Western Civ; Flynn and McMasters and Sally Yates; Firefox; and news on neurology.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

John Glenn must surely have wondered, as all the astronauts weathered into geezers, how a great nation grew so impoverished in spirit. Our heroes are old and stooped and wizened, but they are the only giants we have. Today, when we talk about Americans boldly going where no man has gone before, we mean the ladies’ bathroom. Progress.

Mark Steyn

Liberalism is a philosophy of consolation for the West as it commits suicide.

James Burnham

If a foreign government had imposed this system of education on the United States, we would rightfully consider it an act of war.

Glenn T. Seaborg, National Commission on Education, 1983

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

George Santayana



Wednesday: There is below a discussion of Firefox.. It is perhaps interesting, but no longer as relevant as it was. After posting yesterday I received:


firefox session save

Hi Jerry,
You might want to install the following firefox addon. I think it does what you want.
Good Luck!

Jose Tenembaum


On the machine in the back room. I went to Firefox add-ons, looked around for a while and found the addon called Session Manager, installed it, reset, and all was well; there is now an option in the tools menu to “Save Session”, and it does that.

  Now back to yesterday’s post.






Do We Still Want the West?

The best antidote to the politics of Trump or Le Pen is a course in Western Civ.



Bret Stephens

Feb. 20, 2017 7:08 p.m. ET


In the late 1980s Stanford University did away with its required Western civilization course after Jesse Jackson led students in a chant of “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Western Civ has got to go!” Campus conservatives tried to bring it back last year, but the effort failed in a student vote by a 6 to 1 margin.

They should try pushing Western Civ again. To adapt the line in that Passenger song, you only know you love it when you let it go.

The thought comes to mind following Sergei Lavrov’s Orwellian speech last week at the Munich Security Conference, in which the Russian foreign minister called for a “post-West world order.” He also used the occasion to deny Moscow’s involvement in hacking U.S. and European elections, to announce that his government would recognize passports issued by its puppet state in eastern Ukraine, and to call for an end to the “post-truth” and “post-fact” state of international relations. [snip]

I am no great fan of Mr. Stephens, and I am not so sure we need an antidote to Mr. Trump, but I am certain that more understanding of the history of Western Civilization would give better understanding of the Trump phenomena, and perhaps some insights into the Reverend Jesse Jackson.

I am pleased to see at least one large circulation medium saying a word for Western Civ. When I went to the University of Iowa in 1952 I was required, like all entering freshmen, to take Western Civilization, a two semester course, under George Mosse, one of the greatest lecturers I have ever experienced. In a real sense that course changed my life; it integrated a bunch of bits and pieces I had learned from books and other courses. I have said more about this before in an essay I wrote when I could type faster and better, and I refer you to it. Since that time I have witnessed the truth of James Burnham’s definition of liberalism as the West commits suicide, and the truth of Santayana’s observation about history in general.

Despair is a sin.


LTGEN McMaster is actually a much better choice for National Security Advisor than Flynn. He’s much less likely to push for war with Iran, and while he’s a bit overly aggressive on Russia, he isn’t a neocon, either.


Roland Dobbins

I would agree; as a strategist with battle operations experience he is so much better qualified than an intelligence expert as was Mr. Flynn that I wonder why General McMaster was not offered –or assigned to – the post in the first place. The office requires no Senate confirmation, but the NSA is traditionally in the war room when an operation goes down; and a great priority need is a battle plan to wipe out the Caliphate, which, unlike some of the other terrorist organizations, stakes its legitimacy on actually holding and governing (under Sharia Law) real territory and Islamic subjects. That will take military operations, not counter terrorist operations.

We will need counter terrorist ops, and Mr. Flynn’s experience may justify calling him back into active service to direct them (or may not; I am not making actual recommendations); but eliminating the Caliphate is going to require armored divisions and A-10’s, not feeding Iraqi troops led by American Special Forces into a battalion a month meat grinder. A real strategist knows that if you need a regiment, send two divisions; the battle is shorter, and there are far fewer civilian casualties. And there is no substitute for Victory. McMaster, as an old school West Pointer, knows that down to the cellular level.

