Try and Try Again

I was explaining ( to one of my kids) that controlled fusion has been ten years away for my entire life, and wondered about examples of something that has been tried, and tried,  and tried, until it was an hissing and a reproach – and then worked.

Panama Canal?


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152 Responses to Try and Try Again

  1. En Ven says:

    Women’s Suffrage, which works great in Swed… oh.

  2. adreadline says:

    Proving the four color theorem, of course.

    Most unexciting reply 2018

    • gcochran9 says:

      Fermat’s theorem is surely a better example?

      • Jim says:

        The irrationality of pi might be close to the record for the time to proof for an eventually proven conjecture. It was stated explicitly as something which was probably true but unproven in the early part of the 1st millennium by Greek mathematicians and finally proven by Lambert in the late 18th century.

        • Jim says:

          Also the isoperimetric inequality was stated in classical times but no proof of any generality was known before Steiner’s proof in the 19th century.

      • Unladen Swallow says:

        According to Captain Picard that one was still unsolved in the 24th century :).

        • gcochran9 says:

          We’re going to forget.

          • magusjanus says:

            Well in Star Trek timeline there are massive wars on Earth over fifty years or so, until we eventually get First Contact in 2063, Federation, etc.

            So it’s more likely during the implied nuclear wars to come that Wiles’s solution to Fermat’s Last theory is destroyed and forgotten like so much Greco-Roman literature. And since to my knowledge there was nothing immediately applicable out of it, it being high pure maths, and if humanity gets more of a practical bend to it upon embarking on interstellar travel with brightest minds going off to new worlds to sleep with green women, etc., then it’s not unreasonable to think it’s still un(re)solved by Picard’s era.

        • Jim says:

          Well it would still be highly desirable to carry through the original program initiated by Kummer based on cyclotomic divisor class groups as that approach is fairly natural. Maybe that will still be outstanding in the 24th century. Wiles’s proof depends on a totally unexpected connection between Fermat’s equation and elliptic curves. Of course the modularity of rational elliptic curves as proven by Wiles et al is much more important than Fermat’s Last Theorem which actually is of little significance in itself.

      • gabriel alberton says:

        If by a better example you mean what a human (Wiles) tried to accomplish without success before eventually doing, sure. But I prefer to mention what a group of humans tried to accomplish without success before eventually realizing only a computer could really do. In both cases, it worked. The humans took credit for the latter, but soon enough the machines will claim what (for them) is rightfully theirs.

        • Jim says:

          A very large amount of analysis by humans was required before the proof of the Four Color theorem was reduced to the verification of a finite (but large number of cases). Then the verification of these finite number of cases used complex heuristics developed by humans.

          The original program turned out later to have bugs but after these were corrected several times and the program rerun the same result was obtained. More recent research on the Four Color theorem has reduced considerably the number of cases that have to be checked by computer but the checking is still beyond human capabilities.

          The problem with the proof is that while it shows the result is true it does not explain why it is true so the problem really remains to understand the Four Color Theorem. Curiously the chromatic number for all compact surfaces (orientable or non-orientable) other than the sphere was determined long before the solution of the Four Color Problem.

          In verifying the simplicity of the 26 sporadic finite simple groups computer examinations of their character tables were used for a few of them but not for the Fischer-Griess monster the largest which I recall as an order of something like 10^(fifty-something).

          It has been shown that all odd numbers greater than 10^(1,468,169) are the sums of three odd primes so this part of Goldbach’s Conjecture could be decided by computer calculation. Maybe there is exactly one freakish exception.

  3. PrinzEugen says:

    OCR comes to mind. Anyone remember those distorted text captchas from back in the ’00s? No one uses those anymore.

    • Nope there are websites that use text captchas still.

      • earplugs says:

        Hopefully recaptcha, which is a university(now google) project that uses words/phrases from digitally-imaged historical works that have already proven resistant to state-of-the-art OCR techniques. The idea is to have a human do several of these at the same time (one already solved and banked, the others crowd-sourced until a certain number of identical readings and then added to the bank), voila, a “better” captcha that is more resilient for that purpose but also useful in digitizing the texts.

