Category: Chet Richards

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Google May Help the US by Setting Up Big Brother in China


Is Google a saint or a sinner?  Perhaps it once aspired to be a saint.  Its old motto, “Don’t Be Evil,” tells us so.  It even remains something of an angel with its powerful delivery of useful information.  If it once really was angelic, today, it certainly is a fallen angel.  Its new motto, “Do the Right Thing,” could easily be interpreted as “Do What’s Good for Google”: make us money!  Increase our power!

Fallen angel or not, Google’s leadership is unquestionably strongly left-biased.  A remarkable video has surfaced in which Google’s leadership was in tears while speaking of Donald Trump’s election in front of hundreds of its propeller-head worker-bees.

Google pretends its products are politically neutral.  For the most part they are, but in times of political controversy, that neutrality breaks down.  We now know that Google puts itself, and its leftist politics, first. 

There is something really sinister going on at Google – something congruent with its leftist orientation.  “Dragonfly” is its name.  Since the spring of 2017, Google has been secretly working on a version of its search engine that permits its administrators to censor contents.  Google has been in negotiation with Chinese authorities to install Dragonfly as China’s main search engine.  According to The Intercept, Dragonfly will “blacklist websites and search terms about human rights, democracy, religion, and peaceful protest.”

Presumably, if the Google software can blacklist websites, it can also report to the government attempts to access such websites.  Google’s effort has generated strong protests among civil libertarians, including many of Google’s employees who had not previously been aware of Dragonfly.

Dragonfly is one piece of a new comprehensive effort by the Chinese government to control its people.  Another piece is the installation of millions of cameras.  Both are in support of Social Credit, a computerized system to control behavior.

As of 2017, China had installed 176 million CCTV cameras.  The current plan is to have 626 million cameras installed by 2020.  The software employing these cameras tracks the movements of individuals, even in heavy traffic.  More important, face recognition software now allows identification of individuals with reasonable (up to 90%) accuracy.  If this sounds like Big Brother, it is Big Brother.  Big Brother is watching you!  At least in China.

Initiated in 2014 and expected to be fully operational in 2020, the Social Credit system assigns a value to each person based on how well he conforms to government-established criteria.  People with a high credit score will have more privileges and freedom (i.e., become nomenklatura).  People with lower credit will find themselves restricted according to their score.  People with a very low credit score will have their communications cut off and will even be forbidden short-range travel and accommodations.  It has taken a while for Orwell’s vision to be fully realized, but 2020 should do the trick, at least for Eastasia.

China’s communist leaders are afraid.  Instituting Social Credit tells the world that things are out of their control and only a flat-out tyranny can salvage the situation.  It says that centrifugal forces have nearly reached the tipping point.  It’s an old, old story.

Until 221 B.C., China wasn’t China.  Although there had been smaller empires before, only in 221 was all of China unified under Emperor Chi’in.  Chi’in was a visionary monster who gave his name to China.  He did some good: he developed a common writing script and established uniform weights and measures.  He also murdered every scholar he could find and burned their books.  To say the least, Chi’in wasn’t popular.  His dynasty lasted only four years after his death.

If Chi’in sounds like a familiar character, that’s because he was the model for Emperor Mao Zedong and the communists.  Everyone in China knows the story.  That’s the trouble.

The Chinese people have tasted freedom and prosperity.  They like it, and they want more.  But more freedom inevitably means the overthrow of communism and the probable dissolution of the empire and its leadership.  The leadership knows it.

Tyranny has a terrible price.  It ultimately means failure and dissolution.  This is because it is too rigid.  It kills the human spirit.  Psychologist Jordan Peterson notes that creativity flourishes in the thin boundary between order and chaos.  Disciplined chaos is necessary for discovery and advancement.  The direction that China has decided to go suppresses creative chaos. 

It is easy to predict China’s future.  It is currently near its economic peak.  Until now, China has had the benefit of learning from the West and from Japan.  But that learning required a free cadre of creatively talented individuals.  Without creative freedom, the talents in China will leave or will cease their efforts.  China will become less and less innovative and will progressively fall behind the rest of the world.  At some point, stagnation will be too much to bear, and political revolution will be successful.  It happened precisely that way to the Empire of the Soviet Union, and it will happen to China.

So is Google a saint or a sinner?  It is both: a sinner because it is helping the Chinese establishment to kill intellectual and physical freedom in China and (from an American perspective) a saint because, partly through Google’s efforts, China will cease to be an economic and strategic threat to the United States.

Is Google a saint or a sinner?  Perhaps it once aspired to be a saint.  Its old motto, “Don’t Be Evil,” tells us so.  It even remains something of an angel with its powerful delivery of useful information.  If it once really was angelic, today, it certainly is a fallen angel.  Its new motto, “Do the Right Thing,” could easily be interpreted as “Do What’s Good for Google”: make us money!  Increase our power!

Fallen angel or not, Google’s leadership is unquestionably strongly left-biased.  A remarkable video has surfaced in which Google’s leadership was in tears while speaking of Donald Trump’s election in front of hundreds of its propeller-head worker-bees.

Google pretends its products are politically neutral.  For the most part they are, but in times of political controversy, that neutrality breaks down.  We now know that Google puts itself, and its leftist politics, first. 

There is something really sinister going on at Google – something congruent with its leftist orientation.  “Dragonfly” is its name.  Since the spring of 2017, Google has been secretly working on a version of its search engine that permits its administrators to censor contents.  Google has been in negotiation with Chinese authorities to install Dragonfly as China’s main search engine.  According to The Intercept, Dragonfly will “blacklist websites and search terms about human rights, democracy, religion, and peaceful protest.”

Presumably, if the Google software can blacklist websites, it can also report to the government attempts to access such websites.  Google’s effort has generated strong protests among civil libertarians, including many of Google’s employees who had not previously been aware of Dragonfly.

Dragonfly is one piece of a new comprehensive effort by the Chinese government to control its people.  Another piece is the installation of millions of cameras.  Both are in support of Social Credit, a computerized system to control behavior.

As of 2017, China had installed 176 million CCTV cameras.  The current plan is to have 626 million cameras installed by 2020.  The software employing these cameras tracks the movements of individuals, even in heavy traffic.  More important, face recognition software now allows identification of individuals with reasonable (up to 90%) accuracy.  If this sounds like Big Brother, it is Big Brother.  Big Brother is watching you!  At least in China.

Initiated in 2014 and expected to be fully operational in 2020, the Social Credit system assigns a value to each person based on how well he conforms to government-established criteria.  People with a high credit score will have more privileges and freedom (i.e., become nomenklatura).  People with lower credit will find themselves restricted according to their score.  People with a very low credit score will have their communications cut off and will even be forbidden short-range travel and accommodations.  It has taken a while for Orwell’s vision to be fully realized, but 2020 should do the trick, at least for Eastasia.

China’s communist leaders are afraid.  Instituting Social Credit tells the world that things are out of their control and only a flat-out tyranny can salvage the situation.  It says that centrifugal forces have nearly reached the tipping point.  It’s an old, old story.

Until 221 B.C., China wasn’t China.  Although there had been smaller empires before, only in 221 was all of China unified under Emperor Chi’in.  Chi’in was a visionary monster who gave his name to China.  He did some good: he developed a common writing script and established uniform weights and measures.  He also murdered every scholar he could find and burned their books.  To say the least, Chi’in wasn’t popular.  His dynasty lasted only four years after his death.

If Chi’in sounds like a familiar character, that’s because he was the model for Emperor Mao Zedong and the communists.  Everyone in China knows the story.  That’s the trouble.

The Chinese people have tasted freedom and prosperity.  They like it, and they want more.  But more freedom inevitably means the overthrow of communism and the probable dissolution of the empire and its leadership.  The leadership knows it.

Tyranny has a terrible price.  It ultimately means failure and dissolution.  This is because it is too rigid.  It kills the human spirit.  Psychologist Jordan Peterson notes that creativity flourishes in the thin boundary between order and chaos.  Disciplined chaos is necessary for discovery and advancement.  The direction that China has decided to go suppresses creative chaos. 

It is easy to predict China’s future.  It is currently near its economic peak.  Until now, China has had the benefit of learning from the West and from Japan.  But that learning required a free cadre of creatively talented individuals.  Without creative freedom, the talents in China will leave or will cease their efforts.  China will become less and less innovative and will progressively fall behind the rest of the world.  At some point, stagnation will be too much to bear, and political revolution will be successful.  It happened precisely that way to the Empire of the Soviet Union, and it will happen to China.

So is Google a saint or a sinner?  It is both: a sinner because it is helping the Chinese establishment to kill intellectual and physical freedom in China and (from an American perspective) a saint because, partly through Google’s efforts, China will cease to be an economic and strategic threat to the United States.



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Presidential Chaos


The Oval Office is in chaos.  Donald Trump is mercurial, scatter-brained, given to changing his opinion every few minutes.  Talks all the time.  Doesn’t listen.  Is opinionated.  Often wrong.  He is interested only in today, not tomorrow.  He lacks caution.  It all adds up to a president who clearly is mentally deficient – insane even.  Or so some say.  They say it is vital for the Nation’s future that Donald Trump be relieved of his office – or at least tightly controlled.

All of the above may, or may not, be true.  Only those in a day-to-day working relationship with the president know the reality, and publicly they say only positive things about the man.

Whatever the truth, the simple fact is that Donald Trump is, thus far, perhaps the most productive president in American history.  Only Teddy Roosevelt is a productive rival, and chaos surrounded him, as well.  How can Trump’s purported chaotic insanity produce such positive results?

The simplest explanation is simple:  Donald Trump may be a genius!  Don’t laugh.  He may be the real thing.  He jokes about it, which suggests he doesn’t realize that he really is (see the Dunning-Kruger effect).  His career record certainly suggests he is a major creative talent – and a gutsy one at that.

