Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Nothing to Bear but Bear Itself!


When you’re tracking a highly dangerous animal-say, a grisley–you first pick up disturbances on the ground or bushes. As you follow the weak signs, they tend to get fresher and more definitive: the outlines of pawprints become clearly forced into the soil, and the broken branches are quite new and dripping sap. Then you may hear grunts and snarls. If you persist, suddenly rising before you to his full 12-foot height stands the grisley bear, and his intentions are now quite clear indeed. You are his next meal. No escaping now: such bears can run at 35 mph, and I do not think you are that fast.

Experienced trackers would have picked up that it was a grisley very quickly, and would have made proper preparations in case of an encounter with this most fearsome animal in the North, including retreating to the truck to get a high caliber rifle and pistol, asking others to accompany them to provide even more firepower, and walking in a skirmish line to give everyone a good shot.

I see your so-called kooks as amateur trackers that have picked up early signs of the bear, but have little idea what they need to do next. The professionals are not on site yet, but the bear is lurking around, for sure, snorting often (too often!), and making his presence known, although at some distance.

These anateurs know well that they could lose their lives to the bear, so they make noise, shout, wave their hands wide and all those things that just might scare the bear off. None of them had the wisdom to carry a good weapon in the midst of grisley country. Of course, they look like bumbling fools and idiots to an observer that is blissfully unaware of the bear signs and sounds that provoked those people.

But, the grisley bear is really there, and will be for the time being…

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Sunday, September 27, 2009



Talks with Iran have been ongoing for close to 6 or 8 years now over their nuclear program. Talking has achieved quite a lot, principally the time for Iran to build a network of nuclear facilities, to process weapon grade uranium, to build medium range rockets able to carry the nukes, and to build an air defense network to protect their facilities.

You want yet another round of the same? In another 6 to 8 years we could talk our way into Iran building long-range missiles and multiple-target warheads. Quite a success story for a nation that defies the West and threatens Israel with total destruction.

It is beginning to seem like the West is not able to muster the courage of their convictions regarding Iran, and is resigning itself that Iran will obtain nuclear weapons.

One exception is Israel, whose very existence is at stake if Iran succeeds. There is a distinct possibility that Israel wants to attack Iran to force them into a response that would drag the US into the fight, thereby insuring far greater destruction of Iran’s warmaking capability and nuclear facilities than Israel could achieve alone.

Consider that to do a thorough job on Iran, many dispersed sites must be hit, each of which is defended against air attack. To roam all over Iran finding and hitting nuclear-related sites, air superiority and suppression of air defenses must be achieved. This in turn means that central command and control sites and communications facilities must be taken out, as well as any number of radar sites and missile or gun installations. If the US joins the fight, all of these goals become feasible.

Having achieved this superiority, then, larger aircraft can be sent into Iraq carrying the huge bombs needed to penetrate deeply buried facilities. Some of these weapons weigh 20,000lb or more, and can be launched out of C-130s rear ramps, or from large bombers like the B-52 and B-2 that only we have.

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Monday, September 14, 2009


"Call it the Constitution Revolution!"

Good name!

Chris Burgard on the blog Big Hollywood: "Call it the Constitution Revolution! "  He also reports that the police and others savvy about crowd counts put the number of marchers at 1.6 million.

My own calculations, knowing the length of Pennsylvania Avenue, its width, the average space for one person, and the walking speed one could expect, gives a range of 250,000 to 500,000 people just on the Avenue, and doesn't count the crowds at the Capitol and the Reflecting Pool, nor those observing, but not streaming into the flow. I believe it is reasonable to estimate the crowd at over a  million just from looking at the density of the marchers in the photos.

It is indeed a revolution to return us to constitutional law, and not the feel-good, nanny-state laws that liberals want to institute in the nation.  With Spend, spend, spend will come tax, tax, tax, unless we kick the bums out of office real soon now!

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Dissent by Reason not Rabble-Rousing

A few kooks carry Nazi and Hitler signs in the protests.

