THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 414 May 15 - 21 2006
Highlights this week:
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May 15, 2006
We are back from the Stanford "summit" on "singularity" and artificial intelligence. I'm writing that up, but first I need to work on Inferno and deal with galley proofs of the new edition of Burning Tower.
Subject: XCOR in the Economist
Dear Dr Pournelle, This article in the Economist is a must read:
In particular while I knew SpaceShip One had a hybrid engine (rubberized fuel with throttled oxidant through a centre hole) I did not know, until Richard Pournelle pointed it out here, that liquid fuel engines were still under active development by the majority of private firms.
-- Terry Cole
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Subject: Digital Books in N.Y. Times
Today's Sunday Magazine in the Times has an article on the future of digital books - and the digitization of existing books. All of them.
Here's the link:
Regards, Linden B. (Lindy) Sisk
This is a comprehensive review of the situation and well worth reading. However, biases show, and he gets some of this dead wrong. As for instance:
This wonderful balance was undone by good intentions. The first was a new copyright law passed by Congress in 1976. According to the new law, creators no longer had to register or renew copyright; the simple act of creating something bestowed it with instant and automatic rights. By default, each new work was born under private ownership rather than in the public commons. At first, this reversal seemed to serve the culture of creation well. All works that could be copied gained instant and deep ownership, and artists and authors were happy. But the 1976 law, and various revisions and extensions that followed it, made it extremely difficult to move a work into the public commons, where human creations naturally belong and were originally intended to reside. As more intellectual property became owned by corporations rather than by individuals, those corporations successfully lobbied Congress to keep extending the once-brief protection enabled by copyright in order to prevent works from returning to the public domain. With constant nudging, Congress moved the expiration date from 14 years to 28 to 42 and then to 56.
But in fact the 28 years, renewable in the 28th year, was in place well before the 1976 revision of the Copyright Act. The 1976 revision changed that to "life plus" in order to bring US law into compliance with international copyright conventions. Extensions to the "plus" have been pushed along by lobbyists.
For authors, the best situation would be some variant on the 28 years + renewal scheme. The renewal should be available ONLY to the creator of the work, and regardless of any contract to the contrary, the work reverts to the ownership of the creator or direct heirs in the 28th year. This would give authors back rights to works that were sold off at creation and which often went through a tangled trail to the point that the author didn't even know who had rights to what. At the same time, if the author or family didn't care enough to renew, then public domain would be automatic. And at the end of the 56th year it's public domain in any event. This seems reasonable to me.
But I do recommend that you read this summary article, and I agree with the major point he is making. There comes a point when works ought to be public domain. Where that point should be can be a matter of contention even among authors. Writers with bills to pay who are getting residual payments from early works -- Niven and I just got a fair amount for the electronic rights to MOTE IN GOD'S EYE and THE GRIPPING HAND together with " Building the Mote in God's Eye" and "Reflex" and a bunch of other stuff related to the MOTE novel -- will not be eager to make the period short. Writers who mostly do material of short-lived interest, anthologists, scholars, and those who make a living largely by using other people's works to draw a crowd, will want that period short or non-existent. Surely there can be a compromise?
IN a discussion with Cory Doctorow at Stanford over the weekend -- he sought me out and initiated the conversation -- we came closer to agreement than I might have thought. He seems to have agreed -- check with him because this is my understanding and that of Niven and some of my associates -- to continue civil and commercial protection of copyright for reasonable periods. He seems mostly concerned with the criminal penalties associated with DMCA -- and anyone reading this site will know that I have always been opposed to those, and I wrote about the consequences of the arrests and jailings well before most journalists heard those events happened. I don't want to jail someone for downloading a copy of one of my books from a pirate site. I do want to be able to sue the pirate for damages; and I particularly want my share of the profits from a pirate who uses my works to draw attention to his site and who collects advertising revenue for having lots of visitors. I do want to be able to close down someone who prints copies of my books and sells them wholesale to Wal-Mart -- and believe me, that has happened. And I want at least the possibility of collecting the revenues that thieving publisher "earned" from my books. So far as I can tell -- it was a fairly noisy discussion with many hangers on -- Cory agreed with this. Which leaves us in closer agreement than I had supposed.
In any event that is my position.
