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Monday  April 18, 2011

Don't complain or we can make you pay -


TSA security looks at people who complain about ... TSA security

Just do what we tell you, no matter that we are infringing your constitutional rights, you gave them up when you bought your ticket. Airports are apparently outside the Constitution. Just another sign of the decline.

R, Rose

Sooprise. The purpose of TSA is to convince US citizens that they are subjects, not citizens.


Subj: The New Cold War


There has long been bad blood between Iran and Saudi Arabia, but popular protests across the Middle East now threaten to turn the rivalry into a tense and dangerous regional divide.<snip>

Huge article, well worth reading.


The pro-democracy uprisings sweeping through the Arab world are in danger of being manipulated by Iran's Islamic Republic, Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu warned in an interview with AFP. <snip>


The history books record that from Kadisiyah in 636, through Tours in 732, through the conquest of Spain, the fall of Constantinople,  and the reconquista under Ferdinand and Isabella, through Lepanto,  until the Second Siege of Vienna in 1683, the West was always in danger of Muslim conquest of Christendom. That war abated for three hundred years, but it never ended. Imshallah.


Chicken sh!^

You need 3 moles of oxygen for complete combustion of 1 mole of methane. A 10% concentration results in an oxygen deficient explosion. You would get about half the energy as Mr. Thompson calculated.

Methane is normally produced in anaerobic composting. I'd be hard-pressed to come up with conditions that had so little oxygen that methane could be produced, and yet enough oxygen that an explosion was possible.


Robert Bruce Thompson replies

Well, as I told Jerry, it was off the top of my head. However ...

The chemical dynamics of the combustion of methane is actually quite complex, involving the intermediate formation of carbon monoxide and other species. Ultimately, though, the stoichiometry is:

CH4 + 2 O2 -> CO2 + 2 H2O

So the reaction requires two moles of O2 per mole of methane, not three. The atmosphere is about 20% O2 by volume, so stoichiometrically the optimum concentration of methane is about 10%.

As to composting, it's observed fact that piles of chicken shit or other dung produce copious amounts of methane. Simply covering it up with additional dung allows the interior portions to produce methane, which then escapes. If the chicken house was not well ventilated, all necessary conditions existed.

Best regards.



Mea Culpa.

I was thinking ch4, the c takes an o2, and you have 4 h, so you need 2 0, so 1 plus 2 is three. My wife swears I'm getting more senile by the moment, and I think she's right.

It's been sixty years since I raised chickens, but the general rule is to keep it pretty darned snug. Egg production falls off enough in the winter anyhow, because the chickens are using their energy to stay warm, so we put immersion heaters into the water pots, so they could drink warm water. \\

Poultry manure is awfully salty. Cooper Turkey, of Oakwood Ohio, is a major producer of turkeys, and they offer manure to all the area farmers, but everywhere you look, you see a pile of manure that's about 60' long, and there's nothing growing on it. The farmers have to let the rain wash the salt out of it for years, before it reaches the point where it does more good than harm for a crop.



Never having raised chickens, this is all a mental exercise for me. But I do know that it's relatively easy to digest any kind of dung and produce large quantities of methane. Years ago, I knew a guy who heated his farmhouse with methane produced from cow and possibly chicken manure. The apparatus he used to generate it was pretty impressive.

And, of course, I should have mentioned the fact that methane combustion produces no excess gas. One mole of methane and two moles of oxygen combine to form three moles of gas, one of carbon dioxide and two of water vapor. The explosive (versus burning) effects of methane combustion are purely due to the heating of the gases causing a very rapid pressure increase. With TNT, a relatively small volume of solid is rapidly converted to large volumes of gas, which heating further expands. So, although their heats of explosion are about equal, the actual explosive effect of 100 kilograms of methane is less than that of 2,000 kilograms of TNT, but still very impressive. I'm not surprised that the explosion was heard and felt over a large area, if my speculation is correct.

-- Robert Bruce Thompson

Which should be enough to allow anyone interested to settle the matter for himself. I had not thought that chicken sh!^ would be so explosive, mostly because I never thought about the subject at all until this came up...



Regarding your comment last week regarding the inadvisability of a judicial solution should Obama be determined not to be a citizen:

for what it's worth, my comment all along is that if anything happens:

(a) it has to be an impeachment;

(b) it has be introduced by Democrats in both houses of Congress, with at least half and preferably 2/3 of each caucus (House and Senate. to include important subsets such as the Democratic Black Caucus) co-sponsoring the impeachment (which means that Reid must be on board in the Senate).

Otherwise, it will be Gingrich vs. Clinton again, for higher and more volatile stakes (including, unfortunately, the "race card" aspects).

That isn't going to happen (or rather, things will be MUCH more dire if it reaches that point. On the other hand, $5+ gas might do it...or enough Democrats worried about their careers for continuing to support him)

I can see a judicial determination of "you shouldn't have been allowed to run in the first place, but since you're here, the Court can't remove you from office Constitutionally unless Congress chooses to impeach; we can prevent you from running again."

(And for the record, I would be very surprised if he weren't born in Hawaii, thought agree that the here is enough evidence that it should be investigated; however, I believe it highly likely that he claimed Indonesian citizenship as an adult -- the Occidental college scholarship and his 1981 trip to Pakistan -- and might (emphasis might; there are many nuances) under the law not only not be a US Citizen, but actually be an illegal immigrant on that basis. That hasn't been tested, and I suspect that he and his handlers have allowed the "birther" movement momentum as a distraction from this additional "twist." I've also had several very bitter e-mail exchanges with people who would want him out of office immediately if he were found to be ineligible -- and who believe he is -- regardless of consequences.)


A Constitutional Crisis is not one of those emergencies one should not waste. They are to be avoided. And perhaps, like Chicken Sh!^, this subject has been discussed quite adequately.


