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Monday  April 3, 2006

Subject: More TSA Hijinks!


Dean Riddlebarger

Daughter: DIA security roughed-up mom, 83 Bogart Family ©

By Chris Barge, Rocky Mountain News
March 31, 2006

Sally Moon had to cool off for the better part of this week before she could see straight enough to write a complaint about a security agent's treatment of her elderly mother at Denver International Airport.

At first, she couldn't settle on the right words to use. "Horrific," "mind-boggling" and "outrageous" were a few that came to mind.

Anyone could see that Bernice "Bea" Bogart, 83, was a fragile woman, Moon said. Bogart had breast cancer surgery in 1997, a total hip replacement after a fall in 1999, a major stroke in 2004 that caused dementia, and is hard of hearing.<snip>

It will always be this way: TSA is a jobs program. It does little to nothing to increase security and we all know it. But the jobs for the TSA people are Civil Service which means entitlements. See Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy, which predicted this situation.

Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy states that in any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people: those who work to further the actual goals of the organization, and those who work for the organization itself. Examples in education would be teachers who work and sacrifice to teach children, vs. union representative who work to protect any teacher including the most incompetent. The Iron Law states that in all cases, the second type of person will always gain control of the organization, and will always write the rules under which the organization functions.


Subject: Letter from England

Articles on NHS management problems with dental services. http://politics.guardian.co.uk/publicservices/story/0,,1744594,00.html

NHS has to be rethought--senior doctors

UK Government assures MPs their phones will not be tapped. http://politics.guardian.co.uk/homeaffairs/story/0,,1744546,00.html

Post-WWII torture camps run by the British

Turkish censorship http://books.guardian.co.uk/news/articles/0,,1745559,00.html

Guardian article on bad science in newspapers. (The Guardian is guilty, too...) http://www.guardian.co.uk/life/badscience/story/0,,1744541,00.html

Register article on ID cards...

-- Harry Erwin, PhD, Program Leader, MSc Information Systems Security, University of Sunderland. http://osiris.sunderland.ac.uk/~cs0her


Subject: Backing Off from Hydrocarbons -- the Carbohydrate Economy

An interesting analysis of more than simply fueling cars with alcohol, tho I wonder at the rather bland indifference of "sustainability" mongers to the production of CO2 by burning carbohydrates rather than petroleum products.

Not mentioned is by the author is the fact that during the burgeoning of yesterday's "carbohydrate economy", Europe felled much of its forest cover -- and Brazil is in the process of doing much the same thing in the Amazon, to the dismay of the greens.

Can't you just picture a big scramble for weeds/trees/fungus/ whatever to rend into fuels & source stocks? The only answer I can really think of is to turn things over to a kudzu economy....


The Once and Future Carbohydrate Economy The carbohydrate economy could transform agriculture as well as energy, reviving producer co-ops, and giving farmers a hedge against volatile commodity prices.

By David Morris Issue Date: 04.08.06

Print Friendly | Email Article

Less than 200 years ago, industrializing societies were carbohydrate economies. In 1820, Americans used two tons of vegetables for every one ton of minerals. Plants were the primary raw material in the production of dyes, chemicals, paints, inks, solvents, construction materials, even energy.

For the next 125 years, hydrocarbon and carbohydrate battled for industrial supremacy. Coal gases fueled the world’s first urban lighting systems. Coal tars ushered in the synthetic dyes industries. Cotton and wood pulp provided the world’s first plastics and synthetic textiles. In 1860, corn-derived ethanol was a best-selling industrial chemical, and as late as 1870, wood provided 70 percent of the nation’s energy.<snip>


The taboo subject at the heart of the immigration debate.


--- Roland Dobbins

Which is Free Trade and its implications. Note that today's news tells us that a French company is buying Lucent, which is the remnants of Bell Labs. This is supposed to be a Good Thing. Ask any economist.


[Cultural] Benefits of immigration.


--- Roland Dobbins

The Melting Pot cannot work if it is not given a chance. Cultural relativism and open door immigration will change the nature of the country. The question is, in what direction, and do we want that? If illegal immigration is the problem, is the answer to turn out the Republicans in favor of open door Democrats with increased entitlements?

Those of us who don't much care for the Republican leadership -- I am certainly one of them -- face that dilemma. If the fundamental nature of the country changes -- if there is nothing left that can be defined as "American" in the sense that, when I was young, everyone understood what it meant to be American -- then there will never be any going back. That, I fear, is what is at stake in the election.

And of course the 12th Imam may yet emerge to bring about a new Caliphate in the Middle East. While Islam is the fastest growing religion in the US. Islam, Santeria, and Voodoo become part of the cultural wars...


Countless Dens of Uncatchable Thieves.


--- Roland Dobbins

Which deserves considerable thought.


Subject: Fwd: Immigration

Outside of dog a book is man's best friend, inside it is too dark to read. Groucho Marx

Horse Trailer Carrying Dozens Of Illegal Immigrants Crashes Tucson,AZ Why immigration is an issue with me. I live in a highly mixed area with lots of seasonal and other labor being done by illeagle aliens. A large proportion of the crime here is by Mexican nationals who flee across the border. The local police don't even arrest Hispanics involved in acidents when they don't have insurance (a felony over$500) or valid drivers licences. Hit and run is very comon in Santa Maria { south of here} almost a weekly occurance.

http://www.kold.com/Global/story.asp?S=4700403  <http://www.kold.com/Global/story.asp?S=4700403>  The closer of the story …. Most of the time they simply walk out of the hospital once they're treated and released. The Border Patrol says agents will be stationed at hospitals looking out for the victims of Wednesday's accident, once they're released.

The Border Patrol says one of the illegal immigrants captured is being held on an arrest warrant out of California for forcible sex with a minor.

Thomas Weaver




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Tuesday, April 4, 2006


Thought you'd appreciate this article on Iraqi oil production. Sad that one of the few attainable goals, increased oil flow, is also a huge failure.



Iraqi officials confirm reduced oil exports

LOS ANGELES, Mar. 30 -- Iraqi oil officials have confirmed reduced exports of crude oil, largely due to attacks on northern facilities, but are taking steps to ensure continued exports via the country's southern terminals.

Even as they were giving their reports, Al-Arabiya TV of Dubai on Mar. 30 reported that new explosions had targeted pipelines carrying crude oil from northern fields to the country's main refining center at Baiji.

Oil Minister Hashem al-Hashemi said the country cannot export oil via the northern pipeline system because of extensive damage from saboteurs. He said a manifold had been destroyed and will take 8-12 months to repair.

Production from the northern fields, averaging around 250,000 b/d in March, has been shut in.

Overall, Iraq's exports have dropped to their lowest level since 2003 at 1.1 million b/d in December and January due to the sabotage in the north along with bad weather and logistics problems in the south.

But Hashemi said Iraq's production of crude oil is stable at 1.9-2.1 million b/d. He said March exports via the country's two main Persian Gulf terminals would reach 1.5 million b/d.

Meanwhile, to help ease the logistics problems and boost exports, another official said Iraq has hired two tugboats to escort oil tankers in and out of its southern oil terminals and plans to purchase as many as five new tugs.

Shamkhi Faraj, head of oil marketing and economic affairs in the oil minister's office, said the two rented tugs are at work at the Basra and Khor al-Amaya terminals.

However, Faraj said Iraq can't export more than 1.6 million b/d from the south for a variety of reasons, including a lack of investment in southern oil fields, which are producing around 1.75 million b/d.<snip>


When we went into Iraq, I seriously thought that the strategy would be to pump oil; pump so much oil that the world price would be under $30/bbl and the Dow would hit 13,000 or more. Understand, this doesn't mean stealing the oil or its money: the revenue would go to rebuilding Iraq. In my judgment that money was a real problem, and setting up some kind of supervision of how that money would be allocated among the Iraqi factions would be the key problem and decision on how to govern Iraq, but that was possible: given enough money many things are possible.

And, I thought, we would put in whatever resources were needed to get that oil flowing. If that took hiring an army of constabulary mercenaries, that is what we would do; I could see Colonel John Christian Falkenberg emerging from this. Instead, we got neither oil nor revenue nor Christian Johnny.

When Bush I came into office, all the old Reagan people were turned out, and except for Quayle and his people no one paid much attention to people like me and General Graham, so I had no idea of what the Bush II people planned for Iraq; but surely, I thought, they understood the problems of governing a "nation" made up of tag ends of the collapsing Turkish Empire intended as a present to the Hashemites. Apparently I was wrong.


Subject: immigration


I am willing to believe that hospitals are closing because of a shortage of funds. In fact, a local hospital in Calexico recently re-opened only after an infusion of state money.

I am not willing, however, to believe that hospitals must close because of the financial drain caused by illegal immigrants.

Yes, there are a lot of illegal immigrants here. And it is unfortunate that people are generally unable to afford regular physician care. And it is a terrible shame that minor maladies are left untreated, only to become major diseases treated in the emergency room. That is not an immigration problem - that is a healthcare policy problem.

