’s return address doesn’t mean that your friend sent it. Not only can the friend’s address be faked, but the fact this this sender is a friend of yours isn’t that hard to discover.
Ransomware is an insidious attack that encrypts all the data on your system; by all I mean not only the stuff on your computer, but any other drive that it’s networked to. The only way to get the data back is to pay the ransom for the encryption key; payment is usually to be made in bitcoins, and can run to multiple thousands of dollars. There’s nothing for it but to pay; Abbey a NCIS won’t be able to get your data back, much less anyone you know.
South Carolina Tomorrow
In tomorrow’s South Carolina primary, the polls are, in important ways, cryptic.
Trump’s average has slid slightly, from mid to low thirties – this tells me he hasn’t (thus far) picked up much support from the recent dropouts.
His ~1/3rd of Republicans ceiling, for now at least, seems real and holding. Extrapolating this, in a two-way race he loses the nomination handily, and in a three-way race his chances aren’t great.
The key thus becomes how soon does the race (currently six-way) narrow to three, or two. Trump’s interest in preventing a single strong challenger emerging for as long as possible is obvious; hence his recent barrage against Cruz. This has apparently been working. Cruz’s poll average numbers have slid from a solid second place in the low twenties, to an effective tie for second in the high teens with the rebounding Rubio.
But those averages are based on numbers all over the place. Cruz’s this-week SC polls high/low mark is 23/13, Rubio’s 22/15. Dig deeper and these variations in part result from different assumptions on turnout by various groups, notably older voters and conservatives.
Bush and Kasich meanwhile duel for fourth place at around ten percent, with Carson bringing up the rear at around seven.
What to look for tomorrow night:
Twice now, the final polling averages have concealed surprises. In Iowa, Trump significantly underperformed, while Cruz and Rubio overperformed. In New Hampshire, Trump turned this around to a modest overperformance, Kasich did likewise to take (distant) second, while Rubio suffered from the Cristie debate hit and fell to fifth.
A lack of surprises in SC tomorrow – Cruz/Rubio effectively tied for distant second, Bush/Kasich for more distant fourth – is a significant tactical Trump win. He does not then automatically “run the table”, but he’d be a step closer. Add a significant Trump overperformance from his current 32.9 average, and even more so.
Surprises to watch for are either or both of the apparently close battles, for second or fourth, not being close. An unambiguous strong second could lead to increased perception of being the one who might beat Trump, a weak fifth to increased donor pressure for dropout. A significant Trump underperformance is also possible (not predicted, but
possible) at which point his inevitability perception could take a major hit.
Tomorrow, it’s the voters of South Carolina’s turn. We’ll see.
Well, thanks for telling us what to look for.
Sander and neverland
Dear Dr. Pournelle,
First, I’m experimenting somewhat with google mail. The formatting of the last few emails I have sent you seems to be off. This sentence, for example, marks the end of a paragraph.
That bastion of right-wing extremism, Mother Jones, has examined the numbers coming out of the Sanders campaign — or at least, numbers they imply they support without explicitly endorsing them — and declares them fantasy.
The link includes some graphs and data, which I leave for the perusal of yourself and your readers.
: Pat Buchanan on Trump
What he said!
My knee jerk reaction to Apple’s refusal to create a special OS to break into the San Bernardino Terrorist’s iPhone was indignation. How could Apple stand in the way of learning about other potential acts of terrorism?
After a few moments of thought I came to the conclusion that Apple took the correct stand and is trying to protect the privacy and freedom of all iPhone users throughout the World.
It is clear that our Central Government is too big and literally out of control. It is our duty as Citizens to carefully way our options and use the ballot box to protect our privacy and freedom.
I think the Republic can survive strong encryption; I am not sure it can survive indefinite increases in government power.
Belmont, Fishtown, and Church
I enjoyed the robust exchange between you and Mark on Murray’s work.
I’m not pointing this out because I think you or Mark missed this understanding; I’m pointing it out because it wasn’t mentioned and I think it contributes to your exchange.
I would offer that church attendance may play an important function for very practical reasons. I think it was in the opening of the film “The Departed” that Jack Nicholson said it, plainly: “Years ago we had the church. That was only a way of saying – we had each other.”