This complaint over kooks needs a longer perspective and less anguish on the part of conservatives. By legitimizing the kooks through serious commentary and woeful thinking about their influence, it raises the temperature of the argument without changing the kook’s mindset.
Every movement has its fringe people, and they will try to be heard, but there are simpler methods of muting their message, such as ignoring them, or making one-on-one comments to them about the negative influence they project.

Reason will prevail in the end—conservative reason, that is! The simple and accurate messages of dissent, based on facts and reason are the answer, and the kooks will probably be won over to such messages before long because they will come to realize the truth of what is being said by every conservative.

So what we need are those simple, direct, truthful and potent messages. Why not turn the discussion around to exactly that creative problem?

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Wednesday, September 09, 2009



Things that should be done now:

1. Ensure financial security for Medicare and Medicaid
2. Ensue financial security of Social Security
3. Reform the tort system to eliminate abuses
4. Reform the administration of Medicare and Medicaid
5. Allow health insurance to be portable across state lines and from company to company
6. Eliminate the “doughnut hole” in prescription insurance
7. Eliminate the mandatory ER treatment for scofflaws
8. Eliminate the mandatory hospitalization of all comers
9. Ensure no free coverage for aliens
10. Require immigrants and visitors to take out adequate health insurance in advance of entry into the US
11. Require employers of aliens to take out health insurance on their employees and families.
12. Require proper ID for all persons in the nation.
13. No refusal by insurance companies because of preexisting conditions, but allow them to set premiums to balance the risk.
14. No limits on maximum coverage in a lifetime
15. No cancellation of policies that are kept current in payments.
16. No increase in the national debt--pay as you go!
17. No establishment of a government bureaucracy or increased government employment for health reasons.

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Monday, September 07, 2009


Space, MOL, and Apollo

Brief Recollections of Two Space Programs--- MOL and Apollo

This is a set of reminders to me of my involvements in MOL and Apollo in a sort of outline form for later expansion.

A fellow IBM’er, Phil Jackson’s story of being called by Von Braun: the beginning of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of computers, software and engineering contracted to IBM.

Eddie White walking in space, and his death on the pad—1969.Eddie was a high school friend and fellow Air Force brat. We both lived on Wright-Patterson AFB, Dayton, Ohio, and went to Oakwood Jr High. The summer of 1944 was a glorious time for us, with all of the Officer’s Club facilities at our disposal—swimming pool, golf course, and the always fascinating show of aircraft at both bases. The war was always up front, and the loss of our parent’s friends was a constant reminder that it was deeply serious. But, we were 13, and just feeling our way into life. Late in 1944, my father was reassigned to Brookley AFB in Mobile, Alabama, and that was the end of my association with Eddie.

Technological Marvels of the period with which I found myself deeply associated:
The massive Mission Control Center in Houston
The architecture of the mission control computer complex
The Manned Spacecraft network
Fred Matthews—number 2 to Chris Craft, the voice of NASA.
The Mercury Triple-redundant computer--- had three failures upon recovery!
The Apollo flight computer architecture
Standing next to an Apollo at the Cape
Dr. Pete Castruccio
Douglas Aircraft Company in Santa Monica, California.
Aerospace Corporation, and many other shops

39 PhDs in IBM and 40 others---all working for me! If I needed a monk with a PhD and an MD that spoke Russian, and was expert in gravity effects on the human body, I would have him inside of a few days. Not quite an exaggeration! We took over the entire Sands Motel on the beach!

Critical Mission issues: What can be observed from space and in which portions of the spectrum? Weapons in space; Space-to-ground weapons; Defending space vehicles; An 8 shot program to define the AF role—6 experimental and the last 2 operational; eventually changed to 7 total as the mission set was refined and costs became a huge constraint.

The first mission was to be experiments with very high resolution reconnaissance from space, with presumably very rapid turnaround for indicators or tels of impending war, such as the simultaneous opening of multiple Russian missile silo covers.