Perhaps President Trump is the kind of genius who thrives on turmoil.  If so, that explains the chaos.  In my profession of physics, there have been several brilliant notables with exactly that characteristic.  It is not to say that Donald Trump lacks self-discipline.  He wouldn’t be where he is today if discipline was lacking.  His discipline is probably very different from the norm, but it clearly works.

Creative people understand chaos.  They especially understand it if they have collaborated with other talented people on a difficult problem.  Creative chaos is the norm in such an environment.  Without that chaos productivity can vanish.

More than half a century ago, equipped with a fresh physics degree, I attracted the attention of a group of professional inventors and was hired.  Most of the time the work was routine.  The real fun came, most days, when things were winding down.  Then a few of us would gather together for exercises in pure invention.  We were led by the group’s technical boss, a master inventor.  It was in these sessions that I received my training as a professional inventor.  The most noteworthy things about these sessions were their chaos and their entertainment value – they really were fun.

A problem would be posed.  It didn’t matter what kind of problem as long as there was no known solution.  Then came a great deal of discordant, often simultaneous, often loud, back and forth.  Chaos.  Then, sometimes popping out of the blue, a solution magically appeared.  Almost always these sessions would produce at least one patentable invention (and often more than one).  We usually didn’t file patent because the invention was seldom relevant to our business and patents are expensive.

Given the creative ferment there it is little wonder that the group produced a series of engineering masterpieces.

Later, after several uninspiring years in graduate school, I found myself working directly for one of the aerospace industry’s great geniuses.  Chaos again.  I was back in my element.  People change, personalities change, but the creative chaos is always the same – provided the talent is there.

Trump faces a problem: the Government.  The Government is not, by its nature, a creative institution.  When it tries to be it almost invariable gets it wrong.  Just consider all the failed social programs if you doubt this.

Government is good at routine.  Routine minds are repelled by the kind of turbulence that surrounds Donald Trump.  Which, of course, is the reason they have routine minds in routine jobs.  Government is process oriented and rule bound.  Once a routine is established things tend to go smoothly for a while.  Unfortunately routine breaks down in stressing situations.  Then, creative thinking is required.  But the creativity is usually not there.  Creative people just don’t fit comfortably in a process oriented organization.

The aerospace industry has many examples where process breaks down.  One program, where I was involved at a senior level, suffered from excessive process.  The program manager was a retired Lieutenant General who had had great success managing a key part of the first Gulf War.  He was highly intelligent and accessible.  But he did not understand the creative chaos required for success in this kind of program.  What he did understand was process.

Key decisions were to be made according to a detailed schedule, not for technical merit.  After an expenditure of more than a billion dollars of government money, and hundreds of millions of dollars of corporate investment, the program was canceled.  Process had killed the program.

The people who thrive at upper levels in Government are mostly highly intelligent conventional thinkers.  Put them in the service of someone like Donald Trump and they may do outstanding work.  Or, they may rebel and engage in subversion.  Such rebellion seems to be a problem today.

According to the notorious 9/5/18 New York Times op ed piece by Anonymous,  there exists an informal Steady State conspiracy at high levels in Trump’s administration.  Reportedly, this group has interfered with the president’s decision process.  It has done so by pilfering documents that were put in front of him to sign.  Implied, this group also biases the information going to the president.  Is this editorial factual?  Or, is it just malicious disinformation from the swamp?  If it is real then substantial housecleaning is in order.  In any case, among a cast of hundreds, or even thousands, there inevitably will be those who will be disaffected.

In time the mix of the people around the president will have evolved to be a buffer between the productive conventional thinkers and their highly unconventional boss.  In engineering terms, Trump’s senior staff should serve as an efficient impedance matching device.  Given Donald Trump’s major talents, and with such a mature staff around the president, we can expect this administration to go down as one history’s greatest.

Graphic credit: Pixabay

The Oval Office is in chaos.  Donald Trump is mercurial, scatter-brained, given to changing his opinion every few minutes.  Talks all the time.  Doesn’t listen.  Is opinionated.  Often wrong.  He is interested only in today, not tomorrow.  He lacks caution.  It all adds up to a president who clearly is mentally deficient – insane even.  Or so some say.  They say it is vital for the Nation’s future that Donald Trump be relieved of his office – or at least tightly controlled.

All of the above may, or may not, be true.  Only those in a day-to-day working relationship with the president know the reality, and publicly they say only positive things about the man.

Whatever the truth, the simple fact is that Donald Trump is, thus far, perhaps the most productive president in American history.  Only Teddy Roosevelt is a productive rival, and chaos surrounded him, as well.  How can Trump’s purported chaotic insanity produce such positive results?

The simplest explanation is simple:  Donald Trump may be a genius!  Don’t laugh.  He may be the real thing.  He jokes about it, which suggests he doesn’t realize that he really is (see the Dunning-Kruger effect).  His career record certainly suggests he is a major creative talent – and a gutsy one at that.

Perhaps President Trump is the kind of genius who thrives on turmoil.  If so, that explains the chaos.  In my profession of physics, there have been several brilliant notables with exactly that characteristic.  It is not to say that Donald Trump lacks self-discipline.  He wouldn’t be where he is today if discipline was lacking.  His discipline is probably very different from the norm, but it clearly works.

Creative people understand chaos.  They especially understand it if they have collaborated with other talented people on a difficult problem.  Creative chaos is the norm in such an environment.  Without that chaos productivity can vanish.

More than half a century ago, equipped with a fresh physics degree, I attracted the attention of a group of professional inventors and was hired.  Most of the time the work was routine.  The real fun came, most days, when things were winding down.  Then a few of us would gather together for exercises in pure invention.  We were led by the group’s technical boss, a master inventor.  It was in these sessions that I received my training as a professional inventor.  The most noteworthy things about these sessions were their chaos and their entertainment value – they really were fun.

A problem would be posed.  It didn’t matter what kind of problem as long as there was no known solution.  Then came a great deal of discordant, often simultaneous, often loud, back and forth.  Chaos.  Then, sometimes popping out of the blue, a solution magically appeared.  Almost always these sessions would produce at least one patentable invention (and often more than one).  We usually didn’t file patent because the invention was seldom relevant to our business and patents are expensive.

Given the creative ferment there it is little wonder that the group produced a series of engineering masterpieces.

Later, after several uninspiring years in graduate school, I found myself working directly for one of the aerospace industry’s great geniuses.  Chaos again.  I was back in my element.  People change, personalities change, but the creative chaos is always the same – provided the talent is there.

Trump faces a problem: the Government.  The Government is not, by its nature, a creative institution.  When it tries to be it almost invariable gets it wrong.  Just consider all the failed social programs if you doubt this.

Government is good at routine.  Routine minds are repelled by the kind of turbulence that surrounds Donald Trump.  Which, of course, is the reason they have routine minds in routine jobs.  Government is process oriented and rule bound.  Once a routine is established things tend to go smoothly for a while.  Unfortunately routine breaks down in stressing situations.  Then, creative thinking is required.  But the creativity is usually not there.  Creative people just don’t fit comfortably in a process oriented organization.

The aerospace industry has many examples where process breaks down.  One program, where I was involved at a senior level, suffered from excessive process.  The program manager was a retired Lieutenant General who had had great success managing a key part of the first Gulf War.  He was highly intelligent and accessible.  But he did not understand the creative chaos required for success in this kind of program.  What he did understand was process.

Key decisions were to be made according to a detailed schedule, not for technical merit.  After an expenditure of more than a billion dollars of government money, and hundreds of millions of dollars of corporate investment, the program was canceled.  Process had killed the program.

The people who thrive at upper levels in Government are mostly highly intelligent conventional thinkers.  Put them in the service of someone like Donald Trump and they may do outstanding work.  Or, they may rebel and engage in subversion.  Such rebellion seems to be a problem today.

According to the notorious 9/5/18 New York Times op ed piece by Anonymous,  there exists an informal Steady State conspiracy at high levels in Trump’s administration.  Reportedly, this group has interfered with the president’s decision process.  It has done so by pilfering documents that were put in front of him to sign.  Implied, this group also biases the information going to the president.  Is this editorial factual?  Or, is it just malicious disinformation from the swamp?  If it is real then substantial housecleaning is in order.  In any case, among a cast of hundreds, or even thousands, there inevitably will be those who will be disaffected.

In time the mix of the people around the president will have evolved to be a buffer between the productive conventional thinkers and their highly unconventional boss.  In engineering terms, Trump’s senior staff should serve as an efficient impedance matching device.  Given Donald Trump’s major talents, and with such a mature staff around the president, we can expect this administration to go down as one history’s greatest.

Graphic credit: Pixabay



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Suicidal Empires



Is the USA going the way of Rome?



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Feminism and What Makes a Woman


Crowds of angry women, and a few men, shuffle along.  Their signs flaunt words of hate and venom.  So do their shrill voices.  Many placards sport the hammer and sickle – the emblem of slave empires that many of these women dream of recreating here in America. 

On the platform are other women – entertainers and politicians, mostly.  Very successful public figures, all.  They complain bitterly about being downtrodden despite their enormous wealth and power. 

Later, on television, is a Supreme Court justice.  Oblivious to irony, she complains about what she perceives as the rampant sexism that suppresses the ambitions of women.  Equally unconscious of irony, a former female speaker of the House makes the same complaint on the floor of Congress. 

These people loudly proclaim themselves feminists.  All they want, they say, is equality.  In reality, they already have equality – equality under the law, that is.  But that is not what they really seek.  Truth be told, what they seek is total dominance and unrestrained power.

Except for seeing these creatures from afar, I do not know these women.  They are the Toxic Feminists.  They are nothing like the women I know. 

While I don’t know these toxic women, I have occasionally encountered them. 