Certainly, there is no shortage of money. It's just being spent in the wrong places. Like Iraq. Or the War on Poverty. Or the War on Drugs. Or the War on Terror. Or the War on Airline Passengers. Or No Child Gets Ahead.

For the sake of argument, I'm willing to concede the point that hospitals are closing due to the costs of treating the illegal immigrants. Fine, I'll give you that one. Now, YOU tell ME what the real cost is. The hospital was going to be open anyway. The hospital was going to be staffed anyway. The lights were going to be on. The surgeons, doctors, nurses, and support staff were already being paid.

Sure, treating patients will cost some money. Bandages. Sharpening the scalpels. Running the new CT Scan machines. And food for the patients. Buying more medicine. Frankly, I'd rather have the staff practicing on illegal immigrants, honing their skills, in anticipation of the time that I'll need treatment.

Yes, there are costs. But what are they? HOW MUCH ARE THE COSTS? It's all well and easy to say hospitals are closing for funds, but maybe the hospitals were under-funded to start.

Anyway, I have a solution.

1. Determine the real cost of Emergency Care to illegal immigrants.

2. Make a demand of the origin countries (Mexico) to cover the cost. Mexico has oil - a lot of it. Demand reparation.

3. If remuneration is not made, invade or annex Mexico. We've invaded, annexed, and purchased Mexico in the past - we can do it again.

Gary Gammel papabear@redbearcomputers.com

I will leave it to those with more expertise to tell why overloading emergency rooms costs money. Perhaps we will hear from dedoc. I know only Southern California, where the illegals have become the straw that br0ke the camel's back. There are regulations about how long you can keep patients waiting, and lawsuits -- Southern California seems to have plenty of lawyers who like that sort of thing -- result. It's simpler to close the emergency room, and many have. The whole trauma center organization has pretty well vanished here in LA. And some of the emergency rooms that do stay open are not only understaffed and overworked but badly disciplined. I know of a detective who drew his weapon to prevent an ambulance from taking his wounded partner to the nearest emergency room, but required him to drive 25 miles to a suburban ER. And he's not a bit ashamed of doing it.

As to requiring Mexico to pay for the bankruptcy of San Diego due to services to illegal immigrants, good luck.


Subject: Do they still say the Pledge?


This story from Longmont, Colorado, details the ill feelings engendered by the waving of American and Mexican flags at Skyline High School:



Skyline High School students walked out of class Friday morning to protest the school administration's new policy banning the carrying or wearing of American and Mexican flags.

Most of the 100 students were protesting that American flags were included in the ban. Many of them were unclear about the policy, thinking that only American flags were banned, when in fact the ban covers the flags of both countries.

The ban likely will be short-lived, lasting only as long as it takes for tempers to cool in the wake of Congress debating a contentious immigration bill, principal Tom Stumpf said.

"The flags no longer were being used as symbols of patriotism or of cultural heritage, but of ethnic intimidation, harassment and blatant bigotry," Stumpf said.

The American flag still flies on the flagpole in front of the school in east Longmont, and each classroom has an American flag. But tensions between Hispanics and non-Hispanics were building, Stumpf said, and the flags were being used as the wrong kinds of symbols.


What I wanna know is this: do they still say the Pledge of Allegiance at Skyline High School, or would that be too provocative?


Steve Erbach Neenah, WI http://TheTownCrank.blogspot.com

"Credulity and cynicism -- the default, fraternal-twin attitudes of the lazy, ideological, or corrupt mind." -- Robert McHenry, former Editor in Chief, Encyclopaedia Britannica


Subj: Rep. Cynthia McKinney

On March 29, Rep. Cynthia McKinney, who is one of 14 black women in Congress, was stepping around a metal detector while entering a House office building (which she is allowed to do as a member of Congress). The police officer stationed at the detector apparently did not recognize Rep. McKinney and stopped her, possibly including touching her. Rep. McKinney apparently responded by striking the officer. Rep. McKinney was not arrested at the scene. Although the police have completed their initial investigation, prosecutors have not made a decision whether or not to arrest her. Those are the facts as currently known.

Rep. McKinney should be thanking her lucky stars she's not already in custody. Striking a police officer without valid cause is a fairly serious crime. However, instead of keeping a low profile and trying to placate the police department and apologizing privately to the officer, Rep. McKinney held a press conference in which she stated that the incident was caused by racial profiling and demonstrates racial problems prevalent in the police department (CNN article <http://www.cnn.com/2006/POLITICS/04/04/mckinney.scuffle/>  ). Let us assume that the police officer was white (this based on Rep. McKinney's comments re racial profiling) and that he did not recognize Rep. McKinney and therefore stopped her - possibly even using minimal force.

 Assuming all of this is true, Rep. McKinney had no legitimate basis to strike the officer. The officer was doing exactly what we want the officers to do - stop anyone that they do not recognize who is trying to circumvent security. Rep. McKinney's central complaint appears to be that the police officer should have recognized her as a House Representative. Cross racial recognition is notoriously difficult, and this difficulty has been recognized for nearly 100 years (Cross Racial Recognition Article <http://www.vanderbilt.edu/psychhumdev/levin/labpage/papers/Levin00.pdf>  ). However, there is no general agreement as to why cross racial recognition is so difficult. In an ideal world, race would be completely irrelevant. This is not an ideal world and there are real issues that arise from race. We cannot stick our heads in the sand, we must recognize our own and others limitations and address them. Instead of hitting the officer, Rep. McKinney should have introduced herself to the officer and shown her identification. If she had done this, the officer in question would have been much more likely to recognize her in the future. We live in a society of laws, and we must expect that the people who create the laws to follow them.

name withheld

Frankly, I find it hard to believe that the officer did not recognize her, although it is certainly possible. Back in the 1980's before Newt Gingrich was Minority Whip, he took me on a midnight tour of the Capitol. I got to sit in the Speaker's chair. (Newt wouldn't do that; he wanted to sit in that chair but only as Speaker.) The Capitol police had a Member's entrance. Newt was wearing no badge -- a polo shirt, in fact, since we had been in a working session and then to the Irish bar across from the Capitol -- but they knew him on sight, and waved both him and me in without any search or going through the metal detector. Of course that was before 9/11, but Newt assured me that the Capitol Police -- an elite unit -- knew every Member and Senator on sight.

Perhaps this was a new officer, but I find it very hard to believe that no officer on that station knew Member McKinney. My guess is that she blew past the detectors while wearing no identification, ignored the officers or perhaps made some sneering remark which appears to be her custom, and the station commander pretended not to have heard when his subordinate challenged her and pretended not to recognize her. Then when she ignored his challenge it became a different game.

McKinney's problem is not that she is black. Few black Members have such problems. I can personally attest to the unfailing politeness of the Capitol Police and the House Ushers to black Members (and to all other Members). The Capitol Police know who they work for. This is not the Metropolitan Police. Indeed, when I go to DC I always stay in a hotel close to the Capitol, because the area around the Capitol is under the jurisdiction of the Capitol Police and they are an elite professional unit, not like the DC Metropolitan Police who are a typical bureaucracy. McKinney's problem is that she is almost unfailing rude, and apparently fanatically dedicated to exploiting every possible privilege from her position as a Member of Congress. She is precisely the kind of "black leader" that sensible Americans who happen to be black must be ashamed of. But that's another story for another time.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Striking a police officer while he is performing his duties is indeed a serious matter. Will the Democrats go out on much of a limb for McKinney? Stay tuned...


Subject: RE: Mind-Reading Voice Analyzer On Tap

In http://www.jerrypournelle.com/view/view408.html#lie  you say "Lawyers should be terrified if this technology gets loose..."

Indeed they should. Politicians as well.

I remember several instances of this in the classic novels by H. Beam Piper, where politicians would go to extreme lengths to avoid being questioned while sitting in the high-tech lie-detector chair. They knew that would be the end of their career, and possibly the beginning of extended prison sentences.

Winchell Chung


Dr. Pournelle, Nemesysco Ltd.'s layered-voice-analysis technology is yet another case of the real world trying to catch up with your SF novels.


Captain Rottermill frowned and reached under the table for his briefcase.

"I'll send you a copy of everything we have at the moment. If you'll wait just a moment. It'll take a few minutes to search the files."

Rottermill set his briefcase on the table in front of him and lifted out a small plastic box. He pressed a switch on it and placed it facing Falkenberg's speaker-phone.

"We can wait," Falkenberg said. He glanced at Rottermill and raised one eyebrow. Rottermill nodded curtly.

"Colonel, the computers are doing odd things with the data base," Ann Chang said. "Let-let me call you back, please."

Falkenberg glanced at Rottermill. The intelligence officer nodded again. "Very well," Falkenberg said. "We really do need that schedule. We'll wait for your call."

