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Monday  June 16, 2008

Subject: Letter from England


Gasolene price shock and driver strikes here in the UK. The Government 

is urging motorists not to panic-buy, and they're responding 







David Davis forces a by-election. The Independent is dominating 

coverage of this story:

-over-erosion-of-freedoms-845649.html  >


  <http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/davis-resignation-unlikely-hero-of-liberal-britain-shocks-the-political-establishment-846220.html >


that-davis-will-fight-on-845744.html  >


david-daviss-statement-in-full-845709.html  >


t-cuts-into-tories-poll-lead-847452.html  >





Comment on management by targets:

comment/columnists/camilla_cavendish/article4116302.ece >



Comment on changes in UK medical care:

columnists/guest_contributors/article4116262.ece >


life_and_style/health/article4138810.ece >





Rethinking the ban on private drugs in the NHS:

life_and_style/health/article4138315.ece >



Jumping to medical conclusions:

-as--organs-are-about-to-be-removed-845140.html  >



Therapeutic education:

tory.asp?sectioncode=26&storycode=402376&c=2 >



Mugabe announces that there will be civil war in Zimbabwe if he loses:



-opponents-as-wife-Grace-joins-battle-over-election.html >



When I was working in Washington DC, there were (true) stories about 

people seen reading highly classified documents on the Metro. It seems 

it's not just America:


batch-of-terror-files-left-on-train-847451.html >






EU treaty takes another blow:






xml=/opinion/2008/06/15/do1506.xml   >




Harry Erwin, PhD, Program Leader, MSc Information Systems Security, 

University of Sunderland.


Weblog at: <http://scat-he-g4.sunderland.ac.uk/~harryerw/blog/index.php>


Why don't they give _this_ guy a medal?


Ye Zhiping. A hero.

Gregory Cochran


Utterly Baffling

These things are more a cost of your Iron Law, than the Canadian Government bowing to Religions. Every one of these nuisance suits is dismissed once it reaches the committee.

Where the Iron Law comes in, is that the HRC cannot dismiss frivolous suits at an earlier stage, the can only ignore complaints that don’t fill out their paperwork properly.

So every time one of these groups has a problem, they can file a complaint, which will eventually be heard by a board, usually 2-3 years down the road whereupon it then gets dismissed.

There are currently attempts to reform the whole process, and of course the Liberal Party that set up the process is doing whatever it can to hold it in place, lest the ruling Conservative Party make changes that will improve the system. You have to love Minority Governments.

DM Utterly baffling Jerry, The NY Times reports that this: http://www.macleans.ca/article.jsp?content=20061023_134898_134898 <http://www.macleans.ca/article.jsp?content=20061023_134898_134898> is being tried as a violation of British Columbia "hate speech" laws. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/12/us/12hate.html <http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/12/us/12hate.html> Huh? The article is basically about population demographics and why Europe is likely to become increasingly influenced by Islam as their population swells and that of "old Europe" declines.

This is "hate speech"? I'd love to hear other opinions, because when I read the Maclean's article, I just don't see it! Chuck


: I dream of fusion... 

Hi Jerry,

Fusion quest goes forward


I really, really hope Robert Bussard was on to something before he unfortunately left us.

- Paul


From the New Middle Ages to a New Dark Age: The Decline of the State and U.S. Strategy.

I don't agree with all of this (for example, the author evinces no understanding of the proper functioning of a republic, nor does he touch on the rise of anarcho-tyranny in the U.S. and Europe; furthermore, he does not discuss China at all, and only glosses over the rest of Asia), and I greatly prefer the second strategic option he unfairly/incompletely discounts, but nonetheless, this is a very important essay, especially considering the source:


--- Roland Dobbins

Roland's remarks are pertinent. Also, the state existed before the 30 years war and the Peace of Westphalia. Henry the VIII would have been astonished to discover that he was king of a non-sovereign entity. But it is worth the reading.


Comment on brain training article 

Dear Dr. Pournelle:

Hope your recovery is progressing and your publisher is not beating out too fast a time (sorry, that is the visual I get when you talk about galley slavery). It amazes me that science has rediscovered what Catholic education has known for years. Except when I was growing up, “brain training” was known as either “nuns with rulers” or “priests (sometimes coaches) with erasers”.