General McMaster

Taking wagers that when all the layers of the approaching attacks on General McMaster are peeled back they turn out to be based on his failure to genuflect before the memory of the sainted John Kennedy?

Dereliction of Duty: Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies That Led to Vietnam

Rod McFadden

I wouldn’t take that bet, but there are probably other reasons for some to hate him.


Flynn’s Conversation

Hello, Dr. Pournelle –
I hope all is well with you and your wife and that a speedy recovery is in store for both of you.
In your Chaos Manor of Feb 20, you said of the Flynn Affair – hmm, is that a movie with James Coburn? – “… for some reason General Flynn denied the talk had taken place.”
Might the reason be that he considered the conversation was classified in some manner? Of course, then the response should have been, “I can neither confirm nor deny” etc., etc., etc., but maybe the MSM would call that a denial.
Unfortunately, the damage is done and I’m sure the Obama camp is wringing their collective hands in glee, having scored a point in spite.
Well wishes to both of you,
Cam Kirmser

Considering that Flynn MUST have known that the Russian Ambassador’s telephone was tapped, and that Mr. Trump’s inner circle must have been aware that Flynn was calling the Russians – assuming he was not calling under orders and knew exactly that he was going to say, which is actually more likely than not – that doesn’t make much sense. Sally Yates, acting attorney general, a holdover Obama appointee and known Obama agent, was the one who supposedly alerted the White House – after the inauguration.

Justice Department warned White House that Flynn could be vulnerable to Russian blackmail, officials say


The acting attorney general informed the Trump White House late last month that she believed Michael Flynn had misled senior administration officials about the nature of his communications with the Russian ambassador to the United States, and warned that the national security adviser was potentially vulnerable to Russian blackmail, current and former U.S. officials said.

The message, delivered by Sally Q. Yates and a senior career national security official to the White House counsel, was prompted by concerns that ­Flynn, when asked about his calls and texts with the ­Russian diplomat, had told Vice ­President-elect Mike Pence and others that he had not discussed the Obama administration sanctions on Russia for its interference in the 2016 election, the officials said. It is unclear what the White House counsel, Donald McGahn, did with the ­information.[snip]

But this doesn’t make sense either. As former Director of Military Intelligence, how could Flynn not have known that his calls to the Russian Ambassador were being tapped? And whether or not those taps were being made available to the President Elect and his National Security Advisor designate, they would certainly be available to the President after inauguration, in the very unlikely event that he didn’t already

As Roland notes, General McMaster is probably better qualified for the post, but why give Mr. Trump’s opponents a scalp? It isn’t as if Mr. Flynn did not know that before very long, Mr. Trump would certainly know exactly what was said in those phone calls.

A puzzlement. For more on Sally Yates, see http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2017/02/sally-yatess-legacy-of-injustice.php


‘It was as if the Bureau and Justice Department intentionally waited to pounce until Trump was in power — which meant that any misstatement could now be framed as a false representation by the sitting president.’



Roland Dobbins


Flynn, you’re fired!, and successful bureaucracy

Dr. Pournelle,
Flynn’s dismissal makes perfect sense: Mr. Trump deliberately operates at the center of a whirlwind, and any competing controversy has to come from his opposition. I imagine that the General is mildly relieved to be relieved.
If we say that spending on the war on poverty is wasted, how do we explain the growth in bureaucratic positions and increase in the population of “public masters.” Their bottom salary is probably equal to LBJ’s. Was not this government jobs program was the real point all along?
I suspect the author of the Iron Law of sandbagging his readers!
Remembering George Washington, despite the devaluation of his birthday,

image Oh, would I do that? But I think we have not seen the last of General Flynn.