Church, as I understand it, comes from Greek and means “community”. I did not look that up in the OED; that’s what I was told by people who attend church and that’s how they feel about it. I don’t know that everyone feels that way, but I do know that social order flows from church attendance. I’ve seen it first hand. People have relationships they would not have any other way simply because they’re “brothers in Christ” if you will.
Other organizations, the Rotary Club, the Freemasons, and so on offer something similar but church is unique in the content it offers and
the participants it attracts. Simply put, people benefit from
interaction with others with common values. People who attend church share some common values and it would be more easy to build rapport and leverage social capital into economic rewards.
People might be more likely to go into business together if they know one another from their church groups. A couple might be more likely to marry, having met at church. In fact, church people tend to wear their best or at least more formal than usual clothing to church. Is this only to show respect in their worship or do they mean to impress others as well? Perhaps subconsciously? Even if not, maybe some women look better to some men when they dress for church and vice versa….
◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊
Joshua Jordan, KSC
WSJ no longer available through Google
As you said on 2/17/2016 about access to WSJ articles through Google:
“However. If you Google the exact title – which I will cite – that often takes you to the article; it’s some sort of deal the Journal has with Google, and it’s quite legal for you to use it.”
Unfortunately, WSJ turned off that mode of access a few weeks ago as described at many locations including http://digiday.com/publishers/wall-street-journal-paywall-google/
I had been reading Taranto’s “Best of the Web”
through Google access ever since they put it behind their paywall. Unfortunately they blocked it a few weeks ago. Then it was open for a couple of days again before being blocked again.
WSJ has closed in upon itself behind its paywall, sort of like passing beyond the event horizon of a black hole.
Authors who want to be widely read should avoid publishing in WSJ as their works will have very limited distribution. There are many, many sites that provide open access to columnists. Even some of WSJ’s own columnists publish their articles independently on their own or other web sites, though they may not appear on those other sites until several days after they appear in WSJ.
Actually, the use of Google to bypass the WSJ firewall has apparently been suspended; it hasn’t worked for me for almost three weeks.
Thank you. I missed that announcement.
Replication Crisis and Repetition Crisis
“With data becoming ever more abundant, this should be the golden age of the social sciences. And yet they seem to be suffering two mirror-image nervous breakdowns—the Replication Crisis and the Repetition Crisis.”
“Something like 70 or 75 percent of America is now in a protected group. This is a disaster for social science because social science is really hard to begin with. And now you have to try to explain social problems without saying anything that casts any blame on any member of a protected group. And not just moral blame, but causal blame. None of these groups can have done anything that led to their victimization or marginalization.”
“[I]t is unacceptably easy to publish “statistically significant” evidence consistent with any hypothesis.”
The article is focused on the social sciences but many of its observations appear to apply equally well to climate “science”.
I agree; Steve’s article is worth your time if you have anything to do with modern research evaluation or conducting. Undergraduate statistics in most department other than Mathematics is not rigorous and does not spend much time in statistical inference and its assumptions; it’s mostly cookbook, and fairly useless for actual understanding. Good for generating publishable “peer” reviewed works, though.
Hogwash in science
Dear Dr. Pournelle,
I believe you will find this article quite worthy of your time, as it lists some of the myriad ways in which scientists pass off hogwash as legitimate science.
My apologies that the word he uses is not “hogwash”, but it is equally accurate.
The three most obvious methods that I saw in the article:
1) Assert that something has been “proven,” “shown,” or “found” and then cite, in support of this assertion, a study that has actually been heavily critiqued (fairly and in good faith, let us say, although that is not always the case, as we soon shall see) WITHOUT acknowledging any of the published criticisms of the study or otherwise grappling with its inherent limitations.
2) Refer to evidence as being of “high quality” simply because it comes from an in-principle relatively strong study design, like a randomized control trial, without checking the specific materials that were used in the study to confirm that they were fit for purpose
Here’s the one that is almost certainly fraudulent:
3) Step 3.1:
Scan the scholarly databases for anything which might critique your hypothesis.
Make it a point to dash off a letter to the editor critiquing the problematic paper.
Do this for all such papers.
3.2 At the end of the year, write a “systematic review” in which you consider all the papers for and against your position. Now summarily dismiss the offending papers as “refuted by experts” (i.e. you and your cronies) . However, you fail to find any problems in the studies supporting your position.
