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Monday  May 17, 2010

Soviet Union and China Nuclear War


Well, I believe what is said in China about as much as I believe what is said in North Korea. Still, if this is true, it is an interesting footnote to history.

The Soviet Union was on the brink of launching a nuclear attack against China in 1969 and only backed down after the US told Moscow such a move would start World War Three, according to a Chinese historian.


-- BDAB,


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

“The opinion of ten thousand men is of no value if none of them know anything about the subject.” —Marcus Aurelius

I remember several times in the 1960's when some of my colleagues rejoiced because "The Russians are going to nuke the Chinks!" At the time Possony pointed out that the principal enemy was the Soviet Union, and while China was hardly a friend it was an enemy to the USSR. After Nixon was elected our diplomatic efforts brought about what amounted to a Chinese alliance, which did a lot to weaken the USSR. US satellite pictures of Russian deployments in Chinese Turkestan were given to the Chinese.

We can speculate on what might have happened in the wake of an actual Sino-Soviet war. If it had stayed non-nuclear it might have drained both of them and ended the Cold War earlier, but it probably would have gone nuclear fairly quickly. What happens after that is not really predictable.

What actually happened is that the Soviets wanted the US to acquiesce in a Soviet nuclear strike on the Chinese nuclear facilities, taking out their centrifuges and other facilities for developing fissionables. We declined to do that, and I am sure we advised them not to do it, but I don't think we actually extended our nuclear umbrella over China. A Sino-Soviet nuclear war would have killed millions of people. It's pretty hard to think of that as a good thing.


Lockheed Martin Running Spy Ring


Now this is an interesting piece of news. Lockheed Martin is running informal spy rings? This should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with Astor's Room or the resume of Bill Donovan. Still, this is something that probably won't make the networks or appear in any part of the newspaper that most would pay attention to.


-- BDAB,


Private espionage has a long and -- well I don't say venerable, but often successful -- history. Bureaucracy does not always breed good spymasters. Oreste Pinto long ago did two books on how to be a spymaster, but I suppose they have long vanished. During the Cold War a number of major companies had information gathering operations.



Geologist Declares 'global warming is over' -- Warns U.S. Climate Conference of 'Looming Threat of Global Cooling'

'Expect global cooling for the next 2-3 decades that will be far more damaging than global warming would have been'

Sunday, May 16, 2010By Marc Morano <http://www.climatedepot.com/contact.asp>  - Climate Depot <http://www.climatedepot.com/

Climate Depot Exclusive

CHICAGO -- A prominent U.S. geologist is urging the world to forget about global warming because global cooling has already begun.

Geologist Dr. Don Easterbrook's warning came in the form of a new scientific paper he presented to the 4th International Conference on Climate Change in Chicago <http://www.heartland.org/events/2010Chicago/index.html>  on May 16, 2010. Dr. Easterbrook is an Emeritus Professor at Western Washington University who has authored eight books and 150 journal publications. Easterbrook's full resume is here <http://www.ac.wwu.edu/~dbunny/resume.htm>  .

Dr. Easterbrook joins many other scientists, peer-reviewed research and scientific societies warning of a coming global cooling <http://www.climatedepot.com/a/6574/search.asp?
74pu5c&cof=FORID%3A9&ie=ISO-8859-1&q=global+cooling#1046>  . Easterbrook is presenting his findings alongside other man-made global warming skeptics at the three day conference in Chicago.

Dr. Easterbrook's key excerpts:

That global warming is over, at least for a few decades, might seem to be a relief. However, the bad news is that global cooling is even more harmful to humans than global warming and a cause for even greater concern because: <snip>

I certainly think ice is a far worse danger than warm, but I don't think anyone really knows which way things will go.


Some time ago I advocated modest expenditures on researching engineering methods to reduce atmospheric CO2.

Re: Funding CO2 reduction

Hello Jerry,

I am all too aware that we fund a whole host of useless-to- counterproductive stuff. And a billion here, a billion there and pretty soon you are talking real money.

I guess my point was: Why should we pay to extract CO2 from the atmosphere when all of the actual data, not models, indicate that any changes that we can expect to make in atmospheric CO2, deliberately or as a byproduct of civilization, would have negligible effect on the temperature of the Earth and that if changes are to be made, INCREASING CO2 has more known, positive effects than decreasing it.

While funding RESEARCH on modifying planetary atmospheres may be useful (Who knows when some basement tinkerer or lab rat at Cal Tech may produce a star drive that moves terraforming right to the top of the 'We need to figure this out right away.' list? See Gina Marie Wylie's "Kinsella" and several of her other stories.), funding actual CO2 reduction efforts is not only not prudent, but comes close to being an existential threat.

Why? Not because of the actual effects of any CO2 reduction achieved or the side effects of the efforts, but because it provides tacit confirmation that anthropogenic CO2 is a serious threat, warranting government action to 'correct' it. And in my view, Stopping Global Warming, combined with the recent take over of our health care and other parts of our lives in the last year, is nearer to an existential threat to western civilization, short of an all out nuclear exchange, than anything that we have ever faced previously (Asteroid/cometary strikes, super volcanos, and the like, WILL happen, but at the convenience of Mother Nature.).

Bob Ludwick

I suppose we must continue to disagree. I do not consider present CO2 levels dangerous and indeed I am inclined to accept the view that the enrichment may be good for us; still, I am conservative enough not to want to run an open end experiment on CO2 levels. The time to learn how to reduce those levels and understand the effects of what we are doing is before there is a crisis. Just as the time to learn how to clean up oil spills is before a big one.

In a more free land I would rely on private foundations to look into long term threats and their remedies, and expect to get better results; but we have so many taxes and so much government funding that this becomes a problem. Government funded research builds runaway "consensus" positions that may not be in accord with the evidence; private is better; but runaway CO2, while in my judgment is not a current threat, is still possible (or at least some qualified people think so, although that is NOT part of the 'consensus' position); and the time to learn how to do something about it, and the side effects of those efforts, is not when there is a crisis...


Subject: Copyright Violation Extortion Trojan

"There's a new extortion trojan in circulation.

This one attempts to steal victims' money by bullying them to pay a "pre-trial settlement" to cover a "Copyright holder fine".

The victim is informed that an "Antipiracy foundation scanner" has found illegal torrents from the system. If he won't pay $400 (via a credit card transaction), he might face jail time and huge fines.

And the warnings will not go away. They will reappear every time the user reboots his system."


This one is just bluffing. But how long will it be before someone crafts a virus that will actually scan every system it infects for evidence of bad behavior (file sharing, kiddie porn, surfing for porn at work, etc.) -- and then threaten to expose you if you don't pay?


Keep your system up to date, but understand that 100% security against an actual targeted sophisticated attack is very difficult. What you do with your computer may well become public, and quickly. You have been warned.


Letter from England

Guardian publication of the Tory-Liberal agreement: <http://tinyurl.com/33rss3k>

 Channel Tunnel disrupted: <http://tinyurl.com/3949jdn>

 How to thatch a roof: <http://tinyurl.com/2enphhe>

 Euro crisis worsens: <http://tinyurl.com/2v9xka8>


"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


Ash Clouds Oh My! 

Report: <http://tinyurl.com/26mnazn>  Ash clouds over Northern Ireland: <http://tinyurl.com/37x7rt7>  Ryanair fined: <http://tinyurl.com/338r36m

Hidden debts: <http://tinyurl.com/36zh9yz

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

Will England go Proportional Representation?


