picture of me

Chaos Manor Home Page> Mail Home Page  > View Home Page > Current View > Chaos Manor Reviews Home Page


Mail 612 March 1 - 7, 2010







BOOK Reviews

Chaos Manor Reviews

read book now

emailblimp.gif (23130 bytes)mailto:jerryp@jerrypournelle.com

CLICK ON THE BLIMP TO SEND MAIL TO ME. Mail sent to me may be published.

LAST WEEK                             NEXT WEEK


This page looks better if you set the default text to Georgia.

Atom FEED from Chaos Manor

Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun

Highlights this week:


  If you send mail, it may be published. See below. For boiler plate, instructions, and how to pay for this place, see below.

line6.gif (917 bytes)

This week:


read book now


Monday  March 1, 2010

The other side of the DSM

Dear Jerry,

I am highly against making just about everything evidence of psychiatric disorders. It dilutes the value of a diagnosis for those who really need it.

I was suicidal from somewhen in my 12th year. I was bright but not able to find a safe outlet. I was the strange one who was harassed and physically attacked, even when I spent my days in the library and never did anything to offend those who hated me on a general basis of being weird.

I eventually learned to fake interest in the stuff these guys considered normal, found a place with a high school performance art group that gave me a place, and generally attracted a group of other strange ones that was strong enough to cause the creeps to leave us alone.

Some years into adulthood I needed medicines to save my life. Apparently they are known triggers for latent Bipolar. I, of course, refused to believe the diagnosis and rather quickly went on to increasingly bizarre flights of mania. Then crashed. Then walked in the mountain tops again. Then crashed. I did some pretty neat and intricate stuff while manic, before the heights and crash.

Heh, being diagnosed while on a manic climb gave me the time and willingness to read just about everything two libraries had on the subject. (Along with a few side trips.) I went for a second opinion and they started with no other records but came to the same conclusion. (A change in medical coverage required me to go through the diagnosis process a third time.)

Meds were important to stabilize me, but I had reactions that made it clear I could be forever disabled on meds, or unstable emotionally, or find another way. (Thou shalt NOT trust any doctor who giveth thee a prescription after only 15 minutes in the office.)

Enter CBT. Cognitive Behavior Therapy did more for my ability to live on minimal meds. (Gotta respect the biology of this thing and acknowledge times I need more chemical assistance than I would like to admit.) I have a small group of people who know me well enough to tell if I am well but being just me, or that I am developing trouble. Any two agree that I need to be back on meds I go...with a multi-year commitment to taking them. I had to do that once. I also chose to go on meds prophylactically when I knew I would be facing a year filled with some of my worst triggers.

So...I know this isn't all malarky. I am gainfully employed, (even though I am terribly underemployed.) I have difficulties in my interpersonal relationships but have developed, long, and trustworthy friendships. My grown children speak to me and seem to like my company. Without some psych intervention that wouldn't happen. My CBT was run with a lay facilitator and small group with a year-long committment It proved far more helpful than the psych. But I must respect the biology.

I still have a basic mistrust of the clinical psychiatrists but also recognize the need for them. In another age I would be the strange aunt that was kept in the attic, or locked in a back ward somewhere. Instead I have a "real" life that has been worth the living. Many of the great contributers in history have shared to some degree this disorder, I am not one who rose to genius, but I did manage to carve out a life.

At one point I "Walked with the gods, but paid for it in hell." I had to choose to give up walking with the gods in order to keep my family. Meds then were an act of love. I still miss the view from Olympus, no matter how dimly remembered...but this has been better overall.

What I don't often let others know this about me any longer. Years ago I was activist enough to hope that if I were open then people would learn to accept...heh, I was young and dumb. I don't like EVERYTHING being a disorder as it makes it harder for those of us who sometimes need a little space to manage a mood disorder that is remarkably painful mentally, emotionally, physically, and any other lly you can come up with.

I was grateful to the ADA when I desperately needed a couple weeks to withdraw from the world and practice keeping my feet on the ground without wanting to die of it. I had a job when I came back. (I ended up writing the book on how to do that job and saw it adopted nation-wide. I was and am a producer who just ran into a couple weeks of trouble.) I didn't take a proper vacation for years after that so no one would accuse me of taking advantage. But if I had broken my thigh and needed to be in traction the time would not have been held against me.

So, I remain conflicted. I don't want to see silliness take over but it is also good to try and figure out what is really bipolar, (or whatever.) I have mixed emotions about taking meds for just about everything, but have learned to appreciate timely chemical intervention. I have mixed emotions about going to extremes to prevent someone determined to die from doing so. Then again, I am grateful to those who intervened for me. I still occasionally go into suicidal ideation but know that I won't attempt again...I will be damned if I am going to die because of a stupid biochemical imbalance. Still, sometimes it is tough.

I am older and wiser now, (I think.) And have found my best peace with being bipolar. Sometimes you have to turn and face the dragon that is chasing you down. You will either win or die. Either way, you will learn a strange love for your adversary. If I was told today that I could be "cured" but that all the other things that come with it would also be taken, I would choose to remain as I am. It is my difficult gift.

A long blab to simply say that some things are not simple. The IDEA of a DSM is good, I worry about the practice. But that worry seems to apply to a great many situations in the modern world.

Take care, Jerry.

I understand the dilemma perfectly. My quarrel with the DSM as it has been implemented is that it looks for an accuracy that we can't have. Some people clearly need help. Some of those who need help can't afford it.

