CHAOS MANOR MAIL
Mail 263 June 23 - 29, 2003
Highlights this week:
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I try to answer mail, but mostly I can't get to all of it. I read it all, although not always the instant it comes in. I do have books to write too... I am reminded of H. P. Lovecraft who slowly starved to death while answering fan mail.
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June 23, 2003
As usual there was a lot of mail posted on the weekend. Go read that first...
On the education system
Your recent comments on education brought to mind an observation I made last week while attending an eighth grade graduation ceremony for our daughter (when I was a kid we didn't have "eighth grade graduation"; only high school and college graduations, does that say anything?) Anyway, a few days earlier we had attended the awards presentation to see our daughter receive several academic awards as she had in previous years, and my wife observed that it was (unsurprisingly) the same small group of "usual suspects" that receive the awards each year... we've become familiar with their names over the years.
What was more interesting (and, I suppose, also not surprising, though distressing) was that at the graduation, the students receiving the loudest applause as they crossed the stage did not include any of those familiar names. It's not popular to be smart, I suppose.
BTW, my daughter just finished (and enjoyed) "Birth of Fire"; now we're looking for the copy of "Exiles to Glory" but I suspect it's lost behind the event horizon of the black hole that is my other daughter's room.
On an entirely different subject (popup ads etc.), I am using, and highly recommend, a small freeware app called Proxomitron ( www.proxomitron.org ). It installs as a proxy server, and can be configured to block not only popups, but also banner ads on pages, as well as doing lots of other cool stuff. The configuration is somewhat complex and as such might not be for the average user, but the defaults work quite well, too. [and see below]
P.S. If you want publish any of the above that's fine, but please don't post my email address unless in the form "d(dash)m(dash)hague(at) comcast(dot)net". I have received NO spam emails since switching ISP's and using the above format in any public postings; I hope to keep it that way as long as possible.
Hmm. You might write Baen and point out that Exiles To Glory is out of print and there's a new generation that hasn't read it...
Cox cable among others have banned use of servers at home; will this look like one outside its firewall? It does look interesting.
In Washington DC they have secret ceremonies for awards to kids who are academically outstanding: the others beat up, maim, or even kill the nerds as being supporters of the system. At least that's how it was a few years ago; I haven't hear lately.
I have always thought that Congress, which has the undoubted right to run the DC school system anyway it wants to, should make that the shining example of how schools ought to operate. THEN we might listen when the Department of Education tells the rest of the country what to do. But for the moment I believe the DC school system is actually the worst in the US. Of course the Washington educrats still assert the right to tell the rest of the country what to do. Why not?
Regarding Mr. Woosley's note about the performance of several states on a reading exam: I can't speak for all of the states in question, but it is probably important to note that Arizona consistently ranks last (though occasionally beating Mississippi) in per student spending on education. And, incidentally, the current recession and resultant budget crisis are causing the state to cut back even further.
Throwing money at education may not be the solution, but it might help if every school could actually afford textbooks (a major problem for many Arizona schools, especially those on the reservations).
Studies show that there is probably a minimum per pupil below which education results fall, but above that minimum there is little to no correlation between how much is spent and education results. Demanding results is the primary way to get them.
Most education research funds excuses for failure. I wrote that sentence in 1972, and it is still the case. Federally funded education research is responsible for most of the excuses now given for why the schools don't work. I wrote that in 1980. And so it goes.
Before you give schools more money, demand some results, and only given them more when you get results. That seems to work in every other profession. Why is education an exception?
Of course it's also complicated by the lack of discipline. Teachers ought to have the presumption of being correct in disciplinary measures: they should be able to act to exclude rowdy students from their classes, and principals the right to exclude them from school property, until the parents come in with the kid and discuss the situation. Without discipline the students who want to learn have to pay a tax: they have to put up with the undisciplined students and the teacher's growing discontent and feeling of helplessness.
Yes, some teachers and principals will abuse arbitrary authority; but the abuses will harm far fewer who don't deserve it than does the present system of hearings and presumption of innocence.
In 1983 the National Commission on Education, Glenn T. Seaborg, Chairman, wrote "If a foreign nation had imposed this system of education on the United States we would rightly consider it an act of war."
Things are worse now.
And we have several from our resident shrink:
Subject: Second black hole may lurk at Milky Way's heart
The Y chromosome is not doomed
Subject: Toxic metals and autism
Nothing is simple, and as usual the questions raised by this study on toxic metals and autism far outnumber the answers it gives:
Subject: Back to the regimental system
Another requirement for empire is being met:
June 20, 2003: For the third time in two decades, the U.S. Army is trying to go back to a form of organization that has been successful for several thousand years. Put simply, the army plans to assign soldiers to a unit, where they will stay, with few exceptions, for their entire career. This is sometimes called the "regimental" system, in recognition of the custom of soldiers before World War II joining a specific army regiment, and staying with it for as long as they were in the service. [snip]
A regimental system -- call it the Legionary System if you like -- is very effective, and nearly required for any long term professional services. It also engenders loyalty up and down the line, and further increases the distance between the soldiers and the nation. It is the right way to go if you want certain results.
It is not the American Way of War, but then the wars we are in now are not the kinds we thought we would face when the republic was formed.
We have always two questions: what is best for the republic, but second, if the republic is to be abandoned, what is best for the nation that rises from its rather substantial remains, and how can we keep at least some of what we earned in the first 200 years?
And on a good note
Subject: An old-fasioned guy
Sue recommended this to me, and I'm passing it on to you:
Subject: Top Blog Sites
But I am not on the list. Still, I like to think of our place here as rather exclusive...
How is TSA doing with arming airline pilots?
-- "Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing." -- Theodore Roosevelt
Why am I not surprised? Everyone in TSA ought to be fired. All of them, on the grounds that "I am just following orders" is not a sufficient defence for idiocy or working for people you know to be idiots.
And we have on education
Speaking of education, have you seen this report?
-- "Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing." -- Theodore Roosevelt
Which concludes that taxes are too low and we need to throw more money at education. Why am I not surprised? And see below.
And not surprised at this:
Subject: " . . . we'll do executive orders to overcome any wrong thing the Supreme Court does . . ."
