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Mail 661 February 7 - 13, 2011







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Monday  February 7, 2011

UK Health Care

Dr Pournelle,

Recently on View you stated "The goal of Obama and Pelosi is a national health care system like Britain or Canada, which means eventually that it will have to outlaw private practice, competitors like Kaiser, and everything else.".

While I gather the Canadian system does only allow public practice, the UK system's allowed private practice ever since its formation in the late 1940s. It's quite common to see private healthcare policies advertised in broadcast and print media here, and employers will often offer associated health plans to attract staff (with the obvious implication that at least some aspects of the private cover _are_ superior to the free public service).

Whatever the goals of politicians in the States, the UK experience suggests that introducing a national health care system needn't automatically lead to the outlawing of private practice.


Ian Kirk

Oxford, England

My error. I should pay closer attention.

I think that a national health care system can be made to work, but allocation of resources will be problematic; I note that Canada uses the US as an overflow. How well national health care works can be discussed. I am told that the French system seems to work well. Others say there are hidden disadvantages.

Were we to be able to clone the Kaiser Permanente System many times without destroying it I would find that a very reasonable thing to do; but I am pessimistic about doing that without ruining what we have.

What I do not believe is that you can required insurance companies to insure people with pre-existing conditions for the same price as they insure healthy people and expect them to stay in business. If we wish to debate socialized medicine we ought to debate socialized medicine, and include the options of free medical and nursing schools as part of the package; but calling it insurance is madness.



"If this is the way publishers are going to try to hold onto the business, then I think they are doomed."


--- Roland Dobbins

Newspaper publishers hate their readers, whom they see as an inconvenience. The make the print smaller, hide the Sunday comics inside advertising wrappers, wrap the front page to make it unreadable, and generally treat the reader with utter contempt. Book publishers seem to be taking much the same attitude. And Kindle now outsells paperbacks on Amazon.


Letter from England

UK Government finally backs away from multiculturalism: <http://tinyurl.com/6ccvv84> <http://tinyurl.com/4uqjkra> <http://tinyurl.com/6dbk3yz>

Chinese spying in the UK <http://tinyurl.com/5r963j3>

Scrapping of child safety vetting scheme <http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-12372097>

Wide opposition to the NHS reforms: <http://tinyurl.com/5rw3s54> <http://tinyurl.com/67yn9ag>

More wikileaks detailing growing differences between the UK and America <http://tinyurl.com/5rzs3cb>

UK universities finally began sharing their entry requirements this week with the publication of a guide by the Russell Group.

BBC coverage of the guidance: <http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-12365050>

Other coverage: <http://tinyurl.com/6z3aovc>

Background: Students in the UK are allowed to leave education at age 16. Those planning on entering university go through a two-year programme leading to A-level exams in (usually) two or three subjects. It had been suspected that not all A-levels were equal for university entrance, at least for the more selective universities, and this is now confirmed. Students wanting to enter the most competitive universities need at least two of the following: mathematics, English, geography, history, biology, chemistry, physics, or a foreign language (live or dead). Math and science are the most important, even for non-math/non-science programmes.

The guide mentions that outside the UK, most students are required to take math, science, their native language, and a foreign language up to age 17, and that UK students should have comparable skills.

‘Soft’ A-level subjects that don’t lead to a university degree include media studies, art and design, photography, business studies, law, psychology, archaeology, astronomy, classics, computer science, divinity, economics, electronics, political science, oceanography (marine science), geology, human biology, religious studies, sociology, statistics, critical thinking, and general studies. Here’s an incomplete list of current A-levels. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Advanced_Level_subjects>


Harry Erwin, PhD, Senior Lecturer of Computing, University of Sunderland. Computational neuroethologist:



Rosenberg on Beck 




A New Caliphate?




Hi Jerry!

Mail 660 : Friday : Caliphate

Jim Crawford is the perfect example why the US today is living in a perfect storm of blowback.

A storm that just blows over the dictators and potentates that By the US' "Bringer of Democracy" Grace governed against the best interest of the indigenious population.

Nothing understood, nothing learned.

G! uwe


The question is who is the best judge of other people's interests? JEP


He. people ( as in the collective of persons in a nation ) hate it to be forced to work towards their own detriment.

Hiding selfservice behind a facade of altruistic motive is a truth accessible to the acting person.

So, you don't have to judge other peoples interests but your own motives.