The Constitution doesn't make this a federal matter. It is a state matter, and some states handle that better than others. Mental health will never be an exact science.

I am witness to the effectiveness of some of the chemical treatments available today that were not even dreamed of when I was taking Abnormal Psychology in graduate school. I know clinicians who think very highly of the DSM as far better than nothing.

So: we're in agreement, it would be useful to have a useful DSM. It would also be a very good thing now that we are in the 21st Century for me to have my flying car. At least some think it would be. The difference is that flying cars are (just barely) possible.


Subject: Diagnostic and Statistical Madness

IIRC, you entered grad school after you came home from Korea. Since DSM-I was published in 1952, I suspect it was around. Actually, I thought DSM-I and DSM-II were remarkably useful documents: they were short, they followed the traditional medical method of identifying diseases, and they did not try to go much beyond the data, given how little data there was.


I agree with much of the WSJ article. It seems that the psychiatric poobahs are trying to expand the field to cover everything. Heck, when they say 53% of Americans have a mental illness, they're either smoking something or trying to make as much money as they can. You pick what you think is going on.

The focus on bipolar disorder in the 1970's was to distinguish it from schizophrenia. Both mania and Schizophrenia are serious psychoses that create catastrophes for those who suffer from them.

The later focus on "bipolar disorder" - actually, I'll call it Bipolar Syndrome, abbreviated BS - has been on what I believe is a combination of fraud and self-aggrandizement. Basically, the symptoms of ADHD (a real phenomenon) and neurotic depression have been twisted to invent BS, so that lying awake at night worrying is now "racing thoughts" and having surges of jollity or crises of emotion are called "mood swings." The racing thoughts seen in mania is something I see but patients experience as the world not keeping up with them. The mood swings seen in true bipolar disorder is the phenomenon of someone switching rather quickly from a profound (and often psychomotor retarded) depressive state to a rather shocking manic episode. But the mavens of modern psychiatry call neurosis and ADHD "bipolar." Why?

Well, true bipolar disorder is a biological disorder. Insurance companies used to give shrinks a hard time about mere psychological suffering. They couldn't argue with a biological illness. So, with redefinition, BS is piggy-backing on real bipolar disorder.

Of course, this has come about because drug companies saw that their patents on SSRI's were going to expire, and that these medications are so good that the follow-on meds have little to offer. What to do? Well, meds helpful in bipolar disorder had a longer patent life, so the psychiatric profession was inundated with free continuing medical education (and we all need CME to maintain our licenses) on how all these symptoms were really bipolar disorder - all paid for by drug companies.

And this feeds into the egos of psychiatrists. They are the new priests. Come once a month for absolution.

Pfah. You're better off going to your FP.

Then there are the patients. No one thinks they should feel any discomfort. Unhappy? Grief stricken? They tell you they are "depressed." They all want "benzos." Now, despite what the writer of the article said, benzos are not "effective medications." They are drugs. They are alcohol in a pill. Reduce anxiety and unhappiness? Sure. Alcohol does too. And then there is the price: the little guy in your head that tells you "Shut up! or "Don't do it!" is shut up, and you say or do things you should not. Your driving is impaired. Your memory is impaired. You get addicted to the stuff. And you can get seizures and DT's coming off it. Pretty ugly DT's.

The most important new development in psychiatry is the news that SSRI's are nerve fertilizer: they actually make nerve cells grow in your brain where depression - true depression - has depleted them. That's why they take a while to work, and that's why they usually don't produce any drug-type effects when you take them.

I think that Prozac, Zoloft, Celexa, Buspar and their generic equivalents should be over-the-counter meds. Then people could truly "self-medicate."

As for DSM-V, I look at it as a nightmare. I hope the feds enforce using the ICD system for all reimbursable diagnoses instead. It already does this for Medicare.



I wonder whatever happened to the notion of freedom?



You Can't Judge a Book by Its Author


"Last week one of the large textbook publishers, Macmillan, announced new software to let college instructors rewrite textbooks by substituting new material for what the author wrote. This will allow options such as deleting paragraphs or editing down to the level of individual sentences. The software can bring to print and e-textbooks what's called a "mashup" in other forms like music and videos, where people alter the original with their own preferred version of the real thing."

"But we have to wonder about the unintended consequences of a textbook absent an author. For example, since 1948 generations of students learned from Paul Samuelson's "Economics," which has sold four million copies. It had quirks and went through many editions. But it also was elegantly written and became canonical. What happens when students learn from what appears to be the same text but isn't?"

Charles Brumbelow

I saw that at breakfast and intended to recommend it. One needs to think on the subject. I don't use the modern "electronic style" of commentary in which someone text is chopped into small pieces with comments interjected, because I believe it is rude, but it is commonly used; with a book you would have no real choice.

Medieval writers used to write a "gloss" of a book: that is they would insert comments between the lines of a text.

I certainly have no objections to instructors inserting comments at chapter ends of textbooks, or even at the ends of major sections; but I could certainly hate it if they inserted remarks disguised as part of the original text. This whole matter needs more thought.


New cuss word......

Years ago when I sometimes used unsavory language, I often used the expression "Bull S***." As I grew up a bit and discovered it was not necessary to use such crude language, that expression became "BS."

What did I really mean when I used those expressions? I meant that something was ridiculous, or idiotic or a half truth or just stupid. It covered any number of negative formats. The dictionary defines it as: nonsense; especially: foolish insolent talk...