Subject: What happened to the 50 million climate change refugees?

Global climate what? "In 2005, the United Nations Environment Programme predicted that climate change would create 50 million climate refugees by 2010. These people, it was said, would flee a range of disasters including sea level rise, increases in the numbers and severity of hurricanes, and disruption to food production." The UN deleted the original web page. Here, however, is a copy of it that was saved. It seems that many of the areas that were to be deserted by fleeing refugees have actually increased in population.

I remember reading somewhere, perhaps it was buried in the Bible, that you can learn something about someone if what they predict comes true or turns out to be false.

URL for the post http://asiancorrespondent.com/52189/

URL for the "deleted" map http://dailycaller.com/

-- Dwayne Phillips

Well, I recall writing thirty years ago:

It seems to me, then, that by 2000 AD or possibly earlier, mans social structure will have utterly collapsed, and that in the chaos that will result as many as three billion people will die. Nor is there likely to be a chance of recovery thereafter.

Thus closes a popular article by Dr. Isaac Asimov, perhaps the best-known science writer in America, written even as Neil Armstrong set foot on the Moon. (From A Step Farther Out)

but I continued to read Isaac's stories and articles...

And of course I recall the furor over the Ozone Hole that led to the end of Freon and cheap air conditioning fluids. Now the Ozone Hole is back...


The War Nerd 

Dear Jerry,

I've occasionally read "The War Nerd" columns over the past decade. Unless it's changed recently, and I missed it (always possible), no one knows who the "Nerd" is. As with all anonymous commentators, cum grano salis, anyone?

"He" has consistently been of the opinion that US military services are feckless. lying fools and poltroons soon to go the way of the dodo.

While the US military are humanly fallible, this consistent argument by "Nerd"t is hardly the demonstrable case to any unbiased observer.

The "The War Nerd" columns originally ran in an English language newspaper Russian newspaper. They have since moved to a leftish sort of "wannabe" gadfly muckraking place called "The Exile".

It all rather smells of a typical former KGB disinofrmation operation. Unsubtle, because it doesn't need to be, as there is always a ready market for this argument.

In the latest example, which someone linked in an email you put up Sunday, April 17, "Nerd" claimed the Chinese could disable, and then easily destroy, any US Navy carrier group by the obvious and simple expedient of an air burst nuke a few miles overhead, destroying the groups electronics with the nukes EMP.

He conveniently fails to mention the rather obvious facts-

A- The US Navy (and the rest of the sentient world) is well aware of the EMP effect of nuclear weapons, and has been for about sixty-five years, that being how long since the Able and Baker nuclear test shots at Bikini in the Pacific.

B- Everyone who knows about EMP (everyone) has had sixty-five years to research, develop, test and deploy "hardening" techniques to prevent EMP damage to electronics. Faraday cages and all that.

Anyone who reads "The War Nerd" other than for entertainment, or to get their fix of leftish anti-military bias of the Silly Sixties Variety, is a rather naive soul.

Further, deponent sayeth not.

But deponent thinketh they be dumb asses.


 This refers to a link in yesterdays mail. I confess I have not heard of or thought about "the war nerd" column for some years, far enough back that it's lost in the archives, and I confess also that I have forgotten everything I knew about it.


Is it just me, or does it sound as if these geneticists are rehabilitating Larmarckian evolution?


--- Roland Dobbins

Well, the evolution of dark moths is a classic evolution case study. I think I recall that some have wondered a bit about it. I haven't studied the subject enough to have a strong view on the mechanisms of evolution; I do know that this process didn't produce a new species.


Global Average Temperature

Work that we have written about further illustrates the failure of the global average surface temperature trend as a useful climate metric with respect to climate impacts, such as drought and floods, that matter to the environment and society. The erroneous use of this metric by high level scientists and policymakers to communicate risks from climate is misleading policymakers.




Current View - Global temperatures

Jerry -

I find it fascinating that the graph of 'global temperatures' that you show in the current View is largely increasing, (getting warmer) yet NASA's own data shows the 48 Continental states as 'all over the place.'


As a matter of fact, the global graph shows ~1930's as -0.2 deg C yet during that time in the US the 5 year mean was positive! (as high as 0.56 in 1932 - which according to the global graph, we've only just reached recently.)

Amazing how very different the US temperature is from the rest of the world.

Makes you wonder.

Dan Kinsella

As with the Russian statistician: "How much do you need?"



It was like taking a cold shower.


---- Roland Dobbins

Oh where has all the dark matter gone,


Train Wreck

Dr. Pournelle --

For some years now, when listening to politicians speak about the economy, I have been regularly reminded of a bit of local history from my childhood home.

"The famous 'Crash at Crush' was staged by William George Crush, a friend of famed showman P.T. Barnum"


"By the day of the event it is estimated that up to 50,000 people were at the site, creating a town for a day, which was appropriately called Crush. In 1896, Waco only had a population of 12,000 and Dallas had just 40,000 so for that one day Crush may have bested Dallas for the title of Texas' largest city."

"The majority of the damage was inflicted by the boiler explosions, an occurrence that only one Katy employee named Hanrahan had foreseen. Hanrahan had been so discounted in his view that Crush had simply ignored his warnings."

Accounts of the story, as you may imagine, differ in some of the details.



However, all point to people flocking to participate in an event for which, it seems, the outcome should have been obvious.

Even if you don't agree with the economic analogy, as a story teller you may find it an interesting tale.

And, yes, I'm afraid that even the dumb things we do in Texas are bigger.



'Getting funding for a new events center apparently dulls any ethical pangs felt using your organization as a hired stage prop.'


-- Roland Dobbins

I fear I am not rational in my comments on AT&T. I have an iPhone.




