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Monday, January 15, 2007

Mailbag for the week is up at Chaos Manor Reviews. Tomorrow there will be a column segment, and for the week you'll have two CES reports and one speculation on the future of the iPhone.

I have sent a letter to subscribers. If you subscribe and did not get it, please let me know, giving me the way you subscribed and when. If you haven't subscribed, this would be a good time!

The LA Times this morning describes, with wonderment, a public inner city school where the test scores are comparable to Beverly Hills. Reading reveals that a new principal, a single black woman with an M.S. from Columbia took the job with high expectations -- and in her first season issued 100 suspensions to restore discipline in the school. Once that was established, academic standards rose, learning took place -- a miracle.

I am sure that once this gets out, the ACLU will be down to that school to protect the rights of all those suspended students.

Liberalism is a philosophy of consolation for Western Civilization as it commits suicide.

Incidentally, in the LA school district, there are 8.3% white, and 92% Minority students. I am not sure why I find that amusing. Magnet schools are now looking for white students; there's a shortage.

Do note that under the court imposed "equality" system of school financing, schools are paid by the state for students who attend. Disciplinary action that results in lower attendance cuts the amount of money the school gets. The result is that particularly in the inner city there is often no discipline, thus no one learns; the equality is equality in misery and incompetence. Under the old system in which local school districts set school taxes and controlled the schools there was at least a chance of discipline and learning. The liberals meant well when they forced the changes in financing. They certainly meant well. They could not possible have wanted to destroy public schools so that wealthy people (like lawyers and judges) could give their kids enormous advantages by sending them to private schools while other children get a primary hamper by being sent to public schools where there is no discipline and thus not a lot of learning. They couldn't possibly have intended that result. But if they had intended it, would there be a better way to accomplish it than what the courts have imposed on the nation?

Lousy schools. Open borders. Structural reasons for not having school discipline. Free Trade. All well intentioned. The results weren't intended. Were they?

 

 

 

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Tuesday,  January 16, 2007  

  I seem to be Guest of Honor at Further Confusion this weekend in San Jose at the Doubletree Hotel. I had just about forgotten that one: I intended to drive. Given the weather, I have asked them to book me a flight out of Burbank. Driving the Grapevine in freezing weather is not a good idea.

I'll see you all in the Bay Area this weekend.

We watched some of the Golden Globes last night, but switched off when the Borat Boor came up to bash America while accepting his award for Worst Taste Movie of the Year. I guess that's what it was for. It could hardly have been for excellence.

I understand Borat's appeal at the box office. Potty humor often does well at the box office. It isn't usually done under the pretense that it's anything but what it is. The notion that we have to give awards for that sort of thing is another story. Sacha Baron Cohen knew exactly what he was doing when he allowed people to be drawn into this thing by pretending that they were taking part in some kind of good will documentary about America. I feel terribly sorry for the lady who tried to give lessons in manners to this pretender, and those who held a dinner party thinking they were entertaining a foreign journalist.

Parenthetically, I applied for membership in the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (88 members) as a film reviewer for Nikkei Business Publications. Alas, they didn't think my mini-reviews at the end of each monthly column were sufficiently weighty to qualify me. I didn't think they would, but it might have been fun to go to the glitterama event and report on them. We've lived in Studio City for nearly forty years, but we've pretty well stayed out of the Hollywood scene. It might have been fun...

 

 

 

 

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Wednesday,  January 17, 2007

Charles Murray's education series in the Wall Street Journal is important and must reading for everyone in the US. Spread the word.

http://www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110009531  First

http://www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110009535
&mod=RSS_Opinion_Journal&ojrss=frontpage               Second

There will be a third.

Tell everyone.

Charles Murray is one of the few social scientists who actually deserve the term "scientist". All his books, from the original Losing Ground are worth reading, and The Bell Curve, despite all the academic denunciations, is one of the important works of the last century. Science means realistic assessment of the situation.

Note that Murray, as most of us who are familiar with IQ tests and their reliability, isn't concerned about a few points one way or another. Jacques Barzun dealt with that a long time ago in the chapter "Your IQ or your life" in his still important Teacher in America.

Incidentally, I seem to have forgotten how to link books through the Amazon logo; that is, if you log on to Amazon through the buttons on this site and then search for books, that seems to register and I get a small credit for the recommendation if you buy it. What I don't seem to know is how to look up the book for you and attach the tag that tells Amazon you got there from here. I suspect one of you will tell me; thanks in advance. I'll add a note to the next paragraph once I learn.

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/
ASIN/0465042333/jerrypournellcha will get you to the Murray book, but it sure takes a long time to generate that label ( I have to hand paste in the 10-digit ISBN, which takes considerable time. I am sure there's a way to automate the process. I am also sure I don't know what it is.