I have decided that I no longer will use either of those expressions in the future. When I have a need to express such feelings, I will use the word "Pelosi." Let me use it in a sentence. "That's just a bunch of Pelosi.." I encourage you to do the same. It is such a nasty sounding word, it really packs a punch, we are no longer being vulgar, and it clearly expresses our feelings. If enough of us use it, perhaps the word could be entered into the dictionary. When on a ranch watch your step and don't step in Pelosi. It will get on the bottom of your boot and won't go away until next election.

What a fitting and descriptive legacy for the Speaker of the House!

Pass it on to at least 10,000,000 people. Do not break this chain or you will get more Pelosi than you can shake a bull at.

P.S. Betcha when this new word reaches D.C., the PELOSI WILL HIT THE FAN!


Pack the Court (because it went so well the last time?)

Dr. Pournelle --

Proof positive some people have a hard time learning from history.

Obama should expand court




AlGore is back

Hello Jerry,

Well, allegedly. http://www.nytimes.com/

A few comments:

1. If ANYONE thinks that Al Gore was the author of this, himself, personally............

2. WHOEVER wrote it is either completely detached from reality or has completely put his faith in the 'big lie' theory as espoused by Goebbels et al.

3. The fact that it can, knowing what we KNOW now, be printed in what is touted as the leading newspaper in the US as a serious piece on the state of climate science confirms what has become obvious in recent years: leading newspapers, outside of disasters, weddings, and funerals, have become wholly devoted to 'progressive' propaganda.

4. If additional confirmation is needed, Al Gore 'produces' and has published pieces such as this while continuing to live in the style to which he has been accustomed since birth--squared and is NOT laughed out of town.

By the way, on the precision of global temperature measurements, here is a quote from a January 12, 1999 Associated Press article by Randolph E. Schmid, titled "Researchers: 1998 was the hottest year on record.": "The NASA findings indicate a mean worldwide temperature of about 58.496 degrees F., topping the previous record, set in 1995 of 58.154." I particularly like the touch of using 'about', followed by a world temperature quoted to 1/1000 degree F. One wonders how they would have done if they had gone for precision. I also find it amusing that NASA was cited as the source of the temperature figures. I wonder if they weigh the shuttle to +/- one grain when doing their launch calculations?

Bob Ludwick

About 58.496 degrees F. Wow, that's accuracy! So the question becomes "how much hotter" were the hottest twenty years on record? And it would be worth looking at the algorithms used to compute these three decimal places averages...


Don't bother to research climate on Wikipedia


In your Current View for Thursday you wrote: "Accepting that chart -- I grabbed it off Wikipedia as convenient, but I'm never comportable with using that as a data source on anything important about a controversial subject -- " http://www.jerrypournelle.com/view/

I never use Wikipedia as a source for climate-related matters. Wikipedia's articles on climate and AGW have been taken over by the pro-AGW crowd and nothing (or very little) we climate skeptics come up with lasts there for very long.

See this blog posting, which links to some detailed articles about this:

A Voice Crying in the Wilderness: Don't trust Wikipedia when it comes to climate issues http://vozclam.blogspot.com/2010/02/

See also http://www.google.com/search?q=wikipedia+climategate 

In freedom, Angus W. S-F

I do not rely on Wikipedia for anything that I can't quote as "famously". Those with strong incentives spend more time "correcting" Wikipedia entries; in general Wikipedia reflects the strongest held opinions.

At some point I suppose we ought to have a full discussion of the usefulness of Wikipedia as opposed to Britannica and other encyclopedias -- and the  viability of the Britannica model in an age when information wants to be free.


This is an article in the British newspaper the Telegraph (not in any US newspaper, btw), by Christopher Booker one of my favorite writers. See link. We all should realize the consequences of highly flawed science becoming international energy policy. The damage has already been enormous. Send to all decision makers state and federal.



As the consensus unravels, the mainstream press must at some point wake up.


Speaking of Climate Change

Ooops, U.S. government scientists conclude that trends since 1985 fail to show warming? Well, I guess a lot of government entities, Congress, and several private corporations and individuals have a lot of explaining to do and a lot of money to be paying back. Add that to the list of Congressional investigations we need to demand from our new crop of Congress critters once we throw 95% of them out in November and we need to push them to do their jobs before they find themselves corrupted after the first year and thrown out upon completion of their terms.

I mean it, we need to stay on these people. Elections, phone calls, emails, neighborhood groups. We need to put aside the pointless political prostitutions and deal with some core issues and get our country back.


-- BDAB,


"Men stumble over the truth from time to time, but most pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing happened." —Winston Churchill

Dream on. Not that I disagree.


Dear Jerry,

Ran across this today. It is just a small commentary on what is becoming very obvious about the AGW "consensus".


Scientists examine causes for lull in warming




Harry Erwin's Letter from England

Senior judges say they can't trust MI5. Government responds with personal attacks. <http://tinyurl.com/ycr7hev> <http://tinyurl.com/yahrngf>

 Tory situation tightens. <http://tinyurl.com/yezmbzp> <http://tinyurl.com/yh92gam> <http://tinyurl.com/ydhghmn>

 California bonds now regarded as riskier than those of the PIIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece, Spain) <http://tinyurl.com/ybvzcco>

 New Scientist coverage of climate change: "Honesty is the best policy for climate scientists" <http://tinyurl.com/ylfrl8g> <http://tinyurl.com/yc3zgtu>

 Crack down on health tourists <http://tinyurl.com/ydwf4zq>


Harry Erwin



"Woman who found coin worth £2,000 in garden becomes first to be prosecuted for not reporting treasure"


"There will always be a large island off the coast of France."