Well, nobody can accuse the Democrats of not grasping the nuances of imperial governance:
-------- Roland Dobbins
Not surprised at all.
-------- Roland Dobbins
There, there. Let the authorities handle things. You weren't really born free.
The Proxomitron isn't a proxy server; it's a proxy filter. Essentially, it parses incoming web pages for certain strings and either removes them or replaces them with another string (such as replacing a banner with a short text link with the ALT text for the banner). It doesn't appear whatsoever from outside your firewall, as it only affects HTML pages on their way to your browser. I remember describing this to our company's sysadmin as a proxy server a couple of years ago and some very frantic conversation until we both understood what it was really doing... (and see below)
I want to speculate on the nature of interaction between students in schools (almost entirely social, not academic, with the occasional bit of "group work" that generally degenerates into a lowest-common-denominator situation or exploits a bright or hardworking member for the benefit of the group), but I'm having problems articulating the idea, which probably means I haven't thought it through sufficiently. However, it's not really important, as it's something that can certainly be countered through normal inculcation of values; the fact that this has not happened indicates not that it's impossible to teach students that ability and hard work are desirable, but instead that we simply aren't bothering. Sigh.
I wish I had all the solutions, but that obviously isn't the case. On the other hand, I'm not sure any solution will work if parents aren't mobilized to encourage their children to educate themselves at school. Perhaps a basic aptitude test, with performance on the examination linked to the payment of the child tax credit? "Discrimination!" And of course fifty percent of children are below average, so you can't set that bar very high. And of course there will be a rush to get your child classified as exempt based on disability... and inevitably the schools will focus even more on the basic skills that are tested, instead of a broader education. But if the basic skills are what is absolutely necessary, well, could it be worse than the current system?
Subject: Harry Potter Book is Pirated
This was probably inevitable....it's interesting how fast it occurred. http://www.msnbc.com/news/930285.asp
Rick Hellewell digital choke @digitalchoke.com
|This week:||Tuesday, June
We can begin with this:
Hi Jerry, A nice example of Murphy's Law in action:
"Good news: It was a normal day in Sharon Springs, KS when a Union Pacific crew boarded a loaded coal train to head on the long trek back to Salina.
Bad news: Just a few miles into the trip a wheel bearing becomes overheated and melts off letting the truck support drop down and grind on top of the rail creating white hot molten metal droppings to spew downward on the rail.
Good news: A very alert crew noticed a small amount of smoke about halfway back in the train and immediately stopped the train in compliance with the rules.
Bad news: The train just happened to stop with the hot wheel on top of a wooden bridge built with creosote ties and trusses..."
Cheers, Rod Schaffter
-- "We do not live by rule of law, because no one can possibly go a day without breaking one or another of the goofy laws that have been imposed on us over the years. No one even KNOWS all the laws that apply to almost anything we do now. We live in a time of selective enforcement of law." --Dr. J. E. Pournelle
I like your closing quote...
Occupation Duties: One of the quickest ways to destroy a good army is to use it on police duties.
Most armies in the world are "police armies", used to maintain the status quo, typically corrupt, and not very effective in combat. The opportunities for corruption destroy their honor, and morale and cohesion go with it. Either the troops hesitate to fire when they have to (if they're good police), or they become accustomed to shooting down defenseless crowds (more typical). This even happens to the best troops--as is clear now in the UK with the evidence of a dirty war in Northern Ireland leaking out.
Fred's latest on education.
I hope things aren't this bleak.
-- Mark Thompson jomath [at] mctcnet.net
Of course you know what they will now say about Fred.
"Throwing money" at any problem has never proven to be effective. One of the problems with the K-12 educational system, in my opinion, is that once a teacher gets into a system, it is very difficult to remove that teacher. Even in non-unionized districts, the problem teachers seem to just get shuttled from school to school. (This is not a great analogy, but it appears the Catholic Church has been doing the same with priests who stray from their vows, but I digress.)
I teach at the community college level, and could immediately identify at least 10% of our faculty who I do not think teach college level courses... no critical thinking, no analysis, just memorization of dates, names, and places. I've heard of even worse tales from the high school level... for example, learning disabled students who get placed in regular algebra courses because of parental influence, and then the teacher passes them with a "B", just to be rid of the aggravation of dealing with a student who shouldn't have been in the course to begin with. With mandatory exit exam scores, those students will never actually receive a standard HS degree, but they can at least use that "B" in Algebra as credit when they try for the GED.
Most of my cohorts from my undergraduate class in engineering (30+ years ago) took math classes far beyond even the AP Calculus courses in high school, but would only be able to take a temporary emergency position in most school districts, at substitute pay rates. AFAIK, K-12 districts wouldn't even give me credit for 12 years of full-time instruction at the next higher level.
As someone else has said, I don't have a solution, I just know that the current system could be improved a lot.
Dave in Export
Oh some problems can be solved with more money. Unfortunately education is not one of them, but in fact is the opposite: the more money the more people who want money and not education are attracted to the education system. It already gets all those who really care.
June 25, 2003
We have several letters on the subject of popups (see previous). The first one below raises larger issues. This will be a rather lengthy discussion of popups and what may be done about them, as well as editorial policy.
Popups got your knicker in a twist? Simple fix.
Simple. Low-tech. Nothing to buy or install. 100% effective.
I find that Java-nazi sites (i.e. those that REQUIRE it for ANY access, you peon!), like cookie-nazi sites, are seldom worth the bother. For those (very) few that are, its easy enough to turn the garbage magnets on when entering and off when leaving. I've used this approach for five years now with no significant problems. Indeed I can tell precisely when I've forgotten to turn the garbage magnets back off, even with sites that don't use popups, since I notice that most web sites load significantly slower when using Java/Script.
Of course, as a paid computer industry technical writer (i.e. Whore) you can't advocate spurning the affections of one of the industry's most prestigious Johns. But the truth remains. The net without Java is like a fish without a bicycle.
Btw, I don't use "Whore" as a pejorative. Its just a job description.
Tech writers for all industries are Whores. Some are competent and/or honest. Most simply aren't, but that's irrelevant, of course. Their relevant attributes are to roll their eyes, hyperventilate and wax orgasmic at the product of any manufacturer who buys full-page ads in their periodical Brothel.