 For The Bell Curve, that link will do it, but building the link is not easy. I don't expect people to cut and paste in order to buy books in a way that gives me a small recommendation fee. I will have to find the automation process. I get a couple of hundred a quarter out of the Amazon associates fees, which isn't the earth but it's enough to take Roberta to a good dinner once in a while, so it's worth figuring out I guess.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interesting article/review on root kits here:
http://www.informationweek.com/news
/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=196901062

===========

Bush Slammed as Border Patrol Agents Begin Prison Terms By Randy Hall CNSNews.com Staff Writer/Editor January 17, 2007

(CNSNews.com) - As two U.S. Border Patrol agents surrendered to federal marshals Wednesday afternoon to begin serving more than a decade in jail for shooting an illegal drug smuggler, a federal lawmaker and conservative advocacy group expressed outrage at President Bush for not pardoning the men.

"This is the worst betrayal of American defenders I have ever seen," Rep. Dana Rohrabacher said of the president.

"It's shameful this was done by someone who is in the Republican Party," the California Republican added in comments coinciding with the jailing of agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean.

Rohrabacher said Bush "obviously thinks more about his agreements with Mexico than the lives of American people and backing up his defenders."

Is there much more to say? Beware, Emperor. Perhaps next you will begin to give the Secret Service obscene passwords?

Why the President of the United States wants to turn over part of the US to Mexico is not known to me.

The Border Patrol Inquisition By Debra Saunders

Be a Border Patrol agent, do your job, go to prison. That's how the job must look to agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean.

In February 2005, the agents tried to stop a van driven by drug smuggler Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila near the Mexico border. After a scuffle with Compean, Aldrete-Davila fled on foot. Ramos says he believes that he saw a gun -- which the smuggler denies. Both agents fired at Aldrete-Davila, who fell, then continued his escape across the border. After he got away, Ramos and Compean filed a report on the 743 pounds of marijuana they found in the van, but not on the gunfire. As it turns out, Ramos had shot Aldrete-Davila in the butt. A Homeland Security agent heard about the episode, went to Mexico and offered Aldrete-Davila immunity, if he testified against Ramos and Compean.

U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton, a Bush appointee, prosecuted the agents. In March, a jury found them guilty of assault with a dangerous weapon, discharge of a firearm during a violent crime, obstructing justice, lying about the incident and willfully violating Aldrete-Davila's Fourth Amendment right to be free from illegal seizure.

Because there was gunfire, the mandatory-minimum prison sentence the agents will serve is 10 years. The U.S. Probation Office in El Paso, Texas, has recommended 20 years -- 20 years away from their wives and their children, and among the type of people they've put behind bars.

As for Aldrete-Davila, he faces no charges for the 743 pounds of pot. That leaves him free to carry out his plan to sue the Border Patrol -- that is, U.S. taxpayers -- for $5 million because his civil rights were violated. What a country.

Of course getting rid of Bush and bringing in Democrats will do nothing to change the situation. El Paso has become a flea market, and is descending into the muck. Viva open borders. And now the triumphant invaders have persuaded the Emperor to jail the Gestapo Border Patrol agents.

Caesar, you must be careful. You may offend the people as you will. You dare not offend the Army. And while the Border Patrol is not yet, not quite, the Army, it is seen by the Army as a close cousin. Beware, Caesar.

 

 

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Thursday,  January 18, 2006

The End of Freedom of Speech

The Democrat Congressional Ethics scheme seeks to silence Internet comments about Congress. Anyone with more that 500 readers will have to register as a lobbyist or be fined and possibly jailed. The campaign finance laws were bad enough. Now, snuck into a Congressional Ethics -- there's an oxymoron -- act is an attempt to halt the modern equivalent of pamphleteering. Pamphleteers were precisely what the Framers intended to protect with the First Amendment. In those days there wasn't a Main Stream Media, although HM Stationary Office came close: i.e., official propaganda. What the politicos of the time sought to halt was Committees of Correspondence, and pamphlets denouncing the government.

The new "ethics" act doesn't officially try to stop people from criticizing incumbent, but like all campaign finance reforms that's the real purpose and effect. Incumbent protection is the goal of nearly every government action interference in the political process.

I don't expect this to pass. Not even the new Senate can be that stupid. Surely?

 

 

 

 

 

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Friday,  January 19, 2007

I'm off to the Doubletree in San Jose for Further Confusion, where I am Guest of Honor. I'll see what I can do to keep this place up, get the column done, and so forth. I'm carrying more computer power than the government had when I started writing this column. Ain't Moore's Law wonderful?