IMHO intervention is an elastic application of force. ( I think there even is some factor of amplification ;-)

Applied force is resilient and will "come back".

Whereever you look: Treaty of Versaille, The Schah, oldtime Apartheid SA and newly invented Apartheid Israel

applied negative Karma comes back ... as negative Karma.

G! uwe

PS: I only recently realised that Carly Simons "Do it them before they do it to you" is a core property of american thinking. However tenuous or nonexistant the "before" is the "do it to them" is a certainty.

You have a far different view of the US than I do. I see incompetent empire, mostly with good intentions from intellectuals who believe their theories are social laws.

I hold with Adams: each man is the best judge of his own interest. Countries do have national interests, but those are fairly narrow. As to US policy, I prefer to be the best United States we can be, the City on a Hill as a shining example, and leave others to their own devices so long as that is possible. Sometimes that is not possible, We need Middle East oil, although had we invested the blood and treasure poured into the desert sands into developing energy independence we would not. But do not ascribe to malice that which is easily explained by incompetence and egregiously incorrect premises.

As to the Shah, I think you do not know the entire story; but few do, and it is probably not worth the time that a rational discussion would  require. We are where we are, and while understanding how we got here is important, more important is what shall we do now.

Regarding Egypt, we would do best to shut up and watch.

We are the friends of liberty everywhere but we are the guardians only of our own. Our interventions in the two World Wars were partly exceptions to that principle, and partly (in the case of II) forced on us. Our intervention in I had ambiguous effectgs for both sides.


Harvard Study


I enjoyed this article that Mike Flynn posted: http://news.yahoo.com/s/


A new Harvard study (PDF) says American students need to begin to decide in middle school whether they want to prepare for four-year college and then a career. The alternative approach, the study says, is to begin vocational training for a job earlier.


This is what they do in Asia. Most Asian countries have tests at each level of the school system. You get tracked into college or vocational training based on your scores and performance. I remember soldiers used to comment about how horrible it was to have your life decided for you at such a young age. Well, its much more horrible to have your growth stunted so certain sections of society can say they have a college education too.

I know, I'm preaching to the Pope and the Cardinals.


BDAB, Joshua Jordan, KSC Percussa Resurgo

I always enjoy Mike Flynn's thoughts. Thomists are generally very rational.



Found on Google Books:

Bolometric data about the sun in chapter 1 of this tome. 0.15% variation over solar cycle (based on two cycles of observation in the satellite observation period). (see data in earlier paper at this page).

Notionally, 0.15% variation should result in a 0.5 degree variation in global temperatures between solar min and solar max. Comparing to the current figure at drroyspencer.com, the Cycle 23 warming is clearly visible. Cycle 22 was perturbed by the Mt. Pinatubo cooling. The El Nino spikes are clearly more significant though of shorter duration. The chart on the page that should load when you click on the link clearly predicts a weak solar maximum for this and the next couple of periods. Current posts at wattsupwiththat.com are also showing that we seem to be headed to a direct repeat of the Dalton Minimum.

For some reason, I am having a hard time finding current data on the subject. Always have.



Note that the Google has an extensive preview but not a complete compilation. The book is the 1997 Fermi School, volume 133, and is available on Amazon for $177.

Incidentally, I put a trend line through the Jan 2010-Jan 2011 data at drroyspencer.com. A quadratic fit yields 1.5 degrees C in cooling this year. That's probably not realistic, but... all of those societal memes that revolve around the early days of the Republic in the Dalton Meme ("dashing through the snow...") are probably about to have a revisit.


I do not think that we have accurate enough data over a long enough period of time to establish trends closer than a few degrees accuracy. There were dairy farms in Greenland, vines in Scotland and Nove Scotia, and longer growing seasons in Europe and Chine in Viking times. It began to get cold about 1300 and there was ice on the Hudson, Thames, and Zuyder Zee in the early 19th Century. Closer than that I am not sure we can establish. Over time we ought to be able to do better.


Washington, DC design for defense

"If government have to fall because 100,000 people turn out to barricade the capital, we are in the kind of world envisioned by the Framers, who built Washington DC with the Capitol in the center, and broad open streets and malls radiating from it -- designed so that one regiment of Federal soldiers could defend it with a battery of cannon. The crowds would have been smaller in those times, of course, but rule by a capital city mob was one of the options rejected by those who designed DC. The Convention was held two years before the French Revolution, but the evolution of the Federal government came simultaneously with the turmoil that followed 1789."