"Thank you, Colonel," Ann Chang said. "It'll be just a few minutes. I appreciate your patience-"

"Not at all. Goodbye." Falkenberg punched the off button, looked to make sure the connection was broken, and looked back to Rottermill. "Well?" Rottermill turned the Voice Stress Analyzer so that Falkenberg could see the readout. A line of X's reached far into the red zone. "Colonel, she's scared stiff."

-- Winchell Chung


Layered  Voice Analysis
Dr. P:

I have witnessed a couple of demonstrations of V's Layered Voice Analysis (LVA), and I can say that the technology is truly creepifying. An excellent tool in the hands of a lawful, trained investigator, total hell in the wrong. But who is to decide what the right hands are? Maybe Mr. Niven's "ARM?" Note that they are marketing this already: http://security.nemesysco.com/ 

LVA called to mind a truly awful SF book by James Halperin entitled The Truth Machine or the "Delta Doctor" personality analyzer in Whitley Strieber and James Kunetka's Nature's End. One of the advantages of reading a lot of science fiction is that you learn to appreciate or anticipate the potential societal impacts of various technologies--a few years or a few centuries ahead of your neighbors. That doesn't mean you'll handle the new technologies any better when they come around, but at least you can't say you weren't warned.

Let's be careful out there.

(name withheld)

We need to learn to live with the truth machines. They are real and they are usable, and they are non-intrusive. You can jigger the bandwidth of telephones to make them unusable, but you can't do that with face to face. Police interrogators will have lie detection when they question people; even if that is not admitted in court it is extremely useful.


Mike Flynn on Correlations

>What this really shows is the nature of correlations, and the requirement for more sophisticated measuring tools. I am sure Michael Flynn could tell us considerably more.

There is a very high correlation among children between their height and their reading level; but putting them on the rack won't make them better readers.

Correlation can be thought of as "% of causes X and Y have in common." As a trivial example, consider a 12-month rolling average. Two consecutive monthly points will have a 92% serial correlation because 11/12ths of the data used to calculate each are the very same data. We sometimes call these the "lurking Z variable" or "common cause(s)." So, physical growth of children (Z) explains the relationship between height (X) and reading level (Y). When there are multiple factors, there is always the chance of multicollinearity: several input X's may be correlated with each other, and thus give a spurious correlation to the output variable Y.

In other cases, it is mere coincidence: two time series undergoing trends during the same time frame will always correlate: % foreign car sales in US vs. % of US women in the labor force; Columbia River salmon run and sunspots; the size of the universe and the size of my suits. The latter has a common cause (Z): space is expanding.

Michael Flynn, coauthor of Fallen Angels with Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle as well as many works of his own, is a professional statistician/quality control engineer.


Subject: responsible behavior and welfare


From last week's Mail:

<<The Welfare State is here to stay, especially since the LHS tail of the Bell Curve does not show much immediate prospect of getting shorter.

A good civics policy is to make the Welfare state more conservative, rather than "constructive". That is, transfer payments should be made more conditional on community-spirited behaviour and personal propriety.

Mutual Obligation. Paternalism.

This is both politically popular and policy practical.>>

I must point out that this was attempted recently. About five years ago, leftists in Michigan created a huge stink, and filed lawsuits on grounds that it was "degrading" to the poor, when a suggestion was made that welfare recipients ought to have to take a drug test before getting their welfare checks.

western civilization committing suicide indeed...

Best Regards,

Dave Porter




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Wednesday, April 5, 2005

Subject: 123456 clock oddity

I should have written a book abou this being a harbinger of global warming and the end of the world as we know it. I could'a had a best-seller!



Call it a coincidental sign of our digital times or a reason to stay up late and stare at the clock. Either way, early Wednesday morning the time and date will be 01-02-03-04-05-06.

Doomed. We're doomed, I tell you.




CURRENT VIEW    Wednesday


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Subject: 123456 clock oddity


as a european I am not yet doomed: The US is a month early due to the 'middle-endian' date notation. (see:  http://www.unb.ca/samples/jargon.cgi?middle-endian )

One more month...



Dear Jerry,

I was sad to see I’d missed 01-02-03-04-05-06; being nerdy enough to fancy staying up to see it.

Then I realised that over here in Europe we still have a month to go! It will be the 4th of May for us rather than the 5th of April.

So I haven’t missed it after all!


Craig Arnold

Yes, I thought of that, but I didn't get around to posting it.



After reading that the Europeans consider our dating to be "middle-endian" it occurred to me that I havn't used either date format in a long time. Both formats disrupt the date/time cascade. The up-and-coming date/time format is y-m-d-h-m-s.

So, for example, if we consider the current "01-02-03-04-05-06" example, the rendering in the new format would be 2006-04-05 0102 03. Now, this doesn't look too promising, but if we truncate the millennium and century dates, as is common, then we can look forward to 06-05-04 0302 01, or May 4, 2006, one second past 3:02 AM.

Yet another date to anticipate.


Some people have entirely too much spare time...


Subject:  Recognizing McKinney

"Frankly, I find it hard to believe that the officer did not recognize her, although it is certainly possible."

She supposedly had just changed her hairstyle quite radically. She also didn't have her "member's pin" or ID badge on.

In any case, why aren't they searched? If I wanted to get something bad into the House or Senate, the way to to it is to plant it on a member of the appropriate chamber. I don't mind them having separate lines for members and their staff, but to bypass the whole process is too dang Imperial for me.

Edmund Hack

Finding herself utterly without support, she has made a grudging apology, which I suspect will be accepted. As to the perks of a Member, they do search Executive Branch people unless accompanied by a Member or Senator, and have done so for some time. They only grudgingly allow Cabinet members to be accompanied by an entourage and bodyguards. I recall going to Newt's office when he was Speaker and being waved in to sit in his office while I waited for him while a gaggle of young men with short haircuts and lapel pins lounged around in his outer office. The staff were rather icily polite to Secretary Cohen's bodyguards. And of course the President is accompanied by House Ushers and the Sergeant at Arms, not Secret Service, when he comes into the House chambers.


Subject: The Gospel of Judas? -- ( TimeSink ! :)

This is an interesting story, I think. What really struck me as odd though, is the story of how the document finally came into the hands of the team that did the translating. I am really ignorant of how such antiquities are handled, but if I had thought about it at all, I doubt I would have expected to hear a story like this one.

Oh yes, what the manuscript itself says is interesting too, though I doubt it will have much impact on current thinking. :)


NYTimes Article

There is also a National Geographic Special on this which will be shown on April 9. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/06/science/06cnd-judas.html?ex=1144468800&en=651ad24090601020&ei=5087

Timesink indeed. The Gnostics have long believed this and every now and then a modern novel surfaces with this theme. Gnosticism and Manicheanism are extremely attractive heresies (if heresies they be, but of course Roman and Orthodox Catholics pretty well consider that settled).


Subject: Lie detectors and Martha Stewart

Dr. Pournelle:

If this technology is used by law enforcement, what happens to the Fifth Amendment? I can see this type of technology being developed to the point where accurate readings can be made even if the person being interviewed doesn't answer orally.

If the machine indicates deception, why bother with a trial? Just begin the sentencing phase, and have a machine in the courtroom so that the newly convicted don't get any judicial mercy either.

Wal-Mart among others would question employees every shift so as to minimize theft. It could become routine to ask shoppers if they've paid for every item.

This way lies Dystopia.


Indeed. Although I suppose something like tinfoil hats or Poul Anderson's "mindshields" will be developed. Still, the technology is being developed, and stuffing the genie back in the bottle has never worked.

I know many question the accuracy of the analysis, and indeed it does take interpretation. What stress analysis -- whether voice or through physical instrumentation -- detects is stress. We can with the right physical instruments detect a physiological difference between fear and anger (Al Ax et. al. wrote a paper on that circa 1954). I do not know if such differential analysis is possible with Voice Stress Analysis, but that may be coming.

As to the technology, we have to learn to live with it.


Subject: Hansen & Muzzling

Dear Jerry,

What Hansen and his supporters claim is 'muzzling' is in fact equal treatment along with all other non-elected employees below Senate confirmed cabinet level. This is a prohibition against unilaterally issuing fulsome communiques on their own initiative that appear to be official US Government policy, or could be interpreted that way by recipients. This sort of policy is very sound for the government employees of a nation that claims to formulate its policies on a democratic basis after full public debate.

Hansen has not been prohibited from being interviewed in his own person nor has he been prohibited (to my knowledge) with writing papers that say "Dr. James Hansen, Ph.D. Rocket Scientist" or from giving speeches. The 'problem' is the frustrated desire of Hansen and his friends to shroud their opinions with what appears to be official government auctoritas. Their 'problem' is not in speaking out but rather in accepting the entire concept of representative government secured by, among other things, the First Amendment. Obviously "Dr. James Hansen, Ph.d Rocket Scientist...Director...NASA..." carries far more weight with REALLY UNINFORMED people than a vanilla "Dr. Robert Hansen, Ph.D."

