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Monday  November 3, 2008

Subj: Peggy Noonan answers "What is a conservative?"

Asked at the bottom of page 2, answered at the top of page 3:


Personally, I prefer Russell Kirk's answer


or even John Derbyshire's shortie (from "The Future of English", _National Review_, 28 Aug 2000 p. 38):

Conservatism is not a devotion to stasis but a determination to bring the best of the past with us into the unknowable future.

I do like Noonan's suggestion that _National Review_ spend some serious resources on answering the question anew, whichever way the current election goes -- though *not* if the discussion is dominated by The Egregious Frum and others of that ilk.

Rod Montgomery==monty@starfief.com

Kirk also wrote an essay called Enemies of the Permanent Things which applies. I think Peggy Noonan temporarily took leave of her senses last week. She's usually sound, but she was stuck for a column? It happens.

National Review definitely should consider what they are for. Buckley's instincts were generally good; but "big government conservatism" is a contradiction in terms. They all seem to have forgotten Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy. The Republicans do not deserve to win this election. Alas, the nation doesn't deserve left-liberal politics dominating both Houses of Congress and the White House. We need divided government while we work things out and reform the Republicans or turn all those rascals out and build a new party. Either way, four years of this will be the Great Society writ large: we don't like Big Government Conservatism, but Bigger Government Liberalism is not better.

Derbyshire's brief statement is pretty good. The future certainly is not knowable. Much that used to be permanent changes; even human nature may be altered as science develops; but for now, human nature hasn't much changed, and bureaucracy hasn't much changed, and---


Amazon.com: In a Time of War: The Proud and Perilous Journey of West Point's Class of 2002: Bill Murphy: Books

Dear Jerry:

I just happened to catch a CSPAN program about this book, which featured not just the author, but the US Army Vice Chief of Staff and two former officers who have done multiple tours in Iraq. West Pointers; one a Captain and another a Lt. Col. These guys left the service despite loving the Army because of family pressures. The low number of available troops for the mission and the ops-tempo threatened their marriages. Recalling how my own mother became so depressed and lonely when my father did his last unaccompanied tour in Korea (He was C.O. and Chief of Surgery at the 121st Evacuation Hospital in Seoul) in 1962-63, I am sympathetic. Service life is hard on the troops, but even harder on the families, even in the best of times. These are far from the best of times. The Lt. Col, estimates that we need a 750,000 soldier army and two more Marine divisions to get things back to normal. The former Captain pointed out that, at no time during these two wars, has the nation been on a war footing. The sacrifices are not being shared. The disconnect between the larger society and those who serve in the military grows ever larger. There was another news show segment about a returning veteran who is being pressured not to coach his kid's Little League team by other parents, who expressed fears that he might become violent....so the "psycho veteran" meme is still very prevalent.

The op-tempo is also creating big problems for National Guard and Reserve soldiers with their civilian employers. Sixty Minutes had a segment on this which led off with a nurse who had been demoted illegally by her employer -- A VA hospital! The West Point Class of 2002, the subject of this book, is where the Army will soon get most of its battalion and brigade commanders. Except many of them have already quit. I plan to read this book and hope other concerned about National Security at the granular level will do likewise.



Francis Hamit

Beware the fury of the Legions.


Polar News


• Posted on Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Alaska glaciers grew this year, thanks to colder weather

By Craig Medred | Anchorage Daily News

Two hundred years of glacial shrinkage in Alaska, and then came the winter and summer of 2007-2008.

Unusually large amounts of winter snow were followed by unusually chill temperatures in June, July and August.

"In mid-June, I was surprised to see snow still at sea level in Prince William Sound," said U.S. Geological Survey glaciologist Bruce Molnia. "On the Juneau Icefield, there was still 20 feet of new snow on the surface of the Taku Glacier in late July. At Bering Glacier, a landslide I am studying, located at about 1,500 feet elevation, did not become snow free until early August.

"In general, the weather this summer was the worst I have seen in at least 20 years."

Never before in the history of a research project dating back to 1946 had the Juneau Icefield witnessed the kind of snow build-up that came this year. It was similar on a lot of other glaciers too.

"It's been a long time on most glaciers where they've actually had positive mass balance," Molnia said.


Lindzen - Has global warming alarm become the goal rather than the result of scientific research? 

In either case, what historians will definitely wonder about in future centuries is how deeply flawed logic, obscured by shrewd and unrelenting propaganda, actually enabled a coalition of powerful special interests to convince nearly everyone in the world that CO2 from human industry was a dangerous, planet destroying toxin. It will be remembered as the greatest mass delusion in the history of the world - that CO2, the life of plants, was considered for a time to be a deadly poison.



Obama to Declare Carbon Dioxide Dangerous Pollutant (Update1)


"Placing heat-trapping pollutants in the same category as ozone may lead to caps on power-plant emissions and force utilities to use the most expensive systems to curb pollution. The move may halt construction plans on as many as half of the 130 proposed new U.S. coal plants."


Kipling bears repeating: the Gods of the Copybook Headings


"But the real Kipling was more complex, even in his attitude towards empire <http://www.web-books.com/Classics/Poetry/Anthology/Kipling/Recessional.htm>  . Lately I've been thinking about Kipling at his most cynical. With a pen dipped in acid and bitter disillusion, he wrote the poem "The Gods of the Copybook Headings" <http://www.kipling.org.uk/poems_copybook.htm>  in 1919, right after the carnage of WWI (which included the death of his only son <http://neoneocon.com/2006/04/06/rudyard-kipling-new-englander-grieving/>  ) His message was a harsh one to those with hopes and dreams that human nature could be changed for the better, that lasting peace was possible to achieve, and that bills would never come due.

With the candidacy of hope/dream/change Obama, as well as the recent revenge of what Kipling referred to as the "Gods of the Market Place," I think the poem is well worth reading again. "

Kipling is, in my opinion, always worth a revisit.



Harry Erwin's Letter from England

It is important that positions requiring judgement be filled by people possessing judgement. Since those positions tend to attract jobsworths <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jobsworth>, there is need for a mechanism that from time to time would eliminate the unqualified. I suspect the next election here might address the problem to some extent.

Daily Mail articles on 'dustbin stasi' <http://tinyurl.com/6lpazd> <http://tinyurl.com/65b2lg  > Telegraph article <http://tinyurl.com/5vmvt7> BBC story about Child Support Agency <http://tinyurl.com/5wwdnk> A drug test to enter a pub (BBC) <http://tinyurl.com/5wjjb7> Mistranslation put on sign (Guardian) <http://tinyurl.com/5l2ogp> Times story about English 'fudge' <http://tinyurl.com/5rmao5> Independent story <http://tinyurl.com/669p96>


SAS commander in Afghanistan resigns over inadequate equipment:

Daily Mail <http://tinyurl.com/659nhy> Telegraph <http://tinyurl.com/5ougvj  >


Physics under threat (BBC) <http://tinyurl.com/62dlkv>


THE story about student grant FUBAR <http://tinyurl.com/5wk3gh> THE story about new foreign student policing requirements on universities <http://tinyurl.com/56sku4> Independent story--Diary of a Fresher <http://tinyurl.com/5ahtt3> Independent story--the brain drain returneth <http://tinyurl.com/624on2>


Register story about green airliners being noisy <http://tinyurl.com/6bg66g  >



"The difference between theory and practice is that, in theory, there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice, there is." (Tom Vogl) Harry Erwin




The Cost of Diversity is a follow up to a study by Peter Brimelow and Leslie Spencer, "When quotas replace merit, everybody suffers," Forbes, February 15, 1993.

