Mail 726 Saturday, June 02, 2012
Dear Dr. Pournelle,
An article by David Sanger published in the June 1st online edition of the NY Times, referenced below, contains new information (or at least new assertions) on the origin and use of the Stuxnet cyberweapon, which you discussed in a past Chaos Manner Reviews column.
I’m very curious as to your thoughts on the article and hope you’ll cover this topic in your upcoming column.
And comes now the new Trojan FLAME. And those are the ones we have heard of. Game on! And note that Russians have great programmers…
Subj: How do credentials change as education goes online?
_The Wall Street Journal_’s Walt Mossberg interviews Stanford’s president and Salman (Khan Academy) Khan:
>>Stanford President John Hennessy and Khan Academy founder Salman Khan
>>are coming at online education from very different angles — one is an
>>elite institution being shaken up by experiments, the other is a
>>widely loved upstart that’s increasingly being used in traditional
And of course Kahn Academy free on-line courses contain some of the best lectures I have ever heard. His introduction to calculus is superb and I recommend it to anyone who must learn calculus or who is a bit unsure of how well he learned it in the first place.
Thank you for telling me about this video.
Robert Heinlein and H. Beam Piper
Just a bit of idle curiosity; did Heinlein and Piper ever meet or correspond? Did either of them read the others work? I figured you might be the one most likely to know the answer to this question.
Stacy Brian Bartley
I know they met, because in 1962 at Chicon III I met H. Beam Piper and we became friends; and Saturday night, late, there was a party in Robert Heinlein’s suite. I was invited because Mr. Heinlein and I had been corresponding about aerospace matters and had become friends. Beam and I went to the party together. I don’t remember if they had known each other before although I rather think they did, but they certainly would have met then, Beam, was a bit under the weather and left early. Ginny Heinlein was stuck in an airport somewhere in the Midwest. The party lasted until dawn and ended with watching the Sun rise over the lake. I have no idea whether they read each other’s works, but they were both fairly close friends and two of my favorite people, but I don’t recall either commenting on the other. Mr. Heinlein was of course very successful at that time, and Beam was having financial difficulties.
This is startling:
Today, the New York Times has a long, detailed article about the personal role played by President Obama in the massive amount of death and destruction the U.S. has brought to the Muslim world at his direction. The article, by Jo Becker and Scott Shane, is based on interviews with “three dozen of his current and former advisers” and thus uses sources who — with a couple of exceptions — attempt to cast the Commander-in-Chief in the best and most glorious possible light. Nonetheless, the article provides as clear a picture of the character of this individual politician as any stand-alone article in some time. Earlier today, I wrote about one specific revelation from the article that I most wanted to highlight — the way in which Obama, in order to conceal the civilian casualties he causes and justify the raining down of death he orders, has re-defined “militant” to mean “all military-age males in a strike zone” – but there are numerous other revealing passages in this article meriting attention.
NY Times Article; it very long: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/29/world/obamas-leadership-in-war-on-al-qaeda.html?pagewanted=1&_r=2
So, if I happened to be in a strike zone getting an ice cream cone or buying some silk, I would be considered a militant? =( If you weren’t sure if we entered the Twilight Zone, I think we passed the sign long ago…
Joshua Jordan, KSC
The United States constitution was supposed to prevent foreign adventures by the President, but some of the actions in the campaign against the Barbary Pirates greatly stretched the powers of President Jefferson, and even Jefferson and Madison welcomed that. The traditional compromise for much of our history was that the President owned the Navy and Marines, and the Marine Corps was to be kept small. The Congress owned the Army and the Department of War. This worked until Roosevelt and the threat from Germany with the rise of Hitler, and has completely come apart now.
And while no one dreamed of UAV’s in the days of the Framers, they certainly had heard of assassins, cloak and dagger operations, and such matters.
It becomes increasingly difficult to know with whom we are at war, and which side we are on in the wars in which we are engaged. Or who is winning, or for that matter what “winning” means.
Traditionally the King of England could make war on anyone whom it pleased him to war upon; the Constitution was deliberately designed to take that power away from the President.
If Pakistan were to engage in an attack on the UAV control facilities on the grounds of self defense, would that be war or terrorism? Things have become very confused.
We have enough money to bomb other countries and grope our citizens, but we don’t have drugs in our hospitals. What is wrong with this picture?
Most of the hospital’s medicines – with usage estimated at $100 million a year – are tracked by automated systems that allow for quick reorders when the supply runs low. But these automated systems, designed to help the hospital avoid purchases and storage costs of unused pills and vials, do not work if it is uncertain when the next batch of drugs will come in.
A few hundred medicines make the list of drugs in short supply: anesthetics, drugs for nausea and nutrition, infection treatments and diarrhea pills. A separate list has scarce cancer drugs for leukemia or breast cancer.
"Now we have to go through the pharmacy and count those drugs on a daily basis … to make sure we don’t run out," said Ed Szandzik, director of pharmacy services at the hospital for over a decade.