I've noticed this particular 'problem' is very common among Global Warming True Believer fanatics. One of the reasons I call them a 'Priesthood' is because they behave just like any other priesthood delivering Revealed Knowledge and react to non-believers and heretics similarly.




Subject: Global Warming - Personal Views Versus Research

Dr. Pournelle,

The Post isn't something that I normally read, but this article has some interesting citations.


Hansen claims censorship, while the NOAA administration says that it is only enforcing previously ignored rules, and asking employees to keep their personal views out of their NOAA work.

'NOAA Administrator Conrad C. Lautenbacher Jr. responded by sending an agency-wide e-mail that said he is "a strong believer in open, peer-reviewed science as well as the right and duty of scientists to seek the truth and to provide the best scientific advice possible."' <snip>

'None of the scientists said political appointees had influenced their research on climate change or disciplined them for questioning the administration. Indeed, several researchers have received bigger budgets in recent years because President Bush has focused on studying global warming rather than curbing greenhouse gases. NOAA's budget for climate research and services is now $250 million, up from $241 million in 2004.' <snip>

Studying, rather than pre-acting -- what a great concept!

Regards, Peter Czora


On Hospital Cost and immigration

Subject: Hospital ER Costs

Due to the nature of the volunteer work I do I often spend several hours a weekend in the ER. In my area there are a few illegals, but plenty of people who are using the hospital for routine medical care. While there is some cost for the supplies that I am sure is not trivial, the greater expense is on the people. People who are qualified to work in a trauma center, but are needed to deal with ear infections and babies running a mild fever. People who demand assistance but will never pay a dime of their bill.

Some hospitals have opened "minor emergency" rooms that attempt to deal with these issues. But they require space and the staffing is not that much less money. And of course they have to be careful. If you miss a problem with someone, who for years has neglected their personal health care, and you will face the lawyers.

The result of all of this is trauma centers with gurneys in the hallway and more people arriving. Staff that is overworked, tired and wanting to find another job. Hospitals look at the cash flow, consider the risks from litigation and would rather turn the space over to an orthopedic group to process hip replacements. -- ---

Al Lipscomb

 And from De Doc (Dr. Ernoehazy is in charge of a hospital emergency room):

Subject: Cold Equations In Emergency Medicine

Good morning, Jerry.

Some thoughts on emergency departments, indigents, and immigration...

Your correspondent wrote:

>Subject: immigration
> .... >For the sake of argument, I'm willing to concede the point that hospitals
>are closing due to the costs of treating the illegal immigrants. Fine, I'll
>give you that one. Now, YOU tell ME what the real cost is. The hospital was
>going to be open anyway. The hospital was going to be staffed anyway. The
>lights were going to be on. The surgeons, doctors, nurses, and support staff
>were already being paid.

But who pays these people?

Doctors are typically not salaried employees; they get their money directly from billing patients for professional services. Hospitals pay nurses, allied health professionals, support staff... but they pay them from the monies THEY recieve from billing patients for hospital services. (Note that making doctors salaried employees doesn't help; the hospital's revenue still comes from billings.)

So why does that matter when considering the financing of emergency medicine?

Imagine, for a moment, that you own a restaurant.

You stay open because people pay to eat there, right?

Now... imagine that:

-- by Federal law, you *must* seat everyone who shows up to your restaurant, without asking for any proof that they can pay; you MUST serve everyone food; you MUST NOT discriminate in any way as to what food you serve; and you cannot coerce patrons in any manner to pay before they leave the premises, since the same Federal law interprets such action as an attempt to scare people away without seating and serving them.

-- 30 to 40 percent of your patrons leave without paying at all.

-- Another 30 to 40 percent of your patrons use government-funded payment plans, which only reimburse you... 50 cents? on the dollar billed. (Imagine further that many of these plans only pay you a year after you bill them, after challenging every cent of your billing, forcing you to retain extra clerical staff just to recover any money at all... which lops an extra 5 cents off each dollar billed, in such cases.)

-- The rest of your patrons use other payment plans, which also take their own sweet time paying you, but generally pay most of what the bill.

-- Tipping? What tipping?

If you were the owner of such a place, you would pray nightly for paying customers.

That is what the economics of emergency departments are like, everywhere in the United States. The EMTALA Act requires emergency departments to see and treat all comers, without distinctions, without prior payment, and without appearance of coercion. Medicare and Medicaid payments are set arbitrarily, and bear little or no relation to the overhead cost to provide services, much less recompensing the providers. Both government and private insurance plans often delay payment for a year or more; the situation became so egregious in California that the state legislature passed a law making it illegal to delay payments in such wise. (Not that the State Attorney has actually filed charges, mind you; hospitals and doctors have submitted repeated cases, but none have been taken for action. But I digress.)

Now... add illegals to the mix.

They can't pay you, in almost all cases. They don't have addresses to which you can send collections agencies. There are government grants to help offset the cost of indigent medical care... but they're insufficient to cover more than a portion of the cost of indigent care for citizens. Add the extra cost incurred in treating illegals, and the grants become pittances.

That's why hospitals are closing emergency departments in areas with high illegal-resident populations. Hospitals have to pay their people, their utility bills, and their overhead costs. They can manage it when emergency departments are not getting paid for a third of their emergency department work, and underpaid for another third.

They *cannot* manage it when they are not getting paid at all fifty or sixty percent of the time.

THAT is the reason the illegal resident issue is forcing some border state hospitals to close emergency departments, and forcing others into bankruptcy.

>Sure, treating patients will cost some money. Bandages. Sharpening the
>scalpels. Running the new CT Scan machines. And food for the patients.
>Buying more medicine. Frankly, I'd rather have the staff practicing on
>illegal immigrants, honing their skills, in anticipation of the time that
>I'll need treatment.

Permit me, again, to note...

If the doctor is treating an illegal resident, the odds are they're not getting paid. Neither is the hospital. TANSTAAFL.

In your reply, you wrote:

>... There are regulations about how long you can keep patients >waiting, and lawsuits -- Southern California seems to have plenty of lawyers >who like that sort of thing -- result.

I couldn't find any such laws in my research; I suspect that southern California lawyers are using prolonged waiting times as the hook to argue for malpractice, rather than appealing to a statute... but I may not be correct.

In either case, tort liability is a second or third order effect, not the principal issue. It's a matter of income -- if you're not getting enough income to cover the bills, you close. When you have an influx of people who can use a system and not pay for it, you aren't getting enough income...

And the result is bankruptcy and ER closures.

It's as simple as any other example of the Cold Equations.

>... As to requiring Mexico to pay for the bankruptcy of San Diego due to
>services to illegal immigrants, good luck.

Couldn't agree more.

cordially, Bill Ernoehazy, MD, FACEP


And see below


Subject: Re: FW: Rootkits Again...

Dr. Pournelle:

Regarding your inquiry about the Microsoft guy that recommended a rebuild from scratch when infected with spyware:

I think that the trend for malware (which encompasses viruses, worms, spyware, adware, etc) is moving towards a for-profit mode. The profit might be in harvesting financial information from the user (from their keystrokes/web access), by redirecting web pages and popups (to gather advertising clicking revenue), using a computer as a mail relay (for spamming), or extortion (encrypting a user's hard drive then demanding a payoff to unencrypt). I think that there will be a lesser risk from data-destroying malware -- why destroy a user's data when you can keep on using that 'ownership' for a long-term financial benefit.

Once infected with malware, there are several ways to try to fix the problem. At a corporate/business level, it may be easier to re-install everything from scratch. Most corporate users have standardized installations, so reinstalling from an 'image' (via Symantec's "Ghost" or other products) is sometimes the easiest for the corporate support staff. The user's "my documents" data will be lost, but most corporations recommend storing data files on a network server (where they are regularly backed up). In fact, this is my recommendation at my place of work (a large metropolitan local government entity) -- all systems are set up with standardized software/settings from an 'image' file. If a problem cannot be easily fixed, then it is more efficient (for the user, who gets their computer back into use; and the support staff, who can move on to the next problem) to re-image a system.

A rebuild-from-scratch is also a good idea for a network server. It needs to be back on-line quickly, so extensive and time-consuming troubleshooting is just not an option.

For the non-corporate user, you can try to fix the problem first, because you may have a bit more time available to try to save the data. I've done this also -- in fact, just last month I spent several hours resolving a problem on my son-in-law's computer with a persistent pop-up blocker. I used several tools to do this: a full updated virus scan, Ad-Aware, Spybot Search and Destroy, Microsoft Defender. Each tool took a bit of time to work through, and I was able to remove most of the problems.

The pop-ups were still there, so I went to get the help of the "Hijack-This!" group at "Spyware Warriors". The best place to start is here http://spywarewarrior.com/sww-help.htm for detailed instructions on how to fix your specific problem. It took several specialized tools and instructions from those fine folks to get rid of the problem. Highly recommended resource for fixing malware problems.