Edwin S. Rubenstein under the sponsorship of the National Policy Institute has updated this ground breaking study and expanded it. The "Economic Costs of Racial and Cultural Diversity" puts the annual waste at over $1.1 trillion dollars. To make this Washington size number comprehensible Rubenstein breaks it into costs and benefits expressed by family groups. Asian families pay the most and Hispanic families get most. Farther along the food chain whites give up less and blacks get less.



Devil's Cancer Romancer

Dr. Pournelle:

You shouldn't be surprised at Olivia Judson's expression (or her attractiveness). She is also "Dr. Tatiana", writer and star of a book and show on the role of s-x in e-----ionary biology:


"It is perhaps the most original science documentary ever made. Dr Tatiana's Sex Advice to All Creation is an all-singing, all-dancing musical. No joke: there are 14 original songs, including the hermaphrodite song and the female promiscuity song (which features the refrain, "I want to do it again, I want to do it again, my mother always said you can't have too many men"). And that's not all..."

So her publishers and producers might encourage a bimbose expression. No doubt, if yours could, they would cozen you into Janissary or Falkenberg BDU.

Ave Jerry!

-- Bill Kilner


"The freedom of historical debate is under attack by the memory police." <http://tinyurl.com/3naylr> . There is a link at the end to allow people to join the author of the article in opposing the memory police.

-- Harry Erwin, PhD "If you can't be a good example, then you'll just have to be a horrible warning." (Catherine Aird)

We all know what we can't say and who we can't say it about.


Dr. Pournelle,

Here's a horrifying article about a kid in Lexington, KY who is being charged with terrorism for writing a short story about zombies attacking a high school. It's not even his high school, it's a fictional high school.


His grandparents turned him in, which is even worse. Better be careful about the next "hitting the Earth with something big" book, you could be charged with terrorism, too.

In other news, finished reading the Falkenberg's Legion books for the first time, really enjoyed them.

Keep up the good work and stay healthy. I, for one, want to read the next big impact story.

v/r -Scott



Mr. Pournelle,

Linked to your site via Instapundit. To confirm your thoughts, you may want to check out DJ Drummond who has been extensively posting about the current polls. He believes that the polls are unpredictive this year for various reasons. The link to his archives is provided here:


I think his most interesting work begins with his post of 10/15/2008. His reasoning is cogent and the points he makes appear sound. The bottom line; if he is correct, then despair may well be premature this election cycle.






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Zimbabwe: The grim reaper approaches Eddie Cross

02 November 2008

Eddie Cross writes that without urgent action now mass starvation will become inevitable

In the past two weeks the Zimbabwe economy has seen two really significant developments. The first is the total collapse of the Zimbabwe dollar and the second is the sharp deterioration in basic food supplies.

On Tuesday a local banker told me that the cost of money transactions in Zimbabwe dollars now exceeded the value of their transactions. Simply put that means if you are trading or shifting money in the form of the Zimbabwe domestic currency, you will be losing money even if you are charging interest and other charges related to the transactions that are involved.

So business here is now only possible if you work in a hard currency - the Rand or the US Dollar. This creates two other problems - how to obtain the hard currency in the first place and then, once you have the money, to use it without breaking the law which still prohibits such transactions.

For a small fortune you can secure a licence to operate in hard currency but even then the operating conditions are nearly impossible. So the reality is that most businesses have closed their doors or are now operating on a care and maintenance basis until better days - whenever that will be.

In the rural areas the position is even worse and people are now operating a barter economy or relying on the small remittances that come in from relatives in the Diaspora. If you cannot use either system, you are facing starvation.

On the food front the situation has deteriorated sharply in the past month. Humanitarian agencies have full warehouses but cannot get the food to the people who need it. The reasons are that the agencies cannot access cash for their operations - hard currency transactions are still illegal and the cash withdrawal limits and other restrictions imposed by the Reserve Bank are making local payments impossible - they cannot pay for hotels or staff salaries and cannot pay transporters to take the food to where it is needed.

But it goes beyond this, at the start of the year it was estimated that we needed 1,8 million tonnes of maize. Of this total the humanitarian agencies said they would try to supply 400 000 tonnes. The Zimbabwe government estimated maize production at 600 000 tonnes and that left a shortfall of 800 000 tonnes for importation.

So far all we can find evidence of are contracts for a total of 175 000 tonnes and even this meagre import programme seems to have spluttered to a halt. That leaves a total shortfall of 625 000 tonnes - possibly 800 000 tonnes because it is most unlikely that local production was 600 000 tonnes - most commentators say 425 000 tonnes.

This means that the shortfall is still probably 50 per cent of consumption and we still have 5 months to go to the end of the forecast supply period (April 2008 to March 2009). In October the donors fed 2 million people at the level of 15 kilograms of cereals a month per capita. In November they expect to go to 3,5 million people at a reduced rate of 10 kilos of cereals per capita. They plan to go to 5,5 million in January 2009 but at present they do not have the money or the supplies for that programme.

Remember that this is just the donor community completing what they committed themselves to at the start of the year and does not in any way alleviate the shortage in commercial supplies from the GMB. Therefore we can deduct from this in the absence of any information from official sources that food supplies are now down to critical levels.

If this is not addressed and soon, widespread starvation and deaths will be inevitable. <snip>


Looks like that Cashill guy has come up with a great deal of additional supporting evidence that Ayres wrote (or co-wrote) DREAMS:


I'm no expert in forensic text analysis, but right now I'd say the odds seem much higher than fifty-fifty...


I have heard this before. I would think that doing type/token and verb/adjective ratios on known works by each of them would settle the matter rather thoroughly. When I was an undergraduate and intereste in general semantics I recall we had a number of such tools for identifying authors, and that before computers.

I don't hear much about that now; but surely there are people who still study the matter.


Subject: Kirk Principles of Conservatism

It's interesting to compare his list with *traditional* liberal principles:

1. Freedom of thought and speech 2. Limitations on the power of governments 3. The rule of law 4. The right to private property 5. Free markets 6. Transparency in government.

Other traditional liberal positions include a belief that man is a being with the power of independent thought and action with the ability to distinguish right from wrong, that respect for the human person and family is the basis of society, and that the state is only an instrument of the community and should not assume any power in conflict with fundamental rights.

It appears to me that traditional conservatism and liberalism have much in common that they don't share with modern 'isms'.