This time from the original University of Rochester Press Releases
This time with an animation
(Beginning a thread of linked observations; links to next at end of each section.)
What in the world will the National Guard do on the border?
We will have to wait and see what actually is proposed. But my guess is that the Guard will keep the Minutemen away.
We want democracy in Iraq, and in Iran, and in Mexico; but we do not want democracy in the United States of America. Our masters want a continued and plentiful supply of cheap labor, whose basic needs will be met through general taxation and public services.
It is always the case that if a capitalist can get the benefits of a policy, and put the costs off on someone else, the capitalist will attempt to use government to bring that policy about. As Adam Smith noted, when capitalists get together they conspire to use government against the public interest.
And as David McCord Wright noted, unless government interferes, capitalist enterprises will always work together to prevent entry of rivals into the market; and the result of that will be to concentrate more and more economic power in fewer and fewer hands.
We do not want democracy in the United States. The first way to suppress it is to take away the power of the States, so that there will be only one Big National Policy about everything.
Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy applies to all bureaucracies. Most governments are bureaucracies. Bureaucracies are always in conflict with actual democracy.
Not enough enforcement, and not quick enough.
The United States is being invaded. It is not a violation of the posse comitatus act to use the military to repel invasions.
We do not need more people with no skills, no education, and who do not speak English, to come in to compete for entry level jobs. A "Guest Worker" program should at least require some skills and the ability to speak English.
Six thousand National Guards will not be enough.
If there is also funding and authority for local and state police to apprehend, incarcerate, and at leisure deport illegals apprehended in the US -- and particularly those apprehended in commission of a crime -- then there would be some progress. Bounties might help as well.
But mostly stop the flow: we are being invaded. The Army is supposed to protect us from invasion. Stop the flow, then begin to deal with those illegally here. Most will volunteer to leave: they will commit crimes, and since they are here illegally, any crime will be enough to put them on the deportation list. With the border under control they won't be back quickly.
|This week:||Tuesday, May
Under currently proposed legislation, we will import up to 100 million -- that's 10^8 people -- legally and legalized illegals -- in twenty years or so. I do not believe that the Melting Pot can deal with that dilution to the American character.
In fact I do not believe that we can assimilate the number of illegal immigrants we already have. The legal immigration program already admits too many people at the bottom end of society if you count families: elders imported to be on Social Security because the Old Country doesn't have decent pensions. And so forth. Add to that the illegal immigrants and the very character of the American Experiment in Self Government is at stake.
Democracy is a dangerous form of government. There never was a democracy that did not commit suicide. The Framers opted for a federal republic, a Nation of States, an experiment in ordered liberty with variants. That has endured for a long time. It was transformed into a more unitary state by the Civil War, but even that did not destroy the fundamental character of these United States. I know there are those who argue that the Civil War ended the American experiment; I remind them that despair is a sin, and that in fact as late as 1938 Washington, DC was a small town in Maryland, "Don't make a Federal Case of this" was a meaningful expression, the FBI office in a major city might have half a dozen Agents and as many clerical staff, and so forth.
Since the Civil War the US went from Federal Republic to National Democracy, but it did so slowly, and until Earl Warren and his Imperial Judiciary it ran up against limits. Now we are going further down that axis toward a French-style Centralized Bureaucratic Rule. We are becoming a national democracy.
There never was a democracy that did not commit suicide.
But even those who have long advocated democracy have always known that a democracy is not a form of government compatible with cultural and linguistic diversity. The Swiss Exception is instructive: Switzerland is a democracy, and it is diverse in both language and confession -- and it is not unitary. Few Swiss can name their President although most can tell you the name of the Canton and Commune officials relevant to their lives. A national democracy cannot endure as a culturally diverse society with cultural, linguistic, and religious diversities. It cannot. Ours will not.
The American Melting Pot model of assimilation to a single language, and a wide-based Judao-Christian ethical and religious culture, might be able to endure nationalization. Might. That would be an interesting experiment. But it is 100% certain that the Melting Pot cannot handle great dilution, and that it takes time for it to work. Adding tens of millions of illegals plus larger numbers of legal immigrants will destroy the model and force our national democracy into the typical defects of a large national democracy, and thus to extinction. This is about as certain as anything we know about history.
Apparently no one in Washington understands this.
If they did, they would close the borders NOW, not in 2008.