        That’s the key though, they aren’t algorithmically distorting an imagine of a word in normal font. Because like PrinzEugen says, that’s been obsolete for a long time.

    • Back in the 1980s, my brother spent one summer in a lab working on speech to text. He told me not to hold my breath.

  4. ziel says:

    My recollection is similar but slightly more pessimistic – I remember about 50 years ago my father proclaiming at the dinner table that controlled fusion was, based on something he’d just read, probably 25 years off.

    It seems that these days absolutely no one seems to be even fantasizing about controlled fusion so, based on contrarian analysis, we should expect a breakthru any day now!

    Isn’t Eliminating the Gap similar. Didn’t Sandra Day O’Connor proclaim in Y2K that we can expect that “the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary” to select a fully diverse student body? But unlike with nuclear fusion, I don’t expect this goal to ever be achieved – at least not without draconian measures (involving ball-peen hammers).

    • R. says:

      There’s a number of fusion projects. Lockheed famously claimed a truck-sized reactor giving ~100MW by 2020 or so.

      Updated that last year to ‘submarine-sized’, ~cylinder 3.5×6 m long or so.

      • R. says:

        A plasma physicist called the whole thing some sort of hiring scam. I.E, Lockheed hyping a dubious project with the aim of attracting new talent who’d then be put to work on other stuff.

  5. zipferm says:


  6. Artificial intelligence?

    • Frau Katze says:

      Speaking of AI, Instagram is doing a poor job. They’re owned by Facebook, so there’s no shortage of cash.

      As a hobby, I use Pinterest. It works by getting the image and supporting text from place of pinning. Instagram used to have two modes of pinning: both would return the short title the photographer had entered. One of modes would the even give the photographer name! The latter were by far the best.

      Now they’ve dumped both approaches and turned to guessing what the image is and it’s terrible. It seems to get a few things broadly right, like detecting it’s “outdoors”. It’s prefixed with “This image may contain…”

      It does not return the photographer’s name and it’s completely useless. The titles have to manually replaced completely.

      Now there’s human stupidity here (it looks like they’ve taken a trial approach and rolled it out to production. The choice not to include the photographer’s name also indicates some serious human lack of brain cells.)

      But the guesses are totally useless. Sometimes it can’t guess at all and it says cryptically “no alternate text available.” It was floored by a Japanese temple in autumn, for example.

      It told me a Christmas tree was a person.

      A young child could do better.

      I’m not expecting self-driving cars any time soon. The combination of human stupidly and bad AI is just awful.

      • Now Yandex consistently gets better by-image searches and descriptions than Google.
        Maybe it’s already there but you just don’t look for it.

        • Frau Katze says:

          The Russian site? The problem is not so much the ability to describe a photo, but why Instagram removed the the simplest solution: return the photographer’s own description + the photographer’s name?

          I figure they moved it into production so they could do mass testing, and Pinterest users are scum anyway.

        • Frau Katze says:

          I just discovered that it successfully identified a cat. Best guess yet.

  7. megabar says:

    Computer speech recognition and vision were garbage for a long time, and now they’re getting pretty good.

  8. Engenheiro Estrutural. says:

    Educational programs for challenged youths.

    • Space Ghost says:

      You must have missed the “and then worked” part of the question.

    • Engenheiro Estrutural. says:

      Except the solution is too racist to ever be applied.

      • Zeinish says:

        Exactly. Anti-racists will be against because the results of eugenics tests would be racially disproportionate, and racists will be against eugenics too, because the tests will disqualify most of them. This is why eugenics will not happen.