-- "an academic who listens to pleas of convenience before publishing his research risks calling into doubt the whole of his determination to find the truth." (Russell 1993) Harry Erwin



Adding to that: What Kirk called Conservatism in America was pretty close to what used to be called classical Liberalism, except that his principles were based on "the permanent things", not just pragmatism. See also Burke on that subject, since Kirk derived much his political philosophy from Burke. Note that Burke was a politician. Note also that so were Madison, Hamilton, and Jay who wrote as "Publius" when they send letters to the editors of newspapers in their defense of the new Constitution. The Federalist contains much of the same wisdom.

The truth is that it is impossible to justify legitimacy of government on logic. There is no inherent reason why fifty percent plus one of a populace will be wiser than a group selected by heredity and interest; there is no inherent reason why allowing everyone to vote as opposed to requiring them to show some income and education; there is no inherent legitimacy to democracy over "your father swore allegiance to my father and you to me. There have been great kings and terrible kings, as there have been democratically elected governments like Mugabe; one man one vote once is fairly common. Do not suppose it can never happen here. All that is required is to allow thugs to intimidate voters; it doesn't have to happen very often, either. It appears to be happening in Philadelphia now.

Intimidate voters and the polls and there will be a change in voting. Then everyone votes by mail, and no one has any idea of how anyone actually voted. The machines decide the vote. I told that story in the first science fiction story I ever published, "Peace with Honor".

Classical liberalism was once known as Whiggery. The Whigs vanished as a party for political reasons: nearly everyone in the Whig Party was anti-slavery (Lincoln was a Whig leader, as were Daniel Webster and Henry Clay); the split was over the practical matter of preserving the Union. Some thought that allowing expansion of slavery into the western territories was an unpleasant necessity to preserve the Union and avoid Civil War. American Whigs differed in some measures from the English Whigs led by Burke until 1789 when the Fox faction of the Whigs approved the French Revolution (like Jefferson in the US) while Burke led the "old Whigs" in condemning the break with legitimacy.

The basic principle of the Whig party was that at bottom legitimacy rested with Parliament, not heredity succession, and therefore the expulsion of the Stuarts in favor of William and Mary, then William III alone, was a legitimate act. The Jacobites insisted on Stuart legitimacy, and thus the risings in Scotland. It is very easy to have a romantic attachment to the Stuarts: see Kidnapped, or listen to the songs about Bonnie Prince Charlie and Flora MacDonald.

It is very easy to think of ways to break continuity and restructure a state. Earl Warren took us a long way in that direction with his "living Constitution" as had Roosevelt and Frankfurter before him. Their efforts did not end loyalty to the United States. It is possible to survive some radical restructuring.

But remember Mugabe.



I've been doing this military stuff for over twenty years now, I've been overseas more than once since 9/11, I've been decorated for my service (and you've seen the medal to prove it). My family has had a professional soldier in every generation since the first militia regiments were formed in Virginia. I'm proud and pleased that the people I'm protecting aren't having to sacrifice because of the war. I'd be most unhappy were it otherwise. I've been seeing a lot of calls for the public to sacrifice since the war started, and it seems always from people who oppose the war for some reason. I thought my job was to stand between those I am protecting and those people and things that would hurt them and our way of life. If our way of life isn't changing, doesn't that mean I'm doing my job well? Am I just confused?

We cut too deep with the Peace Dividend. We all know it, it was obvious at the time, and we did it anyway. We'll need military and naval forces for the rest of my natural life, and I don't expect I've gone over for the last time no matter what happens today. Unless I decide I've done my bit.

We've always had trouble retaining good people, except right now we're doing better than normal. It seems that our warriors feel appreciated right now, for some strange reason. I do not fear a shortage of battalion commanders, and six years is a natural time to see officers leaving the service. Certainly the gang who got in when I did have pretty much fallen by the wayside since then. Even when the meme was recruiting shortages, we were consistantly retaining more than our target goals.

We do have a disconnect between our military and parts of our society, but it is increasingly political. It seems the party which wanted to gut the military during and after the Cold War doesn't want its children going off to war. Try to recruit in San Francisco, Berkeley or DC. If we face a Democratic controlled Congress and a Democratic president, I intend to do some more soul searching about whether I've done my bit for King and Country, as it were. With that 25% cut in military spending speech, Obama's promise to eliminate new procurement programs, shut down missile defense and create a committee to review and approve military spending, I don't think it'll get better.

Now I'll admit to resenting the heck out of deployments urged by those who think that military operations aren't noble endeavors unless there is no possible self interest for the US in the operation, and I'm hardly alone in that. It appears that many who demand sacrifice are actually interested in having the Armed Forces do the sacrifice, since we all know that even if the budgets are slashed by a quarter, they'll still expect us to go out there to fight and die for their causes.

Then there is the psycho vet meme... I've done my part to deal with that. I stopped watching Hollywood when they stopped producing stuff worth seein

Serving Officer


Subject: One Member of the Electorate - One Vote


With all of the recent , and not so recent, problems with ensuring that everyone that is eligible to register to vote and then vote without having their votes diluted by votes from those that are not eligible to vote, it is imperative that ALL 50 States take immediate action. Procedures MUST be established to make it easy to register to vote while ensuring that those who are not eligible are not registered. Additionally, procedures MUST be established to verify that those who vote are actually those who are registered.

The current situation with ACORN and other groups registering voters must NOT be allowed to continue. It would be wise to make a fraudulent registration a felony punishable by not less than 10 years in prison. In addition, it should be illegal for anyone registering voters to be paid by the number of registrations obtained. Any payment should be hourly at the minimum wage or more.

All registrations MUST be verified using appropriate methods such as comparison with other existing databases or, in the case of no match, a visit to the address listed in the registration.

All voters MUST be asked to produce an acceptable photo ID to verify that they are, in fact, the registered voter.

If these procedures are not adopted, then no one can claim that we have achieved "one man - one vote." Surely the cancellation of one valid vote by a vote from an ineligible voter is at least as bad as denying a vote to an eligible voter.

Bob Holmes

Agreed, but it may be a bit late.



"So it is perfectly ethical to use an anonymous source who speaks off the record because he or she has agreed as part of the terms of their employment not to speak to reporters. Such a person, though they are breaking their word by speaking off the record, is nonetheless, "credible".

On the other hand, disclosing the identity of a source known to the editors who requested anonymity because he fears for the safety of his family is highly ethical, even though he spoke to the Times with the knowledge and consent of his employers. His credibility is not at issue, but in the sage judgment of the Times it is not sufficient that he be identified as a CIA employee whose identity is redacted for his own safety, even though the Times commonly redacts the identities of other anonymous sources for far less serious reasons:"

Isn't it interesting how what is and what is not acceptable behavior changes based on what is perceived to work in favor of goals? The hypocrisy is stunning, but they no nobody will publish anything calling them on it, so, why not do it?