Cordially, John



"Why does the country need an independent Air Force?"


----- Roland Dobbins

A good article. The subject is worth discussion.================

SUBJECT: New York Times article: Depression's Upside

Hi Jerry.

Related to some of the topics you've touched upon recently, here's a long-but-interesting article on one hypothesis regarding the evolutionary origins (and usefulness) of depression in certain cases:



Mike Casey


'However, Apple has not stopped using the factories.'


--- Roland Dobbins


Palace of Sextus Tarquinius found?


-- Roland Dobbins

Do they have a search warrant? Perhaps this was the crime scene of the rape of Lucretia. Ah, but Italian Law is a bit different from US...




 read book now




This week:


read book now


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

On Wikipedia:

A while back, I slipped a sentence into the article on the Laffer Curve, pointing out that it was immediately obvious from Rolle's Theorem from elementary calculus (the better-known Mean Value Theorem is a generalization of Rolle's Theorem), and linking to the Wikipedia article on Rolle's Theorem.

The "gentleman" who deleted the sentence claimed in his remarks that the link was to propaganda from the Heritage Foundation.

(While fact-checking, I noticed that Laffer HIMSELF referred to Rolle's Theorem when he described the Curve, as do several other commentators.)

--John R. Strohm

Laffer and I were fellow speakers at a conference not long after Laffer came up with the curve. Originally it was a matter of logic, not empiricism: clearly if your tax rare is zero you will collect no taxes, and if it is 100% you will collect taxes only once after which the return is zero again, and since somewhere in the middle there is a non-zero amount, the general shape of the curve is determined. Hardly controversial, but it is amazing many resist that.

Wikipedia topics are usually dominated by the fanatic with the most time to spare, which is why I don't rely on Wikipedia when the matter is both controversial and important.


SUBJ: Latest from the English Nanny State

"Drivers face fine for leaving engines running while parked... because it harms environment"


I think the saddest part of these updates I send is that hardly anything is at all surprising anymore. The Nanny State just keeps getting bigger and more Orwellian right before our eyes.

The operative question is simply - how can this be?

Is this not the hardy island race who produced the Tudors, Drake, Gordon, Churchill, Thatcher? The people who paid a generation of men to beat the Kaiser? Who gave a tight smile and "business as usual" during the Blitz? Whose people were so mild that police didn't even carry guns, yet so fierce that none since William the Bastard has successfully invaded them?

"Lions do not beget rabbits."

But what does?

I wonder if there are any people with the appropriate training documenting and detailing England's fall? It would be interesting for future generations to know the actual step-by-step mechanics of how to turn such a race into sheep. Anyway, as an unabashed Anglophile, I'd certainly like to know.

Perhaps it is the inevitable legacy of Empire? Or just the Iron Law writ large?

but "There will always be a large island off the coast of France."

Cordially, John



Have you heard of this “Bloom Box” fuel cell that came out of the scrapped NASA Mars program? It sounds interesting but right now it is way to expensive. You can read more about it here



Michael G. Scoggins

I saw the 60 Minutes report. It's a fuel cell, and I don't know its efficiency in burning, say, natural gas. It eliminates electricity distribution costs but adds fuel distribution costs; in places where there is already natural gas distribution it would seem to be potentially attractive.


From one of my former BYTE technical editors:

re: Climategate


Just read this article from the UK's Daily Mail: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/

Here are two excerpts from that article.

1) " ...he [Prof. Phil Jones] claimed it was not 'standard practice' to release data and computer models so other scientists could check and challenge research."

2) "'I don't think there is anything in those emails that really supports any view that I, or the CRU, have been trying to pervert the peer review process in any way,' he [Prof. Phil Jones] said."

I am now officially confused. If (1) is true, then can you (or anyone) please explain to me how in heaven's name there can be a peer-review process .... at all? Maybe I don't understand what he means by "peer review" in (2).

Where I work, I cannot submit any source code into our repository until at least one other programmer examines all the alterations or additions I've made. (I'm often asked things like: "Why did you do that THIS way and not THAT way?" And I have to explain myself.) Now, I know this is going to come as a shock to you, but those other programmers sometimes find mistakes that I missed while I was writing and testing my code. Even then, my code does not make it into released product until a separate group of people -- the QA gang -- run it through batteries of tests they've come up with. And -- guess what? -- sometimes the QA people find errors, too.

If this fellow's computer models (WITH the accompanying data) don't go through an analogous process (maybe they do -- but (1) gives me pause), then I wouldn't have much confidence in the results. Unless, perhaps, he and his programmers are perfect ... if so, I salute them ...

-- Rick Grehan

I share your confusion -- I don't know what he believes would be proper peer review either. I had thought that openness was the sine qua non of sciene.


For a PDF copy of A Step Farther Out:



 read book now





This week:


read book now


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Civilian casualties

Dr. Pournelle,


"Shortly after Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal assumed command of all U.S. forces in Afghanistan in June, he ordered U.S. troops to back off some fights if civilian casualties couldn't be avoided. In the months since, the use of U.S. air power has dropped, even during the recent offensive in Marjah, where errant air strikes killed at least 35 civilians in incidents that Afghan President Hamid Karzai called "unjustifiable."