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Tuesday,  April 19, 2011


Re: The War Nerd

Hi, regarding Petronius' mail from 18.04: he wrote "Unless it's changed recently, and I missed it (always possible), no one knows who the "Nerd" is." Well, he missed it - down on the same page with War Nerd's column are his personal data and link to Amason promoting his book. So - this Gary Brecher certainly is not anonymous. As for the site itself - here's their history in a nutshell: http://exiledonline.com/vanity-fair-profiles-the-exile/.  This is the project of one Mark Ames; before being thrown out of Russia, they were known for their connections with Edward Limonov's National Bolshevik Party ( and that probably was the reason they were thrown out of Moscow). They never were "english language Russian newspaper" - looks like bona fide American fringe.

Best regards, Alex Krol

I saw the identification at the bottom of the page linked, which mildly puzzled me, but none of it seemed worth the time it would take to follow it up, in that I had no confidence I would find any reliable new information. I vaguely recall long ago encountering something from "war nerd" in mail but doing little or nothing with it. Apologies if I wasted anyone's time.

And see below




Here is a guy who has his act together. His logic: as long as we are killing these people, let's take their oil. A revolutionary new form of empire, Trump wants to extract resources from the people we attack. I thought we just liked fireworks shows so that we could offer a visual demonstration of our main exports to our customers...



Most Respectfully,

Joshua Jordan, KSC

The problem with wars of conquest is that they can be addicting. Now I had thought that when we went into Iraq, the goal might be to pump oil. Not for seizure by the US: use the revenue from the oil to rebuild Iraq (and perhaps by controlling that revenue to have great influence over whatever government we let be installed after Saddam). But pump and sell oil on the world market. Pump enough and the world price of oil would be under $25/bbl. The US economy booms -- cheap energy booms innovative economies -- and Republicans are elected for the next forty years.

At the time I wondered if they could pull it off, but that did seem the only rational justification for sending the Legions into Iraq to stay. When the US forces told the Iraqi generals to keep their forces intact and they would have an honorable place in the rebuilding of the new Iraq, I was certain this must be the strategy. Then came Bremer and it was clear that no one had the foggiest notion of what they were doing. We lost control and we have floundered ever since. We have poured a lot of blood and treasure -- and oil for that matter -- into Iraq for little return.

Holding Iraq responsible for reparations -- here is our bill for liberating you -- while we have an army in Baghdad to enforce collection may be tempting, but execution of that would be a lot harder than it looks now. The time to have done that was when Saddam was still alive.

As to Libya, I suspect the beneficiaries of the interventions in Libya will be Chinese long before the US sees any benefits.


Well DUH!!!

Hello Jerry,

From Drudge this morning:

45% of households pay no income tax... <http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110417/ap_on_re_us/us_no_taxes

43% say tax level 'about right'... <http://www.gallup.com/poll/147152/Americans-Split-Whether-Taxes-High.aspx

Bob Ludwick





If I were Imperator Diem, my minimal rules for corporations would include:

1. All mergers and acquisitions must be cash deals only. No stock for stock swaps. And no loans not backed by the value of physical assets at liquidation prices.

2. Management bonuses for participation in mergers and acquisitions are restricted to stock options at current valuation of the corporation, with three year minimum maturity (but not retiring if the awarded employee leaves the corporation).


I have not thought it through to that kind of detail. My general rule is, if it's anywhere near too big to fail, it's too big. I would also try to get investors more interested in profits than the kind of "growth" that sparks the market now. Companies with enormous price to earning ratios are unstable. When a company must have 90% of a market that must double in five years to sustain the "growth" we are playing speculation games and riding toward a bust.

I would start with the banks and the financial institutions: instead of a Big Five I'd have a not so large Fifty. And I certainly would not allow consolidation of communications carriers into one big unregulated utility. I was not the great enemy of the old AT&T Ma Bell as a regulated public utility: it had in those days a total ineptness about public relations and marketing, but within the culture was a fanatic dedication to keeping things working and delivering dial tone. I did not think we would benefit much from breaking up that AT&T, and given the loss of Bell Labs I am not sure of it today as the new AT&T grows into an unregulated public utility monster; but note how I put that. I am not sure. I am no expert on this matter. But from my experience every new acquisition from AT&T has resulted in less wireless service, and I see no reason why service quality would go up if they take over T-Mobile -- which does work.


Ozone hole.


I seem to recall that Freon was implicated in the ozone hole because it acts as a catalyst to break down ozone molecules. I also recall from my Freshman chemistry class that a catalyst does not alter the equilibrium concentrations of the reactants and products in a chemical reaction. A catalyst simply accelerates the reaction rate so that the concentrations of reactants and products reach their equilibrium concentrations more rapidly. Furthermore; the equilibrium concentrations of reactants and products is dictated by temperature and pressure. It would seem that the seasonal appearance of the infamous ozone hull is the result in seasonal variations in temperature and UV light rather than a sudden influx of Freon which is no longer on the market.

Perhaps someone with far more expertise in chemical engineering than I have can resolve this quandary. I can't imagine that the prophets of Ozone Doom flunked Freshman chemistry.

Jim Crawford

So far as I know, no one any longer argues that Freon had much to do with the much feared ozone holes of that time. At the time there was much fear.

I find http://www.thenewamerican.com/
623-behind-the-freon-frenzy interesting and convincing, but then I was never much convinced by the Freon nightmares in the first place: it seemed to me that Dr. Petr Beckmann dealt with this question quite well in his Access to Energy publications at the time.

The late Dr. Petr Beckmann, whose science newsletter Access to Energy regularly countered bogus scientific claims, also aggressively challenged Gore and his pseudo-scientific ilk. In the April 6, 1992 issue of THE NEW AMERICAN, Beckmann stated:

It is sunlight that produces the ozone in the first place. During the night, when there is no sun, the ozone recombines into oxygen .... There is no indication to what extent chlorine might compete with the mechanism of recombination. There is no indication that CFCs are as important as volcanic eruptions and other naturally occurring chlorines. The chlorine spewed out in the last eruption of Mount Pinatubo was 500 times larger than the annual production of CFCs in the whole world.