I recall that there had been a letter to the editor in the Washington Post once that mentioned that certain building designs within the city were also subject to Army approval -- bay windows and such things that would project outward from the building and thus affect fields of fire. Supposedly this dated back at least to the Civil War. I've never been able to confirm this, but it certainly ties in with the general concept of a city designed for defensibility.



Mr. Pournelle,

I love your writings on your website, but I was confused about the following:

“I note that the crowd is now described as "tens of thousands." If government have to fall because 100,000 people turn out to barricade the capital, we are in the kind of world envisioned by the Framers, who built Washington DC with the Capitol in the center, and broad open streets and malls radiating from it -- designed so that one regiment of Federal soldiers could defend it with a battery of cannon. The crowds would have been smaller in those times, of course, but rule by a capital city mob was one of the options rejected by those who designed DC. The Convention was held two years before the French Revolution, but the evolution of the Federal government came simultaneously with the turmoil that followed 1789.”


Can you please tell me where you found this information? I’ve read a lot of history and have never heard that the design of the capital was done for defensive purposes. THANKS!


I believe I first learned that in eighth grade. Certainly George Mosse discussed it in his Western Civilization classes at the University of Iowa. I believe it was at one time common knowledge. Napoleon III was impressed by Washington's design (Paris before his rebuilding was a city of easy barricades).


Chavez's Jessica Mitford.


---- Roland Dobbins


Incompetent Empire III Redux


This not only takes the cake, it takes the table the cake is on and the chairs surrounding the table.

<snip> The US secretly agreed to give the Russians sensitive information on Britain’s nuclear deterrent to persuade them to sign a key treaty, The Daily Telegraph can disclose.



We can only hope the English are in on this and it's all good. Else, we just betrayed the most powerful and most important ally that we have or have ever had. Japan might hold that honor if not for the late unpleasantness. We have such history with England, and I am sure we will with Japan. But--if the UK is not in on this little gimmick--then this was the dumbest piece of foreign policy I've ever read about in my life and I can only hope that we can salvage the debacle.

I know that I should immediately be able to assume the UK is in on this. But, this administration seems to have gone rouge a long time ago and I am not so sure. What are your thoughts?


BDAB, Joshua Jordan, KSC Percussa Resurgo

I would hope there is more to this story than we know. I am making inquiries.


Mini Todos Santos 

Hi Jerry,

Just finished re-reading Oath of Fealty on my Kindle. Next time you are in Tokyo you should check out Tokyo Midtown ( http://www.tokyo-midtown.com/en/ ). It's a mini Todos Santos. It has apartments, offices, shops, restaurants, doctors, dentists, a hotel, supermarket and even a museum all integrated together. My wife and I were joking about getting an apartment there but we were worried that we would never leave the building during the winter. We were there for lunch on a weekend a while back and we saw kids from the condos riding their bicycles around inside near the food courts. Roppongi Hills nearby is a similar complex but Tokyo Midtown really brings everything together under one roof.

Neither are close to being self-sufficient, of course, and are really just upper class enclaves but still kind of fun.

Cheers, Dave Smith Tokyo

Niven and I toured several of the large malls built in the 1970's and other such places as part of the research for writing that novel. I also knew Paulo Soleri (we were both called to testify to a state planning committee and became friends) and read his books. I am very fond of Oath of Fealty.


Global weirding



From that bastion of conservatism, the Boston Herald:


take-away: <snip>

Global warming — is there anything it can’t do?

Well, the one thing it apparently doesn’t do is help predict the weather. The UK’s Met Office stopped giving seasonal forecasts last year after mis-predicting warmer winters three years in a row. Meteorologists without a warmist agenda like Piers Corbyn and AccuWeather’s Joe Bastardi, on the other hand, continue to pay the bills by making predictions directly contrary to the “weirdos.” Oddly, they don’t have degrees in politics.

For a theory to be scientific, it must be fallible — capable of being proven false. If every weather condition can be used to “prove” global warming simply by being declared “weird,” then it’s not science. It’s a joke.

Which is exactly what the environmental movement has become.



We're doomed, and it's getting worse

First they came for the cows <http://washingtonexaminer.com/blogs/beltway-
confidential/2011/02/start-crying-epa-now-regulating-spilled-milk>  , then everyone <http://cnsnews.com/news/
article/epa-administrator-claims-regulating-drin-0>  else.