Richard D. Cartwright




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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Seitz Planetary Population Explosion 


The word from the IAU meeting in Nantes is of a planetary population explosion.

One third of all sun like stars have planets and the number of planets detected outside the solar system last week rose above the number of moons within it .

www.adamant.typepad.com -- Russell Seitz


supporting the troops

The consequences of outsourcing <http://obsidianwings.blogs.com/obsidian_wings/2008/06/privatizing-the.html>  all of those cooks and clerks.







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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Is the Universe Actually Made of Math?

article_print >

-- Roland Dobbins

Intriguing. Schroedinger's equations...


VA testing drugs on war veterans.

2008/jun/17/va-testing-drugs-on-war-veterans/ >

- Roland Dobbins

I would hope there is more to this story, but I fear it's Pournelle's Iron Law in action.  ==========

In praise of the Fifth Amendment

Dr. Pournelle,

I'm sure I won't be the only one bringing this to your attention.

Here's a youtube video of a law professor and former criminal defense attorney (apparently from a law school in Virginia) delivering a lecture on why you should never, ever talk to the police (without a lawyer present, presumably). He even uses the Martha Stewart case as an example. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i8z7NC5sgik  Caution, it's almost 30 minutes long.

I hope this finds you in improving health.

dana gould

Alas, when I was young we were taught to cooperate with the police. Police are your friends. That was in the evil old conservative era. Now we have modern liberalism, and cooperation with police is a very dangerous thing to do. It might be worth an essay on how we got this way, and why the intrusion of government into almost aspects of life made it inevitable.

Martha Stewart was convicted of stating, not under oath, that she was not guilty of an act that was itself not criminal. She denied doing it in an interview with a Federal Official, and you must always speak truth as if under oath when talking to any Federal Official no matter how trivial the bureaucrat may actually be. So much have we accomplished in these United States under our modern theories of government.

Of course as we make it more and more dangerous for citizens to work with government, we make it more necessary for government to do all the work of law enforcement without help from the citizens; which greatly expands the power of government. The Iron Law once again.


Iowa Flooding

Jerry, I agree completely with your observation on building on flood plains. Humans have been doing it for a long time, mind you, but it seems sometimes that modern folk have lost some sort of common sense gene. I've seen it out my way repeatedly; developers building along river banks and alluvial plains, and then, with whatever weather cycle the area has, the river bursts its banks, the houses get flooded, and folks complain because their insurance won't cover it and, of course, the government at various levels, rather than going "Well, if your insurance wouldn't cover you, why should we?" hands them "disaster relief" cash, which encourages yet another cycle of goofy development.

-- Aaron Clausen


Forbidden ?

June 16, 2008: British AH-64 helicopter gunships in Afghanistan recently used a new weapon; a Hellfire missile with a thermobaric warhead. British commanders ordered the thermobaric Hellfires two years ago. But it took nearly that long for the politicians and military bureaucrats to do their thing, and get the missiles to the troops.

Thermobaric warheads operate by dispersing an inflammable mist, then igniting it. This produces an explosion that kills by sucking the oxygen out of the surrounding areas, as well as creating a powerful blast. Fired into a building, the thermobaric explosion would kill more people inside, and do less damage to adjacent structures. These warheads work better on caves than any other kind of weapon. Thermobaric warheads have been used with great success in shoulder fired rocket launchers. U.S. Troops have been using these for several years, as well as the Hellfire missiles so equipped.

British politicians were fearful of media backlash. Some European media have demonized thermobaric weapons, depicting them as inhumane. Exactly how a thermobaric explosive is less humane than any other weapon is never investigated with much vigor. Apparently thermobaric is bad, if only because the Americans use them. Actually, it was the Russians who first developed small thermobaric warheads. Since the Europeans consider the Russians a bunch of barbarians (a centuries old tradition, which goes a long way to explain why the Russians are so leery of Western Europeans), this all somehow fits together.

Europeans have a long history of trying to outlaw "inhumane" weapons. One of the earliest efforts was against the cross bow. However, this terrible weapon (which enabled a poorly trained commoner to easily bring down an armored aristocrat on horseback), could be used against Moslems, and other non-Christians. The thermobaric Hellfire will mostly be used to kill Moslems. http://www.strategypage.com/htmw/htairw/articles/20080616.aspx


Sue Al Gore for fraud?