However, a similar order involving what McChrystal called "aggressive driving" hasn't cut the number of civilians killed when nervous U.S. troops on the ground warn approaching civilians to back away, then end up opening fire on them."

It looks like it's a case of Command vs the soldiers. I can tell you first hand that sentiments like "I don't care, I'm bringing all my guys home" and "it's better to be tried by 12 than carried by 6" are far more common than most will ever admit.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Matt Kirchner

Most company grade officers consider their obligations to be to their troops. I say most, but in fact I never met any who did not hold that view.


The Nanny State - here, there and everywhere

Dear Dr Pournelle,

There is nothing new in the meddling of British officials in different of public and private life, or of efforts to counteract them. In the early part of the last century, A P Herbert's mock court reports, "Misleading Cases", poked fun at at officialdom, and other legal oddities; in a mock law report, "Rex versus Haddock - Is it a free country?", Mr Haddock was charged by the police for jumping off Hammersmith Bridge during a regatta, and the Lord Chief Justice said: "It is a principle of English law that a person who appears in police court has done something undesirable, and citizens who take it upon themselves to do unusual actions which attract the attention of the police should be careful to bring those actions into one of the recognised categories of crimes and offences, for it is intolerable that the police should be put to the pains of inventing reasons for finding them undesirable"

Herbert's legal expertise and surreal sense of humour were effective in illuminating and often changing, some of the more egregious absurdities. A similar approach could be effective today; practices that are resistant to serious debate may be more vulnerable to ridicule, as in the case of the water saving lawn that you quoted. Organisations that expect to be feared and obeyed may find it difficult to cope with an epidemic of giggling.

"Against stupidity the very gods themselves contend in vain." - Friedrich Schiller, "Die Jungfrau von Orleans"

Peter Morgan


Controlling people for profit

The arrested for not having a lawn story reminds me of one of Heinlein's remarks:

“Political tags - such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth - are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire.”

The worse thing is that with government taking so much of the economy there is a very strong incentive to find things to dictate & thus provide "gainful employment" to so many people. In previous ages the state controlled things people really cared about - mainly religious - but almost everyhting regulated now is trivial & obviously pointless except for giving government employees a reason to be paid.

Neil C


Professor Phil Jones - a forgetful person, if no worse.

Dr. Pournelle,

Your correspondent quotes a British Daily Mail article in which Professor Phil Jones is himself quoted as having said "I don't think there is anything in those emails that really supports any view that I, or the CRU, have been trying to pervert the peer review process in any way"

Fortunately, the internet is not as forgetful as Prof. Jones.

Here is the quote, from an actual email he sent to Michael Mann on 8th July 2004. It's headed (by him) as HIGHLY CONFIDENTIAL:

"I can't see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report. Kevin and I will keep themout somehow - even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is !

Cheers Phil"

Maybe he will read this, and remember?

Stay well,

Andrew Duffin


Local Control in Orange CA

Dear Jerry:

I live in a townhouse association and we have to abide by some very strict appearance rules. It's part of the package for a nice look in the community. You accept this as part of the purchase. There are historic districts in many towns and cities with very strict appearance codes. As silly as the Orange lawn incident seems, it is an example of local control. Many municipalities have some kind of lawn maintenance requirements and this would seem to be an extreme example of that. The homeowner with the water saving lawn should just move elsewhere. Phoenix has lots of the water saving lawns. Isn't that what you have been recommending?

As for the Ventura hardware store with coffee and donuts, health laws are generally clear on what requirements must be met for serving food.

That said, there can be no common sense applied with the Iron Law in full force.

Larry Bayern

Of course it's local control. No one ever thought local control will not result in nonsense. The point is that as soon as the City of Orange things came to light, the city attorney dropped the whole matter, and the city council is repealing the ordinance. That's the point of transparency and subsidiarity.  Things can sometimes be corrected.

No one seems to know how to correct the Ventura situation. They don't know how to make it legal to give away coffee and donuts. Fascinating.


Boom box fuel cell

I saw the 60 Minutes piece on the boom box fuel cell. It was implied to be a brand new device which produced electricity without polution! But you claimed it was just a fuel cell. This isn't new, and how can it operate on natural gas without producing carbon dioxide? Was CBS sucked in or just imprecise?


Oh, they said it was a fuel cell, sort of, but not loudly and they didn't spend much time talking about fuel distribution.





CURRENT VIEW    Wednesday


This week:


read book now


Thursday, March 4, 2010



 I haven't seen this anywhere else, but the portent for stability in the Middle East (much less the world) is shaky based on these developments. A strong, secular, Turkey has been vitally important in the military and political world of east and west. This bears as much interest as the events in Pakistan, China, Russia, et. al.

David Couvillon Colonel, U.S. Marine Corps, Retired.; Former Governor of Wasit Province, Iraq; Righter of Wrongs; Wrong most of the time; Distinguished Expert, TV remote control; Chef de Hot Dog Excellance; Collector of Hot Sauce; Avoider of Yard Work

I noted that on Tuesday but I probably should have emphasized it more. This is a serious development with profound implications for US foreign policy. The Kemalist Brotherhood in Turkey are realists. Their enemies are Islamist.

The Turks are not Arabs. They are fearsome warriors. And see below.