As to how, it's simple: call it 2000 miles of border. At $1 million per mile that is $2 billion/year, a drop in the Budget. Hand that money on a per/mile basis to each border county sheriff, with provision that it must be spent on border control -- apprehension and confinement. Now hand every border city $20 million a year for the same purposes. Hand each Border State $50 million a year, again solely for border enforcement. The whole program will cost less than the illegals cost us now.
And yes, there are details to be worked out, including rewards for performance and penalties for non-performance, and I took the numbers out of the top of my head; but it would work a lot better than sending 6,000 Guardsmen down to the border for TWO WEEK SHIFTS. The present plan will do nothing. It won't even LOOK as if it is doing something, which is its only purpose anyway.
Close the border now. Deport all illegals who come to the attention of the police courts. Insist that any legalization program includes instruction in English, Civics, American History, and such, and have a zero tolerance policy regarding crime including DUI, speeding tickets, driving without a license, drunk and disorderly... IN other words, deport those who volunteer for deportation. And hope that we can assimilate the rest. And do that NOW.
Apparently no one in Washington understands what is at stake.
Daily we sow the wind.
It is now estimated that the current Senate "immigration reform" legislation will bring in between 100 million and 200 million people over the next 20 years. It is clear that the American Civilization cannot endure this strain.
In 1967 we had 200 million people in the US. And see below
May 17, 2006
I will work on the Stanford AI conference report but today I am up to my eyebrows in galley proofs for the new printing of Burning Tower, plus the revision of Inferno, plus more work on Inferno II: Escape from Hell. Which is quite a lot to do.
Had a small biopsy leaving a hole in my face yesterday. The dermatologist said it is unlikely to be anything to worry about, but we'll all sleep better when the lab reports come in.
There is mail on the border control issue. More of everything later. I do wish to emphasize that closing the borders now is a separate issue from what to do about those already here. I would suggest that closing the borders, and doing NOTHING about the current illegals other than deporting any illegal who comes to the attention of the police courts would be a lot better than doing nothing at all, and might even be sufficient. And see below
For the Brit side of the Roman/Britain issue, see http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2092-2168328,00.html . Thanks to Ralph Hyatt.
Just back from the medicos with prescription to do something about the sinus pain that first started in Phoenix several weeks ago. Maybe I can clear it all up.
What in the world good is 300 miles of fence along a border a thousand miles long? And "car barriers"? What is all this? How stupid do they think the American People are? They assume the Coyotes are stupid to go around a fence? Meanwhile we have 6,000 Guards on two-week tours. Travel 2 days. Orientation two days. That leaves 10 days to do the job. Wow.
Kennedy speaks for big business, and tries to get 100 million uneducated dropouts into the US. They removed the provision that would have sent off for deportation anyone who deliberately missed his deportation hearing. They --
They have gone mad, so far as I can tell. The American people want border control. The House realized this. The President and the Senate have gone mad, or sunk into venality, or -- or what? I am having trouble imagining why they want to do this. There is an overwhelming sentiment among the populace, but our Masters don't care. WHY? Are they terrified of the drug cartels?
But the solution to the immigration problem is not to elect Open Borders Democrats.
We need to turn out in the primaries. And see below
May 18, 2006
I wish she were wrong.
The Senate Immigration "Reform" Bill will destroy America as we know it. I don't like using that kind of alarmist language, but it is justified. Bringing in 100 million immigrants in 20 years would swamp the Melting Pot: we would no longer be a people with a common language and common culture with dialects and variants; we would be the "diversified" nation that some intellectuals desire.
That experiment cannot be reversed. Well it can be, but not without bloodshed, ethnic cleansing, forced migrations, and civil war. Better not to try the experiment in the first place. Holland has been doing these silly things so we don't have to: we see the result.
Why do Our Masters hate us so?
But the remedy is not to elect Open Border Democrats.
I don't know what the remedy is. But Our Leader no longer likes us.