I often fantasize compiling a language dictionary translating Whore into English. "Proven Technology" = obsolete. "Cutting-edge" = overpriced. "Full-featured" = the manual bulks like the SanFran metro phone book. "Innovative" = Buggy as a beta-test. etc, etc. Practically writes itself, doesn't it?
And yes, if you must know, I once considered a sideline in technical writing. The firearms biz, if it makes a difference. But then I decided that seeing my nom de plume in publication wasn't worth the cost of knee-pads and mouthwash as a business expense.
My, my, my, but I DO digress, I do. I really MUST remember not to skip my Thorazine.
Anyhow, love your site. Read it about daily. (Hmmmmmmmmmmm. Y'know, if I were half as honorable as I seem to want to believe I am, I'd subscribe. Having realized that, I'll be looking into it.)
Cheers. Keep pushing your rock up the mountain.
I stopped reading this the first time through, because I rather object to being called a whore, and I am not sure I much care about the opinions or advice of those who think of me that way.
I don't know who this chap refers to, but it's not me. I have for years done exactly the same column: I try things and report what I did and what the results were. I assume my readers understand the difference between "sweet spot" price/effective technology and quite expensive bleeding edge, and can choose appropriately. For most of my column career I wrote for McGraw Hill's BYTE, and most of those readers were bleeding edge fans, but I always took care to mention that there were generally cheaper ways to get "good enough."
McGraw Hill had and has a very effective wall of separation between sales and editorial. It was literally a firing offense for sales to suggest topics to editors and columnists, much less suggest any slant to take on a topic. Sometimes the sales people would ask if I could drop by a client party at a show. That was probably technically in violation of McGraw Hill policy, but my policy on the subject was that if I liked the company I'd do it, and if I didn't, I'd be just too busy.
And the only time McGraw Hill ever suggested a change in a column was once, a long time ago, when I denounced a company and its policies. I got a call from Legal telling me the company had a litigious reputation and they would sue. I asked if that were a problem with McGraw Hill.
"Not if you can prove it's true. But you will have to participate in the defense. Now if you change these words so it's clear this is your opinion based on..." So I did make that change, saying almost precisely the same thing, but in language that made it possible for Legal to get the suit dismissed without my involvement. And that's the ONLY time McGraw Hill ever suggested any changes. In nearly twenty years.
Now BYTE.COM is owned by CMP and I have never had any suggestions for changes, or what to write about, from them, either.
I write about what I use. Since I can get almost anything I want, I tend to use things I like because I like them. And I do a lot of silly things so you don't have to.
As to Java Scripts and the like: I have, as I have said many times, installed Popup Stopper and it works well; but many web pages still look up all the popup pages, one at a time, and try to put them up before they will put up the content. The result is that it can take a while for the page to come up. I hadn't realized that this wasn't due to my rather slow Internet connection and download times, it was a function of the servers sending the stuff; it is sometimes faster to let the popups happen.
Disabling Java is one way to go. There are costs associated with that shotgun approach. Among other things, some places I visit often require Java. One thing I like about Popup Stopper is that it's easy to turn on and off, and it lets you know if a page isn't loading because it can't do it with popups off.
I starting using Mozilla Firebird as it has a some improvements over MS IE that sounded interesting; mainly tabbed browsing. I quickly discovered that I really liked tabbed browsing, indeed I would have felt lost without it. But I wasn't really keen on the Mozilla Gecko engine, as many sites I use work best with MS IE.
So I started looking, and I ran across NetCaptor ( www.netcaptor.com ). This is basically a shell around IE that supports tabbed browsing, and can also be set up as your "default" browser so it gets links from email messages in Outlook when you click them. There is a free program called SlimBrowser that has somewhat similar capabilities, but didn't seem to be as good.
One really neat thing is that NetCaptor has pop-up and ad blocking. You can program it with wild-cards as to what sort of pop-ups to block and ads to delete. When it deletes an ad it just drops it out of the page, leaving an active link behind the "blankness" if there was one. It seems as if the graphic request is filtered out before the page is requested; this should be possible since it has a good grip on the page and should be able to delete them while processing the page.
Much of the graphics blocking does not come into play until you purchase a license and enter the registration codes. Since late last week NetCaptor has blocked over 1300 URLs on my system, as well as a handful of popups.
------------------------- This email was sent without any attachment and should have arrived without any. If there are attachments, DON'T OPEN THEM!
I find that for all its faults, IE works for me, and the price is right. I tried Mozilla and really really resented that it put its Mozilla Icon on darned near every picture file I have as well as on a lot of my desktop icons. That infuriated me, and when I uninstalled it I found it didn't change things back. The cleanup to get that ugly Godzilla thing off my screens took long enough that I have not had the courage to try it again.
And IE with Popup Stopper works most times. But there remain web sites that simply insist on going off and looking for every page call even though those will not be displayed. The result can be 30 or 40 seconds of waiting, compounded in many cases by the server being stressed -- as for instance pages having to do with game strategies. Many of these are maintained as labors of love, and the popup ads are one source of revenue and probably a pitifully small revenue at that.
Which brings us to the question of popups and banner ads. I don't use them because I find them annoying. In some cases, though, they are the only support of places I do care about and would hate to see vanish. Clearly one of those is www.byte.com .
In general, though, I subscribe to the sites I use often, whether or not I block their popups.
Netcaptor sounds interesting and I should try it.
In order to prevent my machine being held up by dns requests for advertisements sites, I have quite a large hosts file which has many known advertising domains and points them to 127.0.0.1
I originally got this from http://www.accs-net.com/hosts/ where they also have an interesting product called DNSKong
There's similar at http://someonewhocares.org/hosts/
Hope this helps
I just resubscribed.
On a seperate note, something I've found very useful in blocking ads and pop-ups before they're even requested is to block the DNS lookup itself. This can be done by adding lines to your "hosts" file.
The hosts file is a simple flat text file that is first consulted when an application (say a web browser) wants to translate a hostname (www.foo.com) into an IP address (10.11.12.13). The key is that this is done BEFORE your normal DNS lookup is done. If you add an entry mapping www.foo.com to 0.0.0.0, then when the app tries to look up that IP address, it gets 0.0.0.0, which is essentially invalid, so the connection fails. This blocks the vast majority of ad server, cookie servers, etc.