Firefox slowdowns are perhaps Microsoft’s

Dr. Pournelle,
I’ve been having a lot of problems with the last two iterations of Firefox, too, and have gone to what I consider great lengths to reinstall and reconfigure the software, with little success. I also used task manager to look at processes during the times slow-downs occur, and it did indeed appear that Firefox was the problem, but I now think that background operating system services (that I don’t use) from the Microsoft store, Microsoft Edge, and Cortina, among others, are what “breaks” Firefox. They are choking down the available bandwidth, and causing Firefox to time out, stall, blank pages on refresh, and generally act like I’m running a dial-up modem.
Even though I do not use those software services, I’ve been unable to disable or uninstall them. Cortina and Edge are embedded in the operating system and in search, and the Microsoft Store (along with One Note and Xbox, neither of which I use) are, I’m beginning to believe, prioritizing “phoning home” my user information and usage data, no doubt so as to improve my user experience.
I’ll let you know if I find a fix, but I’m discouraged.

Firefox session save

Hi Jerry,
You might want to install the following Firefox addon. I think it does what you want.
Good Luck!

I will try that presently, when I have some time. For the moment I do not have time to reconstruct my Firefox which I will have to do if I reset.

Firefox restoration issues after crash

Please consider using the Firefox add-on “tab mix plus”. In the options, select “session” tab, and ensure the “use Firefox’s built in session restore” is unselected, and select what you want to “save” or restore in the options on the rest of the page. There are many more options/tabs to select/explore that might also be useful. You are also able to save multiple versions of the options selected, so it is easy to revert to a previous “state” for the add-on if things go wrong.
Hope this helps.
Very respectfully,

Actually I thought I had, but it keeps giving me Session Manager, which offers me a bunch of weeks to months old saved sessions. I will experiment with all this stuff presently and just see what is going on; that was the essence of the old column, to understand how to use computers to get actual work done.


Restoring lost Firefox settings

Hi Jerry,
To save and restore Firefox profile data (the loss of which is causing you grief) just locate your Profiles folder and copy it to another location as a backup. A simple script using copy should suffice to do this (set it up on Task Manager to run nightly) and another one should let you restore it if required.
Here’s how to find your Profiles folder: (extracts from MozillaZine):
Firefox stores a user’s personal information such as bookmarks, extensions, and user preferences in a unique profile. The first time you start Firefox, it will automatically create a default profile; additional profiles can be created using the Profile Manager. The settings which form a profile are stored in files within a special folder on your computer — this is the profile folder.
The Firefox profile containing your user data and settings is not found in the installation directory but rather in a separate location on your computer. Use the information given below to find your Firefox profile folder.
On Windows Vista and above, profile folders are in this location, by default:
The AppData folder is a hidden folder; to show hidden folders, open a Windows Explorer window and choose “Organize → Folder and Search Options → Folder Options → View (tab) → Show hidden files and folders”.
You can also use this path to find the profile folder, even when it is hidden:
%APPDATA% is a variable represents the C:Documents and SettingsApplication Data folder on Windows 2000/XP and the C:Users\AppDataRoaming folder on Windows Vista and above.
To find a profile folder in the default location on Windows:
Press “Windows key Image:Windows_Key.png + R” to open the Run box
(or, you can click “Start → Run…” on Windows 2000/XP)
In the Run box, type in %APPDATA%
Click OK. A Windows Explorer window will appear.
In this window, choose Mozilla → Firefox → Profiles.
Each folder in the “Profiles” folder (e.g., “xxxxxxxx.default”) is a profile on your computer.

Thanks; it will be a while before I get time to do all that, and I have to confess, it will probably take me an hour or so to understand it all. You confirm what I suspected, Microsoft has made things complicated – hidden folders that it takes a lot of work to find – and apparently Mozilla is following suit. I wonder why? I guess the experts don’t want to trust users with the ability to control their machines. Think what they will do to robots and our ability to control them.


English cops refuse to carry guns 

“. . . one in eight officers would not be prepared to carry a gun under any circumstances, despite the threat of a Paris-style attack in Britain.”


Britain’s leaders have, over three generations, destroyed the English gun culture. This is the pitiable and predictable result.