S&P Cuts to Junk Mortgage Bonds It Rated AAA in 2009 

Proving your point…?

May 14 (Bloomberg) -- Standard & Poor’s cut to junk the ratings on certain securities, backed by U.S. mortgage bonds, that it granted AAA grades when they were created last year by Credit Suisse Group, Jefferies Group Inc. and Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc.

The reductions were among downgrades to 308 classes of so- called re-remics, or re-securitizations, created from 2005 through 2009, the New York-based ratings company said today in a statement. About $150 million of the debt issued last year, as recently as July, with top rankings were lowered below investment grades, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“The downgrades reflect our assessment of the significant deterioration in performance of the loans backing the underlying certificates,” S&P analysts Cesar Romero <http://search.bloomberg.com/search?
wnnis&sort=date:D:S:d1>  and Terry G. Osterweil <http://search.bloomberg.com/search?
p&getfields=wnnis&sort=date:D:S:d1>  said in the statement.

Chuck Ruthroff

Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.

I will have more on the ratings agencies; there are developments, but it's not clear what will happen.


Subj: Greece: Dani Rodrik on The Political Trilemma of the World Economy


>>[E]conomic globalization, political democracy, and the nation-state are mutually irreconcilable. We can have at most _two_ at one time. Democracy is compatible with national sovereignty only if we restrict globalization. If we push for globalization while retaining the nation-state, we must jettison democracy. And if we want democracy along with globalization, we must shove the nation-state aside and strive for greater international governance.<<

Rod Montgomery==monty@starfief.com


Competition for quantum computers might be memristors: http://www.popsci.com/node/44900/?cmpid=enews041510 

... unlike transistors, which only work linearly, memristors can form three-dimensional networks. This added dimension exponentially expands the number of connections, and thus the power, of a memristor computer. In fact, the 3-D network capability of memristors is so profound that Leon Chua, the man who first theorized the existence of memristors in the 1971, believes that this technology could enable the creation of electronic brains. "We have the right stuff now to build real brains," he told the Times <http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/08/science/08chips.html>  .

The 3D capacity is maybe as profound as quantum ambiguity?

Brian H.

I know little to nothing about this.


Subject: Discussion of Ratings Agencies on EconTalk

Dr. Pournelle,

Russ Roberts has an interesting conversation about financial regulation and ratings with Charles Calomiris here: http://www.econtalk.org/archives/2009/10/calomiris_on_th.html 

From the rough transcript/topic list:

54:42Ratings agencies: a lot of people think they are a major part of the problem. Reflecting another problem, related to last question. Not just why these banks originated these things but why they bought them. Also want to try to understand why insurance companies, pension funds, and mutual funds bought huge amounts of this stuff in 2006 going into 2007. Why were the ratings agencies willing to pretend that these things were still triple AAAA long after they should have known better? And they did know better in the middle of 2006. Standard argument--they were being paid by the people issuing the securities; conflict of interest. Wrong. It was not a secret that they had a conflict of interest. Sponsors are selling. Ratings agencies are working for the buy side whether the buy side is paying them or not. Two issues about the buy side: one, the buy side are the ones for whom the ratings are used for regulatory purposes. If you are a pension fund, mutual fund, or insurance company, or a bank and you buy these securities, the ratings matter because you are regulated by the amount you buy. They let you leverage them differently; they might have prohibitions on how much of a certain class you can buy; you get to do more things as a buy side investor if you have more favorable ratings. Cantor and Packer paper: Securitizations, which are all bought by corporate institutions, not individuals--all of the grade inflation starting in the 1980s was located in securitization-related markets, not in corporate debt markets. The institutional investors wanted grade inflation because grade inflation loosened the regulations that bound it. That's where "too big to fail has to come in." Story told by someone at one ratings agency: Sponsors go out and ask ratings agency if it will give them a favorable rating; then go out and ask another agency; and they go with the agency that gives the best story. Agency shopping. Why would that work? It only works if the buy side wants it to work. Let's say Moody's is the best--most demanding, most trustworthy--of the three. When Moody's is dropped by the sponsor, the buyer knows Moody's would have rated it higher, so he says he's not going to pay so much for it. If the buy side behaved that way, ratings couldn't have gotten inflated. Agent asked by buyer why a rating was so off: "We didn't rate that because it was so horrible. Why did you buy it?" Answer was: "We have to put our money to work." What does that mean? If you are out there running a fund, mutual fund, whatever. Hedge funds have better incentives about risk. Other institutional investors say they have to put their money to work. They are making their fees for managing risky investments. Nobody is giving them a hard time. They are the ones who drove ratings shopping and the race to the bottom. Why? If you are making your 1% on assets managed, you want assets managed to be large. Not consistent. Consistent: have to be able to think of more than one idea. If we hadn't had the monetary policy blunder of 2002-2005 we wouldn't be here talking today. If we hadn't had Fannie and Freddie pushing to get affordable housing to happen with virtually no money down, we wouldn't be here today. And if we had had good prudential regulation for measuring risk credibly we wouldn't be here today. Didn't have that third thing because we were relying on the banks to tell them what the risk was--a joke--or to have the ratings agencies tell them what the risk was--a double joke. The ratings agencies are working for the buy side--the institutional investors and the banks. The ratings agencies' incentives were that as soon as regulation was outsourced to them they would become grade inflators because they got paid for it. People who paid them were the buy side.

EconTalk is a terribly good source for free-market-biased economic discussions.

Best regards, Scott




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Tuesday,  May 18, 2010

Even More Dire Straits

Dire straights have gotten more existentially dire. I have not been able to eat or drink for over a week now, on saline & glucose IV and vacuum tube down my nose and into my stomach. If nothing is done, this is slow death by starvation.

So Thursday I will have an operation. The surgeon, Dr. Dan Coit, is top drawer, and unlike some of the lower orders here at Sloan Kettering, a man of honest truth and gentle compassion. There’s a Plan A and a Plan B.

Plan A is to remove part of the stomach above the blocking tumor, and part of the small intestine below, and hook them up, in which case I will be able to eat and drink and get my shrinking ass out of here. On plumbing level, this would be a no brainer, but there may or may not blockcages further down, and rather to my surprise, I was told that that none of the advanced scanners can tell. So the surgeon says he won’t know if he can execute plan A until he opens me up, and gives me a 60-40 chance.

Plan B, if that doesn’t work, is a feeding tube and an exhaust tube. I could hang around slowly deterorating that way, but it wouldn’t be much of a life.

So it’s scary on that level, and made worse by my existential dread of general anesthesia, of being made unconscious not know if I would wake up. So I don’t know if I’ll be around for a Friday update, or whether this will turn out to be hail and farewell.

Norman Spinrad

Norman's first report was in last Sunday's mail. Norman has explicitly placed these reports in public domain. See also his essay on doctors and hospitals in View.


Comparing McIntyre's Disproof of the Hockey Stick to Luther's 94 Thesis

2010/05/time-for-reformation-of-science.html  A comparison you may find apt. The author is a Church of England rector.

Hier stehe ich, ich kann nicht anders, Gott helfe mir, Amen.