        • Mr. Rational says:

          I think you’re very wrong there.  Soft environmentarians (like most shitlibs) won’t use eugenic methods… explicitly, but they will “screen for genetic diseases” and pick the best embryos anyway.  The ones the environmentarians call “racists” will unabashedly select their offspring for the smartest, strongest, etc. genes they can come up with.  Only those with major ethnomasochism, true believers in environmentarianism and those without the means will fail to use it once it’s available.

          • Frau Katze says:

            More likely candidates than Commie leaders for sure. But IVF… isn’t it really expensive and unreliable? Surely it wouldn’t be available to mere secret eugenicists?

            • Mr. Rational says:

              IVF might be expensive, but sperm sorting is cheap.

              Finding a non-destructive way to genetically analyze sperm might be a challenge, though.

    • Frau Katze says:

      See my account of Instagram’s total failure at trying to figure out what a photo displays.

  9. Jan Assman says:

    I believe that computer AI will be coming “really soon now” for the rest of our lives. They haven’t been predicting it for as long as cold fusion, yet.

    • ChrisA says:

      I sincerely hope that AI is a very difficult problem and that progress is not made towards real AI until everyone I know is long dead and buried. AI will be incredibly dangerous for the human race. So I hope you are right but fear you are too optimistic on the hardness of the problem. Look at DeepMind’s recent progress. Throwing a few more years and a more computing power and I think they may get there before too long.

      • gabriel alberton says:

        Your hopes have a chance of coming true — if you only know nonagenarians or centenarians.

      • jb says:

        I don’t worry that AI will revolt and overthrow us. We would have to program it to want to do that, and why would we?

        But what’s going on in China terrifies me! You’ve already got widespread surveillance cameras with facial recognition, and at some point soon you may have AI monitoring and understanding every word spoken over electronic communications, all feeding into a “social credit score” that can make your life suck if you misbehave. What next? A requirement that phone mics must open at all times, so that spoken words can be monitored? Punishment for friendship or even association with people who have low scores? The possibilities for AI enhanced tyranny are endless, to the point where a takeover by self-aware AI almost looks preferable!

        • Mr. Rational says:

          What next? A requirement that phone mics must open at all times, so that spoken words can be monitored?

          Honestly, given what apps like Facebook already do, that worries me HERE and NOW.  People have reported having a conversation about some matter with their phones in their pockets and then having FB ads for related things pop up.  They ARE listening.  Trying to sell you stuff is certainly the most innocent of the things they’re doing with what they hear.

      • another fred says:

        AI will not be dangerous to humanity until they learn how to make it want things, to give it appetitive and aversive responses to its environment. Until then it will just be a more complex tool in the hands of man.

        Something like this:

        • Spanky says:

          I think by and large most AI will be integrated with our own. Skynet will be possible, but it will be dealing with augmented human competition, which may be worse in the long run.

  10. Diogenes says:

    Western Medicine?

    • gcochran9 says:

      That’s an argument for extreme patience, maybe more than I have.

    • Bob says:

      Charles Sanders Peirce described the big problem with medicine, which boils down to a problem in sample size and induction:

      “Medical statistics in particular are usually contemptibly small, as well as open to the suspicion of being picked. I am speaking now of the statistics of reputable physicians. It is extremely difficult to collect numerous facts relating to any obscure point in medicine, and it is still more difficult to make it evident that those facts are a fair representation of the general run of events. This accounts for the slow progress of medical science notwithstanding the immense study which has been bestowed upon it and for the great errors which will often be received for centuries by physicians. Probably there is no branch of science which is so difficult in every point of view. It requires a really great mind to make a medical induction. This is too obvious to require proof. There are so many disturbing influences, personal idiosyncrasies, mixture of treatment, accidental and unknown influences, peculiarities of climate, race, and season that it is particularly essential that the facts should be very numerous and should be scrutinized with the eye of a lynx to detect deceptions. And yet it is peculiarly difficult to collect facts in medicine. One man’s experience can seldom be of decisive weight, and no man can judge of matters beyond his personal knowledge in medicine, he must trust to the judgment of others. So that while a sample requires to be more extensive and more carefully taken in this science than in any other, in this more than in any other these requisites are difficult to fulfill.