Dan Steele Ice Pilot


Wind Generated Power and Reliability

Dr. Pournelle --

You may have heard that areas of Texas are experiencing rolling blackouts during the current cold weather. Officially, the outages aren't supposed to last more than fifteen minutes at a time but I have been told that they have ranged from one to twelve hours in some cases. In part this is due to high demand. However, supply has been apparently further hampered by a lack of wind to push the turbines that the system in Texas relies upon so heavily, Texas having the most turbines of any state.

On the flip side, a large turbine in Wyoming was blown down recently by 110 mph gusts.

Sometimes you can't win for losing.





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Tuesday,  February 8, 2011

Polar Shift


This is probably not news to most of us; we probably heard about the polar shift years ago. But, there is a renewed buzz about it. This article links to some other places like the economist. Oh, I guess that means the Gestapo will shut them down soon too with all their domain seizures. But, that is beside the point:


<snip> There is, however, a growing body of evidence that the Earth's magnetic field is about to disappear, at least for a while. The geological record shows that it flips from time to time, with the south pole becoming the north, and vice versa. On average, such reversals take place every 500,000 years, but there is no discernible pattern. Flips have happened as close together as 50,000 years, though the last one was 780,000 years ago. But, as discussed at the Greenland Space Science Symposium, held in Kangerlussuaq this week, the signs are that another flip is coming soon.

One of those signs is that the strength of the field has been falling by 5% a century recently. A similar (though more rapid) diminution accompanies the reversing of the sun's magnetic field, which happens every 11 years or so. Other evidence comes from old navigation records. Researchers such as Nils Olsen, of the Danish National Space Centre, have used such records to chart the growth of patches of abnormal magnetism. They are able to do so because these records use both compass bearings and astronomical observations to locate a vessel. The changing relationship between the two shows that patches of abnormal magnetism have been growing off south-east Africa and in the South Atlantic. </snip>


And the hits just keep on coming......



Joshua Jordan, KSC Percussa Resurgo


Check out:


Magnetic Polar Shifts Causing Massive Global Superstorms Terrence Aym Salem-News.com

Superstorms can also cause certain societies, cultures or whole countries to collapse. Others may go to war with each other. Superstorm Courtesy: Weather Snob

(CHICAGO) - NASA has been warning about it.scientific papers have been written about it.geologists have seen its traces in rock strata and ice core samples.

Now "it" is here: an unstoppable magnetic pole shift that has sped up and is causing life-threatening havoc with the world's weather.

Forget about global warming.man-made or natural.what drives planetary weather patterns is the climate and what drives the climate is the sun's magnetosphere and its electromagnetic interaction with a planet's own magnetic field.

When the field shifts, when it fluctuates, when it goes into flux and begins to become unstable anything can happen. And what normally happens is that all hell breaks loose.

Magnetic polar shifts have occurred many times in Earth's history. It's happening again now to every planet in the solar system including Earth.

The magnetic field drives weather to a significant degree and when that field starts migrating superstorms start erupting.

The superstorms have arrived


And, does Al Gore know?


There are many reports of alarm and suggestions that crazy weather is coupled with the magnetic polar shifts. The shift is almost certainly taking place. How it can affect weather is another matter. I know of no such mechanism. I can imagine mechanisms for coupling the internal magnetic field to climate, but it is pure speculation. I do not know the energy levels involved: I would assume that a planetary magnetic field would have some interactions with charged particles in the solar wind, and that might have an effect on the internal temperature of the Earth, and that might have an effect on volcanism, both undersea and air venting. Note I said speculations: I don't know the energy levels involved. I invite those who are more familiar with the subject to inform us.

We do know that the field has shifted in the past, but always long past, long enough ago that there are neither records nor legends nor even myths so far as i know. Our remote ancestors survived (assuming that the hominoids of 300,000 years ago were our ancestors). We don't know of any effects on civilizations. I would presume that birds and other animals who rely on magnetic cues for migration would be affected. (As to the presumption of ancestry, there are both religious and "ancient astronaut" theories that contest it; I am not commenting on those, merely acknowledging them.)

The superstorms article makes a number of assertions for which I have seen no evidence.



for a more informed source on this.