Sino-American moral equivalence

US assistant secretary of state Michael Posner confesses to human rights abuse in Arizona:


No mention of “medical waste” in Guangdong:


Steve Chu


NYC cooks the books on crime 

SUBJ: New York City arrests those who have broken no law, while coddling felonies.

In a world of daily outrages, this is truly monstrous! Even more so the silence of the mainstream news and entertainment media on the subject.


A few money quotes:

Showing "arrests" are "up":

"The cops were told to make arrests even if they knew they'd be voiding the charge at the end of their shifts. As a sergeant implores in one recording, 'Again, it's all about the numbers.'"

Showing violent crimes are "down":

". . . the statistical manipulation extends beyond property crimes. Journalist Debbie Nathan, who was sexually assaulted in a city park last February, says that she was shocked to learn that the officers who wrote up her report classified the crime as a misdemeanor." ". . . the six officers who responded to Nathan's attack admitted leaving key portions of her story out of the report."

"The mayor's looking for it, the police commissioner's looking for it...every commanding officer wants to show it,"

"Police officers were routinely threatened with discipline (transfers, shift changes, partner changes, and assignment changes) by their superiors if they did not make their monthly quota of summonses, stop-and-frisks, arrests, and community visits."

And when you talk to American cops anywhere, they can't understand . . . THEY GENUINELY CAN'T UNDERSTAND (!!) . . . why American public opinion of law-enforcement is at an all-time low.

Cordially, John


Future Role of Carriers Will the carrier battle group even be viable in the not too distant future against an opponent like China?

Even at Midway it only took one bomb on a flight deck to seriously affect the capability of a very high value target. Now we have to protect carriers from swarms of smart standoff weapons? No doubt we can greatly enhance our ability to defend against such threats, but a carrier is still one giant basket full of eggs. I must admit I'm having visions of the fair-weather task force that can only operate when inclement weather hasn't seriously degraded the capability of ship-board laser defense.

Maybe we will have to learn to do without carrier-launched, fixed-wing aircraft.

I seem to recall that in your Sparta books, aircraft simply had to stay over the horizon and send in stand-off weapons because there was just no protecting them from anti-aircraft weapons.

-- Mike Johns 

Depends on the enemy. Carriers are decisive in wars against those who can't attack the carrier.

And it depends on what enemies we expect to encounter, and what we intend to do. Empires need capabilities that Republics do not require. And see the next mail:


Chinese Naval Capacity

Back on 26 Oct. 2006 a Chinese submarine surfaced in the middle of an American carrier group proving their capability to wipe out carriers with relative ease. Despite it being described as "as big a shock as the Russians launching Sputnik" this is pretty nearly the only media coverage it got. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/

The only good part of this is that the Chinese did it. If they had been planning aggression they would have kept this capability even more secret than our media seem to have done.

Neil C

One of the understood conventions of the Viet Nam War was that we did not attack the North Viet Nam suppliers, either on the high seas or in their homelands, and there was really no sea war against the US Navy. A battle for Taiwan would probably not honor those rules of engagement.


What Are They Thinking,

Wow. US pediatricians can now nick the genitals of young girls if they come from a certain cultural background?!


Why would our society want to capitulate to these barbaric customs???? And, will this be covered by insurance too?!



Sharia in America..


Sharia Law in America of the most heart-sickening kind...

Mark Steyn's column over the weekend about the Attorney General's inability to "connect the dots" has much to recommend it, but I found the excerpt below particularly disgusting


<snip> Last week, the American Association of Pediatricians noted that certain, ahem, "immigrant communities" were shipping their daughters overseas to undergo "female genital mutilation." So, in a spirit of multicultural compromise, they decided to amend their previous opposition to the practice: They're not (for the moment) advocating full-scale clitoridectomies, but they are suggesting federal and state laws be changed to permit them to give a "ritual nick" to young girls.<snip>Well, what's wrong with a little Allah-lite? The AAP thinks you can hop on the Sharia express and only ride a couple of stops. In such ostensibly minor concessions, the "ritual nick" we're performing is on ourselves. Further cuts will follow.

If this is happening in the US, can our "cultural weapons of mass destruction" work in Iran?


Welcome to diversity.

In my view, it would be better for America to build the city on the hill than to interfere in other's countries. Exporting the "diversity" we are trying to build would seem superfluous, and not worth the life of a Tennessee grenadier.


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Wednesday, May 19, 2010


I have several friends ages 50 plus who are public school teachers in Hawaii, and they all agree on two ways to improve public schools. First, bring back Reform School; teachers spend most of their time dealing with disruptive, misbehaving students, who do not want to learn, to the disadvantage of the 90% of students who do want to learn. If the disruptive, incorrigible 10% could be sent to reform school, my teacher friends believe they could teach much more to the 90%. Second, eliminate “mainstreaming,” whereby students with disabilities, i.e. crack babies, meth babies, intellectually disabled kids, are kept in special education classes and not put in regular classrooms with the majority of students who do not have disabilities. Once again, mainstreaming sucks up all the teaching time so that the 90% majority of kids are short changed. The liberal ideology of the last 50 years has decided that the needs of the bottom 10% are going to be met at the expense of the 90% rest of the student body, and changing that allocation of time and resources would yield big improvements according to my friends who are public school teachers.

Darryl Miyahira,
Honolulu, Hawaii.

The future of the nation depends on the education of the top 50% of the population, and historically in the creative contributions of the top 25% (some would make those numbers smaller). The point of schools is to increase the marginal productivity of their graduates over what they would have produced had they started working at some earlier age. Roman boys went to the drill fields at age 14. Few spent full time in education institutions after that. Think of this as the base: do high schools teach anything that will make the students better and more productive citizens than if they went to work upon leaving eighth grade? And do the first eight grades teach anything worth the fuss and bother of schools vs. training camps to provide child care and elementary military drill?

Of course I exaggerate. Or do I?

The corruption of the public school system leads to a new hereditary upper class: those whose parents contrive to secure a good education for their children, as opposed to everyone else.

The more we decentralize control of education the better. Transparency and subsidiarity. But instead we saddle all with taxes to build an education system that does not work, is known not to work, and which absorbs the money and talent that might be used to build an education system that might actually be an investment in the future. In some places the schools are not horror; but the Department of Education is moving to correct that.

It is unfortunate that some children do not profit from education, yet absorb the resources that are needed for public education. This is the cruelty of nature. The liberal gnostics are convinced that they can make the universe a happy and fair place; their efforts generally add to the problem, yet they never believe the results. This Time For Sure.

The remedy is not guillotines, but it may well be mass discharges of everyone involved in building and supporting this system of imbecility, and its replacement by people who understand that the goals are not happy education officials but educated children able to earn enough to pay taxes to pay back what the public invested in them. Either education is an investment or it is robbery. At present in most places it is robbery to serve the Iron Law.


Re: Bush

Do I miss him yet?

In a word: no.

I suspect that the people who would answer “yes” to that don’t really miss Bush himself, what they miss is the time in which he was president. The thing that they miss is an overinflated economy and an artificially high housing market where there was apparently lots of money to go around- a situation we now know to be illusory.

Recently CNN had an interview on their website with a woman who they purported to be a representative of the Tea Party movement. One of the things that she said in that interview really caught me: “I want my child to grow up in the world I grew up in.” (I can’t find the original article, so I may be slightly misquoting her. If I am, it might be by “daughter” instead of “child” or something similar.)

