Writers of the Future; Upcoming projects; mysterious affairs. Rational discussion? NASA and space development; and new physics.

Monday, April 3, 2017

The map is not the territory.

Alfred Korzybski

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



Pretty well spent the weekend on the Writers of the Future awards ceremony events. Every year the Author Services people who run the Writers of the Future contest fly in a bunch of my colleagues so I can have dinner with them, and I always look forward to that. Of course this isn’t what Authors Services thinks they’re doing; they believe they are getting all the Writers of the Future contest judges together so be presenters at the awards ceremony, with a big book signing production before the dinner of Friday night and now they’ve got a lot of professional authors to talk writing with the contest winners, so we all spend some of Friday and Saturday talking writing to the newcomers, some of whom will indeed be our colleagues in future.

Also I spent some time with Colonel Doug Beason, now retired Chief Scientist of Space Command as well as former Commandant of Holloman where USAF does a lot of their highest tech weapons development; Doug is interested in planetary defense, a subject touched on but not analyzed in The Strategy of Technology, Possony and Pournelle, 1970, and which Doug and I have been interested in since he was a captain. We’re discussing a new anthology, similar to the early volumes of There Will Be War: stories, essays, and analyses on the theme, with introductions and/or afterwords on the stories and articles by one or both of us; that was pretty well the format of my old anthologies, and they were fairly popular. Doug has also done some best selling fiction, which is why he’s one of the WOTF judges, but our main concern is to focus some attention on planetary defense. Obviously the main threat is one or another natural events, but there’s room for other thoughts.

While I’m on that, the boffins at the Isle of Mann space outfit are taking apart A Step Farther out with a view of bringing out a revised edition; we’ll see, but I have some good feelings about this.

I also had lunch with Pat Henry, President of Dragon Con – the theme of the WOTF presentations this year was dragons. It’s been a while since I was last at DragonCon what with brain cancer and then the stroke, but I really enjoyed the Con. We discussed the logistics of my getting there again, and it’s maybe possible. We’ll see.

Anyway, Writers of the Future always enjoyably consumes a weekend every year, and I’m happy when it does.

But it’s also tax preparation time at Chaos Manor, and this year what with expenses associated with Roberta’s stroke, as well as the residual financial effects of mine, it’s going to be complicated. I’ll try to keep up here.


I’m about to go up and work on Starborn and Godsons – would Grendels, Starborn and Godsons be a better title? – so this will be truncated, and I’ll ad some more tonight after Roberta goes to bed or maybe sooner.

When I do I’ll also add to the title so you can know there’s stuff you haven’t seen. One thing about the old Front Page journal, I could add to it at any time, but there were a lot of drawbacks to that, too. Some day I’ll give some thought to journal or daybook design so it makes sense while being easier on the readers as well as the author.


Washington Post March 1:


Trump questions who is really behind anti-Semitic threats and vandalism


President Trump questioned who was behind a recent spate of anti-Semitic threats and incidents during a meeting with state attorneys general on Tuesday, according to two people present.

When Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro (D) asked him about the recent threats against Jewish facilities, the president responded by condemning the incidents but then “suggested the ‘reverse’ may be true,” Shapiro said.

“I don’t know what the president meant by that statement,” Shapiro said in a statement.

Trump “made this reference that sometimes it’s the reverse” and then “used that word ‘reverse’ several times,” Joe Grace, a spokesman for Shapiro, said in a telephone interview Tuesday afternoon. Grace was relaying what Shapiro had said publicly during a phone call with reporters earlier Tuesday.

[Trump is flirting with the idea that anti-Semitic incidents are false flags — again]

D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine (D), who was at the meeting, confirmed Shapiro’s account and said he was disturbed by the president’s comments.


Note the editorial comment inserted into this “journalism”.

That followed the February 28 Post:


Trump is flirting with the idea that anti-Semitic incidents are false flags again


President Trump seemed to suggest Tuesday that the recent bomb threats and vandalism at Jewish community centers and cemeteries across the country might be false flags, according to a Democratic attorney general who met with him. And Trump’s comments came the same day that one of his top advisers suggested the culprits could be Democrats.

It wouldn’t be the first time Trump went down this road.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro (D) told reporters Tuesday that Trump expressed horror at the situation but also appeared to suggest it might not be anti-Semitism and that it could be “the reverse,” The Post’s Mark Berman confirmed.


And yet, it turns out, Israeli police – with help from FBI agents – arrested in Israel an Israeli-American hacker who, it turn out, was the source of the wave of anti-Semitic attacks:

Israel arrests hacker linked to threats on US Jewish centers


A 19-year-old American-Israeli Jew was arrested Thursday as the prime suspect in a wave of bomb threats against U.S. Jewish community centers, a startling turn in a case that had stoked fears of rising anti-Semitism in the United States.

The surprising arrest of the man, a hacker who holds dual Israeli and American citizenship, came after a trans-Atlantic investigation with the FBI and other international law enforcement agencies. U.S. Jewish groups welcomed the breakthrough in the case, which had drawn condemnation from President Donald Trump.

Israeli police described the suspect as a hacker, but said his motives were still unclear.

“He’s the guy who was behind the JCC threats,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said, referring to the scores of anonymous threats phoned in to Jewish community centers in the U.S. over the past two months.