This is a prime exemplar of the collectivist process which turns men into sheep: First take away their ability to resist and to defend their own and the common good. Next grant them food and shelter they did not earn. Then just wait for the “baaaaaaa”. It will come.


“We make men without chests and expect from them virtue and enterprise.

We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst.” –

C.S. Lewis

I wonder if there ever again be an England.





The Lewis quote is from his book, The Abolition of Man, a book I recommend everyone will have read at least once in their lifetimes.

And seven of eight would carry a gun.




Changing color of wavy underlines

Hi Jerry:

You may have already solved this, but if not, this Microsoft knowledge base article should help:


It seems that there is no way to do it with Word settings, but can be done by editing the registry.


Doug Ely

Thanks, but alas I really don’t want to  edit the registry. I know you can do amazing things, but you really have to know what you’re doing.


screen issues


Reading about your travails with the keyboard today, I was reminded to ask about one of the single most infuriating features of Windows: is there any way to turn off the function that automatically changes a window to full screen if you drag it to the top of the monitor? That inevitably happens when I am trying to posture two windows side-by-side for work, so it completely undoes what I am trying to accomplish.


An interesting question. Doesn’t really bother me with big screens but drives me mad with the Surface.  If there is such a command to turn it off I don’t know it.

screen issues


Here it is again. Once you know how to use Snap, the arrangement Jim was seeking is actually far easier than with manually arranged Windows.


It is worth learning how to use Snap. Beats my old manual arrangements. Usually.


Incredible News about Neurons!

This is incredible! It flies in the face of Wendell Johnson’s disdain for aggression, but makes sense and is not incompatible. After all, scientific thinking is an application; we must not allow it to become another semantic blockage. Nor can we allow this to excuse a regression to maladjustment. I consider this a way of “fine tuning” an acceptable series of social strategies, communication, thinking, and acting presented in People in Quandaries:


Researchers studied the changes that occurred in the brains of mice demonstrating aggressive behaviour. These mice attacked other mice and won in fights. After a win, they became even more aggressive, and new neurons appeared in their hippocampus, a key brain structure. In mice that were allowed to continue fighting, certain changes were observed in the activity of their nerve cells. The scientists hope that the new information on the neurobiological bases of aggression will not only help in understanding this important phenomenon, but will also encourage research in other areas – and even help in finding causes of autism and other similar disorders in humans.



So, how do we harmonize this? Well, play sports instead of watching them like the bunch of obese couch potatoes that populated my childhood locality, colloquially known as “sports fans”. Go out and fight, legally, in boxing gyms or in competitions. Get some gloves and go spar. Do some fencing; go out and be a human being in a safe way where aggression can be safely and productively expressed! Or, if you can’t do that, buy a punching bag and get to work!

Even these Five Tibetan Rites are a great way to express aggression in a very controlled and disciplined way. The better I get, the slower I do them. I always seem able to get some kind of a workout from these exercises… Expressing aggression in a patient and persistent way can be most rewarding as well. And that gets into meditation and the disciplines you must learn to impose on yourself to still the body and the mind so that you can have a kind of clarity to do something more…. It all flows together in a beautiful way.

This scientific discovery really helps pull things together for me. I hope you find it as useful as I do.

◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊

Most Respectfully,

Joshua Jordan, KSC

Percussa Resurgo

People in Quandaries by Wendell Johnson – one of my undergraduate professors – is another book I recommend for nearly everyone. It is old, but I would not think yet outdated. It is long out of print, but his son, Nicholas Johnson has arrangements. http://myweb.uiowa.edu/johnson/wj/wjpinq.html

The Five Tibetan Rites is the exercise I recommend to everyone.

I haven’t had time to digest this.


The robot that takes your job should pay taxes, says Bill Gates


Robots are taking human jobs. But Bill Gates believes that governments should tax companies’ use of them, as a way to at least temporarily slow the spread of automation and to fund other types of employment.[snip]




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



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