The growing scarcity of sterile, injectable drugs is one of the biggest issues confronting hospitals across the country, and will be a key issue at the annual American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting in Chicago this weekend.
Joshua Jordan, KSC
‘Napalm Girl’ Photo Turns 40
The ‘Napalm Girl’ Photo Turns 40:
And she is still alive, living in Canada with her husband and their children. There is a story behind it all, of course.
It is a touching story. I never met her but I know people who were involved in her rescue in those days.
The Obesity Epidemic and Band Aid Solutions
With mayor Bloomberg touting New York City’s latest attempt to curb the Obesity Epidemic, limiting sugar containing drinks to a maximum size of 16 ounces, I am reminded of the myriad of unintended consequences caused by legislated attempts to change behaviors or protect favored classes.
While I have not done much of a data search, it appears to me that the obesity epidemic is more likely to have started with the introduction of high fructose corn syrup as a replacement for cane or beet sugar in both soft drinks and foods, This replacement of sugar appears to be a result of the imposition of Sugar Import Quotas by our geniuses in the United States Congress.
High Fructose Corn Syrup is a highly processed product that appears to lack the ability of cane and beet sugar to "turn off" the body’s hunger signals. The processing of High Fructose Corn Syrup is also energy intensive.
The sugar import quotas are a lose – lose situation and should be abolished forthwith. The long term result should be a healthier population, a reduction in the desire to regulate individual behavior, lowered energy consumption and fewer CO2 emmissions.
At least this is a state matter. The states can and should experiment, and will. The difficult thing will be to keep the feds out of this.
A jobs program if ever there was one:
The U.S. Transportation Department shut down 26 bus companies as imminent safety hazards, closing dozens of routes out of New York’s Chinatown in the government’s largest safety sweep of the motor-coach industry.
Joshua Jordan, KSC
Subject: Regulation Nation: State sues monks for making caskets (video)
Subject: A good example of over-regulation
No comment required…
[T]he facts don’t matter at all
"When faced with having to support one side or the other in important science debates, most people are influenced far more by their cultural and social worldviews than by solid science, no matter how well that science is presented. The public, especially those well-versed in science and mathematics, will usually agree with the side that comes closest to the values of the “tribe” they most identify with. In many cases, the facts don’t matter at all."
Live long and prosper
h lynn keith
Which is why it is important to preserve places in which rational debate takes place. It’s not easy to do.
Clive Thompson on 3-D Printing’s Legal Morass
Can the people who sell things copyright physical their physical products?
“Observers predict that in a few years we’ll see printers that integrate scanning capability — so your kid can toss in a Warhammer figurine, hit Copy, and get a new one. The machine will become a photocopier of stuff.”
“[T]he longer-term danger here is that manufacturers will decide the laws aren’t powerful enough. Once kids start merrily copying toys, manufacturers will push to hobble 3-D printing with laws similar to the Stop Online Piracy Act. “You’ll have people going to Washington and saying we need new rights,” Weinberg frets. Imagine laws that keep 3-D printers from outputting anything but objects “authorized” by megacorporations — DRM for the physical world. To stave this off, Weinberg is trying to educate legislators now.”
3-D printing. Like the video phone (think Skype and your laptop or your iPhone), the science fiction future seems to have crept up on us.
Wow. A flood of thoughts here. We’ll be looking at this again. Thanks.
Jerry, the below linked article is a month old, but it sounds like the boffins in Britain are doing something quite keen.
To rephrase a letter on your site tonight, Glory and Gold. As you state in "A Step Farther Out" once you get to orbit, you’re half way to anywhere in the system.
I think once we are in orbit, then we are more than halfway to cheap energy. I read your arguments for space based solar plants. I’m a little non-plussed. At one point, you state that DC to DC efficiency is eighty-five percent. Elsewhere, you say 65%. That being said, why are we not already sending our power from space. I’m thinking about posting a kickstarter project to see how many are interested.
Now, to ask a question. Let’s say a non-phsicist, non-engineer were to start looking at design of an O’Neill habitat. Where would he start? Cubic feet per resident? Amount of electricity generated per foot squared of solar panel? Shielding needed? Acres of plants per person?
Is there a checklist out there?
Thanks for not chuckling too hard,
Well, it’s a pretty tough engineering job. O’Neill did some preliminary work, and General Graham’s Journal of the Practical Applications of Space was useful in its time; and of course X Corps and Space X and others are working on how to make money from space. When I wrote Step Farther Our I really though most of that stuff would be happening between 2001 and 2020. I see no reason why it won’t happen, but it hasn’t yet. Given what we spent on space we ought to be in the asteroids now – had a hundred billion dollars been spent as market guarantees and prizes, and another 50 billion in X programs, we would be there. Instead we employed civil servants. Ah well.
Global warming skeptics as knowledgeable about science as climate change believers:
Ah! The religious wars of the 21st century.
No surprises. We still don’t know. And we know how to do Bayesian analyses but we don’t do them.