I first encountered this twisted breed of humanity half a century ago during the rowdy sixties.  At the time, I was a student-leader at a university.  Being prominent, I attracted the attention of the Students for a Democratic Society – the notorious SDS.  When they invited me into their inner sanctum, I decided to have a look-see.  If in public they were a noisy, obnoxious, hate-filled bunch, what would they be like in private? 

As bad as they were in public, among themselves, they were infinitely worse. 

Leftists always seem to split into bitterly opposed factions.  This was certainly true of that bunch.  There were the Stalinists and the Maoists and the Trotskyites and a small number on the side who couldn’t decide which faction to join.  The one thing they had in common was their bloodthirstiness.  They were of one mind in their intention to someday round up the hated American bourgeoisie and “eliminate” those who refused to be “re-educated.”  They were dead serious about the elimination, too.

It was there that I first encountered toxic feminism.  For it was a particularly domineering young harridan who ran the show and totally intimidated the young men and women in attendance.  That obnoxious woman was utterly sanguinary, too.  Really scary, she was!  Women like her, facilitated by their craven beta male minions, now dominate many universities and other institutions.

Those repulsive ideas of old still color the thinking of people in high places.  I am well aware that a recent president of ours was the protégé of a founder of the SDS.  The former president’s deep association with that breed, and its domineering women, explains a lot.

I am not of that crowd.  All my life, I have been surrounded by accomplished but feminine women.  For example, my sister is a major general and a consummate diplomat.  She undoubtedly inherited much of her talent and drive from our strong, loving mother.  In an earlier age, our grandmother established, owned, and managed a string of newspapers.  My dear wife, Sarah, when young, was a popular stage comedienne and singer with the Seattle Opera.  Later, she gave comfort and healing to many through her profession as a psychotherapist.  My other lady friends and associates have also won their spurs in the professions and the arts or in the family.  Remarkable women, remarkable individuals, all of them.

Despite my delight in successful women, I refuse to be called a feminist – at least not as the term is currently used by the nasty feminist collective.  Rather, I am a humanist.  It gives me joy to see each person strive for and often reach fulfillment as a unique individual.

In this politically correct age, one mustn’t admit such things.  We must always promote the collective narrative that we are all indistinguishable.  The narrative is that we can be any sex we want to be.  Never say the obvious: that men and women really are different – and permanently so.

One can be severely punished for saying this.  Consider the case of Larry Summers, fired as president of Harvard for speaking this truth.  And there is James Damore.  Once an employee of Google, he is no more for the same reason.

And yet it is true.  We are different.

Many women don’t understand why they sometimes struggle to advance in organizations and professions long dominated by men.  The reason is simple: men created those organizations and professions and developed their operational cultures.  Women just entering those environments are not men – not part of that masculine culture.  And yet, in over-compensation, some women try to be their perception of men in a man’s world.  They fail, of course, and wonder why, and then get angry. 

What is true for women entering the masculine world is equally true for men entering the feminine world.  A man in the women’s world must be a man.  I have a dear friend who worked in the world of women.  He was a nurse.  He is also a combat-proven and highly decorated corpsman who has much experience with violent death.  He was successful as a nurse, but no one is ever fooled into thinking him other than a man.

I suggest that most women, until they have a great deal of experience with the masculine cultural environment, simply miss the signals that men unconsciously transmit to each other.  That could be at the root of the frustrations many professional women face.  They really don’t know, intuitively, what is going on.  Since the signals are subliminal, most of the time, neither do the men know why they react as they do. 

How do I know?  How do I know that subliminal signals are being exchanged?  When a woman is in the room, the feel of the room is different from when it is just a gathering of men.  When a woman enters the room, the room instantly changes.

Without years of experience, most women can’t function the same as men in these masculine environments.  They are not genetically equipped to naturally intuit the cross-currents.  On the other hand, many experienced women excel in this world.  They often do so by creating their own productive culture within the organization – a feminine culture that complements the masculine culture.  My experience with professional women is straightforward.  They usually are successful if they remain women and don’t try to be men.

With several decades of experience in large engineering organizations, I have observed there a substantial number of successful women.  I find it interesting that female engineers, as they gain professional experience, almost inevitably gravitate into program management positions.  It is in the social realm that women naturally have the advantage.  A successful engineering program manager requires great people skills as well as a sound technical foundation.  Upon reflection about this, I am not now surprised to have encountered several successful female program managers.

So let us accept that each of us is different.  Let us accept that, though we are all human, men tend to incline one way and women another in their native talents.  Let us accept that while some succeed wonderfully in cross-over professions, we do have general male-female biases in our talents.  And those biases strengthen and enrich the whole.

Crowds of angry women, and a few men, shuffle along.  Their signs flaunt words of hate and venom.  So do their shrill voices.  Many placards sport the hammer and sickle – the emblem of slave empires that many of these women dream of recreating here in America. 

On the platform are other women – entertainers and politicians, mostly.  Very successful public figures, all.  They complain bitterly about being downtrodden despite their enormous wealth and power. 

Later, on television, is a Supreme Court justice.  Oblivious to irony, she complains about what she perceives as the rampant sexism that suppresses the ambitions of women.  Equally unconscious of irony, a former female speaker of the House makes the same complaint on the floor of Congress. 

These people loudly proclaim themselves feminists.  All they want, they say, is equality.  In reality, they already have equality – equality under the law, that is.  But that is not what they really seek.  Truth be told, what they seek is total dominance and unrestrained power.

Except for seeing these creatures from afar, I do not know these women.  They are the Toxic Feminists.  They are nothing like the women I know. 

While I don’t know these toxic women, I have occasionally encountered them. 

I first encountered this twisted breed of humanity half a century ago during the rowdy sixties.  At the time, I was a student-leader at a university.  Being prominent, I attracted the attention of the Students for a Democratic Society – the notorious SDS.  When they invited me into their inner sanctum, I decided to have a look-see.  If in public they were a noisy, obnoxious, hate-filled bunch, what would they be like in private? 

As bad as they were in public, among themselves, they were infinitely worse. 

Leftists always seem to split into bitterly opposed factions.  This was certainly true of that bunch.  There were the Stalinists and the Maoists and the Trotskyites and a small number on the side who couldn’t decide which faction to join.  The one thing they had in common was their bloodthirstiness.  They were of one mind in their intention to someday round up the hated American bourgeoisie and “eliminate” those who refused to be “re-educated.”  They were dead serious about the elimination, too.

It was there that I first encountered toxic feminism.  For it was a particularly domineering young harridan who ran the show and totally intimidated the young men and women in attendance.  That obnoxious woman was utterly sanguinary, too.  Really scary, she was!  Women like her, facilitated by their craven beta male minions, now dominate many universities and other institutions.

Those repulsive ideas of old still color the thinking of people in high places.  I am well aware that a recent president of ours was the protégé of a founder of the SDS.  The former president’s deep association with that breed, and its domineering women, explains a lot.

I am not of that crowd.  All my life, I have been surrounded by accomplished but feminine women.  For example, my sister is a major general and a consummate diplomat.  She undoubtedly inherited much of her talent and drive from our strong, loving mother.  In an earlier age, our grandmother established, owned, and managed a string of newspapers.  My dear wife, Sarah, when young, was a popular stage comedienne and singer with the Seattle Opera.  Later, she gave comfort and healing to many through her profession as a psychotherapist.  My other lady friends and associates have also won their spurs in the professions and the arts or in the family.  Remarkable women, remarkable individuals, all of them.

Despite my delight in successful women, I refuse to be called a feminist – at least not as the term is currently used by the nasty feminist collective.  Rather, I am a humanist.  It gives me joy to see each person strive for and often reach fulfillment as a unique individual.

In this politically correct age, one mustn’t admit such things.  We must always promote the collective narrative that we are all indistinguishable.  The narrative is that we can be any sex we want to be.  Never say the obvious: that men and women really are different – and permanently so.

One can be severely punished for saying this.  Consider the case of Larry Summers, fired as president of Harvard for speaking this truth.  And there is James Damore.  Once an employee of Google, he is no more for the same reason.

And yet it is true.  We are different.

Many women don’t understand why they sometimes struggle to advance in organizations and professions long dominated by men.  The reason is simple: men created those organizations and professions and developed their operational cultures.  Women just entering those environments are not men – not part of that masculine culture.  And yet, in over-compensation, some women try to be their perception of men in a man’s world.  They fail, of course, and wonder why, and then get angry. 

What is true for women entering the masculine world is equally true for men entering the feminine world.  A man in the women’s world must be a man.  I have a dear friend who worked in the world of women.  He was a nurse.  He is also a combat-proven and highly decorated corpsman who has much experience with violent death.  He was successful as a nurse, but no one is ever fooled into thinking him other than a man.

I suggest that most women, until they have a great deal of experience with the masculine cultural environment, simply miss the signals that men unconsciously transmit to each other.  That could be at the root of the frustrations many professional women face.  They really don’t know, intuitively, what is going on.  Since the signals are subliminal, most of the time, neither do the men know why they react as they do. 

How do I know?  How do I know that subliminal signals are being exchanged?  When a woman is in the room, the feel of the room is different from when it is just a gathering of men.  When a woman enters the room, the room instantly changes.

Without years of experience, most women can’t function the same as men in these masculine environments.  They are not genetically equipped to naturally intuit the cross-currents.  On the other hand, many experienced women excel in this world.  They often do so by creating their own productive culture within the organization – a feminine culture that complements the masculine culture.  My experience with professional women is straightforward.  They usually are successful if they remain women and don’t try to be men.

With several decades of experience in large engineering organizations, I have observed there a substantial number of successful women.  I find it interesting that female engineers, as they gain professional experience, almost inevitably gravitate into program management positions.  It is in the social realm that women naturally have the advantage.  A successful engineering program manager requires great people skills as well as a sound technical foundation.  Upon reflection about this, I am not now surprised to have encountered several successful female program managers.