Critical Space issues: Working in zero gravity; Design of the Laboratory and its life support; Command Module from Gemini; Design of the various experiments; Weight Control; Configuration of the 6 experiment packages; Reliability and Maintainability---Man-rated systems—Escape systems; Radiation; Booster design---Saturn V, Titan IIIM; What orbits? Maintaining orbits and maneuverability; Weapons development; Target acquisition and tracking; and a few hundred other details…

Critical Support issues: Vandenberg SLC-6 Launch Complex for operational missions; Cape Canaveral for the experimental shots.

It was a tour de force in physics, mathematics, large scale, complex systems engineering, management of highly diverse technical teams, with a worldwide perspective.

A huge, multi-tiered set of flowcharts and PERT Time and PERT Cost schedule charts to create and maintain. The Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) ran to many tiers and sub-tiers, to accommodate every subcontractor’ role.

Winning the Contract Definition phase for MOL! It is hard for me to express the joy, pride, and thankfulness that came over me, and everyone else, when we, the DAC Team were announced as the winner.

I was appointed manager of On-Board Laboratory Systems for the Recon Mission of the Lab, reporting to the IBM MOL contract manager—Pete Castruccio—who in turn reported to the Douglas Aircraft Company MOL Manager, whose name I have totally forgotten. We were given many constraints up front, derived from Aerospace Company design phase work: weight of add-on equipment; volume, allowance for life support systems; mission timeline; materials we couldn’t use; standard practices for man-rated systems, and a big pile of studies from all over the industry, NASA and AF labs to draw upon covering just about all questions one could ask. It was a 10-foot shelf of technical volumes we had to master. We then had to build MOL Contract-specific volumes for all areas.

The resolution of the optics from altitude was key to the recon mission, and it was up to our subcontractor to produce a telescopic system and stabilized platform inside the Lab stabilization system that would give us literally inches of ground resolution under good seeing conditions.

Gearing up for the contract; 20 new hires, with another bunch to follow.

And Then, the Axe Falls

Hearing the announcement of the cancellation of MOL, in favor of unmanned Key Hole systems and Apollo was devastating--June 1969. It was the end of the road for MOL and me in the space program. By good luck, another program role was waiting for me and the team I had built.

IBM’s Mission Simulation for Apollo—Tom Armstrong—GPSS. This was the first time I had seen such an elaborate simulation. It covered every phase of a mission from launch through recovery, and all main alternatives in the event of failure at each stage, with timelines. Geoffery Gordon, the GPSS inventor, was Tom’s main advisor. This simulation approach I used much later to create a complex system design tool of great power.
IBM’s Instrument Ring for Apollo. Yes, IBM built a 5-foot high portion of the Saturn V in Huntsville, called the Instrument Ring.

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Friday, September 04, 2009


Air Strikes in Afghanistan

Karsai! This is war, bud, and Taliban gatherings will be hit!

We are at war with the Taliban in a nation that deliberately intermixes fighters with supposed civilians. The postage-stamp government raises a hue and cry about civilian casualties, and calls such air strikes as occurred yesterday on captured fuel tankers to be unacceptable. Leaders of the Taliban have ensured that some civilians would be in their meeting houses in case of an air strike, so that they can claim that only civilians were killed.

The message should be set out to all Afghanistanis: Avoid the Taliban or you may lose your life! Stay away from their meetings, and do not gather around their men for any reason. Air strikes are going to be executed on any gathering detected. Be warned.!

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Obama's First Months

It is a simple score:

Foreign Policy: F
Islam Policy: F
Health Policy: F
Stimulus: F
Budget: F-
WH Hires: F
Mug shots: F
Trust: F
Calming Fear: F
Clunkers: F
Cap&Trade: F-
Honesty: F
Friends: F-
Debt: F-
Most Other: F

So far, he is the worst President I have ever known; including LBJ, Clinton, and Carter, although they, too, rank way down.

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