It strikes me that this is a common problem with the Tea Party movement- they wish to hang onto the world that they knew in their youth.

Personally, I don’t know anyone who wears polyester leisure suits and gold chains, or narrow lapels on their grey felt suit, or any of the other hallmarks of years gone by. The brutal truth of the matter is that the world that existed in my youth- or far that matter, in my childrens’ youths- is gone and will not return. The world moves on whether we wish it to or not. The Tea Party seems to be yearning for Dem Good Ol’ Days, a time which in truth never existed.

To misquote Rumsfeld (intentionally), we don’t go to the future with the world that we wish we had, we go with the world we have. The Mayberry that the Tea Party claims we should cling to was no more than a pleasant distortion of the memories of our elders. I for one don’t want to go back to the way the world was in the 30s, 40s, 50s or any other decade of the past. I would rather we evaluate the world that we have now and make plans around how to improve it, rather than knock it down and try to return to a fictional past. The Taliban is already showing what that would be like.

Paul Martin

And yet: what man once achieved, mankind can aspire to. We have never achieved perfection; but freedom did once produce a world that some of us find preferable to what we have. I fear I do cling to memories of freedoms past.

The Old Republic was not perfection: part of the idea of a free people is to eschew the gnostic goals of perfection, and to reject the notion that if only you give me the sword of state I can build you a perfect world.

Freedom is not free. Free people are not equal. Equal citizens are not free.



Former Sun Microsystems CEO and Chairman Scott McNealy, in an interview with Fortune magazine (April 15) on what would it would take to get him interested in running a company again:

It must be private, never go public. There will be no upside investors other than me and the employees. . . . I hope we can pull it off under those conditions because I would be thrilled to lead another group of smart engineers, without all the crap that goes into running a company today. I just don't want Congress telling me how much I should be paid or firing me. I want to pretend I am back in the 1980s again.



Moral behavior


From what I read I get the impression that government wants to impose, improve, enhance, mandate, facilitate (choose which ever you want) moral conduct on its citizens by law. I was led to believe that moral conduct tended to come from the way individuals are brought up, not something that could be imposed by the courts, congress or administration. To me, courtesy is a part of moral conduct are we expecting that we will have laws on this too?

Thanks for listening

M.K. Turner

There was a time when social courtesies were taught as part of the costs of education. And enforced in the schools to become habits.


"tourism today is a right"

Dr. Pournelle --

The expansion of what is a "right" continues apace:

Get packing: Brussels decrees holidays are a human right


"The idea for the subsidised tours" [for seniors, 18-25 year olds, the disabled, families in difficult circumstances] "is the brainchild of Antonio Tajani, the European Union commissioner for enterprise and industry, who was appointed by Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian prime minister."

"Tajani ... believes the days when holidays were a luxury have gone. “Travelling for tourism today is a right. The way we spend our holidays is a formidable indicator of our quality of life,” he said."

"Tajani, who used to be transport commissioner, said he had been able to “affirm the rights of passengers” in his previous office and the next step was to ensure people’s “right to be tourists”."

Tourist travel, an "indicator", is down. Therefore if they artificially increase the indicator everything will be fine. Based upon this logic, the next time I don't have enough gas to get home I should put water in the tank, raising the reading of the gas gauge, and I'll make it home without problem.

And, oh horrors, I see no indication that anyone is considering the "carbon footprint" of all those additional travel miles.


The pursuit of the millennium. And of course if you have enough of other people's money...


Subj: Is Internet Civility an Oxymoron?

Opinion piece of that subject by L. Gordon Crovitz in _The Wall Street Journal_, 19 April 2010.

Not available directly to WSJ non-subscribers, but you can reach it by Googling for the subject, in quotes, plus Crovitz.

The piece reminds me again how grateful I am that Dr. Pournelle *does*not* have a promiscuous reader-comment facility.

Back in the days of BIX and GENIE, although Dr. Pournelle had directly-posted reader comments in his Fora, things mostly stayed within reasonable bounds. I don't know how much of that was due to the efforts of his deputy moderators (I know he had at least one on BIX; don't remember about GENIE), how much to the posting not being "free", since only paying subscribers to the service in question could post, and how much to reduced anonymity, since subscribers had invariant User IDs that could be banned upon bad behavior, either from a particular Forum or from the entire service.

Today, I find the comment areas of climateAudit.org just barely usable. They're moderated, but although the moderators (assisted by automation) are pretty effective in suppressing outright spam, the levels of topic drift, piling on and flame-warring are often annoying and occasionally quite exasperating.

I have found the comment areas of groklaw.org completely unreadable.

I've used the WSJ's own Comments areas a little, but I find their automation infelicitous: I can't figure out how to track threads of discussion with a reasonable amount of effort. On the other hand, I sometimes had the same problem with BIX. Maybe, being now older, I no longer have enough still-functional neurons to maintain situational awareness. Alternatively, being now older, maybe I am now enough wiser to be no longer willing to put up with such a high level of frustration and with so much time-wasting.

It will be interesting to see how "online communities of correspondence" develop over the next few years. Can they serve the same kinds of purposes the coffeehouses and "committees of correspondence" served in the run-ups to the American Revolution and, earlier, in Great Britain, to the Glorious Revolution of 1688? PJTV.com arguably serves much the same purpose now as the pamphleteers served back then, but I think there also needs to be a way for the nascent replacement for the corrupt incumbent Ruling Elite to arrive at a consensus on what they're about, before there can be a Circulation.

Rod Montgomery==monty@starfief.com

Of course the new legislative proposals (which apparently are a good idea according to our newest Supreme Court Appointee) would censor pamphlets and blogs or at best subject them to record keeping about their finances as part of enforcement of "election spending reform".

Oh brave new world


Zbigniew Brzezinski seems Disturbed


Now this is most interesting to me. Remember Brzezinski is a globalist--along with Kissinger and several world leaders trying to establish global governance. This may come as a shock to many, but I've followed the concept since Bush I's thousand points of light speech. In recent years, I've seen world leaders from Gordon Brown to Mikheil Saakashvili calling for this "New World Order".

Now, flash forward to 2010. It seems to me that men like Zbigniew Brzezinski and Henry Kissinger are men that we should pay attention to. Their books are most enlightening and--if one takes the time to read them--one may be shocked at what they read there. But, not many people read such books or watch C-Span. Zbigniew Brzezinski's latest speech is most interesting.

In this speech he says that, for the first time in history, mankind is politically awake. Brzezinski mentions how this complicates the thrust for a world government. He laments the G-20 is the closest they have come to a world government, and it is not united. This is the most interesting video I've seen this month.


 I refuse to support world governance for a few reasons. One, this shift away from local governance has not worked well in the United States where Washington looks more and more like an alien city state--as Rome was--ruling the empire. Two, the people behind this shift in 2010 are not the kind of people I want managing my life or the lives the citizens of the world. Three, a successful and equitable world government must come from an organic movement among the people, not some fictitious construct created by men who want to gratify their egotistical desires to do something big before they die.

-- BDAB,


I prefer liberty.


Hay/straw - oil...

"The video segment suggesting a way to clean up oil spills was to use hay was interesting, but I would suggest using straw would be a lot better for the environment and economy. Production of hay is expensive and much needed as feed for stock. We get about three cuttings a year from the land we have in hay here in Montana (probably one less this year due to the cold weather hanging on). During the summer, hay can goes for an average of $50 a ton ($90 for premium Alfalfa), and in the winter, especially if it is a long one, the price can easily go to X4 or X5.