I use a hosts file from this URL:
I add it to my Windows2k hosts file (WINNT/system32/drivers/etc) and it blocks all the servers. If I ever run across a server I DO want to connect to, I simply find it in the hosts and comment it out.
Note that I disabled my "DNS Client" service as when I updated the hosts file it would consume 100% CPU for a long time, re-reading that file (for whatever reason). This doesn't seem to affect performance at all.
Hope this helps, Pete
I need to think about this one for a while. Thanks.
As a recipient three years ago of a porcine aortic cardiac valve, I would be hard-pressed to dismiss leading edge transgenic technology out of hand. I am alive today because of it. And if I outlast my valve and it needs to be replaced in seven or so years, my interest is clearly more than academic.
In the current GMO debate, the landscape has been muddied by a seeming inability of either side to clearly separate a few critical issues.
- Cautionary labels and human tolerance - Agricultural warfare - Patents
Cautionary labels and trusting the economy
In the last ten or so years, I've become allergic to eggs, to the extent that they simply don't stay down. I was refused a flu shot two years ago because it had an egg base and the nurses in the office agreed that it could endanger my life. This was their decision, not my whim. I thought it would be OK, but they refused me.
In addition, I'm walking around with a three-year-old piggy aortic valve doing yeoman duty in my chest. If I should accidentally ingest some unknown substance with a gene that with the best of intentions attempts to expunge all but human tissue from my system-- say, some new antibiotic that searched and destroys cancer cells, but has some unexpected side effects-- well, you get the picture.
An old girlfriend is allergic to hazelnuts to the extent that her throat was once swollen nearly shut and she had to go to an ER to be treated. Now that soybeans are being genetically altered with hazelnut genes to discourage certain agricultural pests, she NEEDS to know whether the soy milk and soy products she likes to use are safe. For persons with additional lactose intolerance, this can be ... troubling.
So far, agribusiness corporations have prevailed on congress and several administrations to NOT require labeling of transgenic foodstuffs on public market shelves. This is criminally irresponsible, and the sources of any deaths traced to this should be subject to prison and financial penalties. I think that's how the law is s'posed to work.
I don't lose sleep over this, but if the government refuses to mandate-- NOT to BAN, but simply to LABEL GMOs, it makes me-- not so much fearful as distrustful.
And even more than dollars, right now our economy needs trust.
Agriculture depends on a large and, in certain critical phases, unrestricted playing field. This is especially true during pollination at which time winds, and insects such as bees, play a critical role in the production cycle. For germination to occur you have a kind of agricultural soup whose rules are more statistical than engineered.
Wind doesn't know anything about "adjoining fields." As in, "I ain't got to show you no steenking boundaries."
And yet in a recent case, Monsanto has sued a Canadian farmer for the "drift" of their own seed.
The farmer has countersued (imagine that!), but amazingly enough, lost the first round. The Canadian Supreme Court has now agreed to hear the case in the beginning of 2004. It kinda reminds me of the Kenneth Patchen's poem, The Peaceful Lier, where he talks about
"....the big shtoonks Kicking the cans off The little shtoonks -- AND! Charging them for the service."
This is the tip of the iceberg. But now, new strains promoted by agribusiness chemists have a "" so that food from these seeds is sterile, and must be repurchased each year.
This is Soviet-style agriculture, mindlessly well-intentioned, but efficient only in the short run, if that.
Your own epithet here.
So then our own government gets into the act by refusing foreign aid, and more specifically AIDS aid, unless various African countries roll over and allow these wonderfully engineered seeds into their food chain.
Instant Sahara, anyone?
This is where the patent process has become irresponsible, and unless patents have a very restricted term, the consequences can be catastrophic.
Open source hacking of genetic structures is one of the few ways to safeguard the worldwide food chain. This means that if a suicide seed is found to have "drifted" onto adjoining land, the aggrieved party should have recourse to biotechnology that can nullify the suicide gene.
This should be a common law remedy. However much common law has been overturned in recent decades in the name of--what?--the new world economic order?
Perhaps one remedy should place all patents of an offending company into the public domain. That would get their attention.
Hard to find a real nexus of causation here. Merely attacking the WTO, World Bank or GMO conferences doesn't address the causes. Neither does badmouthing the Sierra Club or Friends of the Earth.
Answers and Questions
To look for one cause is a failure of attention. It is the stuff of inquisition rather than inquiry.
Right now questions are more important than answers.
Answers create factions. Questions create community. Answers that promote questions create civilization.
The intelligence of our questions will determine the solutions we get. And if we don't ask....
Dan Duncan email@example.com
You raise a number of questions and state your case well. I'll try to reply later; meanwhile let's see what the readers think.
Title VI Hearings.
How not to study the Middle East, By Daniel Pipes
The US Congress broke with a 45-year tradition last week: It permitted a dissident to critique federal funding for the study of foreign language and cultures. The topic may appear academic but it impinges on deep questions of how Americans see the outside world and themselves. It also has major implications for US policy.
Federal funding of international studies (known in governmentese as "Title VI fellowships") is relatively new, going back to 1959, when cold war tensions prompted a sense of American vulnerability. The goal was to supply knowledgeable specialists to government, business, industry, and education. (Full disclosure: I received a Title VI fellowship in the mid-1970s.)
The current $86.2 million annual spending on Title VI programs makes up just 0.0005 percent of the federal budget, but it funds 118 "national resource centers" and provides an endorsement of them that encourages other donors. Naturally, universities took to this program that subsidizes their graduate students and area studies centers, and quickly came to depend on it.
That's why the hearing of the House Subcommittee on Select Education last Thursday on "International Programs in Higher Education and Questions of Bias" was so potentially significant; it challenges that funding.
The event showcased Stanley Kurtz, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University, who explained the problems at Title VI centers. Himself an anthropologist of South Asia, since 9/11 he has developed a systematic critique of Middle East studies.
In his testimony Kurtz argues that this field is dominated by an
approach called post-colonial theory. Developed primarily by Edward Said
of Columbia University, it holds, in Kurtz's words, that "it is
immoral for a scholar to put his knowledge of foreign languages and
cultures at the service of American power."