Dixy Lee Ray said much the same. And NASA seems to have had problems finding the FREON where they expected to find it.

 In any event, the ozone holes are back, but FREON is not back.


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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

I can miss things 

Dear Jerry,

Well, this time I did not miss anything.

"Gary Brecher" is a non-person. It's widely considered to be a fictitious character created by "The Exile" to cover the writer(s) of "The War Nerd" columns. This has been known for years.

"Brecher's" "book" (fictitious characters tend to accumulate quotation marks) is an assemblage of his "best" columns, "published" by the parent company of "The Exile".

Here's Wikipedia's article on "Brecher"-


From the article-

"On June 25, 2008, the following revelation is made on citypaper.net [4] <http://www.citypaper.net/articles/2008/06/26/nonfiction-reviews>  in the course of a review of the War Nerd book: But the War Nerd is, in fact, neither of those things. He is not even Gary Brecher! Brecher is the creation of John Dolan, a poet, novelist, lecturer in English at the University of Victoria, and The eXile co-editor. That's very exciting news for the War Nerd's regular readers: The columns you've been dissecting and debating for the last six years were written by an English professor who writes poetry!"

"Brecher's" writings fit the mold of a University English professor who came of age in the Silly Sixties.

I guess a journal published in Moscow in English is not an "English language Russian", if only because it is not devoted to Russian affairs.

Anyway, John Dolan the former university English professor, is likely the creator of both "The War Nerd" and "Gary Brecher". It's the sort of "aging young jackanapes" tomfoolery former (?) sixties radicals indulge in. Yippies, Hippies, and dippies, like cheap wine, don't mature.

While not terribly serious, this is a fair example of how "New Media" can be exploited, to forward an agenda and make a few simoleons for the exploiter.

Heck, I might just "publish" a "book" of my own "columns". Since I am summat "fictitious" myself!


O dear.


Mr. Pournelle,

I'm writing in response to your published letters from Petronius and Alex Krol in your Mail 671, concerning the Exiled Online's column, "The War Nerd." While Mr. Krol's link shows a profile for the author of the column, Gary Brecher, googling Mr. Brecher or visiting his wikipedia page <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gary_Brecher>  , shows that the author is a pseudonym.

Personally, as a minor fan of Mr. Brecher's earlier work, (available at either the exiled online or in the archives of the exile.ru site) I hold with the theory that Gary Brecher was actually John Dolan <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Dolan_(writer)>  . The column went on hiatus for roughly a year or so, following the publishing of the War Nerd's eponymous book. While the column has re-started within the last month or so, the tone and syntax strikes me as a poor imitation of the author's earlier works: much more devoted to analyzing technology rather than the psychology of combatants, and much poorer in fact-checking. This, coupled with the omission of Mr. Dolan from the profiles cited by Mr. Krol, leads me to believe that someone else at the Exiled is writing most of the new columns. As I do not work for either the Exiled or the original Exile, I have no idea if this is actually the case; still, it is a feeling I have from reading and comparing both sets of text.

Too bad, as while the War Nerd had a definite juvenile tone, the column occasionally had decent insights and predictions as to the course of OIF, the GWOT, and warfare in general. I agree with your comment that you lacked any confidence that you would find reliable information in delving further into his content.

Sincerely, Jake Fetters

While I pretend to know everything, or at least something about everything, I find as I get older that I can't read everything about everything, and I long lost the habit of reading the war nerd; I have other sources of information and commentary, and I tend to do my own analysis when I can.



"Gadhafi has always been one of our darlings in the name-matching community."


-- Roland Dobbins


What are the facts? 

Dear Jerry,

"What are the facts? Again and again and again what are the facts? Shun wishful thinking, ignore divine revelation, forget what "the stars foretell," avoid opinion, care not what the neighbors think, never mind the unguessable "verdict of history" what are the facts, and to how many decimal places? You pilot always into an unknown future; facts are your single clue. Get the facts!"

-Robert A. Heinlein

Professor Blinder, in his recent WSJ opinion piece that you quoted in VIEW, makes a persuasive argument based on emotion, and some "cherry picked" data, that the USA Federal government is underfunded.


United States Economy in 1951-

I found that the American economy for 1950 was $350 Billion Multiple sources give the average annual USA economic growth for the period 1946-1971 as about four per cent, which gives an economy for 1951 of about $364 Billion.

This useful calculator will give you the value of a dollar of a given year in dollars of any other year-


$1 in 1951 = $8.59 in 2011

American economy in 2010 = $14.7 trillion

Forecasted growth for 2011 (recently lowered) is 2.5 per cent.

That rate gives a little over $15 trillion as the size of the American economy for 2011.

(2011)$15 Trillion divided by (2011)$8.59/(1951) $1.00) = (1951)$1.746 Trillion

So the projected American 2011 GDP is, in 1951 dollars, One Trillion 746 Billion.

American GDP for 2011 of (1951)$1.746 Trillion divided by American GDP for 1951 of (1951)$364 Billion = 4.8 (Yes, I am rounding off to the nearest tenth)

So in "constant" dollars the American economy in 2011 is nearly five times larger than it was in 1951.

The population of the United States in 1950 (nearest census to 1951) was 151 million.

The population of the United States in 2010 (nearest census to 2011) is 308 million.

So the population of the United States for 2011 is about twice that of 1951, while the economy has nearly quintupled.

The Federal government now takes 23.75 per cent of GDP. In 1951 it took 14.75 per cent.\ of GDP.

Okay, so the GDP for 1951 was 364 Billion, and the Federal government took 14.75 per cent, which is-

(1951)$364 Billion X 14.75% = (1951)$53.9 Billion

Professor Blinder argues a return to the 1951 rate of 14.75 per cent would be catastrophic.