      Nothing, therefore, more pitiably manifests the looseness with which people in general reason than the readiness of nine persons out of ten to pronounce upon the merits of a medicine upon the most limited, the most inexact, and the most prejudiced experience which it is possible to call experience at all. Any old woman who has seen any amelioration of symptoms follow after the administration of a medicine in a dozen cases at all resembling one another, will not hesitate to pronounce it an infallible cure for any case resembling at all any one of the dozen. This is shocking. But what is worse still, treatment will be recommended even upon a hearsay acquaintance with one or two cases.

      Observe, I pray you, the combination of fallacies involved in such a procedure. In the first place, no induction can, with propriety, be drawn unless a sample has been taken of some definite class. But these foolish creatures who think that merely spending time in a sick-room has made Galens of them are utterly unable to define the disease in question. Suppose it to be diptheria [sic] for instance. How do they know diptheria [sic] from sore throat? Their samples are in reality samples of no definite class at all.

      In the second place, the number of their instances is scarcely sufficient for the simplest induction. In the third place the instances are very likely derived from hearsay. Now in addition to the inaccuracy which attaches to this kind of evidence, we are more likely to hear of extraordinary things relatively to their frequency than we are of ordinary ones. So that to take into account such instances is to take picked samples. In the fourth place, the predicate which belongs to all the instances in common is usually utterly vague. In the fifth place, a deduction is usually made respecting a case in hand without carefully considering whether it really comes under the class from which the sample was drawn. In the sixth place more is apt to be predicated of the case in hand than has been found of the previous instances. All these fallacies are combined in a sort of argument which one can scarcely go a week without hearing an instance of. (Ms. 696)21”

  11. cthulhu says:

    Image recognition using neural networks. I’m very skeptical of most machine learning hype, but the image recognition using convolutional NNs is pretty impressive.

  12. Computer go. You could cite computer chess but that was a lot of steady incremental improvement. With computer go there were a couple of big jumps, Monte Carlo Tree Search and then Google’s neural net work.

  13. MSG says:

    Paper money.

  14. Zeinish says:

    Lots and lots and lots of examples.

    Search for Northwest Passage and Terra Australis

    Longitude problem

    Lighter than air dirigible aircraft

    Heavier than air aircraft

  15. Zeinish says:

    controlled fusion has been ten years away for my entire life

    Worldwide, $50 billion so far were spent on fusion power research in the last 50 years. US share was $22.4 billion.
    Considering the magnitude of the problem, it is peanuts. If you want to be surprised, be in awe there is any progress at all.

    For comparison, playing golf on the Moon, trivial task in comparison to controlled fusion, cost you $206 billion in 2016 dollars.

    • craken says:

      To put that $50 billion over 50 years in some context, the world has spent >$150 trillion on energy in the last 50 years. Global spending is now around $7 trillion a year. Considering that nothing in the energy world has more upside potential than fusion (except antimatter), maybe we’ve underspent.

  16. Boyd Silken says:

    An advanced and properous civilization that is free of hunger, short lifespans, and tyranny.

  17. ccscientist says:

    A reliable clock for ocean navigation seemed almost within reach for 200 years, and then they had it.
    Replacement for muskets (ie bullet-based) was tried for probably 80 to 100 years, and finally accomplished around the Civil War.
    Viable electric cars–still not there yet.
    Renewable energy that doesn’t cause worse problems for the environment (ethanol, palm oil) or crash the grid (wind, solar)–just around the corner. Though they will only succeed with batteries that have been just around the corner my entire life. Not sure this one will ever work.

    • Frau Katze says:

      Electric cars are taking a very long time, despite huge subsidies to the project.

      Some of those above examples, like measuring longitude, took place in an era of great innovation. That low hanging fruit has long been picked.

      For example, consider the immense increase in quality of living that occurred with running water, indoor plumbing and electricity.