Peggy Noonan also observes, re the evil Da Vinci Code:
I do not understand the thinking of a studio that would make, for the amusement of a nation 85% to 90% of whose people identify themselves as Christian, a major movie aimed at attacking the central tenets of that faith, and insulting as poor fools its gulled adherents. Why would Tom Hanks lend his prestige to such a film? Why would Ron Howard? They're both already rich and relevant. A desire to seem fresh and in the middle of a big national conversation? But they don't seem young, they seem immature and destructive. And ungracious. They've been given so much by their country and era, such rich rewards and adulation throughout their long careers. This was no way to say thanks.===============
We all know how to control the borders. Just Do It. Allocate $1 million/mile/year to be paid to the local county sheriff for use in border control. Add $10 million/year for each border city. Now levy a $1000 fine (not ruinous, but discouraging) for employing an illegal immigrant for more than five days, and pay half of that to whomever turned in the employer to the local sheriff. The other half goes to the sheriff's office. Add a Federal bonus for each sheriff, interior or border, say $1000 per illegal immigrant apprehended and delivered to the Federal authorities. Local sheriffs who don't want to catch immigrants just for being immigrants will at least have a way to deal with crime coming to their attention. The whole thing won't cost $20 billion a year, far less than the savings in social service. The result will be that apprehension of those currently here will be adjusted to local sentiments -- counties where no one much cares will not have vigorous enforcement, but will have a way to cut down on criminal and gang activities; the borders will be closed effectively; citizens hiring someone at the local Home Depot won't face the fines; and the attractiveness of crossing the border will diminish.
Of course this won't be done. And see below
Albinos Condemn 'Da Vinci Code' Movie Assassin As Latest Evil Stereotypehttp://www.abcnews.go.com/GMA/wireStory?id=1968619
May 19, 2006
The leader of the immigrant movement says they have registered 1,000,000 immigrants to vote and they will show their voting power. I had thought election fraud was a crime? Apparently no more.
And English is the national language, except for ballots, street signs, tax forms...
So: the idea is to make the US like Mexico.
The purpose of the Mexican government is to transfer as much wealth as possible to a small political class who then put the money in Swiss banks. When I was in 6th Grade I wrote a Geography paper on Mexico that started with the sentence "Like a beggar sitting on a bag of gold." I got the phrase from the Encyclopedia. That was in the 1940's; and it is still true.
Mexican politicians need the safety valve. They also need the money sent home.
"If we put a fence up that will drive them to desert areas where they will die, so that is why we need a comprehensive Guest Worker plan." The United States, apparently, is an Attractive Nuisance. And we must pay. The government of Mexico is suing us.
Would it not be cheaper to pay the Mexican government say, $10 billion a year, on the provision that they close the border from their side? If many get through to the US we reduce the bribe.
Couple that with Federal payments to border county sheriffs.
But that will not be done. We will bring in 100 million legal immigrants over the next twenty years.
Either I have gone mad or everyone in Washington has. I am not usually a conspiracy theory believer, but I am beginning to rethink that. There must be some reason for all the politicians to be acting so thoroughly against the interests of their constituents. None of this makes sense. Any sense at all.
The Gay Mortuary Men will be part of the Long Beach Gay Pride Parade; they will be scantily clad and dance on top of a specially designed hearse. At least I think that is what I heard about 1 minute ago on my radio. I am speechless.
I have done a short report on the Stanford Singularity Summit last week. It is posted on its own report page.
Interesting mail on "paying a meaningful penalty".
May 20, 2006
Monday I am off for Seattle and WinHEC, returning by way of BAYCON in San Jose where Niven and I are GOH. Web site maintenance will happen, but some will be short shrift.
If you didn't see it, there is a report on the Stanford Singularity Summit. Not as extensive as I would have liked.
Putin's Baby Love http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/20/opinion/20erofeyev.html
By VIKTOR EROFEYEV Moscow
May 21, 2006
Getting ready to be gone a week.
“We had been told, on leaving our native soil, that we were going to defend the sacred rights conferred on us by so many of our citizens settled overseas, so many years of our presence, so many benefits brought by us to populations in need of our assistance and our civilization.
“We were able to verify that all this was true, and because it was true, we did not hesitate to shed our quota of blood, to sacrifice our youth and our hopes. We regretted nothing, but whereas we over here are inspired by this frame of mind, I am told that in Rome factions and conspiracies are rife, that treachery flourishes, and that many people in their uncertainty and confusion lend a ready ear to the dire temptations of relinquishment and even to vilify our actions.
“I cannot believe that all this is true, and yet recent wars have shown how pernicious such a state of mind could be and to where it could lead.