2011 US GDP of (1951)$1.746 Trillion X 14.75% - (1951)$258 Billion,

So the Federal government, according to Blinder, would be massively underfunded if it has IN REAL CONSTANT DOLLARS nearly five times as much money as it had in 1951.

Okay, but the population did double. So the Federal government would be massively underfunded, according to Blinder, if it only had two and a half times the money it had in 1951. IN CONSTANT DOLLARS, I remind you again.

Professor Blinder argues, in effect, that if only the Federal government could have, say, FIVE TIMES as much money IN REAL CONSTANT DOLLARS as it did in 1951, that it might then be able to stop borrowing.

So, those are the facts. It took ,me less than an hour to find, assemble and write this letter. Professor Blinder seems to have carefully avoided them in his opinion piece. Of course, that's why it is called opinion.

The following is opinion-

I put it to you that Professor Blinder is an ass.





It appears that many of our leaders have forgotten that all actions have consequences. Doing nothing also has cosequences.

"Climate Change" is but one area where the consequences of action and inaction hsve not been properly defined.

Doing nothing, in the short to medium term, most likely, has no unfortunate consequences so long as UNBIASED climate research continues so that we csn gain a better undersasnding of the what drives "Climate Change" and how we might be able to moderate it.

Reducing Carbon emissions by fiat, on the other hand, has some very negative economic consequences as well as a high probability of having no positive impact on Climate with other possible negatve impacts.

"No Nukes" is another one of those gotchas. If we build no new electric generating capacity there are two major consequences. Electricity prices rise and shortages are likely. As a result there will be a decrease in Economic Activity and Qulity of Life. A secondary consequence is a reduction in Tax Revenue and an increase in deficit spending with a further debasing of our Currency.

If we build new conventionally powered, coal and natural gas, the resulting emissions and hazards to life and limb from mining, transportation, and drilling will be many orders of magnitude greater than building new Nuclear Generating capacity.

There are many other examples that could be cited. However, these should lead to the conclusion that if we wish to maintain any semblence of our current economy and quality of life for future generations we need to start building Nuclear Power Plants NOW!

If we want to preserve our planet and Climate for future generstions we MUST fund UNBIASED research of Climate Change and avoid precipitate action that may have unintended and undesireable effects.

Bob Holmes


Where does money go?

The President wants to raise taxes (to Clinton-era levels; or alternatively, he wants to "reduce spending through the tax code," in his wonderfully Orwellian turn of phrase) on singles making more than $200,000 per year or couples making more than $250,000 per year.

Let's look at how this person (or couple) spends his or her (their) money:

Purchases of personal effects (food, clothing, shelter, transportation, basic news and entertainment, luxuries): stimulates private economy. Purchases of personal services, some of which may be classified as luxuries (child care, house cleaning, lawn services, home repairs, education expenses, tax preparation, etc): stimulates private economy Purchases of personal real estate (first/second homes not used as investment properties): stimulates private economy but potentially subject to "bubbles" if pursued under anomalous investment rules. Purchases of professional effects (professional memberships, continuing education, professional subscriptions and books): stimulates private economy Payment of business expenses accrued to personal expenses through sole proprietorship, professional partnership, and/or ownership of S-chapter or LLC corporation (employee salaries and compensation, office rental and supplies, compliance expenses and fees, accounting expenses, etc.): stimulates private economy Donations to private charities Payment of interest in personal debt Personal investment in state, corporate, or private bonds, business startups, income-producing real estate including mineral rights, and other "new" business ventures: stimulate private economy Personal investment in publicly traded stocks: If pursued primarily for stock value growth rather than income, speculative and one leading cause of bubbles; stimulates financial markets only. If pursued primarily for income, stimulates private economy. Purchases of savings bonds and other treasury instruments: Provides a secure, steady but low income relative to private investment. Payment of state and local taxes, and the portion of federal income and excise taxes apportioned to highway construction, public health and safety (including portions of federal medical research, federal transportation safety, OSHA, EPA, NOAA/USGS and related agencies, and the Department of Agriculture), and education: Pays for public services subscribed to by the person paying taxes. Ideally, in a more economical fashion than such services would otherwise be provided. However, we live in a less (considering federal spending inefficiencies, considerably less) than ideal world. Payment of social security / medicare taxes: Pays for other people to receive compensation and medical services which they have not personally earned (other than promises-to-pay in return for their providing such services to others prior to their own retirement). A tax on society as a whole with no corresponding return in growth in economic opportunity through investment, because it was set up this way. Has been described as a net transfer of wealth from young black males to elderly white females. Payment of federal taxes apportioned to defense, war veteran's benefits, and civilian research and development with defense components or broad commercial benefit (e.g. parts of NASA, Departments of Energy, and medical research): A tax on society as a whole with, ideally, a return to the economy through security and economic growth. Again, this is the federal government; ideal is .. an ideal. Payment of federal taxes apportioned to all other current federal activities: At best, "transfers of wealth" to non-producers and their federal handlers (and to our debtors through interest payments), which acts as a net damper on the overall economy through loss of labor from the production pool and the resulting growth of capital.

As seen in this succinct but fairly complete summary, one might want to tax luxuries and dampen "bubbles" (which are really a form of subsidized gambling, particularly when the government acts to insure the losers). And one wants to eliminate government inefficiencies, and transfers of wealth (certainly in excess of promises to pay, and some people might argue that...)

But a general tax will probably affect private sector activity -- thereby reducing the tax base that the government hopes to gather future revenue from) as much or more as it will affect speculative activity.

What we have to do is get the government out of the business of covering business losses, and of paying people not to work (and paying people to pay people not to work).

In other words,

In a capitalist economy, wealth becomes distributed to the more effective producers, who used it to create additional jobs.