Star Spangled Banner

Christina Aguilara’s problem was not a lack of skill. It was a lack of practice. You have to sing the song in front of crowds to have it down. Yes it is hard, but compared to many other, much harder vocal pieces, it can be easily mastered. Certainly most Americans have heard it enough to at least have the basics firmly committed to memory. Perhaps if she tried it more than once a blue moon, it is a skill she could master. Christina, next time give it a go at a few baseball and basketball games perhaps a couple NASCAR races to prepare for the biggest sport event in America. Any of them would welcome your celebrity if you can lower yourself enough to share your voice with the fans. Heck, most of the time you get free tickets in a luxury box as a reward… so it’s not like you have to hang with Bubba after you sing to him.



Dear Dr. Pournelle,

If I were tasked to sing the national anthem in front of a venue as large as the Superbowl (and they don't get much larger than that), I'd make sure I not only knew the words, but knew them forwards, backwards and in Latin before I would even consider taking the job. And you can't attribute this to nervousness, Ms. Aguilara is, at least in theory, a Professional Singer. Singing in front of large crowds is how she pays her rent (more or less).

I do think the whole thing would be considerably more fun if a contest were made of it - pick a random ticket stub, have the bearer go down to the field and promise them a million dollars if they can sing (or even recite) the words correctly. Not only amusing, but it would probably have considerably more people interested in the correct lyrics.

-- Monte Ferguson


Assange's plan in action

Dear Dr. Pournelle:

You write:

<< WikiLeaks continue to show the consequences of empire by bureaucracy. They also have a consequence: it is always difficult to get ones foreign service to be candid with their bosses, and the senior State department career officials to be candid with their political masters. Now that everyone can see there is a real danger that anything they write or say can be part of a Washington Post -- or Fox News -- article for all the world to see, that becomes even more difficult. >>

That is exactly Julian Assange's stated plan. HIs stated theory is that the threat of exposure will force conspiratorial bureaucracies to restrict internal communication, hence become stupider, hence swifter to fall.

How curious that improvements in communications technology can result in decline in internal communications. I think this perverse result is due to the "internality" of those communications. Secrecy implies shame.

 Nathaniel Hellerstein

In diplomacy secrecy is essential; it is very difficult to be persuasive with someone whom you have just told your superiors is a crook and a liar, yet you may be required to do that. Open Covenants Openly Arrived At does not always lead to peace.

Your assertion is the same as saying that good governments do not employ spies and intelligence agencies. Such as the time long ago when a Secretary of State Stimson closed the Black Chamber saying "Gentlemen do not read each others' mail." Perhaps so, but we were fortunate to have Magic and Bletchley Park during WW II.



For a PDF copy of A Step Farther Out:



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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

I had other work to do today.






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CURRENT VIEW    Wednesday


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Thursday, February 10, 2011

I had medical appointments and other matters.







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Friday,  February 11, 2011

Go down Egypt

Dear Jerry:

The army in Egypt uses the draft to fill its ranks. The most influential Colonels have attended U.S. military graduate schools where they have learned our doctrine of military submission to a constitution and civilian control. The Iraqi army was trained and influenced by the old Soviet army. Not to say that Bremer was right; it would have saved a lot of grief all around had he honored the deal made by our military not to disband that army and to use it as a constabulary to protect the people. The army in Egypt stood up for the people and stage-managed the transition brilliantly. I suspect they will follow through with a solution much like the Turks.

It is food for thought that the all-volunteer military we have now is overstretched and represents only about one percent of the population. We no longer have a generation of those who know something about the military because they HAD TO serve. I personally found draftees to be a real pain when I was in, but I am not sure we should not have some form of draft just to make sure everyone understands what armies are for.


Francis Hamit

Machiavelli long ago pointed out that paid armies are not the right stuff for building a Republic, and that wealthy republics which depend on paid armies seldom last. The United States has evolved a system with the Service Academies that sidestepped that. The Legions are loyal in the US. Even so, universal manhood conscription has the advantage of making the social classes and races associate for a period of their lives, and if done right the experience is beneficial for all. It can be argued -- I have argued although I seldom do now -- that Republics without conscription cannot survive over the long haul.

Now that we segregate by IQ it is even more important that all classes associate some of the time during their learning years.


Network anywhere? No, really!

People have been wondering what we at Location Connect (A division of Tech/Knowledge) have been working on, along with our partners ePlanet Media (EPM). After all, we claim we can provide networking service anywhere, anytime, including on the side of a mountain in the middle of nowhere.