Malware will continue to get smarter and more clever. The decision on whether to fix or rebuild depends on your specific situation. If you have a current backup of all your data files (a good idea) and software installation disks, it might be best to restore from your system image (most newer computers have that capability). Then add your specialized software and data files, and you're ready to go.

If the data on the computer is vital and you can't restore/rebuild, do an immediate data backup (burn it to a CD/DVD/USB drive/etc). Then attempt a fix using the above tools and help.

But, of course, prevention is best. Safe computing practices, which I've mentioned many times, will protect you from malware.

Regards, Rick Hellewell





CURRENT VIEW    Thursday


This week:


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Friday, April 7, 2006

Subject: Gospel of Judas

I apologize for length, but the need to grumble is upon me. The NYT is fallen upon bad times. I know that they only repeat what the people they interview tell them, but still....

1. "The secret account of the revelation that Jesus spoke in conversation with Judas Iscariot during a week, three days before he celebrated Passover."

One feature of the gnostic gospels is that they _always_ announce their supposed author to establish their bona fides. They are always full of wink-wink, nudge-nudge secret knowledge, to which yes! now you too! can be privy! You can be in with the in crowd. Contrast that with the matter of fact story-telling, parables, and sayings in the standard gospels.

2. The Gospel of Judas is only one of many texts discovered in the last 65 years, including the gospels of Thomas, Mary Magdalene and Philip, believed to be written by Gnostics.

The Gospel of Thomas has been known for over a hundred years, and the beliefs of the gnostics have been known from Justin, Irenaeus, Origen and others. And no, when the Nag Hammadi scrolls were found, there was nothing in them to contradict what the orthodox had said about them. So it's not like there's anything fundamentally new in "the last 65 years," only something more. There is even a web site containing this http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/gospeljudas.html about the gospel of Judas that has been there for some time, scooping the NYT considerably. [The site also includes "reconstructed" hypothetical texts like "Q", so not everything there is actual texts.]

3. The Gnostics' beliefs were often viewed by bishops and early church leaders as unorthodox, and they were frequently denounced as heretics.

"Often" viewed? Well, yes; because they _were_ unorthodox heretics. They came a generation and a half _after_ the standard gospels were in common use. Had the woo-woos come first, the "orthodox" would have been heretics.

4. Irenaeus was a hunter of heretics, and no friend of the Gnostics.

And that is all that the New York Times can say about the bishop of Lyons who was a disciple of Polycarp of Smyrna, who had been himself a disciple of John the Apostle. He was a _hunter_ of heretics? He wrote against them; but did he _hunt_ them? But perhaps words mean nothing at the New York Times, and "hunter" just naturally falls from the fingertips like automatic spirit writing. Polycarp did have fewer "degrees of separation," I'm thinking, than any gnostic. And if he was no friend of gnostics, his descriptions of their beliefs have been backed up by the very gnostic gospels themselves. Interested parties can find a translation of Ireneaus' work here: http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0103.htm

A fragment from a lost book, addressing one Florinus, about some opinions that "even the heretics beyond the Church's pale have never ventured to broach," Irenaeus writes,

"For, while I was yet a boy, I saw thee in Lower Asia with Polycarp, distinguishing thyself in the royal court, and endeavouring to gain his approbation. For I have a more vivid recollection of what occurred at that time than of recent events... so that I can even describe the place where the blessed Polycarp used to sit and discourse--his going out, too, and his coming in--his general mode of life and personal appearance, together with the discourses which he delivered to the people; also how he would speak of his familiar intercourse with John, and with the rest of those who had seen the Lord; and how he would call their words to remembrance. Whatsoever things he had heard from them respecting the Lord, both with regard to His miracles and His teaching, Polycarp, having thus received from the eye-witnesses of the Word of life, would recount them all.... These things, ...I then listened to attentively, and treasured them up not on paper, but in my heart; and I am continually, by God's grace, revolving these things accurately in my mind. And I can bear witness before God, that if that blessed and apostolical presbyter had heard any such thing [as these opinions], he would have cried out, and stopped his ears, exclaiming as he was wont to do: "O good God, for what times hast Thou reserved me, that I should endure these things?"

What is striking about this is precisely the homely truths: an old man remembers his youth better than yesterday, his teacher Polycarp moaning over what decayed times he had lived to see "as he was wont to do." Whether what they taught was fact or not, the basic humanity is clear. To the gnostics, otoh, the material world was evil, the Jewish God was a demon, and Christ was a pure spirit who only _seemed_ to be cloaked in flesh. [In some cases, horribly, he inhabited the body of a human Jesus, only to duck out when things got tough and hover over the cross laughing at those who thought they had killed him.] A gnostic Christianity could have been many things, but I don't think they would have built hospitals.

4. Elaine Pagels, a professor of religion at Princeton who specializes in studies of the Gnostics, said in a statement, "These discoveries are exploding the myth of a monolithic religion, and demonstrating how diverse ? and fascinating ? the early Christian movement really was."

I'm not sure who had this myth. It was well known since the beginning that there were disagreements, some broadening into heresies and schisms. Otherwise, whence the Ancient Churches of the Orient, the Orthodox Church, the Armenian Church, the Coptic Church, the Roman Church? Monolithic, forsooth. A "professor of religion at Princeton" ought to know at least as much as an amateur like me.

Grumble. You'll have to pardon my dyspepsia. That movie is coming out soon and historical consciousness seems to have gone the way of popular science, numeracy, and the dodo.

Mike Flynn



Subject: Identity Economics

Apparently written with a straight face in USA Today (emphasis added by me):


French labor law is a complicated set of rigid rules and procedures built over the years and spelled out by the government for hiring, firing, work hours, time off and benefits. It reflects a social contract between employers, or patrons, to provide for the welfare of their employees. It is far different from the Anglo-Saxon economic relationship that exists between employers and employees in Great Britain and the USA.

Patronage was one of the things that destroyed the Roman Republic. The conflict between what is good for the powerful patrons clients and that which is best for the republic nearly always leads to the suicide of democracy. Of course we have the French disease here also, in a slightly different yet equally pernicious form.. After all, we're Anglo-Saxons!

By the way, so do Normans have Anglo-Saxon or Franco-Latin economic relationships? I'm getting a headache.


Actually, the Norman practice was Nordic: the master had his obligations as did the henchmen.

"And we hold that in all disaster
Of shipwreck, storm, or sword,
A Man must stand by his Master
When once he has pledged his word.

For we hold that in all disaster--
As the Gods Themselves have said--
A Man must stand by his Master
Till one of the two is dead.

(Kipling, Song of the Red War Boat)


Subject: They've Gone Barking Mad About Political Correctness


-- Harry Erwin, PhD, Program Leader, MSc Information Systems Security, University of Sunderland. http://osiris.sunderland.ac.uk/~cs0her
 AuditoryResearch http://scat-he-g4.sunderland.ac.uk/~harryerw/blog/index.php


Subject: "Decentralization and Federalism in Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature"

http://volokh.com/ http://volokh.com/posts/chain_1144276923.shtml

Ilya Somin (guest-blogging), April 5, 2006 at 6:42pm

The Law of Star Trek:

Legal Affairs has an interesting review [ > http://xrl.us/EnterprisingScholarship ] of a new volume of articles by legal scholars on the role of law in Star Trek. Although I like science fiction (despite not being a "Trekkie"), I wonder if this is the most productive possible use of academic research effort. It certainly won't help law professors overcome the invidious stereotype that we are a bunch of nerds who have no life!

Finally, at the risk of being inundated with angry e-mails by Star Trek fans, I have to say that, in my view, the treatment of law and politics in Star Trek is not as interesting and sophisticated as that in other sci-fi series such as Babylon 5 and the new Battlestar Galactica. But for fear of really reinforcing the invidious stereotype noted above, I'm not going to write an essay justifying this conclusion!


- - - - -

Ilya Somin (guest-blogging), April 6, 2006 at 4:47pm

Decentralization and Federalism in Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature:

Inspired by the interest generated by my post on "The Law of Star Trek," I thought I would devote a post to the intersection between science fiction and fantasy literature and one of my major academic research interests - federalism and decentralization. Despite the quip in the previous post, I think there is some value to exploring political themes in SF, although that value is easily overestimated. And even if there isn't any value it's still fun!

In sharp contrast to legal scholars and other academics, the majority of whom tend to favor relatively centralized government, major science fiction and fantasy writers tend to support decentralized political systems or even anarchy. I am not arguing that decentralization is the main theme of these works and in some cases it isn't even conscious. But it does seem to be there.

A few examples:

1. J.R.R. Tolkien

Sauron and Saruman's efforts to unify Middle Earth under centralized rule are portrayed negatively. When the "good guys" win at the end, King Elessar (Aragorn) establishes a highly decentralized state, with regions such as the Shire and Rohan enjoying near-total autonomy. This was actually a conscious theme of Tolkien's work, as he hated what he considered the excessive, homogenizing centralization of modern industrial society, and also despised the centralizing policies of Britain's post-WWII Labor government.