You ain't seen nothing yet. Wait for the fairness doctrine.


astonishing coating for solar panels

Jerry, This development could really boost solar power possibilities, especially for homes: http://www.physorg.com/news144940463.html  . Basically, it is a coating that allows capture of @ 96% of light shined on it and from nearly any angle:

A new anti-reflective coating developed by researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute could help to overcome two major hurdles blocking the progress and wider use of solar power. The nanoengineered coating boosts the amount of sunlight captured by solar panels and allows those panels to absorb the entire spectrum of sunlight from any angle, regardless of the sun's position in the sky.

So a solar panel with this coating not only reduces the reflection of light, it also eliminates the need for a mechanism for tracking and moving the panel in relation to the sun's position in the sky. Quite astonishing, to me at least. I'm still an actinide-burning nuclear reactor enthusiast, but this development could be great for homeowners & would help reduce peaking power requirements.

Sincerely, Jim Laheta

But see below


Testimony of Ralph Nansen before House Science Committee Hearings on Solar Power Satellites | SpaceRef - Your Space Reference

Have you seen this?

Testimony of Ralph Nansen before House Science Committee Hearings on Solar Power Satellites http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewpr.html?pid=2571













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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Council citation.


-- Roland Dobbins

I just hope that we won't need ballistic missile defenses. Hope is not prediction.


The Chronicles of Narnia Now on Kindle.


--- Roland Dobbins


The Medici Meltdown.

oped-cx_ms_1031simonetta.html >

- Roland Dobbins

And this year Investment Banks managed to lose more money that was cumulatively made by risk investing by investment banks since the time of the Medici.




Much has been made of the "coal" aspect of the quotation, but a 100% CO2 cap and trade at the combustion source would also seriously hamper fuel oil (both production power and home heating) and would have significant but lesser effects on propane and NG.

If this were imposed directly and immediately, the results would be catastrophic. As in 10's of millions of people freezing or starving (don't forget that it applies to agricultural fuel as well as power for fertilizer and other agrochemical production) in the first winter afterward. Needless to say, the populace would never allow this to happen.

Even if conducted in the context of "cap and trade applies only new coal/fuel oil construction" and "forced replacement of conventional with solar/wind," the diversion of capital would be significant and the resulting increase of energy costs significant.

That said, I think this -- combined with Biden's confirmations -- swings PA and Ohio to McCain and generates coattails for him. We'll see.



Re. Obama on coal ("Without nuclear or coal, what's left? Freezing in the dark?")

Dr Pournelle,

See Orson Card's essay America Unplugged!
( http://www.ornery.org/essays/
warwatch/2008-11-02-1.html  ) ,
where he calls the cap-and-trade plan a "cruel tax on the poor".

—Joel Salomon


West Point and officers 

111/03/08 Francis Hamit wrote:

"The West Point Class of 2002, the subject of this book, is where the Army will soon get most of its battalion and brigade commanders."

Is it right for our (or any?) republic to depend on one source for its army officers? I am reminded that the greatest commander of American soldiers of the twentieth century, General of the Army George C, Marshall, came from Virginia Military Institute. General Westmoreland (Vietnam War commander) came from South Carolina's Citadel.

I highly respect West Point and the leaders it has produced, but we need diverse sources for those officers needed for that 750,000 man (please!) Army, most especially from those ROTC programs (what few are left!) of the land grant "Cow Colleges" as well as the Georgia Tech's and Texas A. and I.'s of the country. West Pointer's, for good or ill, tend to dominate the higher commands of our Army, and that is not healthy for the Army. I think of the "Iron Law of Bureaucracy" and the tendency for GroupThink.

Not to mention a few mustangs in the mix is always good for the "gene pool. The best battlefield commander in American history never took a course in Military Science and could barely sign his name, but he always got there first with the most.

A diverse pool, a large and diverse pool, would alleviate the "ops tempo", ending early retirement due to burnout, and also giving us the benefit of diverse experiences and methodologies.



Not a big fan of West Point

Dear Jerry:

Petronius reads me wrong if he thinks that I'm a big fan of West Point. 40 years ago I was in Vietnam and served under a company commander who was particularly rigid and unforgiving about things which, in a combat zone, simply did not matter. He was a "Ring Knocker" whose own career was not going very well. And he didn't understand the ASA culture. He had the job because he was a fixed wing pilot. As for the Southern military academies, some of those recent graduates were being denied promotion to Captain because they were open and avowed racists who could not get with the program. Westmoreland was basically fired from his job in Vietnam, and CIA analyst Sam Adams and Col. Gaines Hawkins proved that he lied about the strength of VC units before the Tet Offensive, which led to us being caught short on the ground. The dissonance at the enlisted MI level was severe because even a non-operational clerk knew that the figures we were putting out and what MACV was telling Washington simply did not match. We do have other sources of officers and Colin Powell came out of the Pershing Rifles ROTC unit at CCNY. John Shelikashvli (sp?) was a "90 day wonder". So, yeah, West Point doesn't really guarantee anything even as to competence. It's the first step on a career path that includes Command and Staff and the War College, an advanced degree or two and, usually, parachute wings and service ribbons that tell everyone that you've been there and did that. Most of them come out of West Point because it's the trade school, but most West Pointers retire as Lt. Col.s.

As for the size of the force, all of that schooling and training takes time and the usual troop rotation standard has been two years of that for every year on the front line, plus training and schools. 750,000 troops is the minimum number. Personally I favor an 18 division Army and a four division Marine Corps. If you count all of those "civilian" contractors, (most of whom come from truncated careers in the US military) then we already have that. These people are doing a lot of military jobs that we used to fill with troops, at much lower costs. MPs are MPs. We have sacrificed command and control and unit cohesion in the name of a false economy. We need to get back to a force where everyone sings from the same hymnals.

The current op-tempo is hollowing out the Army and the Marines, because the kind of NCO who might become a commissioned officer also has a family. The US military is very family oriented now. The NCOs are also leaving (although the current economy might slow that down because of the high unemployment numbers). Some are taking jobs as contractors, but others go elsewhere and are lost to the force.

I've been thinking about these issues a lot. I have in mind a couple of stage plays I want to write.


Francis Hamit


The Birth of _Frankenstein_.


- Roland Dobbins

Fascinating, and I think definitive.

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Thursday, November 6, 2008

'When the Romans lived in Britain they were growing very good red grapes and making wine on the borders of Scotland. It was evidently a lot warmer.'


--- Roland Dobbins

Indeed. This is actually pretty well known, like Viking settlements in Greenland in the time of Lief the Lucky; but apparently not to Al Gore.

One of Al Gore’s biggest clangers was saying that the Aral Sea in Uzbekistan was drying up because of global warming. Well, everyone knows, because it was all over the news 20 years ago, that the Russians were growing cotton there at the time and that for every ton of cotton you produce you use a vast amount of water.

And we now have a President designate who may have drunk the Koolaid. We do live in interesting times.