We finally get to prove it! Check out:




EPM and Location Connect are providing the network backhaul, satellite bandwidth, on-site networking, technology support and sundry other services via Streaming Tank.

Get your shouts of love in today, and see them YELLED AT THE TOP OF A MOUNTAIN on Valentine's Day! You'll also get a YouTube link in your email to forward your DECLARATIONS OF LOVE to your beloved.

And keep our team in mind the next time you have an impossible connectivity problem to solve.

--Alex Pournelle

I do not usually run advertising mail, but some firms have connections. Besides, I find this interesting news. Next time in Cairo?


Now the Swiss...

Dr. P,

It looks like Switzerland is debating what it means to be Swiss, at least in terms of putting their trust in their fellow citizens:

Arms-friendly Swiss to vote on gun curbs

Long traditions in the cross hairs

By Sumi Somaskanda - The Washington Times

The Swiss are set to vote Sunday on a referendum that would limit the right to bear arms and upend centuries of tradition of civilians keeping military weapons at home in Europe's most gun-friendly nation.

If approved, the referendum would force military reservists to store their government-issued weapons in secure public arsenals. It also would create a national registry for all guns and ban private ownership of weapons defined as highly dangerous, such as pump-action and fully automatic weapons.

The issue clearly has touched a nerve and set off an emotionally charged debate over what it means to be Swiss.

"Security and neutrality are rooted deeply in our feeling of identity," said Lukas Golder, a senior project leader at the gfs.bern research institute, which conducts polls before and after elections in Switzerland. "Security and our peaceful history — these elements probably make Switzerland a bit unique. So this [referendum] touches on the very issue of Swiss identity."

One in every three households in Switzerland has a gun, making it the country with the third highest number of firearms per capita, behind the U.S. and Yemen, according to Small Arms Survey, an independent research project based in Geneva.

Opposition is fierce in a nation that has long cherished and protected fairly liberal weapons laws, in stark contrast to its European neighbors…


Regards, William Clardy

"There is always an easy solution to every human problem - neat, plausible, and wrong." -- H.L. Mencken

This is the first I have heard of this, but it is a matter of concern. I would hope that the Swiss will reject it. Decisively. The Second Amendment makes reference to the Militia because it was intended that the people have real arms capable of resisting a tyrannical government.


DC-X program

Dr. Pournelle-

Just browsing your site and came across the "How to Get to Space" article. I'm sure you found this already, but this video is on youtube.


All I can say is WOW. I was stationed at White Sands from 89-91, and had never even heard of this. This IS exactly what people in the sci-fi world think of when they say "space ship". I wonder if Virgin or any private company has even looked at this and wondered if it would fit their needs?

My last job was with the 920th Rescue Wing at Patrick AFB. Our PaveHawk's (similar to Blackhawk but with a refueling boom on the front) were meant to rescue downed pilots, but NASA found them useful in clearing the "box" during launches. It's been a great number of years watching the shuttles go up, but I always knew that the shuttle was the "wrong" vehicle for what we really needed to be doing - exploring space.

My wife still works for NASA, and was the Executive Assistant to two directors there. I interviewed many astronauts for two books I wrote, so our emotional ties to seeing a successful space program is obvious I guess. (Heck we live on the Space Coast they call it....for now!)

The last launch I watched was from a VIP area at NASA, that gave a tremendous view. Each one makes my heart leap, and the people next to me kind of jump when I throw my fist in the air and start yelling, "GO! HOT DOG! GO!!!!!" (Last line of the Right Stuff movie as Guss Grissom watches Gordon Cooper fly off into space.)

For the money to be there, people need to be WOWED. They need to be blown away by the vehicle, and by its destinations. I hope someone is listening...at least after this administration leaves. (You can redact this next part if you like). But I was just at a candidate for Senate's house for a intimate gathering, and bring NASA "back" is a question he gets constantly I'm sure. We do need to bring it back, but in the right way, and with the right mission and right leadership to do it. I can impart to you some inside stories about some Obama visits...ahhh...for another time.

Thanks for all the insights you give on your website. Now, if I can just finish editing I hope to get on with my next work.

Warmest Regards, Wade

The original X project proposed was SSX. The SSX Concept paper is fairly technical, but it can be read without following the math, and is summarized in How to Get To Space. Reusable space ships are the key to commercial access to space. X  Projects are a legitimate way for government to stimulate technology development. How to Get to Space remains a valid paper, even though, alas, it was written some time ago.