      A typical house of today has not changed much in decades. I’ll agree that dishwashers and microwave ovens are nice to have but they’re very small improvements compared to the huge change of indoor plumbing and electricity.

    • Frau Katze says:

      I’ll grant you the Internet has been a huge change, especially for those of us living in smaller cities.

      But nobody had even suggested it earlier, much less tried and failed. It emerged on its own.

    • R. says:

      Needle rifles were like.. 1840’s, no?

    • Mr. Rational says:

      The “renewables” people are deliberately trying to do things the hard (next-to-impossible) way, doing away with all natural stockpiles of energy and proposing to create their own using highly sub-optimal methods and materials so as to even out the lulls in their inherently-unreliable supplies.

      I don’t see them accomplishing this.  Polities which try will either fail to achieve their avowed goals (as Germany has abandoned its 2020 CO2 emissions targets) or collapse.

      Someone will get wise and propose mining all the old coal-ash dumps for their uranium and thorium “to protect the environment” and then “destroy this nuclear material rather than leaving it lying around”.  Oh, rare earths turn out to be present in the byproduct “grit” of kaolin mining, and rare earths tend to be associated with thorium.  So, one of the byproduct streams of paper-coatings and magnet-elements just might wind up being a whopping load of energy.

  18. swampr says:

    Europeans had quinine for 200 years before they figured out how to use it effectively as a prophylactic to stay alive in the African interior. Usually credited to Baikies’ expedition up the Niger in 1854. Prior to this numerous expeditions lost all or all but a single man.

    • Spanky says:

      how to use it effectively as a prophylactic
      I know what you mean, but the visual of somebody using quinine in the modern, common usage of the word made me chuckle.

  19. Frau Katze says:

    Here’s a modern example: the Internet has changed things greatly. But the current establishment becomes easily annoyed if it’s used to promote politically incorrect ideas. Meaning, if the New York Times disapproves, you are under threat.

    You don’t notice it on print blog like this one and Steve Sailer’s. Reporters are too lazy to do the background reading to take you guys.

    But people on Youtube are another story, Reporters will find a Youtube enemy, like Sargon of Akkad. He is totally politically correct. He doesn’t believe in differences between races, for example. But he has still offended any number of today’s “social justice warriors.” They combed through everything he ever said, including on other people’s channels. They found a short clip that when taken out of context, sounded bad. He used several taboo words.

    They convinced the payment processor Patreon to kick him off. It was his sole source of income.

    Rival payment processors had appeared in the past, only to have the SJWs harass Paypal and credit card companies to nuke them.

    How to transfer funds without using banks and credit cards?

    Some are suggesting Bitcoin but few seem to know to use it, Solution please, readers.

    Sending cash in envelopes has been suggested.

    • If you start sending in cash, they would then find way to close it too.
      Freedom is TAKEN never given.

      • Frau Katze says:

        Sending cash is so time-consuming compared to Patreon, the contributions would definitely drop.

      • Frau Katze says:

        Steve Sailer accepts Bitcoin.

        Greg shouldn’t be too complacent. There maybe a few reporters digging through this blog. Especially when they run of Youtubers to take down.

        WordPress has kicked off at least one user. Some conspiracy theorist about Illuminati in the Vatican. Naturally, kicking him off only confirmed his paranoia. I watched a vid of him right afterwards, He was criticizing himself for not being prepared: everyone knew they would come for him sooner or later.

      • gcochran9 says:

        You know, that’s a slogan, not a compact description of reality.

  20. magusjanus says:

    There’s also the opposite: people saying something bad would happen, it doesn’t for a long time so it seems you’re chicken little… then it does.

    Fall of Roman Empire (though I guess it was gradual it was given a great big push following Adrianopole, and roughly 50 years later the loss of North Africa to Vandals)

    Fall of the British Empire

    I suspect EU will eventually collapse, probably in our lifetimes.