2. Ursula LeGuin

LeGuin is, of course, an anarchist, and many of her books explicitly promote anarchy and denounce government, particularly The Dispossessed.

3. J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series.

The Harry Potter series portrays government so negatively that even the "most cold-blooded public choice theorist could not present a bleaker portrait." The state is portrayed as both venal and incompetent throughout the series and virtually every positive achievement is the result of decentralized private initiative.

4. Isaac Asimov's Foundation.

A centralized galactic empire breaks down as a result of bureaucratic sclerosis (symbolized by the literally labyrinthine bureaucracy on the capital planet of Trantor). Only decentralization combined with the private initiative of the shadowy Foundation saves the day. The work is somewhat ambiguous because the Foundation's goal is to eventually establish a new and better empire. Nonetheless, the evils of centralization are powerful portrayed, while its benefits receive short shrift.

5. Marion Zimmer Bradley.

In The Mists of Avalon, Bradley is very hostile to the efforts of the Church and the central government to curb the autonomy of local communities (including Avalon itself) and impose a unified state and religion. Centralization is also viewed skeptically in her Darkover series.

6. Robert A. Heinlein.

Heinlein attacked centralization in many of his books. Not surprising, given that he was a libertarian.

7. Vernor Vinge.

Same as Heinlein above.

8. David Brin.

Defends decentralization in several of his novels.

9. Frank Herbert

In his famous Dune series, a horrendous war arises from the efforts of the galactic Emperor to extend his power over a what had been a relatively decentralized political system (Dune). Even more carnage arises from the hero's efforts to consolidate his own imperial authority after he overthrows the previous emperor (Dune Messiah). Eventually, only the destruction of the empire enables humanity to be saved and renewed (God Emperor of Dune).

10. Orson Scott Card.

This is a partial exception. Card's Ender series portrays sympathetically Peter the Hegemon's efforts to unify Earth under a single (and increasingly powerful) government. However, the effort succeeds only because dissenters are given the chance to establish colonies on other worlds that will be highly autonomous.

Two prominent examples from TV sci fi:

1. Star Trek.

The Federation is a very loose federal system with each planet enjoying a high degree of autonomy. This is portrayed favorably, while centralized empires such as the Romulans, the Dominion, and the Borg are viewed negatively.

2. Babylon 5.

There is a sympathetic portrayal of the efforts of Mars and other colonies to secede from Earth. Centralized empires (the Vorlons, the Shadows) are criticized for their efforts to destroy local autonomy. Even the efforts of "the good guys" to establish a UN-like Interstellar Alliance are portrayed as a failure that ends up making the situation worse.


What is interesting about the strong support for decentralization in sci fi and fantasy works is that it cuts across ideological lines. It is not just libertarian (Heinlein, Vinge) and conservative (Tolkien) writers who favor it. So too do liberal (Rowling, Herbert, the creators of B5 and Star Trek), and radical ones (LeGuin, and also Samuel Delaney, whose work I probably should have included in the list). In several cases, particularly LeGuin, Tolkien and Vinge, the critique of centralized authority and advocacy of decentralization is a consciously intended theme.

Of course, this is not an exhaustive analysis and I'm sure I've missed some counterexamples as well as inevitably oversimplified the work of the writers I've covered. Nonetheless, this is an interesting trend, especially given the contrast between the sci fi and fantasy writers and the views of most other intellectuals, particularly those on the political left.

UPDATE: I thought it was reasonably clear in the original post that decentralization does NOT = libertarianism. Although most libertarians support political decentralization, so too do some nonlibertarians. Thus, I tried to point out that the support of LeGuin, Rowling, etc. for decentralization is interesting - in part - precisely because they are NOT libertarian or conservative. However, it seems that I was not as clear about this as I thought, so I have tried to restate the point here.


On Emergency Rooms

Dr. Pournelle

I am an ER Nurse. I work two eight hour shifts per week, I don't work full time mainly because I can afford not to and because it just got to be too much. I have my own observations about what is wrong in the ER's

1. The Hospitals that manage to stay open do so by charging paying customers (or their insurance) enough to cover all of the non-paying customers. This is why a 325mg Tylenol costs 5 cents at Walmart and 5 dollars from the hospital pharmacy. If we had to pay taxes to cover all of the non-paying patients then machine gun towers would go up on the borders and cost efficient public hospitals for "charity" cases would open. As it is these costs get hidden in your insurance premiums and hospital bills.

2. You can dump anybody with any problem at the ER. If you run a "Care Facility" and are short on staff because its Christmas, Super Bowl Sunday or the moon is full then choose a couple of older women, decide they have urinary tract infections, call the ambulance and they will be gone for most if not all of a 8 to 12 hour shift. If you are a cop and have a particularly smelly obnoxious drunk in the back of your unit and don't want to take him to jail and do all of the paper work..claim he threatened suicide and dump him at the ER. I actually had a cop tell me that the violent young man who had been throwing rocks off of an overpass at cars on the interstate was on drugs and that the ER was a more appropriate place for him...Guess who gets to deal with him for next eight to twelve hours..the cops were nice enough to stand outside the room while I persuaded him to undress and get into a hospital gown. I can't describe how much fun it is to deal with meth addicts who are paranoid to the extreme and seeing things because they haven't slept for 4-5 days.

3. Cutting back on the state mental hospitals moved their expense off of the state budgets and onto Hospitals and county jails. Any night of the week 1/3 to 1/2 of the beds in our ER are filled by "Behavioral Health" patients who either should be in jail or inpatient but are occupying bed space and enormous amounts of staff time in the ER. If you have to wait at 0300 for an hour in the waiting room with your ill..but not dying child or elderly parent its because the ER staff is dealing with these patients. We routinely have staff assaulted and threatened. I'm 6 foot 240 pounds so they don't come after me except for the ones who try to get me to beat them up. No they run out of their rooms and punch out my friend who is female and weighs about 115 pounds and then the night shift is short a nurse for a week (if not forever when she quits).

In my ER we should have 5-6 full time charge nurses..we have one. We should have at least 8 nurses on every shift..sometimes we have a few as three. When the ICU's are full the patients who should be in ICU beds with a staff ratio of one nurse to one or two patients are held in the ER with a staff ratio of 1 nurse for 5 or 6 patients. And don't forget your elderly Mom may have a room next to some one who should more appropriately be in a maximum security facility....oh and late at night we have one security guard for the entire hospital...and he or she doesn't have a gun and is strongly discouraged from using or even drawing a baton and we have to evacuate part of the ER if pepper spray is used inside it.

My ER is consistently judged to be among the best in our city






This week:


read book now


Saturday, April 8, 2006

My Grating Views.



Can a nation afford to import a class of immigrants whose noteworthy qualification for employment is the fact that they are uneducated and unskilled?

--- Roland Dobbins

Which is a legitimate question, and one I often ask. If we need to import immigrants -- and I think we probably have enough until the Melting Pot works for a generation -- we should work hard at continuing the Brain Drain. That means keeping graduates in areas we need skilled workers, and bringing in people who bring capital, and those who can do jobs Americans CAN'T (not won't) do: the rocket and some high tech industries find they need skilled immigrant labor, not to save money, but because there just aren't the people to do it. But why we need to import uneducated and unskilled is beyond me; our schools do a very good job of producing that product.


"If this is Homeland Security, I think we ought to be a little afraid."


-- Roland Dobbins

This IS Homeland Security, and we ought to be terrified. It is yet another instance of anarcho tyranny, and it is inevitable. As we build a Geheim Stadts Polezei it will not matter how dedicated its founders are or how noble the intentions of those who set it up: Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy will govern its development. I can recall when the FBI was lauded by all; I wrote a High School Civics essay on how America was unique in having such a high opinion of its Secret Police. To my shame I agreed that this was a proper attitude; to my credit I did ask whether this situation could endure (Brother Robert had assigned a portion of Acton and I had been impressed). And, of course, the Bureau did not continue to merit (or retain) that high regard.

Homeland Security was staffed originally by all those that other agencies didn't want but couldn't fire. It also has TSA, which is designed to make citizens understand that they have no rights vis-à-vis Homeland Security, and does that job well.

And it has not helped that we have made it a crime to lie to a Federal Officer even if we are not under oath and have not been warned of rights. It has not helped that for a long time the Secret Service has become more and more arrogant in its protection of the President, to the extent of arresting protestors and in general shielding His Excellency from having to see anyone who disagrees with him (I will concede that Bush has reigned in the SS Protective Service a bit from the days of his predecessor, but not back to what Reagan insisted on, and certainly not back to the days of Harry Truman.)


Message Bearer spotted?


-- Roland Dobbins

Thukton Flishathy and the Year Zero Herd...


A lost world in the Himalayas.


