Category Archives: Technology and Society

Service For Pournelle

An email I missed from Alex when I was on the plane Tuesday:

As you have probably heard, my father, Jerry, passed away on Friday, September 8, 2017. He had attended DragonCon as a guest, was lauded by thousands, and had a tremendously good time. As an author, it would be difficult to think of a better way to be sent off.

Our family also appreciates the outpouring of memorials and reminiscences, both public and private, which have followed.

The public service will be this Saturday, September 16:

12N PT: Services at St. Francis de Sales Church, 13368 Valleyheart Drive Sherman Oaks, CA 91423

We will be working to livestream the service as well.

Please let those who should know about the service. If you will be in town, we hope to see you there.

I’ll be going, hope to see a lot of old (in both senses of the word) friends.

[Late-evening update]

Jerry Pournelle

Rest in peace (I have no idea how to copy/paste on these damned finger painting devices, but Instapundit has a text from his son, Alex)). He was an amazing person with an amazing life. I last saw him when I dropped by Chaos Manor a couple years ago to give him a copy of my book, which he reviewed very nicely.

I’ll have more to say when I’ve survived the hurricane and gotten back to a real computer.

[Sunday-morning update, as the winds rise outside our Boynton Beach apartment]

Sarah Hoyt remembers someone she considered a friend and colleague.

When I stopped by to see him a couple years ago, we talked about what was happening with SpaceX and NASA in general, and reminisced about our long-time mutual friend Bill Haynes, whom he hadn’t been aware had been killed in an auto accident on Palos Verdes on his way to church a couple years earlier (both Buzz and I had delivered a eulogy, but I think that Jerry was too sick at the time). It was a tough conversation because his hearing was shot, both from the brain cancer that he’d survived, but long-term from being an artillery handler in Korea. When Roberta let me into the library, I had to figure out how to get his attention without startling him, because the bell wasn’t doing so. I was unsuccessful, but he had no problem once he realized the unexpected intruder was me.

Heading back to LA, probably Tuesday, maybe Wednesday, Irma and American Airlines willing. I hope I’ll be able to attend the service and see a lot of old (sadly, in both senses of the word) friends.

[Late-evening update on Sunday]

J. Neil Schumann has some remembrances, too. I suspect we’ll see a lot of this over the next few days.

[Monday-morning update]

Glenn Reynolds writes that, as a kid in the gloomy 70s, Jerry gave him (and many others) hope for a better future.

Norm Augustine

A conversation with him. The transcription has a few problems, but it’s interesting. His thoughts on space tourism:

Much like the airlines once you get more people you got to fly the cheaper the flight, the tickets cost or the more tickets you could sell the cheaper it is to operate an airline and you get this happy, just the opposite of the death spiral that some people talk about. So I think that there are a lot of people today, and I don’t mean billionaires, who would pay a fair amount of money to uh… I don’t mean just go up on a rock and come back to L.A. I mean go into orbit for a day or two and look through telescopes and have lectures on space, experience weightlessness and get to get sick and all these great things. But I do think that that will be the change agent. I don’t see anything that’s going to reduce the cost of space transportation by a factor of 10 other than a much higher volume…

And if we can get people involved, and I think we can, in tourism it will make a lot of difference. I’ve had the good fortune to, I’m kind of an amateur explorer or whatever and I’ve been to the South Pole three times and the North Pole once I’ve rafted the Grand Canyon and I you know you go through this long list of stuff. And people say well you know not many people want to go into space. Who would want to do that? Well I think back when I rafted the Grand Canyon I think there were 14000 people a year going through the Grand Canyon on a raft at that time. If you’d ask Wesley Powell the first person to do if, what 75 years later 14000 people will be into the canyon he would say you’re crazy if you’d asked the Wright brothers that the population of Detroit gets on an airplane every day and complains because they’ve already seen the movie and the food’s bad. The Wright brothers would have thought you were bonkers or something. You know there are many other examples one can go through of that kind of thing and people do want to experience these things and I think that will be the biggest change agent of all.

I’ve been preaching this for three decades.

Our Cat

She’s eight years old. A couple months ago, we spent a grand to get her teeth cleaned. This morning, I paid $280 to find out that she probably has some sort of cancer. We’ll have to spend another $400 on an ultrasound to more accurately diagnose and determine next steps (which could include no more good money after bad).

[Evening update]

Patricia came home, and Rerun wanted to climb on her lap while she was on the computer.

We moved her to her favorite blanky from when she was six months old, and she started kneading it.

[Late evening update]

She ate some of her dinner, then crawled on my lap. Then I moved her to Patricia’s lap, and she was even more happy.

[Update Friday afternoon]

Yesterday, she got the ultrasound, and they did a biopsy of the tumors (yes, two, with an iffy-looking liver as well). The vet thinks it’s either lymphoma, which would be relatively good news, or carcinoma, which would be bad, because it’s basically inoperable. They won’t know until they get lab results next week from the tissue samples.

We’ve started her on prednisone on in case it’s lymphoma, in the hopes that it will reduce the sizes, and perhaps even result, best case, in complete remission. They also gave her an appetite stimulant. This morning, she ate some of her normal, not prescription, food, and seems a little better. We’re flying to Florida in the morning and will board her at the vet while we’re gone for a week or so, and they’ll keep an eye on her.


The Insanity Of Global Warming Hysteria

A simple proof:

as a person familiar with both mathematics and computer science, this variation is not odd, in fact it’s completely understandable. After all a computer model is based on the best possible guesses from the available data and hurricanes are “complex natural phenomena that involve multiple interacting processes” so there is nothing at all odd about there being a 850 mile variation as to where it will it. As we get closer to Sunday and we have true data to input the variation in the models will correspondingly decrease.

Now apply this to climate change models telling us we face disaster in 100 years.

You aren’t dealing with a single “complex natural phenomena that involve multiple interacting processes” you are dealing with EVERY complex natural phenomena that involve multiple interacting processes that exists on the earth. Every single additional item you add increases the variation of the data models. Furthermore you are also dealing with variations in the sun, variations in the orbits of the earth, its moon and more.

And that’s just the variations in natural phenomena, imagine the variation in industrial output on the entire planet for a period of 50 or 100 years.

Think of the computer modeling and tracking of that single hurricane and apply this thinking to the climate of the earth as a whole. How accurate that model is going to be over 100 years, 50 years, 25 years or even ten years?

Would you be willing to bet even your short term economic future on it, would anyone in their right mind do so?

Not me.