Straw is essentially a byproduct of wheat production, and we always have quite a stack of it rotting at the end of winter. We use it for various things, stock bedding, covering early seed plants, etc….but there is always too much. If they could use that, the only real cost would be transporting it to the oil spill."

Bagasse. And, it's nearby.

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

Bagasse is the residue from sugar cane and sorghum after processing.


Bond Rating Agencies

Jerry -

I forwarded your May 14th comments on the ratings agencies to my CPA daughter

On Fri, May 14, 2010 at 3:43 PM, David Smith wrote:

This is a question that Jerry Pournelle touches on periodically - do you have any insight?

"Congress and the regulatory agencies are finally turning some attention to the ratings agencies, but they don't seem to be terribly serious about it. As far as I know, the BIG FOUR are written into the public law -- you must buy a rating from one of them. Yet you pay them for your rating, which means that if you get a bad one you won't be back. The conflict of interest seems built it -- and obvious. I have read a lot about this, and I don't understand the logic here. You must go buy a rating in order to issue bonds. You shop for the best rating. This makes so little sense that I feel I must be overlooking something obvious.

I'll continue to study the situation. I'd appreciate enlightenment, because the current system seems so obviously subject to temptations of corruption that I can't understand how anyone can defend it."

 - this is her reply:

Yup, that's pretty much how it works. People have been knocking around the idea that this sets up an untenable conflict of interests since at LEAST my freshman year of college - it just hadn't brought down the economies of most developed nations yet. :) Some professors posited that, as there hadn't been any major systematic corruption to that point, four rating agencies created enough of a competitive market that they could sort of self-police. I think they've changed their minds by now. I'm thinking there will have to be some sort of regulation in this area, such as a common fund from all bond issuers that the ratings agencies are paid out of (?!). Not really sure how that would work.

Or, here's an idea - how 'bout we have some accountability from the agencies themselves? A la Sarbanes-Oxley making the CEO sign off on the financials so that they could be hauled into court. You can rate a junk bond AAA, but you can no longer fall back on the excuse that it's an "opinion" and that the end purchaser must draw his or her own conclusions. Isn't that what the rating agency is FOR?! That's the argument they've always used to this date to keep their happy asses out of court...


The Official Ejection of Professor Katz

Dr. Pournelle,

Here is a link to the Washington University website of Professor Jonathon Katz, lately removed from the group of five “most intelligent people” convened to find a solution for the gulf oil spill.


If you read some of the articles linked to the site, it’s easy to see why the White House liberals would be afraid of him. I suspect it may be somewhat harder to get the smart people who are not in the political mainstream to roll over than they planned. Certainly Katz, based on the writings in his web site, would not be someone they could trust in a news conference.

I suspect this may blow up in their faces and cannot be a good political move right now. Of course the Dems have already been beaten up yesterday, maybe they have nothing to lose.

John Witt

I no longer expect courtesy or competence from the current administration. I came to this conclusion reluctantly, but to the best I can tell, the entire administration is infected with secondary to tertiary stage injelititis.  Those familiar with the works of C. Northcote Parkinson will understand.



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Thursday, Nay 20, 2010

Lost and found Wedding Ring


A couple weeks ago, the day before Mother’s Day, I lost my wedding ring while in the garden. On rare occasions when my hands are cold and wet, it can slip off. I discovered I had lost my ring after washing up from digging out some bushes and preparing a flower bed. I contacted http://theringfinders.com/ <http://theringfinders.com/>  and they were able to get me in contact with a local treasure hunter, Ray. Ray is a teacher in Fairfax County Public Schools and has a hobby of treasure hunting for Civil War relics. While I had posted a $100.00 reward, Ray was very gracious and refused the award, though I was glad he accepted $20.00 for gas and his time. So if you or a friend ever lose their ring outside, there are good folks out there willing to help.


I am glad that worked out so well. Good News!


Global Warming: A lot hotter in Roman Times


There was an editorial in yesterday’s Washington Times referring to a study reported in the March 8 edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science which concluded temperatures from 230 BC to 140 AD were higher than any temperatures recorded in modern times. This was based on deep sea sedimentary layers data as a proxy for temperature. Just as the tree ring data should be calibrated/confirmed with recorded temperatures, so should this sedimentary data.


This is pretty well in accord with historical accounts: the Roman Warm period was accompanied by high crop yields. Nero was followed by Claudius who invented the Imperial civil service and the expansion of the Empire to its greatest extent. Then it began to crumble as there was great unrest and volkerwanderung: mass migrations. Those may well have been due to climate change: a change to colder times. We know that things had warmed up again by 800 AD and the Viking era. By 1400 the Greenland Viking colonies vanish from history. The cold continued at least until 1800; some time after that Earth began to warm again.

These are fairly well established trends. As you say, calibration isn't established, and one doubts that we will ever be able to resolve historical Earth temperatures to single degree levels much less to fractions of a degree.

I suspect, incidentally, that rainfall patterns may be more important in mass migration trends than the single figure of merit of Earth temperature. I have seen no serious predictions of (or understanding of the causes of) the el Nino Pacific sort-of-cycles that seem especially relevant to rainfall patterns.


'If an economic boycott is truly what you desire, I will be happy to encourage Arizona utilities to renegotiate your power agreements so Los Angeles no longer receives any power from Arizona-based generation.'


-- Roland Dobbins

A lot has been made of this letter, which was a sort of taunt: the Arizona official says in his letter that he has not the authority to actually renegotiate those contracts -- but he will gladly try to arrange that with the relevant authorities if the LA City Council insists. The LA politician responses have been mixed, from hysteria to stupidity. Meanwhile polls show that not only do most Californians agree with the Arizona law, but a very similar law has been on the California books for nearly a decade.


Another British National Health Service SNAFU


This one leaves me at a loss for words. See:



Wednesday, May 19, 2010

British mother died after a doctor failed to spot a 6-inch long toilet brush handle embedded in her buttocks, a judicial investigation into her death was told Tuesday.

Cindy Corton, 35, was left with the bizarre injury after a drunken fall in a friend's bathroom in 2005, but doctors missed it - even after taking X-rays.

It was two years before Corton, who was in constant pain, was able to convince doctors that the thin serrated plastic handle was stuck in her flesh.

By then, what should have been a routine procedure to remove it, had become much more dangerous because the handle was embedded in her pelvis.

After two unsuccessful operations in 2007, the mother-of-one was in such agony that she agreed to undergo further surgery in June 2009, despite being told it could be fatal.

Corton spent more than 10 hours in surgery at Queens Medical Center in Nottingham, England, but died from massive blood loss.

Doctors who first saw her at Lincoln County Hospital and Grantham Hospital, both in central England, were slammed for "serious errors."

"It was a significant foreign object," West Lincolnshire coroner Stuart Fisher said. "It is difficult to image anything more significant."

Corton's husband, Peter, 61, is taking legal action.

"OK she was drunk, but they didn't take her seriously," he said. "She showed them the wound, but they didn't do a proper examination. I think it was probably down to the hospitals trying to save money and doing things as cheaply as possible."


For some reason, the level of incompetence displayed in this incident reminds of another incident of striking incompetence. A "Bafflegab Award" was presented some years ago to a hospital in the USA that issued a 30+ page postmortem report concerning one of their patients who died on the operating table after the anesthesiologist administered anesthesia without oxygen.