In a "democratic socialist" economy, with becomes concentrated in the government and in favored producers (favored because they buy government favor), to be distributed at whim of the politicians to create more dependency. This can continue for a while, but it intrinsically less efficient than pure capitalism, and the total wealth of the economy is reduced accordingly.

In a purely socialist economy, wealth becomes concentrated in the government to be distributed at whim of the politicians to create more dependency. But without the producers, there is a lot less wealth to distribute.

Just sayin'


Entitlements: to give (a person) the right to do or have something; qualify;allow.

I am all for getting rid of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. If the Government will just send me a check for the 39 years worth of Social Security payments and Medical Benefit payments I've paid in, I'll take that money and put it in Roth IRAs and my current 403b account. We'll call it square.

But of course, they don't have the money because they've spent it on.... whatever nonsense they spent my money on. In my view, the only thing worse than a Republican is a Democrat. The Republicans take my money and give it to their friends. The Democrats take my money and give it to the poor (and their friends). Either way the money is gone and I see little real benefit coming back my way. I wouldn't mind so much if I thought they were spending it wisely: building roads, maintaining infrastructure, paying for police, fire and emergency services and similar expenditures. But they aren't. As far as I'm concerned taxation today is just legalized racketeering. A giant protection racket.

I know this is simplistic. But I seldom see anything to suggest it isn't, at the base, true. A pox on both their houses.

Randy Wildwood, WA



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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Kindle advances into Germany

Dear Jerry:

Here is a link to the new Kindle store in Germany.

> http://www.amazon.de/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?__mk_de_DE=%C5M%C5Z%D5%D1&url=node%3D530886031&field-keywords=Francis+Hamit&x=0&y=0 

Since most people in Germany speak and read English I am hopeful of a sales surge. I lived in Frankfurt for two years.


Francis Hamit

Today's Wall Street Journal has a long article about eBook sales, and how low-priced eBook editions are now dominating the publishing market, much to the dismay of traditional publishers.


Spending and 1951

Nobody has to go back to 1951 to talk about the old days. Federal government spending, in constant 2005 dollars, was only half what it is now as recently as 1988. In 1988 we had Medicare and Medicaid, the Departments of Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Education, Energy, Transportation, Veterans Affairs, and pretty much all the departments, services, and everything else that we have now. Roads were built, the military funded, the children schooled.

All on half the Federal money. It's very, very hard to believe the current budgets contain no fat at all.

Tom Brosz

It is not a question of fat: it's a question of necessities. What must we borrow money to do because we simply must do it, even if we must make our children pay for it?


Taxes, Wealth, Obama, Republicans, and the future...

I do not entirely agree with your summation of what the President actually said, but I can see where you got there, and I agree your reasoning is valid.

But as to what is to be done - well - trusting the Republicans to "get it right" is no more sensible than trusting the Democrats to "get it right." Both parties are so driven by outside financial and special interests, there is no direction that the parties can take to steer the country on a more sane path.

The Tea Party, as expected, has pretty much dissolved. Once the emotional highs began to dissipate, what else could happen?

Name calling and protest is fun, but to effect real changes takes hard work. Hard work is *not* fun, at least not for people who are not getting paid to do the work. Add to that, the entrenched forces arrayed against any kind of change are formidable. Worse even, than academia!

Like most people, I have very few ideas on how to shrink the government down to a manageable size, and stop the financial bleeding. In part, because I am more interested in my own life and personal interests, than I am in the "government" - meaning I have a tendency to say "it's not my job to figure it out- that is what we hire the people we send to Washington to do."

Not sure I like that about myself, but then, as long as the government pretty much stays out of my immediate notice, house repairs, doctor appointments, work, the cats and dog, picnics, football - pretty much *everything* is more important and more deserving of my attention. That's being a bit more honest than I like, but I see the same thing in most, if not all of my friends and their families too.

When I look at Obama, you know, he isn't doing too darn bad. Not the savior some folks expected, but certainly not the devil the opposition portrayed him to be. It might be politics as usual for the republicans, remember the "plot" to use health care as "Obama's Waterloo?" it might be, but there is an option.

If the Republicans in Washington would get off their corrupt rear ends and do the work we pay them to do, instead of all the inane posturing, they could regain some integrity and easily work with Obama. The President, at least, always appears ready to listen to the other side and try to understand their issues. When backed in a corner, he is going to fight to win, like any politician. But given the slightest bit of willingness, he appears to go far out of his way to try and accommodate all the political issues. Right or Left.

I certainly never saw President Bush (the second) act reasonably like that, nor do I have the slightest hope that Donald Trump or any of the current potential candidates would do so. Not one. They seem to believe the public personas they build up are "real."

What Obama is doing sure seems like "real change" to me- even if it happens to be from a Democrat.


It has been a long time since I was any kind of party official. I now try to inject some reason into political discussions. Sometimes I manage to do that.

You will understand that we disagree on Mr. Obama's performance. I have no favorites among candidates for his replacement. I do not think we can continue piling up debt forever.


Obama's citizenship

"(And for the record, I would be very surprised if he weren't born in Hawaii, thought agree that the here is enough evidence that it should be investigated; however, I believe it highly likely that he claimed Indonesian citizenship as an adult -- the Occidental college scholarship and his 1981 trip to Pakistan -- and might (emphasis might; there are many nuances) under the law not only not be a US Citizen, but actually be an illegal immigrant on that basis. That hasn't been tested, and I suspect that he and his handlers have allowed the "birther" movement momentum as a distraction from this additional "twist." I've also had several very bitter e-mail exchanges with people who would want him out of office immediately if he were found to be ineligible -- and who believe he is -- regardless of consequences.)"