So let us accept that each of us is different.  Let us accept that, though we are all human, men tend to incline one way and women another in their native talents.  Let us accept that while some succeed wonderfully in cross-over professions, we do have general male-female biases in our talents.  And those biases strengthen and enrich the whole.



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President's Dilemma


General John Hyten, commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, started a minor controversy in responding to a question by saying that he would not obey a president’s illegal command for a nuclear strike.  Of course, he was completely correct in his response.  He explained further that he would advise the president on a legal approach and an appropriate course of action would then be worked out.

The much deeper question was not asked:  What would the general do if the president ordered a perfectly legal, but profoundly immoral, nuclear strike?  The trials at Nuremburg were precisely about this question.

This second question illuminates the most important burden carried by our president.  This is the kind of burden that prematurely ages a vigorous individual.  This is also the most important question that should confront us as we judge a candidate for the presidency.  We cannot afford to have someone who lacks a strong moral foundation occupying the Oval Office.

In my estimation we have only had one president who faced the issue head-on and made the right decision about this dread challenge.  That man was Ronald Reagan.

In 1983 President Reagan called for a robust missile defense program to be called the “Strategic Defense Initiative.”  This idea, which many thought to be childish, was sarcastically named “Star Wars.”  The name stuck because of its positive associations and was adopted by those actually favoring missile defense.  The next year the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization (SDIO) was established to implement Reagan’s intentions.

Shortly thereafter I was invited to join a small, high level, working group supporting SDIO.  This group of senior aerospace industry executives, program managers and engineers was chartered to do a top-level design of a new multi billion dollar National Laboratory.  Among several things relating to the SDIO mission, the new laboratory would provide the technical foundations for the Government’s missile defense architecture.  For months we worked hard at the task with meetings sometimes starting before breakfast and ending just before midnight.  The proposed laboratory now exists.  It is Schriever Air Force Base in Colorado.

Don, a vice president of TRW, was leader of the working group.  It was in casual conversations with him that I first became aware of what must have been going through the mind of President Reagan when he called for the Strategic Defense Initiative.

Several years before, then-Governor Reagan sent out an inquiry to industry for information about strategic defense and what might be done about it.  Perhaps Reagan was just curious, as he had already been exposed to the subject through a lecture by the nuclear physicist Edward Teller.  Perhaps, also, he was beginning to think about running for resident and wanted to be prepared.  In any event, Don was selected to brief the governor.

Now Don had given this kind of briefing to politicians several times before and was well prepared. Don had two sets of charts: kindergarten level for politicians and a backup set covering some of the technical details.  Don was in for a big surprise.  He was only into a few of the low level charts when Reagan started quizzing him on relatively advanced specifics about strategic defense.  Even Don’s higher level charts did not provide sufficient information to answer the governor’s questions.  It was clear that Governor Reagan was thinking well ahead on the subject.  The two of them agreed to meet again with Don being presented with a set of questions that the governor wanted answered.  This led to a series of meetings.

They soon got into the weeds:  Disarming strikes verses population annihilation.  Boost phase verses terminal defense.  What to do about decoys.  How to manage operational command and control.  How to manage deployments so as to maintain deterrence stability.  Cost control.

The political issues were beyond Don’s charter – they were left for Reagan to mull over.  Governor Reagan soaked up all this information and dove even deeper.  At the end of each meeting Reagan posed further questions for Don to research and answer.

Don told me that Ronald Reagan stood head and shoulders above all the people he had briefed in terms of intelligence and creativity and mastery of detail.  I subsequently heard the same opinion from some of my other acquaintances who had gotten to know Reagan.

Through it all one question remained hanging in the air:  what to do about innocent civilians caught in the nuclear cross fire?  The question was never answered.

Time passed and Governor Reagan became President Reagan.  He was now faced with this question for real:  what to do about innocent civilians?  Now President Reagan was caught in what we might call the “President’s Dilemma.”

Consider the following nightmare scenario:  It is the early 1980’s.  Ronald Reagan is newly installed as president.  Despite Nixon’s Opening to China, ever since the last stages of the Viet Nam war, relations with China have been deteriorating.  Now, they have reached the crisis stage.  China decides to roll the dice.  They launch a massive nuclear missile strike against the people of the United States.  The Chinese reason that the American retaliation will kill a great many Chinese, but their key industries and their cadres are safely underground and will survive and flourish in the post war world.  Most of their population, being rural, will likewise survive.  A world with a destroyed America is a tantalizing prospect.

As the crisis built up the president was safely sequestered somewhere in the remote Virginia countryside.  Minute by minute he receives reports as the Chinese warheads arc around the Earth.  What can we do to stop them, he asks.  We can do nothing, he is told. 

The Chinese missiles in that era were relatively primitive and inaccurate.  The Chinese therefore targeted cities.  Not all the Chinese missiles work as planned, not all the warheads actually explode on target. But enough do that the American population is decimated – several tens of millions of Americans are dead.

What does President Reagan do now?  Long established doctrine says he must launch a massive retaliation against the population of China as well as against its industrial and military centers.  But Ronald Reagan is a moral man.  He knows that following the doctrine, following the law, will result in maybe hundreds of millions of innocent victims.  They may be Chinese but they are also husbands, wives and children.  They are human beings, just like Americans.

The president faces a dilemma.  Follow the law, follow established doctrine, and commit mass murder on a stupendous scale.  Or, absorb the loss of American life and not respond with nuclear force.  He knows that the latter choice means he likely will be hung by his fellow citizens who are out for bloody revenge.  But the latter choice may be the only moral choice.

We cannot know if a scenario such as this troubled President Reagan’s thoughts.  But something much like it must have occurred to him, for he sought a better way.  The key to that better way was clearly the means to intercept those missiles so that no American need die.  This he actually said when calling for his missile defense program.

The irony in all this is that President Reagan could tell no one, not even his closest advisors, what he would do in an eventuality such as described above.  If he even so much as hinted that he might not retaliate with nuclear weapons then the deterrent value of those weapons would be lost.

Until proper defenses are in place, the doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) and the promise of massive nuclear retaliation must be maintained – even if the president understands that the doctrine is merely a myth.  There is no way to predict what a moral president would do in this extremity.  MAD is a myth that poses the President’s Dilemma.

After Reagan, foolish presidents immediately scaled back missile defense R&D almost to the point of extinction.  Consequently, we have now only a weak deployed missile defense system.  Thus the President’s Dilemma remains to haunt our current president.

General John Hyten, commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, started a minor controversy in responding to a question by saying that he would not obey a president’s illegal command for a nuclear strike.  Of course, he was completely correct in his response.  He explained further that he would advise the president on a legal approach and an appropriate course of action would then be worked out.

The much deeper question was not asked:  What would the general do if the president ordered a perfectly legal, but profoundly immoral, nuclear strike?  The trials at Nuremburg were precisely about this question.

This second question illuminates the most important burden carried by our president.  This is the kind of burden that prematurely ages a vigorous individual.  This is also the most important question that should confront us as we judge a candidate for the presidency.  We cannot afford to have someone who lacks a strong moral foundation occupying the Oval Office.

In my estimation we have only had one president who faced the issue head-on and made the right decision about this dread challenge.  That man was Ronald Reagan.

In 1983 President Reagan called for a robust missile defense program to be called the “Strategic Defense Initiative.”  This idea, which many thought to be childish, was sarcastically named “Star Wars.”  The name stuck because of its positive associations and was adopted by those actually favoring missile defense.  The next year the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization (SDIO) was established to implement Reagan’s intentions.

Shortly thereafter I was invited to join a small, high level, working group supporting SDIO.  This group of senior aerospace industry executives, program managers and engineers was chartered to do a top-level design of a new multi billion dollar National Laboratory.  Among several things relating to the SDIO mission, the new laboratory would provide the technical foundations for the Government’s missile defense architecture.  For months we worked hard at the task with meetings sometimes starting before breakfast and ending just before midnight.  The proposed laboratory now exists.  It is Schriever Air Force Base in Colorado.

Don, a vice president of TRW, was leader of the working group.  It was in casual conversations with him that I first became aware of what must have been going through the mind of President Reagan when he called for the Strategic Defense Initiative.

Several years before, then-Governor Reagan sent out an inquiry to industry for information about strategic defense and what might be done about it.  Perhaps Reagan was just curious, as he had already been exposed to the subject through a lecture by the nuclear physicist Edward Teller.  Perhaps, also, he was beginning to think about running for resident and wanted to be prepared.  In any event, Don was selected to brief the governor.

Now Don had given this kind of briefing to politicians several times before and was well prepared. Don had two sets of charts: kindergarten level for politicians and a backup set covering some of the technical details.  Don was in for a big surprise.  He was only into a few of the low level charts when Reagan started quizzing him on relatively advanced specifics about strategic defense.  Even Don’s higher level charts did not provide sufficient information to answer the governor’s questions.  It was clear that Governor Reagan was thinking well ahead on the subject.  The two of them agreed to meet again with Don being presented with a set of questions that the governor wanted answered.  This led to a series of meetings.

They soon got into the weeds:  Disarming strikes verses population annihilation.  Boost phase verses terminal defense.  What to do about decoys.  How to manage operational command and control.  How to manage deployments so as to maintain deterrence stability.  Cost control.

The political issues were beyond Don’s charter – they were left for Reagan to mull over.  Governor Reagan soaked up all this information and dove even deeper.  At the end of each meeting Reagan posed further questions for Don to research and answer.

Don told me that Ronald Reagan stood head and shoulders above all the people he had briefed in terms of intelligence and creativity and mastery of detail.  I subsequently heard the same opinion from some of my other acquaintances who had gotten to know Reagan.