John Coleman is our local weather man (KUSI Ch9/51 in San Diego), and you may watch him at the Beach House. He works tirelessly against the global warming hoax, and has a plan to sue Al Gore in federal court for fraud in his trading scheme.


Jim Dodd San Diego


Heeeere's Caesar!

That bust of Caesar mentioned in the June 10 mail resembles Johnny Carson a lot more than Mel Gibson. Considering Johnny's popularity, Caesar's resemblance to him may have been more than skin-deep.

--Mike Glyer


In re the matter of a man's personality sometimes being stamped all over him, here is a photograph of some young British men taken prisoner by the Boers in 1899.


Have a guess at which one of them, forty years later, took on Hitler.



Subj: J.K. Rowling commencement address at Harvard June 2008

Text: http://www.news.harvard.edu/gazette/2008/06.05/99-rowlingspeech.html 

>>On this wonderful day when we are gathered together to celebrate your academic success, I have decided to talk to you about the benefits of failure. And as you stand on the threshold of what is sometimes called 'real life', I want to extol the crucial importance of imagination.<<

Video: http://harvardmagazine.com/go/jkrowling.html 

Rod Montgomery==monty@starfief.com

She is one classy lady.


just think of it as evolution in action 

Hi Jerry,

Here's an interesting article from New Scientist about watching evolution happen.


It's just a data point of course, but it is interesting to watch Nature take advantage of new mutations.

- Paul

PS: Honestly, there really is no other subject line that I could have used.

No one who ever lived on a farm ever thought that evolution doesn't work, or that if directed by a farmer or animal breeder it doesn't work better. We still don't have new species as a result, although St, Bernard and Yorkie cross breeds are pretty rare....


"We have evidence to believe this church sheltered the early Christians -- the 70 disciples of Jesus Christ."

id=080610130811.ugslx88f&show_article=1 >

--- Roland Dobbins



The word from the International Astronomical Union meeting in Nantes is of a planetary population explosion.

One third of all sun like stars have planets, and the number of planets detected outside the solar system last week rose above the number of moons within it .

That's 245 New Worlds ,and counting , fast .


-- Russell Seitz


RE: Don't talk to the police video

Dr. Pournelle,

This link: http://video.google.com/videoplay?

is to another Don't Talk to the Police video, made at the same meeting. It's almost a textbook on what the police can do to get a confession. It's both fascinating and frightening. No matter what one says to the officer who asks, "Do you know how fast you were going?" almost any answer can be taken as a confession.

Sheriff Andy from Mayberry would be horrified.








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Thursday, June 19, 2008

No Child Left Behind means no child get's ahead...as you predicted

The following is from the Executive Summary of a study just published by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute:

• “While the nation’s lowest-achieving youngsters made rapid gains from 2000 to 2007, the performance of top students was languid. Children at the tenth percentile of achievement (the bottom 10 percent of students) have shown solid progress in fourth-grade reading and math and eighth-grade math since 2000, but those at the 90th percentile (the top 10 percent) have made minimal gains.”

• “This pattern—big gains for low achievers and lesser ones for high achievers—is associated with the introduction of accountability systems in general, not just NCLB. An analysis of NAEP data from the 1990s shows that states that adopted testing and accountability regimes before NCLB saw similar patterns before NCLB: stronger progress for low achievers than for high achievers.”

Here is a link to the full report: http://www.edexcellence.net/detail/news.cfm?news_id=732&id=17 

This was entirely predictable and predicted, by you and others. Still, some hard evidence never hurts. Not that I expect that this report will have any more effect on the Educationist establishment than the hundreds of others that preceded it. The Iron Law is alive and well.

Best wishes for a speedy recovery from the bronchitis and the radiation therapy,

John DeVries

It used to be commonplace in science fiction to accept the notion that 90% of the gains made by the human race were due to the efforts of 10% of the population. (Some have made that division considerably more stark, up to 99% / 1%, but that's not important; 90 / 10 will do.) This means that while one cannot neglect the 90%, one neglects the 10% at one's peril.