Interesting idea. My birth certificate shows that my father was a 16 year old graduate student. He adopted me after marrying my mother when I was 10 and the state created an entirely new birth certificate expunging any mention of my birth father. Little Barry went to school in Indonesia as "Barry Soetero", implying that his stepfather adopted him. Adoption as a minor probably gave him Indonesian citizenship. Even if claiming Indonesian citizenship as an adult didn't cancel his American citizenship, it would have a very damaging effect on his relationship with the voters and might have cost him enough votes so that he would have lost the election.

This idea also explains why Obama refuses to release any educational records. I don't think he's the super-genius he's purported to be, but I have always wondered why he never released his Occidental transcript since he has admitted he goofed off there. But if he claimed Indonesian citizenship to get a scholarship at Occidental that would have shown up in documents of his advanced schooling.

OK. We've got a theory. How to test it?



Very interesting.


Ozone holes

Hello Jerry,

For those who are interested in ozone holes and their history:

The following is a link to a story on 'IceAgeNow', which reports on the basic story of the 'Ozone Hole' over the Antarctic being caused by, you guessed it, unusual COLD: http://www.iceagenow.com/

The IceAgeNow article is more about how the story the ozone hole was spun by the US and British media as being causes by CFC's, with the basic fact the original story reported its cause as unusual cold barely mentioned, than about the hole itself, however.

Included in the IceAgeNow article are links to the original BBC and MSNBC stories and an additional link to a story about the original CFC/Ozone Hole scam.

Bob Ludwick


Subject: Professor Alan Blinder

Was no one else amused by the fact that Princeton Professor Alan Blinder's name is onomantic?

Well I resisted temptation... JEP

Well, you are certainly free to substitute my lack of resistance for yours.


Peter Wityk 




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Friday,  April 22, 2011

Horns or Halos, Sometimes it's just funny to work for the Fed. government during election seasons - buffy willow


"With the 2012 presidential race heating up, federal workers are being reminded to keep campaign paraphernalia out of the office - and not to draw halos or horns around the head of President Obama."

I wish I'd thought of it before being instructed not to do it. (grin).

R, Rose


OK, I should have waited to send this. An FAA Engineer has asked if he can draw Donald Trump hair on a pic of the President. You realize that we ALL have a picture of Obama SOMEWHERE around the building...he IS the President! Whomever started this by drawing on pictures of President Obama should probably have been ignored, now everyone is thinking of amusing ways to alter pictures of all sorts of people. Absolutely nothing political involved, this is just too good to not muse about.

R, Rose

Just make sure no one looks like a chimp when it is all done... Orangutan perhaps, but not a chimp...




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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Response to Petronius


Would you, kindly, post this response? I am only responding for two reasons: (1) I have respect for Petronius and (2) this is an important issue.

Petronius said: "If he refers to the CNN interview with former CIA employee Michael Scheuer, a link to which was posted in MAIL last week, then Mr. Jordan is mistaken. Scheuer made no such claim in that interview." http://www.jerrypournelle.com/mail/2011/Q2/mail670.html#CIA2 

No, Mister Jordan is not mistaken. Maybe the language Scheuer used was confusing. Mister Scheuer said: "Well, Libya has been very strong in sending young men -- or having it's young men -- go overseas to fight in Islamic insurgencies -- in the Balkans, in Chechnya, Afghanistan, especially Iraq -- when the height of the fighting was there. Those that don't get killed, of course, go home. And, I think the core of the resistance -- whatever little military ability they have -- is probably made up by people, elsewhere, we would call Mujahadeen."

Once more, the video is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDVt_hSo_EU&feature=player_embedded 

Some facts to help make Scheuer's statement clear. (1) "Islamic Insurgency" is a euphemism -- made for the social idealists -- to refer to military campaigns involving "terrorists" -- consider "undocumented worker" as opposed to "illegal alien". (2) Mujahadeen refers to "Holy Warriors"; terrorists tend to call themselves "Mujahadeen" again, consider "undocumented workers". Of course, the Balkans, Chechnya, Afghanistan, and Iraq are all places where U.S. forces--save for Chechnya--fought terrorists.

So, Scheuer did not come out and say, "the U.S. government supports terrorists" in common speech. Like most of us who say things that you should not say, he used big words and complex phraseology. In the same way I speak in Cockney around Americans so they cannot understand me, educated speech often goes over people's heads -- even educated heads. This is one reason why communities like ours are so important.


Most Respectfully,

Joshua Jordan, KSC Percussa Resurgo

Most official government statements contain euphemisms -- or at least words and phrases  that some consider to be euphemisms. I do not think that most policy makers are unable to comprehend educated speech, but the necessities of political rhetoric include some care to avoid "hurtful" phrases, particularly in these days of universal recordings. People are overly careful in such matters because the consequences of saying the wrong thing can be baneful and forever.

As to Islamic insurgencies, when the Russians were in occupation of Afghanistan we generally did not call those who fought against the Russian troops "terrorists", and when the Russians scattered booby-trapped toys and dolls across some of the countryside we generally did not call that "terrorism." I would not myself say "The US supports terrorism," but it was certainly said by many about our air operations in World War II. After all, defeat is a condition in the mind of an enemy commander, and causing terror and despair among the enemy's rulers has long been a path to victory. Ho Chi Minh and Mao Tse Tung wrote extensively on these matters, as did many Comintern writers before them.

There are a number of books on the Mujahideen and their war against the USSR occupation. There were many reports on those activities (some from participants) in Soldier of Fortune magazine as well as books by some of the editors of that magazine. It is said that Col. Brown of Soldier of Fortune had many authentic sources. And of course there was Charlie Wilson's War. The short and long term effects of US operations in that time and place are subjects of debates requiring more time and space than I have.

I make no secret of the fact that I consider the Cold War a different era, and that the threat of the USSR justified US policies and operations that are not so clearly justified once the USSR was removed from the world scene. We no longer have the expensive and exacting requirements for launching nuclear war after absorbing a massive nuclear strike against our Strategic Nuclear Forces. We no longer keep massive forces in Europe to prevent the Red Army from rolling through the Fulda Gap to the Rhine. We no longer send troops into  peril as part of a strategy of containment.