This isn’t the only instance of this, as Israel Shamir explains:

Eerie Prescience of Donald Trump




I will have considerably more on the Flynn affair. One thing to remember: Flynn did more than discuss the Obama sanctions against Russia. From Shamir’s article above:

Flynn did his best (I presume on orders of Trump) to calm the Russians. He offered and procured help: the expelled diplomats needed a plane to leave on very short notice, and seats weren’t available. Flynn fixed it. Flynn told the Ambassador that Trump would roll back Obama’s punitive measures related to the expulsion. The Ambassador passed the message to Putin, and Putin, always a gentleman, refrained from tit-for-tat expulsion of the US diplomats from Moscow, as he would definitely do otherwise. Putin even invited children of the US diplomats to a Christmas event in Kremlin. So Flynn acted for the benefit of America and its diplomats, and saved the two great countries from much aggravation. He deserves a medal for his work, not a dismissal; and it is really shame that Trump could not keep him.


If anyone now believes that Trump was unaware of Flynn’s discussions of the sanctions with the Russian Ambassador, they must believe he acted without orders in procuring the airplane for the Russian families.

I’m going upstairs to work but this needs more analysis.


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.

Flynn resigned Monday night in the wake of revelations about his contacts with the Russian ambassador.

If anyone can explain how any of this makes sense, I welcome the attempt.


After dinner and some work on Starborn etc.

The whole obsession with Russia is either very low politics or insane: we all know that we employed all kinds of aggressive measures from Voice of America to clandestine operations against Communism, as they did against us. Their system was not successful in overthrowing the capitalist system, but intellectually it was a much nearer thing, and now there are probably more Marxists in our University system than people who have read Adam Smith or have any idea of how capitalist economics works; and even fewer have ever heard of Roepke’s Humane Economy or any of the other alternatives to both Marxism and capitalism. The American system of higher education, once the marvel of the world, is sinking into a swamp of unitary thinking intolerant of rational discussion of its core ideas, and seeking not Socrates’ examined life, but safe places where there will be no disturbing ideas or triggering of unpleasant feelings.


We are aware of many felonies, beginning with the unmasking of American citizens caught up in the investigations undertaken when Mr. Obama was President. Not only were American citizens’ names revealed to unauthorized personnel, but they were also leaked to the press; black letter law felonies. And as the investigations continue, more evidence appears that American citizens, associated with the Trump operations, were discussed openly at the Obama White House, and not in connection with any investigation into Russian operations in the US elections.

A favorite ploy of the left: suppose, they say, that it is true and Trump conspired with Russia to get Russian help in winning the election. What should be the consequence>

Nut, you protest, there is no evidence whatsoever that anything like that happened.

Yes, but just suppose it’s true, what should happen?

At this point the conversation could end, but if you say, well, in that case there should be an impeachment, you are now a statistic: an American who believes there ought to be a impeachment.  I have seen it happen. Of course this makes no more sense that asking what should happen if we discover that Mr. Obama eats babies for breakfast, or that Mr. Trump enjoys ragout of human teenagers, but it seems to be happening.c After all, didn’t Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin vacation together in Thailand, and surely they discussed the election, and couldn’t it have happened…  Of course there is no evidence that Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin were ever in Thailand at the same time. But it could have happened, couldn’t it?

And apparently this passes for rational discussion today.





The Biggest Rocket ever Designed? – The Sea Dragon Dear Doctor Pournelle,

Robert Truax’ truly brobdingnagian baby:


Eighty million pounds of thrust, from a single engine first stage, delivering half a kiloton payload to LEO. NASA killed it because, well, “who needs a million pounds in LEO?”

I sometimes I wonder if there is any intelligent life in NASA. Other times, as now, of the answer I am certain.. The shuttle ate the dream.


Historic Reflight Rocket Launch of Falcon 9

First reflight of an orbital class booster. This Falcon-9 has now lifted two payloads to orbit, and returned to earth to land on a tail of fire.


In sixty years of lifting mass to orbit, NASA has never done this, Russia has never don this, China has never done this, ESA has never done this, the Japanese have never done this, yet American private enterprise in less than a quarter of that time has.

Perhaps there be be a lesson here as to what government might be good at, and NOT so good at?


America can accomplish marvels when she gets her act together. Think of TVSA, Hoover Dam, the flood of ships, planes, tanks, artillery, rifles, uniforms and boots that poured forth from 1942 to 1945.  We covered this in The Strategy of Technology.  NASA was created to beat the Russians to the Moon.  NASA couldn’t do it, and General Phillips did it the military way: break the job down into sub tasks, and put a man you know is competent to do the job in charge of each. He now does the same thing. The Project is completed. In the military you disband the Army after victory. Alas, NASA created a force of civil servants who couldn’t be disbanded, so their first task was to make sure there was work for 22,000 development scientists and their non professional minions,  They did that.  Shuttle fulfilled that mission, even if the NASA budget was the same when there were half a dozen launches or none at all.   It was a remarkable job of accomplishing the mission.  Of course the mission wasn’t what the American people thought it was.

NASA wasn’t incompetent, it’s just that few understood what they were accomplishing.  But yes, if NASA had vanished and contracts were let for specific missions, I don’t doubt that we’d be mining the asteroids by now.



“These issues were previously swept under the rug, but taking them into account can explain the acceleration without the need for dark energy.”



Roland Dobbins

We will discuss this another time. We really have no direct evidence for dark matter or dark energy. Neither Einstein nor Feynman had need of it, but of course they had not the observations of enormously distant galaxies..


Quantum thermodynamics


I don’t think it should be this hard, and anyone making it hard is probably hoping for a quantum perpetual motion machine.

(Specifically – wave function collapses are irreversible. Thermodynamic -nor information- entropy is not a measurable quantity until the wave function collapses. It should be QED from there, though the technical details are left to the dedicated analyst…)



Another development you should be aware of.


Afterthought:  the Books tab at the top of this page leads to a list of eBooks, which you may like if you haven’t already read them.  And the Reports tab may show you marvels you haven’t seen.  Now I’m for bed, and will work on Starborn etc. tomorrow, God willing and the creeks don’t rise.








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



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