Through it all one question remained hanging in the air:  what to do about innocent civilians caught in the nuclear cross fire?  The question was never answered.

Time passed and Governor Reagan became President Reagan.  He was now faced with this question for real:  what to do about innocent civilians?  Now President Reagan was caught in what we might call the “President’s Dilemma.”

Consider the following nightmare scenario:  It is the early 1980’s.  Ronald Reagan is newly installed as president.  Despite Nixon’s Opening to China, ever since the last stages of the Viet Nam war, relations with China have been deteriorating.  Now, they have reached the crisis stage.  China decides to roll the dice.  They launch a massive nuclear missile strike against the people of the United States.  The Chinese reason that the American retaliation will kill a great many Chinese, but their key industries and their cadres are safely underground and will survive and flourish in the post war world.  Most of their population, being rural, will likewise survive.  A world with a destroyed America is a tantalizing prospect.

As the crisis built up the president was safely sequestered somewhere in the remote Virginia countryside.  Minute by minute he receives reports as the Chinese warheads arc around the Earth.  What can we do to stop them, he asks.  We can do nothing, he is told. 

The Chinese missiles in that era were relatively primitive and inaccurate.  The Chinese therefore targeted cities.  Not all the Chinese missiles work as planned, not all the warheads actually explode on target. But enough do that the American population is decimated – several tens of millions of Americans are dead.

What does President Reagan do now?  Long established doctrine says he must launch a massive retaliation against the population of China as well as against its industrial and military centers.  But Ronald Reagan is a moral man.  He knows that following the doctrine, following the law, will result in maybe hundreds of millions of innocent victims.  They may be Chinese but they are also husbands, wives and children.  They are human beings, just like Americans.

The president faces a dilemma.  Follow the law, follow established doctrine, and commit mass murder on a stupendous scale.  Or, absorb the loss of American life and not respond with nuclear force.  He knows that the latter choice means he likely will be hung by his fellow citizens who are out for bloody revenge.  But the latter choice may be the only moral choice.

We cannot know if a scenario such as this troubled President Reagan’s thoughts.  But something much like it must have occurred to him, for he sought a better way.  The key to that better way was clearly the means to intercept those missiles so that no American need die.  This he actually said when calling for his missile defense program.

The irony in all this is that President Reagan could tell no one, not even his closest advisors, what he would do in an eventuality such as described above.  If he even so much as hinted that he might not retaliate with nuclear weapons then the deterrent value of those weapons would be lost.

Until proper defenses are in place, the doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) and the promise of massive nuclear retaliation must be maintained – even if the president understands that the doctrine is merely a myth.  There is no way to predict what a moral president would do in this extremity.  MAD is a myth that poses the President’s Dilemma.

After Reagan, foolish presidents immediately scaled back missile defense R&D almost to the point of extinction.  Consequently, we have now only a weak deployed missile defense system.  Thus the President’s Dilemma remains to haunt our current president.



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The Necessity of Missile Defense


The stocky man standing before me was immaculately turned out in a dark blue pin striped suit. With his thick New Jersey accent he could have been a movie Mafioso. But he wasn’t. Despite the cognitive dissonance this situation wasn’t as funny as it seemed. This apparent movie gangster was briefing me on Armageddon: full-scale nuclear war. He talked about a five-minute war – where all the nuclear weapons arrived at their targets simultaneously. He talked about a twenty-minute war: The missile launches would be simultaneous so that different targets, at different distances, would receive their doom at different times. He talked about megadeaths. He talked about the forever future of the world being determined in an hour. The subject was dead serious,  for we were employed in the business of deterring such a catastrophe.

Nuclear weapons have three essential characteristics: They are very expensive, they must be delivered, and they are fearsome. These aspects dominate all modern strategic thinking.

Consider, first, the cost. Producing a fission bomb is a very expensive proposition. The old rule of thumb was $100 million for a regular production fission device. A hydrogen bomb is much more difficult and expensive. Developing just the capability to make such bombs is vastly more expensive than the production bombs, themselves. The real numbers are unknown except to a few. Moreover, making such devices small enough, compact enough, and lightweight enough to be useful as weapons is a nontrivial exercise.

Everything considered, the cost of these weapons is a stretch even for a well-developed economy. For a marginal economy, the cost of autonomous development is a back-breaker. It is usually cheaper to buy these things if they are available.

Because of their high cost, nations are economically inhibited from actually using nuclear weapons. They are usually considered both a prestige item and a deterrent. India and Pakistan both have long had deliverable nuclear weapons. Neither nation has been inclined to use them even though they have occasionally been at war with each other.

In the past, nations that have nuclear weapons have acted rationally rather than suicidally. But not all nations are rational. North Korea plainly is not. And, too, Iran has leaders who await the Twelfth Imam — the Mahdi — and the end of the world.

Having a bomb is not particularly useful unless it can be delivered. There are three existing methods of delivery: surface, airborne, and ballistic missile.

Surface delivery is by boat, truck, or cargo container. Existing radiation sensors can detect many types of bombs, but only at close range — a matter of yards. Thus, such weapons can be difficult to detect. Bombs must be funneled past sensors in order to be detected. We do that now at several ports of entry. Small boats and disbursed trucks are much more challenging. Only the future will tell if this kind of smuggling can be stopped. In any case, surface delivery can only wound a continental nation, not kill it. Thus, surface delivery is only useful for terrorism or blackmail.

Airborne delivery has old, and well-established, solutions. Effective bomber defense was developed in the 1950s.

Ballistic missile delivery is the current challenge. Long range ballistic missiles have three flight regimes: boost phase, exoatmospheric, endoatmospheric.

The best way to kill a missile, and its warheads, is in its boost phase when the missile is most vulnerable and its fiery rocket engines keep it from hiding. But boost phase interception requires that the defensive weapon be in a position to intercept the missile. This usually means space basing. Earth orbiting space-based High Energy Lasers can reach out over thousands of kilometers. So mere dozens of HEL battle stations can do the job. Space-based interceptor rockets, on the other hand, are constrained by their velocities. For the boost phase defense, up to thousands of space-based interceptor rockets may be needed.

Airborne lasers can kill up to hundreds of kilometers, but they must patrol outside the hostile’s borders – and therefore can only reach a limited distance into his territory. If one is willing to violate an adversary’s territory, then interceptor rockets could be mounted on high-flying stealth drone aircraft so as to circle over potential launch sites.

Exoatmospheric interception is probably the toughest system level challenge. This is not because it is hard. Rather, it is because of the geographical dynamics of the situation. The interceptors and sensors must be properly sited. The sensors must be close enough to the flight path see what is happening despite the Earth’s curvature. The interceptors must be able to reach the deployed warheads.

In this respect, it should be noted that President Obama’s abandonment of sensors and interceptors in the Czech Republic and Poland was pure appeasement of Russia and pure betrayal of Europe. The withdrawal made no technical sense. Such interceptors would work against an Iranian attack on Europe or the U.S. But they could not intercept Russian missiles unless Russia was attacking Europe. The trajectory dynamics precluded intercepting Russian ICBMs aimed at the U.S.

More critically, the missile defense radars, and other sensors, must be able to see and track the missiles through boost, and the warheads throughout midcourse. Picking out the warheads while they are coasting through space accompanied by sophisticated decoys is a technical challenge. But, indications are that it is solvable, or has been solved. Once a warhead has been located, killing it is not all that difficult. Hitting a bullet with a bullet is actually rather easy.

What makes this possible? The answer is the self-adapting servo. The thermostat which controls the heating or cooling of your house is a simple servo controller. A servo is has a sensor which detects the error when a desired condition is no longer met. It also has an actuator which operates in such a way as to reduce, or eliminate, the error.

The anti-missile interceptor has a camera as well as a computer which tells the interceptor the direction to the target. This is the sensor. It also has various thrusters which guide the interceptor to the target. This is the actuator. The guidance algorithm is very simple: just pulse the various thrusters so as to keep the image of the target centered. Simple, yet effective.

Endoatmospheric defense is the easiest to do from a technical standpoint. Except that it also requires the greatest resources. That is a matter of geography. Once a warhead enters the atmosphere its deceiving decoys are stripped away, leaving the warhead nakedly visible. However, to intercept the warhead, the interceptor must be stationed near the warhead’s target. Since it is impossible to know ahead of time the intent of the enemy, interceptors must surround each and every high-value target. This means a massive investment in interceptor systems because a modern nation has so very many high value targets.

The most promising, and economical, missile defense is boost phase interception by Space Based Lasers. This appears to be the best way to defend a nation against missile attack. The reason is that a relatively small number of SBL battle stations can cover the globe and protect against a missile launch from any location to any destination. (Full disclosure: I have many years of experience working professionally on SBL systems.)

Some form of “layered” defense where all these defensive elements are in play makes up the most desirable architecture. But resistance to the space-based part of the system is very strong.

The real problem with SBL’s is political — not technical. Those who wish to continue the policy of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) lobby strenuously against developing an SBL system. They argue that such a system crosses the line against putting weapons in space. Of course, the warhead from a ballistic missile is already very much a weapon in space. Its launch vehicle is simply stored on the ground. So the weapons-in-space threshold has long since been crossed. The real objection to an SBL system is that it promises to be too effective. MAD’s foreign policy constituency would be out of a job.

I see no moral impediment to basing a purely defensive weapon in orbit. This argument will ultimately be resolved when someone detonates a nuclear weapon in anger, as will likely happen.

There is only one correct way to look at missile defense. That way ignores its monetary cost. That way ignores the proportionality cost trades of offense versus defense. That way focuses only the consequences of not having missile defense: Missile defense is insurance. Why buy this insurance? If a nuclear weapon is exploded in downtown Manhattan is the resulting cost less than, or greater than, the cost of an effective, comprehensive missile defense?