An exclusion of pro-American voices. Kurtz offers several examples, such as the website of New York University's Middle East center ( http://www.nyu.edu/gsas/program/neareast/ ). Every one of its commentaries on 9/11 and the Iraq war that takes a political stand, he finds, "sharply criticizes American policy."
A "condemnation of scholars who cooperate with the American
In other words, Title VI funding at times reduces the expertise available to the government.
TO COUNTER this pattern of bias and alienation Kurtz proposes three steps for Congress.
Create a supervisory board made up of executive branch representatives and other appointees to manage the Title VI spending, as is presently the case with other federally funded educational programs.
Amend the Higher Education Act to deny Title VI funding to any university or center that boycotts the NSEP.
Reduce allocations for Title VI to register displeasure with the bias of area studies. Start by rescinding the additional $20 million added to Title VI after 9/11 and direct it instead to the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California, to train students intending careers in the defense and intelligence agencies.
Confronted by this powerful critique, the education establishment's lobbyist at the hearing, Terry Hartle, was reduced to posturing about the supposed patriotism of his constituents, dismissing Kurtz's case as anecdotal and stating that historians and political scientists "rarely find" post-colonial theory useful.
The fellow even pretended (and this falsehood must have rankled) that Edward Said's work "reached its apex of popularity more than a decade ago and has been waning ever since." Hardly!
A search engine of syllabi finds Said to be one of the very most taught authors. He is, as Martin Kramer points out, "one of only two academics today (the other is Noam Chomsky) who draws an overflow crowd on any campus he visits and who always gets a standing ovation."
Hartle is wrong and Kurtz is right. Indeed Kurtz understates the problem, for anti-Americanism among Middle East specialists has other sources besides post-colonial theory, such as fury at strong US-Israel relations or sympathy for the Iranian regime.
Pete Hoekstra (R-Michigan) chairs the House Subcommittee on Select Education; taxpayers have no better way to challenge the failure of Middle East studies than by writing him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The writer is director of the Middle East Forum and author of Militant Islam Reaches America.
Douglas M. Colbary
And while I don't always agree with everything Dr. Pipes says, I always take him seriously; and subsidizing our enemies is not smart, particularly if we do that to the exclusion of friends. Said is an interesting man and I read him; but I don't mistake his theories for deep truth.
Two Refugee Stories
Quite a contrast.
What needs to be said?
As you say, there is little to be said. Thank you.
Subject: Federal Air Marshals flying without having received their final security clearances
-- John E. Bartley, III email@example.com 503-BAR-TLEY (503-227-8539) K7AAY This post quad-ROT13 encrypted; reading it violates the DMCA. We shall not sleep, though poppies grow In Flanders fields.
Note that PILOTS can't manage to be armed, but heck, why trust them with the safety of passengers when you can have real marshals? And so to empire.
Subject: Microsoft email worm du jour ( priority one)
--- Roland Dobbins
June 26, 2003
Happy Korean War day.
I have the following sent without comment by a subscriber. Comments solicited.
"The Best Show in Town" Uri Avnery Monday, June 23, 2003 http://www.mediamonitors.net/uri130.html
The most talented director could not have done better. It was a perfect show.
Television viewers all over the world saw heroic Israeli soldiers on their screens battling the fanatical settlers. Close-ups: faces twisted with passion, a soldier lying on a stretcher, a young woman crying in despair, children weeping, youngsters storming forward in fury, masses of people wrestling with each other. A battle of life and death.
There is no room for doubt: Ariel Sharon is leading a heroic fight against the settlers in order to fulfill his promise to remove "unauthorized" outposts, even "inhabited" ones. The old warrior is again facing a determined enemy without flinching.
The conclusion is self-evident, both in Israel and throughout the world: if such a tumultuous battle takes place for a tiny outpost inhabited by hardly a dozen people, how can one expect Sharon to remove 90 outposts, as promised in the Road Map? If things look like that when he has to remove a handful of tents and one small stone building - how can one even dream of evacuating real settlements, where dozens, hundreds or even thousands of families are living?
This must have impressed George Bush and his people. Unfortunately, it has not impressed me.
It makes me laugh.
The rest of the article expounds on that last sentence. Read it before you comment.
Subject: stopping spam with greylisting
Turns out somewhere over 90% of spam isn't sent using standard email programs and standard MTAs (mail transfer agents) like sendmail. The spammers use special "spamming software" that doesn't follow the SMTP standard in terms of queuing and retrying messages that have temporary failures. This behavior can be detected and used to separate spam from normal email:
Since this operates at the MTA level, you need some unix/linux experience and have to have your own MTA to implement it. Its not done at the desktop level. However, maybe your ISP could set it up for you. Have your ISP talk to me if they are interested.
I have implemented it on my email servers and it has cut spam passed through my systems by a further 90%. Which is impressive considering the amount of spam passed by my systems was already pretty low since they already checked some realtime blackhole lists. Another interesting feature is that it shouldn't block even a single real email (assuming the email was sent using a real MTA that was setup correctly).
Looks like it works pretty well. Take a look.
Begin forwarded message:
> The W2/Sobig virus is a windows macro virus that propagates by using
> the addresses in your address book. There's a new variant apparently
> out today that is moving around the university. The messages it
> generates contain a payload wrapped in a zip-file called
> my_details.zip. That expands to details.pif, which is a standard macro
> virus file. If it infects you, it's rather nasty, plus it sends
> e-mails to everyone in your address book using other addresses in the
> book as fake from fields so that recipients are likely to expand the
> zip file. I've reported it to cert.org.
Hah. What next indeed?
I've been using a browser stupidly called Crazy Browser. That's sad because it is a dandy little interface for IE. Comes with a popup blocker (1347 so far), has tabbed browsing which gets my cold dead fingers award. It doesn't seem to have any phone home stuff, at least not that Spybot and Ad-Aware has caught. It doesn't leave any junk on the system tray, has a small footprint and is totally free. And you can't beat that price without using a stick.
Of course its www.crazybrowser.com
As you say, highly recommended.
Heck with Potter, how's Burning Tower coming along?
It goes well actually.
Law Prof at UC Davis weighs in.
Doesn't sound good for SCO. M$ won't care much for his conclusions either.