Advance in solar power--smoke and mirrors 

Dr. Pournelle:

As with so many "breakthroughs" in photovoltaics, the new antireflective coating developed at RPI seems to be overhyped:

"Lin's discovery could antiquate these automated solar arrays, as his antireflective coating absorbs sunlight evenly and equally from all angles. This means that a stationary solar panel treated with the coating would absorb 96.21 percent of sunlight no matter the position of the sun in the sky. So along with significantly better absorption of sunlight, Lin's discovery could also enable a new generation of stationary, more cost-efficient solar arrays."

While an improved AR coating might boost overall photovoltaic efficiency by a few percent, the primary reason for heliostatic tracking is not to maximize absorption, but to maximize the subtended solid angle of the panel or array. That is, when the sun is at an angle away from normal incidence (away from perpendicular to the surface) the light incident on the panel is proportional to the cosine of this angle, so it is maximum when the angle is zero and falls to zero when the angle approaches +/- 90 degrees. Absorbing 96.21 percent of the sunlight is not terribly helpful if the panel, because of it's angle, is only receiving 30 percent of the light it would if optimally oriented.

Since I worked in the field 25 years ago, there have been hundreds of "breakthroughs" announced aimed at improving the efficiency of mass market photovoltaics. With very few exceptions, the added cost of these "breakthroughs" makes them not viable, or they are found to degrade over the 20-30 year service life required for payback of investment. The high volume solar panels being sold today are only a couple percent more efficient than what was being sold back then.

In fairness, some of the more exotic technologies are used in space power applications, where efficiency is king and low cost is not a high priority.

I have enjoyed your column since Byte days. I renewed my Byte subscription every year primarily because of your column as well as Steve Ciarcia's. Steve started his own print magazine (which I still subscribe to) and I'm glad that your column has persisted as well. Best wishes for your continued good health.

Doug Ely


Orson Scott Card Is Wrong

Dear Jerry,

Card's essay is well written, half-right and is therefore wrong in the conclusion. B.O. won't forget to include "energy assistance for the poor" in his carbon tax scheme. That'll be another good excuse to expand redistributionist IRS rebates to his political base. This mechanism has always been at the heart of the GloboWarmers' schemes and is openly stated by them in all their detailed discussions of carbon tax implementations.

This will turn it into a very cruel tax exclusively aimed at the white middle class.

Best Wishes,


"And furthermore, the Republican Party must be destroyed."

Be careful what you wish for.


You may have seen these, but in case you have not…

Federal Revenue and Spending Budget Charts


Science & Environment Policy Project

http://www.sepp.org/ <http://www.sepp.org/

The FAQ in the SEPP site is almost a verbatim repeat of what you and others have been saying for years.

Be well - Braxton Cook

Frequently Asked Questions About Climate Change

With all the hype about global warming and climate disasters filling the journals and air waves, here are some facts that need to be more widely known:

1)Is the climate stable or is it changing? The climate is never just "average"; it changes all the time, from season to season, year to year, and over the millennia. And that includes not only temperature, but rain, snow, droughts, storms, and every conceivable feature of the weather. It is a well-known fact of statistics that the longer you take observatioins, the greater the chance of finding some kind of extreme event -- sometime, somewhere. So watch out when you read about the "hottest year", "longest drought", or "biggest hurricane."

2) But are there long-term climate trends? Is it getting warmer or is it getting colder? The only correct answer is: Yes. It all depends on the time scale you choose. The global climate has warmed over the last 100 years, but not appreciably over the last 50 years. And it is colder now than it was 1000 years ago. And did you know that over the last 50 years the frequency of hurricanes has been dropping?

3) Are human activities influencing climate? Yes, of course. The rise of agriculture and the growth of cities have changed the local climate significantly. With rising populations and rising industrial activity there have also been some worldwide changes: Temperature extremes have softened, the stratosphere is cooling, and atmospheric levels of greenhouse gases are rising. But this does not mean that there will be a catastrophic or even a substantial warming of the climate in the next century.

4) But isn't there climate warming already because of the increased burning of fossil fuels--oil, gas, and coal--that creates more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere?

True, carbon dioxide (CO2) levels are rising, but the climate seems not to be warming as a result. It did warm greatly between 1880 and 1940--long before CO2 increased significantly. But since 1940, weather satellites, tree ring data, and corrected thermometer readings all agree that climate has not warmed as much--even though CO2 levels rose.

5) And why hasn't climate warmed, when theory clearly expects this to happen? The answer must be that even our best current models of the atmosphere are incomplete and leave out important features. Only in the last few years have modelers started to include ocean currents, atmospheric aerosol particles and dust into climate models. Most now suspect that clouds are the reason why models and observations do not agree. Models still cannot include solar influences properly.

6) What about climate calamities, like sea-level rise and the spread of tropical diseases? Well, since the climate is not warming significantly, there is no immediate reason for concern. Diseases are not just spread by mosquitoes, but nowadays more by human contacts--which have been increasing markedly with the tremendous rise in global transportation. Many scientists predict that sea level will drop slightly if oceans warm; the evaporated moisture may simply turn to snow and increase the thickness of the Greenland and Antarctic ice caps.

7) So, would a global warming be good or bad? Probably both, but warming is definitely better than cooling. It is certainly better for agriculture and therefore for basic human existence. All historical evidence shows that during the warm periods of the Middle Ages people were better off than during the hard times of the "Little Ice Age" (1650-1850) when crops failed and people starved.

8) When it comes to it, what can we do about climate warming? We can do little about the climate itself, but we could try to stop the increase of atmospheric CO2. Even that task is daunting; it requires that we cut emissions--worldwide--by 60 to 80 percent. In effect, this means cutting energy consumption by comparable amounts--including all transportation, heating, air conditioning, and electricity use. It would have an enormous negative impact on people's welfare--particularly for the poor and those in developing countries.

9) How would one reduce energy consumption by 60 to 80 percent? There are basically two ways, short of drastically reducing population itself: energy rationing or energy taxes. Rationing means a political allocation, with governments and bureaucrats deciding who may use energy and who may not. Energy taxes are almost as unpalatable; just try to picture $5-per-gallon gasoline.

10) Should we ruin our economies and cause tremendous hardship for people to counter a phantom threat? That's a leading question, of course; climate warming does indeed seem far away and a minor problem at that. There is a sure threat to human existence, however, and that is the near-certainty of a coming ice age. Geologists tell us that the present interglacial warm period will soon come to an end. Perhaps greenhouse warming can save us from an icy fate.



My headcold of the weekend relapsed; I'm back home, and heading back to bed again when I finish this...

The true red-blue dichotomy:

Compare the per-county maps from 2000, 2004, and 2008. I think you'll see that with few exceptions -- mostly military towns -- the urban areas are blue, the rural areas are red, and the election turns on whether the suburbs follow the urban areas or the rural areas. Also cross-check and see how much of Obama's national margin is due to excess votes over his average margin in the major urban centers (checking in rough order: New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston, Philadelphia, Miami, Seattle, San Francisco). I haven't looked for/run the numbers myself yet, but based on 2000-4, Obama's excess over 54% of the vote in just these cities will account for his national vote margin.