I did some work on Mamelukes today. It's Niven's turn on Inferno. He says he's moving right along. We'll get together when I get back. For those who know the geography, we are at 50,000 words and Geryon has taken our party down the great barrier to the 8th Circle.

We now have the Bolgias and the last circle to go. As Larry says, we have undertaken some ambitious material.

I'll post about a quarter of Mamelukes in the subscriber area when I get back.

I've just printed my boarding pass. With luck the TSA won't give me too much trouble.

=========

Here I am in Bob Hope airport. It ought to be theAmelia airport. the Tablet wil NoT recognize the last Name. Maybe I Can't spell it. Mrs. Putnam does not Sound right,

I am aboard. the wireless dropped When I got to the airplane. Worked in terminal just fine.

And now at Doubletree which some may remember as the old Red Lion near the airport.

==========

Using a ground-based medium-range ballistic missile, the test knocked out an aging Chinese weather satellite about 865 kilometers (537 miles) above the earth on January 11 through "kinetic impact," or by slamming into it, Johndroe said.

... and later ...

Washington then halted such Cold War-era testing, concerned by debris that could harm civilian and military satellite operations on which the West increasingly relies for everything from pinpoint navigation to Internet access to automated teller machines.

the west is 3 good meals away from revolution...

http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,21084205-601,00.html <http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,21084205-601,00.html

-- David

I actually wrote the threat report on Chinese anti-satellite capability using Ground to Air missiles (Sa-4 and follow-on) in 1966. We studied possible uses they might make of this capability. Now they have demonstrated it and also added to the debris in a rather crowded orbit. It is worth following this story carefully.

One thing they are signaling: if they seriously want Taiwan, they have the ability to knock out space assets we rely on. We -- at least military planners -- have always known that. Now the Democrats do too. Why they want to send that signal just now is worth discussion.

==

And Charles Murray's excellent series in the WSJ on Education finished with yesterday's essay on the value of smart people and teaching them.

This is must reading for anyone interested in public education and not besotted with liberal ideology.

And see below

=======

http://news.com.com/Swedish+bank+hit+by+biggest
+ever+online+heist/2100-7349-6151546.html?part=
dht&tag=nl.e433

Swedish bank Nordea has told ZDNet UK that it has been stung for between seven and eight million Swedish krona--up to $1.1 million--in what security company McAfee is describing as the "biggest ever" online bank heist.

Over the last 15 months, Nordea customers have been targeted by e-mails containing a tailor-made Trojan, said the bank.

Nordea believes that 250 customers have been affected by the fraud, after falling victim to phishing e-mails containing the Trojan. According to McAfee, Swedish police believe Russian-organized criminals are behind the attacks. Currently, 121 people are suspected of being involved.

The attack started by a tailor-made Trojan sent in the name of the bank to some of its clients, according to McAfee. The sender encouraged clients to download a "spam fighting" application. Users who downloaded the attached file, called raking.zip or raking.exe, were infected by the Trojan, which some security companies call haxdoor.ki.

Haxdoor typically installs keyloggers to record keystrokes, and hides itself using a rootkit. The payload of the .ki variant of the Trojan was activated when users attempted to log in to the Nordea online banking site. According to the bank, users were redirected to a false home page, where they entered important log-in information, including log-in numbers.

After the users entered the information an error message appeared, informing them that the site was experiencing technical difficulties. Criminals then used the harvested customer details on the real Nordea Web site to take money from customer accounts.<snip>

===========

If true, this is dangerous. We should all know not to open executable files we weren't told to expect by people we trust, but this bears repeating.

http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/?entry=
24064_Crafty_New_Worm_Attack&only 

"A new PC worm employs some sneaky psychology to get people to open malicious emails: Storm Worm Pummels World's PCs

<http://www.toptechnews.com/story.xhtml?story_id=49487>  .

As if hundred-mile-per-hour winds aren't bad enough, a malicious worm is making the rounds in Europe and elsewhere, using e-mailed storm warnings as a way to propagate itself.

In the latest sign that virus writers are getting craftier in their nefarious work, the nasty Storm Worm masquerades as legitimate e-mails with subject lines bearing storm alerts, such as "230 dead as storm batters Europe."

The e-mails are being sent with worm-infected attachments "video.exe," "fullstor.exe," or "readmore.exe," among other names designed to wreak all sorts of havoc on PCs.

I've received some similar ones that seem to somehow be based on the content of LGF; i.e. with subject lines like "Al Qaeda terrorist in Pakistan." They could be correlating scraped email addresses with the content of the page where the addresses are found, to play on people's natural tendency to trust emails with subjects and words they recognize.

So beware."

Mark

Beware indeed.