It is no longer politically correct to say this, of course. Worse, if you somehow select out the 10% with a view to giving them a different kind of education, the racial composition of that selected group will be all wrong: there will be too many Ashkenazi Jews, Orientals, and Whites, and too few of every other group you can define, and it won't matter in the least how carefully you avoid racial considerations in making the selection, it's going to turn out that way.

It remains true that 90% of the gains made by the human race depend on the efforts of 10% of the population, and one neglects that 10% at one's peril. Nations that recognize this will have an enormous advantage over those that don't.

Of course one solution to problems like this is freedom. We used to think that a good default answer to most social problems. Certainly we thought this when I was growing up. But over time we have decided that the best answer to any social problem is a well funded bureaucracy.


Subject: Never talk to the police.


the URLs link to the videos of a law professor and a policeman, explaining respectively, why you should take the fifth, and how you get confessions. These taped lectures to law students run for a total of fifty minutes. I found it impossible to stop watching. If you need to relax for an hour you will not find a better use for your time. Highly recommended to everyone, not just US citizens.



John Edwards

In case you missed this first time. It appeared with my comments here.


AP & CBS pwned by aura-reading charlatan


"I'm kind of an agnostic on global warming, because I think it has been a poster child for bad science. The politicization of the field has corrupted the research so badly that I despair for the ethics of the profession.

But today we have something much, much sillier than bad research. What we have instead is the AP and CBS news being completely duped <http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/06/18/tech/main4191556.shtml>  by a new age guru from Australia:

New research compiled by Australian scientist Dr. Tom Chalko shows that global seismic activity on Earth is now five times more energetic than it was just 20 years ago.

The research proves that destructive ability of earthquakes on Earth increases alarmingly fast and that this trend is set to continue, unless the problem of "global warming" is comprehensively and urgently addressed."

The article covers some of the interesting parts of the theory, and those pesky facts that get in the way. However, the really fun bit is the biography of Dr Chalko.

"He plays classical guitar exceptionally well, enjoys windsurfing (he calls himself a speed addict here), takes time to practice meditation, telepathy and astral travel. His hobbies include challenging paradigms and paradoxes in geophysics, studying puzzling properties of electro-photonic glow (Auras) using Kirlian camera, learning to see human aura, discovering purpose of life, as well as organizing controversial seminars."

I remember watching an episode of "In search of" many years ago, about the disappearance of some indigenous peoples in Latin America, before we evil white men showed up. One of the "scientists" consulted said that while some believed the disappearance was connected to droughts, he personally believed these people had vast mental powers and could thus create rain when they wanted it, and thus we had to search elsewhere for a reason they left. This pretty much kicked me out of the show, even though I was not yet a teenager. Surely AP and CBS can come up with somebody capable of pre-teen levels of science to review these.


Kirlian Global Warming!!

Is the solar system warming? Possibly. Are we in for a Little Ice Age? Possibly. Do we need to find out more, including agreeing to a reliable and obtainable measure of "the Earth's Temperature"? Yes. Will we? Probably not. We'll probably spend money buying carbon credits from Nobel Prize Winner Al Gore.


Getting Power From Salty Water

LONDON, U.K. - In the quest to tap new sources of renewable energy, scientists are turning to the sun, to the wind, and of course, to a variety of bio-derived fuel alternatives. But in Norway, one company is also turning to salty water.


Bill Shields

I'll try to look at this, but perhaps one of my physicist readers will comment?


Question on how to get to space


I read your report on how to get to space and a question came into my mind. In the report you mention that it takes about the same amount of fuel to fly 1 lb from LA to the Land Down Under as it does to take that same pound to LEO. Herein lies my question, when you say "fuel" are you including oxidizer in that?

Mind you I am dangerous right now as I have a little bit of knowledge from reading "How Apollo Flew to The Moon" by W. David Woods. All I can say is fascinating. I have read several books on the subject but this is the first one that goes into subtle details of the various pieces of equipment. It truly makes me wonder if we could do that then, what are we capable of now given the right stimulus?

My best wishes for your continued recovery,

Toby Borge

Well, what I meant to say is that it takes the same energy. Rockets don't scoop up oxidizers from the atmosphere, and thus have to carry them along. That sounds like an enormous advantage for aircraft over rockets, and led to among other things the NASP or National Aerospace Plane research projects.