-- Roland Dobbins


Subject: Christian Johnny in Iraq?

Scroll down past the photos of merc KIA:


Note that this is from a merc weblog:


---- Roland Dobbins

We often use the term "Mercenaries" for Soldiers of Fortune. Real mercenaries would change sides if offered more money. The people I have known in this business fight for money, but they believe they are on the right side; they wouldn't fight for the enemy no matter what they were offered.


Subject: NS: The autism epidemic that never was

The autism epidemic that never was


* 13 August 2005 * Graham Lawton

RICHARD Miles will never forget the winter of 1989. The 34-year-old company director and his family spent that Christmas on the island of Jersey in the English Channel, where he had grown up. It was also then that he first noticed something was badly wrong with his 14-month-old son Robert. The bright, sociable child, who had already started talking, became drowsy and unsteady on his feet. Then he started bumping into furniture. Within weeks his language had dried up and he would no longer make eye contact. "It was as if the lights went out," says Miles. His son was eventually diagnosed with autism.

Miles, who now campaigns for more research into autism, is convinced that his son is part of an autism epidemic. Ten years ago, he points out, Jersey had just three autistic children in special-needs education. It now has 69. Robert was one of a cluster of nine children on the island diagnosed around the same time.

Similar rises have been reported across the world, from Australia to the US, and from Denmark to China. Back in the 1970s, specialists would typically see four or five cases of autism in a population of 10,000. Today they routinely find 40, 50 or even 60 cases. Perhaps the starkest illustration of autism's relentless rise comes from California. In 2003, the state authorities stunned the world when they announced that over the previous 16 years, the number of people receiving health or education services for autism had risen more than sixfold. The world's media went into overdrive.

What could be causing so many children to lose their footing on a normal developmental trajectory and crash-land into the nightmare world of autism? The change has occurred too suddenly to be genetic in origin, which points to some environmental factor. But what? There is no shortage of suspects. In the UK, blame is often laid at the door of the combined measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine. In the US, mercury added to a range of childhood shots has been accused. Food allergies, viral infections, antibiotics and other prescription drugs have all been fingered, often by campaign groups run by mystified and angry parents. The problem is that none of these suggested causes has any solid scientific evidence to support it (see "The usual suspects").

Perhaps there's a simple explanation for this: there is no autism epidemic. On the face of it that sounds ridiculous - just look at the figures. But talk to almost any autism researcher and they will point to other explanations for the rise in numbers. Some say it's still an open question, but others are adamant that the autism epidemic is a complete myth. <snip>


Subject:  NYT: All the problems of the poor continue to be the fault of the rich

The author fails to note that all the nations capable of making any difference to the plight of our world's Permanently Poor nations are imploding demographically, while the PP nations, in spite of all the diseases we have neglected to deliver them from have populations that are expanding. Indeed, expanding rapidly.

It can't be that they have life right and we have life wrong.


The tale of Eflornithine is actually hilarious, in a sick sort of way...



March 29, 2006

Talking Points

The Scandal of 'Poor People's Diseases'


It's hard to imagine how a Rwandan woman with AIDS might be considered lucky, but in a way, she is. Effective drugs exist to treat her disease, and their price has dropped by more than 98 percent in the last six years. Research speeds ahead on treatments and vaccines. Although much more needs to be done, the world takes AIDS seriously: rich countries provide money, drug companies have lowered their prices and accepted generic competition, and poor countries like Rwanda are scrambling to provide free treatment to all who need it. None of this is true for people who suffer from malaria, tuberculosis, or a host of other diseases that citizens of rich countries haven't even heard of - like kala azar, sleeping sickness and Chagas disease. Even children with AIDS are out of luck compared to their parents.

All these diseases have been abandoned in some important way. For some, no good treatments exist and there is little attempt to invent them. For others, effective drugs exist, but aren't being made. Or those drugs are so expensive that poor people and poor countries have no hope of buying them. Most of these diseases are easily preventable and completely curable. Saving the lives of their sufferers is much cheaper and easier than treating AIDS. Yet millions of people die of them. Why the difference?<snip>

We have an AIDS epidemic in Africa, but the population is exploding. In the US without immigration we would have declining populations. See David Riesman's The Lonely Crowd for more information...


The Times April 05, 2006

Guess the weight of the ox: then you will see what's wrong with our politics

 Daniel Finkelstein

THIS WEEKEND I had my handwriting analysed at a birthday party. I basically regard graphology as nonsense, but my friends had taken infinite trouble with the rest of the proceedings. Cliff Richard, for instance, sang Congratulations as Denise Van Outen jumped out of the cake, neither of which happened at my last birthday to the best of my recollection. Having my handwriting analysed seemed the least I could do.

Anyway, the lady looked at the way I signed my name and said that I liked to connect up ideas from apparently unrelated areas. Fiendishly clever insight, that. And so this column will set out to prove her right. In just under 1,000 words I intend to link the suspension of an academic at the University of Leeds, the weight of an ox, the outcome of the 2002 football World Cup, the recent dissenting speeches of Stephen Byers and Alan Milburn and the state funding of political parties. And, of course, cakes, graphology and Denise Van Outen.

Let's get going. On Sunday, a group of academics wrote to a newspaper complaining about the disciplinary proceedings instituted by the university against one of its lecturers, Frank Ellis. Dr Ellis has been suspended for arguing that racial groups have different average IQ levels, and that those of blacks are inferior to whites. His defenders protested that some evidence suggested he was correct.

Yet the academics who suspended Dr Ellis and those who defended him are making an error. In fact, the identical error. They are confusing the correctness of Dr Ellis's views with whether he should be allowed to continue his academic career. These are not the same thing at all.

In the autumn of 1906, as recorded by James Surowiecki in his excellent book The Wisdom of Crowds, the scientist Francis Galton visited the West of England Fat Stock and Poultry Exhibition. While there he found his eyes drawn to a guess-the-weight-of-an-ox competition. Butchers and farmers were taking part, but so were ordinary visitors without any expert knowledge. Galton was interested in how bad their guesses would prove to be.

Galton was to be surprised. The average of the 800 guesses during the day was almost exactly right and, crucially, much more accurate than any individual expert assessment. What he had discovered was something counter-intuitive - that even the wildest incorrect guess plays its role in helping to produce an accurate average guess.

Dr Ellis is a lecturer in Russian and Slavic Studies. He probably has as firm a grip on the study of IQ and ethnicity as he does on the study of ox-weighing. But his view is useful in both, regardless of its correctness. Allowing mistaken views to have a voice in the academy is a vital part of determining the truth.

Galton's observation suggests something else that is important too - independence. Let me use an example from an area about which I know a good deal more than I do about fat stock - football predictions. A Swedish study conducted during the last World Cup showed that groups of experts were far worse at predicting match outcomes than complete amateurs (in this case, US students with almost no football knowledge).

There were a number of reasons for this - experts try to be clever-clever, for instance, and factor in things that do not affect the outcome - but one of the most important was the experts' lack of independence.

When experts make judgments, they do not make them alone. Their forecasts are based on the collective wisdom, wrong or right, of other experts. They reinforce each other's errors. This makes their collective guess, the average of their guesses, far less accurate than if they had each guessed independently.

All of which brings me, as surely you knew that it would, to the state funding of political parties.

Divining the truth requires the greatest breadth of opinion to be taken into account, not excluding even the wildest and silliest ideas. And it requires the greatest achievable independence of opinions, so that all are adding in their own view rather than recycling someone else's mistake.

Now consider modern British politics. Here all the prizes go to uniformity, the acceptance of collective responsibility, the exclusion of fringe opinions and the squashing of dissent. The ability to read and remember the "line to take" from party headquarters is valued far more highly that creative contributions to the public debate. Recent speeches by Mr Byers and Mr Milburn urging their party to develop a fresh agenda were remarked upon only because they departed from "party discipline". Their content, such as it was, was ignored.

The whole of British politics is, in other words, a giant conspiracy to reinforce error. The exercise of independent judgment is rare, the tendency to recycle the conventional wisdom of experts is great. And once an error is made, the unspoken rules say that it must be persisted with, and everyone is required daily to offer their fresh support for yesterday's mistake.

It is this, and not the massively overstated problem of sleaze, that is really corroding British political life.

And the state funding of political parties will make it still worse, certainly in the form that is being considered. The State will bestow its financial favours on central party organisations. Private fundraising will be severely restricted. Discipline will be rewarded, the maverick punished, and independence of view militated against.

If there has to be state funding, if it cannot any longer be resisted, then surely it should be to the individual Member of Parliament rather than to the party. If MPs want to contribute to the centre then they can. And yes, I know, there are some pretty eccentric MPs out there. But that, you see, is the whole point.


John Stuart Mill had a similar theory in "On Liberty", but without the data. Galton was a fanatic for gathering data and drawing inferences.

Betting lines, predictions of Oscar winners, all such matters that use average views for predictions have astonishing results. And it pretty well works.