The stocky man standing before me was immaculately turned out in a dark blue pin striped suit. With his thick New Jersey accent he could have been a movie Mafioso. But he wasn’t. Despite the cognitive dissonance this situation wasn’t as funny as it seemed. This apparent movie gangster was briefing me on Armageddon: full-scale nuclear war. He talked about a five-minute war – where all the nuclear weapons arrived at their targets simultaneously. He talked about a twenty-minute war: The missile launches would be simultaneous so that different targets, at different distances, would receive their doom at different times. He talked about megadeaths. He talked about the forever future of the world being determined in an hour. The subject was dead serious,  for we were employed in the business of deterring such a catastrophe.

Nuclear weapons have three essential characteristics: They are very expensive, they must be delivered, and they are fearsome. These aspects dominate all modern strategic thinking.

Consider, first, the cost. Producing a fission bomb is a very expensive proposition. The old rule of thumb was $100 million for a regular production fission device. A hydrogen bomb is much more difficult and expensive. Developing just the capability to make such bombs is vastly more expensive than the production bombs, themselves. The real numbers are unknown except to a few. Moreover, making such devices small enough, compact enough, and lightweight enough to be useful as weapons is a nontrivial exercise.

Everything considered, the cost of these weapons is a stretch even for a well-developed economy. For a marginal economy, the cost of autonomous development is a back-breaker. It is usually cheaper to buy these things if they are available.

Because of their high cost, nations are economically inhibited from actually using nuclear weapons. They are usually considered both a prestige item and a deterrent. India and Pakistan both have long had deliverable nuclear weapons. Neither nation has been inclined to use them even though they have occasionally been at war with each other.

In the past, nations that have nuclear weapons have acted rationally rather than suicidally. But not all nations are rational. North Korea plainly is not. And, too, Iran has leaders who await the Twelfth Imam — the Mahdi — and the end of the world.

Having a bomb is not particularly useful unless it can be delivered. There are three existing methods of delivery: surface, airborne, and ballistic missile.

Surface delivery is by boat, truck, or cargo container. Existing radiation sensors can detect many types of bombs, but only at close range — a matter of yards. Thus, such weapons can be difficult to detect. Bombs must be funneled past sensors in order to be detected. We do that now at several ports of entry. Small boats and disbursed trucks are much more challenging. Only the future will tell if this kind of smuggling can be stopped. In any case, surface delivery can only wound a continental nation, not kill it. Thus, surface delivery is only useful for terrorism or blackmail.

Airborne delivery has old, and well-established, solutions. Effective bomber defense was developed in the 1950s.

Ballistic missile delivery is the current challenge. Long range ballistic missiles have three flight regimes: boost phase, exoatmospheric, endoatmospheric.

The best way to kill a missile, and its warheads, is in its boost phase when the missile is most vulnerable and its fiery rocket engines keep it from hiding. But boost phase interception requires that the defensive weapon be in a position to intercept the missile. This usually means space basing. Earth orbiting space-based High Energy Lasers can reach out over thousands of kilometers. So mere dozens of HEL battle stations can do the job. Space-based interceptor rockets, on the other hand, are constrained by their velocities. For the boost phase defense, up to thousands of space-based interceptor rockets may be needed.

Airborne lasers can kill up to hundreds of kilometers, but they must patrol outside the hostile’s borders – and therefore can only reach a limited distance into his territory. If one is willing to violate an adversary’s territory, then interceptor rockets could be mounted on high-flying stealth drone aircraft so as to circle over potential launch sites.

Exoatmospheric interception is probably the toughest system level challenge. This is not because it is hard. Rather, it is because of the geographical dynamics of the situation. The interceptors and sensors must be properly sited. The sensors must be close enough to the flight path see what is happening despite the Earth’s curvature. The interceptors must be able to reach the deployed warheads.

In this respect, it should be noted that President Obama’s abandonment of sensors and interceptors in the Czech Republic and Poland was pure appeasement of Russia and pure betrayal of Europe. The withdrawal made no technical sense. Such interceptors would work against an Iranian attack on Europe or the U.S. But they could not intercept Russian missiles unless Russia was attacking Europe. The trajectory dynamics precluded intercepting Russian ICBMs aimed at the U.S.

More critically, the missile defense radars, and other sensors, must be able to see and track the missiles through boost, and the warheads throughout midcourse. Picking out the warheads while they are coasting through space accompanied by sophisticated decoys is a technical challenge. But, indications are that it is solvable, or has been solved. Once a warhead has been located, killing it is not all that difficult. Hitting a bullet with a bullet is actually rather easy.

What makes this possible? The answer is the self-adapting servo. The thermostat which controls the heating or cooling of your house is a simple servo controller. A servo is has a sensor which detects the error when a desired condition is no longer met. It also has an actuator which operates in such a way as to reduce, or eliminate, the error.

The anti-missile interceptor has a camera as well as a computer which tells the interceptor the direction to the target. This is the sensor. It also has various thrusters which guide the interceptor to the target. This is the actuator. The guidance algorithm is very simple: just pulse the various thrusters so as to keep the image of the target centered. Simple, yet effective.

Endoatmospheric defense is the easiest to do from a technical standpoint. Except that it also requires the greatest resources. That is a matter of geography. Once a warhead enters the atmosphere its deceiving decoys are stripped away, leaving the warhead nakedly visible. However, to intercept the warhead, the interceptor must be stationed near the warhead’s target. Since it is impossible to know ahead of time the intent of the enemy, interceptors must surround each and every high-value target. This means a massive investment in interceptor systems because a modern nation has so very many high value targets.

The most promising, and economical, missile defense is boost phase interception by Space Based Lasers. This appears to be the best way to defend a nation against missile attack. The reason is that a relatively small number of SBL battle stations can cover the globe and protect against a missile launch from any location to any destination. (Full disclosure: I have many years of experience working professionally on SBL systems.)

Some form of “layered” defense where all these defensive elements are in play makes up the most desirable architecture. But resistance to the space-based part of the system is very strong.

The real problem with SBL’s is political — not technical. Those who wish to continue the policy of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) lobby strenuously against developing an SBL system. They argue that such a system crosses the line against putting weapons in space. Of course, the warhead from a ballistic missile is already very much a weapon in space. Its launch vehicle is simply stored on the ground. So the weapons-in-space threshold has long since been crossed. The real objection to an SBL system is that it promises to be too effective. MAD’s foreign policy constituency would be out of a job.

I see no moral impediment to basing a purely defensive weapon in orbit. This argument will ultimately be resolved when someone detonates a nuclear weapon in anger, as will likely happen.

There is only one correct way to look at missile defense. That way ignores its monetary cost. That way ignores the proportionality cost trades of offense versus defense. That way focuses only the consequences of not having missile defense: Missile defense is insurance. Why buy this insurance? If a nuclear weapon is exploded in downtown Manhattan is the resulting cost less than, or greater than, the cost of an effective, comprehensive missile defense?



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199003_5_.png

The F-35 Critics vs. the Facts


The people working on various aspects of the F-35 fighter program must be very frustrated. The program is still highly classified, so that much that is taking place within the program is simply not available for discussion. And yet, the F-35’s critics are baying and howling and often deliberately misrepresenting the program and its products.

The F-35 program is not one program. It is several. Its products are three different aircraft and several brand-new, and highly innovative, technologies. It provides quantum leaps in aviation technology in many different areas. Simultaneously achieving all these technical breakthroughs has obviously proved difficult. But that is not surprising — it is the norm in innovative engineering.

The program is producing three very different aircraft: the F-35A is a conventional takeoff aircraft for the Air Force. The F-35B is a vertical takeoff and landing capable aircraft for the Marine Corps. The F-35C is a catapult takeoff and carrier landing aircraft for the Navy. From a distance, the aircraft look alike and inside they share much avionics and the core of the engine. But don’t be fooled. These are very different aircraft.

The F/A-18 Hornet and the F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet also look like they are the same aircraft. But they are really two completely different aircraft. The Hornet was developed in the 1970s and was manufactured in the 1980s. The Super Hornet was developed in the 1990s and was in production after 2000. The Super Hornet is 20% larger, up to 15,000 pounds heavier, has 40% greater range and 50% greater endurance. They look alike simply because the Super Hornet borrowed excellent aerodynamic design from the Hornet. Time and money saved.

Then why are they both called “F-18”? Try selling a brand new aircraft to Congress! For that matter, try selling three different aircraft to Congress: just call them all F-35s and make sure they look alike.

The real intent of unifying the various F-35 programs under one management umbrella was to make sure that each of the three different aircraft, and innovative technologies, would be fully compatible for Joint Service Operations. Moreover, there is substantial fabrication and logistics commonality and this reduces overall unit cost and subsequent support cost.

It should be noted that the F-35 development effort is not quite complete. There are still bugs to be fixed. This is normal, and normally provided for in the Integrated Master Plan and Schedule.

At a similar point in the development of the M1 Abrams tank, its critics were howling for program cancellation because of the tank’s many developmental bugs. The bugs were fixed and the M1 proved itself, in battle, to be by far the deadliest tank in history.

Even though Initial Operating Capability (IOC) has been declared for the F-35A and the F-35B, this does not mean that these aircraft have their full combat capability — although some units have been forward deployed. IOC really means that these aircraft are training the crews that will eventually operationally fly improved production models. And, in a pinch, they could fight.

My old boss, mentor, and dear friend, the late Bill O’Neil, used to say that a fighter plane is a truck. Its job is to deliver a munition to the right place at the right time. It doesn’t matter what it looks like. Try telling that to a fighter jock. What he wants is something looking sleek and deadly!

But Bill was right, and his contribution to the F-35 is major. I mentioned that several innovative programs existed under the F-35 umbrella. One of the most important of these is Bill’s Distributed Aperture System — the DAS.