At one time nearly all of us, including Arthur C. Clarke and me, (but not Heinlein) thought the right way to get to orbit was to fly an airbreather to the edge of space, and have it then launch a true rocket that went the rest of the way. It all seemed so logical.

What NASP found is that to get much velocity out of air breathing flight you have to spend a lot of time in the atmosphere. Atmosphere has drag. Drag heats the leading edges and the input channels of your air scoops. They get melty hot pretty fast unless you can make those leading edges of unobtanium.

The NASP lesson was that you don't want to spend much time in hypersonic flight. Rockets get out of the atmosphere; we want them  out fast. When they achieve orbital velocity they don't need any more fuel or oxidant until it's time to come down.

The energy equivalents of getting to orbit and flying to Sydney are roughly equivalent.

At to the can do attitude of Apollo, yep. We could do anything in those days. And did. But that was before No Child Left Behind, and before political correctness.


Universe made of math 


I haven't had a chance to read the whole article linked by Mr. Dobbins, but...

"Is the Universe actually made of math?"
is if anything an overgeneralization. The universe is geometry...that is, points in space-time (or any higher dimensionality in which consensus space-time is embedded) Physics describes the relationships of the matter at those points as it evolves, which evolution is itself geometric.

Or else...it's not geometry, but can still be described in geometrical terms.

Jim Woosley

Well -- yes.  One of the principles of General Semantics, which appears trivial at first encounter but isn't, is "The map is not the territory."  We often forget that. When people are reading my novels I want them to...


The Rough Road to Space


"But NASA, at least Mike Griffin's NASA, has no intention or desire to really build an interstate highway system for space. Instead, NASA, in keeping with its tradition for the past half century, has opted to build a transportation system for NASA and its astronauts, and of little or no use to anyone or anything else. And maybe it's not NASA's job to build an interplanetary IHS.

But it ought to be NASA's job to encourage the development of such an infrastructure, which would enable not only many private activities but dramatically reduce NASA's own costs for space exploration and development. There are many ways in which it could be doing so. For example, it could incorporate orbital gas stations into its lunar plans and put out bids for delivery of propellant. It could be focusing on the development of the technologies necessary to build it, reducing the technical risk to the point that private funds can be raised for construction. It could be purchasing a lot more crew and cargo transport from the private sector, demanding reduced cost, thus nurturing a growing private space transportation industry with multiple providers so we aren't dependent on a single means of getting into space."

Worth reading.


The late Fred Osborne, Treasurer of the L5 Society when I was Secretary, was fond of saying "It is the historic mission of the military to build roads to the new frontiers and protect the early settlers." 

I have no quarrel with that at all.



Of Fighter Pilot Generals and Failed Tanker Bids


Please read summary paragraph #4 in the Government Accounting Office (GAO) report on the Tanker deal closely. (I found it at this link: http://www.defensetech.org/archives/004257.html

4. The Air Force conducted misleading and unequal discussions with Boeing, by informing Boeing that it had fully satisfied a key performance parameter objective relating to operational utility, but later determined that Boeing had only partially met this objective, without advising Boeing of this change in the agency’s assessment and while continuing to conduct discussions with Northrop Grumman relating to its satisfaction of the same key performance parameter objective.

In the bidding process, the USAF originally wanted to use as much of the existing KC-135 infrastructure as possible. That is why Boeing was bidding the KC-767 rather than the larger KC-777, which could not use the same hangers and shorter air fields that the smaller KC-135 could.

The USAF decided mid-competition that fewer, bigger, tanker planes was better for the USAF procurement budget, and went for the KC-30.

In so many words, the USAF changed the tanker requirements in the middle of the bid process, they told Northrop-Grumman, BUT DID NOT TELL BOEING that it did so.

That is the biggest reason why the GAO upheld Boeing's protest, in my opinion.

I strongly suspect the reason why both Tanker replacement bids blew up on the USAF was the Fighter Pilot General's insistence to maximize F-22s buys in the USAF's limited procurement budget. The USAF brass involved with the bidding process were playing cost shifting games to move tanker replacement costs out of the service’s procurement budget and into the operations and facilities/infrastructure budgets.

Any infrastructure cost hits for switching to the larger Northrop-Grumman KC-30 mid-bid over the Boeing KC-767 would come from either the operations or facilities budgets; hence the USAF could buy more F-22s with the KC-30 than the KC-767, even if the latter cost less over all.