-- John Harlow, President BravePoint jharlow@BravePoint.com Voice: (770)449-9696 Fax: (770) 449-9003 www.BravePoint.com Progress,Web and Java Specialists
A mind is like a parachute; it works best when fully opened....
I never thought they'd do well at this.
There is a very good powerpoint presentation at http://opd.ans.org/Keuter.ppt as to why we should be building new nuclear power plants right now. This is a presentation by a Entergy VP (Entergy owns 6 nuclear power plants right now so one can claim that they are biased - or one can claim that they know what they are doing).
I have worked in the energy business for over 20 years now and I am watching the natural gas train wreck coming with very great misgivings. We have built all the new power generation in this country in the last 10 to 15 years using natural gas. Most of the new power plants can not even burn liquid fuels like diesel, etc... If we have a very cold winter this year, we will run out of natural gas in January or February. Then the federal government will step in and run things totally into the ground (remember Carter's DOE - biggest waste of federal money after Dept. of Edu).
Thanks, Lynn McGuire
So if you live in cold climates buy your heating oil EARLY? Or has the market already factored that in?
Seaborg didn't know what he was talking about. The US educational system is not significantly less effective than it ever was - it is, however, significantly less efficient. We spend more money than we used and get nothing for it.
Education, the way _anyone_ knows how to do it, is pushing a rope: variation in inputs, past a bare minimum, have almost no effect on outputs. And so, even when something ridiculous is tried, long-term effects are usually small. Nor is there any reason to think that getting rigorous does any good: it's still a rope.
Reading skills have not gone down, at least on average. There is some reason to think that the fraction of people with very high reading skills ( ~ top 1% type numbers) may have decreased some, but I personally blame TV, which is a far bigger influence than any educational tactic. Demographic change plays a part too. In fact, in most of the examples people talk about in which some educational system has supposedly gone to the dogs, demographic change - local replacement of a smart ethnic group by a not-smart one - is the real and unsayable explanation.
On the other hand, math skills have undoubtedly improved.
Generally speaking, everyoine depends on the pupil's talents, almost nothing on the school.
All the existing quantitative data supports my position on this. Want me to to dig it all up again? It won't be difficult - I save everything.
All I know is that my papers are full of stories about 70% ILLITERACY in 5th grade, which means function illiteracy for the rest of their lives. And I do not recall things were every that bad here. If you can show that we are in good shape, I'd be glad to hear it, but you read different things from me. I think you studied under Pollyanna.
The demographic changes can explain lower intellectual scores. The Bell Curve tells why, and unpleasant as that truth is, it's still true. But nearly anyone of any IQ can learn to read, and my wife proved that many times over many years by teaching every kid who came to her. All of them, including the ones with ten pounds of documents proving this kid could never learn.
They may not understand all that they read, or even much of it, but read they can, and their speaking and reading vocabularies are the same, and this gives them a chance if they happen to be smarter than the teacher supposes.
Teach them to read in Head Start. Then see. No, we can't "fix" everything; but we can sure do better than we are now.
Just a note about schools. I have taught 8th grade science (1 year) and college chemistry (general, analytical, organic, advanced inorganic)(several years). It seems to me that lack of reading ability is one of the major problems we have with our school system. I would like to see the mandated mission of elementary school (preK-6) be teaching reading and improving reading skills for those that do read. All of the rest of the normal curriculum can be learned with reasonable effort by people who can read. It can be learned only by extraordinary effort by the illiterate.
John Carmody firstname.lastname@example.org
First the good news:
The National Do-Not-Call Registry is now active. By registering your phone number(s) you can cut down (although not eliminate) telemarketing calls. Telemarketers are required to eliminate numbers on the DNC Registry beginning 1 October, or three months after you register your number. There are substantial penalties for violations.
To register your phone number, visit
or call toll-free (888) 382-1222. The web site is extremely busy, as you might expect, but you can get your number registered there if you're patient. I haven't even tried the toll-free number.
Subject: The Iraqi Meatgrinder
Dear Mr. Pournelle,
I have to say you are either ahead of the administration or your sources are very good. Looks like the administration is looking at something akin to what you proposed.
I still have my doubts this approach will work, though.
The Logic Of Empire...
June 28, 2003
Subject: Tanya Grotter
I find the arguments in this article compelling. I'm interested in your thoughts on it.
-- Steve R. Hastings "Vita est" email@example.com http://www.blarg.net/~steveha
There is clearly a difference between literary piracy and using someone's ideas to write a different story. For that matter, the story of a young wizard who goes to a wizard school is not entirely original to begin with. Rowling does it better than anyone has, but that doesn't mean there can't be wizard schools in the United States or Russia. Great heavens, many of the ideas in Rowling come from other works, which is not to deny her originality or to denigrate her delivery. She's good. But she can't be the only person allowed to write fiction on that theme any more than SS Van Dine could copyright the locked room murder mystery, or Tolkein all lore about Wizards and Elves and even Middle Earth.
I am all for securing an author's legitimate rights, but I think Rowling (and the lawyers working for her publishers) are going much too far, and I am tempted to write a "young wizard goes to boarding school" story myself. Only tempted. I don't have time, and it's not my kind of story anyway.
subject: Goodbye to my Windows 95
Dear Dr, Pournelle,
My system refused to boot Windows 95 the other day. It was a W95/Linux dual boot system with a few peculiarities worth mentioning.
It was originally set up as dual boot with Lilo, the Linux multiple boot controller. A free upgrade from Microsoft for W95, suppled over the Internet, insisted on overwriting the 512-byte boot sector when it did not match the Microsoft supplied one. This was probably touted as an antivirus measure, but it efectively kills Lilo, and probably the OS/2 boot controller as well. Linux also supplied Loadlin, a method for booting Linux from Windows, and this served until W95 crashed permanently.
The crash of W95 was due to the failure of some sectors on a scsi disk, and Microsoft did not contribute to this failure in any way. After setting up the computer for Linux only, I noticed a speed improvement in my Sis graphics. the speed under Linux had gone down noticeably after another free Microsoft upgrade to W95. Even though Linux was on another scsi disk, and had its own video drivers, it was noticeably slowed. I do not have the time, equipment, or interest to do the signal tracing necessary to pin this down.