I’ve “suffered” from two different “disorders” defined in the DSM IV, ADD and Gender Identity Disorder. Both caused me no end of difficulty in my life up till about my 45th year, when the pain from the second finally caused me to seek help, and I was diagnosed. In both cases, medical treatment (pharmacological for the ADD, pharmacological and surgical for the GID) helped me a great deal. And, because they were both in the DSM, I was able to get coverage for both under my employer’s health plan, relieving a massive financial burden. These conditions, particularly the GID, are bad enough to deal with, without having to shoulder all the cost of the necessary medical treatment.

So, despite its limitations, having the DSM IV provided a real benefit to me.


Thus the dilemma. A "manual" of that kind makes insurance decisions easier; if you are going to have such decisions made by a bureaucracy of cubicle workers it is absolutely vital. It is also one of the main reasons for costs spiraling out of control. Every new disorder covered helps some -- perhaps many -- while raising costs ever higher as more people are entitled to coverage, both by medical insurance and employer costs under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Those who are concerned about costs of entitlements are seen as heartless. Those who say the costs don't matter may be seen in another light. There's no way out of these dilemmas.

One can feel very much compassion for the alcoholic who can't help showing up for work drunk two or three times a month; fewer seem to have such compassion for his co-workers who have to get past this by doing his work or for the employer who has to continue paying for someone who can't do the job.

I have no answer to this other than to question at what level of government these decisions should be made.


‘Anti-Lobbyist’ Obama Administration Recruited Left-Wing Lobbyists to Sell Bogus ‘Green Jobs’


"After the Spanish study embarrassed the White House, prompting substantial media attention and even questioning at a press conference, Obama swapped out Denmark for Spain for later references to an enacted “green jobs” program.

Soon, Denmark produced a study (“Wind Energy: The Case of Denmark“) through the think-tank CEPOS. This paper also revealed tremendous costs, and that Obama’s claim about Denmark’s “renewables” experience was also steeped in mythology."

How many countries do you think need to establish that their green energy initiatives cost more money and jobs than they provide before we admit there might be a pattern going? The dogged determination of our pursuit of ways to be less efficient is mind-boggling to me.

There are other fun things in the article as well, such as the notion that lobbyists and the Center for American Progress are government agencies.



The Turkish situation is even more dire than you indicated.

As long as these United States fail to pursue a policy of energy independence and fail to disentangle ourselves from the tribal and religious disputes of the Middle East, we will of necessity be drawn into major conflicts in that benighted region whether we like it or not.

When it comes to the field of battle, Americans have nothing to fear from Arabic armies - as Moshe Dyan famously said, it helps if you're fighting Arabs.

Persians are far more serious opponents, and should be respected.

But as enemies go, Turks are to be _feared_.

The thought of dispatching young Americans to the Plains of Nineveh in order to face off against an Islamicized Türk Kara Kuvvetleri makes my blood run cold.

And see below










 read book now




CURRENT VIEW    Thursday


This week:


read book now


Friday,  March 5, 2010

Basic Mechanisms in Fire Control Computers, Parts I & II.

Lots of other great Navy videos on this site, as well:



-- Roland Dobbins


It's never enough.


- Roland Dobbins

Well, we can always have student riots. That will fix everything.


Will: 'The government used TARP funds not for their stipulated purpose of buying the "toxic assets" of banks but to pull auto companies and other economic entities into the spreading web of dependency.'


-- Roland Dobbins



Subj: A Silver Lining to the Financial Crisis: A More Realistic View of Capitalism


A nice analysis of some often-unmentioned aspects of the financial crisis, followed by a thought-provoking plague-on-both-your-houses critique of both conservative and liberal views on the nature and consequences of capitalism.

My main reservation is that the authors of the piece don't distinguish between the diverse tendencies within conservatism. Paleocons, for example, do not customarily fall into the self-interest-is-everything delusion. Not even all the neocons fall into it: Michael Novak, for example, has written at considerable length about the fundamentally altruistic nature of the wealth-*creating* (rather than wealth-*reshuffling*) orientations of entrepreneurs.

Many (not, alas, all) religiously-oriented conservatives also emphasize the unmerited character of God-given good fortune and the responsibility of the fortunate to share their gifts with others not so gifted.

Maybe I'm becoming a broken record on the matter, but this article's explication of the fundamental importance of *competition* -- of the impossibility of predicting in advance what allocations of resources will be best, or even productive rather than destructive -- reinforces my inclination to think that trying to *avoid* failures is fundamentally misguided. Failures being inevitable, the important thing is to make the inevitable failures *fast* and *cheap*, so we can move on from them and try something else.

For example, rather than try to *inhibit* short-selling, to prevent marginal businesses being driven to failure, maybe we should *encourage* it, so marginal businesses are more quickly driven into either drastic reform or frank failure, rather than being maintained on life support in hopes of recovery.

Rod Montgomery==monty@starfief.com


John Edgar Wideman to Self-Publish New Book via Lulu.com - 2010-03-05 13:35:32 | Publishers Weekly


This is very interesting because this author has a mainstream traditional publisher. I assume that someone there told him that short story collections don't sell.