Energy Game Changer Redux


Well, if the President and Mister Chu don't go after this, we could have some good news on energy policy.


United States, helping reverse a two-decade decline in domestic production of crude.

Companies are investing billions of dollars to get at oil deposits scattered across North Dakota, Colorado, Texas and California. By 2015, oil executives and analysts say, the new fields could yield as much as 2 million barrels of oil a day — more than the entire Gulf of Mexico produces now.

This new drilling is expected to raise U.S. production by at least 20 percent over the next five years. And within 10 years, it could help reduce oil imports by more than half, advancing a goal that has long eluded policymakers.





BDAB, Joshua Jordan, KSC Percussa Resurgo


Remember those insurance pools for the uninsurable?

Dr. P,

I have to say that I am fundamentally impressed by the number of Americans who are benefiting from this much-ballyhooed health-insurance reform:

More Americans have been signing up for special health plans designed for people with medical problems that caused them to be spurned by the insurance industry, according to new government figures. But enrollment continues to lag significantly behind original predictions.

The number of people who have bought the plans, known as high-risk pools, has increased from slightly fewer than 8,000 nationwide as of early November to nearly 12,500 as of the beginning of this month, according to figures released Thursday by federal health officials.

Several months ago, the special insurance pools became one of the earliest facets of the new health-care law to take effect. They are intended as a temporary coping mechanism for people with medical conditions that traditional insurance companies do not want to cover. The program is temporary, because, starting in 2014, the law will forbid insurers to reject customers based on whether they are healthy or sick.

Last spring, the Medicaid program's chief actuary forecast that 375,000 Americans would have joined new high-risk pools by the end of 2010…


On the other hand, at least subsidizing it should cost proportionately less – although “should” can be one of the least reliable words in the English language…

Regards, William Clardy

“The difference between theory and practice is that, in theory, there is no difference...” — Tom Vogl

Not to mention that it is not insurance but a subsidy. One can defend the notion of a national health service, but it is important to understand, as Bevin said, 'There ain't no fund."




- Roland Dobbins


"We were acting irresponsibly, playing a risky game with our sources’ trust and our supporters’ donations.”


-- Roland Dobbins



Stock Market Merger


It has begun....yet another bank power grab...

<snip> Germany's Deutsche Boerse is in advanced talks to buy NYSE Euronext, and the London Stock Exchange has agreed to buy Canadian stock market operator TMX, as exchanges globally look for ways to boost their markets and cut costs. </snip> http://www.cnbc.com/id/41491498 

<snip> The New York Stock Exchange, a symbol of American capitalism for more than two centuries, may soon have new owners — in Europe.

The exchange, facing pressure from electronic upstarts that have taken business away from it, said on Wednesday that it was in advanced talks on a merger with the operator of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. A deal would create the world’s largest financial market, with a presence in 14 European countries as well as the United States.

</snip> http://dealbook.nytimes.com/






BDAB, Joshua Jordan, KSC Percussa Resurgo

Can we hate Germany rather than Wall Street now?


Obamacare Cuts Jobs


<snip> Testifying today before the House Budget Committee, Congressional Budget Office (CBO) Director Doug Elmendorf confirmed that Obamacare is expected to reduce the number of jobs in the labor market by an estimated 800,000. </snip>


If he wants to cut jobs, why not start with the good folks at DHS and scrap Obamacare?


BDAB, Joshua Jordan, KSC Percussa Resurgo

We do not have the money; and if we kill jobs we will have less. That may be efficiency. We will see.



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This week:


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Saturday, February 12, 2011

CBO assessment of ACA

Hi Jerry,

The "loss of 800,000" jobs seems to be an incorrect take on the testimony of CBO Director Elmendorf:

"What Elmendorf and the CBO found is that the Affordable Care Act may reduce the labor supply, not the number of actual jobs."

This may substantiate that interpretation:

In a fact-check piece, the Washington Post's Glenn Kessler said <http://voices.washingtonpost.com/
playing_games_with_cbo_testimo.html>  , "This is the kind of political gamesmanship that gives politics a bad name."

Cheers, Alan Messer

I presume you read the column linked to? If so, your understanding is a bit different from mine. If 800,000 fewer people are working, presumably there 800,000 fewer people drawing salaries or paying taxes on wages. It may be overly colorful to say the jobs are destroyed. Some of those jobs will presumably be filled by others at present unemployed. Even so, 800,000 people at present drawing salaries will not, and will have to be supported some way.