    And fall of the American Republic which we’re witnessing one hilarious election at a time. Social media acting as catalyst, it’s probably only a decade or two till Dwane Mountain Dew Camacho.

    • another fred says:

      “And fall of the American Republic…”

      According to Didier Sornette the critical time (Tc) for the whole planet is 2045 +/-, but he also says in other places that things usually go critical before Tc. I am 72 years old and hopeful, but not at all certain, that I will collect Social Security for the rest of my “natural life”.

      This TED talk is about financial crises, but he touches on the situation for the whole “World Order”. Sornette is an expert at analyzing the phenomenon of self organizing criticality, but I don’t have much faith in his ideas about controlling and preventing same. I tend to go along with Taleb in that regard.

    • Zeinish says:

      All works of man will one day fall. Just sit and predict doom all the time, and one day you will be right. Then, you can stand on the ruins and boast “I told you so.”

  21. Finding a stellar parallax. And the car.

  22. Kennee Mckenzie says:

    My attempts to get laid in Highschool. Just glad it didn’t end up like controlled fusion, perpetually 25 years away.

  23. Peter Lund says:

    The internal (and external) combustion engine(s). It took a long time to get from the ideas of Denis Papin, Christiaan Huygens and others to something that worked.

  24. Peter Lund says:

    Control theory. It took about two thousand years to go from feedback controlled constant water levels for water clocks to feedback controlled constant temperatures for ovens. And then about a century more to get to to Huygen’s centrifugal governor. And then about another century before there was a good mathematical analysis of it. And this was still only single input, single output!

  25. josh says:

    longitude. maybe flying machines.

  26. Jay says:

    Philo Farnsworth invented the fusor in 1968 (U.S. Patent 3,386,883). The problem has never been that we couldn’t do it. The minor problem has been that we can’t get it to break even energetically, and the major problem is that fusion spews neutrons in such huge quantities that everything nearby turns to high-level radioactive waste.

  27. Graham says:

    A stable currency with little inflation or deflation and no shortage of small change. We had it in Britain for about a hundred years, not coincidentally the hundred years of our greatest power, between the fall of Napoleon and the Great War. Then we threw it away.

    • JerryC says:

      Not coincidentally, agreed. But was the stable currency a cause or an effect of being the world’s greatest economic power?

  28. catte says:

    Irish independence.

  29. dearieme says:

    The attempt to link the Red Sea to the Med using a canal long predates the Panama adventure.

  30. epoch says:

    IPv6, or at least its mass implementation.

  31. ziel says:

    Leaving Afghanistan? – might just happen…

    • gcochran9 says:

      Have you ever even seen anyone try to explain why indecisive eternal warfare is good for the US? Anywhere? Is it just supposed to be obvious?

      • Zeinish says:

        The business of America is business, and war always had been and always will be the most profitable business that is there.

      • magusjanus says:

        Best argument I’ve seen for perpetual low burn war in some rando strategically unimportant third world country is to keep good pipeline of experienced NCOs and officers. A little low key war with small casualties has a trivial (relative to most Govt bondoogles like California high speed rail or Obamacare or ‘stimulus package’) cost and keeps army reasonably sharp.

        Now the war can’t get TOO out of control cuz then it’s corrosive to moral, etc. But a slow burn like Afghanistan at moment, so we get guys getting some fun mortal danger against a perpetual enemy (TFR > 7.0!), is basically a big game of lethal paintball to train future army middle ranks (and presumably aspiring politicians 20y down the line “I served on FRONT lines” type bs).

        • Zeinish says:

          Before WWI, the Brits got lots of experience in fighting natives, how good it was when they met an enemy with machine guns of his own?

          • dearieme says:

            We beat them. At horrible cost, it is true.

            • gcochran9 says:

              You, plus the French, the Russians, Americans, Serbs, Italians, Rumanians, Portuguese, Belgians, etc.