“Make haste to reassure us, I beg you, and tell us that our fellow citizens understand us, support us, and protect us as we ourselves are protecting the glory of the Empire.
“If it should be otherwise, if we should have to leave our bleached bones on these desert sands in vain, then beware the fury of the Legions.”
Centurion Marcus Flavinius, Second Cohort, Augusta Legion to his cousin Tertullus in Rome. No date given.
= = =
The first edition of Lartegy’s The Centurions, a novel about the French Army including the Foreign Legion in Viet Nam and Algiers, carried this quotation as a frontispiece. I once had that edition of the book, but it has vanished, and the copy I have has no trace of this quote. I thought I recalled that Lartegy included a date, but I don’t recall what that date was. From the context I would guess it to be at the close of the Second Century Anno Domini.
I am not certain to whom Lartegy attributed this letter. Lartegy gave no source data.
The July, 2006 edition of Soldier of Fortune Magazine used it as the monthly editorial, which renewed my interest in the quote. SOF gives no source. I have used snippets from this quotation in some of my work including essays here on this web site.
I also find it used at http://flecha.co.uk/ which is a memorial to a battalion of the Republic of South Africa troops known as “The Terrible Ones.”
Tertullus is a Roman name. It has a number of variants. There is extant a letter from a Tertullus concerning Libya, but it is a plea for tolerance. It is in the time of Septimius Severus. Severus was born in Libya, and was the first non-Italian Emperor. There was never again a Roman Emperor from Rome; Commodus was the last Roman-born Emperor.
Severus seized the throne after Commodus, son of Marcus Aurelius, provoked revolt (see the movie The Gladiator, which isn’t the way things were but is an attempt to show how they ought to have been). The Praetorians assassinated Pertinax, successor to Commodus, because they were underpaid or believed they were. Septimius Severus marched on Rome on that news; he later deified Pertinax. He also abolished the Praetorian Guard as it had been known. He would have been less than thrilled at the discovery of a letter like this from his old provinces; another reason why it is unlikely to have been in his reign, since the African Legions had installed their own commander as Emperor.
There was also a Tertullus in the time of St. Paul:
a modification of "Tertius;" a Roman advocate, whom the Jews employed to state their case against Paul in the presence of Felix (Acts 24:1-9). The charges he adduced against the apostle were, "First, that he created disturbances among the Romans throughout the empire, an offense against the Roman government (crimen majestatis). Secondly, that he was a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes; disturbed the Jews in the exercise of their religion, guaranteed by the state; introduced new gods, a thing prohibited by the Romans. And thirdly, that he attempted to profane the temple, a crime which the Jews were permitted to punish."
It would make little sense for this letter to have been written in the time of St. Paul. It would be far more likely in the time of Commodus, or in the upheavals after the death of Septimius Severus. Recall that prior to Commodus there had been the reign of the “good Emperors.” This was brought to an end by Aurelius’ failure to appoint a suitable successor, so that his less than able son was raised to the purple. This was the beginning of the long slide into civil war.
The Army at this time (Septimius Severus) was still composed of heavy infantry, Legions, armed much as they had been for a century. It would be another 175 years before the Legions succumbed to heavy cavalry (at Adrianople) and the army was transformed into something entirely different. However, by the time of Severus the Army was entirely composed of long-term professionals, and Centurions – think warrant officers or senior non-coms – were promoted from the ranks. The officer corps was drawn from the Equestrian and Senatorial orders in Rome. Severus was a Senator, but had been born in Libya and was considered a provincial.
Of course. every century is likely to have had one or more men named "Tertullus" who left no trace of his existence other than a letter from a cousin. However, there are few periods in which a Roman warrant officer might have written such a letter. It would be far more likely to have been written by a Tribune, an Equestrian or Senatorial class youth sent to learn the military trade as part of a normal career.
There is a discussion of the authenticity of this quote (concluding that it is not authentic) on this web site: http://omega.cohums.ohio-state.edu/mailing_lists/CLA-L/2001/01/0094.php
-- Roland Dobbins
This is worth your attention. Note that you must open a WORD DOCUMENT attachment to an email. I trust you don't open unexpected attachments of any kind to begin with. I also trust that all of you have your systems up to date complete with updated virus detections.
I am off to Seattle at Oh-dark-thirty so nothing will be here until evening at earliest.
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