Francis Hamit


Deja Vue All Over again


In the Thursday, March 4, 2010 view you said:

"To make things worse, apparently the Army is being converted into a counter-insurgency nation building force, to the detriment of its ability to fight real wars. I do not think that insurgency is the real threat to the existence of the United States. Wealthy Republics have ever had this dilemma, particularly when they go to play imperialist. Yes, one needs troops whose main job is controlling puppet states and colonized territories. One also needs Legions who can win wars. "

I saw a link on the drudge report to an article about a mainland Chinese book written by a PLA member that in 10 to 20 years there will be war with the United States. I started college just as the Vietnam war ended and the South went down. The ROTC instructors I had while I as in ROTC were visibly affected by the loss of their Vietnamese friends in the South. Then we went from counter insurgency doctrine to conventional war doctrine. And over 30 years later, we got deja-vu all over again, as they say.



WMD: Weapon of Mosquito Destruction

Dr. Pournelle --

In case you missed this in the WSJ:

Rocket Scientists Shoot Down Mosquitoes With Lasers http://online.wsj.com/article/

"In a lab in this Seattle suburb, researchers in long white coats recently stood watching a small glass box of bugs. Every few seconds, a contraption 100 feet away shot a beam that hit the buzzing mosquitoes, one by one, with a spot of red light.

The insects survived this particular test, which used a non-lethal laser. But if these researchers have their way, the Cold War missile-defense strategy will be reborn as a WMD: Weapon of Mosquito Destruction."

I can't say how practical such a system might be but I still want one.


I think I pointed to this earlier. And yes, I want one...


Crisis in Turkey

"The Turks are not Arabs. They are fearsome warriors." And there's more... http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/


and, WOW!: http://www.todayszaman.com

Best way to get a Turkish officer to buy you a beer? Express admiration for Ataturk and ask the officer the creation of the new army.

Methinks, the legion bear is wounded and someone is poking it with a short stick.

David Couvillon Colonel, U.S. Marine Corps, Retired.; Former Governor of Wasit Province, Iraq; Righter of Wrongs; Wrong most of the time; Distinguished Expert, TV remote control; Chef de Hot Dog Excellance; Collector of Hot Sauce; Avoider of Yard Work

The last time there was a strong Islamic movement in government the Turkish army came out of barracks and hanged about 6 of the cabinet ministers. Then they held a new election and went back to barracks.


Spam and Microsoft


Microsoft's anti-botnet efforts cut the amount of SPAM I was getting for almost a week. Now I am getting much more than I ever have before. Looks like Microsoft has sort of stirred up a hornet's nest.

I hope that Microsoft and others will continue the battle until the botnet spammers are put out of business once and for all.

Since most of the revenue generated from SPAM would appear to come from credit card charges, maybe the credit card companies should also be enlisted in the battle. If they won't join the battle, perhaps the processors of these transactions should be targeted as well.

Bob Holmes


: Drought extinguishes Venezuela's lightning phenomenon | World news | guardian.co.uk


 In another era, this would be known as the time the gods left, or whatever.

which would be a fine story on its own.

Michael Zawistowski


Climate "Scientists" Fight Strike (Cue Darth Vader music)

"Climate scientists plot to fight back at skeptics"


"Most of our colleagues don't seem to grasp that we're not in a gentlepersons' debate, we're in a street fight against well-funded, merciless enemies who play by entirely different rules," Paul R. Ehrlich, a Stanford University researcher, said in one of the e-mails.


Interesting -- biologist Paul R. Ehrlich (Author of "The Population Bomb") is now a climatologist, it seems.

Lee Keller King


Bill Nye the Science Guy

With Bill Nye the Science Guy living there, your neighborhood must enjoy an extremely low crime rate, since this is one of the cover names of a super hero we used to have here in Seattle:


heel-toe, heel-toe, heel-toe


Never saw him in super hero costume...


health care priority


The pundit during the segment of Fox News this morning about 8:15 ET (unfortunately, I didn't catch his name) says that President Obama is telling the hard-left faction during his White House meetings that he will push to include the Public Option through the reconciliation process, while he is making different statements to other groups.

This article discusses those meetings but does not go so far as to confirm the statement above: http://www.foxnews.com/

Meanwhile: http://www.foxnews.com/

Climate Scientists Plan to Hit Back at Skeptics

Undaunted by a rash of scandals over the science underpinning climate change, top climate researchers are plotting to respond with what one scientist involved said needs to be "an outlandishly aggressively partisan approach" to gut the credibility of skeptics.

In private e-mails obtained by The Washington Times, climate scientists at the National Academy of Sciences say they are tired of "being treated like political pawns" and need to fight back in kind. Their strategy includes forming a nonprofit group to organize researchers and use their donations to challenge critics by running a back-page ad in the New York Times.

"Most of our colleagues don't seem to grasp that we're not in a gentlepersons' debate, we're in a street fight against well-funded, merciless enemies who play by entirely different rules," Paul R. Ehrlich, a Stanford University researcher, said in one of the e-mails.<snip> (Original article in Washington Times at link in e-mail).



More Info On Global Warming


One of the things that may effect the climate that no one has talked about is the process of the Earth's magnetic field flipping polarity which is currently in progress as evidenced by the South Atlantic Anomaly.




Sadly the process of flipping may doom us long before global warming or the next Ice Age because as the polarity flips the strength of the field goes way down. This is the first flip that has occurred while humans have been on the earth.

Also there is news that sudden warming seems to occur just before the next Ice Age begins


Dean Peters


Drone Pilots and Valour

I would think that this award would be appropriate for the Drone Pilots.