The original "Tanker leasing deal" was built around "using a different color of money" than what would be used to buy the F-22. Leasing would be part of the USAF Operation budget. By law, you cannot use “Operations dollars” to buy new equipment. That is what the procurement budget is for. Yet that is what the first “Tanker deal” did, leaving the F-22 “funding wedge” intact without the competition of tanker planes.

There are far more Congressional financial and reporting controls placed on the DoD procurement budget than either the operations or facilities line items. This "color of money" funding game is what attracted Sen. McCain's attention to the first tanker deal and uncovered the procurement fraud that senior USAF officials were involved in with senior Boeing officials.

This time, Boeing found out all of these latest rounds of USAF cost shifting games in their failed bidder out brief, and here we are.

Based on my professional experience in American military procurement, I would say the failure of both Tanker bids lies at the feet of the Fighter Pilot Generals, for their insistence of playing budget games to buy more F-22s.

Iron Law, anyone?








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FridayJune 20, 2008

Don't Ever Talk to an Investigator

See <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/
Martha-Stewart-refused-entry-to-the-UK.html >  <http://tinyurl.com/4lgoxb

-- "If academic research is not devoted to finding the truth, it is a form of propaganda, and not necessarily to be preferred to other forms, much cheaper and perhaps more persuasive." (Russell 1993) Harry Erwin

Remember: she was convicted of falsely claiming she had not done something that was not a crime in the first place; her denial was not under oath. And get this one:

Inserting an unusual twist into their indictment of the domestic diva, prosecutors charge that she committed a crime when she stood up in public last summer and denied engaging in insider trading.

Note that what she denied doing wasn't illegal to begin with. She wasn't an insider, and she has never been convicted of insider trading. The insider trading laws are arcane, and have the effect of making life very difficult for small firms and startups -- and of course requiring payments to lawyers, which was probably the purpose of the laws in the first place.

But we were born free.



A new and alien genre is taking over --

Milan's famed La Scala has commissioned Veronese composer Georgio Battistelli to draft a full length opera based on An Inconvenient Truth to premiere in 2011.

Here is a sneak preview of Il Inconveniente Verita :


High time Mike Crichton wrote a libretto . -- Russell Seitz


A fighter pilot gives his side of the story:

Dissolving the fighter pilot mafia 


Watching the USAF changes from the inside, a point strikes me…

Even before our CSAF got fired, we have been slashing the number of cockpits. Our pilot production has exceeded cockpit requirements for some time. It is interesting therefore to go to the personnel command website (.mil only, sorry) and note that the USAF in general and recent year-groups specifically, show up to 300 "fighter pilot" shortfalls annually! What gives? We are already producing more pilots than we have jets, as we adapt the USAF force structure to the demands and realities of the present day mission. So why is the force overall showing a massive shortage of fighter pilots?

The answer is that the "fighter pilot mentality" goes well beyond actually flying fighters, and everyone wants a "fighter pilot" on their staff whether the job requires fighter experience or not. Fighter pilots are picked one at a time from our smartest and most aggressive officers, and are screened for aggressive application of intelligence and adaptability to new situations, from even before they are accepted into officer training programs. This is no different from historical cultural divergence in the Army and Navy between specialties, but it seems easy to bash pilots.

This is not chest thumping, it is numerical fact. AFPC routinely has to scrub manpower requirements to eliminate unnecessary 11F (fighter pilot) coded requirements, and staff "fighter pilot" billets are manned below 50%. This is because everyone knows that as a very general rule of thumb, a fighter pilot on the staff will work him/herself to death aggressively pursuing their job. That's how we were taught to approach things from day 1 of our training, and it's simply not possible to survive as a fighter pilot without that attitude. People call us arrogant, but the reality is that we get things done and managers want people who DO things, not those who work 8 hrs broken up with coffee breaks, and then go home with the job left for the next guy to finish. Fighter pilots are obsessive about their tasks, as a simple byproduct of the focused aggression that is inherent in our training and jobs.