 

 

 

 

 

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Saturday,  January 20, 2007

I am at the Further Confusion convention in San Jose. This is a Furry Con, and it is larger than BayCon. Why I am Guest of Honor is an impenetrable mystery, but it is a lot of fun. I am collecting pictures of an amazing variety of furry creatures (and some not so furry), magnificently done and extremely well acted. It's a great deal of fun.

 

We have over in mail a pointer to a rather shocking document. I am not in a position to research the authenticity of what purports to be an official State Department document; can someone look into this for me?

 

 

 

 

 

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Sunday, January 21, 2007

Think of this letter as a guest essay since I have not time due to being at a convention:

Dr. Pournelle,

The conclusion of Murray's WSJ series

http://www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110009541 <http://www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110009541

is probably the most important for regular visitors of Chaos Manor to read. The first 2 installments are well-written and persuasive, but contain little that has not been previously stated in some form by you or your contributors.

The final installment deals with the necessity of educating those with high (120+) IQ to imbue them with wisdom. Murray states that "The encouragement of wisdom requires a special kind of education. It requires first of all recognition of one's own intellectual limits and fallibilities--in a word, humility. This is perhaps the most conspicuously missing part of today's education of the gifted. Many high-IQ students, especially those who avoid serious science and math (emphasis added), go from kindergarten through an advanced degree without ever having a teacher who is dissatisfied with their best work and without ever taking a course that forces them to say to themselves, 'I can't do this.'"

With this fresh in mind, read this account of the Duke lacrosse imbroglio

http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/013/190uejex.asp?pg=1 <http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/013/190uejex.asp?pg=1

There were few among the Duke faculty who were willing to speak up for the lacrosse players early in the case. There was Steven Baldwin, the "Duke chemistry professor who finally broke his faculty colleagues' own wall of silence on October 24, publishing a letter in the Duke student newspaper, the Chronicle, denouncing his fellow professors for what he called their 'shameful' treatment of Seligmann and Finnerty and rebuking the Duke administration for having 'disowned its lacrosse-playing student athletes.'"

"There just wasn't anything clear in (Duke president) Brodhead's statements that we were going to believe our own students," said Michael Gustafson, a Duke engineering professor who has criticized the university's handling of the March 13-14 incident. "There was obviously conduct with which Duke did not agree--parties with underage consumption of alcohol, hiring strippers, and if that was the whole story, then Brodhead was absolutely right to condemn it. The problem comes into play when there's a rape allegation. There was never a clear distinction drawn between those incidents and rape, so there was never a clear sense that the students were innocent until proven guilty."

The numerous denunciations of the lacrosse team documented among the Duke faculty all come from professors of humanities or social sciences.

I had never considered the study of math and science important to developing wisdom (even though I have degrees in physics and engineering). It may be more of a factor than I had thought.

Steve Chu

==

The Western World seems to have forgotten its heritage. Plato's Academy had a sign over the doorpost: no entry without mathematics. Geometry and mathematics encourage rigorous thinking, and for those who will specialize in abstract symbol manipulation practice in mathematics is essential. Real education -- which is learning to do abstract reasoning -- is simple not possible without mathematical skills, and the West has long known this. Dorothy Sayers in her essays on education stresses this. (Sayers was an early advocate of higher education for women in a time when English universities discouraged that sort of thing.) Sayers' essays on the importance of Latin or other inflected languages, and mathematics, as means for encouraging precision in thought and language are, of course, long forgotten as we enter the new Dark Age.

(A Dark Age is a period in which everyone has not only forgotten how to do something, but has forgotten that it was ever done: such as the common knowledge that 95% of the children in American can (and did) learn to read in first grade, and overcome ADD and ADHD without drugs.)

Most "Social Scientists" are practitioners of Voodoo. See my essay on that. Charles Murray is an actual scientist applying scientific method and rigorous thinking to actual data about human beings in society. This makes him a rarity. He shouldn't be. There are plenty of data out there, we have long had the mathematical tools to construct predictive equations to generate testable hypotheses about human activities, and we have for a dozen years had the computing power to solve those equations. Before computers we could build models we could not solve, and the result was a series of simplifying assumptions known to be false but needed because without them we could get no answers at all. we now can invert matrices in seconds, and apply numerical analysis non-linear systems --but we don't in general DO it. Instead our "social scientists" continue to teach cookbook stat in their "mathematics for social scientists" courses (social science majors right fear the rigor of real mathematics and never take courses in the math department). Social science remains Voodoo.

We need clear thinking, and the rigor of mathematical training encourages it. Alas, in general it is not to be, because we are truly entering a Dark Age.

 

 

 

 

 

======

I remain at Further Confusion at San Jose, and they have a busy day scheduled for me. I'll try to give a bit of the flavor of the place in tomorrow's View. It's a bit like being in a real world cartoon...

 

 

 

 

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