Windows, any variation, will not be loaded on my computers. The advantages are mainly eye candy, and do not affect my daily use enough to bother. Linux, in any of several distributions, works for me, and there I will stay. My wife has use for the extra money not spent on upgrades, applications, and equipment improvements that are required frequently by the proprietary offerings of Microsoft.
William L. Jones firstname.lastname@example.org
Nevada Turns to Brothels as a Budget Fix
William J. Raggio, the Senate majority leader, burned down a brothel by court order when he was a district attorney. Today he is philosophic about the sex levy. "It's a unique business," Mr. Raggio said. "They sell it, you get it and they still own it. Still, we're going to tax it."
Leave it to the government to find a way to tax sex!
"Those who put safety before freedom get neither." -Ben Franklin
The Franklin quote is used often but usually it is not exact. And as stated here it is not true.
From: Stephen M. St. Onge email@example.com
subject: Wow! *Shudder!*
See this story on electro-magnetic stimulation of selected brain areas. Instant artificial idiot-savant.
I'm encouraged and frightened in equal parts.
In other science news, a new approach to fusion power looks very promising.
DELENDAM ESSE SAUDI ARABIA!
From: Stephen M. St. Onge firstname.lastname@example.org
Victor Davis Hanson has some interesting thoughts on the subject here. The basic idea is that "we are adopting a radically new world role that defies conventional analysis as either imperialist or isolationist."
Interestingly, Hanson is policy prescriptions similar to yours. (I said similar, not identical).
DELENDAM ESSE SAUDI ARABIA!
Well, Hanson has been fed much red meat lately, and upon it he has grown great; but I don't think that discussion of US hegemony is mere Chomskyite drivel, and I rather resent the phrase.
I have been saying it was time to wean South Korea, and Germany, and France which wants US troops in Germany for obvious reason, and the Balkans, and all those other areas where we have US troops; and I see no real reason for there to be large US forces in the Middle East when we could be spending that money on a Navy and energy independence.
To blather that our empire is not like others in the past and thus is not empire is silly, and for an historian to think there is no logic to empire is delusional, as delusional as the Belgians thinking they are going to prosecute the American Secretary of Defense for crimes in Iraq.
Any time you govern people without their consent you are in the empire business. Rome got there when they took Sicily and Sardinia in the Punic War. They soon learned there is a logic to empire. We will learn it as well: as for instance when the troops take the bit in their teeth and retaliate for the Iraqi meatgrinder. We can allow the Koreans to play games because the troops aren't in a war zone with loaded weapons. In Iraq it's different. As to Korea, we owe them nothing, and they are rich enough to defend themselves. Let them.
Hanson has written some good books, and I generally have little quarrel with what he advocates, but why he chooses to lump his critics into the category of Chomskyites I don't know. Basic insecurity? Or playing to the neo-conservative gallery.
If we are to go imperial, then it should be done right. Some of us won't like the results much, but it will be far better than muddling along losing republican virtues and freedoms and getting nothing in return.
On that score:
Received this today on a photographic mailing list that I subscribe to ( I obscured the e-mail. ) I posted it to Robert Thompson's BBS as well:
----- Original Message -----
Date: Sat, 28 Jun 2003 09:05:02 -0700 From: "Bob Blakely" <Bob@XXXXXX.com> Subject: My Son...
My son is in Iraq. He's with the 173 Airborne Brigade. They were the first to drop into Northern Iraq to secure airfields. Recently, he and his unit have been playing "policeman" in one of the northern cities. Actually, they've been backup for the local police to give the city order. We had been talking just the other day and Aaron told me that the different factions in the city (Kurds, Shiites, etc.) may not really like each other, but they were always friendly to him and he enjoyed talking with them. Last night (Iraqi time), a mortar hit the "safe house" where he and his unit were sleeping. The perpetrators were (most likely) Saddam holdovers aided by foreigners - Syrian, etc. Two were hurt, one will be fine. My son, however, has been told by the doctors that he will most likely may loose what is left of his left foot. He will be airlifted to Germany tomorrow.
I do not understand the Iraqi people. At least the French formed an underground and after the war did not tolerate Nazi sympathizers among them. How can this people tolerate the Saddam supporters among them?
Forgive me. Right now I am beginning to believe that there are some peoples in this world who simply do not deserve to be free.
- "Do not suppose that abuses are eliminated by destroying the object which is abused. Men can go wrong with wine and women. Shall we then prohibit and abolish women?" -Martin Luther
My heart goes out to Aaron Blakely and his father. This is an awful mess we've gotten ourselves into.
Mark Gosdin Proud of the Soldiers on the Line, skeptical of those Leading from Behind.
We will continue to feed troopers into that meat grinder. Perhaps it is necessary, but the case isn't being well made.
According to the article, a Kansas City company was fined $6,000 for stating that "goods being shipped were not of Israeli origin and did not contain Israeli materials." The Commerce Department goes on to brag about fining people a total of $26M for violations of the anti-boycott laws.
The Bureau of Industry and Security has a web page on the subject: < http://www.bxa.doc.gov/AntiboycottCompliance/OACRequirements.html >
"The penalties imposed for each 'knowing' violation can be a fine of up to $50,000 or five times the value of the exports involved, whichever is greater, and imprisonment of up to five years." A violation is, among other things, "Agreeing to furnish or actually furnishing information about business relationships with or in Israel or with blacklisted companies." There are also reporting requirements that make you narc on people who request such information.
Free speech? Free association? Sorry, temporarily suspended for the duration of the peace process. We've got to keep the roads of commerce open, so peaceful Jewish homesteaders can afford bullets to defend themselves from vicious Arab olive farmers.
Back in college when I first read Heinlein's "Revolt in 2100," I needed a crane to suspend my disbelief. "Surely," I thought, "nobody as evil as Nehemiah Scudder could ever come to power in America." These days I think Heinlein was an optimist.
-- Daniel A. Newby -- email@example.com --
But there's no trend toward empire from republic. No, not at all. None. But see next week.
June 29, 2003
Now, after seeing you comment; "I have to think about this." I did, in fact, think about this. It is... it is both shoplifting and not. If it merely cancels the graphic out, it has no ethical issues at all. If it cancels the "hit" on the site, though, it is taking your bandwith without your expected recompense. While you have no 'right' to expect to be paid... and I may be saying that wrongly, but all I work with is _my_ computer, so anything I do is pretty darn cool that way, but as an ethical viewer, (If very rare... perhaps once every few weeks to few months) I have to say that I do morally owe you that hit.