The traditional "red state-blue state" polarization hides the essential fact that our societal dichotomy is largely between urban populations seeking federal assistance to pay the higher costs associated (by supply and demand) with their higher geographical concentrations of population -- and the people who are paying the bill for that excess.


The framers were concerned that the poor would outvote the middle class and ruin everyone.

In Sweden a large number of able bodied people -- I am told up to 25% -- don't work because they see no point it it. They don't marry either, and usually don't have children. The situation cannot be stable.






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Friday,  November 7, 2008

Well, THAT's confirmed

It is easy to infer from the post-election "Dividedwefail.org" commercials that their objective all along has been to twist Republican arms to fall into the Democratic agenda.

Yes, Divided we fail. But we also fail if we unify behind the wrong ideas, and usually worse.


It is always bad tactics to let the other side set the terms of debate. It is worse strategy not to know what you stand for.



A politically incorrect assertion:

The white majority is likely to be hurting if Obama implements the policies he has championed, and it is likely that the advances of the civil rights era will be reversed during the next two years -- even if his politics, in the end, hurts the black population proportionally. But if the Black (and Hispanic/illegal) population benefits, it will become very ugly.

I hate to say this, but if blacks support the Black candidate by 96%, that is reverse racism; if it is reciprocated, the majority will probably respond. Most likely in the ballot box in 2010.

There's little to say that isn't obvious.


Obama's Tech Czar?

Dr. Pournelle --

I see that your name's being bandied about as a future member of the Obama Cabinet:


Most respectfully,
 JJ Brannon

Hardly likely. Wrong party, and I am a bit old. I am told that the worst 48 hours of many NASA bureaucrats lives was when the rumor went out that I was to be the new Administrator of NASA. It wasn't a real rumor even -- that is there was no real chance it would happen -- but it sure got the hive in motion for a while.

It will be interesting to see if Obama takes science and technology seriously, or if he is another Gore.


Atlas Hope and Change

Those of you familiar with "Atlas Shrugged" should appreciate this : www.peeniewallie.com.atlas.hopeandchange.4.jpg , image/jpeg , 148K , or http://www.peeniewallie.com/2008/11/atlas-hope-and.html  )

Thanks to Rob Kiser for his help on this.


Election results

Turnout is estimated between 60-64% making it one of the highest turnout percentages in decades. First time voters were up as well, 18-30 year olds only went up by one percent as a percentage of turnout, but that is itself a numerical increase of fairly large numbers, and this time they voted 2-1 for both Obama and for Democrats in Congress. Losing a whole generation is the legacy of the Rovian politics where you lie and smear your opponents and whip up hatred among half the country for the other half. It didn't sell this time, except among your readers.

Norman Short

Well, that's one view of my readers. It isn't mine. And see below


Navy Hymn

A delightful YouTube video of the Navy Hymn from the Royal Navy.


- Ken Mitchell

And another reason we can hope there will always be an England.



Not sure increased Republican turnout would have made a difference:


 Part of the reason this year didn’t reach historic highs was because Republicans voted in lower numbers than expected. According to Gans, Republican turnout actually declined 1.3 percentage points from 2004. Meantime Democratic turnout was up 2.6 points.

The reason Obama won was a much better ground game. The McCain campaign was composed of Bush campaign vets who thought Palin could help them pull off another upset by driving conservatives in key states. Meanwhile Obama was running a campaign that had precinct-level organization. A rarity in today's Presidential campaigns. Two examples of how Obama's ground game was far superior:

1. Houdini Project


 Everyone who worked at the polling location helped make what the Obama campaign dubbed the Houdini project (mentioned by Newsweek in its review <http://www.newsweek.com/id/167581/page/2>  of election day) happen. We took the real-time results of who actually showed up at the polls and fed it back to the campaign so that they could adjust their GOTV calls and canvassing as the day wore on. Every time someone came in to vote, their names were entered into a computer system and their names disappeared or escaped, Houdini-like, from the call and walk lists.

2. Obama iPhone App:

  Call Friends: A great volunteering tool that lets you make a difference any time you want by talking to people you already know. Your contacts are prioritized by key battleground states, and you can make calls and organize results all in one place.

A Republican precinct organization could have won the election; but of course if there had been a precinct organization, the rapacious wolves would have been restrained. Once Newt was gone there was no control.

Obama will probably experience much the same problem that Carter did, and that Bush did: the greed of those who hold Congressional Power as a matter of right knows no bounds. I tried warning some of them (Republican leaders) several years ago that "Big Government Conservatism" was idiocy, but I was told that "social conservatism" would hold the base. When I pointed out this wasn't working I stopped getting invitations to lunch...

and see below


Sharing the Wealth

Got this email which you and your readers may enjoy:

In a local restaurant my server had on a "Obama 08" tie, again I laughed as he had given away his political preference -- just imagine the coincidence.

When the bill came I decided not to tip the server and explained to him that I was exploring the Obama redistribution of wealth concept. He stood there in disbelief while I told him that I was going to redistribute his tip to someone who I deemed more in need -- the homeless guy outside. The server angrily stormed from my sight.

I went outside, gave the homeless guy $10 and told him to thank the server inside as I've decided he could use the money more. The homeless guy was grateful.

At the end of my rather unscientific redistribution experiment I realized the homeless guy was grateful for the money he did not earn, but the waiter was pretty angry that I gave away the money he did earn even though the actual recipient deserved money more. I guess redistribution of wealth is an easier thing to swallow in concept than in practical application.


-- Francis Turner

But see below, next few letters.


A few words about Elizabeth's Dole's defeat


You wrote on Friday that

>Libby Dole, once considered Presidential material, could not hold her Senate seat. That too is interesting.

As a native North Carolinian who has lived here for fifty years, perhaps I could clarify this matter.

It is not especially surprising that Mrs Dole lost. She was not from North Carolina. Not really. Prior to running for the Senate, she had lived in DC (Actually, I think in the Watergate Hotel) for decades. When Jesse Helms retired, the GOP establishment leaned hard on Richard Vinroot, a conservative Republican with considerable experience in North Carolina politics, to quit the primary race so that Dole could have that seat. Her only qualification was that she was married to Bob Dole. She knew not this state. North Carolina was as alien to her as Outer Mongolia.

This explains the wretchedness of her re-election campaign. In blasting her opponent, Kay Hagen, for "Godless" fundraisers, she was trying to be Jesse Helms, without understanding who or what Helms really was. Helms was never so crude in his attacks. Contrary to myth, Helms, when he attacked usually attacked based on an opponents record and ideology., not ad hominem. Helms also was known for excellent constituent services, and was an advocate for North Carolina’s economic interests. His positions on various issues were also clear and very well known. (Whether one agreed with them or not.) Mrs Dole’s campaign ads, at least the ones I saw, consisted of ad hominem attacks on Kay Hagen, along with unsupported claims that Mrs Dole was "effective", although at what she would never say.