I've experienced this firsthand on a numbered air force staff. As an F-15E pilot, I was repeatedly sought out to provide solutions and leadership because even without ever meeting me it was assumed that I would bring an aggressive approach to problem solving. When I left, there were many people left hoping that I would be replaced by another F-15E pilot or WSO, because the unique "jack of all trades" nature of the F-15E means that any F-15E aircrew will arrive with a broad background into the entire gamut of aerial operations, and will therefore be more effective than most other candidates for the job I was filling. Don't get me wrong, almost everyone on the staff worked extremely hard and there are other specialties that are known for an aggressive work ethic (such as aircraft maintenance). But if you looked around at the people who were working late hours and becoming known as the people to go to if you wanted something done, it was by and large the fighter pilots day after day pursuing their job as aggressively as if they were going in for a guns kill.

I have Lieutenants coming to me every day asking for permission to stretch the rules regarding their duty restrictions, so they can fly and work more. This is at the peak of a TX summer with temperatures well over 90 for almost our entire duty day, and I have guys trying to fly 3 times a day in a plane that has almost no air conditioning and work 12 hours a day, 5 days a week, plus weekend training missions. As you well know, that attitude is rare but it's very nearly the standard here. It is no wonder that everyone wants these guys to work for them when they leave here, but you don't get that sort of passion for mission accomplishment in most jobs.

Kill off the fighter pilot mafia? Looking at manning requirements, you'd think the military has a bad case of fighter pilot envy. Nobody wants fighters anymore, but everyone wants a fighter pilot working for them (including sister services asking for USAF liasons). Go figure.

A serving fighter pilot

I have certainly not been critical of fighter pilots per se; and indeed, Francis X. Kane, Ph.D, Col. USAF Ret'd., coauthor of The Strategy of Technology, and one time Director of Plans of USAF Systems Command was both a fighter pilot and one of my examples of what a strategist and force planner ought to be like.

The problem is that the Air Force isn't the primary service, and what's good for the Air Force is not necessarily good for the nation. The Air Force can certainly lose wars. Air supremacy is important and one major -- perhaps the most important -- argument for an independent Air Force was that the Army didn't really understand this importance.

This desire for an independent service was also fueled by the fuddy duddy nature of the Old Army prior to WW II; and Macarthur's inability to understand and use the bomber force in the Philippines when war broke out certainly argued for more professional Air Command influence in allocating air war resources.

Most Air Force advocates are alarmed that few military history works on masters of strategy include Air Force people. This is said to be prejudice. Of course the theories of Douhet were very influential -- but in the wrong direction, and caused considerable misallocation of military resources during WW II. Douhet wasn't a fighter pilot. of course, and Victory Through Air Power was a product of the bomber faction.

Interestingly, the most decisive air weapon in WW II Europe was the P-47 on recce-strike/interdiction missions, particularly train busting. This enabled the field army to make rapid advances. And of course the whole European campaign demonstrated the importance of air supremacy.

The problem with the Air Force isn't the influence of fighter pilots; but one does suppose that the fighter pilots were highly influential in the dog in the manger decision to prevent the Army from having fixed wing aircraft for close support of the field army. The Air Force hasn't much wanted that mission, and flying Warthogs is not the ideal career path for young flyers.

I don't really have a solution to the problem of integration of the services and framing a common strategy. That would include designing and acquiring the force. There are no simple solutions to this and there never will be.

And I think I am rambling.


Hydrogen-powered house

Not really practical, considering the costs, but interesting that he's done it all using off-the-shelf technologies.


Interesting tidbit, too, about the speed of hydrogen: 45 miles per hour, straight up until it escapes the atmosphere. I'd never seen it put in quite those terms before.



Intelligent Design

Hi Jerry

I see that there has been a little chatter on intelligent design, and I fully concur with the need to prevent suppression of debate and thoughtful consideration.

Thoughtful consideration of the concept has led me to specific ideas as to what God is or might be that the creationists would completely choke on. That is the real anecdote to the facile propagation of what perhaps originated as a self serving idea.

I will spare you the essay I wrote on the subject, unless you ask.



Actually, Sir Fred Hoyle's concept of the engines of evolution have already done that. Creationists wouldn't be at all happy with his views.

Of course many dismiss Hoyle on the grounds that if evolution comes from space intervention, then he hasn't explained the mechanisms by which that took place. Of course he hasn't, because there's no data beyond what we find here on Earth.












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