The DAS on the F-35 consists of six infrared sensors (cameras) placed at various parts of the aircraft. A complex computing system seamlessly fuses the imagery and presents it to the helmet visor of the pilot in such a way that wherever he looks he sees the world outside the aircraft as if the walls of the aircraft are simply not there. No need to roll the aircraft to see the ground below, just look down. No need to turn the aircraft to look straight behind, just turn your head. The wings are no longer there to obscure your vision.

Imagine a pilot about to land his nose-up aircraft on the deck of an aircraft carrier. It is night. It is storming. The carrier’s lights are doused because an enemy is nearby. To the naked eye the carrier simply does not exist. Only the lights of the Optical Landing System are visible. If you have any doubts about the seriousness of this scenario just talk to a carrier qualified pilot, as I have. It scares even the most experienced pilots!

Because the DAS sensors see in the infrared, night looks like day. With DAS, the pilot looks down just below his instrument panel. The now brightly lit carrier’s deck is fully visible to him at all times. Landing is so very much easier. Carrier pilots are going to love the DAS.

But the F-35 DAS is in its infancy. It is easy to envision where this technology is going to go, with greatly increased spatial resolution and hyperspectral imaging. DAS is definitely the future — the future for all aircraft — thanks to the F-35 program.

Any way you slice it, the DAS is a technical achievement of the first magnitude. The F-35 Program Office deserves great credit for betting on the vision, and the genius, of William F. O’Neil.

So the F-35 program not only has produced three different aircraft, it has sponsored major advances in aviation technology — the work of wizards.

Still, the critics howl: The new engines gulp marginally more fuel than 4th generation engines. The air intakes are too large and draggy. Exotic coatings mean aircraft maintenance is increased and availability is decreased. The list goes on. This is selective reporting by the critics.

The critics deliberately fail to note that the F-35 engines have 50% greater thrust with a 50% greater thrust to weight ratio and yet are the same size and weight as the 4th gen engines. With higher thrust-to-weight, range is extended. With the larger intakes high altitude performance is significantly enhanced. With internal weapons carriage range is extended, not diminished.

And, always keep in mind that it is the Government that writes the requirements, not the contractors. The F-35 projects must meet those technical requirements or the companies don’t get paid.

Experienced fighter pilots love the plane. John Venable, in his “Operational Assessment of the F-35 Fighter,” interviewed senior fighter pilots who tested early developmental models of the various F-35’s. Those tests were the source of much of the criticism. Yet, with a few still to be corrected performance measures, the testers preferred these new aircraft to their more familiar 4th generation fighters. Since that earlier report, some of these testers have flown further developed versions of the F-35. They are amazed at the improvement. These planes are shaping up to be real air combat winners.

In all the controversy it is vital to remember the F-35 series of aircraft are stealthy. They can deliver munitions to the right place at the right time inside Integrated Air Defenses that would blow 4th generation aircraft out of the sky.

Yes, the three different F-35 aircraft are still teething. Soon these three kittens will grow up to become ferocious Tigers!

The people working on various aspects of the F-35 fighter program must be very frustrated. The program is still highly classified, so that much that is taking place within the program is simply not available for discussion. And yet, the F-35’s critics are baying and howling and often deliberately misrepresenting the program and its products.

The F-35 program is not one program. It is several. Its products are three different aircraft and several brand-new, and highly innovative, technologies. It provides quantum leaps in aviation technology in many different areas. Simultaneously achieving all these technical breakthroughs has obviously proved difficult. But that is not surprising — it is the norm in innovative engineering.

The program is producing three very different aircraft: the F-35A is a conventional takeoff aircraft for the Air Force. The F-35B is a vertical takeoff and landing capable aircraft for the Marine Corps. The F-35C is a catapult takeoff and carrier landing aircraft for the Navy. From a distance, the aircraft look alike and inside they share much avionics and the core of the engine. But don’t be fooled. These are very different aircraft.

The F/A-18 Hornet and the F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet also look like they are the same aircraft. But they are really two completely different aircraft. The Hornet was developed in the 1970s and was manufactured in the 1980s. The Super Hornet was developed in the 1990s and was in production after 2000. The Super Hornet is 20% larger, up to 15,000 pounds heavier, has 40% greater range and 50% greater endurance. They look alike simply because the Super Hornet borrowed excellent aerodynamic design from the Hornet. Time and money saved.

Then why are they both called “F-18”? Try selling a brand new aircraft to Congress! For that matter, try selling three different aircraft to Congress: just call them all F-35s and make sure they look alike.

The real intent of unifying the various F-35 programs under one management umbrella was to make sure that each of the three different aircraft, and innovative technologies, would be fully compatible for Joint Service Operations. Moreover, there is substantial fabrication and logistics commonality and this reduces overall unit cost and subsequent support cost.

It should be noted that the F-35 development effort is not quite complete. There are still bugs to be fixed. This is normal, and normally provided for in the Integrated Master Plan and Schedule.

At a similar point in the development of the M1 Abrams tank, its critics were howling for program cancellation because of the tank’s many developmental bugs. The bugs were fixed and the M1 proved itself, in battle, to be by far the deadliest tank in history.

Even though Initial Operating Capability (IOC) has been declared for the F-35A and the F-35B, this does not mean that these aircraft have their full combat capability — although some units have been forward deployed. IOC really means that these aircraft are training the crews that will eventually operationally fly improved production models. And, in a pinch, they could fight.

My old boss, mentor, and dear friend, the late Bill O’Neil, used to say that a fighter plane is a truck. Its job is to deliver a munition to the right place at the right time. It doesn’t matter what it looks like. Try telling that to a fighter jock. What he wants is something looking sleek and deadly!

But Bill was right, and his contribution to the F-35 is major. I mentioned that several innovative programs existed under the F-35 umbrella. One of the most important of these is Bill’s Distributed Aperture System — the DAS.

The DAS on the F-35 consists of six infrared sensors (cameras) placed at various parts of the aircraft. A complex computing system seamlessly fuses the imagery and presents it to the helmet visor of the pilot in such a way that wherever he looks he sees the world outside the aircraft as if the walls of the aircraft are simply not there. No need to roll the aircraft to see the ground below, just look down. No need to turn the aircraft to look straight behind, just turn your head. The wings are no longer there to obscure your vision.

Imagine a pilot about to land his nose-up aircraft on the deck of an aircraft carrier. It is night. It is storming. The carrier’s lights are doused because an enemy is nearby. To the naked eye the carrier simply does not exist. Only the lights of the Optical Landing System are visible. If you have any doubts about the seriousness of this scenario just talk to a carrier qualified pilot, as I have. It scares even the most experienced pilots!

Because the DAS sensors see in the infrared, night looks like day. With DAS, the pilot looks down just below his instrument panel. The now brightly lit carrier’s deck is fully visible to him at all times. Landing is so very much easier. Carrier pilots are going to love the DAS.

But the F-35 DAS is in its infancy. It is easy to envision where this technology is going to go, with greatly increased spatial resolution and hyperspectral imaging. DAS is definitely the future — the future for all aircraft — thanks to the F-35 program.

Any way you slice it, the DAS is a technical achievement of the first magnitude. The F-35 Program Office deserves great credit for betting on the vision, and the genius, of William F. O’Neil.

So the F-35 program not only has produced three different aircraft, it has sponsored major advances in aviation technology — the work of wizards.

Still, the critics howl: The new engines gulp marginally more fuel than 4th generation engines. The air intakes are too large and draggy. Exotic coatings mean aircraft maintenance is increased and availability is decreased. The list goes on. This is selective reporting by the critics.

The critics deliberately fail to note that the F-35 engines have 50% greater thrust with a 50% greater thrust to weight ratio and yet are the same size and weight as the 4th gen engines. With higher thrust-to-weight, range is extended. With the larger intakes high altitude performance is significantly enhanced. With internal weapons carriage range is extended, not diminished.

And, always keep in mind that it is the Government that writes the requirements, not the contractors. The F-35 projects must meet those technical requirements or the companies don’t get paid.

Experienced fighter pilots love the plane. John Venable, in his “Operational Assessment of the F-35 Fighter,” interviewed senior fighter pilots who tested early developmental models of the various F-35’s. Those tests were the source of much of the criticism. Yet, with a few still to be corrected performance measures, the testers preferred these new aircraft to their more familiar 4th generation fighters. Since that earlier report, some of these testers have flown further developed versions of the F-35. They are amazed at the improvement. These planes are shaping up to be real air combat winners.

In all the controversy it is vital to remember the F-35 series of aircraft are stealthy. They can deliver munitions to the right place at the right time inside Integrated Air Defenses that would blow 4th generation aircraft out of the sky.

Yes, the three different F-35 aircraft are still teething. Soon these three kittens will grow up to become ferocious Tigers!



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Fingerspitzengefuhl: What It Is and Why We Need It


Fingerspitzengefuhl.  There is no equivalent word in English.  Expertise doesn’t quite fit.  Know-how comes closer.  Literally, the German word means “fingertip-feeling.”  The sense of the word is an intuition, both deep and broad, about the nature of things.  Such intuition comes from hands-on experience of what works and what doesn’t work.  For convenience, we will refer to the German word as gefuhl.

For centuries, our nation’s rapid ascendency has been because of the plentiful gefuhl in America.  Much of it was brought to our shores by technically skilled immigrants – many from Germany.  More than that, Americans, of pioneering necessity, became practical people, taking pride in know-how.  Gefuhl best describes the original American practical culture.

No more.  Today the elitist media, academic, and political culture is more comfortable with airy abstractions.  Real-world experience is discounted in favor of ungrounded theory.  Progressives, to this day, pine for Marxist socialism despite a century of Marxist bloodshed and misery.  Theory trumps reality.

Perhaps it starts with our schools.  Progressive multiculturalism denigrates, and attempts to shatter, the obvious superiority of Western civilization.  It most particularly attacks the very successful American melting-pot version of Western civilization – an America built up from hands-on experience.  American achievements and successful methods are scorned. 