I should also point out that this state is very diverse, politically, racially, and economically. Even if Dole had known how to channel Jesse Helms, this state has changed more than she could possibly imagine since last she lived here. (In some ways for the better, though not in all.) Dole was an outsider who was rarely in North Carolina, and never of it. She crashed with friends while running for the Senate, in order to pretend residency, and she never owned a house here. She rarely visited North Carolina while she was our Senator, and her constituent services were widely known to be very poor. And if my life depended on it, I could not tell you her position on any issue.

Elizabeth Dole was a professional politician of the worst sort. She ran the kind of campaign one would expect of a woman whose knowledge of this state was limited to what she had heard at Washington cocktail parties, and perhaps from reading a few MSM articles about Jesse Helms, or watching old reruns of Andy Griffith. I’m not optimistic about the sort of votes Kay Hagen will cast in the Senate, given that she was recruited by Chuck Schumer to run for the job. But at least she will have the redeeming virtue of being from North Carolina. I should add that I am a conservative Republican who is truly appalled by what the Republican party foisted on North Carolina to represent us in the Senate.

North Carolina has, and will continue to have, some very good conservative politicians who believe in limited government, are good stewards of the taxpayer’s money, understand this state and its people, and who can be counted on to look out for their constituents. Perhaps next time the GOP will let one of them stand for the Senate.

Burke G Sheppard

I am hardly astonished. In 1996 Bob Dole was the only man Clinton could beat, but it was his turn, and he wanted that nomination. Libby Dole never forgave anyone who pointed that out, and she made it clear what she thought of such people who dared be right when truth was against her interest.

I have never been enamored of, or much in favor with, that wing of the Republican Party, and indeed the arrogance of the entitled Country Club Republicans has been a major theme of my political writing.

America needs a genuine two party system; but at the moment both parties are controlled by very possessive elitists: they have both been conspiracies against the American people. The problem was that the destruction of the Republicans who took over after Gingrich self destructed were opposed by something far worse. I spent much of my life in the Cold War times when the stakes were quite high -- if the USSR had been allowed to expand it would still be a mortal threat to the American people -- and the price of fighting the Cold War was to compromise with the Liberals.

The whole system needs restructuring. I think Gingrich is probably the only one who can do that: he can't do it perfectly, but I think of no one else just now. Party building is hard work.


re: Sharing the Wealth

Mr. Turner's email (which he says he received, hopefully meaning that he didn't write it) is quite unfair. Taking $10 from a waiter who doesn't earn very damn much to begin with stings quite a bit- that's basically a full meal taken away. As a former waiter I know a bit about this.

Had he taken, say, a couple of dollars from someone like me, an engineer earning substantially more than a waiter, it would be more accurate. A couple of bucks isn't going to make or break me the same way it would a waiter. Hell, I might have given the couple of bucks away myself.

But more to the point- the author of that piece is focusing on one little part of a loosely sketched-out policy by Obama. For many of us the reason we voted for Obama is because he stayed very cool under an awful burden of pressure, given his now historic status, and because he's able to lead and inspire others and talk to our enemies, rather than rattling sabers at them. Personally I would far prefer to see someone with those qualities sitting in the Big Chair than someone who's known for his temper and refuses to talk to our enemies without setting up a load of pre-conditions.

Besides, if anything happens to Obama, I'd by far prefer the office to be taken over by Biden than by Palin. If nothing else, she demonstrated thoroughly that she's not good at thinking on her feet- and that's the last sort we really want in the Oval Office.

Maybe Obama's economic policies are flawed- I can't really express an opinion, as it's not my field of expertise- but penalizing a waiter for his political preferences in this manner is especially low and juvenile. The author of that blurb should be ashamed.

Paul Martin

Of course the real question is whether such decisions ought to be up to you, or to politicians and government.

Like you I hope that the Obama government will be what you would like it to be, but then I had hopes for Jimmy Carter: Southernor, Annapolis graduate, experienced in technical command, and an all around good man with good intentions. The outcome was not what anyone had hoped for, thanks in part to Carter and even more to the ravenous wolves.

Regarding Palin, I'd rather have her for President than any of the other three: she didn't help create this mess. The smartest people in the room, like Albright, can find ways to spend money and get us involved in messes that less gifted talents wouldn't even think of. What the presidency requires is good judgment, not the ability to detect over the telephone whether a caller is genuinely the President of France. We have the Agency for that, just as we have generals to fight wars; it's choosing which wars to fight that is important.

Bush had people smarter than the generals. They knew not only which war to fight but how to fight it. They knew how to restructure the Legions.

My guess is that I'd have done batter than Bush -- either Bush. I wouldn't have gone to war in the Middle East -- a ground war in Asia -- and I would have invested in energy independence instead. But whether I could get that policy adopted by the ravenous wolves is another story. I do know that Bush I fired every Reagan adherent he could manage, leaving us only Dan Quayle who was elected -- and Quayle had, in my judgment, better judgment than Bush. But that's another story.


Iowa hawk does it again




Well, it's clever. For amusement purposes (I hope).


This began with a comment about Ron Paul and my answer.

>>But paul acted like a wingnut on several issues.<<

They all do.

But I see I didn't make my point clear. I don't care about Paul. I care about the "Ron Paul Army". It pre-existed Paul and it survives him. And it managed to put a lot of boots on the local grounds. The most of any candidate including B.O. As is already being revealed, B.O. was always the Beltway Establishment wearing a halloween mask.

The RP Army started self-organizing over a year ago using "Meet Up Groups". Every congressional district had one or more very active local RP meet-up groups by last December.

Where R-P failed his supporters was by not going independent about December 07. They could have easily put him on the ballot as an independent candidate and then had 10 months to campaign in the ways where they have the advantage. That is, strong organized local presence.

But RP was GOP loyal. Or perhaps afraid. And the GOP returned the favor by spitting in his supporters faces. The RP Army is still there. To rally them it just needs committed leadership that will go the distance, put some fire in their bellies for a long political insurgency. And a more coherent program.


Campaign for Liberty Meetup Groups - Ron Paul: Campaign for Liberty Meetups 


The Sarasota FL group's next meeting is November 10. And the next McCain meeting is how many universes from now? The Meetup Groups began over a year ago and were the major organizational method for RP's local campaign cadres.

The existing GOP organization has two components. First is the Country Club, their $ plus the resulting K Street lobbyists and their mass media nexus. The second component is the Southern Baptist Convention, the Assemblies of God and churches of similar theology.

The electoral map shows the future of this dispensation. Anywhere the SBC type churches are weak, so is the GOP locally. Such as the midwest, the Northeast and the Pacific Northwest.

If the local pillars aren't changed the results won't change either.

Your other correspondent is right about the struggle being mainly over suburbia.

The question is how to keep a core political group cohered between elections, which are very infrequent events. The NEA has its stream of tax dollars. The "Religious Right" base that provides GOP foot troops has its separate organizing structure. Here is both social and economic continuity.

What can another opposition use? Alternate education and alternate energy? Two subjects that have produce economic results and can be acted on at the local levels. There are likely other endeavors I've missed.