On the other hand, once a site becomes intrusive, with popups and slide down and other bells and whistles, they are forcing their advertisment on me, and I have every moral right to fight back. Oh, gods, do I. Especially those that pop up and never go away.
I would not mind removing the ones that merely display banners, if I could determine which they are. However, I will not spend my time searching... I simply will not hunt down future banners, while I will hunt down future pop ups.
I think that's reasonable.
Do understand that the reader uses "your" in a generic sense. I don't have any banner adds, and my only hit counts are local (about 4 million in May, but how that translates into readers isn't entirely clear to me). Readers used to tear the ads out of BYTE to make it easier to save. On the other hand, some readers said they subscribed only for the advertisements...
I don't know if any web logs and pundits make money. Subscriptions here cover expenses, and my guess is that if I had no other source of income other than retirement payments (thin: from a 4 year academic stint in the 1960's) and Social Security (thinner: which is interesting since my 4 year payments into TIAA/CREF in the 1960's actually generated, through the magic of compound tax-free interest, more retirement pay than 40 years of paying into Social Security) I could probably eke out enough from subscriptions here to stay afloat. Of course as it is I am still paying into Social Security about as much as I get from it, except that Medicare now pays my Kaiser Permanente dues, and subscriptions go to make it more interesting to be here than to write articles for magazines. And besides, I like being here, and going from one subject to another.
As near as I can figure we get something like 5,000 unique visitors a day, and about 150,000 a month, but since some visit here daily, some weekly, it's again not clear how many regular readers that translates into. We're down a bit from the peak which came during the hot part of the Second Gulf War, but not as far down as I'd have thought.
We have an interesting readership, and I have evidence that my stuff ends up being seen by people who actually make decisions, which I suppose ought not surprise me. And every now and then I get either corrections or attaboys from some of them.
Being constitutionally unable to suffer fools gladly --it's a failing, I'm not bragging -- I find it very pleasant that I don't seem to have any as regular readers, and darned few as dropins who want to shout at me. All in all it's rather pleasant here, at least now.
Anyway, there aren't any banner ads, and there won't be. I continue to operate on the "public radio" model: you pay if you feel it's worth it. And thanks to all those who do.
(You knew this was coming, didn't you?)
In this next, if you believe all this, you will believe anything:
I wonder, did God speak to Bush in Hebrew or English
Lawrence T. May Jr.
President Bush Claims That He Is Gods Messenger:
`Road map is a life saver for us,' PM Abbas tells Hamas
According to Abbas, - Bush said: "God told me to strike at al Qaida and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did, and now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East. If you help me I will act, and if not, the elections will come and I will have to focus on them."
By Arnon Regular
06/26/03: (Harretz) Selected minutes acquired by Haaretz from one of last week's cease-fire negotiations between Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas and faction leaders from the Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Popular and Democratic Fronts, reveal some of the factors at play behind the scenes in the effort to achieve a hudna.
But I guess some people will believe anything. Still the notion that the President of the United States would say such things is not inherently plausible.
In the Saturday (6/29/2003) View, you wrote:
>When I was a lad we had the right to tell cops and investigators any damn >thing we wanted to. Perjury was lying under oath. Just bullshucking the >authorities wasn't a crime.
You're right so far, but you missed a point. Bulls---ing the *stockholder* _is_ a crime. Yeah, it's a dirty, Al-Capone-esque move for the SEC to pull, but it's still a legit beef.
-- Glenn R. Stone
My question is, given they did not charge her with the original "crime" of insider trading, how can telling people she didn't do it be a crime until it is proved that she did it? I have letters from attorneys explaining all this but they don't actually address that point.
As to stockholders, anyone who buys stock in a personality is taking the chance that the personality has feet of clay. I would have thought that obvious. I am afraid I find that most of what the SEC does to be ridiculous, mostly exercises of arbitrary power. The fact is that not one of us can get through an ordinary day without breaking one or another law, so that we all exist at the sufferance of our bureaucratic masters who can come and take us away any time they want to.
Subject: Martha Stewart and Ricochet
Jack Kemp (currently of "Empower America", formerly a Republican Congressman from - was it New York? - and pro football player) had a recent column on this for the Copley News Service. United States Code, Title 18 (Crimes and Criminal Procedures), Part I (Crimes), Chapter 47 (Fraud and False Statements) Section 1001. The key phrase: "knowingly and willfully make any false, fictitious or fraudulent statement or representation in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative or judicial branch"--so if you tell one of the federales that it's 3PM when it's actually 3:15 (and they *DO* run WWV and WWVH for time signals), they've got you....
On a more cheerful note, Ricochet is up again in San Diego! $30/month or $45/month--and it might be available at your beach house (see, not all the news is bad).
So the safe thing to do for ANY citizen is to decline to "cooperate" with ANY agent of the government.
------ Roland Dobbins
Of course we have a lot more from Roland:
Subject: Implications of TiVO.
Subject: Trying to keep the genie in the bottle . . .
Subject: Occupation of empire.
Subject: Business of empire.
Subject: It's all about the money.
Subject: Terroristic threats.
Subject: You just can't make this stuff up.
The behavior of any bureaucratic organization can best be understood by assuming that it is controlled by a secret cabal of its enemies.
-- Robert Conquest's Second Law of Politics
Both statements are true: I could never have made up that story, and my old friend Robert Conquest is correct as usual.
Subject: Katharine Hepburn, RIP.
------- Roland Dobbins
I grew up watching her, of course; but nothing she ever did in youth was as great as her Eleanor of Acquitane in The Lion In Winter.
Might care to mention The Heinlein Society Newsletter for May 2003 is now available. It is located at http://heinleinsociety.org/NewsLArch.html given the way you are featured - did you post pictures for subscribers and I miss it?
I got a few pictures, not many. I wasn't really there to take pictures. I suppose I should do something about that now.
I have just looked at the pictures I got. Only a couple are of any value, and the report above does a pretty good job of it. I will come up with a treat for subscribers shortly.
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