==And from another conference:

I am serious about this "pornography" issue. As a father of two small  children, I don't want them exposed to "pornography"--not the kind the Right gets upset about and not the type the Left gets upset about either. I went to grammar school with the poorest blacks in all of St. Louis, back when our society maintained enough social control over its kids that there were no problems other than the academic mismatch, and so I don't find it unusual to deal with "diverse" people. I want my son to have a similar ease.

And it's not natural. Before he started his private school class that contains a couple of black boys, my son expressed discomfort when we were around non-whites, even though they were citizens as reputable as myself. (More reputable, since as a venture capitalist I am a Servant Of Pure Evil.) Now he does not.

This is especially important because, quite literally, some of my best friends are black. One of the classmate families of his that we are closest to socially is Afro-American (and Bush Republicans--go figure). Ward Connerly is a dear friend as well as public policy comrade. And, right now, I am typing this email at the end of my week-long stay at a mult-million-dollar house 1 block off San Francisco's Marina owned by an Annapolis-grad naval officer/Ph.D. in International Relations Ph.D. type who might fairly be characterized as a young, male version of Condoleezza Rice (and his blond-haired/blue-eyed "Amazon" (runs marathons) M.D. wife).

Yes, the academics and the public policy professionals have to be aware of/discuss freely the statistics on group differences in various kinds of aptitudes and also proclivities towards various kinds of destructive behaviors, just as gynecologists and urologists need to be aware of the appearance of intimate parts of the human body. This does not mean that either kind of information needs to be on family-time TV. And if such information does get pushed out to masses of citizens, it's always done by our *bien-pensants", not the likes of Dr. Fraser.


Which is as reasonable a position as I can think of. Certain matters ought to be discussed in academic circles. They need not be out in public until there is a public policy measure contemplated. The Ivory Tower should exist, and it no longer does, and we are all the worse for it. I put this and the TIMES piece on Galton in the same section for obvious reasons.





CURRENT VIEW     Saturday

This week:


read book now


Sunday, April 9, 2006

Subject: boys and girls and race



I went to an all boys high school and I do not really regret it. But then I don't know what the alternative might have been. I didn't do much dating in high school, and being an only child I was totally unaware of what girls were like. But in my day there were girls you could sleep with and girls you could marry, and there was little -- for me zero -- overlap. And the first category were nearly impossible to find, and totally impossible to impress...

The only reason children don't learn to read is that they aren't taught. My wife proved that all children, regardless of race or gender, can learn to read; she was teacher of last resort in the LA County Juvenile Justice system, and she got scads of kids who had been diagnosed as dyslexic, or just plain stupid; none could read when she got them and every damned one of them could read when they left her class. It's just a myth that kids can't be taught to read, nearly all of them in first grade and all but the clinically dyslexic by the end of second grade. There is such a thing as neurological dyslexia but it is quite rare. And there may be children who can't learn to read, but as my mother put it when I asked her if any children left her rural Florida first grade class who didn't learn to read, "One or two, but they didn't learn anything else, either."

But the education establishment has been governed by Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy, and the establishment exists to provide excuses (called diagnostics) to show that it's not the teacher's fault if the kids don't learn to read. By now their theories are so ingrained in the Teacher Education system that most teachers simply cannot believe that all their kids can learn. Yes: it takes hard work. And while some teachers go into teaching to work hard and get results, some don't. To make it worse, the dedicated ones haven't been taught how to teach all the kids to read, so they can't do it, and that is so discouraging that many of the best give up teaching as a bad job and do something else.

Note that it doesn't take any great education to be able to teach children to read in First Grade. My mother was always ashamed that she only had a two year Associate degree from Florida State Teacher's College in Gainesville. Now that's a University and sends out teachers who can't teach all the kids to read, but it taught my mother how to do it. We need more Normal Schools and fewer Universities. It's that University Education that convinces bright young dedicated people who want to go into teaching that they are doomed to failure, and teaches them the "diagnostic" tools that serve as excuses so they don't feel it's their fault when half their class leaves first grade unable to read.

Forbid anyone with a University education to teach First Grade. Fire any first grade teacher who has more than 2% illiteracy on average over five years. Pay first grade teachers double if EVERY SINGLE KID in their first grade class can read at the end of first grade. As a reading test given them "I went to Constantinople to disestablish a fundamental injustice" as one of the sentences the kids have to read. (They need not know what it means.)

I may be kidding about the reading test. I'd be satisfied with a couple of Dr. Seuss level books as the reading test. The Grinch, and Bartholomew Stebbins would do well enough. But I am not at all kidding about forbidding University graduates to teach First Grade, or about paying teachers double if they can teach all the kids. I'd even say pay them 50% bonus if all but one can read.

If the kids can read by the end of second grade, they won't have so many problems with school after that. But if they can't read, they won't learn much from fourth grade on.


Subject: Hubble Resolves Expiration Date For Green Cheese Moon



Not being much given to April Fool jokes, I didn't bother with this on the day, but there is an interesting photo and the text, if dry, is informative.


Subject: Treating consumers like criminals

Hi Jerry,

I hate being treated like a criminal by the industry...

We have a rather elderly TV and VCR. They both work swimmingly, but we wanted to add a DVD player and a beamer for watching films on a big screen. The DVD player and beamer work just fine together.

Brainstorm: it sure would be nice to be able to see videotapes on the big screen. Now, the VCR just inserts a channel into the cable signal (channel 42) - it has no other output, and so cannot talk to the beamer directly. But the DVD player also has a tuner. So the solution is obvious, no? Run the VCR into the DVD player, select the right channel, and *viola*...

...or so it would be in any sane world. After much wasted time, it appears that the DVD realizes that it is getting a signal from another playback device, and deliberately blanks it out after a fraction of a second. This is obviously intended as copy protection, but the *effect* is something else entirely: denying me the use of my equipment, in a way that ought to work.

With every device capable of copying (CD writers, copy machines, scanners, and - yes - this DVD player/recorder) Europeans pay a fee. Americans as well, if I'm not mistaken. This fee is distributed to injured artists everywhere, or perhaps to bureaucrats, or anyway to someone. This fee is intended as compensation for all the illegal copying we are presumed to do. Don't ask what happened to "innocent until proven guilty"...

In any case, despite consumers paying this fine for copying, manufacturers are apparently allowed to do their best to prevent copying - even legal copying - and even if doing do damages the functionality of the equipment they sell us.

A sensible government would side with consumers, but instead our various governments have been bought and paid for by the industry. Hence, it would undoubtedly be illegal for me to find some way around this "copy protection", even though my goal is nothing but the legal use of my equipment.

Why do we put up with this nonsense? What can we do about it?

Irritatedly yours,


Live with it, or learn to hack... Welcome to anarcho-tyranny.


Found several items of interest in unopened mail:

Subject: Phasers on the march,


Back in the mid-1980's there was news coverage on phased array lasers for the Strategic Defense Initiative. Of course they were to be called 'phasers.'

The development didn't pan out back then, but dig this:

"It looks like lasers may go the way of the active electronically scanned array radar. AESA radars are made up of thousands of transmitter/receiver modules that can be doing many different jobs or can be focused for long-range observations of very small objects. They can even be concentrated into a beam weapon. Now Raytheon has snagged a $5.8-million USAF contract to build an array of sub-apertures capable of transmitting, receiving and rapidly scanning spatially phased optical energy and images. Each sub-aperture is to be transmissive. The project is called the Adaptive Photonic Phase-Locked Elements." (Aviation Week & Space Technology 03/13/2006, page 20)

OK, so they're calling it APPLE, but it looks like a phaser to me.


And see Doug Beason's E-Bomb



Quantum computer gives results without running:


OK, it's a quantum computer. But the trick they used - using a half-silvered mirror upstream from the computer - arguably might work for a non-quantum computer. So, it's like Schroedinger's Cat might want to take a day off . . .



Subject: Male drivers waste six million hours a year

I'm curious, was GPS invented by a woman?

If it were not for women, men would still be sitting in caves, scratching and grunting, afraid to ask whether the hunting grounds are to the left or the right from the cave entrance.


Male drivers waste six million hours a year


British male drivers waste nearly six million hours a year lost on the road because they are reluctant to ask for directions.

Men who are lost wait an average of 20 minutes before giving up and asking for directions, while women only wait 10 minutes before seeking help, according to a survey from Royal Automobile Club Direct Insurance.

No comment...




To the civil rights activist few things are more vexing than the profound racial disparities in our prison system. An adult black man, for example, is seven times more likely than a white to be housed behind bars. Paradoxically, the largest disparities are found in political domains controlled by liberals -- the very leaders in the struggle for racial justice. By revealing how criminal behavior is distributed among the races, Prodigy resolves this paradox showing it to be an unintended consequence of liberal benevolence and goodwill.

Enjoy, --Griffe

La Griffe du Lion http://www.lagriffedulion.f2s.com







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