3.3 NOW you publish.
Now that we know about it, it would be useful to have some way to track this kind of activity, so we can catch such unscrupulous researchers out.
The End of DuPont Central Research
The short-termers have won again; another giant of corporate research has fallen…
“Why DuPont Shrunk Its Central Research Unit Experts see the cuts to the illustrious unit as part of a trend that puts business first
“Less than a week after DuPont announced its merger with Dow Chemical on
Dec. 11, DuPont managers told scientists at DuPont Central Research &
Development in Wilmington, Del., to halt all laboratory work. The
researchers were to label unmarked samples and leave everything else in
place. Severe and unprecedented cuts, the researchers were warned, were
Between Christmas and New Year’s Day, employees received Microsoft
Outlook invitations for 10-minute meetings with their supervisors. On
Jan. 4, they took their turns learning if they would be let go.
Cardboard file boxes were left in the lobbies at DuPont’s Experimental
Station for workers to carry out their personal effects. Delaware state
troopers were on-site in case of incident.
“It was one by one all day long,” a former researcher who asked not to
be named tells C&EN. “And it was one of the most miserable days I ever had.”
The layoffs were part of a DuPont plan to roll up its storied Central
R&D (CR&D) organization and fold it into a new group called Science &
Innovation. The move was part of a larger program at DuPont meant to
save $700 million annually, cut 10% of its workforce, and prepare the
company for the merger with Dow….
…Leading-edge chemistry flourished at CR&D. “It was, for many years,
arguably the world’s center of fundamental research in organometallic
chemistry,” noted Harvard chemistry professor George M. Whitesides
recently in an essay in Angewandte Chemie International Edition (2015,
DOI: 10.1002/anie.201410884). Influential carbene chemistry specialist
Anthony J. Arduengo III, now at the University of Alabama, began his
career at CR&D in the 1970s. So did Massachusetts Institute of
Technology chemist and Nobel Laureate Richard Schrock.
At CR&D, publishing “was viewed as a worthwhile objective in its own
right,” Nugent recalls. “We were expected at the end of the year to have
publications in primary, revered, peer-reviewed journals.”
In the 1960s, according to Nugent, CR&D was publishing more papers in
the Journal of the American Chemical Society (JACS) than MIT and
California Institute of Technology combined. “That is beyond belief,” he
says. “Sixty papers a year.”
DuPont, Nugent says, was one of six companies—including Bell Labs,
Eastman Kodak, Exxon, IBM, and Merck & Co.—that represented a large
chunk of JACS articles from the 1950s through the 1990s. These six
companies continued to be responsible for two-thirds of the JACS
submissions from industry in the 1980s even as central R&D waned at many
I reluctantly turned down a contract position there in the mid-1990s
because I was looking for something longer term. It was a campus
environment where they were doing some really neat chemistry. A sad
situation. The take-home quote which summed it up:
“’Kevlar, to my understanding, took 20 years to get from the red to the
black,’ says Andrew Feiring, a chemist who was with CR&D from 1974 to
2006. ‘Wall Street just isn’t going to stand for that sort of thing today.’”
Innovation loses again. 🙁
“Rebellions often start in an attempt to recapture an old world. In
truth every cataclysm worth the name washes away more than we bargain
for and takes us on roads we never suspected.”
SUBJ: Another author cited your law
Apropos of nothing . . . just FYI.
Charles Stross in the latest Laundry series _The Annihilation Score_ mentions your iron law of bureaucracy, without attribution on p.307.
and dropped a money quote from _Oath Of Fealty_ as a kicker.
“There is no point in prioritizing _doing your job_ when your organization faces being defunded in less than three months’ time if you don’t do something else: you do what’s necessary in order to ensure your organization survives, _then_ you get back to work.
(This is how the iron law of bureaucracy installs itself at the heart of an institution. Most of the activities of any bureaucracy are devoted not to the organizations’s ostensible goals, but to ensuring that the organizations survives; because if they aren’t, the bureaucracy has a life expectancy measured in days before some idiot decision maker decides that if it’s no use to them they can make political hay by destroying it. It’s no consolation that some time later someone will realize that an organization was needed to carry out the original organization’s tasks, so a replacement is created: you still lost your job and the task went undone. The only sure way forward is to build an agency that looks to its own survival before it looks to its mission statement. Just another example of evolution in action.)”