              The British Army in WWI started out small. They were good marksmen, but otherwise not well prepared for WWI-style combat. Fighting fuzzy-wuzzies doesn’t seem to have helped.

              • magusjanus says:

                I’m pretty sure the multiverse odds of Germans winning ww1 were higher than 80%. It took a lot of big errors to f that one up, both before and during the war. And they still ‘almost’ won despite all that. It’s easy to come up with counterfactuals where they win, from no unrestricted sub war keeping US out, to Moltke not messing with Schlieffen plan and not panicking pulling troops to East (but no in time for Tannenberg), to better diplomacy getting Italy to join their side.

                Oh Germany. Tactically and operationally brilliant, strategically retarded.

          • Machine gun itself doesn’t help as much when its users are -1.5 SD in IQ.
            IIRC Zulus King Chaka considered firearms (even thought rifles were already becoming common in his time) unworthy to use.

        • hdo says:

          According to this longish essay, 10 years ago at least the trend was toward decreasing quality and quantity of soldiers, judging by increasing trouble with recruiting:

          Would be interesting to see updated numbers.

          • hdo says:

            And Reed’s main point is that even if the slow burn-style policy did help in training/retaining those NCOs, it trains them wrong: they learn to be good little bureaucrats (ie keep their jobs and get promoted) rather than do the equivalent of win WW2 or respond to an actual threat of US invasion.

        • Tom says:

          I think you’ve hit the nail on the head here. I’ve been thinking about the purpose of these conflicts for a while, and this is one of the conclusions I came to. Your army is no good if it has no combat experience. The higher rank soldiers are also not going to be able to gain the respect of lower-rank soldiers that they are leading/training if they themselves cannot tell gory stories about their time in combat. If we look around the world, the countries whose armies are considered a joke, are the ones who haven’t seen combat for decades.
          I think also, at least some soldiers just want something to do, even if it doesn’t have a ‘point’.

      • JP says:

        The whole of the islamic world is organised along mafia lines. It is an endless series of vendettas, disputes, and mafia turf wars these wars may wax and wain but they never end. To think they would is to misunderstand the system.

        It would however be true, to say that there are certain areas of the Islamic world that we want to control. In order to do this you need the ability to put forces on the ground which can unseat anyone who questions your control, these forces have to be capable of taking punishment (and fighting dirty), the US army post Vietnam is not such an organisation.

        Consequently you need to recruit soldiers whos actions are deniable and whos casualty numbers are irrelevant.
        Jihadis, fit the bill; so you need a jihadi training camp to train up your expendable army.
        You need to control this training camp. (control in this context may mean little more than the marginal force to see that one mafia clan can beat the other.). The us army is capable in that context, because you do not care if stuff gets broken in the training area, and the more chaotic and poor the training area the better the jihadis it produces. The permenant low level war is the training program. Pulling out of Afghanistan is the equivalent of shutting West Point.

        These deniable soldiers can also be used to increase the area of the islamic mafia zone(caliphate) that you control, and can extract tribute from. The tribute is good for the US.

        Obviously it is more complicared than the above but that’s the basics.

        • Frau Katze says:

          You just do what Vladimir Putin does in Russia, in particularly the erstwhile separatist Chechnya: install a local strongman that’s on your side. Give money to build some nice mosques and stuff like that. The strongman keeps the population under control. You don’t ask questions about how he’s doing it.

          The US won’t do that of course. But it works.

          • It works for Putin, not for Russia. Chechnya is de-facto independent and it’s a frozen conflict. If someone deposes Putin they’d have to deal with free Chechnya.

            • Frau Katze says:

              It indirectly works for Russia, The US used to use this method, supporting people in places in Central America, to ward off Communists.

              The US is simply forced to at least work with some unsavoury people in places like Saudi Arabia. Islam is incompatible with democracy and things like free speech.

              Diversity = censorship in your country (called “hate speech.”)

              Not only will Muslim countries never be democracies, we will lose free speech everywhere in the West except the USA. The process is already well along in the UK.