Our vitally important tech schools aren’t helping.  They have lost sight of what a broadening university education is supposed to deliver.  Recently, I attended an aerospace industry expo.  There I got into a conversation with a senior government program manager – a man who builds and flies satellites.  He is finding that most freshly minted Millennial college graduates have two major handicaps.  The first is that they focus mostly on career advancement.  The intrinsic fascination of space satellite projects is of little interest.  Second, even people arriving from graduate engineering programs have almost no technical, or intellectual, breadth.  They know just one narrow technical specialty.  They have no great desire to develop gefuhl.  The manager finds that it is increasingly difficult to staff a program that requires people to have broad perspectives. 

This lack of curiosity is only partly the Millennial students’ fault.  More likely this is the fault of our current politically correct culture.  After all, these youngsters have grown up in the initiative-smothering environment of P.C. schools and risk-averse helicopter moms.  Then, too, Millennials are constantly being bombarded with mustn’t-do, can’t-do P.C. propaganda from the intertwined Political-Media Complex. 

The fallacy of abstract theory has had a particularly adverse impact on our now faltering economy.  Business schools are a big part of the problem.  Professors without business achievement – professors without gefuhl – now teach that the only requirement for corporate success is to maximize profits.  This, they say, the stockholders demand.  No other factor is important.  These academics tell us that maximizing profit calls for minimizing labor costs.  Thus, manufacturing goes to low-labor cost foreign lands, and America suffers.

Whatever happened to the old slogan “doing well by doing good“?  Prioritizing doing good used to be the high road to business success and great profits.  No more.

For multiple generations, American political policy has favored the export of American-created technology and manufacturing to other nations.  After the Second World War, this made some kind of sense.  We were then dedicated to rebuilding destroyed lands.  But for many decades it has been a self-destructive policy.  Unlimited free trade now seriously jeopardizes our national security.  And this policy has created a powerful interest group of elitist globalists who make their fortunes in opposition to American interests.  This group now has immense political influence.

It has become commonplace for globalists to point out that in today’s world, America is the leader in design and engineering.  Why, then, should it matter where the products of our design genius are manufactured?

An incident from my own experience gives insight.

Back in the 1970s, I was tasked with masterminding the development of an instrument to fly in space.  A critical component of that instrument was a very thin slice of conducting foam.  Since there was no such material in the market, we had to make this item ourselves by cutting down a thick sheet.  Being inventive, I suggested to my model shop machinist a way to make the material.  He tried my way and failed.  So I suggested another way it might be done.  Again, my suggestion failed.  Then, one morning, I walked over to the model shop and was presented with a perfectly formed specimen.  When I asked how the machinist had achieved this miracle, he replied, somewhat sardonically, “with a razor blade.”  Obviously, there was more to it than that.  In his domain, he had gefuhl.  I didn’t.

The clear message is that there is a lot more to manufacturing than good design.  The people who actually build things have skills that designers don’t have.  When American-designed products are manufactured in Mexico, it is Mexicans who develop manufacturing gefuhl, not Americans. 

This cuts to the heart of national security.  During the Second World War, our armed forces were magnificent.  But historians tell us that it was our manufacturing skills that, more than anything, won the war. 

Many today say we will never again be faced with such an all-consuming conflict.  But can they really predict the future?  Prudent people carry insurance against the unexpected.  When we toss our manufacturing capability to other lands, we lose the ability to quickly adapt to unexpected emergencies.  We lack that insurance.  We lack the needed gefuhl.

One current example is telling.  Our air forces now depend almost exclusively on precision-guided munitions.  Even though we are not engaged in a full-scale war, our rapid expenditure of munitions in the war against ISIS has almost entirely depleted the stockpile we had built up over the years.  Even though production is slowly ramping up, it will take several years just to replenish what we have used up.  It will take still more years now that we know we must increase the size of the stockpile we might need for a really big war.  In the meantime, our forces are hurting for lack of sufficient production.  And that is for munitions that have always been produced in the United States.  Imagine the situation if these munitions had been made overseas, as is now the case with most of our electronics.

What will happen if some trading partners turn against us?  What will happen if a war cuts off all shipments to the U.S.?  How will we respond if we don’t have the necessary domestic production – even of things as basic as clothing?  What will we do if, most importantly, we don’t have large cadres of people with production fingerspitzengefuhl?

Fingerspitzengefuhl.  There is no equivalent word in English.  Expertise doesn’t quite fit.  Know-how comes closer.  Literally, the German word means “fingertip-feeling.”  The sense of the word is an intuition, both deep and broad, about the nature of things.  Such intuition comes from hands-on experience of what works and what doesn’t work.  For convenience, we will refer to the German word as gefuhl.

For centuries, our nation’s rapid ascendency has been because of the plentiful gefuhl in America.  Much of it was brought to our shores by technically skilled immigrants – many from Germany.  More than that, Americans, of pioneering necessity, became practical people, taking pride in know-how.  Gefuhl best describes the original American practical culture.

No more.  Today the elitist media, academic, and political culture is more comfortable with airy abstractions.  Real-world experience is discounted in favor of ungrounded theory.  Progressives, to this day, pine for Marxist socialism despite a century of Marxist bloodshed and misery.  Theory trumps reality.

Perhaps it starts with our schools.  Progressive multiculturalism denigrates, and attempts to shatter, the obvious superiority of Western civilization.  It most particularly attacks the very successful American melting-pot version of Western civilization – an America built up from hands-on experience.  American achievements and successful methods are scorned. 

Our vitally important tech schools aren’t helping.  They have lost sight of what a broadening university education is supposed to deliver.  Recently, I attended an aerospace industry expo.  There I got into a conversation with a senior government program manager – a man who builds and flies satellites.  He is finding that most freshly minted Millennial college graduates have two major handicaps.  The first is that they focus mostly on career advancement.  The intrinsic fascination of space satellite projects is of little interest.  Second, even people arriving from graduate engineering programs have almost no technical, or intellectual, breadth.  They know just one narrow technical specialty.  They have no great desire to develop gefuhl.  The manager finds that it is increasingly difficult to staff a program that requires people to have broad perspectives. 

This lack of curiosity is only partly the Millennial students’ fault.  More likely this is the fault of our current politically correct culture.  After all, these youngsters have grown up in the initiative-smothering environment of P.C. schools and risk-averse helicopter moms.  Then, too, Millennials are constantly being bombarded with mustn’t-do, can’t-do P.C. propaganda from the intertwined Political-Media Complex. 

The fallacy of abstract theory has had a particularly adverse impact on our now faltering economy.  Business schools are a big part of the problem.  Professors without business achievement – professors without gefuhl – now teach that the only requirement for corporate success is to maximize profits.  This, they say, the stockholders demand.  No other factor is important.  These academics tell us that maximizing profit calls for minimizing labor costs.  Thus, manufacturing goes to low-labor cost foreign lands, and America suffers.

Whatever happened to the old slogan “doing well by doing good“?  Prioritizing doing good used to be the high road to business success and great profits.  No more.

For multiple generations, American political policy has favored the export of American-created technology and manufacturing to other nations.  After the Second World War, this made some kind of sense.  We were then dedicated to rebuilding destroyed lands.  But for many decades it has been a self-destructive policy.  Unlimited free trade now seriously jeopardizes our national security.  And this policy has created a powerful interest group of elitist globalists who make their fortunes in opposition to American interests.  This group now has immense political influence.

It has become commonplace for globalists to point out that in today’s world, America is the leader in design and engineering.  Why, then, should it matter where the products of our design genius are manufactured?

An incident from my own experience gives insight.

Back in the 1970s, I was tasked with masterminding the development of an instrument to fly in space.  A critical component of that instrument was a very thin slice of conducting foam.  Since there was no such material in the market, we had to make this item ourselves by cutting down a thick sheet.  Being inventive, I suggested to my model shop machinist a way to make the material.  He tried my way and failed.  So I suggested another way it might be done.  Again, my suggestion failed.  Then, one morning, I walked over to the model shop and was presented with a perfectly formed specimen.  When I asked how the machinist had achieved this miracle, he replied, somewhat sardonically, “with a razor blade.”  Obviously, there was more to it than that.  In his domain, he had gefuhl.  I didn’t.

The clear message is that there is a lot more to manufacturing than good design.  The people who actually build things have skills that designers don’t have.  When American-designed products are manufactured in Mexico, it is Mexicans who develop manufacturing gefuhl, not Americans. 

This cuts to the heart of national security.  During the Second World War, our armed forces were magnificent.  But historians tell us that it was our manufacturing skills that, more than anything, won the war. 

Many today say we will never again be faced with such an all-consuming conflict.  But can they really predict the future?  Prudent people carry insurance against the unexpected.  When we toss our manufacturing capability to other lands, we lose the ability to quickly adapt to unexpected emergencies.  We lack that insurance.  We lack the needed gefuhl.

One current example is telling.  Our air forces now depend almost exclusively on precision-guided munitions.  Even though we are not engaged in a full-scale war, our rapid expenditure of munitions in the war against ISIS has almost entirely depleted the stockpile we had built up over the years.  Even though production is slowly ramping up, it will take several years just to replenish what we have used up.  It will take still more years now that we know we must increase the size of the stockpile we might need for a really big war.  In the meantime, our forces are hurting for lack of sufficient production.  And that is for munitions that have always been produced in the United States.  Imagine the situation if these munitions had been made overseas, as is now the case with most of our electronics.

What will happen if some trading partners turn against us?  What will happen if a war cuts off all shipments to the U.S.?  How will we respond if we don’t have the necessary domestic production – even of things as basic as clothing?  What will we do if, most importantly, we don’t have large cadres of people with production fingerspitzengefuhl?



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