Don’t know how you literati folk feel about such things. Better to be plagiarized than ignored, I guess.
That Stross did not mention you may simply be due to differing politics.
Stross is an unabashed SJW. Or it may not. Quien sabe?
I am gladdened to hear you and Roberta continue to mend and improve.
Sex and AI,
Both Isaac Asimov and David Brin have commented on the vanishing wish to have children on the human race. In Asimov’s world, we had a planet with only one person left. In Brin’s world, all the non-reproducing people died off or suicided, leaving the world to those who want children. Interesting that sex robots will facilitate both results.
Russia, the Balkans and history
I had the pleasure, years ago, to study European history under Prof. Henry cord Meyer, Ph.D. Specifically, a course in historiography, the subject being the immediate causes of the crisis in the summer of 1914 that led directly to the outbreak of World War I.
No genius, I quickly realized the primary factor in the crisis and the eventual, seemingly inevitable, downward spiral from general mobilization to declarations of war, was a total disregard by the Austrians, and to a lesser degree their reluctant partners the Germans, of the sense of obligation and noblesse oblige the Russian state, Orthodox Church and people felt towards the Little Brothers in the Balkans.
I sometimes think, when I let myself think of such ridiculous things, that the current version of “Empire” that is called the European Union, might as well be called Austria â€“ Hungary. After all, it’s a multinational “state”, with essentially no real military of its own, but plenty of auxiliaries from tributary states, and overwhelming and stultifying bureaucracy, and is seemingly unbounded determination for a “Drive To The East” come hell or high water.
I suppose you could say, at least you could if you are to accept the above, that that makes us the “the Germans”. We can either backup the Europeans, as the Germans did the Austrians in the summer of 1914, or we can watch our “Austrians” go down the tubes once the Russians decide they have had enough of Western interference with the Little Brothers.
I wouldn’t bet much on the discretion of EU bureaucrats, or the patient’s of put in the Poisoner. Of course, the real joker here is that Putin is smarter, tougher and more ruthless than any Czar since Peter the Great. It occurs to me that Donald Trump, though lacking the withered arm, bears a passing similarity to Wilhelm the second, the ineffably confused supporter of Habsburg ambitions while composing “Dear Nicky” notes to his Russian cousin.
If what they say about history is true: first as tragedy, then farce, then perhaps were due for a Trump presidency. Zeitgeist and all that sort of stuff.
Or maybe it’s all just something I ate!
If I were a moderate Russian I would be fed up with the new Holy Roman Empire and its constant attempts to use American power to encircle Russia. I do not share your dismay at Trump, but do not take that as endorsement.
Jerry, I enjoy your column, but I find it hard to read the frequent references to Beckman’s theories and ether. We’ve had Special and General Relativity around for a century now, with zillions of confirmed predictions. Particle accelerators in particular show time and mass dilation thousands of times. I haven’t studied it, but what does Beckman’s theory predict? If there’s any point to it, it can make a prediction that is different from current theories. What is that prediction? – Maybe someone can check it.
If it makes no predictions that are different, it’s probably the same theory in a different guise: that isn’t uncommon. Dyson earned fame by showing how Feynman, Tomanaga, and Schwinger were all explaining the exact same QED with three very different pictures.
As I understand it, aether and General Relativity are not compatible, but no crucial experiment other than Michaelson-Morley has been devised; and there are reason to believe it was nor as definitive as thought. Michaelson never believed so. It ought to be conducted on the Moon, but that’s unlikely. I know of no other crucial experiment, and since I can no longer do Tensors but can still manage the calculus needed for Petr Beckmann’s work, I am probably prejudiced; I know General Relativity explains the data; but, so far as I understand it, so does Beckmann.
The existence of aether has a lot of implications, including quite possibly negating much ado about dark matter and energy; I’d like that a lot.
Another question which EU answers and which standard science does not
The entire notion that the present Solar System is a descendant of a former collapsed Herbig-Haro object is ludicrous on its
face simply by virtue of the now absent immense magnetic fields.
That being the case, how do YOU account for the rough 26-degree axis tilts on four of the system’s planets including our own?? If our system had formed in anything like the manner we all learned about in school, all of the axis tilts should be nearly zero.
Between the two of us, I have an explanation for that, and you don’t.
Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.