Air Force The Air Force version of the Meritorious Unit Commendation is known as the Meritorious Unit Award (MUA). In March 2004, the Secretary of the Air Force approved the MUA to recognize organizations for outstanding achievement or service in direct support of combat operations.

The MUA is awarded to Air Force units for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding achievement or service in direct support of combat operations for at least 90 continuous days during the period of military operations against an armed enemy of the United States on or after September 11, 2001. The unit must have displayed such outstanding devotion and superior performance of exceptionally difficult tasks as to set it apart and above other units with similar missions. The degree of achievement required is the same as that which would warrant award of the Legion of Merit <file:///wiki/Legion_of_Merit>  . Superior performance of normal mission will not alone justify award of the MUA. Service in a combat zone is not required, but service must be directly related to the combat effort. Squadrons, groups, and wings may be recommended for this award. The MUA is not awarded to any unit or unit component previously awarded the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award <file:///wiki/Air_Force_Outstanding_Unit_Award>  (AFOUA), the Air Force Organizational Excellence Award <file:///wiki/Air_Force_Organizational_Excellence_Award>  (AFOEA) or unit awards from other service components for the same act, achievement, or service. The component commander will automatically consider all disapproved MUAs for the AFOUA.

The MUA ribbon is worn immediately before the AFOUA. Subsequent awards are denoted by oak leaf clusters.

David March


: Climate During Interglacials

 Dear Jerry

 It would be interesting to see what the environmentalists make of this study of previous interglacial periods and climate fluctuations.




: Hammerfall

Dr. Pournelle,

Of possible interest:








 read book now





This week:


read book now


Saturday, March 6, 2010

I took the day off.







 read book now




CURRENT VIEW     Saturday

This week:


read book now


Sunday,  March 7, 2010     

The US Army becoming a Counter-Insurgency Force

Jerry, You said "To make things worse, apparently the Army is being converted into a counter-insurgency nation building force, to the detriment of its ability to fight real wars."

At the NCO level we see it also, so although the people at the Top may have lost their minds, at the Troop Level we have kept at the skills needed for more traditional conflicts. I am a few days out from returning from another trip to Iraq, only a year this time. The war here has slowed down to just about nothing, so we spent allot of our time teaching our new Scouts the skills they will need in the next conflict, that won't involve just driving around and getting blown up.

Regards, T

 US Army Cavalry Scout

The enemy presumably being Iran. Although in Kurdistan they also consider Turkey and enemy.


Review of Luttwak's new book on the Byzantines.


---- Roland Dobbins

Very much related to the future of Turkey, Iraq, and Iran. I have previously reviewed Luttwak's book, and I may find and revise that shortly.

This review is by Ishmael Jones, and his observations are of interest.

His dictum that the US Military is superb but the intelligence bureaucracy is fatally broken is worth debating; alas, much of the evidence is in favor of that observation. Intelligence organizations traditionally try to appear either very highly effective, or inept, depending in part on national objectives. The US intelligence capabilities during the 50's and 60's was generally a very great deal better than its reputation at the time would indicate, but as time went on the bureaucracy consistently under-estimated both the cost and the capability of the Soviet military establishment, and very almost entirely wrong about their economic problems. The Intelligence Establishment often gave really bad threat estimates to the President. Reagan, fortunately, pretty well ignored much of that, and continued the pressure by insisting on SDI and strategic defenses.

That's another story, and I've told it before. In any event, there is a lot we can learn from Byzantium. Incidentally one of the better histories of Byzantium is titled "Greatness and Decline." Given recent history perhaps there is even more we can learn from Byzantine history. These were Romans and the defenders of the remains of Western Civilization during what has come to be called the Dark Ages...







 read book now





The current page will always have the name currentmail.html and may be bookmarked. For previous weeks, go to the MAIL HOME PAGE.


If you are not paying for this place, click here...

IF YOU SEND MAIL it may be published; if you want it private SAY SO AT THE TOP of the mail. I try to respect confidences, but there is only me, and this is Chaos Manor. If you want a mail address other than the one from which you sent the mail to appear, PUT THAT AT THE END OF THE LETTER as a signature. In general, put the name you want at the end of the letter: if you put no address there none will be posted, but I do want some kind of name, or explicitly to say (name withheld).

Note that if you don't put a name in the bottom of the letter I have to get one from the header. This takes time I don't have, and may end up with a name and address you didn't want on the letter. Do us both a favor: sign your letters to me with the name and address (or no address) as you want them posted. Also, repeat the subject as the first line of the mail. That also saves me time.

I try to answer mail, but mostly I can't get to all of it. I read it all, although not always the instant it comes in. I do have books to write too...  I am reminded of H. P. Lovecraft who slowly starved to death while answering fan mail. 

Monday -- Tuesday -- Wednesday -- Thursday -- Friday -- Saturday -- Sunday

 Search engine:


or the freefind search

   Search this site or the web        powered by FreeFind
  Site search Web search

Boiler Plate:

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.

If you subscribed:

atom.gif (1053 bytes) CLICK HERE for a Special Request.

If you didn't and haven't, why not?

If this seems a lot about paying think of it as the Subscription Drive Nag. You'll see more.

Patron Subscription:

Search: type in string and press return.


For platinum subscription:

For a PDF copy of A Step Farther Out:

= = = = = = = = = =

For a Regular Subscription click here:

= = = = = = = =

Strategy of Technology in pdf format:

To order the nose pump I recommend, click on the banner below:

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

birdline.gif (1428 bytes)