My view has consistently been that the best investment of US resources in the present world situation is in development of United States resources, not in lengthy foreign military adventures. Sometimes military force is needed, but lengthy nation building operations need a great deal more justification in the absence of a mortal threat to the United States. Once we send the Legions in harm's way we have obligations to the Legions, but making war on terror has never seemed to me a very feasible strategy.

In other words: this is a much larger debate than I have time for at the moment.


: Presidential eligibility

The law governing the citizenship of children born outside the U.S. to one or two U.S.-citizen parents has varied considerably over time. Current U.S. statutes define various categories of individuals born overseas as citizens at birth, including (for example) all persons "born outside of the United States and its outlying possessions of parents both of whom are citizens of the United States and one of whom has had a residence in the United States or one of its outlying possessions, prior to the birth of such person[s]."

According to an April 2000 report by the Congressional Research Service <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congressional_Research_Service>  , most constitutional scholars interpret Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution as including citizens born outside the United States to parents who are U.S. citizens under the "natural born" requirement. This same CRS report <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congressional_Research_Service_Report>  also asserts that citizens born in the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands are legally defined as "natural born" citizens and are, therefore, also eligible to be elected President.


All of which is irrelevant: Obama is President now. We can, at another time -- say when he has left office --  calmly discuss procedures to settle this for future candidates forever. Until then, the subject doesn't really warrant a lot of attention. There is no way Mr. Obama will be dismissed from the office, nor prevented from running for re-election.


"We can assure the public that he is no longer working at the airport."


--- Roland Dobbins

Feeling safer already.


More on the OSU Scandal -- The saga continues, and escalates....

The OSU misconduct story gets ever more unbelievable. An outrageous example of crony capitalism and institutional corruption is unfolding right here in Oregon.



John D. Trudel

I am not certain of the sources on all of this. The story is sufficiently shocking that I have problems with it; but I have seen worse in academia. I am told that the above link does not always work. Try this:



As I said in my first email, below, "You have greatly underestimated the severity of the disaster in the Japanese Nuclear Reactors !! You will soon realize that this is an immense disaster. "

When will you admit your comments were disservice? And please spare us from your provisos!!



Date: Tue, 15 Mar 2011 13:50:11 -0700

 Subject: You have greatly underestimated ...

You have greatly underestimated the severity of the disaster in the Japanese Nuclear Reactors !! You will soon realize that this is an immense disaster.

The reactor at San Onofre is another disaster waiting to happen. It was built to withstand an earthquake of 7.0 and is subject to much larger quakes.

Your comments have been a disservice! But I think you can go over them in retrospect to find that as usual you included provisos to CYA.

DrTom Bailey

General Manager AquariumFish.net The World's Most Popular Web Site for People Who Love Pet Fish !

Co-Host of Pet Fish Talk The World's Largest Exclusively Internet-Radio Talk Show.

I have seen no reason to revise my views on the subject. There was an immense disaster in Japan: it was a 9.0 temblor followed by a huge tsunami. The damage off site from Fukushimi has been negligible. See the MIT engineering site http://mitnse.com/ for more.

I had a tropical fish tank for more than thirty years, but I lost it to the big earthquake here in Los Angeles. From time to time I think of replacing it, but I have not done so.


Subject: Cheap Energy Made Apple Possible

This is going a long way for some information, but a link to a 1975 Steve Jobs interview where Jobs said that cheap energy made it easy to make computers.


-- Dwayne Phillips


Secret Space Sex Experiment Rumors Denied By Russian Expert


The rumors resurface.

I'm amazed that such experiments haven't occurred because the feasibility of having sex in space would dictate the feasibility of space colonization. Perhaps such an experiment might reveal that freefall is far more effective than viagra? This could save the space program. That and a possible secure retirement for aging dictators might attract the investment needed for lunar mines, powersats, and space habitats. Perhaps I should write a sci fi story?


Jim Crawford


Moonshot wins billions despite budget slashing 

Dear Jerry,

I wish I knew if this was good or not.


R, Rose


: Government Cash Handouts Now Top Tax Revenues 

Dr. Pournelle, I thought you might find this interesting.  

Government Cash Handouts Now Top Tax Revenues

By Elizabeth MacDonald

Published April 20, 2011


U.S. households are now getting more in cash handouts from the government than they are paying in taxes for the first time since the Great Depression.

Households received $2.3 trillion in some kind of government support in 2010. That includes expanded unemployment benefits, as well as payments for Social Security <http://www.foxbusiness.com/topics/
business/finance/retirement/social-security.htm>  , Medicare, Medicaid <http://www.foxbusiness.com/topics/politics/
healthcare/health-insurance.htm>  , and stimulus spending, among other things.

But thats more than the $2.2 trillion households paid in taxes, an amount that has slumped largely due to the recession, according to an analysis by the Fiscal Times...




"As to Libya, I suspect the beneficiaries of the interventions in Libya will be Chinese long before the US sees any benefits."

I think the Chinese are already benefiting, they are not having to pay for the war... :)


Most Respectfully,

Joshua Jordan, KSC


Semen as a drug,


Yesterday you posted a link to a surgeon's editorial on the subject of semen, how it has substances in it that elevate a woman's mood. So, semen injected the traditional way is like an injectable drug. And there is a potential for some women to become addicted to this.

I am not proposing this as a trivial Valentine's Day matter. An addiction may explain why some women return to abusive male partners, which is a serious recurring problem in the mental health field.

Doubtless there are other causes. But when causes reinforce each other, the behavior becomes more likely.

Ed (wearing my shrink hat today)











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Sunday,   April 24, 2011    

I took this day off from mail to get A Step Farther Out up on Kindle.




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