One would have to dig into the details to figure out what is really happening here, but that would also require you to have more confidence in official economic predictions than I have.

I think I could find a dozen more flagrant examples of political gamesmanship in any random major city newspaper.

The "Affordable Care Act" will provide services for people at present unable to pay for them. This is presumably a good thing for those people. Someone else will be required to pay. I am more interested in discussing on what principle those receiving obtained their entitlements, and where those required to pay obtained their obligations than I am in what we call this adjustment.


Wall Street Journal February 12, 2011 Pg. 12


Court Jails Military Officers

A Turkish court ruled that 133 current and former military officers must be jailed pending the outcome of their trial on charges of plotting to overthrow the government and issued warrants for the arrests of 29 other officers, the state-run Anatolia news agency reported. Security forces immediately closed all courthouse doors and detained the defendants.

--Associated Press


"In the climate models, the extremes get more extreme as we move into a doubled CO2 world in 100 years. So we were surprised that none of the three major indices of climate variability that we used show a trend of increased circulation going back to 1871."


- Roland Dobbins


Foreign officers at American military schools 

Dear Doctor Pournelle,

I have read several times, even in mail to your worthy site, as to how wonderful it is that most Egyptian military officers commissioned within the past thirty years have attended U.S. miitary graduate schools, as at Ft. Leavenworth and the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey. The mantra goes that while studying technical military skills the Egyptian officers would have been exposed to the U.S. tradition of civilian control of the military. Their hearts yearning for freedom and enlightenment, one gathers from the way the argument is typically presented, these benighted officers would absorb American traditions through some form of Progressive political osmosis, replacing old fashioned military notions with the very model of thoroughly modern ones.

Piffle, Double piffle and twaddle to boot.

Central American and South American militaries have sent officers and cadets to U. S. military academies and training establishments for over seventy years, and it doesn't seem to have changed how the military dabbles in politics "Down Rio Way". I wonder how many U.S. military colleges and training courses Hugo Chavez attended?

You cannot import such traditions, you can only grow them indigenously. This is heresy to neo-con/Jacobin True Believers, but there you have it. Their quarrel is with reality, not with myself. The Egyptian military is going to follow it's traditions, and as you never tire of pointing out, those traditions are centuries older than our own, and have lasted because, after a fashion, they work with the raw material presented to them by Egyptian society and culture.

If those military traditions change, it won't necessarily be in ways that match any outsiders expectations. The Mamelukes? The Young Turks? The Revolt of the Colonels in 1952?

Not to mention how the tradition of civilian military control evolved in the Anglo-Saxon nations. How many of the pundits trotting out this latest "Osmosis" argument even know what the New Model Army was, and why Parliament insisted after the Restoration and Glorious Revolution upon holding the purse strings of the Army? It's not an accident that the UK has a ROYAL Navy, and a ROYAL Air Force, but the Army is decidedly NOT Royal. Just as in our own nation the President has the Navy, but Congress has the Army. After all, you can't sail an aircraft carrier up Potomac Avenue and occupy the capital.


The last time I was in Britain the oath of allegiance was to the monarch, specifically the heirs of the body of the Electress Sophia being Protestant. But that is probably irrelevant to your point.

Egypt would be fortunate indeed to come out as well as Turkey did under the Young Turks.


Subject: Additive Manufacturing


I’ve seen of this work. It really is like magic.

From the ‘Technology in it's infancy, but likely to change the world’ department:


Tracy Walters, CISSP

Minsky described the concept of the Thingmaker in the 1970's. We're not there yet, but it's coming.


Kindle and Chaos Mannor


Just realized the other day that I find it easier to read your site on the iPad than books on the Kindle app. I find that I can keep the text I'm reading at the top of the screen by scrolling the text slowly with my thumb. For me that's much more comfortable than scanning the page with my eyes in the Kindle app. It would be nice if they gave us that option rather than being stuck in a page turning mode.


Philip Quardokus


Mubaraks, Mamelukes, Modernizers and Muslims 

There's a Walter Russell Mead essay, "Mubaraks, Mamelukes, Modernizers and Muslims", well worth reading, at http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/


It also references Auden's The Sphinx.










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CURRENT VIEW     Saturday

This week:


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Sunday,  February 13, 2011     

I took the day off.




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