              • JP says:

                Islam is about the mafia organisation of society, you want to work with any islamic country and you’re working with the mob. The mob is unsavoury people.
                The mob don’t do democracy, not how it works, and publicly crossing a mob boss is not a healthy activity so forget free speech.

                1st rule of imperialism = divide and rule.
                Diversity = you are some imperialists mark.

                As for free speech, attacks from multiple points, as per above too many mafia people no free speech, corperations don’t want it either, infact no one currently in power much likes it but you can’t blame its loss soley on the muslims.

            • JP says:

              As I understand it Chechnya is what would have been called a duchy in the middle ages. Headed by a duke who though loyal to the king in the kingdom is the king in the duchy.
              As for whether Kadyrov will declare Chechnya a grand duchy (independent) when Putin leaves.
              I Think that depends on alot of factors, does the Russian state continue to recognise him as duke, and are the CIA’s jihadis still trying to unseat him, being the two major ones.

              • Frau Katze says:

                No, it’s not a strong relationship. But it is similar to the US policy in Central America, before the fall of Communism. Of course, the Central American countries were not actually part of the US.

                I often thought that Putin should discard those Muslim Caucasus countries. There are no resources there.

                I suppose that keeping them means the Russian have at least some influence. They might become hotbeds of radical Islamists otherwise.

                Chechnya is the only one that’s really pugnacious. Putin is on bad terms with Georgia (after “liberating” Abkhazia and South Ossetia). The Georgians have been accused of helping radical extremists before.

          • JP says:

            Ok i’ll bite

            “the erstwhile separatist Chechnya: install a local strongman that’s on your side.”
            The Kadyrov clan were not on moscow’s side they were instrumental in the defeat of the Russian’s in the first chechen war.
            Why did they change sides, well a bunch of jihadis from a place begining with A and ending with N turned up and tried to unseat them, who sent them, see above.

            Only at that point did Putin offer to make the head of the kadyrov clan, duke of Chechnya on the condition that they fight together against the CIA’s jihadi army.

            In fact Kadyrov has got such a beef with the CIA, after what they tried to pull in Chechnya that he sends his goons to fight their proxies in orthodox christian novorussia.

            As for Putin buying him off yes to a degree, but having to defend Russia from a well dug in CIA alligned jihadi army in chechnya would also have been very costly. No cheap option was available to Russia.

  32. You have you ask yourself, is maybe closing achievement gap is the controlled fusion of sociology — possible, but maybe we are getting small details wrong?
    Maybe Greg went to bashing blank slatism because he doesn’t have skill to make controlled fusion work? xD (joke)

  33. iffen says:

    Paradise on earth.
    Just a few un-woke stragglers to be hunted down and shot and we will be there.

  34. biz says:

    Detection of gravitational radiation.
    Long-span cable-stayed bridges

  35. lhtness says:

    A general solution for cubic equations.

  36. Erisguy says:

    Polio vaccine. Attempts in the1930s killed people.

  37. jmcb says:

    Machine translation. French to English, etc.

  38. Thorfinnsson says:

    The steam engine. About 1700 years from Hero to Watt.

    The screw propeller for marine navigation. About 200 years, or 2000 if you want to allow Archimedes’ Screw.

    Stainless steel took about a century to develop.

    Cylinder deactivation for internal combustion engines. First attempted in the ’40s, first implemented commercially in the ’80s (disastrously with the Cadillac V8-6-4), and finally successful in the ’00s.

  39. Mr. Rational says:

    I’m surprised not to see perhaps the most obvious thing here:

    The practical electric light bulb.

    People had been trying for many years to develop one that was usable at home-scale.  Arc lamps were very fussy and could not be scaled down enough.  Everyone tried incandescent filaments but none was economic until Edison hit on carbonized bamboo.  It was a while before techniques for working tungsten wire developed well enough to make the coiled-coil filament workable.

  40. StAugustine says:

    Synthetic rubber

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