For 45 minutes...

As I recall, the report never once mentioned death, except to euphemize it as, "a medical misadventure of a high order."

Best regards,

Rodger Morris NSWC PHD

Of course we can always collect horror stories; such things will happen. In Los Angeles a patient actually died in the waiting room in Martin Luther King hospital, after which the whole shebang was closed down.

The pursuit of the millennium is always doomed.


Subj: History of Programming Languages: The Return of Compile-Time Checking

Given your nostalgia for Modula-2 (www.modula2.org), you may enjoy the new programming language Go.

The language web site is golang.org but you might prefer to start with the history-and-motivation-laden video of the presentation Rob Pike, one of Go's designers, gave in April 2010 at Stanford's Computer Systems Colloquium:


The slides are available at


Page 5 of the PDF comes from the historical survey presentation "50 in 50" by Gabriel and Steele


which you and your hackerly readers may also find interesting and entertaining.

"50 in 50" includes a recorded musical performance (used with permission), by Julia Ecklar, starting at time 27:38 of the video, of the song "Eternal Flame", parody lyrics by Bob Kanefsky, 1996, from the album _Roundworm_, Prometheus Music, 2000 -- a parody of "God Lives on Terra", words and music by Julia Ecklar, 1984, http://www.songworm.com

This led to the following online archive of works of Julia Ecklar (don't know what the archive's permissions status is):


which led in turn to a Place From Which one can buy her music:


Rod Montgomery==monty@starfief.com

Thanks. I am quite disturbed by the trends in programming languages: I do not think the computer revolution should go in the direction of more specialization. One should not have to spend years learning to teach computers how to do things, and I am appalled at how little progress has been made in natural language programming and computer assisted programming. Where is the modern equivalent of Visual Basic? Of COBOL or even Basic for that matter?

The important feature of Pascal was that the compiler caught most errors: getting the program to compile might be diffifult, but once that was done, it generally does what you expect it will. That takes long compile times -- but a lot less debugging time. Given the power of our hardware I would very much like to see trends toward making it easier to write programs and leaving much of the burden of making them work to the computers themselves. Why should we have to spend years learning how to tell the computer to do something?

And having said that I recall someone -- Minsky, I think -- once saying that you never appreciate how smart a moron can be until you try to program a robot.


re: carriers

I'm certainly not a professionnal, but I'm interested in naval history and theory, and I've also spent some time bent over wargame tables.

Carriers are very important and will remain so in the near future because they provide priceless real-time recon capability, as well as short response-time attack assets.

Modern missiles are very powerful, yet they all need reliable, real-time recon to be effective. You can only hit what you can see. The Ocean is a very large place, and even coastal waters are large. To hit anything, you need to know exactly where it is, and it's not that easy. It's very different from land warfare, where you usually know roughly where the enemy is, and blasting the 2kmx2km area where you want to make a breakthrough usually results in, well, a 2kmx2km blasted area through wich you can push lots of armor and mech.

At sea, a 1nmx1nm area is where the enemy fleet was 1-2mn ago, whereas a carrier-launched Hawkeye tells you exactly where it is now, not 2mn ago.

Satellites can't provide that kind of real-time coverage, and it is very hard to provide it with land-based aircraft, manned or not, because of transit times.

And once you know where the enemy is, it's a good idea to hit him as fast as possible, lest he manages to slip away. Missiles don't have infinite range, but an aircraft will carry a missile towards its launch point at something like 500kts, while a ship will carry it at just 30kts - if the sea's good enough.

It is quite likely that carriers will eventually mostly embark drones, but even drones need airfields and a carrier is just that: a mobile airfield you can bring close to where the action is.

Jean-Louis Beaufils, Paris


Carrier Battle Groups Obsolete?


I've read your Strategy of Technology book, however that is about all I know about military strategy.

I thought that the chief naval lesson of Pearl Harbor was that the Age of Battleships was ending. Seventy years further on, isn't the Age of Carriers over? Aren't these military dinosaurs? Given the profusion of countries with cruise missiles, high-tech torpedoes, and quiet submarines, wouldn't it really be better to cut back on the number of carrier battle groups and prepare for the future Chinese-American naval conflict with weapons that are likely to be dominant?

Or am I completely missing the lessons you provide in your book?



Cost benefit analysis is much more difficult now than it was in my time; fortunately we have computers to help in that. There are many factors involved and I haven't time to do the subject justice. It remains one of the most important debates of the future.

It also requires access to data I no longer have.


Ignore that Keynes behind the arras, 


It's time to read Spengler again:


I also noticed that other commentators have finally picked up on what Spengler has been saying for several years: the recent crash was caused by investment managers worldwide looking for a place to get good returns on their investments. Too much money chasing not enough business. Too bad they settled on monkey business . . .


Unrestrained capitalism will inevitably lead to the sale of human flesh in the market place. The competition for the high returns from derivatives drive many financial product workers into a frenzy that fed itself and undermined common sense. It's a bit like the man selling lots in Hell; he was so successful that pretty soon everyone was going there.


Anent Memorial Sloan-Kettering

When comparing Mr. Spinrad's current experience as a patient in Memorial Sloan-Kettering with your experience in California, bear in mind that MSK is in a little burg called "New York City."

Known to those of us who read Mencken as "New York the Damned."

I trained up there as a young, impressionable resident, and it's a helluva place for training. Pathologies of all types, out the wazoo.

But I would no sooner choose to live among New Yorkers than I would like to skinny-dip among barracuda after first coating myself all over with beef base and slaughterhouse offal.

- RM

I have found New York a pleasant place to visit. I have never had either the opportunity of the desire to live there.


Subject: George F. Will - Greece and GM: Too weak to fail

The comment regarding the size of the Greek economy is quite enlightening. If a country so pathetically small can cause so much turmoil to the world economy we are FAR from out of the woods...


When California fails...


Rating agency misunderstanding

Free markets work when one identifies the customer correctly. People assume that the customer for the ratings agencies are the banks being rated. Since this results in a conflict of interest and ratings failure it is assumed that the Govt must fix it with regulation. Yeah.

The actual customers for ratings services are the entities planning to buy the rated securities, not the companies selling them, with the buyer paying for the ratings. If a ratings company rated securities badly, the entities buying them would soon stop paying that ratings company. Problem solved.


I have often thought and said that, but apparently the law has built certain ratings agencies into the bond market thus perpetuating the current system.



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Friday,  May 21, 2010

Subject: Age of Carriers

Jerry, one of your correspondents, Steve, says that the lesson of Pearl Harbor is that the Age of Carriers was over, but he was wrong. What Pearl Harbor signaled was the end of the Age of the Battleship and the beginning of the Age of Carriers.

Joe Zeff

Clearly a mistype. I saw that when I first read the letter and intended to correct it before posting it. Thanks to the dozens who caught that. I'll go fix it.


Arizona & Illegal Immigration

A small datum: I live on the Mexican border in Texas. Pretty much everyone I speak to with a Mexican heritage has no problem with the Arizona law. These are all people with jobs which may skew the data. Another datum is that the local police department's public outreach program (which is staffed entirely by people with a Hispanic surname) has no problem openly implying that the vast bulk of local crime can be directly attributed to illegal immigration.