Good points. Taking back the government will require a ground army. See the Heinlein book on the subject. The strength of the Country Club Republicans has been in money: they hired "professionals" to do what the precinct captains used to do. The result sometimes worked, sometimes did not, but at least the pros knew not to try to run the show: they didn't think it was THEIR government.

Whether a new party can be built from the ground up or not will depend on how well we understand how things have changed since Robert wrote that book (which ought to be published with my notes fairly soon). Those who read this will know more than many. The question is how we can use the new technology to build a real organization. Political clubs no longer exist, at least in the real world; perhaps they can be built on line. We know that money can be raised on line.

I suspect that all this requires younger heads than mine. Think of me as the veteran who can help avoid some old but not obvious mistakes. Retired but still active. Like General Graham, whom I sorely miss.


A Short reply 

Dr. Pournelle,

I had to chuckle at the childish assertion made by Mr. Short.

> Losing a whole generation is the legacy of the Rovian politics where you lie > and smear your opponents and whip up hatred among half the country for the > other half. It didn't sell this time, except among your readers.

I don't know Mr. Short, but he sounds like a young man who has not experienced the ebb and flow of politics. A more experienced or sober man would realize that quite a few of this "lost" generation will at some point vote for a Republican president.

As far as smearing your opponent and whipping up hatred, it is laughable to maintain that the Republicans have cornered the market. Sarah Palin has been attacked unmercifully for her family, her looks, her religion, and it has been frequently asserted that she is "not really a woman" (I'm sure I'm leaving out a few, but I don't frequent the frothing ultra-left sites). I challenge Mr. Short to find a smear at the national level as despicable as the infamous "General Betray Us" ad promoted by MoveOn.org and published in the NYT.


Politics is rough game. This round goes to the Democrats. The Republicans deserved to lose, but it was not a matter of virtue.

Steve Chu

He will not remember 300 psychiatrists solemnly proclaiming that Barry Goldwater was psychologically unfit to be President. I recall that one well...

The Republicans did not deserve to win (although some individual Republicans did). We will see if the nation deserves those who did win.


Solar Cell Efficiency (see above)


On the recent remarks on the hype around announcements in solar power, yes, all too true and all too frequent. The issues in photovoltaics are well understood and many of the "new" ideas are reinventions (or re-publicizing) of things that were tried 20-30 years ago. Here's an interesting figure on the efficiencies of various photovoltaic technologies over time. The ones still going up fast are very expensive; the cheap approaches, notably the thin film cells (CdTE, CuInGaSe), show clear efficiency asymptotes.



Votes Counted


Before you add up the total votes cast in November election, I suspect there are millions of absentee and provisional ballots nationwide that are going to take weeks to sort out and count because they have to hand-verify signatures.

Plus you might want to look for number who voted for somebody else for president since the 2004 numbers you listed show 1% voted for somebody else. Some folks voted for somebody else because they couldn't feel good about voting for either one and "None of the above" wasn't on the ballot.

In Orange County California, Obama and McCain have 872,781 votes combined from the 900,539 ballots counted so far. http://www.ocvote.com/live/gen2008/results.htm  (Numbers will update each time they count another batch so it may be different when you check. Ditto for statewide. http://vote.ss.ca.gov/ 

(Don't ask me to explain while Orange County has official government websites in .com instead of .gov TLD.)

Its not going to change many results but until each ballot is counted, those people count as registered but not as having voted.

As an example, Boulder Colorado 55,000


In fact, LA Times says at least 1.6 million in just California.


Meanwhile, we have gays taking to the streets. Wait till the average citizen figures out there is no money for Obama to keep his promises. Or worse, wait till he keeps some of them.






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Saturday, November 8, 2008

Smear machines 


Regarding the "smear machines" posts:

From my observations, which are based in the "mainstream" left press so if there is a bias effect I'd definitely like to know about it, Democratic "smears" which get wide airplay are more likely to originate in the "far left" and to be demonstrable ad hominem falsehoods (e.g. the Bush National Guard papers and the "Toby was secretly Bristol's" smears), while Republican "smears" which get wide airplay are more likely to originate in the "near right" and to have some basis in fact (e.g. the "Swift Boat" attacks against Kerry, which were widely reported by Democrats to be false but which were never adequately addressed or disproven, or the Ayers connection, or Obama's public affection for Marxist mentors) Whereas the "far right" Republican smears (e.g. Obama the Antichrist) are widely ignored by both parties.

Does this match your observations, or am I missing something (on either side)?


A reasonable generalization. Of course there will be exceptions on both sides.

Regarding the Swift Boat allegations: my only non-public information source is a bow gunner from a boat that was in Kerry's squadron but not in his crew. It sounds to me as if Kerry was a fairly typically arrogant junior officer; the story in the squadron was that you didn't want to be on his boat because nobody knew what that hot dog was going to do. It is certainly public record that he wasn't in Cambodia when he said he was. As to his after-service activities, his charges are public record, and he did throw some medals away but as it turns out not his own. Anyone who comes up to accept the nomination by saluting and saying "Reporting for Duty" has invited commentary on his service.


Take that Al Gore


David March


Solar Cell Efficiency 

Consider the efficiency of a standard solar cell in direct sunlight versus diffuse light on cloudy and overcast days. Clouds randomize the angles of incident light and alters it’s spectral makeup. That has a large negative effect on the output of standard solar cells. So, the average number of days per year that a standard solar panel produces useful output depends on the weather (Google: solar cell diffused). The nanoengineered layer added to an otherwise standard solar cell would have the net effect of increasing its effective spatial and spectral aperture, which would decrease it’s sensitivity to clouds. That should increase the average yearly output of a solar panel considerably for locations having less than optimal conditions, and that would increase the number of people that could benefit from PV technology across the country. I’m surprised that this idea wasn’t mentioned in the physorg article.


Anything that increases the efficiency of solar cells is a Good Thing, but solar will always be limited by weather, and of course the sun doesn't shine much at night. In hot dry climates -- such as Los Angeles -- it makes a great deal of sense to put solar cells on the roofs of public buildings to help with air conditioning -- and of course those offices are generally not open at  night anyway. Any high usage place with a large surface area roof can make use of solar, but the big problem with solar is storage. The batteries will cost as much as the installation. (And note that solar isn't energy free: the cells take plent of energy to make and the installation isn't energy free either. The devil is always in the details.

When oil is over $100/bbl solar is profitable. In some places like Los Angeles it's likely to be profitable at $50 and more. In Boston?













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If you want to PAY FOR THIS PLACE I keep the latest information HERE.  MY THANKS to all of you who sent money.  Some of you went to a lot of trouble to send money from overseas. Thank you! There are also some new payment methods. I am preparing a special (electronic) mailing to all those who paid: there will be a couple of these. I have thought about a subscriber section of the page. LET ME KNOW your thoughts.

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Entire Site Copyright, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 by Jerry E. Pournelle. All rights reserved.

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