Name omitted


Woman Loses Home over $362 Water Bill!


I don't even know what to say. I was wondering if I was reading the Onion for a minute [www.theonion.com]. This sounds satirical and cartoonish, but it seems to be a real and not uncommon occurrence.

"One raw day in early February, Vicki Valentine stood by helplessly as real estate investors snatched her West Baltimore home over what began with an unpaid city water bill of $362.

As snow threatened to fall, she watched a work crew hired by the new owners punch out the lock on her front door. A sheriff's deputy was on the scene while Valentine and her teenage son piled whatever they could into a borrowed car.

Running out of time, Valentine scrambled topack up clothing and mementos. The home had been her family's for nearly three decades, and her father had paid off the mortgage in 1984. 'It's hard to say goodbye to this house," she said. "It's like someone forcing you out of something that belongs to you. I don't get it.'

Valentine lost the two-story brick row home after the city sold her debt to investors through a contentious and byzantine legal process called a "tax sale." This little-known type of foreclosure can enrich investors as growing numbers of property owners struggle to pay their bills."


-- BDAB,


A horror story. There was a time when Courts of Equity would handle such matters. Perhaps they still do since it appears to be in a Common Law state.

It is a horror story, and the lady is worthy of charitable consideration, but it is also a local problem. Any national remedy would doubtless become worse than the disease. They always do.

Perhaps someone in the area will find collusion now that the story is out in the open.


Carrier Battle Groups Obsolete? 

Dr Pournelle

Steve asked, "[Are] Carrier Battle Groups Obsolete?" He began by admitting that "[Y]our Strategy of Technology book . . . is about all I know about military strategy." He goes on to say "I thought that the chief naval lesson of Pearl Harbor was that the Age of Carriers was ending." http://www.jerrypournelle.com/mail/2010/Q2/mail623.html#Thursday 

[[Clearly he meant Battleships.  I have fixed that mistake in the original letter.]]

More than 15 years have passed since anyone paid me to think about military matters. They paid some heed then, but I was paid to think about ways to benefit the Air Force, and my superiors were dismayed that I said the Navy (and the Marine Corps) was more vital to American power projection than the Air Force.

I recall in the 1982 Falklands War that you, sir, were interviewed by a reporter (for which magazine I do not recall) after the HMS Sheffield burned out from a hit by an Exocet missile. (I also recall that France advertised the Exocet the following month in _International Defense Review_ as 'combat proven'. I thought that in the poorest of tastes.) The reporter seemed to want you to say that capital ships were obsolete. I surmised that he got your dander up, because you replied that an American carrier battle group would walk over the Argentine forces in the Falklands in an afternoon and sink the Argentine Navy into the bargain ("That's the kind of power we're talking about.")

Besides carriers, the Navy also deploys amphibious assault ships for force projection. But Jean-Louis Beaufils's missive immediately above Steve's letter names the E2 Hawkeye as the eyes of the carrier group that the amphibious assault ships do not have. I have often wondered how the Navy fills that lack for the amphibious assault group. Do they have a helicopter that fills that need?

The Navy lags behind the Air Force -- and even the Army -- in the development of drones. The Navy's X-47B is scheduled for its first sea trial in 2012. Although unmanned, its wingspan exceeds that of the F/A-18E Superhornet. IMHO the X-47B should be named the 'Albatross'. I think that is what the Navy will find it to be.

Would it not be cheaper and more effective to create a drone of the E-2 and to downlink the data it collects to the carrier's CIC? The difficult bit is the recovery of a UAV on a carrier, but if it can be solved for the X-47B, then it can be solved for a remotely piloted E-2.

I don't know for certain, and the Navy has not asked me.

But I tell you this: the need for force projection will remain. I very much doubt that large carriers (Nimitz class) will continue to fill that role much longer. I see in their place smaller vessels using RPVs to do what manned aircraft do now. I see the shipboard CICs becoming larger and compartmentalized (one compartment for CAP, another for ASW, and so on).

Will I be prophetic? We will see. But there will still be carriers for the foreseeable future.

Live long and prosper

h lynn keith

P.S. "I am suspicious of a good that is united with so many evils,and I am not averse to an evil that is compensated by so many benefits." -- Alexis de Tocqueville, _Democracy in America_

The issue depends on vulnerabilities and defense, and data on such are not easily obtained. We may be sure that the Navy is aware of the problem: it is not as if the criticism were new.

I refer those interested to my Megamissions paper.


Prof Lindzen on AGW


MIT Professor Lindzen's presentation on global warming. About 39 slides, very to the point on various current aspects of the issue. Definitely worth a look.


Regards, George




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Saturday, May 22, 2010

I have taken the day off.






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Sunday, May 23, 2010      



----- Roland Dobbins




- Roland Dobbins

And then some.


Subj: Neil Schulman files for copyright infringement!


 >>Author/filmmaker, J. Neil Schulman, today announced his intention to file a lawsuit for copyright infringement of his 1979 novel, Alongside Night, which tells the story of the collapse of the American economy due to massive government overspending and the issuing of unbacked money and credit to pay the interest on the national debt.

He plans to sue for plagiarism both the executive and legislative branches of the US government, the courts, plus the Federal Reserve Bank, the European Union, the International Monetary Fund, and General Motors. Oh, and Greece.<<

Works for me!

Rod Montgomery==monty@starfief.com

Heh. I recommended that book when it first came out. I never thought we'd use it as a blueprint.


aircraft carrier notes

H. Lynn Keith says, with regard to carrier battle groups,

"The Navy lags behind the Air Force -- and even the Army -- in the development of drones. The Navy's X-47B is scheduled for its first sea trial in 2012. Although unmanned, its wingspan exceeds that of the F/A-18E Superhornet. IMHO the X-47B should be named the 'Albatross'. I think that is what the Navy will find it to be."

The X-47B has a wider wingspan, but shorter nose-to-tail length than the F/A-18, and thus has a smaller spot factor, meaning you can get more of them on the deck. In any case, it's not clear what the relevance of the wingspan is to its effectiveness. The X-47B has vastly superior organic endurance to the F/A-18E, and can be refueled in flight, meaning that it can stay aloft for 50-100 hours versus a handful of hours for a manned fighter like the F/A-18E. In addition, the X-47B is stealthy, which the F/A-18E is not.

The real albatross in naval aviation is the F-35. The F-35 is killing the aviation budget of the Navy just as it is killing the Air Force budget. The F-35 is an inferior compromise; much too good to fight lame adversaries, not nearly good enough to fight high-end adversaries.

"Would it not be cheaper and more effective to create a drone of the E-2 and to downlink the data it collects to the carrier's CIC? The difficult bit is the recovery of a UAV on a carrier, but if it can be solved for the X-47B, then it can be solved for a remotely piloted E-2."

Cheaper and more effective to do what? Let us first note that the E-2D is not cheap! At $204 million apiece, it is more expensive than the $100 million projected unit cost of the X-47B. Secondly, the purpose of the X-47B is surveillance and strike in denied airspace. As the E-2D is not stealthy and does not carry weapons, it does not provide this capability. Moreover, the E-2D has an endurance of 6-8 hours compared to 50-100 hours for the X-47B, so you'd need a lot of E-2s to provide the same capability as the X-47B. Presumably in-flight refueling could extend the endurance of an unmanned E-2D, but aerodynamically the E-2 is less efficient than the X-47B and thus will require a greater refueling effort to keep it aloft for the same period of time. Lastly, the Navy must think that having men in the back of the E-2D does something of value, or they wouldn't be there, they'd be on the ship and the information would be beamed back to them. It would do no good to "unman" the E-2D cockpit if you still needed to put men in the back. If you designed an unmanned E-2 from scratch, it would probably look a lot like the X-47B (a flying wing shape), though with more fuel instead of weapons capability.

In truth the E-2D and X-47B are complementary, not competitive. The X-47B armed with air-to-air missiles could remain on station to fight the outer air battle for much longer than manned fighters, and also would have on-board sensors to extend the eyes of the E-2D. The stealth of the X-47B would allow the E-2D to push surveillance coverage forward into airspace denied to the E-2D, providing extra warning time of atttack from land-based missile launch areas.

We should also note that the Navy's BAMS - a maritime version of the Global Hawk - provides a lot of the surveillance capabilities the E-2D provides, though it is land-based not carrier-based.

"I very much doubt that large carriers (Nimitz class) will continue to fill that role much longer. I see in their place smaller vessels using RPVs to do what manned aircraft do now. I see the shipboard CICs becoming larger and compartmentalized (one compartment for CAP, another for ASW, and so on)."

The large versus small carrier debate has been ongoing since the 1950s, and every time the Navy studies the issue, large carriers emerge as more cost-effective. Small carriers can project only a small fraction of the weight of ordnance that a large carrier's air wing can deliver; one would need many small carriers to do the job of one large carrier. Large carriers are also less vulnerable to many types of attack. Chapter 15 of Norman Friedman's Naval Institute book on aircraft carriers (written in 1983!) is instructive in this regard.


There are few prizes for second place in air to air, ship to ship, or air to ship combat.


German V-10

Hi Jerry,

Was telling my 84 year-old WWII vet Dad (nose gunner B-24) about the steel rod throwing space based weapons platform that you describe in your megamissions lecture transcript and to my amazement he said he learned of something similar to that during ROTC school in 1948 or 49. He said that was what the Germans had in mind for their V-10. I'd of course heard of the V-1 buzz bomb and the V-2 rocket but never had any idea the series went all the way to 10.

Anyway, that was my history lesson for the day. Thought you might find it of interest.

Ran across the megamissions link while reading your May 17 post about the China-Pacific situation. I wish more people realized how grave that situation is. Thanks for writing about it.

Best Regards, Blair

There was an article in Collier's Magazine back in the 50's about V10 but it was a bit vague. Unless you subscribe to some of the Coast to Coast theories about the Nazi experimental programs, it is hard to see where the delta-vee would come from from ICBM's. It was easy enough to describe them, but building them was a bit tougher, as we found out. The first US intercontinental missile was a cruise missile, and tests off one Southern California naval station led to the waters out there being called "Snark infested."


Spactacular pic of space atation AND shuttle in front of Sun!




Sino-Soviet War

On Monday you wrote,

"What actually happened is that the Soviets wanted the US to acquiesce in a Soviet nuclear strike on the Chinese nuclear facilities, taking out their centrifuges and other facilities for developing fissionables. We declined to do that, and I am sure we advised them not to do it, but I don't think we actually extended our nuclear umbrella over China."

In fact, we did. The Guam Doctrine <http://www.presidency.ucsb.
edu/ws/index.php?pid=2140>  , enunciated in July 1969, did so obliquely:

"I believe that the time has come when the United States, in our relations with all of our Asian friends, be quite emphatic on two points: One, that we will keep our treaty commitments, our treaty commitments, for example, with Thailand under SEATO; but, two, that as far as the problems of internal security are concerned, as far as the problems of military defense, except for the threat of a major power involving nuclear weapons, that the United States is going to encourage and has a right to expect that this problem will be increasingly handled by, and the responsibility for it taken by, the Asian nations themselves."

The only major power capable of making a nuclear threat in Asia was the Soviet Union, and the only nation the Soviet Union was threatening in Asia in 1969 was China. Thus, this statement makes no sense except as an indication the US would provide a nuclear shield to China. Nixon made a similar statement <http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/
ws/index.php?pid=2303&st=nixon+doctrine&st1=>  in November 1969:

"I laid down in Guam three principles as guidelines for future American policy toward Asia: --First, the United States will keep all of its treaty commitments. --Second, we shall provide a shield if a nuclear power threatens the freedom of a nation allied with us or of a nation whose survival we consider vital to our security. --Third, in cases involving other types of aggression, we shall furnish military and economic assistance when requested in accordance with our treaty commitments. But we shall look to the nation directly threatened to assume the primary responsibility of providing the manpower for its defense. After I announced this policy, I found that the leaders of the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, South Korea, and other nations which might be threatened by Communist aggression, welcomed this new direction in American foreign policy."

Again, this could only refer to the US providing a shield to China against the Soviet threat. In November 1969, the Soviet Union was the only nuclear power threatening the freedom of a nation in Asia (China) whose survival we considered vital to our security.

More importantly, and less well known, is that as the Soviet threat to China reached its zenith in September/October 1969, the US placed its nuclear forces on high alert <http://books.google.com/books?id=
=0CDAQ6AEwBg#v=onepage&q=siop&f=false>  , including B-52 orbits over the Arctic designed to be visible to the Soviets. Some US scholars reach the baffling conclusion that this alert was intended to convey the impression the US might use nuclear weapons in Vietnam; in my view, the alert only makes sense as a successful effort to deter a Soviet strike on China. Also worthy of note in this context was Nixon's unilateral troop reductions in Vietnam in the summer and autumn of 1969, which signaled Nixon's desire for rapprochement with China by reducing the apparent threat to China in the south at the same time that the Soviet threat was increasing in the north.

The best analysis of this issue is chapter one of Richard Thornton's "The Nixon Kissinger Years" <http://www.amazon.com/Nixon-Kissinger
books&qid=1274530010&sr=8-1>  .

It was not the understanding at the time that we had extended a guarantee to China; but it was all done very delicately. China could put Russia out of the Empire business -- the Russian eastern territories were after all supported by a single track railway -- but China was also fearful of Russia (although Mao himself was not. Or said he was not.)

It was a time of great delicacy in diplomacy. And Kissinger was very much afraid the Russians would go to the Rhine. That was the event we wanted most of all to prevent.


Re: A Public Pensions Abuse Example


When you are right you are right in the megatons. A story today from Yonkers, New York about pension abuse.

business/economy/21pension.html  (linked in from Drudge)

Bold emphasis added by me:

"One of the youngest, Hugo Tassone, retired at 44 with a base pay of about $74,000 a year. His pension is now $101,333 a year.

It’s what the system promised, said Mr. Tassone, now 47, adding that he did nothing wrong by adding lots of overtime to his base pay shortly before retiring."

When I began reading the article, I thought "Oh, he retired 30 years ago and his pension is adjusted for inflation." Au contraire! Only 3 years after retiring his pension is about 37% greater than his base bay at retirement. Holy smokes!


"The city has even arranged for its police to put in overtime as flagmen on Consolidated Edison construction sites. Though a company is paying the bill, the city is actually reporting the work as city overtime to the New York State pension fund, padding future payouts — an arrangement at odds with the spirit of public employment, if not the law."

It's OK - somebody else pays for it, right?

Regards, George





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